The current state of the American government and its economic system is scary and paints a bleak picture of the present and future. American governance and economics have become despondent and dysfunctional. When you consider the many criteria of a dystopia, is a dystopian America on the horizon?
There have been several novels and movies depicting a variety of dystopian societies. The most common dystopias feature impoverished urban centers rot with violence and war. Have the dystopian seeds been planted?
A March 2012 Reuters.com article regarding US census data stated that urbanization has led to more than 80% of Americans to live in urban environments. Cities have swelled with three dimensional expansions: sprawling out over land, up into the sky and burrowing underground. This movement is led by a notion that better services and greater wealth are centralized within city walls. As reported by HuffingtonPost.com in September 2013, 15% of Americans (46.5 million people) live in poverty and according to an October 2012 article Poverty is urbanising and needs different thinking on development published on TheGuardian.com, in the last 10 years urban poverty in the developing world grew from 17% to 28%. As urban populations grow, and without the economics and infrastructure to support that growth, so will urban poverty.
In the 237 years since signing the Declaration of Independence the USA has been at war against Britain, Mexico, Canada, Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan and even themselves. As tensions rise in the Middle East more wars may be waged. The USA has been at war or involved in violent conflict for a vast majority of its existence. Domestic violence is escalating as well: the war on drugs, terrorist bombings and school shootings and no exception regarding victims, from government officials to small children.
The gap between rich and poor is widening and the middle class, once the beating heart of America, is being impoverished. Since the economic collapse in 2008 home ownership, a central aspect of the American Dream, has become a nightmare. Foreclosures, defaults, decreased home values and total debt far exceeding assets. These breakdowns in the American economy are the building blocks of a dystopia.
Detroit may be the symbol of a dystopian America; a major American city declaring bankruptcy. The unemployment rate is high, population numbers are low, infrastructure is aging and neighborhoods have been abandoned. Even family pets have become feral. Detroit, once a symbol of the American Dream, may serve as a harbinger if changes aren’t made.
Urban America, hard economic times, warring abroad, domestic violence, dysfunctional government; in current times the future seems bleak. Where has the American Dream gone? What happened to the utopian vision? The American dream is eroding, the foundations of the utopia imagined by the founding fathers has cracked and in those cracks grow the weeds of dystopia.