By Kourtney Mitchell / Deep Green Resistance
A dystopia is a community or society, usually fictional, that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. It is the opposite of a utopia. Such societies appear in many works of fiction, particularly in stories set in a speculative future. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. Elements of dystopias may vary from environmental to political and social issues. Dystopian societies have culminated in a broad series of sub-genres of fiction and are often used to raise real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, religion, psychology, spirituality, or technology that may become present in the future. For this reason, dystopias have taken the form of a multitude of speculations, such as pollution, poverty, societal collapse, political repression, or totalitarianism. (From Wikipedia)
Although I do not claim to be well-read when it comes to science fiction writing (the only dystopian novel I can remember reading is 1984 and it scared the shit out of me), I don’t think you have to be a sci-fi scholar to see that we are living in a dystopian culture.
Civilization is a dystopia. It contains all of the characteristics of the basic dystopian narrative, and it’s only getting worse over time. This culture causes and perpetuates the most reprehensible behaviors, and has created the most violent reality the planet has ever endured. But what makes it downright insidious is its unashamed attempts at masking this reality by creating an entirely fake one to distract us, to keep us occupied while the planet and its community of life perishes.
Violence is not only inevitable in an extractive culture, it’s necessary. By definition, civilization requires violence, because cities require the importation of resources due to its denuding the resources on its own landbase, and therefore must be violent towards other cultures and their landbases in order to secure necessary resources. This culture is literally draining the planet dry, hurtling it towards a Venus-like future. That this is even a possibility is horrible beyond description.
Pathology is common in this culture. The most notorious psychopaths – those running corporations, governments, militaries and police – are rewarded for their behavior. They are afforded even more opportunities to enact violence on the planet and its life. Think about how morally depraved a culture must be to reward psychopathic behavior. To make it worse, this culture has created social conditions inevitably resulting in poverty and addiction and then punishes the victims of its own creation. This is why victims of substance abuse can be imprisoned but corporate executives are allowed to retire with pensions. This is why homeless people are beaten, harassed and jailed for sleeping on the street but homes are allowed to sit vacant, and police protect the property of wealthy business owners.
In a more sane, just culture, such people wouldn’t be able to walk the streets safely. They would fear for their lives. Anyone who pollutes air, water and soil or otherwise enacts violence on entire groups of people should be afraid to leave their homes. But in this world we live in – this depressing reality – we consider the worst behaviors to be of the most benefit.
This culture hates women, people of color, the poor, indigenous communities and ultimately life itself. It has declared war on nature, as biotic cleansing is the very mechanism of its method of food production, and complete ecosystem collapse its inevitable result. Ours is a reality in which men battering women is the most common crime, and rape is used as a weapon of war. Ours is a frightening mix of genocide, resource depletion, mass extinction and endless warfare.
We create video games that glorify the worst tendencies. Members of this culture are trained from childhood to rely on technology for entertainment, and then to crave the propaganda and outright lies this culture disseminates using that technology. We live vicariously through celebrities, because our own lives are so void of inherent meaning other than to perpetuate this system. And most of us are so dependent on it, we will fight to keep it going.
Deep within our consciousness, in our hearts and minds – and our memory – we know this culture is depraved. We are afraid of this world. We hide in our homes, some of them fenced-off and guarded from the rest of the world. We collectively escape reality through movies, television, theme parks and shopping (i.e. behavior marked by over-consumption, impulse and lifestyle elitism). We spend innumerable resources convincing ourselves to consume, so much that we have become identified with consumption. We call ourselves consumers.
Do I even need to get into the increasing totalitarianism of the surveillance infrastructure?
Civilization is insane. Members of this culture are suffering from a psychosis, a crisis of the mind and spirit. We are disconnected from the very source of life on this planet. We hate nature so much we would rather create supernatural beings resembling our worst tendencies and behaviors, force each other to worship these creations under threat of violence, and then lie to ourselves about these created deities loving and saving us. We are so disconnected from the natural world that we project our own psychosis onto it, so that we begin to see the entire cosmos as just as dysfunctional as we are, and then use that as an excuse to commit further violence against it.
Some of us, even in the midst of such a crazy world, still find ways to love deeply, fight passionately and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Many people are adjusting their lens to view the world as it really is, even though it’s painful to do. Having decided to embrace our situation with courage, instead of with cowardice, we have refused to continue to allow this culture to persist any longer. We are driven by a love for this planet and its community of life, and determined to give it a chance to thrive once more.
It takes bravery to step outside of this culture and accept reality, to see the atrocities and no longer consider them inevitable. But this bravery is necessary. We need more sane people in the world. We need more people accepting the truth no matter how much it hurts. We need more people who are completely intolerant of such gross levels of suffering, who will offer their time, energy and bodies in defense of this beautiful planet.
The planet needs us, and we need us. And we are the only ones who will save us.
A Czech translation of this article is available at: http://greenaction.cz/teorie/dystopicka-kultura.html