Sunday, 6 May 2018


The theme that always gets talked in A Clockwork Orange - particularly in the original novel - is that of free will. That is for the chattering Leftist academics who love to ejaculate over violence as an expression of free will - the violence of which they themselves are incapable and by which they are fascinated as voyeurs - but this for me has never been the interest in the novel, which I view as indulgent in a seedy kind of way. The real quality in the novel is in the observation of how the state uses thuggery to keep the masses in check, promoting reprobates to positions of power and authority, as we see when Dim, one of Alex's former droogs and another rival gang leader become policemen and give Alex a good beating while he is helpless after the fictional yet plausible psychological conditioning known as the Ludovico Technique.




The Ludovico Technique itself is also interesting because it constitutes another of Anthony Burgess' astute observations on how the state abuses power wherever possible, Ludovico being a play on the Latin that could roughly be translated as 'I mimic the village' in line with his love of word games, and Burgess stating in a 1989 interview that:


I heard talk in the 1960s of the possibility of getting these young thugs and not putting them in jail, because jails were needed for professional criminals, but rather putting them through a course of conditioning, turning them in effect into clockwork oranges, not - no longer - organisms full of sweetness and colour and life like oranges, but machines. I feared this and that's why I wrote the novel. I feared the possibility that the state was all too ready to start taking over our brains and turning us into good little citizens without the power of choice.


Yet it is difficult to hold Burgess up as a literary hero, for, like his contemporary J G Ballard, Burgess is one of those creamy bourgeois types fascinated by the violence of which he is incapable. On the one hand, the Ludovico Technique is an unwitting satire on television and drug-taking and how the ultra-violence on screen and pacification through medication has reduced many in the West to voyeurs incapable of violence themselves. It is a simple form of Pavlovian conditioning that so obviously works in the real world. Yet equally, it is an unwitting satire on Burgess himself. While he is conscious of the metafictional aspect of the character F. Alexander, political agitator and author of the treatise 'A Clockwork Orange' within the novel, as in part representing himself, the rape scene itself reveals his own form of Stockholm Syndrome in which he has taken the side of the aggressors and abusers who attacked his own wife while he was stationed in Gibraltar during World War Two. One notes in the quotation above too the attribution of the adjectives 'sweetness and colour' to the 'young thugs' of the 1960s. Indeed, in interviews he always related how downtrodden he himself had been since birth, one life's victims. It seems very much as though he had a masochistic victim complex, as borne out in his writing, to which the author Colin Wilson also attested.



Such writers as Burgess and Ballard remind me of the corrupt Roman spectator at the arena fascinated by the gladiators from barbarous countries. Burgess always claimed to be against Alex and his droogs' violence and detested Kubrick's masturbatory and semi-comedic filming of it, but yet Kubrick merely filmed what was there in print and in Burgess' subconsciousness, which is probably what embarrassed Burgess the most. Just as F. Alexander is Burgess himself in the novel, so Kubrick adorns Frank Alexander's house with semi-pornographic art that suggests a critique of Burgess being unconsciously obsessed with sex and violence:


"It was an attempt to put myself in the novel, to put myself as a writer who is subject to the deprivations, to the violence of wild youth, and by that means to clear it out of my system so that I didn’t have to think about it any more." -- Burgess


The rape of F. Alexander's wife also suggests a certain fantasy of Burgess' towards a wife who by all accounts constantly cuckolded him. On the one hand, such as Burgess and Ballard also claim to abhor state power, and yet simultaneously support it in the state exercising terror indirectly via false rebellions and revolutions in which only the populace end up living in fear of roaming gangs. This was the case in the Soviet Union, where gangs were allowed to roam and terrorise ordinary people by a state that denied their existence in any meaningful sense. Even now, so-called historians, who are overwhelmingly Marxian, deny the Soviet Union had a youth gang culture, yet this contradicts the findings of Burgess himself, who went on a trip to the Soviet Union with his wife in 1961, which was part of the inspiration for the novel. Alexander Solzhenitsyn also talked about political crimes being dealt with far more harshly by the state than regular crimes. Does this all sound familiar?


I think whether deliberately because of his liberalism or otherwise, Burgess missed the point about the relationship between state power and gangs. The more terrorised a population is by street-level violence in a socialist country, where the population has come to suckle on the state teat, the more they look to the state to provide answers. The violence is thus tacitly approved of by the state to keep the masses dependent on the state. Witness the way the politicians in the West have encouraged alien youthful populations anagonistic to their own to settle in our countries and antagonise them (more than is necessary) into violence against the host population through the media and pseudo-academia. The masses' recourse has been to plead with the governing cliques to solve the problem, even though they deliberately created the problem in the first place. The masses know this and deny it to themselves at the same time. It demonstrates a victim mentality not because of outright fear of the state, but because the victims have become psychologically dependent on the bully.


