Clyde had the lot of us wondering about dystopia on the SEP. Rightly so. Before we can get to the point where we define dystopia, we have to set some standards. Applying the standards is the easy part. We all know how easy judgments can be. Or are they?

Merriam Webster LogoOur go-to for a definition of bad gives us over a dozen choices for what the word means. Most all of them are variations on the theme unsatisfactory, substandard, invalid and poor.

Bearing in mind utopia and dystopia are both theoretical places for the moment, we have to sit in judgment of the reality in which we exist, both individually and as a society. In order to determine what would constitute a dystopia, we need to examine what is bad. Let’s create a dystopia from the ground up.


Since longevity is something we all seek, even without a utopian environment, health would seem to be a universal good. Some of the items on the bad list which spring to mind are the things we are actively attempting to cure.

  • cancer
  • neurological diseases
  • diabetes
  • immune and endocrine disorders
  • heart disease

The body is not all which needs to be addressed. Equally on the bad list in terms of health are the mental disorders which rob us of life enjoyment, love and interactive relationships. Some mental disorders create dystopian worlds for their sufferers.

What about the things which straddle the two? You can think of five right off the top of your head.

  • eating disorders
  • substance abuse
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • suicide

In a dystopia, these would all run unchecked.


They may not make it.

Strictly speaking of the things we need for survival, we need edible substances and clean water, shelter from the elements and clothing where our climates demand it.

Everything would be unsatisfactory. A dystopian world would offer no viable foodstuffs, polluted and stagnant water. The only offer of housing would be natural to the landscape. Lightweight clothing materials would not be available, as the plant life would be compromised by the lack of water. Fur would be available providing you could find (unlikely), kill and skin animals and tan the hide.


As we form societies, we pool resources and knowledge to meet the needs of the members. Consider single survival: literally, fending for yourself. This means turning out of children, walking away from sick or wounded people and eliminating those who posed a threat to your own survival.

Communication would not be an issue. You would not seek the assistance of another, as it would not be on offer. If you need assistance, you are in direct competition from the person best suited to give such assistance. You would be a target for elimination.

Consider this when attempting to find a mate.

All of our current societal bonds would be broken: No teamwork, group efforts, partnerships. All of our systems would be invalid.

Just Theory

By design, dystopia is not survivable. Not only on the terms we currently negotiate our world, but it is not survivable on a base level as a mammal. Most of us cannot posit a scenario which would produce such a world, which is why dystopia is only a theoretical place. We truly would like to believe we innately carry the character to overcome egocentric survival to function as social animals.

Flip the coin over.

What are the necessities for creating the opposite of a dystopia, in fact a utopia? No, the answer is not The opposite of what you described. In order to create a societal system which transcends these unsatisfactory conditions, we must establish what the good truly is.

If the above described dystopia is bad, what constitutes good? Only on the basis of health, necessities and humanity, let’s build a utopia.


In your world, what good is required to cover health, necessities and humanity? Do not consider the impediments in today’s society when building your world. Anything is possible. The Earth is literally a blank slate.

(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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  1. Making society better is a goal for many, but governments and corporations have a lot invested in keeping things as they are. There are always those that want to control and dominate others. The human race has a long way to go.
    Binky recently posted..Extra Large Pepperoni With MushroomsMy Profile

    • I agree that our poor choices in whom we trust our common good is part of our current quagmire. What would you have in a utopian society, aside from chocolate and wine gums? 😉

  2. A society free of greed, stupidity, and intolerance would be a good start. And it would be a place where everyone could reach their full potential in whatever field(s) they had talent or desires.
    Binky recently posted..Extra Large Pepperoni With MushroomsMy Profile

    • If I have not mentioned it recently, I absolutely have the best, most enlightened, most forward-thinking readers. I think I can fill Fraz’ cabinet when he gets elected.

      • We have a good crowd calling in here Red but it is your creativity that we enjoy the most, including what you have done with your new look M3 Blog, it is transformed and looking great 🙂


        Everything seems fine now Red and I will be calling back in the morning for a read through all the comments that have been offered tonight 🙂

        Have fun now 🙂

        Andro xxx

  3. I think a utopia is impossible to reach, no matter how hard you try. What is perfect for one person is imperfect for another.

    Even if you could create an environment in which utopia is possible, how can you reach a state in which each individual is equally fulfilled, unless you discard individuality.

