The Hunger Games is a contemporary novel written by Suzanne Collins that contains absolutely no original content. The fictional literary device of “the hunter(s)” and “the hunted” has been in since the early 19th century, when Richard Connell published a short story called The Most Dangerous Game (1924), reiterated in Stephen King’s The Running Man (1982), and once again produced in Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale (2000). Although applauded as a brilliant and original work from the keyboard of Collins, The Hunger Games is a mere regurgitation of past literature. Ignoring the blatant plagiarism present in its premise of an advanced totalitarian government (composed of “smart cities”) forcing young adults into isolation in order to kill each other for the pleasure of an aristocratic society, let’s examine the societal implications of The Hunger Games to reveal that we are in the midst of a similar predicament ourselves.
Today, the world is on the brink of a new age, with the urbanization of peoples becoming nearly inevitable with the vast leaps in technological advancements. Technology and culture are becoming increasingly intertwined to the point where if the former were to ever collapse, the former would, to an extent, follow suit.
In May 2014, a multi-stake holder project labeled “United Smart Cities” was launched by the United Nations with the intention to lower the possibility of population and demographic shifts in urban areas, address various concerns regarding climate change, and establish public-private partnerships. These “smart cities” intend to heavily implement technology and AI to heighten the quality of life for urban dwellers. There is a strong environmentalist push in the global initiative, seeking to encourage urban mobility (transit), sustainable housing, clean energy, waste management, and the implementation of ICT (information and communications technology) into every aspect of civilian life. The flipside to this initiative is that it is not exclusively intended to combat climate change – it is also aiming to establish control over urban dwellers through establish public-private partnerships (PPPs) with telecommunications companies to monitor the effectiveness of these proposed changes. In the name of peace and environmentalism, the U.N. has proposed a system of establishing interconnected cities that eerily mirrors that of the 12 Districts found in The Hunger Games.
As Rosa Koire, Executive Director of the Post Sustainability Institute has argued, smart cities and Agenda 21 are not propositions to encourage environmental sustainability and promote social justice and clean energy. Rather, it is about shifting populations into concentrated city centers and abolishing the rural populace in order to establish a form of aristocratic control.
In these smart cities, everything will be digitized and technologically controlled where everything, people included, are tracked by computers. What happens when citizens begin to question or disagree with this innovative development in tracking individuals and forcing ideological conformity through manipulating and revoking certain digitized rights and privileges?
Imagine that one night, you are texting your friend about how much of a drag it is that you can’t leave the city due to the current concern of demographic instability within your urban area. Your friend laughs it off, and who wouldn’t? Nothing that you could possibly need lays beyond your city’s borders. Food, transportation, and housing is all provided through logistically calculations, and your needs are met by that which the city provides for you. But, perhaps you are a photographer wanting to take a shot of the rural land outside, own a dirt bike and want to test how fast it can go on a dirt road, or are simply an adventurous spirit lusting for a change of scenery. You text your friend that the geographical restriction is a joke, grab the keys to your leased car (leased from a government-funded company), and head outside.
As you turn the key in the car’s ignition, it refuses to start. Weird, you think, but decide to take a bus instead and call the car company in the morning. After waiting at the bus stop, you board and swipe your bank card, only to have your transaction decline and be turned away by the automated driver. Immediately, you receive a phone call from a restricted number to inquire about your recent conversation and transaction. Very quickly, you realize that leaving the city is impossible and that the government has digitally prevented you from leaving your residence.
This futurist, socialist, globalist dystopia eerily echoes that of the classical totalitarian control through technology exemplified in The Hunger Games. Smart-cities is the product of Agenda 21, and opens a gateway into the revocation of privacy, freedom, and all manners of privileges. The first milestone in this global initiative as specified by the U.N. is to standardize a methodology for “profiling cities, identifying areas of action for improving their smartness and assessing the impact of actions on the city.” This is expected to be achieved by September 2018. By 2030, the U.N. has established the goal of incorporating massive amounts of people into these smart cities in every participating country through integrating human settlement planning and management on the global level.
Happy Hunger Games Eve, and may the odds be ever in your favor.