Engineering Subjects For The Total State
The total state seeks to maximize efficiency and stability by exerting control across every domain of human endeavor inside its ever-expanding borders. In order to accomplish this goal the state deploys a network of managerial elites in both the public and private domain who apply an approved system of standardized techniques. The goal of managers is not just to create more efficiently, but to shape the organizations, workers, and consumers they manage so that those techniques can be more uniformly and effectively applied. The more homogeneous large bureaucracies can make those they manage, the easier it is to predict outcomes and use that stability and uniformity to expand their power. The only problem for the managerial elite is that humans are radically different. Even if you manage to engineer a workplace or an educational institution where everyone is uniform, they leave those organizations and go home to families, churches, and communities which are very different and impact their performance when they return. If an employee is devoutly religious with 6 children at home he may refuse to work 12 hours on a Sunday or have a moral objection to the new line of puberty blockers the company is rolling out. It might also be difficult to convince his wife to enter the workforce and lower the general cost of labor. Just as a champion sailboat racer seeks to remove every rough surface from their hull to reduce drag, a manager seeks to shape every employee or student in a way that makes them as compliant and frictionless as possible.
The total state has an interest in engineering the most homogeneous and compliant population possible. Variations in moral attitudes, individual tastes, aesthetic preferences, and cultural particularities have a significant impact on uniformity inside the state's institutions. That means it is not enough for managers to enforce uniformity inside their organizations. The state must actively seek to shape the private and public lives of its citizens in order to homogenize these different influences which could introduce variance and instability. This level of engineering requires a narrative superstructure which allows the total state to justify intervention at almost every level of human interaction. The therapeutic approach to the human condition allows the state to mobilize the social capital invested in concepts like science, mental health, and progress towards the goal of direct intervention in human development.
Humans are deeply flawed. There is nothing new or shocking about that revelation. It has been the subject of art, literature, and religion for as long as those things have existed. The tragic view of human existence has been very common throughout history. This does not mean that both the moral and material condition of humans cannot or should not be improved, but it requires the acceptance of the difficult truth that there are limits to what can be done. The human condition was primarily the domain of philosophical and religious traditions throughout history, and wise leaders tempered the expectations of their followers when it came to improvement. The poor would always be with us, suffering and loss would always be part of human life. Many of the most disastrous episodes in history occur when zealots are offered the prospect of heaven on earth and are determined to use any means necessary to achieve it.
The scientific revolution led many to believe that the power of reason could be harnessed to alleviate aspects of the human condition that had once been considered unassailable. Progress had, of course, been made steadily across many domains of human endeavor, but the quantification and systematic optimization that the scientific mindset brought about seemed to fundamentally alter everything it came into contact with. Advancements in hard sciences came first, but applying these methods to fields like economics and politics had equally revolutionary results. It seemed that in almost every area of life, what had once been mysterious could be quantified, understood, and controlled. It became very easy to believe that the human condition, once a static and inescapable reality of life, could instead be altered or even one day completely controlled. Nothing had to simply be accepted, nothing was beyond reach. War, crime, poverty, inequality, these were no longer facts of life that must be endured with as much dignity and compassion as possible, but engineering problems to be solved with the application of the scientific method and managerial techniques.
One process that illustrates this fundamental shift in approach is the medicalization of deviance. Every society has deviations from the norm that they view as negative. Traditionally, these have been understood as moral failings by the individual. Alcoholism, drug use, infidelity, obesity, and gambling were all seen as vices chosen by flawed humans. Indulgence in them was understood as sin, a moral failing. They were signs of weakness and those that indulged in them were considered to have serious defects of character. The judgment of these vices and any attempt to understand or master them existed in the moral domain. The teachings of the church were the lens through which one viewed these issues and it was the council of priests or trusted moral leaders in the community that one consulted if they were seeking to overcome such vices.
Today these issues are no longer seen as faults in a person’s character but are instead treated as medical conditions which can be ameliorated or cured with the correct physiological or pharmaceutical course of treatment. Individuals suffering from these afflictions are not morally responsible for them, just as someone who suffers from cancer or dementia is not seen as being morally deficient for having those diseases. The process of transforming moral failings into diagnosable medical conditions began with afflictions that could be more reasonably associated with genetically heritable preferences but has now expanded to the vast majority of criminal or deviant behavior in society. This transfer from the domain of the moral to the domain of the medical has been referred to by some sociologists as the medicalization of deviance.
