Tired of the same old dystopias?
March 28, 2015 11:31 AM   Subscribe

Randomized Dystopia suggests a right that your fictional tyranny could deny its citizens!
I was talking with a friend about trends in dystopian fiction, and we talked a little about the underappreciated rights that don't get as much airtime. So I created Randomized Dystopia. You can hit Reload on the main page to get a right from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or use the Custom Terribleness page for the option of a specifically sexist or ageist dystopia.
I hope writers find this interesting as a writing prompt, and I'd also like to raise awareness (especially in the US) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Too often in the US I hear people talk as though the first ten amendments to the US Constitution comprise all the rights we ought to honor, and humanity has done some more thinking on those topics in the intervening centuries.
Via. Creator Sumana Harihareswara previously on MeFi.
posted by Lexica (18 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
It takes very little imagination to imagine a world without most of those rights.

I suppose that might be the point.
posted by kenko at 11:37 AM on March 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Imagine a world without this right:

Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (Article 23, Section 3)
Done!
posted by kenko at 11:37 AM on March 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. (Article 26, Section 3)

Well......
posted by Katemonkey at 11:43 AM on March 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Imagine a world without this right:

The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State. (Article 16, Section 3)


Hi, most GLBTQ already live in this distopia, though I'm not quite sure why anyone thinks they need protection from us.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:47 AM on March 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


MeFi's own.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:54 AM on March 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seriously, though, Katemonkey... well, you know. Unless the state disagrees.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:54 AM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. (Article 27, Section 1)

This one could be used creatively. Imagine an aristocracy that believes the lower classes are literally incapable of appreciating art and science, and therefore are not allowed to see museums or attend classes. On reflection, though, I'll bet it's already happened somewhere in real life.
posted by Rangi at 11:57 AM on March 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Awesome idea! As a writer, this is a great prompt to fictional ideas. There are lots of ways to imagine each of those specific rights being taken away or threatened under any number of types of regimes. As others have pointed out, unfortunately because they often are already. But as originally conceived, this thing does work to help generate ideas, as well as awareness of the charter. Cool project.

Could use prettier CSS though... they should find a web designer to restyle it.
posted by hamandcheese at 12:00 PM on March 28, 2015


Imagine an aristocracy that believes the lower classes are literally incapable of appreciating art and science, and therefore are not allowed to see museums or attend classes.

Or imagine a society in which the cultural life of the community and the arts and the educational benefits of scientific advancement were not free, but under the control of private interests that charged exorbitantly for them.

That'd make a good dystopia.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:08 PM on March 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


The one without the enshrinement of the family (a fundamentally authoritarian construct; in Roman law, a family was a private hierarchy of everyone under the authority of a paterfamilias, including the slaves, or famuli; and let's not forget Milton Friedman's views on the centrality of families to a capitalist society) as the fundamental unit of society sounds more like progress to me
posted by acb at 12:09 PM on March 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Imagine a world without this right:
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized. (Article 28)
Who could possibly imagine a world so alien?
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:13 PM on March 28, 2015


I don't think Katniss is walking around wondering how great the good ole pre-apocalypse must have been for women and poor people.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:18 PM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Imagine an aristocracy that believes the lower classes are literally incapable of appreciating art and science, and therefore are not allowed to see museums or attend classes.

The lower classes will make their own art, even if it means inventing the techniques from first principles. (Case in point: there are different musical notation systems used for traditionally working-class music (such as English brass bands) and the “proper” music that belonged to the gentry.)

Then, in the fullness of time, the rich will harvest this lower-class art as a decorative artefact (i.e., poshos like Mumford & Sons dressing up as agrarian labourers from just before the Industrial Revolution).
posted by acb at 12:26 PM on March 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


Museums were by appointment only with letter of reference until the 19th century or so. Combined with the well-known class barriers to university attendance, that pretty much takes care of your dystopia right there in British history.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:45 PM on March 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hi! It's an honor to see this hit the blue; thank you.

I went into more detail on my reasons for making "Randomized Dystopia" in my "director's commentary", which you may enjoy. #1 in the "Takeaways" section: Yeah the US is not doing so hot (and many other countries are not, either); there's a lot to be done.

acb, I did not know that (about the different notation systems) and am very glad to learn it. Ditto re: Countess Elena's point about museum access.

hamandcheese, I may pay a web designer to restyle this (and several other projects) at some point, but I figured this was good enough to get the point across. Glad you liked the project overall!

I do hope this project causes at least a few people to look at The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, The Convention on the Rights of the Child, and The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. I found many parts of those documents thought-provoking, and a few of them I found counterintuitive. One of my first "wait, hmmmm" moments as I made this project was reading Article 27, section 2 of the UDHR: "Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author."
posted by brainwane at 4:31 PM on March 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


I realize that this project was done in all sincerity and seriousness, but I was kinda hoping for more sentient cockroaches.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:00 PM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Imagine a world without this right:

Everyone has the right to equal access to public service in his country. (Article 21, Section 2)



What a fantastical fictional dystopia I'm going to imagine..
posted by bleep at 6:51 PM on March 28, 2015


Oh, its as if Russia, Singapore and Turkey didn't exist, so we get to imagine what it would be like if a nation had that much shit to ladle onto its citizens as if it were a hypothetical. Awesome make-believe rebellion as we don't have armored cavalry. Fun times, fun times.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:39 PM on March 28, 2015


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