We Are Not Free

July 25, 2013 at 7:35 pm

This morning I began reading ‘We‘, a Russian novel by Yevgeny Zamyatin completed in 1921. I’m only on Chapter 8, or Record 8 to be true to Zamyatin’s naming convention yet already I find myself deep in thought because of it. Just a little background then, it’s set in the distant future following a 200 year war in a country called OneState. Our main protagonist is called D-503, people are not given names as we know them but are designated numbers. George Orwell’s 1984 drew heavy influence from it, and so far there are a great deal many similarities.

The reason I got to thinking is that D-503 loves OneState and revels in its uniformity and lack of freedom. Their entire lives are timetabled, even sleep. What does it mean to be free though? We may read novels like ‘We‘ and ‘1984‘ and think how horrendous these worlds are and how far removed they are from our own existence. But are they really? Are we really free?

Think about industry. Why does the banking industry exist? Why do manufacturing industries exist? Why do large supermarket chains exist? Why do cars exist? Why does the Military Industrial Complex exist? Why does anything like that exist? We are all born in to a system whether we like it or not. We are all put in to an education system that discourages children from thinking outside of this system. The media bang the drum for this system. Every day of our lives we live and breathe this system. Any respite from this system is only temporary. There is no escape.

We are all stuck in this perpetual cycle of waking up, going to work, coming home, going to sleep until your mind and/or body can no longer compete with the energy and productivity of youth. When you go to work, what do you do? I mean what do you actually do? Does your work make a positive difference to the lives of others? Do you even remember what you did at work yesterday? Probably not. Because the industries we work in are large, vacuous empty spaces seeking to fill themselves with money, money and more money. But to what end? Purely for the pleasure of making more money. What do those with all the wealth do? Do they enjoy it? No, they hoard it. While we work 9-5 in a meaningless job trying to pay our mortgages, loans, credit cards, utility bills whilst also trying to have as much fun as possible.

In totalitarian, dystopian future worlds as in 1984 the people are unable to speak out against their systems or against injustice, yet we are. So surely we are free! Well, let me ask you something. If you told 100 people that you were unhappy with the system, how many of those would agree with you? How many of those would attempt to talk you out of your unhappiness and into acceptance? How many would laugh at you? Our governments have no need to severely restrict freedom of speech or thought because our media, be that TV, Radio, Print or Web, do a perfectly fantastic job of that for them. They guide the thoughts of society down a deep, dark alleyway. The only original thinking they revere is thinking that takes further into the abyss. If a person questions the system, they are shot down. Not with bullets or by the police (at least not openly). But with laughter, derision and ignorance.

The world that we live in is not one that fits with my definition of ‘free’. A bird is free, a cat is free, a shark is free but we are not free. We are products of a system that is unjust, unfair and actually pretty evil. It moulds us to accept a life rich in standard yet poor in quality. It moulds us into unknowing machines of industry, ready to carry out the orders of the elites and expand their wealth. We are all slaves to the elites and they know it and they love it. They exploit the natural human desire for self-improvement and competition for their own benefit and to our detriment.

We really do live in a Matrix, where most of the population sleepwalk through life never really questioning anything, trying to convince themselves that they are free. They may be happy with their lives, but they are not truly free, not like the birds anyway.