• ARRSE have partnered with Armadillo Merino to bring you an ARRSE exclusive, generous discount offer on their full price range.
    To keep you warm with the best of Merino gear, visit www.armadillomerino.co.uk and use the code: NEWARRSE40 at the checkout to get 40% off!
    This superb deal has been generously offered to us by Armadillo Merino and is valid until midnight on the the 28th of February.

Thoughts on A Clockwork Orange

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#1
now, as you may or may not know, the book and subsequent film deal with a teenaged thug called Alex, who after numerous violent crimes is finally jailed for murder.
Once in prison, he's given early release in return for agreeing to be subjected to the Ludovico Treatment - where using drugs and psychotherapy he's rendered physically incapable of committing any further acts of violence - any attempt results in him suffering crippling nausea. I'm watching it again now on itv4.
Now, in view of the fact that quite a few innocent people have been beaten to death by either single or gangs of thugs (an awful lot with previous for serious violence) over the last few years, could you ever condone a programme like this if it means that their victims were still with us? or should serial recidivists still have rights? if you did condone it, would you make it compulsory or voluntary? could you make it compulsory? or indeed should it be?
interested to hear your views.
 
#2
I believe the novel showed how flawed such an experiment is as it detracts from one's humanity. The priest protested during the trials as he said that the freedom of choice is gone, there were then several examples of when physical violence was a necessity (meeting with old friends who were then police).

Such an experiment could not really be a part of a liberal society (or as close to one as we get) as it detracts from our basic rights to exist as individuals with freedom of choice. There will always be the minority who are problems to society, yet the vast majority far outweigh their negative impact.

It's late, I can't string together an argument!
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
I agree it detracts from a persons humanity - but when it comes to someone who has long previous for these types of act, would we as a society, for our own protection, ever be justified in introducing meausres like this? in much the same way as we might put down a rabid dog?
 
#5
maguire said:
I agree it detracts from a persons humanity - but when it comes to someone who has long previous for these types of act, would we as a society, for our own protection, ever be justified in introducing meausres like this? in much the same way as we might put down a rabid dog?
Yes. Individuals have the freedom of choice - as long as they do not choose to murder or rape other people.

Rabid dog or rabid human - both must be treated the same.
 
#6
The Ludovico Treatment as in the novel works by subjecting the patient to images of a grotesque and vile nature and inducing in him a sense (and fear) of near-death. It could be said this serves as part of the punisment, to get a sense of how they make their victims feel.

However the treatment does not work through guilt but rather conditioning, which begs the question, is this a form of brainwashing or is it a treatment?

If the latter, then are we saying that excessive violence is an individual case of psychological disorder rather than the fault of society? Would we then not absolving ourselves from blame?

If the former then where are we to say we should stop in using conditioning techniques to eradicate negative character traits?

I think I'm going to start waffling in a minute (if not already) so I'll submit this before I (or we) attempt to elaborate upon it.
 
#8
Werewolf said:
maguire said:
I agree it detracts from a persons humanity - but when it comes to someone who has long previous for these types of act, would we as a society, for our own protection, ever be justified in introducing meausres like this? in much the same way as we might put down a rabid dog?
Yes. Individuals have the freedom of choice - as long as they do not choose to murder or rape other people.

Rabid dog or rabid human - both must be treated the same.
i meant that i couldnt have put this any better
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
March_Hare said:
The Ludovico Treatment as in the novel works by subjecting the patient to images of a grotesque and vile nature and inducing in him a sense (and fear) of near-death. It could be said this serves as part of the punisment, to get a sense of how they make their victims feel.

However the treatment does not work through guilt but rather conditioning, which begs the question, is this a form of brainwashing or is it a treatment?

If the latter, then are we saying that excessive violence is an individual case of psychological disorder rather than the fault of society? Would we then not absolving ourselves from blame?

If the former then where are we to say we should stop in using conditioning techniques to eradicate negative character traits?

I think I'm going to start waffling in a minute (if not already) so I'll submit this before I (or we) attempt to elaborate upon it.
the thrust of my question was intended to be more concerned with the benefits of such treatment to society as a whole, not the semantics of the effect on the offender. knowing that they wouldnt be beating someone to death for being in the wrong place at the wrong time would be all the results I would personally need to justify a course of action like this.
 
#10
The Ludovico Treatment would be an excellent treatment for repeat offenders but would do no good as a deterrent.

Human Beings have, on the whole, the capacity to do evil and to be damn good at it. You could rehabilitate the current bad boys but would never be able to stop the next generation being born.

We are inherently evil, it's only our own morality that prevents us from being so. Remove that morality and you have humans in their purest form, killing machines that feel no pity.

