A Clockwork Orange

by: Anthony Burgess

Minister of the Interior

The Minister of the Interior comes into power during the two years Alex is incarcerated. As the highest-ranking representative of the State, the Minister embodies the government’s changing attitude toward its citizens. The government he represents is even more repressive than the one Alex knows in Part One, and its cardinal virtue is the stability of society. To achieve this goal, the Minister has put two sweeping policies into effect with regard to criminal behavior. For already-incarcerated offenders, the Minister has decided to move ahead with an experimental rehabilitation program that destroys criminal tendencies. In this way, he can free up jail space for political dissidents, who threaten the new State order. In his other policy modification, the Minister gives badges to the remaining street thugs so that these violent criminals can authoritatively impose social order.

With the character of the Minister, Burgess satirizes the tendency of socialist governments to overlook the needs and rights of individuals who threaten communal order. Personal liberties mean nothing to the Minister, and neither do principles. He candidly admits to having sacrificed Alex’s individual, human qualities in exchange for a passive young man who can’t help but act in a socially acceptable manner. In these ways, the Minister differs from both F. Alexander and P.R. Deltoid. Unlike the former, he doesn’t care about principles, and, unlike the latter, he doesn’t bother to study the origins of violence. Rather, the Minister possesses a distinctly utilitarian attitude toward accomplishing the goal of total State security. Ironically, this acutely pragmatic attitude also prompts the Minister to cure Alex, when the Minister realizes that he needs Alex’s endorsement to quell the public outrage stirred up by F. Alexander. In ensuring society’s stability, the Minister always observes the following mantra: “The point is that it works.”