Listen to a reading of this article:

I’ve been kicking around some ideas for a dystopian novel lately, and I was hoping readers might be able to provide me with some feedback.

I’m picturing a story set in a world where everyone’s a slave but doesn’t know it. People think thoughts they believe they came up with themselves, make decisions and lifestyle choices that they think are their own, buy things they sincerely believe they want, consume entertainment they honestly feel they enjoy, vote for political candidates they truly think they support, when in reality they’re all marching in complete obedience to an elite ruling class whose high-level mastery of mass-scale psychological manipulation has bent the public to their will.

In my novel people will be funneled from early childhood through an education system designed by plutocrats and social engineers to create efficient and compliant gear-turners, then when they are grown their programming continues in the form of mass media indoctrination. If they become politically aware they are funneled into artificially constructed ideological perspectives that are designed to look truthful and appealing but which don’t challenge existing power structures in any meaningful way.

In the same way, the political system in this dark alternate reality is designed to look free and democratic, but there’s no real connection between how people vote and the way their civilization actually functions. An unacknowledged, unofficial alliance of plutocrats and government operatives makes the actual decisions about how money, industry, government, and military forces will behave from day to day, and this secretive alliance controls the official political system the public believes is responsible for overseeing those matters. What people call “elections” are actually just the public choosing between two lackeys of that ruling alliance, and their only meaningful disagreements are on how the will of those rulers should best be advanced.

My dystopian society is built on endless violence, oppression and exploitation, but because in this world the science of mass-scale psychological manipulation is so advanced, people don’t even know that it’s happening. Mass murder is committed continuously in nonstop military operations overseas, and the public is successfully convinced that it’s to promote freedom and democracy and keep them safe from terrorism. People have to work multiple jobs in the wealthiest nation in the world just to put food on the table, and they are brainwashed into believing it’s their fault for not making better life choices. People die of exposure on the streets while billionaires rake in exponentially more wealth, and the public is programmed to believe it’s because the latter work harder than the former. Police forces and prison systems keep expanding in order to exert more control and people are trained to believe it’s to make them safe from crime. Journalists are imprisoned for telling the truth and people are told it’s to protect national security. Information on the internet is aggressively controlled and people are propagandized into accepting that it’s to protect them from dangerous speech.

In my dystopian novel the powerful will simply do as they please and then promote narratives to explain why those actions were justified. If a smaller, weaker government isn’t sufficiently obedient to the world’s dominant power structure, reasons will be manufactured to explain why they must be ousted. If it’s necessary to exert more control at home or abroad, justifications will emerge for why military expansionism is needed in this or that geostrategically important region or why increased domestic surveillance is required to keep people safe. The armed goons and war machines move wherever they are needed, and the public is either kept in the dark about those movements or told made-up stories explaining why they must occur.

Endless mass military slaughter is essential for the existence of the ruling power structure in this dystopia, because without it the world’s governments would simply behave in whatever way advances their own interests. The government is so profoundly corrupt that the corporations who manufacture military weaponry are inseparably intertwined with the decision-making apparatus of its foreign policy establishment and are permitted to actively lobby for more wars so that more of its expensive weaponry will be used. Mountains of human corpses are amassed for no other reason than because it is more profitable to launch weapons at them than to leave them alone. Nuclear weapons are stockpiled and placed around the world for no other reason than because it is profitable to make more of them.

It’s the same with environmental and economic policies. A global system is held in place at gunpoint in which mass-scale human behavior is driven by the pursuit of profit for its own sake, so environmental and economic policies just like military policies are formed not based on what would be best but on what would be most profitable for the plutocrats who shape those policies. Industry moves in whatever way rakes in the most money, no matter who it hurts, no matter how badly it imperils humanity.

And everyone just marches along with it, because they are manipulated into accepting this disaster by sophisticated propaganda systems, by movies and TV shows designed to normalize the dystopia they exist in, by tightly controlled information access, and by their own psychological compartmentalization since the reality of their situation is too disturbing to look at directly. They turn the gears of their dark world and then stay up late binging on soulless comedy shows to distract them from the horrors lurking just beneath the surface.

Obviously such a dystopia would be completely unsustainable and the most obvious ending would be to kill the whole world off within a few books by nuclear war or ecological disaster or something equally terrible, but maybe I could have the populace simply wake up to the manipulations and take back their will and shrug off the elites’ control like a warm coat on a summer’s day? I dunno. Something tells me that for some unknown reason today’s readers are too inured with learned helplessness and knee-jerk pessimism to be able to even imagine such a scenario, let alone accept it as a believable development.

Anyway, that’s my pitch. What do you all think? Does this thing have legs? Or is it too different from today’s world for people to relate to?


My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on FacebookTwitterSoundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fiPatreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Feature image by Ray DumasAttribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Liked it? Take a second to support Caitlin Johnstone on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

107 responses to “Ideas For A Dystopian Novel”

  1. As usual, I end up in tears of self-pity and joy.

  2. I think that for this novel to have any fun in it, for there to be any love and joy at all, that there will have to be a healthy economy growing within and taking it over…a system of cooperation for mutual benefit/the common good; that the bombed, the starving, the imprisoned, those devastated by financial stress will perhaps most clearly understand to be heaven.

  3. The musical Cabaret was a bit like this. When I was in high school, I read a German play roughly titled “Mr. Conventional and the arsonist” or “Herr Biederman und der brandstifter”. In it, an arsonist gradually works his way into the household of a businessman (Mr. Conventional). Mr. Conventional cannot bring himself to challenge his assumptions about the arsonist, despite mounting evidence of his bad intentions.

    My own idea for a dystopian novel is about a world where the rules of society dictate what beliefs one can profess, a bit like Japanese society. The main character finds himself in an existential crisis, where the rules of society threaten to consign him to non-existence. This idea was inspired by a trip Bill Clinton made to Jordan around 1996, where he lectured the Palestinians about how they needed to improve their behavior.

