Podcast Question: Imagine We?

This past week we discussed the society of the One Nation in Yevgeny¬†Zamyatin’s dystopian novel We. Imagine for a minute that it was you living in this world, living with such efficiency and such a planned purpose that nothing can ultimately go wrong. Thinking about Taylorism and sacrificing freedom for efficiency, would you want to be a part of the One Nation?

Then take that thought one step further, imagine you are building your own One Nation society, what aspects would you use or not use in this society?

4 Replies to “Podcast Question: Imagine We?”

  1. A sanction like OneState seems tempting at first glance. It seems like life may not be as different as first, as we often sacrifice our self-needs to be productive. While this conducts on a smaller scale, the same ideas are applied. Often we’ll sacrifice our happiness, health, and sleep to keep up with our work. The main difference being that we find purpose in this work. This purpose may be to make money out of necessity, or maybe because we enjoy it. Either way, there’s a purpose that’s our own making. OneState doesn’t provide this choice of meaning; in OneState, your only purpose is efficiency, and to serve OneState. So no, I don’t think I would want to live in a society like OneState.
    I’m also unsure if I would want to create my society such as OneState. It reminds me of how people talk about how communism is a good idea “in theory.” If I could provide resources for people, limit hunger and disease, then sure, why not? But what would need to happen for this to happen? I don’t think I’m capable of answering these types of ethical questions.

  2. The biggest part of this novel to me was the opposition between freedom and efficiency and the correlation of being efficient and being happy. People struggle with work-life balance and are often making trades every day for either a little more freedom or a little more efficiency. This novel made me think about my own personal efficiency and what benchmarks I use to determine whether or not I had an efficient day. Also, it made me think about how I feel when being efficient, am I truly happy because of how well I performed? Weirdly for me, the answer is mostly yes; I really like getting things done and being efficient. I tend to move toward structure and I perform well when I am exposed to those conditions. Although, I value my option of freedom and I believe that this is where I find my satisfaction of being efficient. To me when I’m being efficient it means that I have blocked out all the distractions and temptations that come with freedom; I have overcome all of those obstacles to finish whatever task that needed to be done and that is where I find satisfaction. One State’s rules are too radical and lack any sort of freedom, I don’t imagine anyone would want to be apart of One State if they had a choice too. I do believe some people might be willing to give up some of their freedoms if that meant that they would become more efficient. The only way that would work in my eyes would be the person would be able to choose an activity or job they would like to become more efficient in. Then they would have to give up a distraction or freedom that is linked to prohibiting them from being efficient in that activity or job. That is the only scenario I can see that people may be willing to give up some of their freedom for efficiency sort of like One State.

  3. One of the most intriguing parts of this book is the concept that D-503 is so willing and appears to be content with his life and expresses a passion for math as he willingly applies it to all aspects of his life. As we brought up in class, it is highly likely that One State was able to figure out how to trigger happiness through productivity and create a sense of happiness through efficiency instead of simpler, easier to obtain forms of happiness like relaxing, or forming personal connections with the people around you. I-330 appears however to not be content with this productivity triggered happiness which explains why she enjoys other pleasures such as unconventional music and behaviors.

  4. I honestly think we might be moving towards this sort of life slowly. Surveillance is more intense than ever, people have their own personal “time tables”, and our government wishes they could have total regulation. I personally think I could never live in a OneState type of society without freedom of expression. I think if OneState had total regulation, total surveillance, but also allowed creativity, I could most definitely live there. That is the only thing I would add personally because it is so vital to my personality/way of life. Other than that, it doesn’t seem completely horrible, but they would never allow that because that disrupts the whole idea of unfreedom. As for my own OneState, I would do as I said before, just add expression and creativity.

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