The Republican Party is gathering in St. Paul, to put forth its vision of the future. And over the next few days, you'll be hearing a lot about the horrendous futures that could take shape if gormless liberals were allowed to run the show. Which makes us wonder: what does science fiction, the literature of the future, have to say about liberal-run dystopias? And it turns out, there are plenty of horrendous futures blighted by the heavy hands of our zinfandel-spitting liberal elites. Here are the scifi stories John McCain should mention in his acceptance speech.
For ease of reference, we've divided the liberal dystopias into a few major categories:
Political correctness conquers the universe.
In other words, imagine the movie P.C.U. (or better yet, rent it and watch it, it rules) only taken to a much worse extreme.
George Orwell's 1984 might not be quite as much fun as P.C.U. (although the Eurythmics rock the movie soundtrack) but it's in many ways the original template for political correctness with its newspeak and use of language to sanitize everything. It's not, however, such a great example of what we currently mean by political correctness, since the oppressive super-state doesn't display much concern about offending minorities or oppressed groups.
Instead, we should look to Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron, about a future dystopia where everybody has to be "average," and if you have any special abilities, you have to suppress them. Are you smarter or more beautiful than other people? The state will use special devices to remove those advantages, so everyone's equal. It's been a TV movie and it's soon to be a major motion picture, 2081.
A similar take on an egalitarian dystopia is Facial Justice by famous literary author L.P. Hartley, in which the women of a post-apocalyptic world are encouraged to get a standardized "beta face" so they'll all be equally beautiful. "Go Beta and you won't have to beautify!" the state says.
Similarly, Rob Grant wrote a novel called Incompetence, which takes place in a future United States Of Europe where you're not allowed to discriminate on the basis of ability - at all. You have to hire people to do jobs they're not capable of doing, because otherwise you're discriminating. There's also a take-off of Brave New World called Fair New World, in which feminism and super-carefulness are crushing the human spirit.
And then there's The Alphabet Challenge by Russian émigré Olga Gardner Galvin, which is set decades in America's future, when political correctness has taken over. At one point, Howell Langston Toland's business gets vandalized, and he calls the authorities:
He heard a prerecorded message. "If you have a complaint about PeopleCare's actions, press 1. - If your place of business was rendered unusable by our activists, press 2. - If you plan to file charges, we'd like to inform you that your place of business had been found in violation of a number of the New York City office regulations and/or zoning laws. You are free to file charges, but we'll be forced to file countercharges. We have a full list of your violations on file. If you want to know what violations, press 3. - If you have any other questions, please stay on the line."
Howell stayed on the line. A polite young lady looked up the name of his business and the date it was trashed and confirmed that it had indeed been found in violation of several regulations, among them lack of shutters to block out sunlight to accommodate UV-sensitive customers. She also advised Howell that penalties for vandalism were much lighter than for violation of the New York City office regulations and/or zoning laws. Somehow, Howell believed her.
But he later gets his own back, by starting a movement that claims people whose names begin with letters later in the alphabet are victims of terrible discrimination, which the state should remedy.
There's also Liberality For All, the recent comic-book series, where among other things a new set of "Coulter Laws" ban hate speech.
The "nanny state" bans guns, tackle football and sexy dancing.
The classic "nanny state out of control" novel is Rash by Pete Hautman. It's 2076, and the United States of Safer America has outlawed dangerous activities, obesity and verbal abuse. You can't even run a track meet without wearing bulky safety equipment, which slows down runners' times. Bo gets a lengthy prison sentence for spreading a rash through his school.
There's also the awesome future of Demolition Man, where anything nice is illegal, including alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, and unhealthy food. Murder is unheard of, but the price is high: everybody's sort of infantilized and dumb. I also think Christopher Lambert's movie Fortress belongs in this category: it's about an evil future where the government controls how many children you can have.
You could put A Clockwork Orange into this category, both the novel and the film, because of the Ludovico technique, the aversion therapy which the government uses to make Malcolm McDowell's character incapable of any violent or sexual actions. Also, Pandagon argues that you could say Wall-E is about humans being "coddled" by a nanny state from cradle to grave.
Sex and drugs for everyone - whether you want it or not!
The classic oppressive hedonism story, of course, is Brave New World, one of a whole category of stories about "false utopias." People are constantly spouting mottos like, "Better a gram than a damn," and "orgy porgy." And it's soon to be a major motion picture! (With Gattaca's Andrew Nicoll writing and maybe directing, OMG.) There's also Logan's Run, which is all about a world where it's a non-stop party with easy sex and bouncy Prell hair - until you reach a certain age, and then you're dead.
J.G. Ballard also created the Burning Man-esque dystopia of Vermillion Sands in his novel of the same name. In the post-apocalyptic world Vermillion Sands, every pleasure is available, but nothing is true. You could also argue the movie Idiocracy is a dystopia showing what will happen after another 500 years of liberals degrading our culture.
Religion is brutally suppressed, and/or science is the new religion.
In THX-1138, religion is illegal, and you're supposed to work for the government. (And everybody works for the government one way or another, which also puts THX in the final category of socialist dystopias.) And in the famous story "God Pulp," by Pakistani journalist and writer Nadeem F. Paracha, everybody lives under "Astro-Marxism." There's no more hunger or poverty, but religion is banned because it's useless and violent. Only some plucky robots still believe in God, and they head off on a pilgrimage to the planet where they believe God resides.
And then there's the novel Silenced by Jerry Jenkins:
Following World War III, religion is banned. Although a believer, double agent Paul Stephola works for the government agency responsible for persecuting Christians, the National Peace Organization (NPO). He has to keep his faith secret from his wife, Jae, because he is not sure if she will turn him over to her father, a high official in the NPO. Paul want Jae to also become a believer, but will she have the courage to find God amidst persecution?
Also, it turns out that the Emperor banned religion in the Warhammer 40K universe — but he was still worshiped after his death. Irony! And religion is also banned in the future dystopia of Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study. Worship is also illegal in the corrupt future city of Tachames in Sierra St. James' novel Time Riders.
Socialism abolishes private property and radical environmentalists take over.
We touched on some of these awesome stories in our post on conservative science fiction a while back: in particular, there's the fantastic Atlas Shrugged, where America is overrun by liberals who want to "feed the poor
and crush innovation." In Falling Angels by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the "Greens" take over the world and do such a good job of controlling greenhouse gases, the world is gripped in a terrible new Ice Age.
If you want a straight-up Communist takeover of the U.S., there's always C.M. Kornbluth's paranoid Not This August. And then there's the British 1907 classic What Might Have Been: The Story Of A Social War, which recounts an alternate future where the Labour Party takes power for the first time and seizes private property to fund the insatiable demands of the Welfare State, leaving good poeple with no alternative but to rise up and revolt.