• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What is the extent of the importance of isolation in utopian and dystopian discourses (ancient and contemporary)?

Extracts from this document...


What is the extent of the importance of isolation in utopian and dystopian discourses (ancient and contemporary)? Politicians and sociological theorists have long trodden the fine line between the open society and the closed society, the utopia and the dystopia, a stable system of moderate authoritarianism and totalitarianism. Karl Popper, for one, in his seminal work The Open Society and its Enemies, mentions the common assumption that totalitarianism is inevitable, but implies that he himself is not a subscriber to this view. Instead, he outlined the definition between the open society (the society in which individuals are confronted with personal decisions) and the closed society (the tribal or collectivist society)1, and averred that while open societies, with their focus on the individual, opened themselves up to difficulties such as class struggle, closed societies could (in theory) avoid this by working for the good of the overall society rather than for individual enhancement. This may be where some of the appeal of Communism originates; however, it is rarer for communities to splinter off in a serious bid to create an isolated sectarian group in the aim of pursuing a long-term more peaceful lifestyle than it is for them to pursue short-term political rebellion. Even Plato's famous creation of an ideal state in the form of the Republic does not conform to the idea of a serious long-term lifestyle change - he makes it clear throughout the Republic that his ideas are only hypothetical as part of a philosophical discussion among friends; they are not political superpowers intending to section off a part of society in this way in order to build a utopia. ...read more.


certain poetic rebuttal in lyric verse...[we] would be justified in letting poetry return" [607d], suggests that isolationist techniques are strictly controlled but are (to an extent) flexible. Amish members who contradict the rules of the society by (say) purchasing a car when they are full members of the society (i.e. after the rumspringa period) are given some time to amend their actions and atone for them. It is only if they consistently refuse to repent that they are permanently excommunicated (or shunned), and members can also choose to leave the society voluntarily if they wish (having not done wrong). Intriguingly, this could be perceived as isolation also being used as a threat, as well as being used as an enticement to the society. By being excommunicated, or choosing to leave the society, the individuals concerned risk a different type of isolation - they aren't included in the rituals of the dominant society, and they are no longer included in the utopia, and thereby expose themselves to deep loneliness. Margaret Atwood (in the dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale) also uses the concept of isolation as a threat - if the handmaids fail to comply with the new regime, they are sent to the Colonies - islands where they have freedom away from the regime, but where chemical pollution hasn't been eradicated, meaning that the freedom has the sting in the tail of a slow and painful death. Consequently, the Amish and Plato (in creating their own utopian communities) must maintain security and avoid totalitarianism by ensuring that they "engage in a significant polemic with the dominant culture...and to do so must speak essentially the same language in order to make the ...read more.


that while a certain degree of isolation is helpful (the Amish communities are, after all, still part of a larger landmass), total isolation is not essential for a utopia to be effective and historic, even if this does occasionally lead to problems such as invasion by external bodies. It is difficult to see how Plato's community and Atwood's community would fare in today's world: partly due to their respective hypothetical and fictional natures, but also partly due to the Athenian context in which Plato's republic was created (e.g. the impulse to colonise surrounding areas). Both of these communities also involve persuading the current generation to buy into a very different way of life, whereas the Amish community was and is based on religious and moral precepts that were very familiar at the time of the community's conception (meaning that to an extent, Amish tenets are far less far-fetched than those delineated in other discourses). By still holding technology at a distance, exercising restraint and moderation, and by accepting limitations and living within them, the Amish have maintained the integrity of their family and community life12 - even if they do not always manage to evade undesirable side-effects of life such as violence and waste, as shown by the recent incident of the Amish shootings. In conclusion, it is not possible to create a utopia purely on the basis of isolation, mainly due to the problem of the current generation. While total isolation is a helpful element, a successful brainwashing programme or definite ideological framework must be the foundation on which a utopian community builds itself, with isolation being conducive to this rather than being the sole basis of its creation. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Philosophy and Theology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Philosophy and Theology essays

  1. Zionism has never seriously posed this question: Why, during these two thousand years, have ...

    "He was critical of the new concepts of redemption and repentance that had been taught by the Harbringers', They frequently twisted quotations from the Bible and to Rabbis to fit their opinion, and it is understandable that by doing so they aroused controversy and strife" (69)

  2. Is there a crisis of meaning in the contemporary world? Support your argument with ...

    It was thought that the idea of an all loving God, whom people had to worship did not satisfy the developing curiosity of the masses, who still wonder, how an omniscient, omnipotent higher being, can allow atrocities such as the Nazi's slaughter of millions of Jews in World War 2

  1. Language and Logic in Ancient China, Chad Hansen

    Each Chinese character has a one-syllable pronunciation, instead of consisting of alphabets. Moreover, pictographs are like "the Chinese equivalent of Plato's 'ideal name (Hansen 50).'" The way that Westerner having a mental picture is having "the mediation between sounds and objects in the world...[is]...shared by social convention."

  2. Culpa e prazer.

    que � determinado seja por sua universalidade, seja por sua inevitabilidade biol�gica, seja porque � naturalmente dado. Olhar o consumo por este vi�s � uma escolha pol�tica deliberada cujo objetivo � encontrar uma esp�cie de explica��o biol�gica ou natural - determinista, portanto - para algo que pertence a uma dimens�o totalmente diferente.

  1. Plato's Republic and The Wizard of Oz

    The movie The Wizard Of Oz approaches this philosophical concept through the three distinct characters with whom Dorothy befriended while on her journey through the Land of Oz. As Dorothy encounters various characters such as the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, she comes to know that each

  2. Is the Dispossessed a Utopia?

    According to Levitas, there are three main approaches used to define exactly what a utopia is, or at least what can be classed as a utopia or utopian thought, and these are form, content, and function (Levitas 1990:2). In terms of content, there is a common assumption that utopia should be a portrayal of the good society.

  1. A Discussion on the Defence of Compatibilism

    If offered a choice of ice cream flavours, which one would a person choose? Free will would propose the person in question is able to choose, without coercion or consequence, any flavour he or she liked. A hard determinist would say there is in reality no choice, and that a

  2. Justice in the Republic. The Republic of Plato examines how Plato believes that ...

    The tripartite division of the soul must contain these parts; the calculating, the thymos, and the desiring. The calculating part, is where you find truth and knowledge, it is where rationalization in the soul occurs. The thymos, is the spiritedness, this is where an individual presents anger, righteousness, victory and glory.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work