Sunday, May 6, 2012
Abstract: Ethics of Governing in A Clockwork Orange
The primary goal of government is to protect the welfare of the governed. In order to achieve this goal, everyone must give up a degree of individuality to accommodate the laws of the state. All governments face the challenge of determining how to act within the spectrum of libertarian anarchy to secure authoritarianism. On one hand, government should not stifle the freedoms of its constituents; however, this interest must be reconciled with their duty to protect the people. Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film A Clockwork Orange deals with the ethics of government pertaining to the freedom of individuals and how the government should act towards those that transgress the boundaries of the law. While serving time in prison for heinous violent crimes, the protagonist, Alex, elects to undergo a newly developed treatment that will make him incapable of violence and allow for him to be released back into society. The ensuing events call into question whether the experimental Ludovico treatment is ethical, even if it is effective at curbing violent crime. A Clockwork Orange presents a hypothetical ethical dilemma relevant to the way our governments operate in the real world. At what point should the government draw the line when trying to remove chaos from society? The problem of the scenario in A Clockwork Orange is that the Ludovico technique is a poor form of rehabilitation. It treats the symptom of violent expression without addressing the cause. Alex does not decide to become nonviolent. He has no choice, and there is no moral development. There is also no guarantee that the state will not abuse its newfound power to change the behavior of criminals. Ultimately, freedom of expression and the will of individuals to make decisions are worth the potential damages they might cause. The government abuses its role as guardian if it is allowed to tamper with the individuality of its citizens (even if it is done so with good intentions).