Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Utopian Nightmare

Reading the various anti-utopian novels got me thinking about the similarities between those fictional stories and the cultural and societal trends that are occurring in western civilization, and which ones provide an accurate model for the future days of America and Europe. The relevant novels that I read were Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World, and Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. There are also the books Anthem and Animal Farm, but since they were too brief to sketch a sufficiently complex utopia and overlapped to a great degree with the others, I have elected to exclude them in this post.

1984, Description: A world where societal and economic freedoms have been eradicated, a government that is never wrong, contradictions are intellectually viable whenever convenient, and the peoples' thought process are controlled by the limited vocabulary that is regulated by the state.
Verdict: Much of this is happening right now. While private property hasn't been completely been abolished, it is heavily regulated. In England, video cameras are constantly monitoring the streets, much like the telescreen concept expounded by Orwell. We have demagogues that take advantage of the hip words to move the masses, and the popular conception of words such as "fascism" have been completely reversed in meaning while relativism, cultural and moral, has divested the weak masses of all rational thought. As for the infallibility of the Government, the evidence tends to suggest that from their dodgy revisions of the GDP and U3/U6 unemployment numbers, they view themselves as definers of reality.
Virgil's prediction: Individual freedoms will continue to be stripped from the people. The negation of the constitutional right of free association will be expanded beyond the domains of race and sex will most surely happen, while the government will devise policies to create gender and racial parity in all things. Female equalists have already infected academia with their destructive agenda, and now they are setting their eyes on the scientific establishment.
Universal suffrage and third world immigration will no doubt also ensure the ascendancy of government power, and the ongoing economic depression will create the ashes from which a huge phoenix, most likely in the form of big government, will arise from. I don't think State power will rise quite to the degree in 1984, bit it is well within the realm of possibility that something similar, if less extreme, could happen. It has occurred in other countries, after all.

Brave New World Description: A sophisticated and technologically advanced form of eugenics, where instead of weeding the unfit from the population through genocidal means, the state actively modifies the genetic material of a pre-born fetus. It differs from classical eugenics in that it seeks to create different but necessary types of people, hence the alphas, gammas, epsilons etc, who play different roles in society, from the dust sweeper to the CEO. Whereas the classical variant endeavors to form a race where everyone is good and superior.
Because the state realizes that some jobs are hell, it fine tunes the genetics of the chosen individual to enjoy the activity that it has been predestined to do. For example, someone who has to work in the heat is designed to tolerate it, or even actively seeking it. Since the state manages the cultivation of every human being, in and out of the incubator, motherhood is an outdated concept.
Verdict: Eugenics, both positive and negative, has already occurred in abundant proportions. The urge for it has slowed down recently as its credibility was scathed in the 20th century, but unsustainable population levels have caused figures such as Bill Gates to reopen the discussion. And as Western Civilization de-Christianizes itself into embracing secular and pagan moralities, the ethical objection to eugenics that Christianity poses will swiftly fall into obscurity. This is not difficult, let alone impossible, to conceive given how religion and morality have been driven out of the ongoing euthanasia and abortion debates.
As for motherhood, Feminism has already declared war on it. Less and less kids are getting the maternal nurturing they need from their mothers because they are either in school or in day care, both sound strangely reminiscent of brave new world.
Virgil's prediction: Eugenics will again be taken seriously as the failure of its policies will be forgotten and the population will reach levels that the planet cannot sustain, although that problem may very easily be solve be either mass genocide, famine or war. Science and technology will continue to evolve that will make the eugenics more similar to brave new world, although I have my doubts that it will ever reach the point describe the aforementioned novel.
I also have my doubts that genetics and material environment can define Man in his entirety. Due to the Christian notion of the dualistic nature of Man, and also the supernatural beings that influence human behavior, and most importantly, the Fallen nature of Man, I am skeptical that material means can exert that much dominance on individual human beings. So label me dubious for theological reasons, if not practical ones. But overall, I believe that many of the books' aspects have some predictive utility. Mothers will always exist, but the growing feminist movement will ensure that fewer kids will be able be blessed with an active one.