    For example, if there are two people who desire to captain a starship, but only one starship, how do you decide which one becomes the captain? You can’t because then, one of those individuals does not live in utopia. But both cannot be captain.

    I think utopia is a mythical place where people lose their individuality in order to serve the greater good. Perhaps this is possible, but do we really want it?
    MJ Logan recently posted..LightMy Profile

    • Remember, utopia and dystopia are equally theoretical, as neither are humanly possible. Yes, in dystopia we are wholly individual, and in utopia we are not. Although you are sending me in a new direction. We have been batting back and forth the idea money cannot have a place in utopia. Would the desire of power not be the same principle as the avarice we know today?

      And to answer your question, I would not.

      • Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today. {Pink Floyd; Money}

        I disagree with that statement. Greed is the root of most evil, whether that greed lies in the want of money, power, sex, or objects, it is still greed.

        In my utopian world, I would be self sufficient and possibly trading with others of the same mind for things I don’t have. Trading would be based on need, not on value.

        Perhaps I’d trade some potatoes for some carrots because the other guy had no potatoes, and I needed carrots. Simple ideals. Some people live like this, but I doubt they’d call it utopia because it is a laborious living.

        Of course, if I sold one of my books for big bucks, I’d call that utopia too.
        MJ Logan recently posted..LightMy Profile

        • I disagree with the statement as much as Floyd did. Avarice by far is the greater evil. So, your answer begs the question…Is utopia to you a world without travail? If it is, where do the assets generate and who doles them? The barter system is a decent solution to the monetary system now in place. Where I have to wonder is: With no work where would the work ethic and integrity (as well as the care for the elderly) arise? Or does your model prepare for elimination of the elderly when they no longer are self-sufficient?

          I am not picking on you. I promise. This is a newer portion of the conversation. I wondered this last night, yet was far too tired to amend 😉

          • A world without travail is not possible, whether that means sitting behind a keyboard or digging a garden with a spade. If no one generates anything, there is nothing to be had, and nothing is generated without labor of some kind.

            I think we create a lot of problems when we place greater value on some things than others. The doctor earns more than the farmer, but is one more worthy of what they earn than the other? That is not to say the doctor or farmer has no value. I’m just saying, sometimes we assign great value to things for the wrong reasons.

            In my utopia, I bring a dressed chicken to the doctor and get a penicillin shot in return.

            But this is part of why I think utopia is impossible to attain. Who wants to study for eight years, sit in residence for three to eight more, and finally get a chicken for puncturing someone’s skin with a needle? Realistically, it isn’t gonna happen.

            People who are incapable of contributing are another reason utopia is impossible. Again, the elimination of the individual for the greater good? Who makes those decisions?
            MJ Logan recently posted..LightMy Profile

          • I think the answer lies in Molly’s comment. In order to bring on something more resembling a utopian society, we would have to become the social animals we were programmed to be. Work as a unit to do the things we are unable to accomplish on our own. In my utopian world there are many things which would have led us to similar states of interconnectivity, though I have never envisioned it on the scale you and I currently share.

            Where my world differs from the current is merely in the absence of corruption. Ambition would be fostered (see Lizzie’s comments about sibling rivalry). The cooperative nature would preclude the need for unnecessary reverence of those whose talents differed.

            As to decision making, there would be very little in the way of societal decisions as we now know them. Hmm. I see a post being born…

  4. I’m with Binky on this one.

    As a paranoid schizophrenic I see both the good and the bad in our current system.

    The provision of free medication and medical care verses the persecution and intolerance of society when it comes to mental illness.

    Society has a long way to go before it addresses these problems, but we still have to live within the system…

    Love and hugs!

    prenin recently posted..Thursday – I vote and do my shopping.My Profile

    • Prenin, for this discussion, we are discarding the now and building a theoretical world. What of this world’s restraints would you see dissolved?

      • I think the freedom to grow as people into a more decent society where there is no more starvation, better social care and freedom from tyranny.

        Half the world’s population goes hungry, while the other half has a growing problem of obesity, so a better system of food supply balance is a must!

        Also an end to slavery, something which is common in many poorer countries, and better protection of women and children from abuse which is a world-wide problem.

        We also need to control the population: We have only finite resources and yet the West is using fifty percent of the resources of the planet while the rest of the world gets only a fraction of that.

