Unmutual

…I was watching The Prisoner, cool as kitsch SciFi paranoia show from the 1960’s, and one that I remember was on my local PBS station when I was a kid, when I was struck by the idea that totalitarian nightmares are not a popular trope in Science Fiction these days. In the episode we watched, #6 had his aggressiveness “removed” by some kind of medical/brainwashing process–ok, he didn’t really, he was just faking, as is #6’s wont, but of course that’s also the premise of Clockwork Orange, that medical removal of aggressiveness is a crime against humanity. It also brought to mind Stanislaw Lem’s Memoir Found in a Bathtub, which, aside from the apocalyptic agent (a virus that eats paper, well, eats all the paper, and the world collapses into anarchy), is fabulously scary and paranoid.  But Bathub is unlikely to get made into a movie anytime soon, because totalitarianism no longer threatens people the way it did when the Cold War was a primary existential frame, and corporate power is too non-ideological. All of which is not remotely enough to make me yearn for the Cold War, but it does make me think about ways a more insidious, creeping totalitarianism manifests itself in nominally democractic societies like our own.