What is a Dystopia

I define a dystopia as a polarized society where fearful citizens tolerate the rule of a tyrannical ruler.

Every dystopia is in a polarized state. A polarized state is a societal condition where the society is operating under extreme conditions. For example, wars and high political/religious tensions would be extreme societal conditions. In Animal Farm, the animals overthrew their tyrannical ruler only to end up with another one. This information shows how the presence of an extreme societal condition fosters the creation of a dystopia. Although most citizens do not want to live in a dystopian society, they are less likely to rebel due to fear of being outed by their neighbors. Foucault’s concept of panopticism, which explains people behaving appropriately due to feeling surveilled, shows why citizens live in constant fear.

I used the word tyrannical to describe the type of governing power in a dystopia. When it comes to dystopias, the governing power will usually consolidate their rule by using the military to encourage compliance amongst the citizens. This can be seen in the Gestapo of Nazi regime and the dogs of the pig oligarchy from Animal Farm. Using Iris Young’s Five Faces of Oppression, one can see what a tyrannical rule looks like. The citizens will face marginalization by not being allowed to practice their political rights with voting. The governing power will use cultural imperialism in order to gain more control by creating a less diverse society. The citizens will be financially exploited by the governing power so they can spoil themselves. Without any military to protect them, the citizens will feel powerlessness due to being outmatched by the government’s military strength. Violence will also be used against any citizen who falls out of line with the governing power in any way.

I believe that my definition of a dystopia is credible because it incorporates the elements of a dystopia. I doubt that there can be more added to it that would be unique compared to what is already in my definition.

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