"I am not a number, I am a free man!"

In the latter part of the 1960s there ran a TV series starring the late Patrick McGoohan and based on a concept of his own: that of a relatively normal person imprisoned within a supposedly perfect 'designer society' for the crime of daring to be a free-thinking individual. Called The Prisoner, this series has a world-wide following of loyal fans almost 50 years after it was filmed, with many re-broadcasts, and was the basis of a later version sharing the same name on ITV starring Ian McKellen and Jim Caviezel.

The Prisoner depicts a sanitised society where everybody has been brainwashed to live 'normal' lives and to perceive all disagreement with the sinister social control which holds their lives under absolute and irremovable domination as a fearsome anti-social aberration. The central character played by McGoohan, 'Number Six' (the citizens have numbers, not names, as names encourage individuality) is a rebel who, throughout the series, seeks to escape from this society by whatever means may suggest themselves, only to be thwarted every time.

 

He cannot escape 'The Village', easily seen as a metaphor for the 'global village' in which all of a sudden a decade or two ago we were told that we ourselves, in the real world, are citizens whether we wished it or not! Represented in the series by Portmeirion, the beautiful Snowdonia hotel complex created by architect Clough Williams-Ellis, The Village in which Number Six lived as a prisoner even held elections, by which the illusion of political freedom could be maintained.

However, no matter who might win an election, no matter what policies they advocated, they could only ever reach the position of being a puppet government under the complete domination of the ethos forced upon the entire population by the behind-the-scenes manipulators of society itself, an ethos which infiltrated every aspect of life in The Village in a suffocating manner. And against the real perpetrators of this soul-dominating and soul-destroying ethos of social control, Number Six in each episode attempted to rebel and, somehow, seek for a chink in its armour, a weak point, a piece of leverage by which he might possibly succeed in bringing the whole repellent social control system and its behind-the-scenes supporting ideology crashing into ruins, from which a new, wholesome society might then be fashioned by citizens with a renewed sense of personal individuality and a reborn hatred of social control and all its bland one-size-fits-all commonality, in which even the very leaders of society are themselves incestuously under the inescapable domination of the same driving social control.

In my own considered opinion, The Prisoner can genuinely be considered a sequel to George Orwell's classic nihilistic political novel published in 1948 with the title Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell is on record as remarking that, in 1948, he chose the year 1984 as the setting because he wanted to depict a future that was "just around the corner", within the lifetime of young people alive in 1948, not at some remote distant future period which would serve only to remove it from present-day relevance into a world of pure fantasy instead of the gritty and believable reality he wanted to portray. Only some two decades later (in 1967) The Prisoner - making iconic usage of various stereotypical 1960s British cultural styles - similarly depicts a future that was at that time just around the corner and within the lifetime of young people living then; the future, in fact, which has now crept up upon us like an asphyxiating yet invisible cloud of poison gas that is choking the final vestiges of freedom from the country; from Europe; from the world. That future is our present.

Its slyly engineered slave-society ethos now bears remorselessly down upon all attempts to establish individual political and social freedoms. Freedoms desired by all persons motivated to rebel against the smothering behind-the-scenes social control which demands that even politics and political leaders, regardless of their traditional party principles and class allegiances, must now submit totally to the largely invisible and unelected controllers of society, or else be hounded out of the public political arena by means fair or foul brought to bear against them, as they were brought remorselessly to bear against Prisoner Number Six in The Village.

These sinister processes of totalitarian social control infiltrating our culture like the tendrils of some noxious fungus can be perceived if a person still retains the ability to think, see and reason as a genuinely free individual, as though we were viewers of a television series depicting our current reality in which our whole society is The Village inhabited by a population of Prisoners. We can, as yet, still use our remaining but threatened individuality to see through the variously coloured filters which an increasingly totalitarian and amorphous Big Brother is continually attempting to place before our eyes and our perceptive national conscience.

If we are only prepared to make this effort, to make individuality our watchword and the restoration of our own traditional freedoms our political goal, and above all, to cling on under all threats and castigations to the sacred principle that we represent a genuinely free political population that has succeeded in recognising the evil, smothering webs of domineering social control blanketing all political individuality and initiative in this country, then we might succeed in finally releasing our population from its incarceration as Prisoners in the culturally asphyxiating Global Village.

This is our daunting but magnificent mission. It is nothing less than saving the country of our ancestors for the future of our people! It is shouting to the whole world: "We are not numbers, we are a free people!"