  4. Existential Bulimia
    There is an analogy to Sartre’s concept of Existential Nausea that has some sort of place here, I’m not quite understanding how.

    1. Physical bulimia is the loss of control over self-nourishment, the joyful physical satisfaction from self-sustenance. The hell of bulimia is well-described by its survivors. Sartre wrote of existential nausea-being filled but not nourished by the indigestible, fragmentary images of the chaotic “real world.” Perhaps these people in your dystopian landscape have existential bulimia. They fill themselves to bursting with factporn of some, and, bloated, self-loathing and unsatisfied, go to a MAGA rally or a web comments section to purge their dreadful gobblings out and feel purified. But but purified, now empty and starving. Perhaps it is breaking such a cycle that leads out of dystopia.

  5. I want to take a mind trip before I write my novel. I want to compare two worlds – the earth on which we live and another planet that is identical to ours, except that in that planet’s solar system there has been a brief solar event whose radiation has not only instantaneously killed all of the people on that planet, but, amazingly, also slowed down the physical deterioration of any of the things that the planet’s deceased inhabitants created.
    Hearing about the calamity on the twin planet, millions of people from our planet, who just happen to be unemployed ex-technicians from various professions (yes, a very competent bunch), jump into spacecraft and fly to that other planet. But, before they leave, they agree that all of what is on the other planet will be “owned” equally among them and used for the good of all. (Yes, you’re right, that is exactly where I’m going.)
    Just like there is on this planet, there is an internet on the other planet, so the immigrants instantly realize that a so-called representative government will not be necessary……….. on the other planet. In that place there shall be direct democracy. People will hammer out important decisions among themselves using the internet as a means of virtually instantaneous mass communication.
    There will be only one “nation” on this new world. That nation will cover the entire world. There will be no other nation to export to. There will be no other nation to import from. The immigrants will either design a stand-alone economic system that does not need either imports or exports, or they will die.
    Every person in the new world will be a “world citizen”. There will be only one set of rules for every person. Again, human beings will either sink or swim together on this new world.
    After the new immigrants arrive on their new planet, using existing transportation systems, they disperse all over their planet so that they can get their new (old) machines up and running; fields plowed and planted; hospitals operating, etc. (Yes, it wasn’t easy. But with the common good in mind, people were successful. Just accept it for the moment.)
    The immigrants soon realize that it takes very few people (far fewer than immigrated) to keep the machines running, food on the table, etc., and with some more design engineering and automation, even fewer people will be required as time goes on. Not only that, but the products of these machines can be made to a much better quality then they apparently were previously, so these products will last far longer. As a result, it is realized that perhaps some of the huge machines/factories can be operated far less frequently than they used to be by the previous inhabitants. For example, automobiles soon come to be made much simpler, easier to fix and much more reliable. They have a far greater useful lifespan than they once had.
    The people enjoy leisure time, developing their artistic abilities, playing games and other non-productive activities.
    Rather than unfairly have the same small number of people constantly toiling on the machines, the people decide to divide up, or “distribute”, the human labor that is necessary to operate the machines, plow the fields, construct buildings, roads, etc. That is, everyone has to work on the machines, etc., but for only a short period of time each year. And as the machines get improved and further automated, even less labor is required and, therefore, even more of each individual’s time is “free”.
    The newly-designed machines in this new world come to do almost all of the things that must be done, and the “profit” from the machines – leisure time and the actual products of the machines – is equally divided among all people.
    Some of the leisure time is used for training all people in the variety of tasks they will be undertaking – everything from brain surgery to sewage treatment. Apprenticeship and training via video (just like Youtube on planet earth!) are found to be the ideal ways of training people. It is soon discovered that most medical and dental procedures can be either performed by robots or learned in a fraction of the time once thought to be absolutely necessary.
    Through apprenticeship and video schooling, the population becomes very knowledgeable, so they soon realize that by reducing their own population by slow attrition – by having only one or two children – the remaining population has even less to do (less water treatment, housing, electricity, food, everything), so their descendants have even more free time to themselves.
    These people’s new-found religion is two-faceted — the Golden Rule and the continually-evolving simplicity, ease-of-use, and, most importantly, high-quality-construction and, therefore, long usable life of the products they create. Unlike the people did back on planet Earth, the people on this new world strive to manufacture things only once — things that with simple, inexpensive maintenance, last essentially forever.
    Transportation systems move people to and from the machines and other places where labor is needed, as well as moving people about the planet for other less practical reasons.
    Life is great in the new world.
    The End
    My point is that there are possible alternative ways of living (economic systems) to the present one, but the only thing we are allowed to hear in our prefect Matrix of education and 24/7 propaganda is that there is NO alternative to the present arrangement, other than the experimental ones that are at this very moment being literally dreamed up by the present entrenched powers-that-be in order to serve only themselves.
    All of us commenters and, particularly, Caitlin and Tim have to RIGHT NOW do exactly what our billionaire Elite Overlords are doing – at first “imagining” a DIFFERENT arrangement than the one we were born into (a greed-based arrangement that has for literally centuries benefited a microscopic percentage of the population and which has also led the human species of animal to the edge of extinction either by environmental catastrophe or nuclear war) and then implementing that new arrangement by electing representatives who have that same “vision” of a better arrangement and will carry out their constituents’ wishes against an entrenched, near-omnipotent opposition.
    Keep in mind that I intended my hypothetical world to stimulate discussion of alternative arrangements. If you can imagine a better arrangement than the one I have imagined and a better way to bring that arrangement into reality than voting, please type it out right here, right now. Big things have almost always had small beginnings.

  6. Population density and technology have pushed us to where we are today. Like a tsunami we have been overwhelmed. It will not end until the system collapses under its on weight and hopefully a better system rises from the ashes.

  7. You’re soaking in it.
    Living the dream

    Two for one low, low, price!

