Friday, May 2, 2008

5-2-08: Absolute Power

I was watching V for Vendetta the other night and began thinking of all the similar dystopia-themed books and films I've read and watched, like 1984, Equilibrium, and Fahrenheit 451 (just to name a few; I also loved Blade Runner). I began to wonder what the point was of creating such a society, or why it continued to function.

Then I forgot about it for a couple days until I parked my car and walked into the Fairfield University library, where I am currently typing this blog entry. I thought of a goofy, but possibly realistic, philosophy: what if human nature eventually took over anyway? What I mean is, let's say you have a perfectly free society, a pseudo-Utopia where people are free to act practically with no laws to prevent them from doing anything they wish. People are perfectly free to speak their minds, but let's say, for argument's sake, that they are forbidden to murder (let's make that the only rule).

How long would such a society last before utter chaos ruled? People are bound to disagree; it's human nature. People would eventually split and factionalize, just like in The Lord of the Flies, for the purpose of survival. A society that started off well eventually became split into warring groups.

Now let's say you have a dystopia, where Big Brother rules over you. You are miserable, but you are at least safe from physical harm. You really have no choice in what you do, but every one is pretty much the same. Nobody is at war, because nobody really cares anymore. They just want to survive.

There are obvious differences between these two scenarios, but one thing is very much in common: humanity's need to survive. Whatever twisted, totalitarian approach is taken by power hungry leadership, they are enabled by that society out of fear, and a need to survive.

Now, this isn't to say it has to be this way. There is definitely the possibility to find a comfortable middle ground, which is what modern society is struggling day in and day out to find. Some like a few more rules, some like a few less, but we all function under the same human nature. I like to look at the similarities between groups, the ones they refuse to acknowledge. When I see a story on the Isrealis fighting off Palestinian freedom-fighters (or terrorists, whatever floats your boat), I try to take a step back and look at how both of them are essentially fighting for the same reason. Oftentimes it will lead to a mutual hatred that seemingly cannot be eliminated, only controlled.

But do people really want a Utopia? I'd contest that we really don't. Whenever I hear some one say "I just want world peace," I wonder what they mean by it. Some say world peace means "Nobody fighting against any one else." But then I just say "Well, that's your opinion, but I doubt every one on the West Bank feels the same way." Some people just want to see another race of people wiped out. So, in the quest for world peace, how does that factor in?

What I essentially believe is that relativism is a falsehood, which is something the Pope mentioned frequently in his recent visit to the United States. What I mean by relativism is the mentality that everything is simply from a certain point of view, that things need to be taken in context. Bullshit. People who think like that all the time are merely hiding their true feelings. And I'm not saying this has to be a conscious thing. People who say "Well if you look at it from their point of view," you are simply revealing your own bias. People are naturally biased, so "relativism" is just a way to hide how you feel. Sure, it can be a good idea to try to figure out how people think about a certain thing, but you have to be able to tell right from wrong. Otherwise, after a while, you'll find yourself living in a hell on Earth and wondering where things went wrong.

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