Study Guide

A Clockwork Orange Power

By Anthony Burgess

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Part 2, Chapter 2

He just sort of looked right through us poor plennies, saying, in a very beautiful real educated goloss: "The Government cannot be concerned any longer with outmoded penological theories. Cram criminals together and see what happens. You get concentrated criminality, crime in the midst of punishment. Soon we may be needing all our prison space for political offenders." (2.2.17)

Forget the criminals, we need the space for political dissidents! These are the true colors of the Government. Aside from not caring about individual criminals, the Government seeks to free up space for the forces of subversion it seems to have imprisoned. What better way to quell discontent than to jail all dissidents.

Part 2, Chapter 7
Minister of the Interior

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

The Minister of the Interior embodies the pragmatic, Machiavellian attitude of the Government: as long as IT WORKS, anyone can be sacrificed.

"Choice," rumbled a rich deep goloss. I viddied it belonged to the prison charlie. "He has no real choice, has he? Self-interest, fear of physical pain, drove him to that grotesque act of self-abasement. Its insincerity was clearly to be seen. He ceases to be a wrongdoer. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice."

"These are subtleties," like smiled Dr. Brodsky. "We are not concerned with motive, with the higher ethics. We are concerned only with cutting down crime--" (2.7.13-14)

The Government is not concerned with individual motives, nor with the higher, philosophical questions of ethics and choice. Indeed, the Government cares more about crime control and really doesn't want anything to do with the individual.

Part 3, Chapter 1

What it said underneath my picture was that here was the first graduate from the new State Institute for Reclamation of Criminal Types, cured of his criminal instincts in a fortnight only, now a good law-fearing citizen and all that cal. 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 Government is content to usurp the individual liberties of its constituents to achieve peace and stability for the State.

F. Alexander

"I think you can help dislodge this overbearing Government. To turn a decent young man into a piece of clockwork should not, surely, be seen as any triumph for any government, save one that boasts of its repressiveness." (3.1.21)

At the very least, F. Alexander and co. believe the Government is overbearing because it does not respect the individual liberties of its people, in addition to other reasons.

Part 3, Chapter 5

"The tradition of liberty means all. The common people will let it go, oh yes. They will sell liberty for a quieter life. That is why they must be prodded, prodded— Eat well, poor boy, poor victim of the modern world." (3.5.12)

The Government opposes individual liberties and will sacrifice them for the collective good.

"Would they like their sons to become what you, poor victim, have become? Will not the Government itself now decide what is and what is not crime and pump out the life and guts and will of whoever sees fit to displease the Government?" (3.5.10

A totalitarian Government defers to no external system of right and wrong; it makes up its own criteria and imposes them upon its people.


The people's hatred of the Government is one good sign of how repressive it is. Of course, this is usually not spoken out loud and is, in this case, written on a subversive pamphlet.

F. Alexander

"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)

F. Alexander fears that the State is under rule by a totalitarian Government. Here, he also exposes one of the ways this Government seeks to repress its people: it hires hoodlums (like Alex's droog Dim and kids like Billyboy) as police to scare ordinary citizens off the streets. This is like institutionalizing gangs.

Part 3, Chapter 6

"He had this idea," said the Min. "He was a menace. We put him away for his own protection. And also," he said, "for yours." (3.6.69)

In actuality, the Government does not put F. Alexander away for being a "menace" or for his "own protection," but rather for being a political dissident, a "menace" to the Government's power. No totalitarian power would ever tolerate such an ideological opponent.

"It said they had done great wrong to you. It said how the Government drove you to try and do yourself in." (3.6.11)

It is clear that the Minister of the Interior's subsequent public apology is only for PR reasons, not made because he or the Government actually feels they have done anything wrong. This is yet another sign of a repressive, totalitarian government.

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