What must be properly understood is why the medicalization of deviance is such a persistent phenomenon in our society. Why is it so important to tie a large swath of behavior that was once socially unacceptable to the model of medical diagnosis and treatment? What incentives are driving this trend in almost every major societal institution? It should be said that there have genuinely been significant advances in science that help us to better understand human behavior, and in some areas of mental health there are important improvements to treatment based on those discoveries. There are some situations in which shifting our understanding of moral culpability does make sense based on these discoveries, but the blanket application of this approach to deviant behavior has been an unmitigated disaster for society.
Every society needs a narrative. Every civilization is built on a story about itself. Whether it recognizes it or not, every society has a religion that binds it together. Gilding that binding belief with the trappings of science and secularity does not mean your society avoids this essential aspect of its existence. As we examined in chapter one, America and many other western nations are guided by a decentralized atheistic theocracy of progressivism that Curtis Yarvin referred to as the Cathedral. Like any religion, our atheistic theocracy needs a unifying narrative to explain the world as we find it. The Cathedral needs a story that explains why the world exists in a fallen state and how society can work collectively towards a better future. In an atheistic theocracy your professors and scientists replace the priestly caste. For the system to maintain legitimacy, all solutions to our social problems must come from this new order of priests. The faith of western civilization has been vested in science, and it must, therefore, be able to resolve all social ills. If anything existed outside of its purview, if any of the critical issues that humans face required answers beyond what scientific disciplines could offer, then that would leave room for another authority to speak on the topic. If there are essential aspects of life outside the domain of state-managed science, then that allows another social sphere to provide answers, which means it can compete for loyalty and resources. There is one thing that no theocracy can tolerate, and that is another authority being able to provide successful answers to the problems facing your society. This is the kind of rival the total state simply cannot allow.
Under the total state’s model of behavior humans are inherently good, with the possible exclusion of straight white Christian males. Rights originate from the individual’s membership in the human collective. The obvious weakness with this narrative is that there are many terrible things being done in the world by humans. Because humanity is innately good in the progressive worldview, anything that deviates from productive and beneficial behavior must be explained as a defect caused by some external force that is warping the otherwise good nature of humans. By removing or altering this external force the naturally good function of the human can be restored, like a robot in need of repair to return to working order. This means that individuals cannot be seen as immoral or sinful, instead they are seen as medically ill. Like any patient who is ill, a course of treatment can be designed by an expert to ameliorate or completely cure the condition.
A materialistic worldview is another essential aspect of this atheistic theocracy. Science, by definition, cannot solve metaphysical issues. Problems that are spiritual in nature fall squarely outside of the scientific domain. All aspects of humanity must therefore exist on the material plane. Every aspect of the human condition must be the result of forces that are directly observable and quantifiable. This often requires a slight of hand with the definition of science, or the creation of pseudoscientific disciplines, but those are acceptable compromises if they keep the narrative relatively coherent. By attaching the right jargon and the peer-reviewed process, all aspects of humanity can be brought under the purview of the managerial state by labeling them as scientific disciplines.
Progress is one of the grand narratives of the total state. The promise is that the managerial expertise of our ruling class will perpetually yield advancement in every area of society. Be it healthcare, civil rights, corporate profits, or technology, everything must advance and expand constantly. This also means that all problems must be solvable. Suffering and tragedy cannot be understood as inevitable features of the human condition which can only be born with grace and honor, as they have been in most traditional societies. Humans cannot have a fixed and tragic nature that they must learn to endure. Societies do not have to understand their political systems as a series of trade offs where sacrifices must be made for the collective continuation of the civilization. Under the total state all problems must be solvable, leaders are always progressing their citizens towards a more perfect future which is just around the corner. Like a donkey with the carrot dangled in front of it, our leaders can never allow us to actually achieve that progress or the whole system would stop moving. They cannot achieve their promised utopia, but if they could it would be necessary to withhold it to maintain control. And as we will see it is control, not successful treatment, that drives the logic of the total state.
The medication of deviance is far from a neutral process. It is picking political winners and losers even as it attempts to relocate all aspects of the human condition to the medical domain. A man who cheats on his spouse is not an adulterer; he is a sex addict whose condition requires understanding, therapy, and rehabilitation. If an individual cannot hold down a job or is spending all of their family’s money on drugs, alcohol, or gambling, they are an addict. That person should not feel shame or blame, but should be understood as a victim with a genetic predisposition towards this behavior. A scientifically derived treatment administered by the managerial class will return the subject back to their natural state of human perfection. In the case of sexual preference, the medicalization of deviance can even remove the need for treatment entirely. Individuals are born with their sexual preference and there is simply nothing to fix about this particular genetic predisposition. In some cases these predispositions are held up as something to be celebrated with festivals and parades. This rationalization would seem to clash with the total state’s newest obsession, transgenderism, where biological realities that are also determined by genetics can and must be surgically and chemically altered. So far this conflict of rationales has been held at bay by simply screaming bigot at anyone who points out the obvious and destroying their professional and personal lives. This is a sloppy use of power on the part of the total state and we will talk about why it signals weakness in a later chapter.
