Far more efficient, and even more proportionately effective, than gulags, SJW madrasas, or clockworking oranges, would be the subtler adjustment of managed populations over time by the undetectable culling of dissidents, or, still more effectively, potential dissidents. Adjusting infant neurologics is still, in this 1750s-whisky-dentist scientific community you have here, subject to forensic detection. Posit that "liberals" mandate brain surgery (later: genetic grooming disguised as screening for health conditions, done as a response to publicized false flags blamed on new germs interacting with genetic "flaws" that need to be corrected) for infants (later: prospective fetuses) to make them less vulnerable to "hate," which necessitates removing the genetic capability for recognizing group affiliation, or the desire for authority (defined in some probably-specifically-anti-Christian way), or revulsion toward anal sex, or some other spooky agenda: the amount of people involved in these procedures, their licensing and development, and the necessary testing and monitoring and results appurtenant thereto, would make this manipulation of a population a trackable event. It would still work. It would still be an event debated on twitter, and some conservative holdouts in some weird rural area would fight off ATFE agents trying to forcibly geno-immunize their children, and once it was all over there would be low-budget movies about how the cult leader had ten underage wives (which everyone would completely believe, because rural tax-defaulters, unlike D.C. lobbyists, totally have ten underage wives), but it would still happen. It would be scary and bad, but history could, in some limited sense, remember that it had happened. There would be some form of records, or, as in the case of the U.S.S. Liberty or WTC attacks, there would be records of extravagant material disappearances and quixotic governmental responses that allowed for respectively singular rational conclusions as to what actually happened. Normal idiots would think normal things, and act accordingly, and society wouldn't change its trends. But at least someone could remember. One person in 2100 could visit an archives somewhere, read the official overview of what had gone on, and intelligently figure out what had actually occurred. There's a value in that, of a sort. Not a practical or a pragmatic value--the uncritical mass would remain distracted by some new squeaking toy--but at least a theoretical future wherein you could figure out something of what had really been.
So too re-education camps, such as Judeo-Catholic "missions" and "uplift" schools in Africa and Asia, "Indian schools" in the Americas, "universities" in the modern west, or other means whereby populations of internal ("participant") and external ("observer") test subjects are intergenerationally modified to achieve certain desired behaviors, based upon their clockworking either absorbed ("student") or repulsively observed ("taxpayer"). These things leave behind evidence, including books and clothes and locker rooms and survivor stories. Via this evidence, even the initially planned social counterreaction can be managed, as when betrayed indentured snowflake students are justly at odds with justly hateful betrayed indentured workers.
Improving upon these techniques would mean encouraging self-policing. Formal policing, as accomplished by the nightstick and club, is expensive and starting to get obvious. Sometimes, people fight back formally. Informal policing, as accomplished by social shunning and media hounding, is expensive and starting to get obvious. Community policing, as accomplished by encouraging families and neighbors to betray their own, is less expensive, and is not always immediately obvious, but creates as sense of historical aversion that, after it proves effective, tarnishes the system and its leadership.
Self-policing is more effective. The natural-seeming decision to not commit the crime is the greatest motivator. Perceptions of power, impressions of general or personal morality, and estimations of chances of success: all contribute to producing the desired behavior, whether or not the rationalizations whereby a citizen decided not to commit an offense were sound or unsound. What matters is the end result. A twinge of guilt; the thought, "I guess I better not"--mere details, these, less important than the fact that the citizen acted properly. The citizen cannot be understood, anyway. Even the citizen cannot understand the citizen. Ends are what matter.
Don't try to design a disease that can overcome antibiotics--that is expensive, time-consuming, frequently doesn't work, and can be figured out by antibiotic manufacturers and/or future carriers. Understanding how a process works causes intermediary connection to the process, sometimes resulting in side effects up to and including delusions of the existence of morality. Instilling self-policing in an individual leaves traceable effects, on both the psyche and its environment. These things are common evidence: the buying of disproportionately expensive communication material; the receiving of disproportionately free yet popular communications material; the use of communal social withholding to foster hunger for corralled socializing in the presence of behavior mediators. These techniques work well, all of them, but they leave traces. Even if they produce lifelong self-policing, they are not suitable for the long term. They make the perpetrators look historically malevolent.
