I love history possibly more than I love the future, which is why I find it rather ironic that most of our “terrifying visions of the future” present a world not terribly different than that of our ancestors only a few short centuries ago.
No, I don’t mean the exact moment when the bombs fall, or the aliens chase after us with their little zap-guns. I mean after that, the repercussions of whatever stupidity causes the actual apocalypse.
What are the symptoms of most of the dystopian worlds you frequently see:
- no technology, or at the least, very limited and only available to few if it still exists.
- limited transportation and communication, so you rely on foot, horse, possibly train.
- limited weaponry – save in the cases where someone has hoarded it all, but even then, it’s limited in the fact that they don’t know how to make more. There is frequently reliance on relatively primitive or simple weaponry.
- lack of excess – one or two outfits and infrequent bathing is basically a necessity.
- lack of public services (garbage, sewage, reliable infrastructure)
- distinctive class divides (either that, or divisions into various factions / groups, but there’s usually “haves” and “have-nots”)
- lack of access to food
- limited medical care and availability (refer back to the limited technology), meaning lives can be cut short by simple accidents or relatively minor injuries.
- lack of organized or consistent education, limiting the possibilities for some futures.
- crime and chaos as a result of inconsistent policing and lack of social controls.
If you’ve studied history – particularly pre-Industrial Revolution, you’ll notice a lot of similarities. And our ancestors did quite well. They flourished, in fact, or we wouldn’t be here. So what does it say about us that our greatest fears are to be thrust back into a primitive, harder world?
How spoiled we are, and distanced from most of the elements that make our lives easier (food production, material good production, disposal methods, etc). We’re hungry? We go buy something. We’re bored? Out to the store we go. And when we get tired of it, we throw it away. While this certainly happened in the past as well, usually it was a luxury only of the very wealthy; most of us (and our ancestors) wouldn’t fall into that category.
So, what do you think? Are we too spoiled to survive? Should we, perhaps, be forced to once more work harder for our survival and success? Or, what other similarities do you see between dystopian / post-apocalyptic visions and history? Do comment below.
Thanks for reading, and have a great week.