The Erosion of Freedom And Free Thought
In the Prisoner Patrick McGoohan was demonstrating how easily our freedom and free thought can be so easily eroded away, our privacy impinged upon, and our individuality taken away, as we become more like numbers to the ever growing bureaucracy of this our fine community.
The village had its "Health & Welfare" and looked after you for as long as you live. Yet our National Health Service is slowly grinding to a halt, or that is how it seems in many ways.
We live in what has been termed a "
" and for one I couldn't agree more. As no one is allowed to do anything remotely dangerous, well perhaps that is a bit strong, but it is how it seems. The key words are "Health & Safety" which looks after us all under the improbable canopy of the village, or rather that of the penny farthing bicycle, taxi, Mini-Moke, RWS bicycle, the speakers of the villages public address system, and even sign posts. The candy striped canopy is everywhere in the village! Nanny State
Surveillance is everywhere in the village, with loudspeakers of the public address system, so as to be able to make public announcements, weather forecasts and the ice-cream flavour of the day... Strawberry! Now our world has finally caught up with the village, with
the most observed nation on the face of the world, plus in some places they have microphones and the addition of loudspeakers so that observers can tell us off when they see us doing something anti-social! Mind you if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about. And surveillance can be used for the good of the community, to help protect people.....POP protect other people as the Prisoner once said. Oh, we're back to the nanny state, and of course and as the Prisoner once said "Science can be perverted!" England
The Prisoner fights to maintain his identity, to keep his individuality in a society of numbers, his, for official purposes, is No.6. My mothers CO-OP number was 24681, I can't recall my peg number at school, and you're not having my bank account number, driving license number, pin numbers, National Health number, credit card number or number for anything else. Blimey, so many numbers and only one bloke. Mind you I've also been pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed and yes, numbered in my time. But then so had No.6 despite his protestations to the contrary! "I am not a number, I am a free man," or person. Well where did that get him, nowhere, that's where. But then he did bend if only just a little, otherwise he would have cracked, as No.2's assistant remarked at the beginning of The Chimes of Big Ben, "He doesn't even bend a little." No.6 can make the act of putting on his dressing gown appear as a gesture of defiance!
We all cannot show the same defiance as No.6, where would that get us? But in the Prisoner McGoohan shows us the way, to ask questions and not simply to accept things as they are. Some people might see the Prisoner as advocating open rebellion, well that would get us nowhere, and only worse could follow after open rebellion. Chaos and anarchy for two, and a worse system than we have now, with a Republic that would have the opportunity to be as corrupt as some Banana Republics of the past and present. Although we have witnessed revolution throughout the middle east, people who will no longer take opression, and want freedom and democracy.
Then there would be the others who say "Why bother, no one listens to the people!" Well that's as bad as someone not bothering to use their vote" Its a protest vote, my not voting!" Well a non vote is no vote at all! And this is where they can bring about anything they want, because we let them! And then once they've gone and done it, then people moan when its all too late to do anything about it!
There is much to be learned from the Prisoner, 45 years ago McGoohan predicted what life could be like if we let it become so. Well, we've got mobile phones, credit cards, thankfully the idea of Identity cards have been scrapped. Surveillance is all around us however....... "welcome to the village, you're new here aren't you?"
I'll be seeing you.