These two terms have been used for some time to mainly describe societies with one being a perfect society and the other the opposite. The Difference Between Utopia and Dystopia focuses on its main definition of a perfect place versus an imperfect one.
Utopia is a term for an imagined place where everything is perfect. It has been used to describe an imaginary world where social justice is achieved, as well as the principles that could guarantee it. Utopia symbolizes the hopes and dreams of the people. Utopia becomes synonymous with impossible because an ideal life in a perfect society that it offers seems out of reach.
The word first appeared in Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, published in Latin as Libellus … de optimo reipublicae statu, deque nova insula Utopia (“With regard to the highest state of the republic and the new utopia of the island”); the term was compounded by More from the Greek words for «not» (or) and «place» (topos) and hence meant «nowhere».
Examples of utopia
- The Republic, by Plato (427-347 BC). Although the term utopia did not exist in Ancient Greece, in this book it is considered that the ideal society is a democratic city-state in which there are three social groups: the leaders (those who are in charge of governing in a fair way), the warriors (who are in charge of defending the republic) and the manual workers (who have the task of producing all the necessary elements for themselves and for others).
- Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). In this book, the ideal society is governed by an absolute State, which is the result of the social contract between people and which has the power to maintain order, because the freedom of individuals is guaranteed, but limits are set to ensure the welfare of all.
- utopian socialism. It is a concept developed by different authors, such as Robert Owen (1771-1858) and Flora Tristán (1803-1844), and assumes that the ideal society will be achieved when the capitalist organization is overcome and when the State can guarantee equality (so that there is no more poverty), access to basic services (so that everyone can use them) and the cooperation of all subjects (so that everyone works with the objective of producing food and the elements necessary to live).
- The city of the Sun, by Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639). In this work, a utopian society is described, which is located on top of a mountain and whose government is fair and is made up of a leader, Hoh the Metaphysician, and three ministers, Pon, Sin, and Mor. In this civilization, technology serves to improve people’s lives and production is collective, since everyone works and rests the same amount of time and shares food and processed objects.
- The New Atlantis, by Francis Bacon (1561-1626). In this novel, the story of a mythical place inhabited by an ideal, harmonious and balanced society is told. This community developed thanks to scientific and technological knowledge, which made it possible to improve people’s lives in relation to production, politics, and the economy.
A dystopia is the vision of a society that is the opposite of a utopia. A dystopian society is one in which living conditions are miserable, characterized by human misery, poverty, oppression, violence, disease, and/or pollution.
Dystopia literature draws on the human experience of the failure of states and ideologies to create utopias, or even the more modest goals of good governance, which often curtail human freedom in the name of some ideal leading to authoritarian consequences. and even totalitarian.
The first known use of the term dystopia appeared in a speech to the British Parliament by Greg Webber and John Stuart Mill in 1868. In that speech, Mill said: “It is, perhaps, too complimentary to be called utopians, they should prefer to be called dis-topics.” ”.
The Greek prefix “days” means “sick”, “bad” or “abnormal”; For its part, the Greek “topos” means “place”. Therefore, dystopia refers to an imagined place where almost everything is bad, an antithesis of the term utopia which was coined by Thomas More.
examples of dystopia
- Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (1894-1963). It is a novel in which the story of Lenina Crowne and Bernard Marx is told in a dystopian setting. The society in which these characters find themselves is divided into castes and is controlled by an authoritarian government, which monitors all citizens and censors artistic creation, religion, and other types of knowledge and practices.
- Alphaville , by Jean-Luc Godard (1930). It is a movie whose plot shows the story of Lemmy Caution, a spy who must go to Alphaville to fulfill two missions. Alphaville is a dystopian city where a machine controls people’s thoughts and behavior and where there are various prohibited practices, such as the use of a choice of words.
- The Matrix, by Lana Wachowski (1965) and Lilly Wachowski (1967). It is the first film in a tetralogy that tells the story of Thomas Anderson, a man who works as a programmer and hacker and who discovers that the reality in which he lives does not exist, but is instead a virtual illusion controlled by other people.
- Essay on blindness, by José Saramago (1922-2010). This novel tells the story of how people contract a disease that leaves them blind. From this pandemic, a dystopian society is described in which selfishness, chaos, and despair reign and which is controlled by a repressive and authoritarian government.
- A Pebble in the Sky, by Isaac Asimov (1920-1992). This novel tells the story of Joseph Schwartz, a 20th-century tailor who is sent to the future. The Earth of that time is described using topics of dystopian science fiction, since this planet, after a nuclear accident, is almost devastated, with few natural resources and high levels of radioactivity. In addition, other typical elements of this genre appear, such as a galaxy that is ruled by an unjust emperor and the threat of a bacteriological war.
Difference Between Utopia and Dystopia
Utopia and dystopia are two sides of the same coin. They are two science fiction scenarios of two extreme points. The literature also explains the two in a deeper way. But, by definition, utopia is an environment of society or community in which people experience the ideal and perfect life possible.
In contrast, dystopia highlights the opposite, which is a place of extremely unpleasant living and working conditions for most people. Most of all social and governmental systems are bad. This is the main difference between utopia and dystopia.
Utopia is what many would think of as paradise. The term was first coined by Thomas Moore in his official publication entitled “Utopia” in 1516. In his utopia, he described an imaginary and lonely island where everything seems to run smoothly.
It is like looking at the blue sky, warm and bright sunlight, working in clean and spacious buildings, living with kind people, working happily, and living harmoniously with everyone.
However, there is a reason why many recognize a utopia as a pure work of fiction. It is because the idea of utopia itself seems impossible. A real, material world of perfection cannot truly exist. In fact, utopia literally translates to an imaginary good place that doesn’t physically exist. This kind of world is not only unreal but also impractical.
In contrast, a dystopian world, also known as anti-utopian or ecotopian, is totally broken. This is another difference between utopia and dystopia.
Dystopia was also coined at the same time as utopia. However, its use was only known at the end of the 19th century. In a dystopian world, the skies are blackout. The sun may not be shining, and the buildings are mostly dilapidated. People (if there are any left) are annoying and hostile. Going to work is always a painful experience, and it seems that everyone still hasn’t worked out their differences.
In various publications, the dystopian setting is also considered to be something akin to a utopian society. It’s just that with further immersion in that society, he will eventually learn that there is excessive control, repression, and abuse. This description pretty much fits the idea of police states where great power is used to control citizens.
In this sense, the people who hold power become much more advanced and progressive than the rest, which also emphasizes the distinctive separation of different classes or castes (ie the upper, middle, and lower classes).