Zamia Analysis Sacrifice the Self The concept of a perfect society, or utopia, has inspired thought and philosophical supposition for millennia. With the hope of one day attaining the social perfection of utopia, humanity has explored countless possible methods for achieving it.The resulting intellectual labors have produced such optimistic works as Plat’s Republic and Thomas Moor’s Utopia, claiming that logic and reason, as the distinguishing traits of humanity, are the conduits through which mankind may achieve a perfect society; however, the same pursuit of utopia has also more recently yielded modern dietary works that claim that logic and reason are the very creators of societies that are infernal in nature, as illustrated by the inhuman communities of Aloud Huxley Brave New World, and George Rowel’s 1984.The similarity shared between all of the imaginary societies in these works is the fact that each society claims “perfection” through their governance under the standard that the attitudes, actions, emotions, and wishes of humanity are all uniformly measurable and predictable.
Reacting to this idea, Krishna Kumar, author of Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times, stimulates that “the utilitarian and materialist cast of [logical and mathematical] ideologies [deny] any place and meaning to the ‘soul’ or to any other human attribute that [can] not be scientifically analyzed and empirically observed” (123). In other words, logical societies look upon mankind through the lens of mathematical constructs, completely without regard for the personal wants of the individual or the impulsive and irregular human elements that compose “the soul. The arithmetically perfect society of the One State in Heavenly Summation’s We exemplifies a social engine hat attaches itself so blindly to the securities of logic and science as the saving graces of its human populace that its citizenry is left with little choice but to deny their individualistic qualities and become nothing more but the mass-produced, uniform components of the State’s “mathematically perfect” communal machine. Written in the asses, Summation’s One State reflects the early 20th century’s anxiety of technological advancement, yet the pervasive and ancient echo of Plat’s Republic is also present in abundance.On the surface, several comparisons can be drawn teens Socrates’ concept of a perfect city in Republic and the One State of We. Both societies assign their citizens Jobs and occupations based on their fitness for those jobs as well as share children communally (meaning that no single “mother” or “father” may be attributed to any single “son” or “daughter”); they entrust their governance to a single leader whom the public considers “enlightened” and absolutely fit to rule through his superior intellect and Judgment, and the two societies also both enlist certain citizens as “Guardians” to defend the interests of the government. Me to have the makings of a utopia, it must be recognized that all utopian ideals have the potential to become perverted and turn what would be a perfect and proper society into a twisted dyspepsia, or what Kumar calls “anti-utopia,” the very “shadow of utopia”: [U]utopia and anti-utopia are antithetical yet interdependent. The anti-utopia is formed by utopia, and feeds parasitically on it.
It is utopia that provides the positive content to which anti-utopia makes the negative response.Anti-utopia draws its material from utopia and reassembles it in a manner that denies the affirmation f utopia. (100) Dyspepsia is, therefore, present wherever utopia has the potential to arise. In fact, according to Jean-Paul Sartre existentialist interpretation of ideas that come into being in his essay Being and Nothingness, any “[utopian ideal], if it is suddenly placed outside the subjective, can only affirm itself as distinct from and opposed to its creator” (26-27).
With this in mind, it can be said that all perfect societies are destined to deviate from the lofty ideals on which they were founded as they succumb to other less-perfect, even perverse, human influences that extend their authors’ control. To exemplify an extreme of this case, a philosopher may found a utopian nation, but it is the warmonger king who assumes the throne after the philosopher’s death that twists the philosopher’s ideals to serve his own purposes. More often than not in literature, all potential utopias degenerate to form established anti-utopias.Though concepts of communal familial networking, enlightened rulers, and Just Guardians may have the abstract, intellectual appeal of a utopia, they can easily be tainted by evil tendencies when put into the fallible hands of human governance. The authors of the laws and doctrines shared between the One State and the ideas of Socrates meant primarily to mold the constructs of their societies in such a way that the most human lives would benefit and enjoy “equality’; however, social equality is contradictory to the ambitious and selfish nature of man.
This is illustrated by Plat’s Socrates as he begins to ponder the creation of a perfect city in the early installments of Republic. After designing a city adequate for the mere survival of its population, Socrates makes provisions for its citizens to live in comfort: T]he healthy [city] is no longer adequate. On the contrary, [it must now increase] in size and population with a multitude of things that go beyond what is necessary for a city the land, I take it, that used to be adequate to feed the population will now be small and inadequate.
