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2013 DISCUSSIONS > THE UNIT: Submission to a 'Democracy'

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message 1: by Elena (new)

Elena These questions comes from Susan.

Why do you think Dorrit and the others allowed themselves to be taken to the Unit without fighting back, even though they knew what was going to happen?
Do you think you would allow yourself to be taken in such a way if you were in the same circumstances?

The society in which the inhabitants of the book live is often called democratic, but do you think it was really a democracy?

message 2: by Val (last edited Jun 03, 2012 03:04AM) (new)

Val People might submit, if they felt it was for the greater good of society and the alternatives were being a criminal fugitive for the rest of your life or suicide. They get to live in a pleasant environment, with all their material need taken care of, and have a sense of belonging many of them have never had before. Most 50 / 60 year olds are essentially law abiding and Scandinavian citizens are some of the most willingly law abiding in the world. The idea of Dorrit and the others not fighting back is not too unlikely to be believable for the purposes of the novel.
Would I allow myself to be taken? Probably not, but mainly because I do have dependents, human and animal.

I can see the problem with this situation being in a democratic country: how would you 'sell' this idea well enough for the majority to support it. The advantages to society in general are not strong enough. There is a referendum, so it is a true majority. I am only part way through the book, but there is no suggestion so far that many people are disenfranchised. Democracy does not prevent the oppression by the majority of a minority, or of a section of society deemed less productive.

message 3: by Dina (new)

Dina Goluza In my opinion there are no really democracy in this book although everyone mentioned democracy. Perhaps it is a tyrannical form of democracy where individuals or minorities have not the same rights as the majority.

As Dorrit said their rulers were those who have power.
"“I suppose I used to believe that my life belonged to me,” I rambled. “Something that was entirely at my disposal, something no one else had any claim on, or the right to have an opinion on. But I’ve changed my mind. I don’t own my life at all, it’s other people who own it.”
“Who?” asked Arnold. I shrugged my shoulders.
“Those who have the power, I suppose.”
“And who are they?”
“Our rulers, of course.” “And who are our rulers?” “Well,” I said. “We don’t really know. The state or industry or capitalism. Or the mass media. Or all four. Or are industry and capitalism the same thing? Anyway: those who safeguard growth and democracy and welfare, they’re the ones who own my life. They own everyone’s life. And life is capital."

message 4: by Val (last edited Jun 25, 2012 11:23PM) (new)

Val Individuals and minorities have the same rights as the majority in a democracy, because they can still vote. What they don't have is the power to affect policy, because they would always be outvoted. The majority trust 'the state', their elected representatives, to carry out the will of the majority (or at least their election manifesto) to 'safeguard growth and democracy and welfare'.
If the democracy is capitalist then industry will have an influence. Government is a mix of politics and economics. I didn't see any evidence in the book of industry having very much influence. The most highly valued members of society seemed to be those in the public sector: midwives, teachers, nurses, etc.
The mass media has a role in keeping the electorate informed, so they know what they are voting on. The media might not be fair and unbiased, they might not raise the difficult issues of disadvantaged minorities. This does not necessarily mean that the media are censored.
This seems to be a complacent democracy rather than a tyrannical one. I would like to believe that this wouldn't happen in a democracy, but it is difficult to believe that it couldn't while reading the novel, and that is what makes the scenario chilling and powerful.

Beth (bibliobeth) I really agree with your last comment there Val. The book made me uncomfortable because it was unbelievable but believable.

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