3. They don’t go into the cause
of goodness, so why of the other shop? . . . Badness
is of the self, the one, the you or me on our oddy knockies, and
that self is made by old Bog or God and is his great pride and radosty.
But the not-self cannot have the bad, meaning they of the government
and the judges and the schools cannot allow the bad because they
cannot allow the self. And is not our modern history, my brothers,
the story of brave malenky selves fighting these big machines?
This passage comes from Part One, Chapter
4, when Alex challenges P.R. Deltoid’s attempts to ascertain the
source of wicked behavior. Deltoid and his government colleagues
have labored over this problem for years, and are still no closer
to an answer. Alex’s point is that there is no answer because evil
is a natural part of man, and is therefore as inexplicable as goodness.
Furthermore, evil, just like goodness, is a choice, which Alex accentuates
by referring to it as “the other shop” that he patronizes. In asserting
the validity of his choice of evil, Alex produces one of his most
philosophically substantive ideas of the novel. It is rational and
sober, as suggested by the low frequency of nadsat words,
and about as intellectually abstract as Alex gets. By invoking God
in the process, Alex brings up the notion of the immortal soul as
God’s greatest creation, or, as Alex says, “his great pride and
radosty.” This idea is important because it introduces a Christian
understanding of the self as an autonomous moral being with the
power and duty of choice. Having this choice is a prerequisite for
having a soul.
Alex’s comments about “the government and the judges and
the schools” are also perceptive. Badness is socially disruptive,
and thus damaging to the welfare of the State. Because of this,
the State seeks to deprive the individual of its choice, which in
essence is tantamount to depriving the individual of his soul. In
this manner, Alex identifies himself with the cause of badness,
which he equates to the cause of the individual. He sets the individual,
or the human being, against the government, or the machine. Lastly,
Alex’s mention of modern history alludes to our own world, where
revolutions that have bettered society on the whole have been fought
in the name of individual liberty.