Sci-Fi Is A Great Way To Understand Political Theory

Joseph Reisert, a professor of government at Colby College, found that science fiction novels such as Brave New World adding a lot of value to his class “Introduction to Political Theory”.

“I wanted to admit that this idea was original to me, but I actually got the inspiration from the first class of political theory I took as an undergraduate,” Reisert said in Episode 485 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast “The professor at the time taught a class of political theory beginning with Plato and ending with Brave New World, and he had a lot of connections for us in the past that I tried to release when I taught it to my class. ”

Reisert says that science fiction can help us imagine scenarios we would never otherwise imagine. “Science fiction helps us to experiment, in literature, with different sets of social structures,” he says, “and through the medium of the story it can go beyond the reflexive,‘ It’s different so it must be bad. , ‘and class to play in our mind,’ Well, can it work? What does that mean? If we change this thing, what will happen to other things? I think it’s very good to do that in fiction . ”

Reisert now teaches Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel The Expelled to help students understand Marxist ideas in a society without private ownership. “It’s the one imagined in a society with no assets as credible as mine,” he said. “I love the novel, and I think the main vision there is to make the society without property work, even without organizational challenges, requires a kind of moral change that is not easily accomplished. “

Another advantage of science fiction novels is that they tend to be more entertaining than political ones, which means that students are more likely to actually read them. “One should not underestimate the importance of having a light, quick reading at the end of a long semester before people take the exam,” Reisert said.

Listen to the complete interview with Joseph Reisert in Episode 485 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.

Joseph traveled Star Trek:

“Even when I was young I knew it was progressive – there was still the Cold War going on and there was a Russian on the bridge, and it was among the people. But what came to me as a child, and what I really like about it is the optimism of the vision.I just found that appealing, and the kind of mutual balance between [the characters]. If you think of Kirk as courage or spirit, and Spock as reason or intelligence, and McCoy as fundamental in heart or friendship, the three of them should be. There are at least a few original episodes in the series where they arrive at an apparently perfect but timeless society that [puts] limitations of intellectual inquiry, efficiency, exploration, and audacity, and the Enterprise women take it. ”

Joseph traveled Brave New World:

“[Bernard] Lenina Crowne was tried to be praised by taking her to the Savage Reservation, and there they met John and Linda, and took them back to London. … Upon Linda’s death, John’s class snaps and his anger at Brave New World are released, and so he decides to fire Delta caste workers from the hospital for death by throwing away their drug rations . ‘Manhood! Free! he shouted at them. A riot ensued, and you have to love Brave New World, they broke it up by blowing everything up with soma gas, and I think they have anesthetic water pistols to put people to sleep. And there was the big, loud voice of their sleepy instruction urging them to start a dance. I think it just ended with an orgy, this mess. “

Joseph Reisert in free speech:

“I’m sure I’m close to an absolutist who is free to speak. Part of it is anything I see being censored by someone, I always consider it a reason [think], ‘That’s probably why I should look at that idea again, because someone is afraid of it.’ It hurts so much for adults to say, ‘You can’t hear this’ or ‘You can’t hear that,’ and I think in politics it’s a lot more pot. I think it’s better to allow people to talk, because if they stop talking the next thing is violence. … There’s a class that – I don’t think it’s a big group, but there’s a class that is a strong, vigilant, thriving group of students who can’t really afford to really challenge their godliness, and they can make life is hard for people who still want to talk about alternative perspectives, especially to embrace them. And I think you just have to resist that at all costs. ”

Joseph traveled Brave New World vs. Nineteen Eight and Four:

“Even if I don’t all agree [Mustapha Mond’s] defending the Brave New World, he in some ways embodies all the qualities that no one in the Good New World is allowed to cultivate. … Kanus-a O’Brien [in Nineteen Eighty-Four] Eating real chocolate or having real coffee, in a strange way he tasted the sadness of the other party. The point of it for him is sadistic boot-on-face-forever. While Mond is a kind of mind. ‘If they read Othello, they cannot understand it, and it cannot be disturbed. Yes it’s good if they have real art, but the price is just too high. ‘It’s not like he’s happy with the loss of others, which is what I get Nineteen Eight and Four. ”

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