This reflects the nature of humanity not to be satisfied with simply living. Human ambition and the desire to indulge in all kinds of comforts drive our religious pursuits as we seek the luxury to claim that we can unravel the secrets of the universe, our hopes for promotions or better Jobs so that e may make higher salaries than our peers, and even our intellectual interests to flatter ourselves into thinking that we are the exclusive sources of certain kinds of information.Eventually, “we have to seize our neighbors’ land” because the sustenance of our own land does not satisfy our human craving to feel superior over others and over our environment (Plato 52). Even the logical citizens enjoying the not escaped their baser human desire to claim superiority. The protagonist of We, a mathematician named D-503, ironically reveals his own individual, carnal pride while inning the praises of the mathematical perfection of the One State (which discourages the indulgence of the individual).He relates his thoughts as he looks over the cityscape of the State, saying “it was as if I – not whole generations past – had personally, myself, conquered the old God and the old life. As if I personally had created all this” (7).
This expression of pride on his part reveals that, as a human, he places himself on a higher level than the doctrines of the State. He looks upon it as if he is the “new God” that created it, and therefore he only lives in it as he does cause he wills it so. He thus deceives himself with an unconscious illusion that he is able to change the State, or leave it entirely, if he wishes.This illusion defies the logic of the state and contradicts D-ass’s own perception (created and indoctrinated in him through the One State) that “humility is a virtue and pride is a vice. ” Therefore, because he is a dissenter of the perfect society in which he lives, the State will devour him like a phagocyte does a microbe; this is to say that the overwhelming and inescapable doctrines of the One State shall eventually strip him of his delusion ewer and prove that he is nothing more than a controlled factor in its own operation (113).Another early sign of the disquietude D-ass’s human nature arises as he describes his initial sexual attraction to a woman named 1-330 as “a kind of strange and irritating X [and he] couldn’t pin it down, couldn’t give it a numerical expression For some reason, [he] became embarrassed” (8). There is no mathematical formula that can predict natural human attraction, despite the efforts of the One State to, like Socrates’ city, mathematically “impose control on sexual lives” wrought “child breeding” (Zamia 14).
As long as there are humans, there will be the mathematically inexplicable tendencies of human nature.The unpredictability of human nature remains the unsolvable “irritating X” that, if it could be solved at all, would result in a truly mathematically perfect human utopia. As the One State stands, though, nature remains unsolved and therefore the “X” continues to plague it. With this in mind, to continue to say that the One State is a “mathematically infallible” utopia would be a lie, and the fact that D-ass’s primal instincts still exist is a stamens to the fact that human nature cannot survive in such a formulaic utopia.Plato insists that lies are necessary, though, even in the most perfect of societies. While discussing the education of the Guardians of his city, Socrates admits that it would be most beneficial for certain untruths to be propagated through the educational system of his “enlightened” society: Aren’t there times when it is useful [to lie], and so does not merit hatred? What about when we are dealing with enemies, or with so-called friends who, because of insanity or ignorance, are attempting to do something bad? Isn’t [a lie a] useful drug for preventing them? 63) According to Socrates, then, lies are permissible as long as they offer some benefit to the greater community, preventing “bad” from being attempting by allies as well as enemies. If a ruler can lie to prevent a murder, or a violent riot, then a the public can forgive that ruler for being untrue since the harm of the lie certainly does not result in the same physical harm that murder or violence beneficial to its citizenry is therefore allowed to lie in order to protect itself from being overthrown, and thus the government may safeguard its public from the woes f anarchy or the imposition of a more imperfect governmental system.
The government of the One State sustains itself on the same principles. Using the fear and destruction generated by the “Two-Hundred-Year War,” a devastating event that reduced Earth’s human population to several million, the One State establishes itself as the exact opposite of the elements that began the war (and therefore the embodiment of unanimous peace and happiness) to gain the confidence of its people. Though the cause of the Two-Hundred-Year War is not specified, the structure of the One State’s government attributes natural individual aspirations and the savage state of freedom” as the determined the causes of the war.Thus a totalitarian government, binding individual ambitions and coercing its citizens into obedience under “the yoke of reason” stands as the single most effective preventative measure against the outbreak of a second Two-Hundred-Year War and the destruction of mankind (3). In Imaginary Communities: Utopia, the Nation, and the Spatial Histories of Modernity, Phillip E. Wagner discusses the founding principles of the One State and its government as “Working toward a common goal,” referring to all of the institutions and practices of the One State Each of [which] aims, first, to assure the satisfaction of the society’s maternal wants” (153).In other words, the One State acts as a parental figure to its citizens.
