When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

15 November 2005

Orange Méchanique (Reason Magazine)

I feel strongly that Tim Cavanaugh, writing in Reason Magazine, has a point or two worth making.

His subject? The ongoing rioting in France.
So you've got underemployed but well fed kids with plenty of time on their hands, the depraved indifference of a welfare state that usurps the role of parents but provides no useful structure for the youth, a housing-project culture that sees itself (not without reason) as a defenseless ward of the state, politicians who veer between mealy-mouthed coddling of sociopaths and vicious denunciation of people with legitimate grievances, and kids who react to it all with theatrical violence. Clearly, the last century's great prophetic novel was not George Orwell's 1984 but Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange.
A badly needed rhetorical whack upside the head, y'all. I can't resist quoting one more paragraph, and then I'm sending you off to read the whole thing.
What makes Alex [the protagonist/antihero of A Clockwork Orange - bc] an engaging narrator, though, is not just his linguistic invention or the mordant wit of his observations, but that he harbors no illusions about the world he lives in—an overwhelmed, politically calcified welfare state where teenagers menace the streets when they're not being shuffled between public schools and juvenile detention centers. From page one, Alex recognizes a central fact about the state that provides his food, shelter, schooling, and jail time: The people in charge don't give a crap whether he lives or dies. They don't even care, really, whether he commits crimes. They just want to make sure he doesn't cause them trouble.
Reason: Orange Méchanique (via Hit and Run)

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