A high-school friend had a father who worked in a factory. He had a story…it seems there was this guy who got his left arm caught in one of the machines and horribly mangled. He was out for months, and when he came back, the other workers crowded around him, asking “How did it happen?”
“Like this,” he said, demonstrating with the other arm.
Maybe just a made-up story…but I’m reminded of it a lot, these days.
We have a century of evidence of what happens to a society when it falls into the traps of centralized economic planning, suppression of free speech, and the categorization of people–especially ethnic categorization. But an awful lot of people, including powerful and influential people, seem to want to go in these directions.
I can have some sympathy for people who became Communists and/or advocates of world government back in the 1920s. The theory of centralized economic planning is very seductive (see this, for the actual practice), and the slaughter of the First World War led people to grasp at any possible way of avoiding such horrors in the future.
I have a lot less sympathy for people who have refused to learn from a century of experience.
In Walter Miller’s great novel A Canticle for Leibowitz, a global nuclear was has devastated everything. Over a period of centuries, civilization has been gradually rebuilt…and, once again, nuclear war threatens. The abbot of a monastery speaks plaintively:
…“Brothers, let us not assume that there is going to be war…We all know what could happen, if there’s war. The genetic festering is still with us from the last time Man tried to eradicate himself. Back then, in the Saint Leibowitz’ time, maybe they didn’t know what would happen. Or perhaps they did know, but could not quite believe it until they tried it—like a child who knows what a loaded pistol is supposed to do but who never pulled a trigger before. They had not yet seen a billion corpses. They had not seen the still-born, the monstrous, the dehumanized, the blind. They had not yet seen the madness and the murder and the blotting out of reason. Then they did it, and then they saw it.”
“Now—now the princes, the presidents, the praesidiums, not they know—with dead certainty. They can know it by the children they beget and send to asylums for the deformed. They know it, and they’ve kept the peace. Not Christ’s peace, certainly, but peace, until lately—with only two warlike incidents in as many centuries. Now they have the bitter certainty. My sons, they cannot do it again. Only a race of madmen could do it again—”
And we today, know, with what should be dead certainty, where Communist and Fascist approaches to the organization of society lead. We have seen the hundreds of million corpses, the suppression of spirit, the needless impoverishment. Surely, only a race of madmen could do it again…