Its institutions, though seemingly harsh, are meant only to protect its “children” from endangering themselves once again through war. With this logic, the government indoctrinates its citizenry to equate defying the government to the destruction of humanity, for surely the utopia of human unanimity in movement and ideas embodied by the One State is the only horseshoed that prohibits mankind from immediately reverting to its naturally annalistic state and plunging headlong into genocidal war once again.As a physical manifestation of the State’s success in seceding humanity from its violent nature, the government has built a wall that separates its city from the wilderness beyond its borders. According to D-503, “Mankind ceased to be savage when we built the [w]all, when we isolated our perfect, machined world, by meaner of the [w]all, from the irrational, chaotic world of trees, birds, animals” (83). Yet both the Wall and the overspent have failed to truly remove the natural lust, pride, and carnal tendencies of its human citizens, as evidenced by the X that plagues both D-ass’s doubts and the One State itself.Therefore the wall (and, by extension, the One State) is merely a false idol to the ideals of humanity separation from nature and a unanimous, non-free human spirit. Despite the efforts of the One State, war and conflict are still very possible and very present in its human citizens, and the wall is merely a symbolic deterrent to violence that offers no real preventative measure to destruction. The reliance of the One State on untruths is also apparent in the contradictory statements about the State that D-503 makes throughout his narrative.
Early in the novel, D-503 refers to the beauty of the One State being “perfect non-freedom,” implying that there are absolutely no flaws in the social structure or happiness of the One State, yet D-503 later admits “the absolutely exact solution to the mystery of happiness has not yet fully materialized even [in the One State]” (6, 13). The establishes that the One State is indeed “imperfect” in happiness.D-ass’s earlier use f the word “perfect” can be attributed to the fact that the One State has so effectively propagated the falsity of its perfection as truth that D-503 has come to subliminally associate the One State as adjectively “perfect. ” D-503 understands, though, that this subliminal association that the “exact solution the mystery of happiness” exists in the One State is not necessarily true and most assuredly many other citizens of the One State share similarly doubtful thoughts even if they also continue to refer to the State as “perfect. The doubts of the people are irrelevant, Hough, since their subliminal indoctrination is so severe that they shall continue to treat the One State as perfect, despite their doubts. The government of the One State thus relies on subconsciously intoxicating its citizens through a lie of perfection to maintain its power. The falsifications of the One State allow its leader, the Benefactor, to feed upon the unquestioning obedience and dependence of its people to sustain his own power, even to the point of denying the humanity of those he rules.
A case that illustrates this point is the incident of the Day of the One Vote as scribed in D-ass’s narrative. The Day of the One Vote is a holiday of the One State that is meant to be a celebration of the shared happiness of its citizens, illustrated by a ceremony in which the public is asked to vote for or against the continued rule of the Benefactor. Traditionally, the Benefactor is always re-elected by unanimous vote, and the people feel unified by their shared enthusiasm to absolutely support the government of the One State; however, the Day of the One Vote presented by D-503 in We proceeds quite differently.Instead of unanimous support, the foundation of he Benefactor’s power is shaken as thousands of discontented citizens raise their hands to vote against him. The upset causes some of the Benefactor’s more loyal followers to panic and take up arms against the dissenters, who defend themselves violently (proof that the One State has not succeeded at all in suppressing humanity carnal nature).After the riot, the government-regulated media of the One State comment: The celebration was clouded by a slight disturbance wrought by the enemies of happiness, which, naturally deprives them of the right to become bricks n the foundations of the One State It is clear to each of us that taking their voices into account would be as ridiculous as taking the accidental coughs of sick people in a concert audience as part of a majestic, heroic symphony.
