Societal Quandaries

I have grown up outside of the United States for the bulk years of my life, intermittently returning so that my father could learn the language of the next embassy post that we were assigned to. Up until my college career, the longest that I had lived in the US for was four years, and for the most part was when I was much younger, now I can add another five years to that count. I never really understood what it meant to be American; I had an ideal of what it was and drastically defended my ‘heritage’ as such from the barrage of anti-American flak that I faced from xenophobic foreigners because I felt it was my duty. However, these past five years that I have spent experiencing the US for what it has to offer has left me more than ashamed to call myself American, it consistently leaves me questioning the values of what our society have degraded to.

I assume Urras, and more specifically A-Io, was the end point of the path that Le Guin envisioned capitalistic societies such as the United States would eventually reach through not only their emphasis on individuality, but also a fierce drive for attainment of resources. By attainment of resources I am grouping together both positions within society, socio-economically and skill based. The competition that can be seen and felt on every rung of the ladder, through every step of your life, can be one of the most discouraging and despise-mongering feelings. The yearn for hate and segregation seems to fuel the furnace that powers our society, and it is truly sad to have to bear witness to this in almost every aspect of life here in America, from something as simple as trying to watch a tv show to something as difficult as procuring a space within a college’s student base or a job’s workforce.

I have always been a fan of the Marxist ideal from having gleaned through the Communist Manifesto, but of course everything looks and works so much better on paper than when played out in real life. I believe Le Guin’s depiction of Anarres is a perfect analogy for Marx and Engels envisioned socialist world, showing how it would work if the power and resources were truly divided between all, and if all were equally capable and willing to share in the work for the betterment of society. It does however show that even when all those aspects succeed, there are still problems to be encountered by such a system. Striving for such equality eventually leads to homogenization of personality and drives, which can coincide directly with a lack of personality within a human, defined as ‘egoization’ by the Anarresti. This begs the question what is the best use of human consciousness, separation through a single unit’s competition against one another, or mutual collaboration to form a greater whole?

I’m gonna go with Anarres

dL

One Response to “Societal Quandaries”

  1. Warren Rochelle says:

    Well said.