  8. Great satire Caitlyn. I especially like the ending where feeder readback is included.

  9. Why bother with a novel when you have the real thing, outside your front door!

  10. I love the punchline at the end. Brilliant.

  11. Klaus von Berlin Avatar
    Klaus von Berlin

    Modern Civilisation is a kind of a disease were the market will never work without the fist of the military,and now the fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley technologies is called the United Wonderlander Army, Airforce, Navy, and Marine Corps A dominance of one class over another.Being ruled by robots is indeed a fucked up situation. Great idea to write about this Cause and Cure

    1. Utopian thinker Edward Bellamy gave “credit” to the capitalists for consolidating all economic activity into large, monopolistic entities. He said they actually did us a favor, despite the horrific short-term downsides of this consolidation. Why? Because when the socialist revolution finally happened, all was already in place for “the people” to step in and run things in comprehensive, coordinated fashion for the true benefit of human beings and the planet. What applies to big business would also apply to big government. Imagine, for example, if all those American military bases spread across the world were repurposed not to kill but to preserve and enhance life, not to destroy but to build. As Bellamy well knew, the way out is not back but through.

  12. I’ve never met you nor do I remember how I got on your emailing list. But once again, human, woman, you are right on. The hypnotic sleepwalkers of the civilization are locked in and you see it clearly. I am 80 and am heartened that our planet continues to make sense to other humans like you who will be alive after I die. Because the way people are born into these rigid pattern is a marvel of the ages for aristocratic control of their slaves. The trance of civilization has created nations of zombies who are unfortunately at this moment being killed off by the variety of poisons that coat everything they eat and drink and wear and are surrounded by.This vaccine thing is hideous manipulation. Depraved and hideous won’t be the words to describe the outcome of this weird supposed vaccine being forced on every living human on the Earth. This is beyond anything Hitler ever dreamed of.

    1. Sarah Palin agrees with you. Julian Assange doesn’t. I know which side I’m on.

  13. ….caitlin….you wrote the essay….np novel is needed….the last paragraph says it….BUT the 900 lb. gorilla in this post is the human potential for violence ….and that potential is what will ultimately be brought to bear… matter what….no matter who….i don’t have a crystal ball to see where any “revolution” or “rebellion” will be at all peaceful….the corporate state has displayed in prime time viewing how it will respond….amerikkka has had a lot of practice in the consolidation of it’s empirical growth….and will stop at nothing….violence used by those in the past was successful, but it never accomplished any goal to boast about because it just perpetuated the power of gangsterism that so defines human his-story….i do get that most if not all of the people who comment here are not prone to or encourage violence…. i don’t either….BUT i can’t see how it can be avoided……the far right in amerikkka are the most heavily armed part of society and fanatical about keeping and using weapons….the “left” or “liberal” side as a whole are already standing at the edge of the trenches…the rittenhaus trial set the stage…..however….when the usefulness of the fanatics of the far right are not needed any more they too will stand at the edge of the trenches as well….the plutocratic oligarchy will use any means necessary to keep power, to maintain the spectacular illusion of itself and reinforce that of ourselves…….it is up to those who want a better world to further understand what immense power they face and use the tools they have, and invent the ones they need….i will add that should any “revolution” be successful the legacy of pollution, especially radioactive pollution, and all the other environmental destruction i can’t list here…..will persevere…….time is running out…..and meaningful change takes lots of planning(organizing) and time…..

  14. Dystopia is between our ears.
    Utopia is in our hearts.
    Aren’t those people who have survived as prisoners of war or in war ravaged cities living proof?

    1. How would you know? What war were you in?

  15. Julian Braggins Avatar
    Julian Braggins

    Hi Caitlin, you forgot the \ after your post, not many got it did they? “This is the hill we die on” seems an appropriate heading for the last short chapter, I’ll be there.

  16. You won’t find a large enough market to make your venture financially tenable. All people have to do to get the same experience in 3D, real time, and smell-o-vision is to walk out their front door for a dose of real reality even more intense than the best simulated virtual reality.

  17. An aside:
    The UK government is spending over half a million pounds on a campaign against end-to-end encryption, portraying it as a threat to chldren, without mentioning its own desire to spy on us all.
    “The opening phase of the campaign is expected to launch within days. According to the presentation, the push will appear to be the result of grassroots action and children’s charities, while downplaying any government role.”

  18. Hi Caitlin. Love the idea of a novel and love the proposed themes too. My experience was that I was/ am a good writer in a working life and well read in novels – and I assumed I could write a novel. Alas, it was not that simple. I finished my novel but it lies unpublished and I will not return to it. The lesson I learned: know how novels work. There is a timeless structure to the novel. I read many books on ‘how to write a novel’, few if any helped. The one book that did really help, was the book I read after finishing my draft novel, by which time it was too late. I recommend you read the book. It’s called Story by Robert McKee. He’s a film maker but don’t let that put you off because the art of story writing – substance, structure, style and the principles of good story telling apply to all mediums and ages. If I had read Story before commencing my writing I might have produced a very different outcome. A final thought: don’t be mesmerised by the politics, get into the human drama; ‘show, don’t tell’; and have a love interest. As for the ending, as a political dissident and a non-dualist, I liked the ending in The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham, where the hero leaves his riches and the world to wander lonely as a detached participant observer watching the play of life but not being part of it. Perhaps non-participation is the way to overcome tyranny. Also, don’t forget the modern cypherpunks (the successors to Assange) where online communities form the evolving structures of dissent. Happy to discuss is you want to PM me. Best wishes. Paul

  19. My plot suggestion: people do begin to wake up to the realization of the dystopia they’re living in, but then just continue to exist in it by conscious choice, because of the psychological proclivity to choose trauma one is familiar with, rather than health one is unfamiliar with.

    People will collectively say “we should do something about this” while changing nothing. They’ll keep saying “we’re not ready for that yet”, but “once (arbitrary condition happens), then we’ll start to make things better.” Then when those conditions are satisfied they’ll shift the goalposts to some other condition being needed.

    This keeps happening until everyone collectively shrugs as the world slowly suffocates saying “it’s too late now anyway.” It would be a Chinatown sort of ending. “Forget it Jake, it’s humanity.”

