Father Dwight Longenecker
Lesson Thirteen: Uses of Utilitarianism
However, we're willing to give a little and lose a battle, if it will win us the war.
Here's how it works: we allow them to make their world as clean and tidy and efficient and cost-effective as possible, and at the same time, through other complicated means, we have destroyed their belief in any such thing as truth. Because they are so enamored with the enemy's lie called "truth" they will cling to any little "good" as a new "truth" to live by.
Without any kind of metaphysical truth they will cling to a physical truth. In this case, they will exalt efficiency and cleanliness and order and cost effectiveness at the highest truth and ideal. Haven given up good works they choose to believe that what works is good.
This is one of the basic assumptions you need to work on my dear worms. Those of you who are a bit brainier may end up working with college professors. With them your utilitarianism can be a formal philosophy, but for most of the population the philosophy will be woven into the underlying presuppositions that support a multitude of newspaper articles, opinion pieces, television programs, films, books, and novels. The assumption is that the only real good is what is efficient and clean and positive and cost-effective for the greatest number of people.
Your essay for next week will be to analyze how this can be put to the best effect. Let me give you an example: Let us say that one of your clients works as a manager in a large corporation. His bosses have told him that the business is going through a crisis. Through all his business training, his college degree, and the extra management training seminars we have made him believe that efficiency and the bottom line are all that matters. He will therefore look for the quickest and easiest way to make the greatest savings in order to save his own skin. His belief in utilitarianism will blind him to any creative and positive solution to his problem.
Instead, he will simply fire people. He won't be concerned about their loss of livelihood, the ruined lives, the wife and children who might be made homeless. Instead he'll spout truisms about "cost effectiveness," "market forces," and "eliminating waste."
What he won't see is that he has just referred to his former colleagues and loyal employees as waste. The function of utilitarianism is even more pleasant when it is applied in the medical realm. Millions of potentially squawking infants have been aborted before they have ever seen the light of day because of utilitarianism. Simply whisper in the girl's ear, "You can't afford a baby right now," and she'll dash off to the abortion clinic. Before too long the same argument will be used for their disgusting, wrinkly old folks. We'll point out to them, "It costs a thousand a day to keep granny in that nursing home. Surely the money could be used more effectively elsewhere?"
Do you see what I mean worms? These are the foundational philosophies that you must be aware of, if you are going to work in the mass media. These are the philosophies that none of the two-legged soul rats must be allowed to question. Keep them swallowing the utilitarian line and soon they will regard everything according to its usefulness in their physical realm.
The final effect is that they will regard everything with a delightfully brutal sort of practicality. They will come to disbelieve completely in the spiritual realm because it is not "real" or "relevant."
I'm getting off track, but the effects of this philosophy in their religious lives have also been very nice to see. Because of their interest in the bottom line they now spend as little as possible on their church buildings, vestments, and all their nauseating paraphernalia of "worship." Building committees think first about where to put the toilets, the quality of the sound system, and figuring how cheaply they can build a bland auditorium to meet in. Happily the idea of spending extravagant amounts of money on "Gods' house" is now considered obscene. They like to say, "Think how that money could be spent to help the poor"—never seeing that the first utilitarian was our brother Judas.
There's the bell. Work on your essays for next week, worms. Glimwort, gather up the homework, and when you're done come by my chambers. I have some jobs for you, and don't you dare give me that insolent look again. Remember Snort dear boy. Remember Snort.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker is the Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. His latest book is Catholicism Pure and Simple. Visit his blog and sign up for Faith Works! his free, weekly newsletter on the practical practice of the Catholic faith here.