Preset self-policing is cheaper. Don't learn how to understand super-diseases and then create one that selectively mutates. Instead, let the market itself provide you with the solution you want. Gradually exterminate undesirable traits and cultivate desirable traits until self-policing is not something that you have created, but merely something that has created itself, by filling a void which you have made ready for it. Evolutionary policing: the most effective way to control conscious behavior in the long term.
Want to eliminate bravery? Hold ridiculous wars of valor one after the other and let the brave kill each other and their offspring. Eliminate moderation of the digestion? Mandate the humanitarian provision of resources until only the gluttons still wheeze. Inspire gluttony of the mind? Free television and internet for all. History doesn't need to work against you any longer. Give up old habits of trying to distinguish yourself from princes centuries ago whom everyone has finally figured out to have been evil. Managed properly, history can be a kind judge. It can even be on your side. Viewed from a hundred years out, a thousand years out, your policies of benevolently encouraging trait-adjustment hagiographize you. Enslave your enemies, and you are a butcher. Embrace and feed both slaves and slavers, though, and you achieve the same results alongside humanitarian, history-friendly status. You become remembered not as Machiavellian, but merely "too kind." Bad effects a century or a millennia later are surely not your fault. All you were trying to do was bring people together and remedy their pains.
Reward every school with computers, two free carbfat meals a day, and praise. The survivors in two hundred years are more useful. We know it's happening, but we can't ever "prove" it. Even if we understand opportunity cost. Who never invented the Whatsit because he never learned the discipline of stopping at one cupcake and was therefore unable to master a new branch of the physical sciences? No one knows. No one cares. The ability to look back on history with a critical eye is made a conspiracy theory. Why did Silverstein take out so much insurance on his worthless asbestos factories? Quality citizens will not see it now, but they might acknowledge it later. The wise senator, the savvy prince, eliminates these risks prospectively. Vague references to Holy Spirits who love everyone and everything, commanding you to go to selfless war: lovely, but ultimately detectable. Stop writing letters. Stop corresponding with today's critics, for perception management pertaining specifically to their current understanding will inevitably taint your work, when compared against later understandings. Who would've thought these idiots would produce Nazis who would design rockets that disproved the firmament? Next time, look ahead. Speak in terms so general and so benevolent that nothing can ever be proven.
Prospective historiographical planning is big these days. We know the Lusitania had munitions--failure of media management.
The future shall hold none such embarrassments for royalty. It's all implication. Allusion. No way to "prove" it. You are the divine clockmaker, whose existence is impossible to prove.
Naturally-occurring self-policing via managed evolution is the way to go. Got dissidents? Don't gulag them. Don't send them to re-education. Don't necessarily even expose them in the media and embarrass them. If you need the thrill of vengeance, disposable agents can manipulate "the crowd" to tar and feather or take away careers as needed. "Everyone's responsible, therefore no one is." But agents sometimes write memoirs before having invisible hiking accidents. Resist the urge! Ignorance is better. Siberia of the mind. Your friendly taxicab services don't know that address. Only appears on the ninetieth page of restaurant listings. What, me crush dissidents? Nonsense! Proprietary coding and multiple overlapping departments remove any historical trace of what opinions you actually want to disappear. Gulags show you have something to hide, while unemployed PhDs are merely a tragic by-product of a complicated economy that depends on multiple variegated factors that even current dissidents look crazy for talking about.
