Yesterday, I received the following. I cannot verify the source.
My dear Wormwood,
By all means focus the attention of your patient on his own generation. Our Father-Below has successfully taught each generation since before the Flood that they are special and that something has happened to change all the rules. You will recall how we convinced Noah himself that “somebody who had experienced what he had” needed the extra comfort of drink. If you focus attention on “the War” or the “bomb” or “new media,” you can get a human to believe that our old temptations are the new morality.
Done correctly, you even can inoculate your patient against anyone pointing this out by saying that “reactionaries” are always saying this. Don’t let him recall that some social changes, sweeping ones, were for the worse. He must think of himself as Martin Luther King and never as Lenin.
Do not underestimate the seductive power of being part of a “revolutionary” group when membership is a matter of birth and the only action necessary is existence. Generational aristocracy is the most meaningless form of status and so least dangerous to us. Pride in accomplishment is always dangerous, since accomplishment is always there lurking with beauty. Even the old aristocracy, think the cursed birth of the English prince, and pride in that birth is dangerous as it ends up pointing outside of self to one’s family.
A pride in one’s ancestors can be useful to us when overdone, but it is dangerously close to honoring one’s parents. We have managed to get most patients to disdain the old aristocracy while taking pride in being the new generation marked out by buying Pepsi instead of Coke or simply the date of their birth! The ultimate goal is to turn birthday parties into something for grownups, not children, to celebrate their own existence apart from the sacrifice that produced their existence.
Proclaim by all means and by all mediums the special status of today’s generation. In this way, two things will be accomplished. We will get the standard benefit of convincing a group of people that their youthful folly, little different than the temptations that faced their grandparents, is an entire movement. More senior tempters have spent decades teaching a generation to think of themselves as “baby boomers.” At the extreme, we can even make members at the fringe of this generation nostalgic for music they did not like and television programs canceled before they were born. Now we can turn on the “boomers” by making a new generation, we are test marketing the name “millennial,” the cultural favorite. This will fill the boomers with resentment and fear.
We will have reminded the boomers of their approaching death without causing them to accept this fact. Vague fears produce reaction, not thought and action.
In this manner, we can develop whole communities of isolated boomers and millennials each determined to protect “their values” and bemoaning the folly of the other.
Better still is if we can infect the “church” with this folly. There are any number of facile writers (bloggers especially!) with no particular education, training, or holiness who can be convinced that their mere experience of the “church” gives them authority to speak for a generation. By limiting their authority, such as it is, to their age, their rhetorical giftedness, and their testimony we can keep them from stumbling into any hard work whatsoever.
Never forget that hard work, intellectual or artistic, is a danger. It exposes cruel limits in the subject and causes him to relate to those outside of his class. If we can ever get anyone to base their entire argument on birth date, we will have gained a great victory. “Listen to me! I was born in 1963!” or “Listen to me! I was born in 1993!” are equally diabolical.
Of course, the Church cannot die or at least we have not yet found a way to protect even our gates against Her advance. I am optimistic if we can simply shift attention for the Church to the church, the parochial experience, we can at least empty Her of the living. Of the prayerful dead, and I shudder to mention them, we can do nothing as of yet.
Resentment is key. We have gotten men who otherwise would have been saints, think of the triumph of Robespierre, to wallow in blood through resentment. If someone has something someone else does not have, do not let the subject focus on the object of desire. Any love of any real object is dangerous to us as the accursed Diotima pointed out long ago.
Instead, let the point be resentment of the “privilege” of the other person. By all means, convince your patient of limits, Hell loves limits, and that if one man has a thing the other man has lost it. Do not let him imagine, even for a moment, that the economy or government or Church can grow to allow new sources of wealth, power, or holiness. Make everything a zero sum game.
Focus your patient always on what the other person has and how “unfair” it is. The universe, curse it, is still just, but it is never fair. Our Enemy will be on the side of “blessing” the patient with gifts, both in this life and the next, but never on the side of stripping “blessings” from someone else. Never forget our ingenuous Soviet experience where men felt noble for stealing and “redistributing” wealth. As for gifts in the world to come, it is easy to teach your patient to disregard those altogether. Rewards and justice that is “only” in heaven are cheats on this view . . . so that any misery to get goodies now can be justified as the only way to get goodness, truth, and beauty!
I see a tendency in your work to overemphasize the sexual aspects. Avoid this temptation to tempt. Sexual behavior is always dangerous to us as any lust can be transmuted by some means we do not yet understand to “love.” Once love begins, then shame, self-sacrifice, and all the other odious tools of the Enemy will begin as well.
The main thing is get people to think about sex while encouraging them to have as few relationships as possible. We cannot yet totally detach the imagination for real persons, but we are getting there. If your patient can learn to desire a photoshopped image or lust after a video game character, then he is well on his way. Real people will disappoint him at every turn!
Recall that our present policy is to detach the subjects from their roots, a process aided by the removal of most of them from the land and husbandry. By all means, encourage the patient to love everyone while allowing him to be as nasty as he wants to be to particular people. With careful handling, you can get the patient to steal from the local store, harming some small time merchant, while bemoaning the evils of the oppressive class system. By defending a new morality, he will feel justified in being harsh toward the “immoral,” as defined by his own subjective morality!
Soon the “bad guys” will simply be the people he does not like or who have rejected his generation’s morality.
There has always been a danger of honor amongst thieves, always the chance that when we form a cabal to rule the world the old morality will spring up in their midst. The minute a man or woman starts sacrificing his or her desires for something truly higher and external to self, danger arises for us. We need a subjective morality where the patient is tricked into “sacrificing” for his own prejudices in the name of “love!”
In this way, we can create secular Inquisitors without the danger of the creed.
If we can accomplish this, it will be a real advance on our Soviet experiment (now lamentably ended). The Soviets always held to external doctrine, Marxism, that if hopelessly false still partook too much in the ideas of the Enemy. The entire story of Marxism aped their ideas, so poetic and so powerful, of a “fall” from a perfect state and the hope of redemption. That we changed the story and got them to focus on this life was a positive, but idealism was always cropping up.
Really, in some ways, we are better off with the former KGB officers now running Russia and directly corrupting the faithful than the Utopianism of the Marxist faith. The present Orthodox leader who cozies up to power in exchange for a new Rolex is less dangerous than the young Marxist who actually believes Marx and will sacrifice his own desires for the Revolution. Judas betrayed Jesus for money, but Simon the Zealot let his ideology be transformed.
Don’t forget this lesson: zealots are dangerous.
Saints can be made of such sinners.
But we have advanced since 1989 and now can produce a generation who can be morally by simply changing a Facebook profile picture. This works on both the “right” and the “left!” In fact, recall that both sides are our own creation getting the subjects to embrace packages of ideas without thinking about them in the name of thinking for self. Still there is danger in the Democrat or Republican operative: he or she might sacrifice for the party.
Instead, we now encourage subjects to hate those who stand against their own desire. If we are lucky, we will produce a generation of people who will sacrifice their own happiness in the attempt to gain their own happiness. We have gotten beyond the dangers of humanism to the worship of a single human’s desires: self.
Finally, if at any moment your subject is ashamed of his selfishness encourage him to worry about his shame. Teach him to be ashamed of shame and to blame some external circumstance for it, no matter what the circumstance. That holy men and women can be produced from any external circumstance is an advantage our Enemy still has, but it is easy to make this generation forget it.
Keep the focus on self. If we could only have gotten the prodigal to blame the Father for not coming and sitting with him in the pig stye, and the Father to feel guilt for not doing so, then we would have been well on our way to victory.
I remain ravenously,
Your Uncle Screwtape