One of my favorites books is “The Dispossessed” by Ursula Le Guin. The story centers on the life and career of a physicist named Shevek. I won’t spoil the story for those of you who might read it, but the tale takes place on an earth-like planet (Urras) and a moon (Anarres). In case you were wondering, “The Dispossessed” is a science fiction novel.
The society on the moon is an anarchist commune, while Urras is organized between three competing systems: a liberal democracy, a soviet type communist system, and various developing states (it was written pre fall of the Soviet Union). Using the two planets as a juxtaposition, she weaves a tale that examines sexuality, gender/gender roles, institutional systems, and the nature of power. With so many heavy topics packed into the novel, you’d think it would end up as a boring lecture, but the story is entertaining. My first read through I couldn’t put it down.
Le Guin has a point of view and it definitely portrays anarchism and democratic socialism positively. However, what makes the book so good is that it does not weave a Utopian tale of the good Anarchists vs. the bad other people. I suspect that’s why you don’t feel like you’re reading a lecture. Instead, she tells the truth about the problems and struggles of the people on Annares. Le Guin won’t lie or gaslight to coerce a certain point of view, which I suppose is her goal in the end: a world free of coercion. In short, she treats you like an adult capable of handling something true and leaves you to do with it what you will. I’m going to read it again…after we’re done with the workshop :).