Fahrenheit 451 Description: Information via books is not so much regulated as it is banned. Once the State realizes that you are in possession of a book, it immediately confiscates them to set it in flames. The government has to do this in order to maintain its power, for it cannot allow those pesky ideas of liberty and freedom to soak into the minds of the masses.
Verdict: This resembles more of ancient and medieval times than modern. I don't think its very plausible nowadays, particularly with the inception of the internet. Although, heavily regulated information is not only possible, but probable. We are already seeing figures such as Hillary Clinton pushing for a ban on talk radio, or a parity of opposing information outlets or whatever. So regardless of its impracticalities, tightly managed information will still be attempted by the state, and may even work.
Virgil's prediction: Leftists will try to eradicate the right of free speech for the same reason they have warred against other freedoms -- it hinders their agenda. It will work to some degree, but will be limited. However, they are already controlling most of peoples education through the public school system, which will continue to be a big part of their plan.

Much of these predictions are not meant to be long term ones. If you are appalled by my pessimism, rest secure in the knowledge that just like bad times have followed good ones, so will good times follow bad ones. Empires will rise and fall, and new ones will take their place.
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, according to Newtons famous law. And once these predictions come true, so then will the seeds be sown for an even greater movement to counter act it. Revolutions will follow, and people will again appreciate their freedoms. But lets just hope that next time, the people will heed to the warnings laid out by these three books.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Canticle for Leibowitz -- A Review

Acquaintances of mine will recall that I was highly impressed with the classic science fiction novel A Canticle for Leibowitz. My Dad handed it to me as a recommendation, so I decided to give it a shot, and I am not disappointed that I did. There were many aspects of it that I appreciated. First, it was well written. The style was eminently enjoyable to read, and had enough high-level vocabulary words and intellectual concepts to keep me intrigued. Second, the conversations and the monkish atmosphere of the book was an interesting twist for a nominally Sci-Fi novel. And third, it contained several valuable messages that could shed some prophetic light.
The book consists of three parts, the first takes place 600 years after Civilization has destroyed itself via science, where brother Francis, a monk of an isolated abbey that is trying to recover the lost knowledge of advance civilization through textual criticism, stumbles across some remnants of the great Saint Leibowitz. This discovery, if valid, would have grand implications for the canonization of the Saint.
The second part, which takes place some 700 years after, centers around the confrontation between the abbey and one of the most brilliant secular thinkers, who is also attempting to salvage the knowledge that is still lost from 1300 years earlier. This part is my favorite out of the book, as I found the dialogue and plot compelling.
The third part, roughly 2000 years after the previous civilization's self destruction, is where the technology and knowledge base has returned to its historic levels, and thus threatening society in a similar manner. The third parts' primary concern is the abbey's conflict not with a secular scholar, but instead with the morality of the secular world, particularly its custom of euthanasia.
When bombs have been set off resulting in the death and injury of millions, the abbey becomes a place where the medical authorities use to take in the injured people. And because of the excruciating pain that the victims are going through, the medical team seeks to solve this through euthanasia. This is emphatically prohibited by the head monk on moral grounds, and a conflict subsequently followed.
Anyhow, out of the many books I have read this year, this one would certainly be on or near the top on my recommendation list.

Reading list: Semptember 2010- June 2010 Non-Fiction edition

After ripping through a whole bunch of Fiction during the summer, I decided that I needed to reorient myself in studying some more non-fiction, which has been somewhat lacking in the previous months. Here is my non-fiction reading list for this school year, in their respective categories:

The Federalist Papers -- Political Theory
The Road to Serfdom, F.A Hayek -- Economics
The Story of Philosophy, Will Durant -- Philosophy
The Story of Science vol. 1-3, Joy Hakim -- Science
After Tamerlane, John Darwin -- History
The Inferno, Dante -- Theology
The Art of War, Sun Tzu -- Warfare
The History of Warfare, John keegan -- Warfare

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The book.... its good

I finished Lord of flies earlier this afternoon. It took me longer to read than I initially anticipated, but it sure was one heck of a book. What I found to be be particularly interesting was its resemblance with the TV show Lost, and how the latter drew heavily from the former. There undoubtedly were differences in the two scenarios, but there were enough similarities so as to be noticeable, and more, I may I add, than just the obvious fact that both the cases concerned being stranded on an island. The fact that the two experienced divisions within their party and the subsequent in group/out group enmity that followed was in my opinion the most intriguing example.