Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Reloading... on Dystopian Societies

It's time for another slightly esoteric discussion, started largely because of my discovery yesterday that Ambu is as much of a Matrix fan as me, and because it's 2 days to 5.15 when it will be time to Reload (I did say the discussion would be esoteric).

my question is this... what is so bad about the matrix?
So what if the steak is not real, if the life is not real, if the air is not real? As long as it's real to you. So what if it's an imagined society if the society is possibly one with low crime, low poverty, high opportunity (which, for all we know, is how the matrix is). Why the obsession with real? Is it really the steak we value or the experience of the steak. Is it actually having a great job or the experience of having a great job? Is life outside the matrix, with its danger, shit food, hard life, crime, unhappiness... really better than life in the matrix just because its real?
I for one feel, i'd rather be in the matrix than outside.
So why is Cipher's choice so wrong?

I had the same question when reading Huxley's Brave New World, which again had a supposedly dystopian vision for the future. Everyone was categorised into certain levels and did certain work and had certain comforts and intelligence levels and roles in society. There was little scope for rising to a higher level, much like a caste system, and so little self-actualisation. But in that society people are programmed into not having any self-actualisation needs. The bottom rung, does not want the responsibilities of the higher rungs, the middle rung is happy its better off than the bottom but is not in the high-pressure situation of the top rung, the top rung loves its position of privilege. Even sex is regulated and encouraged with little feeling of ownership or possession. Reproduction is a genetically engineered process to make sure that there are always people for every skill and intelligence set and for every task in society. Everyone is happy. There is no crime, no unhappiness, no possession, no ill-health.
Seemed pretty damn perfect to me. A society with everyone so happy is surely better than a less happy society with "individual liberty".

I know that is a dangerous path to walk down... one that is more likely to lead to a 1984 than a Brave New World, one that will spawn all sorts of despotic, totalitarian regimes... but assuming it does not, then is it really such a bad thing?

Thoughts please?
The Blah

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