I believe a case can be made to divide most Dystopian depictions into two major camps: Huxlerian Dystopias, named after Aldous Huxley
, writer of Brave New World
, and Orwellian Dystopias, after George Orwell
, writer of 1984
. Although both are based on an underlying fear of the all-powerful government
, the manifestation
of control is different in both cases.
Orwellian Dystopias are based upon deprivation of the public to prevent them from having the resources to fight the powers that be. Be they fascist or socialist in nature, control is enforced by treating the populace like rats in a skinner box, isolated and controlled. There is usually an elite "inner circle", such as the real-life Nomenklatura that existed in the Soviet Union. Such Dystopias channel people's energies into surviving daily life and avoiding trouble with the law.
A Huxlerian Dystopia is one in which creature comforts are abundant, and used to lull the populace into complacency. Bread and Circuses divert the populace's attention away from the mechanism of government. Such a society treats people like birds in gilded cages, pampered without the ability to influence the direction of their lives. Such Dystopias channel people's energies into experiencing as much hedonistic pleasure and acquiring material goods as possible to divert their attention from the fact that their lives are as limited in scope as those living in a concrete cubicle.
The common ground between the two (and every Dystopia) is that those in power are in complete control, keep the people ignorant about the true nature of their society, and punish those who divert from the norm severely.
I believe current American society is rapidly becoming a Huxlerian Dystopia. Our leaders (from both sides of the fence) lie blatantly to us, our "news" organizations force us to fixate on the ridiculous instead of the vital, and we are forced to focus more on our credit card interest rates and how big an SUV we can afford than on the state of our society.