Apprise just how much the perception of the world has changed in the last fifty years since the preeminent British series, The Prisoner first aired its run of 17 produced episodes. Essential background is available in the Solitary Purdah essay, The Sovereign Man is the Real Prisoner. For those of a generation who never viewed the definitive treatment of the ongoing globalists attempt to eradicate the human spirit, the subject matter may well be beyond their capacity for understanding. As the collective consciousness is channeled into a communal controlled “PC” culture, most are unable to master philosophical reasoning much less independent thinking. For these clones, utopia is the village and conformity is a continual price to be paid to belong and be happy.
A detailed analysis of this masterpiece of creative reflection and societal intrigue is provided by Collin Cleary in the review, Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner. This is a remarkable analysis and should be read in its entirety.
“The men behind the Village want to know why our hero — who they call “Number Six” — resigned his job. He refuses to tell them, or to conform. They try to break his will in various ways. They drug him. They hypnotize him. They trick him into thinking he has escaped, only to reveal that he has never left. They raise him to the exalted position of Number Two, then literally beat him and deposit him back in his bed. They turn his old friends against him. They make him doubt his own identity. They perform a mock lobotomy on him. They trick him into believing he is a gunfighter in the Old West. They regress him back to his childhood, then “bring him up” all over again. They even allow him to actually escape, and then lure him back. Finally, with no more tricks left up their sleeves, the Villagers admit defeat and beg the Prisoner to lead them.
In truth, he is Everyman. He is all of us. (In Biblical terms, six is the number of man, for man was made on the sixth day.) What is he trying to say about all of us?
What he needs to see is that, as Heidegger claimed, the two sides are metaphysically identical. Both capitalism and communism are based on the supremacy of materialism, and on the rejection of man’s higher nature. In “Arrival,” No. 2 says “We have everything here.” But there is one thing conspicuously absent from the Village: a church. The Villagers are devoid of any spiritual dimension. They are happy, healthy, well-fed humanoids, with an army of psychologists at the ready to drug away their every doubt and blue mood.
The Village is a microcosm of modern society. First of all, it has no cultural or ethnic identity . . . Don’t make the mistake, however, of thinking that the Villagers have no ideals. “Progress! Progress! Progress!”
The chronicle of protest that engulfed western countries in the 1960’s was one of distrust and rejection of the establishment. The concept of progress through the system was scorned. In this regard the themes within The Prisoner especially resonated with the counter culture. Today the results of decades of mass media distortion and prevarications have infected the popular mindset with an apathy and dismissal of challenging official authority. The educational indoctrination into secular humanism has poisoned the psyche of ill prepared youth who only believe in apps and texting trivia.
They dwell in a metropolis cloud and fit in with a centralized hierarchy of compliance and would gladly ostracize any No. 6 who dares disrupt the superficial tranquility of their snow flake world. Quite a departure from the burnt out residents in the artificial village a model and essence of modernity, who begged the Prisoner to lead them.
Face facts. An inquisitive and penetrating sequel to this tour de force would never receive approval in this age of censorship and zombie obsession. Reality TV is about as honest as the fake news presented as the first draft of approved narration.
Imagine a spinoff installment of “A Change of Mind” broadcast where the threat of Social Conversion, which is a sort of a lobotomy is made. The use of psychiatric techniques for political control (a kind of non-invasive castration in this case) is also explored. An updated version of this topic is already in place with every computerized search, post or tweet. No one would be shocked that “social conversion” is anything out of the new normal.
Suffering to survive in this digital euphoria environment denies the presence of the soul. What McGoohan confronted as his own No.6 culpability for the sins of No.1 is now dismissed or discarded by a non-accountable or a non-believing society. The mislaid exhilaration of unrestrained decadence does not lead to paradise but it surely allows for hell on earth.
The lesson from The Prisoner as Anti-Modern Manifesto needs to be confronted by the latest generations. Collin Cleary continues with his perceptive insights.
In short, The Prisoner attacks modernity on the following grounds:
- Modernity rests upon a materialistic metaphysics (all is matter), and champions materialism as a way of life (the focus on material comfort and satisfaction).
- Modernity is spiritually empty (again, no church in the Village); it must deny or destroy what is higher in man.
- Modernity destroys culture, tradition, and ethnic and national identity in the name of “progress” (called “multiculturalism” and “globalization” today). It is significant that we do not know where the Village is, for modern people are really “nowhere.” As Nietzsche’s “Madman” said, “Where are we headed? Are we not endlessly plunging — backwards, sideways, forwards, in all directions? Is there an up and a down anymore? Do we not wander as if through an endless nothingness? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Hasn’t it grown colder?” (The Gay Science).
- Modernity promises only trivial freedoms (e.g., the freedom to shop) while suppressing freedom of thought, freedom of religion, freedom of association.
- Modernity involves the belief that nature (including human nature) is infinitely malleable, open to the endless manipulation and “improvement” of science. In a 1977 interview with Canadian journalist Warner Troyer, McGoohan said, “I think we’re progressing too fast. I think that we should pull back and consolidate the things that we’ve discovered.”
- Modernity systematically suppresses ideals that rise above material concerns: ideals like honor, and dignity, and loyalty (the Village is filled with traitors).
- Modernity preaches a contradictory ethos of collectivism, and “looking out for No. 1.”
- Modernity banishes the sacred, and profanes all through oppressive levity, irony, and irreverence (masking cynicism).
- Modernity places physical security and comfort above the freedom to be self-determining, to be let alone, and to take risks.
- Modernity fills the emptiness in people’s lives with noise (the TV and radio you can’t turn off). Silence might start people thinking, which could make them unhappy.
The despotic capitulation for the champions of diversity is the hallmark of the group psychosis that now plagues society. Broad minded acceptance is only observed when any disagreement is absent from the progressive dogma. Even in the Village of the Portmeirion prison, the drugged out oddballs knew their docility system was not bliss. That cannot be claimed by the cloud nine deadbeats on social media.
The current direction of mass liberalizing decay is genetically altering the species as the self-restraint of internal behavior is being starved out with the anti-intellectualism which is so prevalent. No. 6 was snatched and brainwashed to keep his knowledge of assignments secret. In the total surveillance society and habitat in which we all attempt to co-exist, exhibiting the traits of individualism are deemed sufficient to be a target for Social Conversion.
Once our civilization accepted personal responsibility as the basis of an orderly and just society. That standard is ridiculed on many levels by the most intolerant social warriors. McGoohan’s brilliant rendering of moral obligation and admittance of flawed past behavior is in keeping with the traditional values of our heritage.
While we are all captives in our own prison, the most disturbed factions that advocate the tyranny of globalism are consumed with the use of coercion to enforce compliance. Would such rigid and fanatical peasants ever understand the meaning of The Prisoner telecast? Unlikely, because they see themselves as part of the technocratic class of superior intelligence in a post God fearing universe.
As classical education succumbs with the passing of elderly generations, the deficiencies in apprehension of the humanities multiply. The Prisoner represents the pinnacle of achievement; and Collin Cleary argues that it is within the “tradition of twentieth-century “anti-modernism.” As an artist, McGoohan must be understood as belonging to the school of Pound, Yeats, Eliot, Joyce, Huxley, Lawrence, Kafka, and (to some extent) Orwell.”
If you do not want to be a number, exercise your individualistic dignity and confront the system by challenging the specious devotion to regimented conformity. Reject it takes a village to educate a child; that approach failed miserably.