Then there are those, especially in the so-called intelligentsia, who become apologists for the alien aggressive gangs themselves. The more and more outrageous the crimes against the host population, the more the pseudo-intelligentsia sympathise with them. This is ultimately Burgess' psychology: he has become an apologist for the violators and his comments above reveal a masochistic streak, which he ought to have kept to himself, for the role of the artist is not to expiate his personal demons or indulge in his complexes, but show the possibilities for his people's future. This is at the heart of the cancer of post-Enlightenment Western culture; the culture bearers have become self-indugent and narcissistic boors, borne of their cult of atomised individualism. Take note, Jordan Peterson! If you don't believe me, take a look at the affected way of the idle chatterer in which Burgess speaks:



He even extols Jesus as a 'tiger', by which he means a philosopher of 'courageous' chatter! It is rather remarkable that Burgess extolled D H Lawrence as a writer, for Burgess' ilk are often the object of Lawrence's most biting satire! And yet also logical, because here again Burgess is defending his aggressors, his bullies yet again. But to return to the point: an artist's primary duty is not self-fulfilment, but to light the way for the betterment of his people. Does A Clockwork Orange do this? The Ayn Rand acolytes of the cult of atomised individualism would say yes, but in a simultaneously globalised and atomised way in which everything is rendered meaningless. If the book is for the betterment of an atomised individual, then the book is for Burgess himself, as he infers. If the book is for the betterment of everyone, then the book is for no one of any specificity and has to be so vague as to offer nobody nothing. So it is with most writing by White Europeans in the present age.


What lessons can we draw from the novel? It is a critique that offers no solutions. State repression is criticised, yet a solution to rampant thuggery is not - indeed, regardless of Burgess' claims to the contrary, is glorified. Given Burgess' all too sympathetic attitude toward Islam in both his novels and his interviews, I have to wonder, had he lived to see the present age, if he would have again taken the side of the violator. I strongly supect he would, for I think his constant need to experience victimhood and masochism and elevate it to the level of art, coupled with a veneration for Islam as a brutalising force of which he was not a part would expose him as another of the apologist literati and pseudo-intelligentsia that have infested our culture at the highest level. In the age of constant media bombardment, I suspect he would be on countless talk shows chattering about the perceived merits of Islam and decrying 'the odd extremists' while pointing to the 'real problem' of our own state and turning a blind eye to the fact that the state has deliberately brought Muslims here to terrorise us - a point I believe he wilfully ignores in his novel 1985, in which he correctly predicts the rise of Islam due to mass immigration and corrupting Saudi influence in Britain.


And this is not merely the problem with Burgess, but with art in general in the Plastic Age, where most art has become mere critique devoid of inspiration and the ability to provide inspiration. Burgess' Wikipedia page lists him as a conservative, yet everything about him contradicted this, especially his view that 'literature is a subversive thing'. Why necessarily so? Only a subversive would say so, but not a subversive with a goal, but a subversive who is subversive for the sake of subversion. And again, this has been the problem with Western art in general since the rise of the liberal bourgeoisie.


  1. Burgess warned againist the threat of Islam to Europe in numoroues essays and his novel, 1985, discusses such at length.

    1. Burgess constantly contradicted himself, which was in part to do with his alcoholism. But yes, he talked of the threat of Islam, but simultaneously enjoyed the threat of Islam in line with his masochistic complexes.

  2. Great article. Some eye-opener points here, especially the part about the state's use of gangs and similar threats. There's a whole other history (and reality, frankly) I was never taught. They do seem to keep using the same tools over the generations. The public never get taught to watch out for it.

  3. A lucid and revealing essay and one that needs wider circulation - you make an extremely salient, cutting and important critique (stating that which the 'pseudo-intelligentsia', as you call them, would never make). I'm looking forward to your writing a critical history of literature and popular culture from the perspective of the right David! (Countercurrents?)...

  4. "Burgess always claimed to be against Alex and his droogs' violence and detested Kubrick's masturbatory and semi-comedic filming of it, but yet Kubrick merely filmed what was there in print and in Burgess' subconsciousness"

    Very interesting. I felt the exact same way watching Ben Wheatley's recent film of Ballard's High Rise.