1. Still Organized

    Still Organized New Member

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    Government Devotion

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Still Organized, Aug 8, 2018.

    In my current work in progress, I'm having trouble with the main character's reasoning for his blind belief in the Dystopian government. Currently I'm going with the idea that his father was devoted, therefore teaching his young son his beliefs.
    In order to strengthen the protagonist's views, I wrote that his father was killed by a protestor of the government when the protagonist was ten. Now that the protagonist is a young adult, he is even more loyal to his father's government because his loved one was murdered by those he disagreed with.

    The protagonist sees this government as necessary. The laws, the Tiers, the differences between how they are treated, etc. Whether the people like it or not, without the government, there would be no more humanity, so he sees no right to complain.

    Does this sound realistic and does it make sense?
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    Sure, why not? There's plenty of batshit crazy governments out there with legions of devoted followers. People tend to be stupid and easily manipulated, so I don't think a lot of explanation is necessary.
     
  3. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    It not only feels realistic, it seems rather like the world I'm living in right now. Especially when you consider that who qualifies as fully human or not is often defined by the people in power.
     
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  4. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    North Korea is pretty realistic, I'd say. I don't know about whether or not it makes sense, but it's about as realistic as you can get!
     
  5. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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  6. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale The Caliph of al-Abama Contributor

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    When I was young and in the Marines, I was amazed that Democrats were allowed into the military. I was raised to think of them as near-traitors, and I have relatives who still feel that way.
     
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  7. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society

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    Does this character turn around on this belief, or are they more a sympathetic voice of the dystopia? Because that would affect how you could do it.
     
  8. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I would be tempted to eliminate the whole "father killed by protester" storyline. It's harder, and more rewarding, to present a character who has genuinely good reasons for believing in something you'd normally consider evil. It's good practice for us as writers to really walk in someone else's shoes. Understanding, and acknowledging there may be good reasons for thinking as they think, are not the same as agreement. Your story will be stronger for it.

    Why did his father believe in the regime?

    Think, for example, the villain in the latest Avenger. I've forgotten his name - let's call him the Purple Dude :D - Purple Dude is going around the galaxies committing genocide in the name of good. Resources around the universe are limited and if he reduced the population, then it leaves everyone else with enough to actually live a good life. There's logic in this and he believes in it. He's fair - he kills at random, there's no privilege shown to race or wealth or status.

    So what about your character? Why does he do what he does?
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
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  9. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society

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    Second @Mckk. You should explore the deeper workings of it than something so simple as following you family with motivator of blame.
    What I think you should explore, at least in some small part, is what makes people evil vs good.
    I say people aren't evil because of some special moral switch. They are evil because of what they believe, and people don't just believe in evil because (not most people at least). And beliefs aren't evil because of some special moral element either. It's an ultimately practical affair, concerning what is true and what is functional.
    So a good person supporting what is ultimately evil should be a case of belief in good things that do justify the bad but aren't true (could be more naivety or propaganda) and/or beliefs that are based on good principles but wrongly applied to bad things (principle of order wrongly applied to authoritarian practices).
     
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  10. Still Organized

    Still Organized New Member

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    The character becomes more sympathetic. The events that take place reveal how people inside the government actually work. But there is a huge chunk of plot and conflict that happens leading up to his realization. He has to fight to 'get to the top' so to speak where he is exposed to the inner workings of the government.
     
  11. Still Organized

    Still Organized New Member

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    Thank you for this feedback! I never thought of viewing it like this.

    Answering your question about the protagonist's father, he was a higher Tier businessman. His architectural company had built many factories for the lower Tiers, including government buildings in those above him. The only reason he had his wealth and status was that worked to get there and did as he was told. If he didn't argue with his superiors he was better off.
    The protester who killed him was making a statement against the government's unfair Tier system as a whole.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
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  12. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke Contest Administrator Supporter

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    Ah, Purple Dude. One of the most feared villains in the MCU. I wonder why he doesn't just use the gauntlet to double the universe's resources...

    Onto the actual topic at hand, it does make sense that a character could be manipulated into believing in a corrupt government for any number of reasons. Maybe they protect their citizens, but strip them of many of their rights in the process? Maybe they're pumping mild drugs into their populace through their food or water so they don't think too much about their living conditions. There's dozens of different ways this can be done, all perfectly sensible.
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
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  13. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    A lot of the time, dystopias benefit someone. The feudal system was basically a distopia, but it benefited the nobility through wealth and the serfs through safety. Nazi Germany was a distopia, but it was supported by the majority.

    It is stranger when someone supports a dystopia despite it not benefiting them. And it is interesting when someone rejects a beneficial distopia on moral grounds, but I don’t think there is anything strange at all about someone supporting a distopia when they benefit from it.
     
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  14. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    No probs :) Glad to help! How's the Tier system unfair, if the protag's father seemed to have worked up the Tiers? Sounds pretty fair to me...
     
  15. Still Organized

    Still Organized New Member

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    I really should have explained the government better. Sorry about that!

    Each Tier has their own economic purpose:

    1st Tier: The creators of man-made resources.
    2nd Tier: Middle-class workers in business and factory creating everyday products.
    3rd Tier: The white collar business owners.
    4th Tier: Military/law enforcement Tier; there for protection and monitoring.
    5th Tier: Lastly, the highest Tier being where the totalitarian ruler resides.

