James describes utopia as an imagined place or state of affairs where all things are perfect and ideal. It is the product of imagination by a writer where the place is painted to be better than our present world (James 219). James argues that the recent science fiction has been very critical of utopian literature. For instance, the author argues that science fiction writers object the feeling in the utopian literature that the utopian writers aim for a society that is largely static. Science fiction argues that the utopian literature denies adventure, the taking of risks and the expansion of both the spatial and technological horizons (James 221). In this way, the impact of science fiction on utopian literature is very negative. The author argues that projects developed by the science fiction writers of the twentieth century are antithetic to the literature of the classic utopian writers. These science fiction projects have painted classic utopian literature to lack the standards that are expected of novelists. The classic utopian literature is shown to lack vital literary elements such as characterization; the protagonists in such literature are designed to merely fulfill the roles of visitor-listeners (James 221).
Macleod weighs in through discussion of the relationship between politics and science fiction. Macleod discusses various political traditions that influence science fiction. One of these political traditions is political liberalism. In this respect, Macleod argues that science fiction represents the literature of progress in which the main influencing political philosophy is liberalism (Macleod 231). In his conception, very specific ideas form the political philosophy through which science fiction is informed. Some of these specific ideas include personal autonomy, political liberty, free exchange of goods through trade and free thought (Macleod 231). Thinking retrospectively about the science fiction literature I have read so far, Macleod is very correct in making these observations. The freedom of thought informs most of the fictitious elements in the science fiction literature. The writers are liberated, and, as a result, can think of different ways through which the problems of the society can be progressively solved.
Macleod’s argument as he ends his essay is very compelling and thought-provoking at the same time. In making this observation, the author means that the advancement in technology will definitely give rise to new issues that will shape political engagements at the expense of current issues such as liberty and authority (Macleod 239). Due to the fact that the issues of authority and liberty are overshadowed by the emergent issues, it is possible that without the need for both public and/or private coercion, humans will engage politically and also debate collective disagreements (Macleod 240). Even though in a cautious manner, I agree with Macleod that it is possible through technological advancement, new and emergent issues will overshadow the current issues of authority and liberty. The emergence of a large corporation from the technological revolution will influence the power of government. This is already contained in science fiction literature where the post-political future has been shown to have irrelevant governments because of the influence of corporate power. The ability of the human race to outlive the state is enabled by the lack of coercion in political debates and engagements, thereby negating the need for wars (Macleod 240).
Goodman’s TED talk is informative on the issues of technology and crime. The fact that criminals are using technology is very disconcerting, especially now that terrorism is a very real problem for many societies (Goodman 1). It is even more disconcerting that the technology used by criminals is current and ahead of what many law enforcement departments are using. For instance, Mexican drug cartels have developed mobile phone networks that they have distributed to their operatives in different states. With their own infrastructure, they make it hard for law enforcement officers to track their operations. The use of encrypted radio communications ensures that their communication is not only safe and secure, but also laborious and at times impossible to decrypt (Goodman 1). The use of satellite phones, satellite imagery, search engines and the internet enables the terrorists real-time access to information that they use for launching and coordinating and monitoring their attacks. It is not far-fetched to think that the use of this technology in this way could lead to a dystopia. The use of technology in this way keeps the criminals ahead of the law enforcement agencies. It would require governments to invest more in their limited resources (which also have diverse uses) to improve the technology used by their law enforcement agencies. Given that the criminals only have a singular use for their resources, this could create dystopia, especially for small economies (Goodman 1).
In his TED talk, Singer talks up the deployment of robots in war. Various benefits arise from his talk. One of the obvious benefits is the prevention of loss of human lives, especially in the deployment to dangerous missions. For instance, Singer relates the experiences of a unit commander writing back about the human losses and underscoring the silver lining in that robots can be used in diffusing Improvised Explosive Devises (Singer 1). Another benefit of using robots is that their computing power can be improved so that it is many times the computing power in today’s society. This would allow them to perform even more complex and dangerous missions in war. Some of the negative consequences associated with robots are that they can also be made by adversaries leading to attacks on innocent people (Singer 1). Additionally, some of these robots are low cost compared to the traditional war equipment such as fighter jets. This could lead to the marketization of wars, especially with the sale of drones to terrorists who can use them to launch attacks. Despite the negative consequences, the use of robots has been increasingly taken up in wars, and should not stop on the account of the negative consequences. Even without their use in wars, the criminals are already developing and deploying technologically informed weapons (Singer 1).
Political philosophy refers to the study of discourse such as liberty, politics, law, justice, rights, authority, property, the enforcement of legal codes and whether they are necessary, the legitimacy of governments, the protection of freedoms and rights and for whom these rights should be guaranteed. Political philosophy is the general view or ideology expressing a common belief or attitude relating to these topics. I opine that liberalism is the best political philosophy to inform a utopia based on science fiction. As highlighted by Macleod (231), liberalism informs progress, a tenet of science fiction. Liberalism will free thoughts from bondage, thereby creating a society where liberties, freedoms and rights exist, a utopian society based on science fiction.
James, Edward. The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004. Print.
Singer, Peter. Military robots and the future of war. Feb. 2009. Web. 26 Jun. 2015.
Goodman, Marc. A vision of crimes in the future. Jun. 2012. Web. 26 Jun. 2015.