English literature is littered with fantastic novels. We have been fortunate to have access to books that have been written over many centuries and, I hope, we will be exposed to future books or stories of equal magnitude over time.
One particular genre has gripped generations of readers over many years. I would never consider dystopian works as science fiction, but they are very often set in the future.
Dystopian societies appear in many artistic works, particularly in stories set in the future. Some of the most famous examples are George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. From the outset of cinematic history directors were quick to cash in on this theme by creating films such as Metropolis and films based on Victorian works such as HG Wells, War of The Worlds.
Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a dreadful decline in society. The art of considering a Dystopian story is when it is often used to draw attention to real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, economics, religion, psychology, ethics, science, or technology.
Nightmare made flesh
In effect the idea of a dystopian state is not one built up on the dreams of those living in the present. It is the idea of the nightmare made flesh. It is the realisation that society is fragile and has been removed to a state that we no longer recognise. In our own ignorance and self-centred interpretations, we have missed the developments associated with the predictions of Orwell and HG Wells.
HG Wells wrote about killing machines that attacked from the sky decades before the first manned flight had ever taken place. He even discussed the use of poisoned gas attacks prior to trench warfare. George Orwell introduced the concept of a Big Brother state that was forever watching its subjects. And this was before the invention of the CCTV.
But we often use words that are now taken for granted but are, I hasten to add, words of warning from the past. Big brother is now associated with cheap television entertainment. Even the word Kafkaesque is often misunderstood in it’s literal meaning. Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a Czech-born writer whose surreal fiction vividly expressed the anxiety, alienation, and powerlessness of the individual in the 20th century. Kafka’s work is characterized by nightmarish settings in which characters are crushed by nonsensical, blind authority. Thus, the word Kafkaesque is often applied to bizarre and impersonal administrative situations where the individual feels powerless to understand or control what is happening.
Time and again, I have been given the advice that very often ‘ignorance is bliss’. But who for? I assume the masses As ignorance protects people from the shaping and manipulation of the world around us. Even Plato (427 – 348 BC) desired us to ‘open our eyes’ once we are set free from the darkness of ‘the Cave’.
The example of the Cave contains many forms of symbolism used to describe the state of the world. The cave is the world we live in and the prisoners are those who inhabit the world, in effect it is us. The chains that prevent the prisoners from leaving the cave represent ignorance, meaning they interfere with the prisoners seeing the truth. The shadows cast on the walls of the cave represent what people see in the present world. Last, the freed prisoner represents those in society who see the physical world for the illusion that it is.
So how does this fit with society now?
Well, many nightmares don’t hit us straight away. If we look at German Society following the First World War, the German people were looking for a guide or leader to rescue them from the plight that the Treaty of Versailles had inflicted upon them. Little did they know then that their ‘saviour’ would finally smash Europe and result in millions of lives lost. Like a domestically abusive relationship the soft tender love slowly develops into assaults and violence. It doesn’t just happen. It is a slow, organic process that appears slowly over time.
The nightmare for many continues after the domestic escape. Our elected representatives sell us both and idea and a solution with conveniently placed sound-bites and marketing to buy our votes. The reality is a nightmare perpetuated by enforcing the status quo of the present situation. Let me give you an example, we all know about the Big Brother state whereby our movements are monitored both physically and electronically. Our emails are scanned, and texts monitored clandestinely. But we were warned about this many decades ago in George Orwell’s 1984. Kafka warned us about being arrested and tried by a state that holds no logic or explanations. Therefore, nothing improves it only intensifies under a wrong regime that continually fails to address the nightmares of society. We vote our leaders in who do not concern themselves with everyday problems once they have secured their seats in Parliament.
And here lies my point.
It transpires that the police and the CPS now pick and choose the evidence they require to arrest and charge individuals. This is nothing new, dictator states such as Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia arrested, sentenced and executed individuals based on what did not fit into their idea of society. There was no chance or option of appeal or defence. Your only crime was if you met certain criteria. Or a member of a particular group. This doesn’t make you a criminal it makes you a victim. And a target setting state system does not make sense, it makes victims.
In fact Stalin coined the phrase ‘one death is a tragedy, many deaths are a statistic’. And here lies the similarity with what I find today. Because men represent a large part of society each individual is a statistic. Our claims for equal treatment in courtrooms around the world are ignored. Our legal claims are rejected in the favour of either the state or the convenient lies of a false accuser who fit the states ‘targets’. It works well for them both (the state and the accuser).
This present dystopian state has a legal system that protects the untruths because it works well for the state. Every state throughout history has needed a scapegoat on which to off load its failings onto and it has been convenient to blame men for societies evils.
Fighting with both hands tied
Men have been unable to defend themselves because we are either labelled as being sexist, racist, homophobic, violent, abuser and so on. But we are too scared to deny it (as being further labelled) or too under supported to fight it (lack of legal recognition, state protection or equality in the eyes of the law).
In effect, men are having to fight the fight with both hands tied. We are none of the above, and yet we are not allowed to question the state or have our cases heard without preconceived ideas or prejudice and silence equally valid voices of which need to be heard. It is wrong, it is a state supported dictatorship.
As a ‘modern man’ I support the ideas of feminism. I love the idea of an equal, fair and just society. But I cannot support a form of ideology that attempts to trample on a section of society to enhance their own. I see this as the equivalent of the Book Burning incident in Nazi Germany that attempted to eradicate the sharing of ideas.
Yes, women are victims and require protection from abuse. But men are victims too but are not afforded the same decency, honesty or protection. And this is now the dystopian state that we all find ourselves in. It is only recently that the abuse of power by the police and the CPS has come to the forefront of the news. But what will happen? People will be moved on to be replaced by new fresh faced ‘yes’ people. The embarrassment will be moved but the facts and actions cannot be erased. Peoples lives have been ruined and the stains on their lives are indelible. This state simply washes its own errors in tainted waters that continues to cover up without actually cleaning.
If we look at corruption in the police force it has been a well known feature for generations. My great grandmother warned me about their actions and characteristics many years ago. The 1980’s exposed a corrupt unit in the West Midlands Constabulary yet nothing has changed. The state made promises that it would ‘change’ its ways, yet the same things have happened again and again. Nothing has changed and nothing will. People raise a concern and then forget it when a new story hits the headlines. Perhaps society is full of ignorant people – because it is better to live that way than see the nightmare we are in. That is, until it happens to them.
…And so it continues
From an age whereby, I knew right from wrong I was fed the state propaganda that we are protected equally and without prejudice. In fact we were all taught this because our predecessors also believed this, and so the fakery continued. But I am now free from the Cave and can see the light for what it is. This dystopian state has fed us as children to believe in a state and a system that just does not exist. The nightmare future that so many authors and philosophers predicted is, alas, here now. And living in Plato’s cave does not protect us from the facts as they are. It just hides them well. Unfortunately, our warnings may not protect our children from the future nightmares yet to come.