Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Giver: The Dark Side of Political Correctness

The ultimate in Fairness is "Sameness" according to Lois Lowry's science fiction novel "The Giver" (1993). What is more, Fairness/Sameness begins with literal, total color-blindness... which can be over-ridden by some.

Shades of "Animal Farm". Some pigs are more equal than others. Apparently, it would be really dangerous and disruptive if community members could see colors. Before one knows it, they would start to prefer one color over another, young girls would become interested in fashion, and once they believed they had the right to choose their clothing, they'd probably want to choose friends and lovers, life partners and jobs.

Ones vocation is assigned to one at the age of twelve. The Giver is the story of a sensitive boy who is chosen because of his unusual genetics to be the community's next "Receiver of Memories". Trouble ensues. Along the way, the reader is free to notice familiar themes in fictional planned living communities such as hypocrisy among leaders, and exemplars of Lord Acton's Dicta (“All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and "Great men are almost always bad men....").

A splendidly paternalistic quote from The Giver is,
"We really have to protect people from wrong choices."

One commentator describes this as "benevolent oppression." Perhaps all tyranny begins with good intentions and a defensible rationale.

The Community lives out the proverb "Ignorance is bliss", except that strong emotions are smoothed out, so there is no pain, no distress, and no joy, no ecstasy, no "bliss". As for "wrong choices", the way the Elders protect people from making "wrong" choices is by not allowing them to make any choices.

The clothing reminds me of the ideas behind the Mao Suit
( )
The rules about eating remind me of  Meals On Wheels gone wild. The same food is delivered at the same time of day to everyone, and the remnants are collected at the end of the allotted meal time. No one may store leftovers.

Everyone is medicated.... only instead of the sort of "self esteem" drugs that half American manhood uses (if one believes the Ask Your Doctor If.... adverts), in The Giver's world, they pop pills to prevent "Stirrings" of the genitals and of the imagination. And, if a child cannot learn to sleep soundly after a year, one is put to death. "Three strikes and you're out" takes on new meaning, since miscreants are given lethal injection on their third offense. Finally, in the ultimate "fairness", seniors have an expiry date and are given a lethal injection to ensure that everyone dies the same way.

Spark Notes
TV Tropes

1 comment:

  1. I've read THE GIVER, too, quite a chilling story. I couldn't figure out whether the ending was supposed to have turned out well for the protagonist or not.