    The government makes it almost impossible to move up. It can take years to do so, but falling backward is easy. The only Tiers that don't have these problems are the military and law enforcement Tier, who regularly travel to other Tiers to perform their duty, and the highest Tier.

    Most of the time people are born to whatever Tier citizen their parents are and get a free ticket to life as that Tier resident. This is lucky or terribly unfortunate. Some may never see life beyond their factory or office management job in the middle-class Tier.

    (By the way, I have names for the Tiers and the government itself. Plus the design is much more complicated. I just didn't want to give away too much away! :))
     
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  16. Maggie May

    Maggie May Member

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    Don't forget, it's all he knows, this is the way life has been and will be. It is what they are taught and believe. You have created this world so you don't have to create a reason for a behavior that has always been. Not sure if that makes sense, it feels like you are trying to create a justification for a behavior that could be acceptable (just not in our world).
     
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  17. Still Organized

    Still Organized New Member

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    I completly agree. It's true that the protagonist doesn't have to justify his devotion to the government for the other characters. Almost everyone within the government is loyal and/or forced to be. But the protagonist's personality- his reasoning for being conrtolling or driven- in some way, shape, or form, has to be justifed to the reader, correct?
     
  18. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, that he is a product of his upbringing is justification. Justification is simply making something make sense. The reader does not have to agree with the character but must be able to see how the character'' behaviour makes sense. To have someone act according to the system he has been raised with makes perfect sense, esp if he has benefited from the system because there would be nothing to make him question it or desire an alternative.

    At some point though the character should probably develop his own beliefs system and thus accept or reject what he has been raised with, but not everyone goes through this even in real life. Just think how many people follow the religion of their parents and not all of them will necessarily know why, and will simply continue in it out of habit and comfort. The system you were raised with is generally not questioned unless the person is going through a crisis.

    It kinda just depends on your story.
     
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  19. Still Organized

    Still Organized New Member

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    I didn't realize how much work I still had left to work on. Thank you so much! This was extremely helpful.
     
  20. Irina Samarskaya

    Irina Samarskaya Member

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    If you, the author, could give a convincing argument for the preservation of that government then you've done a wonderful job of explaining why decemt people might foolishly follow an evil government.

    However if you can't, maybe you should rethink the purpose and agenda of the government so that it's more realistic (like the Soviet Union had good PR for a long time. Eventually people stopped believing it, but back when Stalin was around people were very fearful and dependent on him to keep them safe--even if he was the one endangering them).

    Then again, if you can give me a good argument for a totalitarian regime then you're a very good writer! Especially if you can actually convince me, since that shows you're very well-versed in arguing opposing view points (which I think is necessary when writing of oppositional values and ideals, or oppositional plans to achieve a same end).
     
  21. Still Organized

    Still Organized New Member

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    Here are the basics. There's a lot more to the government than this, and I've done as much world building as possible to figure it all out.

    The government allows the people many freedoms in employment, healthcare, diversity, etc. But the people have been deconditioned to the fine print of these freedoms. For example:

    Every household is required to have one person employed. If you aren't contributing anything to society, D.O.M.E. (Dictation of Monitoring Enforcement) will be watching.
    A person cannot receive health care after the age of sixty (which is the age everyone is required to retire at), or if they have a terminal illness, in order to maintain population control.
    Uniqueness and opinions are fine unless they go against the government. You duck low enough under the watchful eyes of D.O.M.E, but they always find out. Their agents work various jobs posing as normal people in order to monitor the people. Citizens have no idea that D.O.M.E. exists.
     
  22. Zerotonin

    Zerotonin Serotonin machine broke Contest Administrator Supporter

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    @Irina Samarskaya mentioned it, but I'd say your best bet is propaganda and spreading lies through these D.O.M.E. agents that hide in plain sight.

    For example, maybe one of these agents starts spreading a story about how savage the people from the tier below theirs is and how lucky they are to be in this tier. This story would spread and, without proof of the contrary, the people of this tier would likely believe it. This would cause the populace of this tier to feel secure in their relative freedom within their own tier. Rinse and repeat for every other tier, except for the bottom tier obviously. They'd probably have to be fed some BS story about a tier one legend who made it all the way up to tier three or four through hard work and dedication, making them work harder in hopes of being able to do the same.
     
  23. QueenOfPlants

    QueenOfPlants Active Member

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    The Nazis had this idea that the "Volkskörper" (body of the people) should be organic with everybody playing their role like an organ in a body. And the Führer as the head of it all, to whom everybody must answer.
    They thought that this was how society would function best and everybody who stepped out of their role was deemed to be a "Geschwür am Volkskörper", a tumor on the body of the people.
    Deviation from the roles seemed to be a danger to them.

    In feudal times there was the notion that everybody was born into their respective social role because God wanted it so. The king was king by the grace of God.

    Depending on the technological and cultural development stage of your society you can come up with a similar justification why everybody must stay in their role OR WE WILL ALL DIEEEEE!!! :cry:

    For example they could believe that every Tier develops/has developed their unique DNA that makes them best fitted for their role. (That is similar to the believe that some people hold, that certain strata of society are where they are because they are genetically inferior, often coupled to ethnicity. See Thilo Sarrazin.)


    .

    Disclaimer: I do not hold any of the believes above. I'm a dirty commie. But there is a certain, albeit twisted and inhuman, inner logic to them. This is the point I tried to present.
     
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