Monday 2 January 2012

How to corrupt a whole civilization - the ratchet of corruption


Simple, but not easy (or not easy at first...).


Get people to perform acts they know in their guts to be evil - then make sure they do not repent them.

(To make them sin is not at all difficult, they will all do this anyway, sooner or later - they are, after-all, sinners by nature. It is preventing repentance that is the difficult thing - by nature many will repent, so you must prevent what is natural.)

That is all you have to do - once this simple system is in place, then it will become self-corrupting.


To corrupt the world, just ensure that repentance is prevented. Ensure that repentance is portrayed as strictly meaningless, hypocritical, weak, lame, lacking in self-esteem. Just ensure that repentance is seen as blaming, repressive, inegalitarian, racist, sexist.

(Because if you repent an evil then you acknowledge an evil, you implicitly accuse others of an evil - and that is to be judgmental. Thus the ethic transforms, inverts: the only evil is now to repent evil...)


Unrepentant sin is a ratchet-process, because once corrupted people stay corrupted.

Instead of repenting acts which they know in their guts to be evil, they boast of them - they encourage others to do the same. Why not?


So Screwtape says: Sin - go ahead - do it, if you feel like it - if it makes you happy...

(The precise sin doesn't matter, so long as you disgust yourself.)

Repentance? Nothing to repent. Be proud of your decisions (they are yours - they define you).

(It is those who believe in repentance who are the real sinners.)

Thus spake Screwtape.


What is an unrepented sin, after all? - well, the answer is that unrepented sin is fixing one's face away from God. The sin is to turn from God, repentance is a turning back to God. So when there is no repentance you are stuck - living with your back to God.


Once a sinner (and it could be just once! - that's the beauty of it) you stay a sinner, and the corrupter can leave you alone to wreck others by your example and teaching, and can apply his attentions elsewhere.

Not tempted by the same old sins? Don't worry, be patient, fashion will provide a supply of novelties to tempt every soul.


It's so easy for Screwtape now!

In the old days people were washed clean of their sins and able to make a fresh start, again and again! - the tempter was never sure of his prey until the very end.

But now, you do one measly unrepented sin and the tempter has you!

The sin cannot be repented, cannot be forgiven (who is there to forgive it? Only a god can forgive sin, and we know that they don't exist...) and the only recourse is to deny the sin; and if you deny the sin then you promote the sin.


The ratchet of corruption is exponential - just a few proud souls at first.

But each unrepentant sinner permanently joins the ranks of the death eaters, and by example or argument brings another one or two out of the fold.

The growth is exponential.

And pretty soon there is a democratic majority to enforce sin - which cannot be repented.

Such a simple system - so very effective...



Daniel said...

Thanks Bruce. This is a good one for me today.

"It's so easy for Screwtape now!"

Of all the memorable images, thoughts, and bon mots from that book, I think the one that sticks with me most is the bit from the bit "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" that was added on later in some editions.

Screwtape talks about the blandness of the souls upon which the demons are dining. So much grey, blobby pabulum it seems. And this was, of course, 50 years ago and more. Now, I think of the tens and tens of millions of tv addicts, petty diddlers, and muttering resenters. Hundreds of millions, perhaps, barely distinguishable from one another on the big banquet table below.

For me, the best way to incite some repentance in my own heart is the simple thought that, indeed, Someone cares about this sin. Someone knows about it and actually cares.

Penda said...

My thought (or as we moderns say, "personal experience") on this - another way that the devil dissuades from repentance is by making it looks laughable; exploiting the human fear of being made to look like a fool. This works for the one who seeks but is not sure.

Do you repent because you believe there is a church that asks you to in the name of truth? But only look at how all these churches are themselves divided, conquered, and filled with those who would find your repentance laughable.

Newman asked Catholics to examine themselves in the light of what they would have lost if Christianity was not true. That question is even stronger now, but to the opposite end that Newman meant it.

I find it is even a potent way for doubt to creep in the mind of reader of old holy works, one who is free of all the 'modern immunizations against Christianity' you noted. Because if the various Christians of older ages were so sure that there would always be a Church for men to turn to as a solution for the pitfalls of liberalism and nihilism as a way of life, and were wrong about that and thus do not speak to us directly any more, what else might they be wrong about? And wouldn't you look such a fool?

Anonymous said...

Great blog Charlton. Splendid.