The justifying narrative of medicalization is of course riddled with politically-convenient logical inconsistencies. If genetic determinants are an acceptable justification for sexual preference, why would it not be the same for the in-group preference now commonly referred to as racism? There is no logically consistent answer, but this is easily stepped over by the experts. While all behaviors will be medicalized, some are to be eradicated, some are to be tolerated, and some are even to be venerated. Why does genetic determination justify some behavior while requiring the eradication of others? Only the experts are qualified to decide, and the determinations of the new priestly cast will always favor the political priorities of the total state. There is currently an effort by activists and the media to relabel pedophiles as “minor attracted persons” who are victims of their own biology, but simultaneously, there is an attack on the natural biological preference of men for physically fit and attractive mates. One genetic preference makes you a misogynist, the other makes you a victim worthy of sympathy. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out which group the state is seeking to target for punishment and which it is seeking to rehabilitate or normalize through medicalization.
The process of medicalization quickly bleeds over into the political realm. Cable news shows are flooded with medical experts who will diagnose their political opponents with some form of mental illness or limitation on cognitive capacity. In the total state there can be no competing moral values, no cultural differences, no alternative conclusions arrived at by valid reasoning. The regime’s experts have already determined what the correct logical, scientific, and moral conclusions are. Anyone disagreeing with those conclusions cannot have arrived at their position through any kind of valid reasoning. Disagreement is instead a clear indication of mental illness, and not one of the approved mental illnesses that deserves sympathy and understanding, but one of the dangerous mental illnesses that makes the dissident evil and a social pariah. The wrong thinkers are not rational individuals with valid concerns, they are racist, sexists, bigots who can be safely discarded as mentally ill and morally deficient.
Medicalization is useful to the total state not just for the purpose of marginalizing their opponents but also for rationalizing their persecution. No modern liberal democracy would send their dissidents to a concentration camp, that would be barbaric. These enlightened progressive leaders will instead seek to rehabilitate. The reeducation camps would be very modern and scientific, using the latest physiological treatments and best medications to return the mind of wrongthinkers to its proper function. They are not crushing dissent, they are helping the mentally ill. They are not tyrannically controlling thought and behavior, they are saving the victims of a disease. This is why we see the desperate pushing of the medication of deviance in all areas of our society. It serves as the materialistic theology required to undergird the narrative put forward by our ruling class. It serves to justify the actions of the rulers to a populace that might otherwise ask uncomfortable questions.
The state therefore adopts a therapeutic culture designed to use the constant intrusion of managerial professionals into every aspect of life to administer “scientifically” developed courses of treatment that will reduce undesirable thoughts, attitudes, preferences, and behavior. The raising of a child, a task that for many thousands of years fell to its parents, extended family members, and the organic community in which they existed, now requires the intervention of experts at every moment. Medical doctors are of course a regular feature of the child’s life, but increasingly parents are encouraged to discard the timeless practices of tradition passed down through their family or religion and instead consult the opinions of credentialed experts when it comes to issues like discipline, diet, socialization, and mental health. Child therapy replaces Sunday school and carefully curated play-dates replace meeting the kids next door for a game of pickup football.
The total state’s management of children is most effectively achieved through compulsory state-funded education. The student is managed at all times by credentialed experts, every aspect of their day is planned through the constant application of managerial techniques. All conflict or issues of discipline are settled through increasingly therapeutic models of resolution. At every stage undesirable moral prejudices and moral particularities are stripped away through the application of therapeutic courses of behavioral modification.
Mothers and fathers who do not heed the advice of a state-appointed manager can be stripped of their parental rights. If a teacher, social worker, or guidance counselor has managed to convince a child that they are a transexual, a parent must tread with extreme caution. Any rejection of the diagnosis or course of treatment prescribed by credentialed experts can be used as evidence of neglect or child abuse. Political wrongthink can indicate a parent’s resistance to managerial authority and demonstrate just how unfit they are to oversee the development of their own child.