  20. This is a golden era for dystopian writers. To create an imaginary dystopian society worse than anything Orwell could conjure up you don’t even need a vivid imagination. Just write down what’s happening everyday in the world around you right now and you’re there! As the saying goes, ‘you can’t make this shit up’ because they’ve done it for us!

    Here’s an idea for a book Caitlin – write a novel about a world opposite to what we now have where the world functions in a healthy way, where people matter, where nobody lacks housing or health care, where Julian Assange is President and war criminals are in prison in solitary confinement and where climate change has been addressed by all nations cooperating together to avert catastrophe and all nations have disbanded their militaries and pulped their weapons – that’s a dystopia…..for the 0.1%!

  21. I love your satire!

  22. Lots of great comments here.
    I think what you have described, apart from the fact that it is exactly our present situation, is a great starting point for your story….. and the story unfolds to reveal how we get out of it back into the ‘light’, so to speak.
    It’s the recovery part that would make it. Most of your readers know how bad the current situation is, but not so many have any idea of how to fix it. If your story develops along the lines of fixing it, then it would be a success.
    We all need hope in these dark days, and I, like many, can’t see a way out.
    I would love to read a book that not only accurately describes the real world as it is today, but also develops one or more paths out of the darkness.

    1. And here you have the essence of my ONLY quarrel with what I read here – its redundancy and lack of solutions. Oh maybe one other thing – Caitlin swats at the US like the low hanging piñata it is which gives the impression that there are no other or complicit players on the global stage. While no one could ever accuse her of intellectual laziness, it does imply either limitations – or perhaps even her own agenda.

  23. It sounds a bit like Juice Media’s “Honest Government Ads” and also a bit like Voltaire’s _Candide_. I think you could actually do this.

    To hold over the 90+ pages of a filmscript or the 120-150-odd pages of a novel, it needs an individual-level plot that becomes contingent on the more public mayhem of the day–the better to make the entirety resonant across the work, and the details palpably relevant, so that the insights keep coming beyond the first shocks of recognition.

    Wind to your sails and happy hunting!

  24. Please don’t resolve and kill the dramatic tension. You’re going to have big demand for sequels ad infinitum, what happens next, and then, next…. Of course, only a couple will make it out in time, but still, we’ll be enraptured ’til then…. What an overwrought imagination you have!

  25. Trendisnotdestiny Avatar

    Fair enough.

    Probably should bring up the COG (Continuity of Government) stuff here too as structural rot that assumes nuclear war could be won and a next in line, group of leaders will take over from their underground lairs – and probably should remind everyone of an often unforgotten theme in the intelligence to child trafficking pipeline required for the rich to be sated during any apocalypse.

    If Adam MacKay can do it, so can you Caitlin!

  26. Then they woke up, told the bosses to fuck off, got vaccinated against covid and wore masks to protect each other, and replaced the failed capitalist system that was killing the workers with an international socialist collective. The end.

  27. I think your novel describes the world as it is today. Not a future reality. You should write, and publish as soon as possible or your work will be considered history, not the future.

  28. I think the thing is that people would find it too awful to contemplate – not that your dystopian novel hasn’t nailed it absolutely – but that they wouldn’t be able to bear that knowledge. Knowing you, though Caitlin, you’ll find a path. As a former (still?) teacher – I recall my own “subversive” attempts to take my classes outside the box – here in secondary school Australia and there, over a range of educational settings, in Japan. Blessings upon you… Great summary of your intent/our contemporary world!

  29. When I read the intro to your story I thought of the number of dystopian novels I had started to concept only to find before I could get them written they were already coming true. It did not take too long to see that what you were writing had already come true and I had to smile. Yes, sadly, anybody who doesn’t already recognize it as almost a news feature is unlikely to consider it even possible. But there you have it. It would be interesting to see the percentage of people who recognize the truth, though that would be a challenge to measure.

  30. Very creative. Certainly nothing like our modern day world of wonderful wonderfulness.

    My guess is that 10% of the population will find the plot interesting, but most will go back to reading their usual ‘trustworthy’ news, or People Magazine.

    1. Got logorrhea on this one, sorry. But I’m reminded of the Principia Discordia some sixty years ago. The word fnord Came to being as a subconsciously-perceived anxiety cue,causing the reader dismay, and likely abandonment of the politically undesired text. That’s all. Go ahead and report the plain unvarnished truth, and pull your hair out when nobody gets it. Fnord. Have a webcast, a blog, the powerful don’t care. Get your ya-yas out. Write all about My Lai, nobody notices it. You become invisible yourself, “a fnordling” Run with it, Diogenes.

      1. Perhaps another word is needed. Like fnord but its opposite, sprinkling a sentence with that word elicits the “Umm-hums” and “right on!”’ and “You go, girl!” whilst squeezing any perception, cognition, recognition, and simple common sense out of the minds of the audience. “Stop the Soviet incursion into the Ukraine by the Belt and Road ChiCom cabal!” Tag the secret word on, and watch the audience heads bobble.

  31. What you wrote is exactly what is happening in our world since a fwes decades.
    Now the questions is how we retake the control of our freedom. Since all the informations channels are closely monitored, it is impossible to inform people and to make processions that leads to changes. You have seen it with ”Gillets jaunes” mouvements in France an ”Occupy wall street” in the US.
    WE need incorruptible leaders. Can you find them ? Whatever we will do will be corrupted. The only leadership that can be credible is the one by people fearing GOD. They will be ready to lead people in incompromising way.

