Anarchy in Critical Dystopias: An Anatomy of Rebellion

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Virginia Tech

This paper is a cross-genre pilot study in Anarchist thought experiments. It is not an attempt to produce an encyclopedic review of the emergence or function of anarchism in critical dystopias. My objective is not so ambitious; my aim is to plot the evolution of each rebellion within its own context. In the end, I hope to broaden an understanding of Anarchy and Anarchism: not an understanding that congeals and grows more rigid, but rather an understanding that expands and flows, nearing a point of superfluidity.

The primary focal points of analysis are Ursula K. Le Guin's novel The Dispossessed, the graphic novel V for Vendetta, created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, and the film The Matrix, written and directed by the Wachowski Brothers. These texts and film have been selected for this project because they each present disparate versions of anarchistic rebellions. Drawing from Thomas Hughes' characterization of the evolution of large technological systems, I analyze the responses of the protagonist Anarchists in these works to the oppressive components of their respective technological infrastructures.

The aim of this paper is not to conclude definitely what Anarchism is but what it does, how it works within the boundaries of each thought experiment. Ultimately, each of these texts is a performance, an acting out of Anarchistic ideals embodied in each character's response to the demands of their environment.

technological momentum, terrorist, terrorism, revolution, mutual aid, utopia