Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Utopian Society: Living a Dream or Beginning a Nightmare?

Note: Everyone knows that I'm a huge nerd when it comes to video games, so this blog is inspired by the upcoming release of Bioshock 2 (which I have pre-ordered).

The great thing about video games is that you get to live out these different scenarios that you can be almost certain that you will never encounter in real life. Some games feel like just games, but the well done ones can really draw you in and make you feel like the location is a real living breathing location. The location I am referencing in this one is an underwater city called Rapture and the idea of really living in a similar place. Those of you familiar with the game Bioshock are probably thinking "Mark, plasmids aren't real and you can't really remove the life force from creepy little girls and use it as your own". I'm throwing those ideas out for this and focusing more on the idea of the city and if it would work.

The idea of the city sounds like a great one (not to mention that I'm a huge sucker for the late 50's art deco style), people from all walks of life move into a city that is removed from the general laws of mankind and given room and board and are able to work on their projects without interruption. Each person carries their own weight. Doctors and scientists do not have to worry about laws regarding such things as stem cell research, cloning, and the moral questions that accompany such studies. Artists are able to work on whatever art they choose without worry of censor.

When you first enter the town you are greeted by a large bust of the founder and a banner that reads, "No Gods or Kings, Only Man". In this town there are no religious standards, there are no censors, and there are no limits.

So, in reality, could this work? I believe that if you had everyone of the same mindset that this is a community and they can add to it and make things better and everyone is truly equal, it may. Maybe I'm being hopeful, or maybe I just want to move to an underwater city where the liquor flows freely (and yes, Rapture has a lot of booze there), but I do think that if we were able to all get along and nobody was acting like a jerk, we would be able to make it thrive... but people are people, that's the only problem. It's all fine and good until you throw emotions in. People get jealous, people get egos, people mistreat other people, and I would give it about 5 years tops before everything begins to fall apart.

When that happens, you start looking at it as a dystopian society where either everything has fallen apart and everyone is at war with everyone else, or the ruling figures have given into their emotions of greed and become addicted to the feeling of power and tyranny and it becomes a war of the people vs. the ruling power.

With all of that being said, I can't wait to go back to visit Rapture again. Would you kindly join me?



  1. I see Rapture as a crack at an apparently "Objectivist" society- but when you look at it, that's not entirely true. I've played this game and enjoyed it massively, partly because I'm a game artist and would spend too much time just looking at the environment. Not to read into it too much, but I think it does a diservice to Objectivism. The society is obviously not set up in the way Objectivism would promote, which is an actualization of what America was supposed to be- a society in service to the citizens and charged solely with the protection of their individual rights. Obviously, the most important component of that sort of system is a constitution protecting individual rights- that means a republican form of government, where mob-rule vote cannot vote away individual rights. A government with three primary functions- police, military, justice system- all to protect individuals from criminal behaviour,from outside threats to the group of individuals, and arbitrate disputes between individuals. Rapture, if Objectivist, would have had a police force that would prevent and retaliate against what the creators of Bioshock call "darwinian in-fighting" via splicing. In an Objectivist society, force is not a valid way of "trading" or "competing" because it invalidates a person's ability to reason/function as a proper human being. The only proper force is retaliation against initiation of force. Thus, though the sayings used in the game to describe Rapture seem to portray the principles of a free society, the game creator's Rapture is an anarchistic society easily prone to brute-force tribalism( which is why it fell.)

    In any case, I've taken my share of philosophy courses (none, mind you, even mentioned Objectivism- I had to read up on it myself), and Objectivism seems to be the the Occam's Razor of ethics and has definitely added a lot to my personal philosophy. I'd like to see an honest depiction of an Objectivist society- I have read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged just recently but sadly what she portrays is not under the Atlantic ocean! It's also lectury- I prefer the Fountainhead. Rand is a bit too beligerant to me- but I guess that helped her ideas get notice. It's worth a deeper look if you're interested.

    Oh and don't give up on true change in America- as long as we aren't censored, revolution can be had through ideas. Plus I don't know about you, but I don't have super advanced hunter drones whose exponential technological enhancement is artificially stimulated by an unlimited budget provided by infinite taxation of every single individual for the benefit of "the public."

    Our other option is to create a real Rapture, but lets learn from the mistakes of Bioshock's depiction and establish a society without the "freedom to kill other people" clause.

  2. 美麗的事物是永恆的快樂,它的可愛日有增加,不會消逝而去........................................