    1. I hadn’t realised how many frustrated authors there must be among Caitlin’s readers until I read this series of comments.
      I think your comment above, “Now the question is how we retake the control of our freedom,” is the best line in the whole set, but I don’t think we will do it by fearing “God.” I know that sometimes people do resist terror government by reverting to old beliefs – I think that helped to keep Christianity alive in Russia and Poland under Communism.
      The trouble with advocating that sort of thing, as conservatives often do, and have been doing since I was a kid (sixty-odd years ago), is that it is no use trying to get young people to believe something that is obviously phony. Some of them may know that there is something pretty badly wrong with what they are taught in schools and how society is run, but you can’t sell them on things that obviously belong in fantasy.
      Maybe Christianity was a sort of intellectual advance during its early days. I can see that it is a sort of anthropomorphic way of grasping the fact that truth is unitary. There aren’t a whole bunch of gods with different agendas. But I think we have progressed past the point of needing to have that pointed out.
      I don’t think we are going to find incorruptible leaders. What I think we need is better public understanding of the fact that government is inherently a criminal activity, that it is ALWAYS made up of an agreement between gangs of soldiers, who live by force, and gangs of priests, who live by deception. I know that even if you accept that, it sounds abstract, not relevant to our day-to-day lives. But you HAVE TO get your basic understanding right if you hope to make any real progress.
      Caitlin has described our present world as if it were a dystopian novel she was going to write. If she is prepared to do all that work, maybe it will work out. I do know, though, that I bought a novel not too long ago, by a very bright and honest writer of non-fiction whose career I have accidentally been able to follow from its beginning, and it was very disappointing. I think that to write fiction well, you have to get too involved in your fictional world for the sort of person who writes political essays. The only person who could do both successfully that I know of was that same Ayn Rand who everyone in these circles likes to denounce.
      I keep expecting our corrupt and incompetent rulers to lose control and have everything dissolve into bloodshed in our own communities, not just in those less fortunate parts of the world where our rulers commit their atrocities. I have been expecting that for about sixty years (since I was ten years old), but it hasn’t happened yet.
      I know the economy has got to be much too centralised. We depend on very large, very efficient farms to produce great quantities of cheap food, and most people live in huge aggregations that are utterly dependent on imported food and water. One bright lady I know recently suggested that every second house in the suburbs should be torn down, and the vacant allotment converted into a vegetable garden. It’s an idea, and it might save the people of those cities from starvation, IF they could be guaranteed water. For that, the houses that remained would also have to have rainwater tanks, and I don’t mean those little toy ones I see around town nowadays. But even so, politically it could never be done. Making people safer and more independent is not in the interests of governments, and the cost of buying out and relocating all the people whose houses would have to be torn down would be huge.

  32. May I suggest a chapter where, on an island initially chosen by the kangaroos to escape the folly of the world and invaded through the millennia by all sorts of folks, the government deports a tennis player because he won’t obey orders to take a vaccine he doesn’t need, having natural immunity – see how Glenn Greenwald, in a recent Rumble video, brilliantly demonstrates that this has nothing to do with public health but everything to do with control and authority. Wait! Now the funny bit: this arbitrary and authoritarian decision, contradicting a ruling by judges in a court of law only five days earlier, is approved by 71% of the population – and even a couple of kangaroos, according to a rumor relayed by CNN which has a cameraman and a reporter – brought to you by Pfizer – in the pocket of every kangaroo on the planet. Wait! Now the hilarious bit: these same people freak out because they think they might get invaded by China which, according to their own media, has the exact same conception of law, order and compliance as they have. In China, if we are to believe what we read in Western media, these vax mandate fanatics likely would get a medal every year for their responsible attitude and social awareness. On top of which they would have 24/7 surveillance to make sure their neighbors are complying as well to keep them safe from every germ and dissident thought known to man all the way to the edge of the galaxy. Being invaded by China should be their wet dream! They should pray for it day and night and learn to perfectly pronounce – because that six accents stuff is somewhat tricky and can get you in dire straits if you’re not careful – “fuck me hard” in mandarin! And yet they want to send their kids to die on a hill in Taiwan to stop the continentals from imposing Beijing duck in restaurants there instead of Taipei noodles. This chapter would at once answer your question too: “Is it too different from today’s world for people to relate to?” People don’t see today’s world, as Plato convincingly explained in his cave allegory. Most only relate to emotions. Just tell them who the good and the bad guys are. Because both might have the same politics, which can get in the way of a safe and sound understanding :o)

    1. Australia did the right thing. No country in the world would let a foreign tennis player flaunt their public health laws and get away with it, especially with 5.5 million dead worldwide from covid.

      1. Along with serious and pertinent questions surrounding said “public health laws” (demonstrably not in the interests of public health), it might also be noted that a choice of terms such as “flaunt” and “get away with it” fly far from the face of reality in the context of our tennis player’s conduct and the legal avenues pursued.
        It’s astounding, really, what a fucking cheap and divisive propagandist you are.

        1. How was I wrong? He did lie didn’t he? He went back home instead of playing didn’t he? Everything I said is true, how is that not reality? What is your logic?

  33. Sounds like an excellent plot. If Amazon would even allow it on their site it would be shuffled into the fiction or fantasy department, since it is so outrageously implausible for anything like that to actually develop in the real world. I do have one minor suggestion. This line: “Nuclear weapons are stockpiled and placed around the world for no other reason than because it is profitable to make more of them.” You could probably think of more than one reason that an empire losing its grip on the planet might want to threaten us all with nuclear Armageddon. But otherwise, I’m all in!

    -Dave Henry

  34. The AI filter seems to be refusing the link to this story, but it is the lead story at this link

    This life insurance case in France sets an important precedent for the life insurance companies of the world, and those holding their policies.
    Life insurer refuses to cover vaccine death
    ​ ​Although vaccination is recognized as the cause of death by doctors and the insurance company, it has refused to pay out. The reason is because the side effects of the Corona jabs are known and published. They argue that the deceased took part in an experiment at his own risk. Covid-19 in itself is not classed as a “critical illness”.
    ​ ​According to the company, an experimental vaccination resulting in death is like suicide​…
    ​ ​The court allegedly justified its ruling as follows: “The side effects of the experimental vaccine are published and the deceased could not claim to have known nothing about it when he voluntarily took the vaccine. There is no law or mandate in France that compelled him to be vaccinated. Hence his death is essentially suicide.” ​ ​Since suicide is not covered by the policy from the outset, the insurance refuses to budge.

