Utopia/Dystopia December 14, 2012

Next semester my freshman course “Faith, Doubt, and Reason” focuses on “The Quest for Community” and in particular on utopias and dystopias. We read a range of works, from the real to the fiction and from the ancient to the modern – including a significant dose of science fiction.

Science fiction provides a great way (although by no means the only way) of taking seriously what our allegedly ideal society would look like, extrapolating along the trajectory into the future to see whether its consequences are utopian or dystopian, or a bit of both.

So why am I posting about next semester’s course today? Because a Facebook friend shared this image:

I can imagine some objecting very strenuously to the labels. But is there not an element of important insight even if there is also an element of caricature? Can anyone think of a depiction of a future where government has been entirely or largely eliminated, that is utopian rather than dystopian?

Which science fiction future would you most or least like to live in, and why? And how do your current stances in government and economics relate to the vision of the future that you consider most positive? Are they a step on the path to get there, or surprisingly at odds with where you hope humanity may one day end up?

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