Some time ago I borrowed the book “This Perfect Day” (or “De Dag Der Dagen” as it is called in Dutch) by Ira Levin from a colleague. She and I had a discussion about what possibly the future of the world could/would be. She suggested to read this book and as I could not find it for sale on any Dutch webshop, she borrowed the book to me.
Ira Levin is known for his books “Rosemary’s Baby” (1967) and “The Boys from Brazil” (1976). “This Perfect Day”, the book I was reading, was written in 1970.
Yesterday I finished reading this book. And I have to say that I am impressed. A very well written book that keeps your attention and triggers you think and ponder about things.
In short, the books is about a soceity completely controled by the government (a supercomputer and a group of programmers, in this book). The citizen of this soceity get every month a treatment, which is a combination of drugs that makes them obedient. There is no crime or hate anymore, but there is also no love or friendship. All emoties are controlled by the drugs they get every month.
The main characters manage to skip this treatments and start to think and feel again. This leads to a rising against the government, which succeeds (of course) in the end.
This is the story in a nutshell. The book is very detailed and links all perfect together. Go read the book I would say!
The main question here is: Is such future possible to happen?
With a very persimistic look, I say yes, it could. Specially when I look at the country where I live. We Dutch call ourselves indendent, but we are not. A majority of the Dutch people would not mind to have camera’s on every corner if that would help against crime. I hear very regulary the famous, and easily to refute, “I don’t have anything to hide” (every human has something to hide). The care for privacy seems to be absent, until you make clear what privacy really involves. People are really not aware what privacy is and that it is about things very close to them.
The ““Those who would give up Freedom, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Freedom nor Safety” seems to be in place, because remember freedom and privacy are very related to each other. By the way, this qoute is said to be from Benjamin Franklin.
But I tend to go for the more optimistic view. I think what is going to happen the next two generations will be of big influence if such a future might happen. I see organizations as “Bits of Freedom” (The Netherlands) and the Chaos Computer Club (Germany) that make their stand on matters involving privacy and related matters. And with rather some success as well.
There are Internet providers that make a stand against the (illegal) data retension. Specially now it shows over and over again that it almost doesn’t help with fighting crime and terrorism.
Secret Services that were way too powerful are getting limited in their power and are getting strictly controlled.
The more I see people starting to realise that too much power and control with an goverment is not a good thing, the more I have hope for a brighter future.
Sadly specially my country seems to be lacking on this. We have a big mouth and are complaining about everything the government does…. and there it stays, we have become a country of complainers without the dare or care to really stand up…. and this was so different in the past. We had our share of demonstrations for labor rights, rights for women, against nuclair power, against discrimination. I hope that seeing that what starting to happen in the countries around us, will make the Dutch people wake up as well.
Anyway, it is all up to us….
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