.. (131) Again, the One State’s reliance on falsity is clear.The “slight disturbance” of the Day of the One Vote, being the thousands who voted against the Benefactor, drives the Benefactor to deny the “voice” of the dissenters as citizens of the One State, depriving them of the right to vote as “bricks in the foundations of the State”. In other words, the Benefactor’s actions confirm that the “vote” that reestablishes his rule over the State each year is a lie and a mockery of the original concept of voting (having the aim of giving the considerations of all citizens an equal voice in the government).Additionally, the presence of dissenters in the “utopian” One State and the violence and denial with which they are dealt with immediately qualifies the nation as an existential dyspepsia, despite the media’s denial of the significance of the dissidents’ opinions; as Sartre explains, “if [one refuses] to allow being any determination or content, [one is] breathless forced to affirm at least that it is. Thus, let anyone deny being whatever is”.In other words, the media of the One State not only acknowledge the significance of the rebels by trying to ignore them, but in doing so they actually definitively establish the impotence of the State as a perfect society, since their every “negation” of discontent in the One State is an “affirmation” of its presence (Sartre 48-49).
The “foundations of the One State” therefore compose an illusory democracy, having a self-serving government operating under a totalitarian dictatorship (what Socrates alls “Tyrannical Rule” in Republic) (Plato 258).Socrates would defend the position of the One State, though, as evidenced by his own opinion of dissenting: [T]he harshness of the masses toward philosophy [synonymous here with “logic”] is caused by those outsiders who do not belong and who have burst in like a band of revelers, abusing one another, indulging their love of quarreling, and always arguing about human beings – something that is least appropriate in philosophy [and logic. (194) Following Socrates’ model, the Benefactor treats those who oppose his rule as outsiders who do not belong,” and therefore strips them of their citizenship in the One State as far as he is able. Being that the One State is one of the final surviving human settlements left on the planet, to be denied one’s rights in the One State would be akin to being denied the privilege to call oneself human. Ironically, Socrates also indirectly alludes to the fact that human beings are “least appropriate” in the field of “philosophy’, which may be expanded to include the “logic and non-freedom” of the One State.
The irony of this assertion lies in the fact that it places human nines at odds with the founding “philosophy’ of “mathematically infallible happiness” that the One State offers its human citizens. With this in mind, the concept of “mathematical happiness” is an oxymoron, since mathematics itself is a concept based on inorganic “logic” and happiness is an emotion and therefore by definition applies exclusively to the organic, “human” world.According to Wagner, “This dynamic is symbolized in the narrative by the figure of the imaginary or complex number, the square root of negative one” which D-503 associates with 1-330, he alluring woman who, as a human, defies the “logic” of the One State. Wagner continues to say that D-503 “finds the concept so exasperating precisely because it is a ‘challenge’ to his mathematical understanding of the world that arises from within the very logic of that understanding itself” (157).The fact that the One State bases itself on such a self-contradicting idea, coupled with the fact that the resoundingly “human” character of 1-330 is associated with the element that “challenges” the State’s “mathematical understanding” and thus creates the contradiction of logic, establishes that the notion of the State being a logically-based, non-free utopia in which humans can exist happily and peacefully is grossly ill-conceived.
Therefore, if the One State can indeed be used as a model for a human society based on logical ideologies and social structures, the supposed logic-governed city of Socrates would be Just as unstable, self-contradictory, and reliant upon dishonest government as West dyspepsia State. Given the contradictory and naturally unsatisfying components of the One State, the “outsiders” among the citizens seek a way to escape from their totalitarian prison. They find a way to travel beyond the Wall that surrounds the city and commune with the “savage yet free” people who live in the outlying wilderness, the MAPI.The MAPI and the refugees of the One State are disadvantaged to live glass and iron, yet readers can more easily sympathize with their free way of life outside of the non-freedom of the One State than the contradictory logic-based existence of the State’s loyalists (who seem to be more parts of a great, unnatural machine running on “petroleum food” than members of a human society) (143). Unable or unwilling to reshape the contradictory nature of the society of the One State, those who abandon it share the same dilemma of the citizens of the moral dyspepsia of Ursula Lee Gun’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Meals.
