The Dispossessed

Ursula K. Le Guin
The Dispossessed Cover

The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia


I've had this Classic on my reading list for some time. Although it was written in the 1970's, it is still a powerful essay on western materialism which is embodied by the Urras "propertarians". In opposition to these Urras depravity, a group of socialist anarchists secede to the Moon Annarres. Although Annarres has its own share of petty jackasses and struggles to overcome, the larger ideals of community put forward by the revolutionary Odonians are worthy and they succeed in creating a viable society. People can be happy contributing to the greater common good and taking only what they need. When our physicist protagonist is exposed to Urras, Shevek's appalling disgust of its rampant consumerism, excess of goods and the profiteering and exploitation necessary to feed it remains relevant today. He describes a row of high end luxury shops as "nightmare alley" and is deeply disturbed by it. In our age of the super rich, the blessed 1%, we should question "how much to you really need?" In many ways Odonism provides an alternate path and a plausible explanation why so many people today cannot find happiness in owning so many things. Great book, with interesting characters and much to think about.