When the United Kingdom instituted a rationing system during the second world war, the citizens had no choice but to follow it, due to the t-i-g-h-t bureaucratic monitoring and legal consequences should one breach. American Prohibition was relatively simple to side-step, and actually did much good for domestic American creativity, as well as pre-empting overpopulation due to its toxicity, because people just made their booze right at home or in the middle of the woods. In the UK during WWII everything from food to paper to clothing were rationed, with a highly-monitored coupon-system in place.
The process went like this: citizens registered for individually numbered coupon books, signed up for items at a shopkeeper's store, then the shopkeeper submitted that to the government which then gave the shopkeeper exactly that amount of commodities to be redeemed by those individuals. When the citizen redeemed their goods, the shopkeepers cancelled the coupon from their book, preventing double-dipping. It was quite an efficient system for inventory management, however, was met with public criticism because a rationed rich person is affected differently than a working class person, who doesn't have the physical amenities to fall back on in the first place. What really drove the working class nuts was how the wealthy were allowed to purchase items not on their coupon books, with actual money. The name of the department leading the management of this food allocation was none other than the Ministry of Food; there's the nod to 1984.
One of the major issues with a bureaucratic government is that it's so large it blanket-treats the people. This concept of "fair-share" always seems so effective-on-paper (which is simply a way of saying "intellectually illiterate") because it takes the people out of the equation and replaces them with uniform cogs. People are not equal, nor do they want to be treated as truly equal. You may be fine with being rationed ten ounces of butter a week, but if I don't like butter, I'm fine with just two. How is it fair that I can't turn those superfluous eight ounces of butter into a useful commodity that will increase my standard of living? This is why resentment builds quickly with rationing systems, and not simply because people are forced to divert their resources toward the military effort.
These Ministries of resource allocation can be terrifying organizations, because although they're designed to oversee the citizens' consumption, what outside organization is overseeing them, problem-solving their solutions? The WWII rationing lasted a full decade, and toward the end, things like electricity and chocolate were even rationed. (Another nod to 1984). The UK avoided Communism by not requiring the upper class to spread out all their resources for egalitarian purposes--and good for them--but the Monarchy came close enough with such tight resource management. It fine-tuned its tactics from the WWI food rationing, only to expand it to clothing and fuel and other personal artifacts during WWII.
As you see, the penalty for breaching the food ration during WWI were quite severe. What I find striking is the use of public fear as deterrent for future breaches, because the penalties listed are actually penalties levied upon actual individuals from certain places at certain times. Not only does this assert that the "Realm" is already more powerful than the individuals--having eyes on the little streets--but that real, live citizens--friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances--have already been affected by breaches. Thus, the penalties aren't simply abstract consequences. They won't just happen if a breach occurs, yet already have happened to people just like us. By the time WWII came around, the Ministries had become efficient at how to manage their resources from a Federal level, as well as utilize propaganda to develop their power and economy. Hence, compulsive rationing has never been, and never will be, simply an economic device. The power doing the rationing makes sure those who receive the rationing are well aware that despite resources being limited, their overarching power hasn't been tarnished.
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