The New Dystopias

The Original Dystopias Prior to the 20th century, totalitarian societies had been rare. There had been the brief reign of Savonarola in Florence, who imposed a theocratic, egalitarian order, cut short when the citizens revolted. The equally brief Terror of the French Revolution was likewise curtailed by the citizens overthrowing their intellectual overlords, but the French Revolution had the distinction of engendering the totalitarian movement, which saw its greatest culmination in the Bolshevik and Third Reich despotisms of the 20th century. But, prior to them the most successful -- which is to say, the one with the longest duration -- was that of the Spartans. Sparta was characterized by its militarism, the total equality of citizens, brutality, absence of a normal family life, an authoritarian government, poor consumer goods (including food), and the absence of art, literature, commerce, and architecture. Spartan society actually rested on the back of a population of...(Read Full Article)