We are the most voracious species that has ever walked this planet. We are the only species that kills for pleasure. We are the absolute top of the food chain hunter / killers and are the most efficient killing machine that has ever been seen.

Most of this ability is kept in check by morality, but when morality is gone (like it was demonstrated in Clockwork Orange), what else would you expect? A perfect killing machine put into a situation where a perfect kill, tagged on with carnal pleasure, could be achieved.

We are cnuts, cnuts capable of extreme evil and violence, restrained by a thin veil of morality. Never forget that, humans are one step away from T Rex, but a hell of a lot cleverer.
 
#11
March_Hare said:
...
However the treatment does not work through guilt but rather conditioning, which begs the question, is this a form of brainwashing or is it a treatment?
...
It's almost like you are suggesting that brainwashing is a bad thing.
 
#12
Muggle said:
Werewolf said:
maguire said:
I agree it detracts from a persons humanity - but when it comes to someone who has long previous for these types of act, would we as a society, for our own protection, ever be justified in introducing meausres like this? in much the same way as we might put down a rabid dog?
Yes. Individuals have the freedom of choice - as long as they do not choose to murder or rape other people.

Rabid dog or rabid human - both must be treated the same.
i meant that i couldnt have put this any better
Thank you. :bow:
 
#13
Aunty Stella said:
The Ludovico Treatment would be an excellent treatment for repeat offenders but would do no good as a deterrent.

Human Beings have, on the whole, the capacity to do evil and to be damn good at it. You could rehabilitate the current bad boys but would never be able to stop the next generation being born.

We are inherently evil, it's only our own morality that prevents us from being so. Remove that morality and you have humans in their purest form, killing machines that feel no pity.

We are the most voracious species that has ever walked this planet. We are the only species that kills for pleasure. We are the absolute top of the food chain hunter / killers and are the most efficient killing machine that has ever been seen.

Most of this ability is kept in check by morality, but when morality is gone (like it was demonstrated in Clockwork Orange), what else would you expect? A perfect killing machine put into a situation where a perfect kill, tagged on with carnal pleasure, could be achieved.

We are cnuts, cnuts capable of extreme evil and violence, restrained by a thin veil of morality. Never forget that, humans are one step away from T Rex, but a hell of a lot cleverer.
Not EXACTLY correct; weasels etc will kill out of sheer blood-lust. I also do not believe that humans are inherently evil(just selfish, cowardly and lazy :wink: ). However, I agree that all humans share a genetic capacity for evil, sadism, whatever you wish to call it.

It is true that humans are the most vicious and efficient killers God or Nature has so far managed to produce.
 
#14
Haven't watched the film for years, but IIRC it brushed over a key point of the novel: Alex reformed in the end not because of the "treatment" per se, but rather because he grew up.

Burgess was a libertarian intellectual polymath who believed contemporary Western Society to be overly precious about the essentially feral/ aggressive nature of young males: instead of agonising over this & wasting inordinate time, energy & resources on trying to find answers & solutions (inevitably detrimental to essential liberties & the human spirit) we should accept reality and reinvent a public culture in which young males have meaningful roles. "A Clockwork Orange" is, IMO, a remarkably prescient warning about the possible consequences of "welfarism" carried to its logical conclusions in a dirigiste dystopia.

Creation of a society in which young males can have what they want but not what they need will probably result in unacceptable actions by the State as it tries to manage the consequences...

IMO, "A Clockwork Orange" is a brilliant book by a brilliant man who was more right than wrong, and certainly more perceptive than most of our politicians, moral & cultural opinion shapers, and "experts" in social issues and "yoof".
 
#15
Wessex_Man said:
Haven't watched the film for years, but IIRC it brushed over a key point of the novel: Alex reformed in the end not because of the "treatment" per se, but rather because he grew up.

Burgess was a libertarian intellectual polymath who believed contemporary Western Society to be overly precious about the essentially feral/ aggressive nature of young males: instead of agonising over this & wasting inordinate time, energy & resources on trying to find answers & solutions (inevitably detrimental to essential liberties & the human spirit) we should accept reality and reinvent a public culture in which young males have meaningful roles. "A Clockwork Orange" is, IMO, a remarkably prescient warning about the possible consequences of "welfarism" carried to its logical conclusions in a dirigiste dystopia.

Creation of a society in which young males can have what they want but not what they need will probably result in unacceptable actions by the State as it tries to manage the consequences...

IMO, "A Clockwork Orange" is a brilliant book by a brilliant man who was more right than wrong, and certainly more perceptive than most of our politicians, moral & cultural opinion shapers, and "experts" in social issues and "yoof".
I was given to understand that the book was a result of Burgess's own tragic experiance with "feral, aggressive young males" - his wife was raped and later committed suicide, IIRC.

