And here's a snippet:
"Sorry, he said. This number's not valid.And:
That's ridiculous, I said. it must be, I've got thousands in my account. I just got the statement two days ago. Try it again.
It's not valid, he repeated obstinately. See that red light? Means it's not valid.
You must have made a mistake, I said. Try it again.
He shrugged and gave me a fed-up smile, but he did try the number again. This time I watched his fingers, on each number, and checked the numbers that came up in the window. It was my number all right, but there was the red light again."
She got up and went to the kitchen and poured us a couple of Scotches, and came back and sat down and I tried to tell her what had happened to me. When I'd finished, she said, Tried getting anything on your Compucard today?Compare Brett Scott, "The War on Cash." Here's a snippet from that:
Yes, I said. I told her about that too.
They've frozen them, she said. Mine too. The collective's too. Any account with an F on it instead of an M. All they needed to do is push a few buttons. We're cut off.
The proclaimed Death of Cash is thus an episode in the broader drama that is the Death of Privacy, the death of breathing room, and the death of informal, non-measured, unaccounted-for behaviour. Every action you take must forever be attached to your digital persona, dragging with it a data trail extending back to the day you were born. We face creating an entire generation of people who do not know what it feels like to not be monitored.Atwood's novel is remarkable for many reasons. From the perspective of economics, it's perhaps also worth recognising that although this dystopia is primarily a satire against patriarchy -- and perhaps against separatist feminism -- it is also a sex positive satire, and a liberal satire against theocracy and totalitarianism.
It also has an elusive and awkward relationship with socialism and communism.
At one point June [Offred] thinks of the slogan, "From each according to her abilities, to each according to his needs," which she believes might be from the Bible. Actually it's a corruption of Marx (where the pronouns are "he" and "his": in the gender neutral sense, to include everybody, but then again, maybe not really). There is another moment in the novel with a similarly curious relationship to leftist politics and economics. It alludes to Berlin's two types of freedom, negative and positive:
There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.Classical liberals like Constant and perhaps Mill tend to be more interested in safeguarding negative freedom, "freedom from," whereas thinkers like Rousseau and Marx have a lot more time for positive freedom, "freedom to" (cf. Rousseau's infamous "forced to be free"). But Atwood does it the other way round: quite plausibly and gracefully, she has a spokesperson from this totalitarian society defend it in terms of "freedom from."