America: Utopia or Dystopia?

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America: Utopia or Dystopia?

Post by Admin on Fri Oct 09, 2015 8:38 am

Don't forget to contribute to the "U-discussion: America, utopia or dystopia?" on the keystone forums.

Remember our class discussion regarding gradients and polyvocity: the character of a nation is never black-and-white, but rather exists on a spectrum. It may be many different things to many different people and demographics. Often, a person's perception of how benevolent or malevolent their society is depends on how much power and privilege that person has, as well as their level of exposure to other cultures.

Remember also that the utopian or dystopian nature of a nation does not depend entirely on how much material prosperity is apparent at the surface level. Quality of living involves more than money, and wealth does not guarantee either equal distribution or happiness. You may want to consider how America obtains and maintains its high standard of material prosperity - and what other factors constitute the well-being of a nation's citizens - when you make your evaluations. Something to bear in mind is not only the massive inequality (social, educational, financial) prevalent within American society, but also the fact that American prosperity is thought by some to be the result of internationally exploitative corporate (and military) practises.

A concept introduced by the playwright Juvenal in ancient Rome is "bread and circuses". This describes a society that is often highly civilized and prosperous, but rife with corruption and inequality. The best way to prevent the people from unrest or revolution in such a society is to give them 'bread and circuses', that is, food and entertainment. Such a society is referred to as a decadent society - which Rome certainly was toward its fall as an empire. History tends to repeat itself, and some people might say that contemporary American society holds some parallels to that of ancient Rome.

The last thing to remember is that, as an outsider (someone not living in America), your understanding of America may be radically different from its reality. Media like music and movies glamourize the lifestyles of the people they portray, usually focusing on the values and habits of the leisure classes. This gives a distorted picture of what daily life is like for the average citizen. Doing some research on some ideas currently under debate in American society may help you form well-rounded ideas of an America that is significantly different from the picture it wants to present to the foreign media and public.


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