If George Orwell and Laurie Lee were to return from the Spanish civil war today, they would be arrested under section five of the Terrorism Act 2006. If convicted of fighting abroad with a “political, ideological, religious or racial motive” – a charge they would find hard to contest – they would face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
If you plug “dread” into Google’s Ngram search engine—which tracks the occurrence of words and phrases in books—you find that the term has steadily been fading from literature throughout the 20st century, until it bottoms out in the 1980s and 1990s.
Since 2001—the occurrence of 9/11 amongst others—the use of the word “dread” in literature has been on a steep rise again.
Just load existing photos of your known shoplifters, members of organized retail crime syndicates, persons of interest and your best customers into FaceFirst,” a marketing pitch on the company’s site explains. “Instantly, when a person in your FaceFirst database steps into one of your stores, you are sent an email, text or SMS alert that includes their picture and all biographical information of the known individual so you can take immediate and appropriate action.
In some ways its vision of mind control via implants has been superseded by the anti-depressant regime that Cunningham alludes to. Control doesn’t any more need to operate by directly intervening in the brain: rather, we ourselves go ‘voluntarily’ to technology to be controlled, becoming addicted to the clicking of our smartphones and the red alert-stimulus of social media. Of course this appearance of voluntarism and choice is itself highly controlled – by the libidinal engineering (PR, branding and advertising) which constantly cyberblitzes our brains and nervous systems. Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi has argued that the rise of drugs like Prozac can be correlated with the emergence of the new infosphere. We need drugs to cope with the relentless demands on our attention made by capitalist cyberspace.