Utopia is Dystopia



I agree that it can be interesting to think about, but not on most of the specific points they made.

Q: How do “we” know when we are in a dystopia?
A: “We” don’t, because it depends upon what one’s ideal society would be, and people generally cannot be assumed to share those ideals (unless we are being lazy).

One tricky thing about Utopia is that whereas More posits it as a form of ideal society, this is not to say that it is described as a society worth striving for! Utopia literally means “no-place”. The actual opposite of a dystopia would be the similarly-pronounced Eutopia, a good or pleasant place - and even more than 500 years later, people still confuse these!

Problematic also is the assertion that since Thomas More is noted for coining the term for his book, that anything anyone describes as a utopia owes something to More’s ideas.

The connotation of a dystopia being necessarily inescapable is recent and owes more to Orwell and Huxley than John Stuart Mill who coined that term. A dystopia is no more innately inescapable than a eutopia is inevitable. And I can’t credit Rand as belonging to the same cautionary political fiction canon as Orwell or Huxley either.

What I did enjoy was the 2.5 minutes or so of describing what Thomas More’s ideal society was like. Although there wasn’t any context provided about what More himself thought of the system. I can imagine some alt-right dipshits come to the realization that: “Heeeey… Progressives are considered utopian - and Utopia had slaves! So progressives are crypto-slavers! They are the real racists/exploiters/oppressors here!” It can come off as a vague “socialism is scary!” critique.


Isn’t it meant to be a pun?

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That is my guess. I have yet to have the occasion to read More’s Utopia. It seems like a pun that More was clear in using, but that it sounds to me like some readers and critics miss, and as a consequence this confusion works its way into discussions of intentional communities also. Since utopias are - by definition - unattainable, the term can be used to subtly disparage any social work not within the status quo.

Many refer to various flavors of socialism, but I have also slung it back at capitalism. Isn’t the notion that an economy based upon scarcity and hoarding will somehow provide for most people and result in incentives for civilized society itself utopian? Same with having a representative democracy based upon state secrets. Lots of conservative and regressive ideas are easy to dismiss as not only undesirable but also ultimately unattainable. Because they were never meant to actually work as advertised, or they claim universality while depending upon double-standards.

You’re hyperfocusing on the original meaning of a word from many hundreds of years ago rather than what the word has come to mean. Let it go.


I am not particularly attached to it. I am sure that the word can handle being overloaded with multiple meanings, as usually happens.

This video mentions Nineteen Eighty-Four as an example of Dystopia being inescapable…

But Nineteen Eighty-Four ends with an Appendix. An Appendix that was written from the perspective of a time after Oceania fell.

The heroes may not have won in Nineteen Eighty-Four, but taking the message that a true Dystopia can never be broken is, I think, both against the text that they are referring to, as well as the author’s apparent intent.


I pointed that out in the comments. It’s very subtle and I didn’t catch it at first, but the clue the whole thing was post oceana was the fact the appindex gives its it’s all past tense.

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