As to civil liberties, I refer you to my earlier comments: people have the right to live in any way they choose. Just as long as they do not expect others to pay for it. Or decide to take away another person's choice. Or their life.

When people cross that line, there is surprisingly little the State can do to them that I would deem "unacceptable". :evil:
 
#16
March_Hare said:
The Ludovico Treatment as in the novel works by subjecting the patient to images of a grotesque and vile nature and inducing in him a sense (and fear) of near-death. It could be said this serves as part of the punisment, to get a sense of how they make their victims feel.

However the treatment does not work through guilt but rather conditioning, which begs the question, is this a form of brainwashing or is it a treatment?

If the latter, then are we saying that excessive violence is an individual case of psychological disorder rather than the fault of society? Would we then not absolving ourselves from blame?

If the former then where are we to say we should stop in using conditioning techniques to eradicate negative character traits?

I think I'm going to start waffling in a minute (if not already) so I'll submit this before I (or we) attempt to elaborate upon it.
Suppose it depends on how you define the terms. If you equate 'treatment' with cure, than no, it is not a treatment. If you define it as a way to treat a problem, in that way it is, although not all treatments have definite outcomes as does this one. It could also be considered conditioning, ala Pavlov's dogs - which is what I suppose you were thinking of when you mentioned brainwashing. It also depends on whether or not you believe in free will. I don't necessarily - for who is to say we are not merely slaves to our chemical makeups - but feel society must buy into this concept to maintain some semblance of order and morality.

In the end, the protection of society from violent criminals is the most important goal, while also ensuring said criminals are given fair trials and humane treatment. Life sentences would be the ideal outcome if said criminals are found guilty.
 
#17
Werewolf said:
I was given to understand that the book was a result of Burgess's own tragic experiance with "feral, aggressive young males" - his wife was raped and later committed suicide, IIRC.

As to civil liberties, I refer you to my earlier comments: people have the right to live in any way they choose. Just as long as they do not expect others to pay for it. Or decide to take away another person's choice. Or their life.

When people cross that line, there is surprisingly little the State can do to them that I would deem "unacceptable". :evil:
Sorry if I wasn't clear - "essential liberties" are not the same as "civil liberties" - your words not mine. Yes, Burgess did write the book partly as a result of personal tragedy, and his point was that such things would probably happen less if social engineers didn't pussyfoot around when confronted by nasty reality.

Burgess was certainly no "liberal" in the sense the term is used today, but he was a libertarian. I suspect, on the basis of comments he made late in life in an interview ( but am not sure!), that he probably favoured, for example, an armed citizenry, and he certainly regarded abolition of the death penalty as a bad thing because it removed a large measure of fear of the law he viewed as vital in constraining brutish young men. An essential liberty is the freedom to think/ believe/ say whatever you want, and the State has NO RIGHT of constraint/ control in this regard, but the State DOES have a duty to punish (not engage in thought modification) those who act out their basest thoughts on others. Alex needed condign punishment not "reconditioning".

Bottom line, the message of the book is by all means destroy, if necessary, the Alexes of this world, but don't ever use their depravity as an excuse to mess with minds. Alex just is what he is - not good, but hardly a surprise in the sterile, materialistic, amoral world he inhabits. The real evil lies in those who'd use him as the justification for their nefarious plans to modify thinking.
 
#18
Having watched this last night I couldn't get over how dated and tame it was when compared with real life today. I doubt the writer could ever have envisaged the disparity between crime and punishment in the early 21st century. Alex would now have a quick foot massage, a week in Kenya and be back in the milk bar in time for a bit of 'in & out' in the time it takes for a NAAFI break.
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
'Alex just is what he is - not good, but hardly a surprise in the sterile, materialistic, amoral world he inhabits. The real evil lies in those who'd use him as the justification for their nefarious plans to modify thinking.'

who on earth could that apply to these days?? ;)
 
#20
Perhaps an interesting comparison might be with a convicted paedophile being sterilised. In theory he is prevented from re offending, in practise he cannot conduct any form of sexual act, normal or otherwise so he uses chemical means to re instil his 'desire', which leads to his re offending.
Brainwashing, a la Alex, leaves the person unable to defend themselves but what if, as well as being physically unable to carry out a violent act he was unable to withstand a violent act and therefore became complicit in that act by virtue of total capitulation to his assaulter. There will always be situations in life where the good need to stand up and be counted. If I saw someone committing and act of violence or cruelty to a child/OAP/woman/disabled person/dog or, in fact, anyone who could not adequately defend themselves I would feel honour bound to intercede on their behalf, Alex however would not be physically able to do this so society, not he, would suffer.
 

Latest Threads