        We need to limit population growth before Momma Nature does it for us.

        We’ll run out of space pretty darned quickly if we don’t… 🙁

        Love and hugs!

        prenin recently posted..Thursday – I vote and do my shopping.My Profile

        • I brought up slavery earlier as I feel it is far more than merely the owning of persons. In fact, slavery is submission to oppression. It is far more wide-ranging than merely today’s sex and manufacturing trades.

          One of the things which strikes me about your comment is the stress on poverty. We have set out through this money does not have a place in utopian society because it breeds inequity. In place of the humanitarian pursuits which would see the end to many of the plagues of our time, do you think an education system would preclude the need for social care? If we pursue the knowledge for the sake of survival, could we not reach a place where such tending of society were not necessary beyond the very young and the very old?

          And Momma Nature has been spending her lifetime thinning the herd. She has done it for millennia. Frankly, she is one of the kindest when it comes to culling our numbers. She is far kinder than we are. {HUGZ}

          • Yes, Momma Nature is kinder.

            When I was a teenager I collected money for the starving children of Africa and thought I was doing a good deed.

            Today those same children are now breeding like rabbits and are outstripping the food supply again.

            Now they have Kalashnikovs to thin out the surviving wildlife and soon we’ll see more endangered species while new diseases are appearing to which we have no defence.

            Lord help us, but my help seems to have just made the situation worse… 🙁

            Love and hugs!

            prenin recently posted..Friday – Quiet day.My Profile

  5. I commented earlier that I think art is the great equalizer. People have been creating since the birth of mankind. It does not cost money to draw a figure in sand. It does, however, foster self-actualization and a connection by communicating to others at any station, place, language, or culture in life. Art is the birth of communication in all children. In my utopia, the greatest value would be placed on the pleasure and sharing of art without any commercial gain to it. A child’s scribbling is, to me, equally valuable to the any establishments’ value placed on so-called masterpieces. There is a collective consciousness in the expression through the arts. When we hear a musical composition, or even just single notes, we are all interconnected through the understanding and enjoyment of its expression. I believe it is the same primal feelings we have when we witness a sunrise, or watch a fire burn. We are transcended above our lives into the collective experience of being human and being part of an earth that has been our lifeblood forever.
    Gail Thornton recently posted..Poem – Anaphoric RideMy Profile

    • Very excellent assessment of art, Gail. You are correct. Art is math in motion, which is the basic building blocks of our world. It is the common language which gets through before words are formed. We truly need this level of appreciation.

  6. Becky Champ

     /  November 16, 2012

    Although I respect people’s rights to bear arms, I’m not a fan. Therefore, guns would truly only be for game hunting purposes & not drive-by shootings. In a utopian society, I would love that human rights were actual human rights & not just the rights that politicians think folks should have. So, gay marriage & equality for all! In a utopian society, cancer, AIDS, Crohn’s, bipolar disorder, and every other ailment would not exist. We would treat our elders with nothing but respect & take care of them rather than casting them off. They developed society before us & we should be thankful to them always, even when they’re frail, old & on the verge of meeting God. Angry people would lose their anger & learn to love & prosper. No child would be homeless or ever go hungry. Actually, no one would be homeless or hungry. We would all band together & help one another & be happy for our good deeds rather than feel used or taken advantage of. There would be no world wars, only true world peace. This would be my utopian society.

    • That is a plateful, Bec. I think your philosophical reasoning means the concept of drive-bys would never have occurred. Crime is something we have not discussed.

      I think an air of gratitude would be necessary to feel valued in the society. I rather like that bit. Thank you for stopping for this one, <3 xxx

      • Becky Champ

         /  November 16, 2012

        A bed is where children feel safe. Well, people were doing a drive-by on a house in Younstown, OH with an AR-15. They had the wrong house & shot through it & killed a little boy sleeping in his bed. I have severe depression (bipolar II) so I cannot even turn on the news because it’s so horrid these days. People get shot & killed daily. Crime is not welcome in my utopia.

        People these days are so ungrateful, I feel. Most children think everything should be handed to them & they’re deserving of everything. I don’t like that. Be grateful for what you have & thankful to whomever helped you get it.

        Thank you for making me aware of this post. Life’s hectic these days! Hope you’re well, Red & your family too! Those kids of yours are just too darn precious! I bet they’re grateful because I know you’re raising them right!

