Given the importance of the issue of personal responsibility in current cultural and social issues, I’m reproducing here, in edited form, my analysis of the conclusion of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, from our discussion in the Comments section of my recent article on the book.

As I note in this analysis, the last chapter of the book is crucial in refuting ultilitarian arguments for statism and its destuctive effect on individual freedom.

The last chapter of Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange conclusively shows that the entire activity of the megastate in brainwashing its inhabitants is unnecessary in addition to being destructive of the citizens’ humanity (the latter having been firmly established in the previous chapters). Hence there aren’t even any utilitarian justifications for it.

Thus the raw power of the state is shown for what it is, merely the actions of the powerful to increase their power. It is revealing to consider what is reported (in the immediately previous chapter) as having happened to the writer whose wife Alex and his gang raped and killed earlier in the story. He has been apprehended as a revolutionary and terrorist. Thus the victim is the criminal, and the criminal is a hero.

That latter phrase will sound familiar, of course. In A Clockwork Orange we have the same totalitarian processes as in 1984, combined with all the social manipulation employed in Brave New World. To all of this awfulness, Burgess adds a government-allowed rule of terror by criminals and thereby creates a chillingly accurate horror story about the modern megastate, which uses multiple means to manipulate, terrorize, and if necessary, brutalize the population into submission.

The last chapter confirms this by utterly destroying any utilitarian arguments for such activities.

A Clockwork Orange, novel by Anthony Burgess: Most Highly Recommended.