From American style liberal, through progressive on to outright socialist, here is a collection of utopian and dystopian visions.
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Benevolent space aliens put humans on welfare. Peace, joy and understanding ensue; pesky rednecks and Christians fade away. I find Childhood’s End to be quite depressing, along with most other works by Arthur C. Clarke. But for devout secular humanists, his works can be a quasi religious experience.
The Dispossessed is an honest utopian novel contrasting an anarcho-socialist utopia with a propertarian society – a must read for those who still believe in communism but that the Bolsheviks did it all wrong (implementing “state capitalism”).
The early Robert Heinlein was very, very far to the left. (He moved rightward later in life after touring the Soviet Union.) For Us, the Living [17+] was his first attempt, laying out his vision of free love, free healthcare, and Social Credit economics in great detail within a not-so-great story. It was only published after his death. Beyond this Horizon was published when written, and includes much of his early vision of Social Credit economics. It’s still not one of his best novels, but it is short and readable. It is interesting to note that even when he was a borderline socialist, Heinlein was a big proponent of individual gun rights. His socialism was truly democratic, not elitist.
With a large enough population, individual actions cancel out and historical forces are almost inevitable, save for some long range efforts by social science experts. Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation Trilogy is thus the ultimate fantasy for the liberal sociology professor. Get paid for rereading it by assigning it to your students!
For more lefty goodness, see the page on social liberal utopias. You might also enjoy the conservative and libertarian dystopias as well.
Or, for a bit of introspection, read some of the economic leftist dystopias and satires below.
I have a short collection of comedies for you below. For grim views of full-on state enforced communism, see the authoritarian dystopias page.
“Don’t walk! Do it in a gym!” Let us start with Keynesian Economics run amok. Sydney’s Comet is the story of Earth threatened by a giant comet made of garbage generated by a society bent on preventing Hoovervilles through mandatory consumption. Even walking is forbidden; one must wear moto-shoes to get around. The story is rather silly, and the science is terrible. But it is a good lesson on the contradiction between Keynesian stimulus and environmentalism.
Back in my days living in Hippyland East (Asheville, NC), I was repeatedly informed that the Soviet Union was state capitalism, not true communism. Fair enough. Jack Vance wrote a spoof of the real thing in Wyst, the third short novel in the Alastor [17+] trilogy. It’s a very funny dark comedy taking place in an almost believable Egalistic society in the far future. Vance does to true communism what Neal Stephenson does to pure libertarianism in Snowcrash.
Finally, we have a Kafkaesque nightmarish comedy with Stanislaw Lem’s Memoirs Found in a Bathtub . The story takes place in an underground U.S. security complex plagued with out of control bureaucratic back stabbing and paranoia. You can read it as a take on an intelligence service gone out of control – an appropriate subject these days. Or it can be read as a metaphor for the downside of Marxist socialism (Lem wrote from communist Poland). I see it as a metaphor for the U.S. tax code, and so I place this one here.
For more lefty dystopias, see the social liberal dystopias and the authoritarian dystopias.
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