Gene Roddenberry’s idea of what the future held for humanity was that of a Utopian society where crime had been eradicated as had poverty and illness. It was where the different races within humanity had learned to live alongside each other and embrace each other’s differences as well as the many alien species mankind had encountered throughout the galaxy. It was a beautiful ideal and certainly one worth reaching for. It showed one potential for mankind’s greatness and I say ‘one’ because there is the other side to the coin. As with everything there are pro’s as well as there are con’s and the other side of human potential is the evil that men do.
The opposite of Roddenberry’s Utopian society we see in Star Trek is the Dystopian society we see in books such as George Orwell’s 1984, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or Make Room, Make Room by Harry Harrison which was filmed as Soylent Green. In these scenarios we see society breaking down and governments being oppressive and totalitarian. As events unfold throughout the world we see more and more incidents that lead us to the future in those latter books. These books posed a possible future and were fiction when they were published, science fiction for the most part because they dealt with matters concerning the human condition and where our hopes and desires could lead to when advancements in technology could make our progress that much easier to obtain. Now though, like in most science fiction the fiction is becoming fact. Our goals seem to be equal part construction and destruction, whatever we seem to make to enhance our lives, to make them easier, we tend to make something that could destroy it just as easy. Instead of us learning from our mistakes we seem to endlessly repeat them. History has shown that we go through cycles where we elevate certain people to positions of power who inevitably are either corrupted by that power or are already corrupt themselves and abuse the power given them which leads humanity down a dark road. There is much fear and uncertainty in the world at the moment as we suspect we could be repeating that mistake again.
I posed the question at the start of this article, are we living in a Dystopian society? I think the only answer is, yes and we have been for some time, we just didn’t realise it.