We have had many and famous dystopias in the mass media for many decades; but most of the most popular of these have included a 'happy ending' whereby the controlling baddies (those who make and serve the oppressive System) are overthrown, and replaced by some-thing apparently much better.
Typically, this is narratively possible because in these dystopias there are relatively few baddies oppressing a mass majority of decent people - and the badness has a focus which can be attacked and beaten.
What we have not seen is a dystopia corresponding to the one that we have here-and-now; and that is because this is an End Times dystopia based-upon a very pervasive value-inversion that afflicts the mass majority almost as much as it affects their more-overtly-evil oppressors.
(By Biblical analogy: this is an Antichrist dystopia.)
In other words - we have a majority of baddies: that is, a majority of people on the side of evil, or at least collaborating with evil; and doing-so because they believe that their evil is good (and that good is evil).
(This works by the multiplicity of Litmus Test issues - supporting any one of which brings an individual or institution onto the side of evil - sooner or later.)
Thus, the masses do not want the oppressive System to be overthrown - but instead reformed, made nicer and kinder.
Furthermore (and because of our evil being pervasive, endemic) is that there is no focus to evil in 2021; at least, not the kind of focus that can be fought, overthrown, and replaced with the modern equivalent of a Good King.
Modern evil is bureaucratic; the baddies now consist of multiple intersecting and overlapping committees. No individual is essential, and probably the top dozen, score, hundred or even thousand baddest-of-baddies worldwide could be eliminated without provoking more than a hiccup of The System.
All of which makes it apparently impossible to do the trick of imagining an analogous dystopia to this one; and then imagining a way in which is could plausibly and helpfully be overthrown.
Maybe it is not impossible to do this imaginative and creative feat? But I haven't yet seen anyone succeed; indeed I haven't seen anyone even try...
The traveller adjusts his position to look out the porthole as the blue planet approaches. Staring at it he gets the feeling that his visit will last a rather long time before returning to his home planet. Communications from home indicate this planet will provide stiff resistence and multiple opportunities for misunderstanding anything you say to them about where you are from and what life is like there. Before leaving home there were some attempts at preparing the traveller for his encounters, most of which will soon prove inadequate.
I think this only goes halfway.
"Thus, the masses do not want the oppressive System to be overthrown - but instead reformed, made nicer and kinder. "
They want it nicer and kinder to themselves and anybody they seem worthy or deserving of kindness while committing atrocities on people they dont like. To go just nicer and kinder means some undesirables might get....horror of horrors... left alone.
On the right there is mostly complaint about politicians being evil. This is a dance around the fact they are voted in by equally evil people. The noble voter just as much fallacy as the noble savage. So to speak.
I found that, as a mental exercise, I cannot even come up with a private fantasy of the overthrow of the current system that is sufficiently imaginable, even by the weak standards of realism for fantasies, to provide any gratification. This removes even the constraint of literary merit, just as a teenage boy's fantasy of being popular and having a girlfriend doesn't have to have an interesting plot to be enjoyable.
Just sitting back and thinking "Wouldn't it be nice if..."--it's hard to finish that sentence. If tens of millions of people were to spontaneously switch their beliefs and loyalties from what they have been taught is absolute good to what they have been taught is absolute evil? Yes, it would be nice, but it's too preposterous to fantasize about.
The only fantasies for our times that work are those of romantic martyrdom. Imagine I am given a disciplinary hearing for my reactionary and Christian beliefs, and I'm so brilliant that I make fools of them all before being sent off into transparently unjust poverty and ostracism. Very unlikely, but at least imaginable.
@Bonald. Me too.
My believable positive imaginations relate to small scale and personal happenings that provide the awakening of someone who had previously chosen to be self damned, and/or major spiritual learning/ theosis ocurring as a result of spiritual experiences which are being laid-on (by God) in abundance and with clarity these days.
Any or each such is well worth happening (since the benefits are eternal) - and if there were many of these awakening/ learning-experiences; then that would be a great victory... However, not of this world.
The only positive outcomes I can really imagine as plausible are Not Of This World. But then that is how Christians are supposed think anyway.
So, in the end, I am forced to conclude that *spiritually/ eternally speaking* In contrast with physically and temporally) these may perhaps be the best of times.
