I have read a number of books that have caused me to rethink the nature of social responsibility and the role an individual can play in bringing about positive improvements within society. These books fall within the general category of "anti-utopian novels" and include Fahrenheit 451(Ray Bradbury), 1984 and Animal Farm (George Orwell), Lord of the Flies (William Golding) and A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess). Each of these books, in its own particular way, challenges the belief in the perfectibility of society. And in doing so, each of these books raises questions about the limits of social reform (and of reform movements) in bringing about a fair and just social order. I will discuss how the ideas presented in one book, A Clockwork Orange have brought a healthy dose of critical skepticism to my own social and political thought.
Burgess" novel is set in a decaying city in a futuristic England. There are, however, actually two cities: "the daylight city" of the responsible citizenry, and "the city of night" ruled by drugs and violent street gangs. In an effort to halt the civic decay, the government institutes a criminal "rehabilitation" program. It is essentially a "behavioral modification" program, which uses aversion therapy in order to deaden the willpower of the criminal to act in a violent or unlawful manner. Central to the therapy is the forced exposure of the "patient" (the criminal) to films depicting repetitive acts of violence and brutality.
While being forced to watch these films, the "patient" is given a drug that induces nausea. Thus, through the therapy violence is associated with sickness in the "patient's" mind.
The story begins with the protagonist, Alex, and his fellow gang members going to the Karova Milk Bar where they get high on drug-laced milkshakes, which they do every night, before venturing out for an evening of robbery, rape, and assault. This night, Alex and his fellow thugs drive to the country where they break into the cottage of one, F.