Dystopia — coming soon to a country near you?

The Barren Bi+ches Book Brigade is gearing up to discuss Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale next week. But this post is only tangentially about the book and mostly about what may already be happening to unsuspecting US citizens.

Published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of a new society created when religious zealots overtook Congress and the Presidency, and created new categories of citizens to put all people — especially women — in their place. Women were prohibited from having jobs and from acting independently from men. Fertility has been diminished by environmental devastation, and consequently the remaining fertile women (who wear red) are now considered “national treasures” and given as handmaids to Commanders (military aristocrats) and their wives (who wear blue) as they perform their duties as conceivers and incubators. Other people serve as Aunts and Guardians (enforcers of the new regime), Eyes (spies to stamp out dissension) and Angels (soldiers fighting the remnants of the old regime). Offred, possession of and named for her Commander, tells the story.

How could it have come to this? From Chapter 28 (published in 1985):

All those women having jobs: hard to imagine now, but thousands of them had jobs, millions. It was considered the normal thing. Now it’s like remembering the paper money, when they still had that…Pieces of paper, greasy to the touch, green-colored, with pictures on each side, some old man in a wig and on the other side a pyramid with an eye above it. It said In God We Trust

You had to take those pieces of paper with you when you went shopping though by the time I was nine or ten most people used plastic cards. Not for the groceries though, that came later. It seems so primitive, totemistic eve, like cowry shells, I must have used that kind of money myself, a little, before everything went on the Compubank.

I guess that’s how they were able to do it, in the way they did, all at once, without anyone knowing beforehand. If there had still been portable money, it would have been more difficult.

Sounds far-fetched, no? The United States is too stable to allow this to happen. The citizens are anything but complacent about our freedoms. Right?

As I finished reading the book earlier this week, that passage struck me as eerily familiar. In The Handmaid’s Tale, women are especially oppressed; in reality we may be heading for oppression of all.

Have you heard about RFID (Radio Frequency Identity) chips? Wikipedia says “an RFID tag is an object that can be applied to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification.”

In other words, put an RFID chip in our currency, and you’ve lost all portability. The government will then have the ability to turn off your ability to purchase anonymously, indeed to purchase at all. Doing so is already in the works. Imagine going to the grocery store to buy food and medicine and being told that your credit is no good AND your cash is no good. You can be turned into a non-entity, just like Offred was at the time when she had her own name.

Aaron Russo, a filmmaker who succumbed to cancer just 4 months ago, produced movies such as The Rose, Trading Places and Wise Guys. His crowning achievement, however, was the documentary, From Freedom to Fascism, which he completed last year. Because his goal was to get his message out rather than to make a killing, the film is available free on Google (you can watch it here). The film explores the various ways that our freedoms are being taken away from us — right under our collective nose.

To see the clip that relates to this passage from The Handmaid’s Tale, take the timer to 1 hour, 18 minutes. According to the film, The Real ID Act is scheduled to become law in May of 2008.

Other alarming facts you’ll see if you take the time to watch in its entirety:

  • The 16th Amendment authorizing federal taxation has not yet been legally ratified, bringing into question the legitimacy of the IRS (timer at 1 minute, 55 seconds).
  • The Federal Reserve is actually a private corporation and not a government entity. We have given the authority to print money to (well-hidden) people not accountable to The People (timer at about 1hour).

Keep your eyes open for glimpses of Ron Paul. And remember to voice your opinion about RFID chips implanted in our currency — if you get the chance to.

8 thoughts on “Dystopia — coming soon to a country near you?”

  1. Yikes. In a twisted sort of way it makes me glad to think I couldn’t reproduce. Who are these crazy people running the world and how did so many mindless followers continue reproducing?

  2. I saw a story about some airports that are using RFID in paper tags to prevent so many bags from going missing. It’s not being done in all airports because it is considered cost prohibitive, though it only costs 14 cents per tag. I think that travelers would be willing to pay 14 cents per bag to make sure their luggage makes it to its destination. 14 cents per piece of currency would make no financial sense, though. Nevermind the ethical implications. weird stuff.

  3. Geohde — sorry for the US-centricity of this post. I’m sure, though, that concentrations of power are corrupting everywhere.Lea Bee — you’re welcome. Knowing can be a burden.PJ — the ones who let them are to blame also, I think.Furrow — interesting fact about the 14 cents. I’ll have to follow up on that.

  4. The RFID stuff doesn’t scare me as much as the complacency of the American public. Why do we allow an unjust war to continue? Why do we send billions of dollars on that war and continue to claim we can’t afford to offer health care to everyone? Why do we let the government pass laws such at the Patriot Act?

  5. Town Criers — I think so, too.Kami — the RFID stuff concerns me MORE than staying in Iraq now, or not socializing health care.

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