The Definition of Dystopia

Dystopia – a world where both oppression and chaos come about as a result of restricting people’s freedoms and actions and manipulating the people to conform to certain norms established by the ruling party through its use of fear.

In the beginning of the semester, I defined dystopia as “an imaginary world where people live in constant fear and adhere to certain norms as a result of being constantly watched or manipulated by certain figureheads.” After going through a whole semester reviewing dystopian literature and dissecting certain articles about dystopian works, the definition I have above is what I believe to be a dystopian society. I believe that a dystopian world involves a situation where certain people are oppressed and because of this oppression, they live in a state of chaos that comes about as a result of certain norms established by a ruling party to restrict people from doing certain things out of fear that they might be punished if they went against the norms established by this ruling figure. Although this is my definition of a dystopian society, the many articles I have read helped me better understand what a dystopian society actually entails. For example, in Iris Young’s “Five Faces of Oppression,” she states that there are five forms of oppression that occur in a dystopian society: violence, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and exploitation. All of these forms of brutality involve injustice to one group of people while the other group seems to be in power and benefit as a result of the suffering class. Additionally, in Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, he states that a dystopian world is one that is in a state of chaos and disorder as a result of the lack of government and people quarreling with one another because no one can trust anyone because of man’s innate nature to be compete with one another over certain earthly goods. In a dystopian society, there are no laws to punish people for the wrongs they are doing. For example, in the dystopian film The Purge, there is a 24 hour period in the year where all crime is legal and no laws are in place. As a result, many people are killed and homes are destroyed, and all those not rich enough to afford advanced security systems are at risk to being murdered as well. Through these dystopian works, I can firmly say that this definition of a dystopia that I have chosen is one that suits the situation in Ukraine today. Putin is trying to make the Ukrainian people suffer by bombarding them with nuclear weapons and instilling fear into their hearts in order to stop democracy from spreading. Overall, I believe that learning about dystopian societies is important because it allows us as humans to prevent such worlds from coming to life and really brings to light issues that need to be addressed.

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