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Daily Wisdom-isms: That Hideous Strength (The Purpose of War)

Mark finds himself in quite a jam, being falsely accused of a murder. It was all a setup of course. N.I.C.E. is wont to do such things. And it was a setup with purpose. That sinister purpose being inducting Mark into the Inner Circle of N.I.C.E. once and for all. Here, Professor Frost begins Mark’s initiation into the heart of the sinister forces behind N.I.C.E.

“For the moment, I would merely remark that your view of war and your reference to the preservation of the species suggest a profound misconception. They are mere generalizations from affectional feelings,” said Frost.

“Surely,” said Mark, “one requires a pretty large population for the full exploitation of Nature, if for nothing else? And surely war is dysgenic and reduces efficiency? Even if population needs thinning, is not war the worst possible method of thinning it?”

“That idea is a survival from conditions which are rapidly being altered. A few centuries ago, war did not operate in the way you describe. A large agricultural population was essential; and war destroyed types which were then still useful. But every advance in industry and agriculture reduces the number of work-people who are required. A large, unintelligent population is now becoming a deadweight. The real importance of scientific war is that scientists have to be reserved. It was not the great technocrats of Koenigsberg or Moscow who supplied the casualties in the siege of Stalingrad: it was the superstitious Bavarian peasants and low-grade Russian agricultural workers. The effect of modern war is to eliminate retrogressive types, while sparing the technocracy and increasing its hold upon public affairs.”

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Daily Wisdom-isms: That Hideous Strength (Equality and House Work)

I came across this passage and thought it explained things so well. In it, Jane, Mark’s wife, is being shown around The Manor at St. Anne’s. The Manor is the opposition to the N.I.C.E. and things are done quite differently there. Enjoy!!

“There are no servants here,” said Mother Dimble, “And we all do the work. The women do it one day and the men the next. What? No, it’s a very sensible arrangement. The Director’s idea is that men and women can’t do housework together without quarreling. There’s something in it. Of course, it doesn’t do to look at the cups too closely on the men’s day, but on the whole we get along pretty well.”

“But why should they quarrel?” asked Jane.

“Different methods my dear. Men can’t help in a job, you know. They can be induced to it: not to help while you’re doing it. At least, it makes them grumpy.”

The cardinal difficulty”, said MacPhee, “in collaboration between the sexes is that women speak a language without nouns. If two men are doing a bit of work, one will say to the other, ‘Put this bowl inside the bigger bowl which you’ll find on the top shelf of the green cupboard.’ The female for this is, ‘Put that one in the other one there.’ And then if you ask them, ‘in where?’ they say, ‘in there, of course. There is consequently a phatic hiatus.”

“There’s your tea now,” said Ivy Maggs, “and I’ll go and get you a piece of cake, which is more than you deserve. And when you’ve had it you can go upstairs and talk about nouns for the rest of the evening.”

“Not about nouns: by means of nouns,” said MacPhee but Mrs. Maggs had already left the room.

Daily Wisdom-isms: That Hideous Strength (Civil Disobedience)

I seriously think the modern mega corporation was modeled after the N.I.C.E. Fairy Hardcastle (the Chief of the N.I.C.E. police force) plays an important role in Mark’s acceptance of N.I.C.E. In this excerpt, she and a few other key N.I.C.E. members discuss a riot they are planning and that they want Mark to write an account of. Enjoy!

“You mean you’ve engineered the disturbances?” said Mark. To do him justice, his mind was reeling from this new revelation. Nor was he aware of any decision to conceal his state of mind…

“That’s a crude way of putting it,” said Feverstone.

“It makes no difference,” said Filostrato. “This is how things have to be managed.”

“Quite,” said Miss Hardcastle. “It’s always done. Anyone who knows police work will tell you. And I say, the real thing–the big riot–must take place within the next 48 hours…In the meantime, you and I have to get busy about the account of the riot.”

“But–what’s it all for?” said Mark.

“Emergency regulations,” said Feverstone. “You’ll never get the powers we want at Edgestow until the Government declares that a state of emergency exists there.”

“Exactly,” said Filostrato. “It’s folly to talk of peaceful revolutions. Not that the canaglia would always resist–often they have to be prodded into it–but until there is disturbance, the firing, the barricades–no one gets powers to act effectively. There’s not enough what you call weight on the boat to steer him.”

“And the stuff must be all ready to appear in the papers the very day after the riot,” said Miss Hardcastle.

“But how are we to write it tonight if the thing doesn’t even happen until tomorrow morning, at the earliest?”

Everyone burst out laughing.

“You’ll never manage publicity that way, Mark,” said Feverstone. “You surely don’t wait for a thing to happen before you tell the story of it.”

This was the first thing Mark had been asked to do which he himself, before he did it, clearly knew to be criminal. But the moment of his consent almost escaped his notice; certainly there was no struggle, no sense of turning a corner. There may have been a time in the world’s history when such moments fully revealed their gravity, with witches prophesying on a blasted heath or visible Rubicons to be crossed. But for him, it slipped past in a chatter of laughter, of that intimate laughter between fellow professionals, which of all earthly powers is strongest to make men do very bad things before they are yet, individually, very bad men.

Can you say “Wag the Dog”? Good ol’ Bill “the Old Shoe” Schumann. He really was real. For real. Because the media said he was real. Why would our medias, governments and corporations lie to us? Aren’t they all working for our benefit? Benevolent overlords who only want to protect us from ourselves? Isn’t that N.I.C.E.?