Some serious, full on divine intervention might do it.
Great post! I have two comments; one an observation and then in the second my effort at imagining an overthrow.
You make a great point about fictional dystopias and how different this (real) one seems, because the majority of the population is now "in on" the evil. My observation is that our current dystopia has also given me a different perspective than I had previously on prior historical (non-fictional) dystopias.
When people think of the rise of the Nazis or the Bolsheviks, they often imagine something like the fictional dystopias...A small group of baddies enslaving a population that may have been terrified into submission or at least passivity.
But what I've noticed this time around and extrapolated back into history (rightly or wrongly) is that, at least at certain times and under certain evil influences, humans have a tendency to eagerly embrace totalitarian evil. As a status marker!
The elites introduce a new philosophy, a new crisis, a new religion. It gathers steam. It starts "winning" and accumulating power. People fall all over themselves to get on board early and enthusiastically. The moment of transformation is also a moment of opportunity for status seekers. They can signal allegiance with the elite change-makers, they can signal superiority over those sticks-in-the-mud who are not such early and eager adopters of the new paradigm.
Anyway, you get the point. And now when I think back on some of the notorious dystopias of the past, I think I see them more clearly. Were many of the rank and file citizens scared or apathetic or ineffectually resistant? Sure. But many were also eager and excited.
Here's my thought about how to overthrow the current dystopia.
Maybe it's not so hopeless as we make it out to be. In fiction, it's a small group of goodies against a small group of baddies, with the great mass of people mostly just backdrop but assumed to be ripe for saving by the goodies. But in this current situation, we can't break the evil spell without breaking it for the masses.
But is that really impossible to imagine? It's all about winning the hearts and minds. Which Christians know how to do!
I agree that all institutions, including churches, are part of the global evil now. And I agree that Romantic Christianity is the way forward.
But I don't necessarily agree that we on the side of good have to act as atomized individuals while Team Evil collaborates globally.
Christians seem to be the only ones who can truly discern and describe the evils unfolding. Christians seem to be the only ones seeing beyond this mortal, materialistic plane. And Christians, historically, seem to be the only ones fearless enough to preach the truth without undue fear of consequences in the mortal, materialistic plane.
What we need are some Christian heroes, routing around rotten church structures, joining together in new Christian teams, loudly speaking the truth and *leading* the lost sheep back home to God. Harnessing the Holy Spirit to strengthen our cause.
We should not cede all the tools of persuasion to the dark side. To do so is to lay down our arms unilaterally. We have the facts on our side, the logic on our side, and the spiritual on our side. We have the greatest story ever told on our side, something infinitely more powerful than the propaganda spell about invisible germs that can only be stopped with "face coverings" and injections from cartoonishly-evil corporations.
The people of the world have been consumed by a mass hysteria (and demonic influences) and are worshiping false gods. Turning people away from false gods and back to the Truth is something Christians historically do.
In fiction, the rebels defeat the evil oligarchy for the benefit of the inert masses. In this story, the people of God wake up the zombies by proclaiming the truth.
It is indeed discouraging to see our friends and families and countrymen turned into evil-serving zombies. But let us not forget one of the most-repeated phrases in the bible: Be Not Afraid. We can do this.
For me the most plausible overthrow scenario would involve depicting the way that divine providence used and interwove a multitude of un-planned separate good choices (https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2021/11/courageous-faith-in-divine-providence.html).
On reflection, the fact that 'overthrow of dystopia' scenarios have been so popular and seemed plausible has much to do with false and excessive and faith in political mechanisms for the improvement of society.
Maybe our inability to imagine a plausible and positive overthrow scenario is because we are at last realizing that political plans never have worked - and it is overdue that we gave them up.
The next step would be to live with faith in providence - as the Gospels teach.
@Charlie "We should not cede all the tools of persuasion to the dark side. To do so is to lay down our arms unilaterally. We have the facts on our side, the logic on our side, and the spiritual on our side. We have the greatest story ever told on our side, something infinitely more powerful than the propaganda spell about invisible germs that can only be stopped with "face coverings" and injections from cartoonishly-evil corporations."
