The Pleasant Future of Jones

A captain of politico-industry is observing the city traffic in a reflector gadget on his desk. He shouts into a box.

"Quick, guard, there goes a man
Without a number. Arrest him!"

"'Ere 'e is, boss."

"Speak, thing; where's your number?
Won't tell, eh? … Give him the works―
A quart of castor oil to loose his tongue.
Fetch him back in an hour."

"'E's 'ad it, boss. 'E took it quiet
Like lemonade."


"Nuh, not a sound. The oil went down
Like inter a funnel."

"Come here, you! … Stick your boot
Into the stubborn bastard! … Good!
Now, where's your number plate? …
Sulking, eh! Pull his jaws apart
And stretch his tongue a bit …
Hell! He's got no tongue. Look, not a vestige."

"Wot'll I do with 'im, boss?"

"No tongue. I wonder how he eats."

"Easy. They pokes it down."

"Of course. Let's see if he can read.
Chalk on the blackboard, 'Where's your number?'
Print it, plain … Ah, he makes no sign.
Perhaps he's blind. Strike a match
Right up against his eyes … No, not blind;
He blinked. Quick, another match!
Singe his nose! …
Ha, not a tremor. No feeling.
Shake hands, guard! At last
We've bred the living robot. But wait,
Is he entire? Quick, test him! … Good,
We'll breed from him."

"Wot about 'is number?"

"Forget it. He's not even a number,
Just a bit of live machinery.
How rapidly the mob responds
Properly controlled and wisely disciplined!
No need to worry now about the masses,
Their congenital blurb of freedom,
Equality, education. leisure,
Comfort and pleasure;
Gleichgestaltet1 … That thing there
Is the answer."

                                           Brian Vrepont (1941)

1Created equal

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