I’ve been thinking about this post from e-migo Severian (and the two posts preceding it) for a little while now.
I used to think it was an accident, or a quirk, that so many of the hard Left are so gung-ho to erase competition among youngsters – you know, the whole “everybody bats and nobody keeps score” sort of thing, not using red pen to grade (and making judgments of correct and incorrect open to interpretation), replacing actual learning and character formation with “affirmation” and “self-esteem”… in matters great and small, insulating generations of kids from the tough-yet-healthy lessons about not getting one’s own way all the time.
Now I realize it was calculated. All their blather about the Brotherhood of Man is a lie. They *want* people who never learned how to handle success and failure with grace, in order to convince them that those things are completely beyond any person’s control, and therefore “the system” itself is the problem – randomly assigning riches and power to the undeserving! You should be successful too! And since these fools never learned what it takes to gain success for themselves – never even dreamed it was possible – they fall headlong for it. “It’s NOT MY FAULT!” is a helluva drug. And in their case, it might even be true… but they’re aiming all their rage and frustration in the wrong direction. The pushers are the ones who made them what they are, for their own purposes, and they won’t be any more successful under the Perfect Order… they’ll be “the foundation” of such a regime in the most literal sense: dead and buried, with the headquarters of the Order built upon their graves. Because what use will they be as anything but loyal human shields for the Brights, the Elites?
Can they be convinced that it was, in fact, a gigantic lie to make them into drones? Tough call. For one thing, being among the glorious fallen in the “vanguard of the proletariat” is given great weight, so many of them often delight in the realization that they’ve been turned into mulch for future crops of fellow drones. For another, they’ve been taught defiance of reality as a virtue. It serves as an effective inoculation against those annoying gleams of real thought and feeling.
CS Lewis was so good about so much of this: the Screwtape Letters talks a lot about denying “the patient” any contact with real pleasures or pains, even if they are “innocent” or seemingly inconsequential, because they are cracks in the perfect shell of unreality, and who knows what will happen then? And The Pilgrim’s Regress has that great chapter in the giant’s prison. Reason has killed the Giant Zeitgeist and freed the prisoners, but those who have been under his care too long are too afraid to come out, and lock themselves back in once the protagonist and his troublesome rescuer have gone.
(And just as an aside – Regress was Lewis’ first major work, even before Screwtape, and the “hero” is rather a bungling everyman whom the “strong female character” Reason often keeps track of and saves. It wasn’t a one-off either, as Lewis’ favorite Narnian protagonist was clearly Lucy Pevensie, and his last novel, Till We Have Faces, is entirely from the POV of the main character, Queen Oural of Glome. Enough to make modern heads all splodey-sploo that the mean ol’ Christian patriarchy has so many examples like this, beloved by us thought criminals.)
So to the task at hand – tossing a line to those who have jumped overboard from the Barque of Mankind, after being told by frauds that since water is essential to life, they can go ahead and breathe it. The good news is that rescues happen all the time. In truth, every last one of us is one. Hence we ought not to despair; people are “redpilled” all the time, as the hep kids were calling it for a while. But we ought also to soberly reckon on the odds. The Perfect Order punishes apostates most grievously of all, as a warning to the rest… and that’s only if they can even get that far. Remember that lies always bear that superficial resemblance to the truths they’re designed to replace, usually by a simple re-ordering of good things into an unhealthy heirarchy: for example, people betray all truth and decency, but consider themselves true and decent, because they are being loyal to their side and Loyalty Is A Good Thing. In fact, it may be the only good thing they’ve got left, and thus the sufferer will cling all the more to it. Hence, being shown that “it was all a lie” actually reinforces what they’ve been told by the master liars, and so the cure looks suspiciously like more of the same if they’ve been “handled properly,” to use Screwtape’s expression.
This is why it’s often something unexpected that first raises the questions that their current life cannot answer. All the logic and argument in the world can be spun off into pointless tangents, buried under jargon, handwaved by dialectical hocus-pocus… but a real love for a real thing, be it as simple as gardening or pottery or watercolors, can be the spark. Simple friendship, a real thing with real loyalty and real compassion, can be the steady fire that shows how cold and hollow it is to center all relationships around power and zero-sum attitudes. The best advantage we have is that real things are real. The frauds always show themselves as such by betraying the thing they claimed was the Good Thing: the “we frikkin’ LOVE science” folks end up suborning science in favor of activism; feminist “allies” all turn out to be stealth predators; the prophets who cry “success and failure are random and undeserved” nonetheless promise their followers the power to determine success and failure for all the world; in the pinch the “you must be loyal to the Party” crowd won’t be loyal to anyone… but just when everyone else in the world has shunned you for taking them at their word, when you stand condemned for actually trying to live as they commanded you to, it’s boring old Joe and Jane from the craft shop who suddenly show up at the door because you’ve seemed down lately, and they want to help.