Daily Wisdom-isms: That Hideous Strength (The Educated Reader)

By this point, if you haven’t picked up a copy of this magnificent work of art, you should. It’s worth every penny. In this excerpt, our hero Mark is becoming a bit disenchanted with his place within the evil organization known as N.I.C.E. Things seem ambiguous…without direction. And as frustrating as this is, Fairy Hardcastle explains that it is exactly how things have to be. Enjoy!

“I’ve no notion of spending my life writing newspaper articles,” Mark said. “And if I had, I’d want to know a good deal more about the politics of the N.I.C.E. before I went in for that sort of thing.”

“Haven’t you been told that it’s strictly non-political?”

“I’ve been told so many things that I don’t know whether I’m on my head or my heels,” said Mark. “But I don’t see how one’s going to start a newspaper stunt without being political. Is it Left or Right papers that are going to print all this rot?”

“Both, honey, both,” said Miss Hardcastle. “Don’t you understand anything? Isn’t it absolutely essential to keep a fierce Left and a fierce Right, both on their toes and terrified of the other? That’s how things get done. Any opposition to the N.I.C.E. is represented as a Left racket in the Right papers and a Right racket in the Left papers. If it’s properly done, you get each side outbidding the other in support of us–to refute the enemy slanders. Of course we’re non-political. The real power always is.”

“I don’t believe you can do that,” said Mark. “Not with the papers that are read by educated people.”

“Why you fool, it’s the educated reader that can be gulled. All our difficulty comes from the others. When did you meet a workman who believes in the papers? He takes it for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in Mayfair Flats. He is our problem. We need to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the highbrow weeklies, don’t need reconditioning. They are all right already. They’ll believe anything.”

Now do you believe?

Daily Wisdom-isms: That Hideous Strength 2

Today’s Wisdom-ism comes from That Hideous Strength once again. The more I read this book, the more I’m convinced that C.S. Lewis was looking into a crystal ball when he wrote it. In this excerpt, Mark (the main character) discusses security and police work in the new world created by N.I.C.E. with a stern policewoman named Fairy Hardcastle. Enjoy!

Note: The passage in the second paragraph down: “For deserved was always finite” was actually printed in the book as, “For desert was always finite”.

“As regards crime in general, they had already popularised in the press the idea that the Institute should be allowed to experiment pretty largely in the hope of discovering how far humane, remedial treatment could be substituted for the old notion of ‘retributive’ or ‘vindictive’ punishment. That was where a lot of legal Red Tape stood in their way. ‘But there are only two papers we don’t control,’ said the Fairy, ‘And we’ll smash them. You’ve got to get the ordinary man into the state in which he says ‘Sadism’ automatically when he hears the word Punishment.’ And then one would have carte blanche

The Fairy pointed out that what had hampered every English police force up to date was precisely the idea of deserved punishment. For deserved was always finite: you could do so much to the criminal and no more. Remedial treatment, on the other hand, need have no fixed limit; it could go on till it had effected a cure, and those who were carrying it out would decide when that was. And if a cure were humane and desirable, how much more prevention? Soon anyone who had ever been in the hands of the police at all would come under the control of N.I.C.E.; in the end, every citizen. (Bold my addition–J.) ‘And that’s where you and I come in, Sonny,’ added the Fairy, ‘there’s no distinction in the long run between police work and sociology’.”—-That Hideous Strength

Sound familiar? It should.

Daily Wisdom-isms: That Hideous Strength

Today’s bit o’ brain food is from “That Hideous Strength”, by C.S. Lewis. Yes. The same one that wrote the Chronicles of Narnia. Though that series is perhaps his best known, he was a visionary and prolific writer and thinker. Find a summary of the novel here. In the novel, the National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments, or N.I.C.E, has dire visions for the future of humanity. Including clearing out much of Nature’s “living clutter” to make more room on the Earth and evolving mankind through science regardless of whether Mankind wants to be evolved or not. In this excerpt, Lord Feverstone is speaking to Mark (a college fellow) trying to recruit him for N.I.C.E. Enjoy!

“You don’t mean you want me to write up all this?”
“No. We want you to write it down–to camouflage it. Only for the present of course. Once things get going we shan’t have to bother with the great heart of the British public. We’ll make the great heart what we want it to be. But in the meantime, it does make a difference how things are put. For instance, if it were even whispered that N.I.C.E. wanted powers to experiment on criminals, you’d have the old women of both sexes up in arms and yapping about humanity. Call it re-education of the mal-adjusted, and you have them slobbering with delight that the brutal era of retributive punishment has come to an end. Odd thing it is–the word ‘experiment’ is unpopular, but not the word ‘experimental’. You mustn’t experiment on children, but offer the dear little kiddies free education in an experimental school attached to N.I.C.E. and it’s all correct!”—That Hideous Strength pp. 42 and 43

Sound familiar? Look around. There are examples of this kind of thinking all over the world. It’s been around for a very long time. Eating away at our humanity and freedom one sneaky, subversive thought and/or action at a time. Still can’t see it? Here’s a KMFDM quote that will sum it up for you:

“Divided and conquered,
gripped by fear,
wishful thinking that it can’t happen here…

Control the airwaves,
Fuel the reaction
Use every weapon of mass-distraction
Turn active people into passive consumers
Feed ’em bogus polls and harebrained rumours”—-KMFDM “Stars and Stripes”

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