Equality /= Dystopia

Today in The Atlantic, there’s a slightly strange argument that it’s going to be difficult to ever have social and economic equality because young adult literature has explored the topic thoroughly and determined that every instance of equality leads to a dystopia.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

The article, “What Is The Price of Perfect Equality,” explains the economic and social systems of a few YA texts (The Giver, Delirium) to state:

The argument, then, is that perfect equality engineers a certain trade: guaranteed equal outcomes entail the forfeiting of art, music, literature, spontaneity, passion, even color itself.


Commerce and trade, it turns out, are just as dependent on the passions as the passions are dependent on commerce and trade in The Giver. The true nightmare of a dystopian world is that all of these things are interconnected, and that by losing one or the other, by engineering it away socially or medically, nightmarish unintended consequences will ensue.

I doubt this article is truly arguing against a $15 minimum wage or anything like that, but it’s a bit strange to come back from a weekend watching some of the effects of racial, social, and economic inequality play out in Ferguson, for example, to read that “ah, but if we had true equality it would be a dystopia, because Lois Lowry proved it.”

So let’s prove The Atlantic wrong. We’ve got a whole comment section to argue how a more socially and economically fair world does not necessarily equal a world where passions are surgically removed or where everything turns black-and-white for some reason. Dystopian YA novels are rarely about actual economics (the “how everyone gets an equal amount of everything” section is usually deliberately fuzzy), so let’s rewrite them to show that sharing economic resources in a more equitable manner does not lead to dystopian scenarios.