Now BioShock is a very interesting game. Sure it has wonderful graphics, great gameplay, and a unique combat system, but its the writing that adds so much to it. In BioShock we see an objectivist dystopia created by a man named Andrew Ryan. Oh, he didn't intend for it to be a dystopia. He intended to be a truly free city. Free of Government, and Government intervention in the private property of individuals. He also believed, strongly, in the right of an individual to make a profit from said property. That being said, Andrew Ryan was the largest property holder, and employer, in his city of Rapture, therefor Ryan was the main one profiting from the city.
There was no real government in Rapture, except the whims of Andrew Ryan, and Ryan preferred it that way. There was no one to speak up for the poor, and nobody cared, because Ryan's Rapture was based on self-interest alone and altruism (the belief in a greater good) was considered a great evil of the surface world. Rapture, you see, was built miles below the surface of the ocean, hidden, so Ryan could preserve his so-called utopia from the governments of the world.
And in Andrew Ryan's city, Free Enterprise is the only economic philosophy allowed. Everything is for sale, from the air that one breaths to a walk in the woods. Nothing, absolutely nothing is offered for free. And in Free Enterprise, because enterprise is allowed to regulate itself, there is nothing protecting the people from predatory business practices. Also there is no safety regulations, no checking of goods and services for anything that could harm the customers, no medicine is checked for side effects, and none of the regulations that keep people relatively safe did not exist.
In Rapture, a scientist discovered that a sea slug's bite had cured a man's hands that had been crippled. Research proved that this sea slug created a substance that modified a person's genetic code to make all of a person's cells into stem cells. This it had great curative properties, and the potential for a great many other things. Thus Adam, the genetic altering substance secreted by the sea slug, was born. Adam caused a new business of selling of custom genetic modifications, called Plasmids, to be created. People could gain fantastic powers such as the ability to shoot lightening from one's hand, light fires with a snap of one's fingers, or even lift and move objects with one's mind. Adam revolutionized plastic surgery making it possible to simply sculpt flesh like clay, and even gave a botanist the idea for a formula to resurrect dead plant tissue.
However, the side effects of Adam were not discovered, until it was too late. Adam as it turned out was addictive, caused insanity, and induced deformities. By the time these side effects were discovered, the hard way, Rapture had become a city filled with insane deformed Adam addicts with fantastic powers, who turned against each other to extract the Adam from each other, and from wherever they could get it.
And in the real world, we have Politicians, especially Republicans, calling for the striking down of regulations that protect the people, especially the poor, from things that could cause them harm.
"Oh, but we're good Christian people," the Republicans would say, "we have the divine moral compass that the atheists refuse to have." However, I've seen "Good Christians" overcome by greed. I've seen "Good Christians" say that altruism is evil, when living for the Greater Good is what was taught by Jesus Christ.
The lesson, here, is that any philosophy, especially economic philosophy, will look good on paper. However, when you add people, that's when things get complicated, because people are a mixed bag of self-centeredness, and a belief in community.
The second lesson is that anything taken to extremes will always fail.
I'll cover that, in my next entry.
In my last entry I talked about Rapture, the Objectivist dystopia unintentionally created by Andrew Ryan. True, he didn't mean for it to be a dystopia, initially, but it ended up that way, due to Ryan's paranoia, and a multitude of other factors. One of which was that Ryan intended it to be a utopia.
A utopia filled with like-minded people who would, with hard work, determination, and the sweat of their brows, make Rapture work. Well, that was Ryan's vision of Rapture. The vision of the people he brought to populate his city was vastly different. Many of them felt they were above the meanial work that would keep the city running. They were doctors, thinkers, artist, poets, captains of industry, and one was a criminal. The society that was created, and was influenced by Ryan's recorded propaganda, was based on selfishness, self-interested, and self centeredness. "What calamity has ever been caused by the words 'think of yourself''?" one recording asked. None, unless you consider psychopaths and serial killers to be 'calamities'.
