[ExI] Consequentialist world improvement

Charlie Stross charlie.stross at gmail.com
Mon Oct 8 13:20:10 UTC 2012

On 8 Oct 2012, at 13:55, Tom Nowell <nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:

> While 1984 may be a caricature, it was exceeded by reality - the East German Stasi managed to have 1 in 5 Germans informing on the rest of the citizens. 1984 was intended as a warning against Communist Totalitarianism, and it turned out the horrors could easily be exceeded in the real world.

Obligatory reading: "Stasiland" by Anne Funder. (Among other eye-openers: East Germany never really de-Nazified. When the Soviets swept in they brought a bunch of tame German Communists who'd been in exile in the USSR and were happy enough to toe Stalin's line. Who executed the obvious Nazi leaders but basically ignored lower-level functionaries, because by 1940 if you were German you had to be a Nazi in order to be a doctor or a teacher; if they'd killed all the Nazis they wouldn't have had a state to run. So by the late 1950s East Germany was the worst of both worlds; a state run by doctrinaire Stalinists at the top and recycled Nazis at the lower levels.)

> I found a copy of the Faber Book of Utopias in a charity shop, so have been reading up on old visions of societies both envisioned as extremely good and extremely bad. Has anyone read Yevgeny Zamyatin's "We"? It appears to be a horrific dystopia and is said to have inspired Brave New World and 1984. The section quoted in the book of utopias is about the recommendation of "fantasiectomy" - an operation to reduce the imagination and make people happier workers within The One State.
> Hmm...there's a lot of utopias and dystopias out there, I could spend years reading to try and capture a representative sample.

One of these days I want to try my hand at writing a utopia. The first rule of thumb I have, though, is "no single system  ever works for everyone". Makes the job rather more complicated than if you can just wave a magic wand and have your minions bundle the annoying human obstacles off into concentration camps ...

-- Charlie

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