Future of Evangelicalism
C. S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism, Part 3
At the root of the developing tyranny are the things we least expect -- democracy and egalitarianism:
Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose. . . . And of course it is connected with the political ideal that men should be equally treated. You then make a stealthy transition in their minds from this political ideal to a factual belief that all men are equal. Especially the man you are working on. As a result you can use the word democracy to sanction in his thought the most degrading (and also the least enjoyable) of human feelings. You can get him to practise, not only without shame but with a positive glow of self-approval, conduct which, if undefended by the magic word, would be universally derided. . . . [D]unces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be "undemocratic." . . . And anyway the teachers -- or should I say, nurses? -- will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching. . . . this would not follow unless all education became state education. . . . Penal taxes, designed for that purpose, are liquidating the Middle Class, the class who were prepared to save and spend and make sacrifices in order to have their children privately educated (The Screwtape Letters, pp. 197, 203-205, emphasis in original).
Those who, like Screwtape, wish to establish their own rule and extirpate freedom
must realize . . . that "democracy" in the diabolical sense (I'm as good as you, Being Like Folks, Togetherness) is the fittest instrument we could possibly have for extirpating political democracies from the face of the earth. . . . It is our function to encourage the behaviour, the manners, the whole attitude of mind, which democracies naturally like and enjoy, because these are the very things which, if unchecked, will destroy democracy. . . . The overthrow of free peoples and the multiplication of slave states are for us a means (besides, of course, being fun); but the real end is the destruction of individuals. . . . I'm as good as you is a useful means for the destruction of democratic societies. But it has a far deeper value as an end in itself, as a state of mind which, necessarily excluding humility, charity, contentment, and all the pleasures of gratitude or admiration, turns a human being away from almost every road which might finally lead him to Heaven (The Screwtape Letters, pp. 205-207).
Above all, Lewis was a keen observer of the world he lived in, consistently recognizing the implications of every development in the galloping socialism of post-World War II England:
[T]he political philosophy implicit in most modern communities . . . has stolen on us unawares. Two wars necessitated vast curtailments of liberty, and we have grown, though grumblingly, accustomed to our chains. The increasing complexity and precariousness of our economic life have forced Government to take over many spheres of activity once left to choice or chance. Our intellectuals have surrendered first to the slave-philosophy of Hegel, then to Marx, finally to the linguistic analysts. As a result, classical political theory, with its Stoic, Christian, and juristic key-conceptions (natural law, the value of the individual, the rights of man), has died. The modern State exists not to protect our rights but to do us good or make us good -- anyway, to do something to us or to make us something. Hence the new name "leaders" for those who were once "rulers." . . . We are less their subjects than their wards, pupils, or domestic animals. There is nothing left of which we can say to them, "Mind your own business." Our whole lives are their business ("Is Progress Possible?" pp. 313-14).