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The Dune of Today
Dune and todays world have lots in common. Politics and soci-economics are very relatable subjects. The economics are really similar with the spice representing oil in Arrakis’s world. In Arrakis, water is very rare and is treasured by the Fremen like todays society treasures rare minerals (1) and artifacts (2). Yet, we have more abundance of rare minerals and artifacts our society treasures them, for the most part very deeply.
In the case of soci-economics, Dune’s soci-economics and our world’s soci-economics collide. Recently, because of the Occupy movement, many average people who had no idea how wealth was distributed in the United States, found out about it. Most people before had a vague idea of the wealthy minority, but didn’t grasp the vast income imbalance between the classes (3). Wealth inequality can be defined as the unjust distribution of assets within a population. The United States shows wider gaps of wealth between rich and portion any major developed nation (4).
“There is no dispute that income inequality has been on the rise in the United States for the past four decades. The share of total income earned by the top 1 percent of families was less then 10 percent was less than 10 percent in the late 1970s, but now exceeds 20 percent as of the end of 2012. A large portion of this increase is due to an upsurge in the labor incomes earned by senior company executives and successful entrepreneurs. But is the rise in U.S. economic equality purely a matter of rising labor compensation at the top, or did wealth inequality rise as well?” — Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman (5).
“Wealth inequality, it turns out, has followed a spectacular U-shape evolution over the past 100 years. From the Great Depression in the 1930s through the late 1970s there was a substantial democratization of wealth. The trend then inverted, with the share of total household wealth owned by the top 0.1 percent increasing to 22 percent in 2012 from 7 percent in the late 1970s. The top 0.1 percent includes 160,000 families with total net assets of more than $20 million in 2012.” — Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman (6).
These days, at most Fortune 500 companies, the pay ratio between the fancy office and the shop floor is preponderance than two hundred to one, and many C.E.O.s do even better. In 2011, Apple’s Tim Cook was paid three hundred and seventy-eight million dollars in salary, stock, and other benefits, which was sixty-two hundred and fifty-eight times the paycheck of an average Apple employee. A typical worker at Walmart earns less than twenty-five thousand dollars a year, yet Michael Duke, the retailer’s former chief executive, was paid more than twenty-three million dollars in 2012. The trend has shown everywhere. In a recent report by Oxfam, the richest eighty-five people in the world—the kind of people, like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Carlos Slim, for example—own more wealth than the approximately 3.5 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world’s population (7).
All of these examples and quotes have come from our soci-economics and burst into the light of Dune. The Duke and Emperor are part the top 1 percent, as well as other top government officials. In the book, the rest are in poverty and earn money by peddling water. They can’t do much to try to get out of their poverty, and the same thing happens in our world. Basically once you become poor, your family stays poor for a long time. The Duke and Emperor don’t have to worry about becoming poor, they just always have money to spend. On the other hand, people in poverty can’t and have to be very careful about what they buy and focus on there needs more than there wants.
There are many similarities between Dune and Egypt, especially in politics. In Egypt the military rules and owns many kinds of businesses that sell all types of products, and by doing so, controls an multitudinous amount of the Egyptian economy, which right now is approximated at upwards of 40%. We can compare this dominance in the Egyptian economy to the Emperor’s control of the spice economy. The Emperor basically owns the spice economy, and makes money from selling it, as, “He who controls the spice controls the universe.”, explains (8). The Egyptian military owns farmland, and constructs everything from highways to resorts, sewers to hotels, and bridges to schools. This is also true for Arrakis, because the Emperor has the land rights to all of the planet and decides what to build, where it is built, and how it is built (9).
As one of Egypt’s top generals and defense minister, Hussein Tantawi, once said in 2012, “Egypt will never fall. It belongs to all the Egyptians and not to a certain group - the armed forces will not allow it.” (10) That relates to the book when it shows that the Fremen will not allow the Harkonnens or Sadaukar to take over them and dislodge the power of the people in their society. It also relates to how the Bene-Gesserit are consternated when Paul turns against them. They thought they never would fall from power, and if Paul destroys the sandworms, that means the spice production would stop. Ultimately, the spice would run out and the Bene Gesserit, who get their powers from spice, would be like everyone else. From that vantage point they won’t seem powerful to the people and would be downgraded from one of the powerful superiorities to normal, average people.
In 2012, the surprise forced retirement of six government and military officials in Egypt by then President, Mohammed Morsi, shocked everyone. President Mohammed Morsi retired the The chief of staff, the defense minister, and the chief of the navy are among those that President Mohammed Morsi retired. He did that so he could take control of power that the military had taken from him (11). This relates to when Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, wanted his young nephew, Feyd-Rautha, to take power. Though to others it seemed that when Feyd-Rautha took power that he was deciding all the decisions, his Uncle was calling all the shots for him.
The armed forces in Egypt may have nothing to fear in your mind, but think again. The armed forces have lots to fear from a leader, such as former President Mohammed Morsi, who looks for personal power. (12) This is also related to the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen’s actions. Baron Harkonnen, who has all the power to himself, must have once searched for ways to get complete power. Now you look at him and think, "What is he going to do to me?" and “I must not say a word.” (13)
As a result of the politics and soci-economics colliding, we have a more complete understanding of the world of Dune and our own world. Now we understand different parts of our worlds civilization and how it works. There are so many similarities between the worlds, sometimes it seems we are living in a alternate version of Arrakis, even without leaving the safety of Earth.
(1) Hinten-Nooijen, Dr. Annemarie. "Tilburg University." Rare Minerals - Treasures of a Sustainable Economy. Tilburg University, 25 Mar. 2010. Web. 29 May 2015.
(2) Howard, Jacqueline. "Cavers In Israel Discover Rare Artifacts From Era Of Alexander The Great." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 11 Mar. 2015. Web. 29 May 2015.
(3) Dunn, Alan. "Average America vs the One Percent." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 29 May 2015.
(4) "Wealth Inequality | Inequality.org." Inequality.org. Web. 29 May 2015.
(5) Matthews, Chris. "Wealth Inequality Is 10 times Worse than Income Inequality |." Fortune Wealth Inequality in America Its Worse than Youthink Comments. Fortune.com, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 29 May 2015.
(6) Matthews, Chris. "Wealth Inequality Is 10 times Worse than Income Inequality |." Fortune Wealth Inequality in America Its Worse than Youthink Comments. Fortune.com, 31 Oct. 2014. Web. 29 May 2015.
(7) Cassidy, John. "Forces of Divergence - The New Yorker." The New Yorker. Newyorker.com, 31 Mar. 2014. Web. 29 May 2015.
(8) Herbert, Frank. "To Attempt an Understanding..." Dune. Ace Special 25th Anniversary ed. Vol. 1. New York: Penguin Group, 1990. 21-33. Print.
(9) Shihab-Eldin, Ahmed. "The Big Lie Egypt's Military (And America!) Are Selling The World." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 19 July 2013. Web. 29 May 2015.
(10) Craggs, Ryan. "Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi Says 'Certain Group' Will Not Dominate Country." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 15 July 2012. Web. 29 May 2015.
(11) Craggs, Ryan. "Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi Says 'Certain Group' Will Not Dominate Country." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 15 July 2012. Web. 29 May 2015.
(12) Hendawi, Hamza, and Sarah El Deeb. "Egypt Power Transition: Military Shows No Sign Of Opposing President Morsi." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 13 Aug. 2012. Web. 29 May 2015.
(13) Herbert, Frank. "And Muad'Dib Stood before Them and He Said..." Dune. Ace Special 25th Anniversary Ed. New York: Penguin Group, 1990. 741-756. Print. Copyrighted 1965.