In 2041, the world looks quite different from what it does now. Nations have changed, alliances have formed and reformed and battles and wars have been waged and rage ever onward. But at the very top of the global food chain is Japan in its civilized resplendence, living out the idyllic life with automated robots making the industry, economy and country run smoothly, while its people enjoy many of the technological and sociological advances made by its proud nation of the past five decades.
This is the story of Japan’s rise to worldly power, as told through a series of essays from various academics, intellectuals and leading figures. Each essay covers a core component of what Japan has done, while the rest of the world has neglected, to make itself “the last bastion of civilization.” Widespread rioting, skyrocketing unemployment and the decline of faith and spirituality have taken a toll on the planet, plunging numerous countries into anarchy.
These essays provide sparks of solution and possible resolution, such as addressing social issues like illegitimacy, rising populations, violence, gangs and intellectual decline. Some essays reveal how countries have joined together to aid each other while others take on the important subject of robotics and its development and improvement over the years leading to the idealized servant robot that is used in so many ways in daily life whether it be in the home, the factory or the workplace. Of course, the development of weapons technology is also crucial in the rise of any superpower and is not lacking here. But it is more how Japan set these many events in motion many years in the past with the goal of becoming this last civilized haven.
While The Last Bastion of Civilization is a somewhat interesting look into how a nation could conceivably become a paradisaical superpower, the steps that have been taken at times have overtones of those in some works of dystopian fiction such as George Orwell’s 1984 and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Some essays are outright misogynistic and racist to those who live in a world that is more aware and respectful of those who are not part of the status quo that has been in effect for so long. Sacrifices that lead to immense suffering for those less fortunate and different are not worth the price. The essays all appear to be written by men, which provides a narrow vision for this future. The key to remember is that this is a work of fiction and while these may be horrifically plausible, are ones that haven’t happened yet and for some of them, hopefully never will.
Originally written on December 20, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.
Originally published in the San Francisco Book Review.
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