Lee Gun’s story describes the community of Meals, what superficially appears to be a perfectly happy township of free love, consequence-free drug usage, and a church untainted by a clergy, all tailored to the satisfaction of the will of the individual. The people celebrate and make merry all day, every day, enjoying “[s]miles, bells, parades, roses, [and orgies]” while “the offspring of these delightful rituals [are] enjoyed and beloved and looked after by all”; however, like the One State, there exists an “X” of imperfection in Meals (Legging 19, 20).Not all who live in Meals are happy.
There is one house in this blissful community that is home to the only citizen who lives in anguish, a child locked in a broom closet. “It could be a boy or girl,” the story’s narrator explains: It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It is feeble-minded, perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, illumination, and neglect. It picks its nose and occasionally fumbles vaguely with its toes or genitals, as it sits hunched in the corner (24-25) The child lives wretchedly, naked, alone, unloved, and terrified.Human compassion would dictate that, if such a child was to be discovered by others, then it would be rescued from its torturous existence posthaste and cared for by the community.
The child’s suffering is known well to the people of Meals, though, and the blot on their false utopia is the fact that they are cruelly indifferent to and yet dependent upon the child’s agony: They all now [the child] is there, all the people of Meals. Some of them have come to see it; others are content merely to know it is there. They all know that it has to be there.Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of the their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery despite the fact that their Joy and the stability of their immunity is somehow derived from the suffering of an innocent child, most of the citizens of Meals continue to live gaily.There are some, though, who are moved by compassion and cannot suffer the indignity of enjoying a life of splendor and plenitude at the expense of a child’s life. They are unable to cope with the heartless majority of their community, and so they leave Meals, “These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone youth or girl, man or woman.
Night falls; the traveler must pass down the village streets and on out into the darkness”.Each of the individuals who abandon the “city of happiness” do not know where they are going or what awaits them in the unknown “darkness”, but each of them is certain that whatever they find beyond the walls of Meals will be more satisfying, more human, than the insufferable happiness within (32). The sentiments and dignity of the ones who walk away from Meals are the same as those who forsake the contradictions and injustices of the societies that they renounce and decide that they shall have no part of such injustices, almost as if they may wash their hands free of guilt in such a manner.The fact still remains, though, that the child still suffers in Meals, and the human spirit continues to be squelched in the One State. With this in mind, though those who abandon unjust and dyspepsia societies have indeed shown more potential for human feeling, they are at the same time more abominable than the ignorant masses that remain chained to the tainted happiness of Meals and the One State because the ones who walk away are cognizant of the inhuman violence of these imperfect societies and yet do nothing to save the souls who are damned by them.In order to call ourselves human and truly own the “X” of our being hat separates us from heartless arithmetic, we must confront injustice and evil when we recognize it and not simply allow it to destroy others as we passively and indifferently observe from a safe distance away. It is our social responsibility to seek out the evils, the injustices, and the untruths of our world so that we may undo them, for “there can be no human dignity without the end of misery and need, but also no human happiness without the end of old and new forms of servitude” (Wagner 159).
One can also say that there is a degree of freedom in non-freedom, being that one is bled to interact and define oneself within the confines of the physical and social barriers that surround the individual. If humans require physical barriers in order to establish their physical identities by interacting with those barriers, then social barriers are also necessary for humans to establish their social identities. At the same time, humans require the ability to choose how and when to interact with these barriers in order to have a semblance of self-image (and, by extension, in order to call themselves “human” at all).The same idea appears in We, when D-503 says that walls are the foundation of anything and everything human” (37). This evidence indicates that humans cannot sustain themselves in conditions resembling perfect non-freedom (such as in the One State) or conditions resembling perfect freedom, since both ultimately deny the activities of self-actualization that a human requires to confirm his or her own existence and therefore live happily.Given that both freedom and non-freedom carry elements that both aid and hinder the human condition, one can imagine that the solution to the question of how one rectifies the problems of injustice in a dyspepsia of non-freedom, and also how one rectifies the lack of self- realization in a dyspepsia of unnaturally perfect freedom, is a socially functioning, natural balance between freedom and non-freedom, carnality and logic, “the imaginary and the real, the rational and the irrational, the simple and the complex [as] equally important dimensions of [utopia]” (Wagner 157).Thus, in order to found a proper utopia, the limiting knowledge and comforts afforded to humans by logic and reason must not be held with any more or less regard than the liberating natural human condition that enjoys those same comforts.