The opposite of a Utopia – a dystopia is a model or vision of a world in which lives go badly. In political thought writers have conjured up dystopias in order to warn their readers of the dangers of certain particular social or political developments, or placed dystopia into their overarching model as a kind of hypothetical realisation of some aspect of human nature. Three different dystopic visions are Hobbes’s state of nature, Orwell’s totalitarian picture in 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Each dystopic vision tells us something about the world in which we actually live, and provides us with warnings about our predicament: in this way, we can construct critical dystopias, just as we can construct critical utopias, such as Rousseau’s egalitarian participative democracy – as measuring sticks by which to evaluate our own societies.
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