I saw an interesting take on cyberpunk over on Mastodon and it got my thinker a-thinkin’, and I’m interested to hear what all y’all 'punks out there think as well. The premise of the statement was that cyberpunk is not actually a dystopia at all, but rather someone’s idea of a realized utopia that is actively being fought against by the main characters in whatever cyberpunk stories.
The idea is that what we would call a “dystopia” is, in fact, a utopian society - from a capitalist perspective. From that perspective, the “successful capitalists” have all that they’ve ever wanted - hyper wealth, access to all the latest and greatest cyberware to prolong their lives, access to space travel and extra-terra environments as tourist attractions, and more power than most governments. They’ve “worked hard”, climbed the ladder, and all their technological dreams are within reach. So, from a certain point of view, the world of cyberpunk can be seen as a technological utopia rather than a dystopia.
The Lucys, Vs, David Martinezes, Cases, and Mollies of the world are actually resistance fighters to that utopia because the utopia isn’t an equal-opportunity utopia; not everyone gets to participate. The supposition is that they’re actually trying to destroy the utopia that exists because of that inequality. The stories focus on these small pockets of this resistance to the utopia that exists, hence the feeling of “dystopia” from the point of the stories/games.
So what do you think? Is the cyberpunk genre really a dystopian genre or is it more anti-utopia or anti-capitalism genre?