    1. Your “proof” is an article that you wrote yourself.

  35. Y’know, C., you’re stepping on the snake’s tail in the Old Myth. A&E had a sweet gig in the Garden, but Satan didn’t just walk in and say, “Hey, losers, I’m gonna f_ this up for you maximally!” Nope, he slithered in and said “Let me give you an idea.” POW! When someone else tells you what to think, be real careful. They might get used to it. Ain’t that what the Garden of Eden myth was all about, good and evil and apples aside?

  36. Yo, Caitlin!
    Quite intriguing, but I’m afraid the only way your story will fly is as a children’s novel, the plot being far too absurd for grownups. Your main character could be Cassandra the Platypus, who lives in the land of Way Under. Cassandra is blessed by her ability to see the present, but is cursed by her inability to share her vision with the “In Crowd”, ‘mature’ adults who live only in fantasies of the past and the future made up by the “Story-tellers”, a poorly-disguised race of gluttonous monsters. By making themselves the heroes of all their stories, and with the coerced obedience of their well-paid lackeys, ironically called the “Leaders”, the Story-tellers live like kings while everyone else goes hungry and fights among themselves for the scraps.

    After much disappointment and frustration, Cassandra discovers that she can actually be heard by the “Rebels”, disobedient children who want to make themselves the heroes of their own stories, and by a rare breed of people known as the “Originals”, who live only in the present, with a clear vision of a world without stories. After many harrowing adventures and monumental tragedies, Cassandra sees the alliance that she has nurtured, now known as the “Onesies”, rise from the ruins into a world of peace, harmony, and presence.

  37. How? The truth shall set you free. Never believe a lie. Shun liars.
    When you believe a lie then you do not know the truth.

  38. How? The truth shall set you free. Never believe a lie. Shun liars. When you believe a lie then you do not know the truth.

  39. I suggest Yevgeny Zamyatin, WE. Predating 1984 and Brave New World, and credited for inspiration by both Orwell and Huxley, Zamyatin was a better novelist than either. He was an Old Bolshevik from 1918, an endless internal critic; he had the balls to tell Stalin that he (Stalin) had ruined Russian literature by his oafishness, and that he was leaving the USSR for that reason. So he did. Stalin took it on the chin. If you want inspiration, read it. I endorse Anthem, too, if you can get to A.R. the writer, beneath the fog of bullshit of A.R. the diva and her toadies.

  40. I had a similar script in Mind.
    I would call it: “Cluelessly living in the ‘As if” Democracy”

  41. Forget the novel. No fiction reader would believe such a preposterous setup.

  42. We complain about mass manipulation and propaganda. However before such indirect ways of cohersion, societies were run by force. Do as you are told or report to the king. I prefer our system to one run by direct force. I am not one to quote scripture but Samual put it quite clearly when the people asked for a king.

    The rights of the king who will rule you will be as follows: He will take your sons and assign them to his chariots and horses, and they will run before his chariot. He will also appoint from among them his commanders of groups
    of a thousand and of a hundred soldiers.
    He will set them to do his plowing and his harvesting, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.
    He will use your daughters as ointment makers, as cooks, and as bakers. He will take the best of your fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his officials. He will tithe your crops and your vineyards, and give the revenue to his eunuchs and his slaves.He will take your male and female servants,as well as your best oxen and your asses, and use them to do his work. He will tithe your flocks and you yourselves will become his slaves. When this takes place,
    you will complain against the king whom you have chosen. 1 Sam 8

  43. Ummm, yall do understand that this is not a really query but a clever and insightful rhetorical trick to get us to reflect on our present dystopia? Stange how many comments seem to be taking this seriously. Well, it is serious, but Caitlyn is not asking your opinion because she is writing a book. You are in the book! See what she did there. Oh she’s good, but come on, please tell me you see the game she is playing. If you can’t see it… she might have to update her book!

    1. Unfortunately, I am getting the feeling she is going to have to update her book. . .

    2. I think she has a hell of a task on her hands. At this rate of misunderstanding she needs to go back to basic abc’s. Worrying lol

  44. I judging by the comments, I’m not sure people get this piece. She is clearly talking about us now… we are the dystopia… It seems embarrassingly obvious, but people seem to be actually considering Caitlyn’s proposal as an actual proposal and not the clever and insightful rhetorical trick that it clearly is.

    1. You really think you’re the only one who figured that out? It’s obvious she’s talking about the dystopia we’re already trapped in after two sentences.

  45. Simply describe the state of current society and the state of the living plant incl. the 6th mass extinction, that will be beyond any dystopian novel anybody could come up with.

  46. Nice setting. Now ad a courageous hero fighting all this and a hairs breath ending.

  47. Christopher Hall Avatar
    Christopher Hall

    While you offer rights to anyone to use your work, I’d like explicit permission to use your dystopian fiction as the forward to “The Reality Creators” and your name and the date of this publication.

  48. Eureka!
    There is one ready made!
    But I think the best format for this is a play.
    The seed for this idea comes to you c/o the NYT.
    One test title is:
    Dr Strangelove-19
    “Or, how I discovered I was normal”
    You can read the NYT article here (if you have a subscription):
    or read the archive here:
    The title of the NYT piece is this:
    “Lonely? Get in Line. A Covid Test Line.”
    subtitle:”Tales of New Yorkers singing together, getting impromptu architecture lessons and making new friends.”
    Discover yourself in a covid testing line where everyone is hoping to test normal (aka negative).
    Find new friends, music, art and what it takes to be considered normal.
    It is all there for you.
    Just get in line.

  49. I think this has already been written: It’s called Infinite Jesting the Brave New Animal Farm…. or something like that.

    Just be sure that you don’t detail what the systems replacing the dystopian machinery will look like, how they will operate, or anything of the like. For this to work the reader must be staring at the gaping chasm of possibility in their newfound freedom.

    What, o what, will they build back? Something that’s never been seen before or something old and familiar?

