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Religion as Means for Social Mechanization in Dystopia

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Vassar College

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  1. Introduction
  2. The dystopian novel WE
  3. The yoke of unfreedom
  4. The character of the Buddha
  5. Insignificant actions and sanctified rituals
  6. The mending apparatus
  7. Conclusion

Dystopian literature describes societies in which Government seizes total control over its citizens by eliminating their sense of individual self, and in turn, efficiently regulating their personal desires. Only with deviant selfishness can a member of dystopian society regain his personal independence from the state. The institution of a skillfully crafted state religion is an important factor in the success of an oppressive society; so long as adherence to a standardized core of beliefs can be maintained, the chance of civil unrest, and its resulting rebellion, is kept to a minimum. Religious indoctrination is the means by which totalitarian dystopias retain a subservient and mechanized citizenry.

[...] These enemies have, naturally, forfeited the right to serve as bricks in the foundation of the One State- a foundation renewed by yesterday's election (149). By naming the dissenters ?enemies of happiness,? the One State invokes its highest religious value to retain civilian support and keep the machine running. However, the disease of imagination threatens to spread, and so, to guarantee ?one-hundred percent happiness for all, the ?Great Operation? is granted to all citizens. Once everyone submits to the State- sponsored lobotomy, imagination is forcibly removed from each cog in the wheel to ensure that it can continue to spin smoothly as a whole, free from individual desire to do otherwise. [...]

[...] An esteemed lecturer urges his people to engage in a form of religious sacrifice to incite the renewal of the Machine's power: The Mending Apparatus has treated us so well in the past that we all sympathize with it, and will wait patiently for its recovery. In its own good time it will resume its duties. Meanwhile let us do without our beds, our tabloids, our other little wants. Such, I feel sure, would be the wish of the Machine (21). [...]

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