Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Transparent Society - 1920 edition

I've mentioned David Brin's prescient 1999 book, The Transparent Society, a few times. In today's panopticon it's a premature cliche, but he deserves credit for working through so many of its implications.

Credit is also due a work I learned of through a throwaway comment of Melvyn Bragg in a 1999 (30 min!) program on Utopias (Anthony Grayling, John Carey). Lord Bragg mentioned a 1921 novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin called "We". The novel is described in an Amazon review by Leonard Fleisig ...
... WE takes place in the twenty-sixth century where a totalitarian regime has created an extremely regimented society where individual expression simply does not exist. All remnants of individuality have been stripped from its inhabitants including their names. Their names have been replaced with an alpha-numeric system. People are not coupled. Rather, each individual is assigned three friends with whom they can have intimate relations on a rigid schedule established by the state. Those scheduled assignations are the only times the shades in a citizen's glass houses can be closed. Apart from those hourly intervals everyone's life is monitored by the state. As in Orwell's 1984, language has been turned on its head. Freedom means unhappiness and conformity and the submission of individual will to the state means happiness...
Yes, rather like Huxley or Clockwork Orange or 1984. Orwell was a fan but Huxley denied having read We

We certainly belongs in a "panopticon" reading list. Glass houses are the ultimate transparent society.

See also:

No comments: