Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Weekly Sneak: Taxes and Dystopic Speculative Fiction

So, I bought some internet time just the other day and Hello! What in sweet malediction happened to the prices? I thought that information was on the way to getting cheaper and truly believe that some parts of The Establishment are trying to make it so, especially since I know it's written somewhere that we want to "build a knowledge society." The poor guy who had to handle me (plus another irate customer) explained that the recent budget which had hiked the price of oil amongst other things was driving the price of the internets up. 

Ah, indeed. The simcard tax. The introduction of TV decoders. The brutality against members of the press. The public education system that is struggling to deliver literacy and numeracy, never mind unleashing human potential. The cumulative effects. These all lend themselves nicely to some future dystopia speculation:
"The negative outcomes of unenlightened self-interest might not all be intentional, but some of them look suspiciously premeditated. I have heard that it is difficult to recruit governments to the Age of Information idea, but this is particularly bad. Oh, there’s been much to do about the glorious future of Tanzania as we are poised for economic take-off and a massive population explosion.

There is also the other possibility. One in which 100 years from now we’ll end up clad in short-sleeved socialist suits, burning rebel pamphlets while mournfully chanting the national anthem as the government tells us that the proceeds of oil, gold, gas and uranium are contributing to the glory of Mother Tanzania. Over the radio of course, because by that time most of us still won’t be able to read."
I wanted to speak directly to the sense of dread that has been building up over the past couple of years. It is good to give names to the monsters in the closet, and I find that speculative fiction is one of the best tools to do so. Besides I am a big believer in imagination driving reality, especially in the realms of technology and politics. In terms of technology it allows us to create, which is a magnificent power to have. In terms of politics, imagination probably constitutes 90% of the power of visionary leadership- whether the vision be a good one or a bad one. 

As we creep closer and closer to the watershed moments that await us (will it be the new constitution? will it be the next election? will it be Mtwara exploding? will it be the nascent war against drug barons?) it seems like a good time to imagine the worst so that maybe we can think about avoiding it. Besides, conspiracy theories are fun although this is not the first time I have accused my government of having a nefarious censorship and mind-control plan.    

1 comment:

  1. Mmm, I think I'll have to wait for the column to understand this "speculative scenario" of yours :)


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