It has always been a human nature to strive for the knowledge of the future. What is it? What kind of victims will be found if there is nothing to hope for? But it is from despair that amazing dreams are born.
This year, my meeting with the talented Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin took place, whose name only recently returned to our literature. The author saw the problem of the future of mankind in his own way. A child of “the terrible years of Russia,” he was critical of everything that happened around. As early as 1918, the writer said that “the party of organized hatred” and “organized destruction” is incapable of creating.
Those who fanatically believe in such a party have no future.
“We” is a novel about a distant future, a future in a thousand years. Man has not yet completely triumphed over nature, but has already fenced off from her by a wall of civilization. This book was seen by many as a political pamphlet
on socialist society. However, the author himself claimed that “this novel is a signal about the danger threatening man and mankind from the power of machines and the state.” The emergence of totalitarian regimes caused him serious doubts about the possibility of the existence, even in the distant future, of an ideal society, undermined faith in the rational beginnings of human nature. Endowed with a unique foresight ability, E. Zamyatin realized the danger of leveling the personality, excessive cruelty, the destruction of classical culture and other millennia-old traditions.
So was born an anti-dystopia novel, a forecast for the future, if the present wants to become one.
Action in the novel is transferred to the distant future. After the end of the Great Bicentennial War between town and country, people became citizens of the One State. The new order, which began with war with its people, was aimed at destruction. True, a small part of the population survived, but they were the best, the strongest.
Personality in the novel there. People lost their name, their “I”, and the
terrible thing happened – they became. “numbering”. There are O-90, D-503 and others. No people. And in this is the symbol of impersonality, the total annihilation of individuality. Life in such a state is subordinated to the Hourly Tablet, prescribing when everyone at once to sleep, when to work or make love. A historical sexual law was even proclaimed: “Each of the numerals has the right, as a sexual product, to any number.” But when love turns into “happiness” for one-time coupons, it dies, and without love, the world also perishes.
These are the conditions of being in the United State, which the talented engineer D-503 describes in his diary for descendants.
The hero is very satisfied with life. He does not mind that the city-state in which he lives is surrounded by a glass wall. In this city there is no wildlife: birds do not sing, sun glare does not play in puddles on the asphalt. The “square harmony” of streets and squares, the horrendous identity of the “numbering” life, the absurd equality of people delight the narrator. All “numbers” are equally dressed, they live in the same rooms of huge multi-storey houses. These rooms in houses with transparent walls are reminiscent of cell-cells, for inhabitants of which vigilant surveillance is conducted.
There are no grounds for envy for each other. So everyone is happy?
In my opinion, the author’s position differs sharply from the D-503 point of view, and the more he admires the way of life of the “numbers”, the more horrible the pictures he draws appear.
I was shocked by the history of the Great Operation. This is the highest degree of violence against a person that the United State resorted to to extract a part of the brain where fantasy originated.
But more terrible than the destruction of human flesh is the destruction of the human spirit, the killing of the soul. This operation was forcibly subjected to all “numbers” after the uprising of the members of the “Mephi” who opposed the totalitarian regime was crushed. Thus, the Unified State reliably insured itself against the repetition of revolutions and other dangerous manifestations of the free will of citizens.
In this same diary, the D-503 tells of his love for the revolutionary 1-330 and the sudden illness that happened to him-the emergence of his soul. Under the influence of 1-330, much of his worldview is changing. It begins the process of awakening the soul. It was for him the only chance to become a man, that is, to experience all the pains and joys of human existence.
But after the operation the D-503 loses its noble qualities and personal attachments. He is transformed from a person who thinks of being a managed, “worthy” citizen of the One State.
The world in which such people live, Zamyatin thinks, is a nightmare, hell!
In the novel, he confronts the world behind the Wall. There live the descendants of those few who left after the Great Bicentennial War into the forests, but their society is at a primitive stage of development.
Zamyatin believed that only at the primitive communal stage, when there was no state power yet, it was possible to find a society whose members enjoyed almost absolute freedom. He turned to the “long-past” historical epoch, and did not fantasize about how it will be in the distant future.
In the novel, Zamyatin also showed that society can not be happy without taking into account the requests and inclinations of its citizens. I think the author wanted to tell us not about the erroneous political theories, but about that monstrous thing that a good political movement can lead to if it is distorted.
I believe that it is impossible to exterminate the human in man. Mankind should be free, and the future will be the way we prepare it.