  50. F*ck ‘’em all! ☺️

  51. Sheeeit sister(or are you one of those them?) I give you an A for effort but since it couldn’t happen here in merica,(cuz we got only smart and good people) nobody’s gonna want to read about it! BUT it could happen in China, probably already does. But since they can’t read, those little fuckers aren’t gonna buy your book! UNLESS you sell it real cheap, like maybe 2 ying Yangs. Then they’ll buy it, if for no other reason than to burn in those little mud hits to keep warm. Good plan, I’m in!

    Till next time, “G’day them”


  52. Dear Caitlin,
    Believe it or not but I’ve already written two similar novels, the first of them in ’97. Let me know if you or any of your fans might be interested in either of them–both were recently available in a Kindle-only format at for $2.99 until I “froze” them for the purpose of soliciting a publisher (publishers usually frowning on stuff that is already “out there”–and I’ll steer you/them to a copy. Excerpts pasted below.
    Horror/thriller author S.A. Hogan
    A black Trappist monk with a miraculous secret confronts Satan and his minions as they attempt to harvest the world’s souls with their mandatory thumb chip agenda in THE RED CROWN (horror/paranormal with Christian and Huxley/Orwellian elements; 93,300 words).
    AUTHOR’S NOTE: Realizing I can’t write the same book Stephen King does and expect to generate the same amount of publicity, I took a page from Georgia O’Keefe and “painted my flowers bigger”:
    I would write the darkest horror/paranormal novel ever written.
    Perhaps the most unnerving thing about THE RED CROWN is there is NOTHING to grab hold of, NO character or institution or entity that seems permanent. From the very first scene it is apparent NOTHING is sacred, NOTHING is safe—even God in a world where Satan runs amok. THE RED CROWN is the ultimate tale of Good vs. Evil as it delivers important messages about faith and the seductive dangers of conformity. It has never been more relevant, no less than a warning of a possible future that is already unfolding before our eyes. True fans of horror/paranormal will not be cowed! As the cheesy waiter says, “Enjoy!”
    An ex-Marine and a former Navy SEAL try to stop the U.S. Government from exterminating the 2500 residents of three retirement communities for upper-echelon federal employees in THE DROSTE EFFECT (political thriller with erotic elements; 102,100 words).
    THE DROSTE EFFECT is a grim, complex, and timely thriller that speaks to government corruption and the moneyed interests behind it. It will have wide appeal for adult lovers of thriller fiction.

    1. I suspect that most of us who have been through college have written a similar story. I sure have!

  53. I often think about how the masses are so craftily manipulated that they think they’re operating in choice. With your writing skills you should really write it. Maybe you should write it with three endings, choose your own ending style, one where the world goes bust gradually over 1 or 2 hundred years becoming more and more depleted carrying on business as usual, one where we have a world war and go fairly quickly in a decade or two, and one where masses of people wake up and with a large majority topple the relatively few at the top pulling the strings.

    1. I do not think it is so hard to wake up. There are plenty of books about how changing our daily habits even a little bit results in total life transformation. Becoming aware of what you do or not do and why, and then choosing new habits of thinking and acting can really make a big difference; first for individuals, then for the masses.
      Example: unfollow the mass media. I tried to turn off Microsoft News from my homepage, it was not obvious to find how to do that. Every time computer updates, they make some sneaky change to push their news headlines into my view. But I keep tuning out of the CON news. (Corporate Owned News)

  54. The “false flag” attack by Ukrainians , upon ethnic Russian Ukrainians in Donbass is already underway. It is chemical warfare. The river, which supplies municipal drinking water was poisoned with fracking chemicals months ago, and remains undrinkable. People must obtain bottles of water for drinking and cooking. Chemical weapons agents and biological toxins have been delivered by the US, to be spread by drones, or other means, and blamed on Russia, which is not who usually does this kind of thing.
    Reported from inside Donbass.

  55. The movies of your proposed novel have already been made; “They Live,” (any body who’s never seen this needs to.) and the original “The Matrix.” Much outdated, but I would avoid Science Fiction and use the long forgotten “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis as my template

  56. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  57. Brilliant, I feel quite at home reading this.

    Don’t stop, I’m curious to know which fork in the road do you go down.. Total annihilation with a hand full of survivors to create a new world free from tyranny or where humans are turned into living batteries by super AI.

    1. It would be interesting what will happen if only the oligarchs survive in the end.
      Will they have to eat each other then?

  58. The proof of the criminality and exploitation of the majority, was revealed by Julian Assange. His torture and incarnation, without charge is more proof of the criminal nature of the ruling class. There should be mass protests already happening as a result of the truths revealed to us. Most people look the other way. They prefer the mind numbing nonsense that there tv bombards them with.

  59. Dystopia for the many, Utopia for the few. To make it interesting, see it from the perspective of the oppressor who believes the oppression is virtuous.

  60. Although what you are describing sounds a lot like the life in Anglosphere and the US, there is a cause for optimism.
    The solution is to take 100% responsibility for your own government. And not to make up excuses such as “it is a plutocracy”, “I have no power”, “Nobody is listening even if I object”.
    Stop worrying about “bad” governments in other countries and make your own government actually work for your own country. By which I mean that a lot of these corporations that dominate our government are called multi-nationals, and they do not have the interests of the country and people in mind. Their goal is to self-perpetuate and to grow their share and profit to become a monopoly.
    Then you know how monopoly plays out: one entity gets all the profit, the rest of folks starve.
    So here we go, insist that US government enforce anti-monopoly laws on the books.
    I recall Bill Gates told the Congress it was a bad idea to break up Microsoft, so they did not and never asked him again.

    1. I regularly denounce the mass’s lack of discernment and allowing this situation equally with the oligarch’s and their creation and manipulation of it. There is a full chicken egg thing behind our situation.

  61. Love it. There should be some attribution given to the idea that individuals come into power by virtue of being at a minimum sociopathic, and that the economic system upon which this dystopia relies such abberant personality disorders rise to the top.

  62. “Or is it too different from today’s world for people to relate to?”