All the persuasion literature, for example the Scott Adams type stuff, is a kind of attempt to form magical systems about how to engage with the world. It tends toward manipulation and treating people like things rather than as beings who can align with their True Selves by free will. In other words, it's black magic.
To start, I have to remind myself that my sense of plausibility is not as trustworthy as I once thought, since I've now lived through too many examples of what I would have previously considered implausible.
Many/most people are inert, not truly thinking, externally manipulated, acting from an animalistic social mental processing that attempts to mirror what is considered to be social consensus (consensus of those that the person estimates to be socially respected, having high social status). On top of that, this social mental component/function is hijacked by technology, by mass media that creates an illusory perception of what is socially respected that need have no connection to reality (and is in fact highly divergent from it).
On top of that, the content of what is being programmed into these inert, un-self-aware people includes the idea that trusting one's own thinking and experiences is the height of foolishness. So their understanding of things, happenings in the world, and their sense of right and wrong is continually diverging in a self-reinforcing feedback loop.
People who trust the system are believing and doing more and more absurd things. The system is broadcasting that this will continue. This is a trend in the direction in polar opposition to what would be good: it would be good if people were more aware of their beliefs, if people were more aware of the origin and basis of their knowledge (false knowledge), if people put thought into what they truly wanted and didn't just follow unexamined fleeting impulses and suggestions, if people were more present in their surroundings, more aware and less automatic, etc.
But they have to choose to do that, and if they've gotten to this point they already started in a bad spot, where they were not choosing to do that. It was already recogniseable in 2019 and before, that the bulk of people were this way, and back then, even decades before or earlier, was it easy to convince them to change--was it possible?
If it wasn't possible to convince them to change, then perhaps the only way they could is if they're put in an extreme situation that shocks them out of their automation and provokes an awakening within them. If someone finds themselves about to do immediate direct harm to an innocent child because they were told by a system authority that doing so might marginally reduce the chance of some hypothetical, statistical harm that is also reported openly to be exceedingly rare and is predicted by an analysis that is glaringly self-contradictory in its internal reasoning and is based on obviously bad data, then maybe that would be enough for them to pause and hear the screaming deeply suppressed voice saying "this is wrong!"
I admit that this scenario sounds too familiar--you could say we're already there, and the awakening didn't happen. But if we're fantasizing, then it sure would be nice if this process of increasing absurdity and clear evil continued intensifying *for those who cling to their trust in the system* until they reach a point where it cranked up to the necessary degree and achieves the only conditions under which an awakening is possible for them, then that could lead to a happy ending (through a more painful route than if they had been able to just work things through while staring out a window on a sunny afternoon).
What's even harder to imagine is a way for this to happen without putting everyone else through misery and great discomfort in sharp contrast to the extreme luxury to which we're accustomed--the global collapse of industrial and lawful society doesn't sound like a happy ending. But at least in my experience, at least so far, despite almost 2 years of this rampant evil, the material conditions in which I and those I love most live are very good, possibly the best they've ever been, in the ways that count. So taking into account a necessarily looser estimation of "plausible" (since so much of what is already happening now seems very implausible, again and again blowing my mind), and if we're fantasizing... then maybe it would all work out somehow?
I don't expect it will, but I'm getting used to (with the help of what you've written on the topic) not expecting anything.
I guess that wouldn't really be an "overthrowing", more a mass opting-out, with those clinging to the system unaware or unbelieving of the masses who've left, because they only receive or trust information from the system.
@Joe - Its sounds broadly right - at the level of groups. And some people have indeed awakened - and more probably will do so - as a result of what is happening.
But I find that I need to remind myself that behind such large scale observations is a multitude of individuals, each of which is being given personal attention by God, and is making personal choices.
So awakening, awareness, is merely a pre-requisite to choice: and only the choice of Jesus Christ (to put it briefly) will suffice. Thus awakening, in and of itself, can lead to good - or to greater evil (i.e. consciously chosen evil).
This is why I find it ultimately impossible to imagine that any broad brush, socio-political interventions can benefit Mankind overall - I don't think it is the way that Good is done (here and now).
That's a good point. I tend to assume people going along with things are hapless, unthinking dupes, but another explanation for their behaviour is that they know it's wrong and don't care, or like it.
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