Wednesday 15 May 2019

Why do modern totalitarian dystopias induce existential despair? (Rather than courageous resistance)

The answer is simply that both the totalitarian societies and the 'rebellious' heroes are both Godless.  Genuine, rooted and cultural Godlessness is demotivating, induces despair - and cannot support courage. 

The two great dystopias are Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and 1984 by George Orwell - both induce in the reader a feeling of helpless despair. The reason is quite simple - that AH and GO were both products of the twentieth century during which Christianity was abandoned - and first of all by the upper classes.

The characteristic despair of 20th century art is not really to do with the world wars; but with the replacement of Christianity by a this-worldly, leftist ideology. It was not about the horror and pain of massive conflict, it was about the newly-narrow perspective from which any war (or poverty, disease, or any kind of suffering) was understood and evaluated.

From that perspective, when the solitary individual (or tiny group) confronts a massive, oppressive society; society can be the only winner.

Because this is a 'war' in which there is only one 'side': and that side is society. There may be various dissident individuals; but each is up-against the interlocking power and propaganda of The System, with a relatively-immense capacity to propagandise and censor, bribe and seduce, or torment and punish.

And since the assumption is that human life begins at birth (or conception) and is terminated by death - whichever side wins in this-life, wins forever. Any society that controls (nearly) all of human life therefore is capable of infliction (what is assumed to be) total suffering.

When Orwell wrote his book, he hoped that it would provide an effective warning and preventive against totalitarianism; but because his dystopia is Godless it has had the opposite effect. What we see all around us in the West is a mass population embracing totalitarianism; in the hope that it will be 'benign' and lead to a totally-happy life. This is popular transhumanism - focused around the provision of virtual realities via electronic media.

Totalitarian transhumanism is rational - within its narrow and rigid frame of understanding. If biological life is the entirety of human experience, and political 'solutions' have comprehensively failed; then our only hope is that it will be happy (or, at least, free of suffering) - and most people have reasoned that the only hope of happiness is technological and therapeutic.

People believe in a benign Global Establishment - headed by multi-billionaires and the large media and technological corporations - because they have nothing else to believe-in. If only they can believe that the globalist Elites are benign in nature and intent; then they can hope for a virtual, drugged and technologically enhanced life of pleasant feelings (with perhaps a bit of actual sex, interspersed) - which is the highest life that modern Godless Man can conceive-of.

So a 'good' totalitarianism is the highest aspiration - by contrast, an evil totalitarianism, one that exploits and torments its people, is the worst horror.

But the typical modern Man; totalitarianism is a given, indeed it is necessary - because only if a society can be totally monitored and totally controlled, would it be possible to eliminate suffering and to provide pleasurable stimulus to all. So, any extension of centralised surveillance and bureaucratic control is welcomed - so long it can semi-plausibly be presented as a step towards universal pleasure, comfort, and convenience.

This is important to (real) Christians; firstly because it explains why it is likely that (assuming we live long enough, and Western societies do not collapse) we will all be living under a hostile totalitarianism, in which most citizens will be keen to destroy Christian institutions on the basis that they interfere with transhumanist totalitarian plans.

All Christian institutions that can be detected will be destroyed; or subverted and inverted. 

And secondly because this will be a test of our faith. especially our belief in Heaven, and in Jesus's promise that any can attain to Heaven who will follow him.

Because we will very probably each be compelled to live in a vast, overwhelming, globally-interlinked Totalitarian System; without institutional support; and without realistic hope of escape or victory... in this mortal life


Francis Berger said...

This is a bleak but devastatingly accurate prognosis of our current circumstances. Totalitarianism is the realm of Satan, but our struggle is not only merely against sin and evil. As you have pointed out on this blog, our true struggle is for religious creativeness - the religious era which has not yet dawned - an era the transhumanist totalitarian plan is actively trying to prevent.

I find many Christians reduce life in this world to negative and imperative purpose. To keep their faith in this totalitarian world, Christians focus only on salvation. Their lives become rooted in salvation from evil. This is a necessary step; it cleanses consciousness, but if no further step is taken, it ultimately impedes consciousness.

As you have often stressed in your detailing of Romantic Christianity, we need to find positive and creative purpose in this world beyond the hope of salvation. Odds and risks notwithstanding, we must take the next step. Collectively this seems impossible now, but individually, it is wholly possible. Our lives in this totalitarian reality should not be reduced to mere salvation from, but more towards salvation for.

Being saved is crucial, but our responsibility must also include building ourselves up creatively in this world.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Francis - That's well said. I would add that if salvation was all that was required of us in mortal life, then we would die as soon as we had attained it (so as not to risk lapsing). Whereas we live on... From which we should infer that God requires more of us than salvation, wants us to do more before we die.

James Higham said...

There is always the Lord.