Review: Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Dispossessed”


Ursula K. Le Guin
(C) Marian Wood Kolisch

I just had the chance to read Ursula K. Le Guin‘s The Dispossessed, a science fiction novel that focuses more on the sociological structure than the scientific fancies of another time or space.

The story is about a Physicist named Shevek, who is born in a moon around a planet whose social structure is not unlike the world we are living in now. Of course, the planet is not Earth, the time is in the future, and you get a nudge in your concerns about the relationship between mother nature and humans a la Earth when you finally meet the ambassador from Earth towards the end of the book. Urras, the planet, is divided into countries with different government styles: from ultra capitalistic to socialistic.

The people of Anarres, the moon, live in a self-organized society in anarchy. While anarchy is a word that has achieved a negative connotation on our world, Le Guin formulates a convincing tale of a society successfully surviving (and thriving) in anarchy. As you are more and more impressed by the implicit organization of this society, Le Guin slowly builds a tale of how power naturally accumulates at certain positions in any social organization, and on those persons who occupy these positions. She identifies that equality among individuals is a constant act of voluntary altruism, since positions with power over others is inevitable in *any* society.

Personally, the story helped me develop a natural understanding of a couple of concerns I still carried at the back of my head, about why it is so hard to convince people that being equal is an attainable goal. I am quite happy that I finally got around to reading this book.