        • LOL! They say I am the meanest Momma on the planet…but they all still snuggle with me when the opportunity presents.

          We are not going to explore the entitlement phase until later in this series, I would be very interested on your take when we get there. I hope you have been taking good care of yourself. Seems you and the kiddles were having a great time recently. Such sweet smiles. That is what should define utopia…happy, healthy children. 🙂 <3

  7. Molly Babin

     /  November 16, 2012

    I think that a society based on bartering would be about the closest you could get to monetary value and a working system of trade. How can there be a perfect society or any utopia without the contact of other like mammals? The Association remains the same with all mammals. Cooperation is not always in the picture but being the same species, the same animals, bring us together in a likeness no one admits to. I can’t create a utopian society because all the thoughts in my brain scream against it. I think we know at a cellular level that existence is virtually impossible alone without the cooperation of other like mammals. As far as a society that is on the brink of Hell basically you don’t have to look far. You know they say the path to hell is paved with good intentions. I think as a society we’re on the Great tracks to destruction from our own. I guess I have trouble imagining a utopian society because my brain screams against it. In the end we’re all animals…. just humans can’t see or admit it.

    • Molly Babin

       /  November 16, 2012

      Btw my phone hates the way I talk because it makes some of the weirdest things out of what I say. And it also misspelled a whole bunch of crap. Just f.y.i throwing that out there.

      • Typos fairies. Now, to teach them to fold laundry. <3

      • You need to add your own words to the existing dictionary so that the next time you use them the words will be recognised.

        It is funny how technology sometimes works against us but could we do without our mobile phones? 🙁 NO…


    • I told Lewis Stewart the same thing this week. Human animals are the ones which get it wrong. All other herd animals live peacefully for millenia without overpopulation or unnatural extinction because they follow their innate instincts for when to breed and where to move and how to share and protect their terrain from predators. I have long believed a deeper interaction between humans and all members of the animal kingdom (necessarily other than the master/servant roles we currently take) would produce better natural harmony.

      We are social animals. Our nomadic ancestors were more herd-like, where our urban dwellers are pack animals (dog not cargo). It makes me wonder though, how many animals disown for albinism? I feel some research coming on…Thanx, Mo. <3

  8. Mia

     /  November 16, 2012

    In a world with all restraints dissolved, Humans are born, since the very beginning, without the ‘selfishness gene’. AND born with a gene that triggers generosity, always. If we have no reason to suspect we won’t be helped when we need it, for some reason, then we will always, always gladly help and share. No possessions, no greed, no wars. Also, in this planet, there never was such a thing as fossil fuel. It never existed, we have always helped ourselves with wind, tides and solar energy.
    Health is difficult, we have to die, if no one dies, the day will come we have no room here. So, there are illnesses that lead to death, yes, however, us Humans do not feel pain. Not in our bodies and not in our minds. Ah and those illnesses, necessary so a certain amount of people dies, over time, will never ever be present in children, only in the elder, who have lived their lives. Better yet, in my utopia, youngsters are never sick or ill.
    (I am sorry Red, I’m hugely busy, unfortunately I don’t even have the time to read the whole thread of comments, which is going on very interestingly!)

    • I know you shall return when you have time, Mia. It is interesting you bring up death as a bad thing. Death is a natural course of events in the lives of all on this planet. Not all of us die of illness. Many die simply of age. Consider this, Mia.

      If the society is content and knows of its origins and the way the reproductive cycle works, there would be no drive for premature pregnancy or having sixteen nor any of the things which drove us to overpopulate due to poverty. Without the greed and the necessity to heap fame on our heads, the ideal of requiring heirs would also cease to influence breeding. Add to that those who disposition to never have children (as some of us truly want none) would not be forced by society to have children out of shame at being classified into an outcast strata. The way you have explained the innocence, we would not interject these philosophies on the children who would be born into this world. We would savor each child as it grows.

  9. Going back to nature as much as possible, respecting each other, a bartering system. I have a lot of ideas, but unfortunately, as the world is overpopulated and we have a diverse amount of cultures and personalities, I think a utopian world is less possible than a dystopian world, though I generally not such a pessimist.
    Sage Doyle recently posted..“Repair”My Profile

    • My question was not one of reform of the current society. It is to build a virgin society.

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