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The nudge rant yesterday has had me contemplating the current status of autonomy and self-determination. Frankly, it’s surprising how many people aren’t exercised about the government doing (more) social engineering. Government bureaucrats shaping our actions and values based on their own arbitrary standards? Yawn. Have the predictions of C.S. Lewis come true?
“And all the time — such is the tragi-comedy of our situation — we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
It got me thinking of this quote from That Hideous Strength. This is Lord Feverstone, AKA Dick Devine talking to Mark Studdock, the male protagonist, about the goals of the National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments (N.I.C.E.)
“The third problem is Man himself… Man has got to take charge of Man. That means, remember, that some men have got to take charge of the rest–which is another reason for cashing in on it as soon as one can. You and I want to be the people who do the taking charge, not the ones who are taking charge of. Quite.
“What sort of things have you in mind?”
“Quite simple and obvious things, at first–sterilization of the unfit, liquidation of backward races (we don’t want any dead weights), selective breeding. Then real education, including pre-natal education. By real education I mean that had no ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ nonsense. A real education makes the patient what it wants infallibly: whatever he or his parents try to do about it. If course, it’ll have to be mainly psychological at first. But we’ll get on to biochemical conditioning in the end and direct manipulation of the brain….”
Also known as penile pumps, vacuum devices help men to get enhanced mood and desire for lovemaking, harder see this now cialis without prescription and stronger erections. tablet viagra check stock Kamagra Polo is an easy-to-chew tablet known for its instant effect after consumption. The heart purchase levitra online follows with mint and ozone notes, while the base comes in with amber and leather accords. In short, by using the aforementioned tablets, you can effectively treat your erectile dysfunction and prevent sildenafil 10mg problems in the motor that you operate for your agency, then why not to follow herbal remedies. That Hideous Strength (which everyone should read) is the fictionalized version of The Abolition of Man (which everyone should also read, and from which the previous quotes are taken.) The following quotes are from the chapter titled “The Abolition of Man.”
“It is, of course, a commonplace to complain that men have hitherto used badly, and against their fellows, the powers that science has given them, but that is not the point I am trying to make. I am not speaking of particular corruptions and abuses which an increase of moral virtue would cure: I am considering what the thing called ‘Man’s power over Nature’ must always and essentially be. No doubt, the picture would be modified by public ownership of raw materials and factories and public control of scientific research. But unless we have a world state this will still mean the power of one nation over others. And even within the world state or the nation it will mean (in principle) the power of majorities over minorities, and (in the concrete) of a government over the people.”
“For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please. In all ages, no doubt, nurture and instruction have, in some sense, attempted to exercise this power. But the situation to which we must look forward will be novel in two respects. In the first place, the power will be enormously increased. Hitherto the plans of educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted and indeed, when we read them–how Plato would have every infant “a bastard nursed in a bureau”, and Elyot would have the boy see no men before the age of seven and, after that, no women, and how Locke wants children to have leaky shoes and no turn for poetry–we may well than the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still possesses. But the man-moulders of the new age will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique: we shall get at last a race of conditioners who really can cut out all posterity in what shape they please.”
(*I find the idea of “an omnicompetent state” hilariously fanciful, but writing 70 years ago, one can see where C.S. Lewis might have thought it would outgrow its inherent ability to screw things up.)
“To some it will appear that I am inventing a factitious difficulty for my Conditioners. Other, more simple-minded, critics may ask, ‘Why should you suppose they will be such bad men?’ But I am not supposing them to be bad men. They are, rather, not men (in the old sense) at all. They are, if you like, men who have sacrificed their own share in traditional humanity in order to devote themselves to the task of deciding what ‘Humanity’ shall henceforth mean. ‘Good’ and ‘bad’, applied to them, are words without content: for it is from them that the content of these words is henceforward to be derived. Nor is their difficulty factitious, “We might suppose that it was possible to say ‘After all, most of us want more or less the same things–food and drink and sexual intercourse, amusement, art, science, and the longest possible life for individuals and for the species. Let them simply say, This is what we happen to like, and go on to condition men in the way most likely to produce it. Where’s the trouble?’ But this will not answer. In the first place, it is false that we all really like the same things. But even if we did, what motive is to impel the Conditioners to scorn delights and live laborious days in order that we, and posterity, may have what we like? Their duty? But that is only the Tao*, which they may decide to impose on us, but which cannot be valid for them. If they accept it, then they are no longer the makers of conscience but still its subjects, and their final conquest over Nature has not rally happened. The preservation of the species? But why should the species be preserved? One of the questions before them is whether this feeling for posterity (they know well how it is produced) shall continue or not. However far they go back, or down, they can find no ground to stand on. Every motive they try to act on becomes at once petitio. It is not that they are bad men. They are not men at all. Stepping outside the Tao, they have stepped into the void. Nor are their subjects necessarily unhappy men. They are not men at all: they are artefacts. Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of man.”
*Lewis’s definition of Tao: “The Tao, which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgments.”