Oh, there were very few who grew food, but they were more interested in how much profit they could wring from the enterprise. There were poor people in Rapture, but they were outnumbered by the upper classes, and were probably brought down for the sole reason of working for their "betters". No charity was allowed, because Andrew Ryan considered altruism to be the root of all evil. So we've got a city filled with selfish, self-centered people who believe they are the upper crust, high class, and above doing the work of a menial. Therefor, the society was very top-heavy, and it lacked the support system of 'lower class' people that did the actual work. A society based on selfishness, top-heavy, with very little in the way of a support system, and throw in an addictive substance with no manner of oversight or regulation. No wonder it collapsed.
Once again, I am finding unsettling parallels in the real world. Politicians intent upon doing away with the Social Safety Net of Social Security, Medicare, and Welfare. They tell their constituents that these programs are nothing but a drain on the National Budget. Never mind using some of Ryan's words to say that nobody should be made to pay for the welfare of others. Though they DO have charities to fall back upon, saying that charities would fill in where the social programs had been. Then they turn around and do everything to make sure that the rich and powerful are able to keep their money, and corporations are able to keep more of their profits. As if they wish to make a top-heavy society... Or make the poor into easily exploitable slaves, what with the call for the deregulation of all industries, and the abolition of minimum wage.
The criminal in Rapture was happy that the society collapsed, and had a plan to kill his rival, Andrew Ryan, so he could rule over the ruins. The problem with the politicians, should American society collapse, it will take THEM with it.
Why is it that people of extreme political ideologies see everything as an attack upon their beliefs? There is a web-cartoonist, the one I quoted in my entry about Exceptionalism, who is so far Right, even the CENTER is Left, sees Bioshock as an attack upon Capitalism.
I don't see it that way, but I tend to walk the straight and narrow of political ideologies, IE the Center. I eschew the extremism that has permeated the political scene, nowadays, and only wish the most sensible ideas to be used.
The whole Bioshock series is not an attack on anything but extremism itself. Bioshock shows an objectivist dystpoia, where the underwater city was built only to benefit of its builder. As long as Andrew Ryan benefited from Rapture, he was happy. As soon as the criminal, Frank Fontain, started to threaten his wealth, Ryan became a tyrant.
I haven't played Bioshock 2, but I hear it's about a Collectivist dystopia. Again, showing that an economic system taken to its illogical extreme is a BAD thing, not a good thing. Lastly, there is Bioshock Infinite, which this Far Far far far far so far it's practically left Right leaning web-comic author is an attack on America Itself. Of course this fellow believes, religiously, in American Exceptionalism, and that all other countries should be in awe, and bow down and worship America in all its glory.
Bioshock Infinite, like all the other Bioshock games, shows the idea of American Exceptionalism taken to its ILLOGICAL extreme, with all the jingoistic, bombastic, anti-foreigner, isolationist clap-trap that comes along with it. Apparently Columbia was built as a way to spread American style Democracy to the world at the point of several thousand guns, and with the aid of big-arsed robots.
Oh what fun. And, if you've ever find this distant-right-leaning webcomic author's blog, you get to see that's just exactly what he wants. He wants to have the world be America, and kill off all other religions, races, and orientations, and enslave women.
The problem with economic systems is that they exclude the "People are selfish fucking bastards" factor.
On paper, they look great. All the factors contributing to the greater whole, and working wonderfully.
However, people are selfish fucking bastards, and if they can, they will work any and all systems to give them the economic advantage. Hence the need for regulations.
Take, for example, the much-vaunted Free Market System.
Ideally, the free market system is supposed to be ruled by supply and demand. When there is a higher supply, there is a lower demand, and therefore lower prices. The reverse is true, when there is low supply, and high demand.
However... Say it with me now: People are fucking bastards. People can either hoard their supply, or order their factories (even though they have the capacity) to only make a very limited stock, increasing demand, prices, and profits.
((Mind you, I was hoping to get THESE published in the Deep South, too. Hince the Christian references.))