New Internationalist

Route 42 to Dystopia

Issue 418

Anna Chen reckons we’re all being driven towards a dystopian future, and that the next stop could be terminal…

As they used to say in the Sixties: you’re either on the bus or off the bus. Funny how the shiny red vehicle driven around the Olympic handover ceremony sported a big black-tinted front window, rendering it more like Judge Dredd’s fascistic cop helmet than the cosy Routemaster and Swinging Sixties’ values it was meant to evoke.

Brollies, broadsheets and bowlers blew across our screens like ancient relics from a defunct civilization, viewed from our current meltdown, while a small child walked over the still-writhing bodies of an undead workforce. A brilliant metaphor for the state we’re in, but possibly not the 2012 paradise the British Government was aiming for. They might as well have brought on the dancing riot cops, strung the set with CCTVs and painted a big number 42 on the front to represent the number of days’ detention-without-trial we now enjoy in the land of Magna Carta. We could have called our contribution to the festivities ‘A Streetcar Named Dystopia’ and been praised for our wonderful irony, something else we used to do well.

American friends may decry a dollar now on a par with the peso but, boy, do they have a laugh when it comes to our civil liberties and the number of petty rules and regulations afflicting our existence. No wonder they call our nation Old Blighty! Restrictions aplenty for us, but have you noticed how few restraints there are for big business and those who wield actual power over our lives? We have more CCTVs than anywhere else in the world and, while we may have neglected public housing for decades, an unprecedented binge of prison-building means that at least we’ll have a roof over our heads when the banks appropriate our homes and we take to the barricades.

Civil Unrest? Food riots? ID cards are the best solution our genius masters can come up with. Personally, I’d rather have EGO cards that restore the sense of self we’re currently flushing away along with our rights and welfare.

How come Gordon Brown was the only person in Britain not to know that Hedge Funds are a bad thing? We’re being driven into a dystopian future aboard the Judge Dredd bus to the tune of Whole Lotta Love while New Labour’s friends do their final bit of looting of the public purse. Next stop’s Terminal — end of the line. Everybody off. Hope you enjoyed the ride.

Anna Chen is a writer, actor, poet, singer, songwriter, comic, cineaste and martial artist.

Blog: ‘Madam Miaow says...’


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This article was originally published in issue 418

New Internationalist Magazine issue 418
Issue 418

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New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

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