Plant and grow your own dissidents. Let them survive and thrive in spite of your phony attempts to ruin them. Criticize yourself without mercy. Cry out in pain as you strike them. History will prove that, although you were believably imperfect, criticism thrived and freedom was real. With real people who are a potential problem, just subtly alter their evolutionary results in small ways, all within the margin of error, undetectable to Terran history. 400 million people, 399 million model citizens some of whom may or may not commit unimportant property crimes or murder, 1 million potential dangers to civilization. 1 million in labor camps? No! Subtly adjust 1 million little, easy, plausible variables. Audit frequency, network disconnections, educational trajectory, career stability, prescription corruption, minor medical errors, traffic evaluations, credit scores, et cetera. The NSA doesn't read all e-mails in order to swoop down on dissidents. The risk of public notice is low (public "giving a damn" if they do notice far lower), but the risk of historical notice is what matters, and that's even lower.
Most likely, if you piss off the powerful, you'll never know that you did, or how or if you were punished. One hiring manager at one crucial time in one life can see one template-derived red flag and create a one-half percentile reduction in potential dissident life success. Online dating profiles, frequency of computer crashes during work hours, property tax assessments, college admissions reviews, benefits eligibility: any of the billions of tiny lifetime variables contributing to a random success can be adjusted with a slight turn of the template knob toward "reduction." Driving people out of work, out of acting, out of the Podunk County School Board, is of little historical note. Even if someone who lives in the time period in question, has firsthand knowledge of the affected individual and community, and who understands the nuance of life-effects, is intelligent enough to perceive the damage these little adjustments can do to a life, the difficulty of understanding it when removed from historical perspective is magnified exponentially. Living amidst such a cloud of "possibilities" in a system based on unaccountable flexibility, there's no way to know what caused anything, "even" when you're an eyewitness. We doubt eyewitness testimony because it's from eyewitnesses, rather than designated prophets. Spoiling the marriage of a rival's daughter into a banking house in 17th century London has effects estimable by later Terrans, but estimable alone. The mass watches Pride and Prejudice, but has had the ability culled out of them to conceptualize even mere Austenesque-complexity levels of behavior and analysis among those they do not know personally. The mass can still imagine someone stealing their boyfriend or robbing their house, and maybe get correspondingly pissed enough to attack, but when it comes to the powerful, the capacity is almost all bred out.
The aggregate effects of acts such as these are massive, particularly across generations. Even a random 10% drop in the credit scores of a targeted pre-dissident group can effect homeownership swiftness, ergo reproduction rates, ergo drastically change the balance of likely citizens versus potential anticitizens, over a single generation. If the secret police know every e-mail and website you read and have models that can correlate that information to your perspective on intended social engineering, you won't ever know if or how they have affected you. If you suspect the slightest thing, you also doubt yourself, because no one could possibly be that precise. ("It's probably random when people get branded, or with what they get branded.") Depending on how advanced their systems are, they may not even themselves know what or why they are accomplishing. "The Rubric," or whatever the relevant protocols go by, has already made the decision, and it was not designed to groom for ingenuity.
Hammers appear random. Soft hammers appear even more random. Quietly slipping comparatively greater servings of feed to more docile cattle has predictable effects in the long run. Trimming wrongly-aimed branches produces a predictable mature tree, perfect for decorating the median. The financial industry is built on a thousand tiny cuts. The retail adviser leeches a few basis points, the retail fund leeches a few basis points--this is relatively simple. We're smart enough to figure out "the financial industry" wants to make money, and to groom clients to expect certain fees. Can we imagine anyone else wants to do so? Custodial fees extend to every level of financial service, from the optional--retail investing--to the mandatory--interaction with "government." Not just usage fees and sales taxes, disguised rents masquerading as taxes for fire service, the purchase of eight hundred thousand new iPads for the local AFT, and the like, but as protection money for this or that warlord's army. Living our lives convalescent from the beatings and mutilation of AMA-bramic birth, we are too invalidated to, in most cases, even notice those fees. And most of us don't. Maybe we buy an index fund to spare ourselves the brokers. Who are we outsmarting? The stock itself already has its own transaction fees built in. Start your own business and reduce, but not escape, them. Congratulations--your cell just got an extra-wide window.
