Study Guide

Minister of the Interior in A Clockwork Orange

By Anthony Burgess

Minister of the Interior

Ulterior Interior Motives

The Minister of the Interior is an ends-justify-the-means kind of guy—and the ends he's looking to justify have to do with making the streets safer for the average citizen before the next election.

The Minister institutes the Reclamation Treatment program (which involves the Ludovico Technique) against hardened criminals. The idea is that the criminal tendencies are permanently removed forever through behavioral modifications—a.k.a. brainwashing. Does the Minister care about whether these methods are morally suspect?

Of course not:

"The point is," this Minister of the Inferior was saying real gromky, "that it works." (2.7.25)

We can read the Minister as a pragmatist, a utilitarian, a Machiavellian...or as a cog in the wheel of totalitarianism. The main idea behind the Ludovico technique is that it makes the population both calm and grateful: it's less about reducing crime than it is about making sure that the voting public understands who's to thank for the sudden crime reduction. Check it out:

[...] Then I viddied there was a very boastful article about this Ludovico's Technique and how clever the Government was and all that cal. Then there was another picture of some veck I thought I knew, and it was this Minister of the Inferior or Interior. It seemed that he had been doing a bit of boasting, looking forward to a nice crime-free era in which there would be no more fear of cowardly attacks from young hooligans and perverts and burglars and all that cal. (3.1.5)

The Minister doesn't stop there, either. Against the problematic "modern youth" that plague the streets, the Minister introduces a rather creative "police program."

"Recruiting brutal young roughs for the police. Proposing debilitating and will-sapping techniques of conditioning… Before we know where we are we shall have the full apparatus of totalitarianism." (3.5.8)

Apparently, this program involves giving the hoodlums police badges so they can terrorize the rest of the people and turn them against individual crime. Instead, it's essentially institutionalized crime. What a guy, huh?

He readily admits to Alex that he doesn't care about individual liberties, and feels no guilt over it. After all, his only concern is the welfare of the State at large, so it would be asking too much for him to mind the details. However, he does realize that in order for the State's citizens to accept him, he has to win their approval – and that, of course, is his only motivation for restoring Alex to his old self towards the end of the book.