    Your book outline sounds like nonfiction rather than a novel. Is it intended to be historical fiction with a lot of sex so that it will sell?

  63. Too late for writing such a novel, unless you’re trying to start a plagiarizing career.

  64. As a Sci fi novel, the best achievement would be for a.enlightened director to make a film or serial on it.
    A good investigative journalist could provide a reasonable approximation of the juicy facts.

  65. In today’s Freedom School lesson, we see how as long as you couch truth telling as “fiction”, it slips right past the oligarchy’s rather stupid censorship algorithms.

    In another era, black radicals used the pulpit to teach revolution to an oppressed mass right under the Master’s nose through the black churches. This being MLK Day, I say he would’ve approved this adaption of that technique to our era.

  66. Thanks Caitlin. To me, this sounds exactly like the society we are already living in!

    1. Yes, Kimberley, there’s little of the future in Caitlin’s vision, much more of current reality. What we really need right now are utopian visions. We’re already drowning in dystopias. Has global neoliberal capitalism, TINA-style, so impoverished the human imagination that we can no longer envision a better, more beautiful world? If so, it is indeed the end of history…until collapse.

  67. It was called, “Married With Children.” In The States, far earlier attempts, existed: “The Honeymooners,” “Amos & Andy,” “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Flintstones” typify subliminally conditioned, soul dead & speciously oblivious agnst. “Beavis And Butthead,” “The Simpsons,” “Squidbillies” and “Seinfeld” are simply ponderous, self satisfied pontification and projection, by comparison? But, I’d been unable to watch “Sex And The City” or “Friends,” so I’m pretty sure there are plenty of others?

  68. You could name the lead characters Neo and Trinity, and make the world’s indoctrinated state a metaphor for a virtual world dominated bymachi… No, wait, that’s something else.

    Never mind.

  69. How about just describing what is going on in Australia right now (highlighted by the Djokovic case)?

    1. He’s back in Beograde. The people who said he was imprisoned were lying.

  70. Dear Caitlin,

    I have been in a multitude of ways trying tor reach you to speak about the script I’ve been written that has as its heart a woman dubbed The BUDDHIST BOMBER by the media mogul whose attention she’s successfully gotten in order to get the ‘airtime’ she needs for a wake-up call for unity against oppression and war that in the end she sacrifices her life for.

    Her message does get out with the help of the citizens of a small town whose livelihood is being upended by this same mogul. Eventually it’s a multitude of Truckers with CB radios along the byways and roadways of America that disseminate the ideas you speak of here today. This is after an actually engaging final debate that The BUDDHIST BOMBER has with the mogul regarding the effects of the Trilateral Commission’s wildest hopes manifested.

    The crusader is also a mother who has lost two children to history.

    I have been inspired by discovering and reading you, and would o love to talk with you about how literally one can take your generous offer to utilize your own writing in other art.

    Much appreciation for the inspiration and daily joy of reading you.
    Cheers, Pamela

  71. I don’t know about Australia, but the dystopian future has arrived in the U$A. Trump cultists, deification of the rich, Kardashianism, gun nuts, pestilence, an army of occupation masquerading as peace officers, fealty to war criminals in the uniform of the US military, vigilantism, mass poverty and homelessness, a popular culture dominated by the CIA/FBI/Hollywood complex, class collaborationist unions, near abolition of reproductive rights, etc., ad nauseum ad infinitum. Oh yeah. A political system that vomits up the likes of ( insert name here ).

  72. Robert Nemtusak Avatar
    Robert Nemtusak

    “I was thinking … just the other day.” I was told to put down the alcoholic beverage, but MY dystopian autobiography featured scenes from December of 1990.” Yeah, that year that happened years back.
    & then it occurred to me: it’s no secret (to me; ) that my December 20, 1990 NDE occurred only ten days … … … before a Chicago music concert, starring Chuck D & Public Enemy! & yes, minutes after the closing Chuck freak – out, about Daddy Bush’s looming mad-scientist nightmare Iraq project, guess what? Yep, the uniformed police actors — figuratively — removed my newly—woke self away from # the concert hall; # the sidewalk; # the paved Chicago street # and stuff like that.
    “Waking up is hard to do” …

  73. Perfect description of today’s reality. Put me down for a copy if you go ahead but you’ve just given away the whole content with this post:)
    I’ve always wondered when I look back on ancient dystopian times whether anyone realized how f’d up everything was. This post confirms that some (significant but far to few) people do.
    Love ya Caitlin!

  74. We are already living in this dystopia. Neverless, the best way to make the public aware is through fiction. Fiction, at it’s best is a lie that tells the truth. As such it flies beneath the radar and is difficult to stifle.

  75. You miss only one thing: the carrot is real. At some level we understand that we trade our souls for plastic, electricity, burgers, etc.

  76. The way you phrase your question reminds me of Ayn Rand’s Anthem.

    It’s hard to imagine the world’s populace descending that far –
    but shows that ALMOST no matter how bad things become there is still hope.

    1. Except that it’s largely Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” that has given us the world Caitlin describes here. If ever there’s been a full-throated champion of dystopia NOW, it’s Ayn Rand.

  77. “…have the populace simply wake up to the manipulations and take back their will and shrug off the elites’ control like a warm coat on a summer’s day?”

    Please focus on this and not the dystopia, we already live in dystopia, time we began to repair the damage to our spaceship and crew.

    1. A highly possible reality. I call it the razor scooter phenomena. It was about 3 weeks from when I first saw a razor scooter to when every kid I saw had one. I didn’t watch television so I didn’t know but I imagined there must have been some plentiful advertising about it. It illustrated the power of our marketing infrastructure. I always use that as my hope and positivity that if the right message makes it through that channel we could see a massive shift in a short time.

  78. Annemarie Osborne Avatar
    Annemarie Osborne

    Hi Caitlin, Your idea for a novel sounds hauntingly like the reality that we live in today. How could we break free from this horror to create a new and more just planet?

Leave a Reply