Those tiny little fees, built into every aspect of modern societies, have a profound impact. Olaf does not have an ax to defend his homestead, nor the will to raise one, because of those thousand cuts. The process is slow. If you're intelligent enough to not pay someone an extra 100 basis points to buy Apple for you, you're smart enough to visualize how subtle adjustments to everyone's day-to-day aren't pejorative conspiracy theories, but something old and explicable. Indeed, mandatory. See how the effects magnify over time. A tiny adjustment is all it takes to cause minor hosting or connection problems 3% more than the average customer. To put a little tidbit in your profile so that you go from "warning" to "ticket" a few percentage points more often than the average motorist. To add a bark collar that, even if its technology is not understood by the wearer, causes an entirely predictable behavioral adjustment.
Melodramatic metaphors aside, this specifically global eugenics process has been in operation, in its modern form, for sufficient generations to have had a profound effect, even in years prior to neuronet/internet et al. As monitoring technology increases, we tend to contemplate primarily big, effectively un-resistable, but historically-noticeable actions. FEMA soldiers loaded with steroids and alertness drugs, layered in body armor, driving tanks completely resistant to armor-piercing rounds from the imaginary protection of your AR-15, taking us away. Every millimeter of the planet monitored by integrated satellites cauterizing dissent from space. Weirdly, this dystopia is actually a pollyannaish fantasy. Outdated. Far more pleasant than reality, however ludicrous that seems.
Reality is worse. No big fights. No FEMA camps. No tiny group of rebels finally being eliminated by faceless U.N. troops. Dying, yes, losing, yes, but in our fantasies, we're still ourselves. In our fantasies, someone can still see; still understand. We have, in some form, a sense of honor, and a shared history with crushed rebels of ages past. The planet dying, but at least we made a stand, even merely a mental one of knowing the truth until the end, so we can go in peace.
These types of "police state" thoughts are sweet lullabies serving to shield us from the horrible truth. It's similar to how we once liked (and, apparently, still do like) to imagine the ways in which we would survive in the nuclear/zombie wasteland. How vital, how sexy, how real and human and hopeful it seems, to be the last of the resistance to a blatantly evil state; sole vestige of an imaginary civilization carried in one's heart; the defiant sinner trapped in a Hell of medieval tortures; the parched walker of the cursed earth searching for fuel for the winter. It's so real-seeming. So "man against nature" and "man against man" and "man against society" and "man against self." We can understand it. It might end, but it would still have been us until the end. And that's reassuring--the delusion that we would be, or that we still are, "us."
Inexpensive. Effective. Enduring. Gentle evolutionary nudges to produce, seemingly by accident, a compliant mass humanity that has been evolved to enjoy the social-order-as-is. More efficient human management means no terminal wars. No chances at rebuilding what was never destroyed. It means a quiet stilling performed at unnoticeable volume. You can almost feel the tickle, but not so much so that you lash out. This isn't a matter of boiling frogs--boiling frogs is what we wish would happen. At least once we were dead, there would be evidence that frogs had been either chopped down as they leaped free of the heated water, or boiled when they did not. No. Still a wishful fantasy, suggesting that you might be one of the smart ones who recognized the boiling and got out of the pot to have the honor of receiving death by the chef's cleaver, rather than by slow-boiling like the rest of the intellectual rabble. No, the future lies in lukewarming the frog: creating a frog that will live on quite happily, as a testament to the justice of the previous actions of a long line of not chefs, but zookeepers who genuinely believe in the goodness of their tending. There is no dramatic match between you and the cruel emperor. No grisly fate for those who don't jump free. Nothing but lukewarm bliss. Bliss that might be considered a soulless hell, but still a bliss-as-experienced, as lived and dreamed by those who have been gracefully shepherded into what we might call a perpetually childless intellectual domesticism.