The author C.S Lewis predicted this managerial process which would engineer more compliant subjects in his prophetic book The Abolition Of Man. Lewis, who wrote the book in the 1940s, began by describing a common educational text of his time which he called The Green Book. After taking the reader through some of the passages in The Green Book and the questions that accompany it, Lewis points to the fact that while some of the material contained within does stir the human soul, the questions which the students are required to answer do exactly the opposite. After each passage in the educational text, the authors make sure to include commentary or questions that undermine the spirit of the passage. A reading that was originally intended to communicate the sublime beauty and wonder of nature is characterized by The Green Book’s authors as overly emotional and subjective.
Criticism and skepticism of anything that actually shows organic emotion, passion, feeling, or romance is constantly encouraged. According to Lewis, the student, who does not really understand anything about philosophy or ideology, is just reading the book as part of their grammar lesson. But while they are learning very little from The Green Book about the English language or literature, they are absorbing many lessons about how one should approach the world. Every piece of commentary, every question posed to the child is slowly cutting away a piece of their soul, making sure that they grow skeptical of more metaphysically animating human traits like heroism, passion, and wonder. The only value constantly reinforced is the idea of cold and objective analysis. It is critical for the student to constantly demonstrate their ability to debunk and embarrass anyone who would show the wrong kind of passion and emotion. The overseers will certainly instill many deeply emotional prejudices into the student, but they will only be the preferences desired by the total state for optimum application of managerial techniques. Those prejudices will be treated as the null hypothesis, the rational default against which all other articulation of truth or aesthetic preference must be judged.
The intellectuals who authored The Green Book would like to give the impression that they are preparing students to be cold and rational evaluators without any particular bias or worldview, but of course this is not the case. These educators are simply trying to reproduce in children the thought process preferred by those who rely on the application of managerial techniques. While this bias toward materialism and bloodless rationality benefits the total state, the children are left a little less human for the experience.
“The operation of The Green Book and its kind is to produce what may be called Men without Chests. It is an outrage that they should be commonly spoken of as intellectuals. This gives them the chance to say that he who attacks them attacks Intelligence. It is not so. They are not distinguished from other men by any unusual skill in finding truth nor any virginal ardor to pursue her. Indeed it would be strange if they were: a persevering devotion to truth, a nice sense of intellectual honor, cannot be long maintained without the aid of a sentiment which Gaius and Titius could debunk as easily as any other. It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so.
And all the time-- such is the tragicomedy of our situation-- we continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more “drive” or dynamism, or self-sacrifice or “creativity.” In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
Lewis was warning his readers back in the 1940s that humanity was heading down a very dangerous path. Abolishing sincerity, beauty, and passion by materializing every aspect of human existence has serious consequences.
“We reduce things to mere nature in order that we may ‘conquer’ them. We are always conquering nature because ‘nature’ is the name for what we have, to some extent, conquered. The price of conquest is to treat a thing as mere nature. Every conquest over nature increases her domain. The stars do not become nature till we can weigh and measure them: the soul does not become nature till we can psychoanalyze her. The wresting of powers from nature is also the surrendering of things to nature. As long as this process stops short of the final stage we may well hold that the gain outweighs the loss. But as soon as we take the final step of reducing our own species to the level of mere nature, the whole process is stultified, for this time the being who stood to gain and the being who has been sacrificed are one and the same.”
Lewis made a prediction at the time of the book’s writing that proved to be a very accurate description of the project the total state has undertaken. The author explained that once one generation truly mastered how to fundamentally manipulate human nature; once they truly understood how to strip man of the sacred and reduce him to a material object, nothing but inputs and outputs which can be manipulated and engineered, then that generation would become the final generation which is truly human. By controlling and reshaping man from the ground up, Lewis predicts that social engineers will eventually abolish man and create a shadow of humanity which is easier to manage. This drone-like humanity would be crippled from the start, incapable of the heights or depths of its ancestors.
While Lewis may not have had access to the linguistic frame of bureaucratic managerialism at the time, he recognized the process by which the total state would increase its capacity to centralize control. A thoroughly secularized therapeutic culture would create the narrative justification for constant state intervention through the bureaucratic application of scientifically developed courses of treatment. By stripping away the natural human preference for particular cultures, religions, moral systems, and aesthetics, social engineers can create subjects that are far easier to manage. This dehumanization, this abolition of man, was necessary if the total state wanted to continue its expansion of power and centralization of control. We will discuss the total state's current course of managed dehumanization and its impact in the next chapter.
Lewis, The Abolition Of Man p.35
Lewis, The Abolition Of Man p.35
A very discerning and perceptive piece thanks Auron.
I will go and re-read my copy of ‘The Abolition of Man’.
Can’t wait for the full book