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Science And Morality

by Charles MacFarland
Chapter 11


SCITECH XI Living Right.

Science changes human morality. By now, we've given so many examples of this that the implications should be clear. People who wish to live a successful and happy life in the twenty-first century should adapt their lives to the demands and conditions of Scitech. This goes for groups (such as nations) as well as individuals.

NATIONS

For nations the chief change required is an end to war. In Agsoc, war was the chief tool of foreign policy. The way to get rich and powerful was to beat up on your neighbours and take over their lands and goods. Many great empires were founded this way, and these empires did advance civilization. But this way of progress is ended. War under Scitech is simply too terrible to be considered, and no net benefits can be expected.

Under Scitech, the way to be prosperous is to be sure all your neighbours are prosperous. Scitech has created a world that is so interrelated and so full of potential wealth that the possibility of being wealthy at the expense of other countries is obsolete. The way for any nation to be wealthy is for all nations to be wealthy by working together. This was the lesson of the Marshall Plan.

Of course, whether humanity can learn this lesson of no more wars before destroying itself is still an open question. Can we adapt our minds to the new way of thinking? The last fifty years, though plagued by small wars, give us hope that there will be no more large war. But there is still time in the twenty-first century to destroy ourselves.

To adapt to Scitech and end war, nations also have to give up another cherished tradition: intolerance. In Agsoc, it was normal and in fact beneficial for each society to have its own customs and religion, and to deplore the customs and religion of all other societies as silly and degenerate. This helped an Agsoc society to be more uniform and aggressive, and was the backbone of many a great empire.

In Scitech, however, intolerance of others' customs and religion has to be changed. In American history, the cost of intolerance has been vividly illustrated. America has always had an underclass: the Irish, the Jews, the south Europeans, the blacks, the hispanics, and many others. This has always led to social friction and disorder, and in the case of the black slaves led to the Civil War.

In the twentieth century, America faced World War II, which was caused largely by intolerance. The social ferment of the blacks and hispanics in America has been violent and is still going on. It has become obvious, again and again, that in a Scitech world intolerance is destructive for both sides.

Scitech celebrates variety. We live in a larger world with Scitech, through television, newspapers, magazines, travel, and the wonderful education opportunities that Scitech wealth supports. We know cultures around the world and we enjoy a historical perspective unparalled in history.

The result is that we can sample and enjoy many ways of life and in some cases even adapt the best parts of them into our own lives. There is no longer any need to feel threatened because other people do things differently. If we, and they, observe each other, without the threat of war or coertion, we can enjoy our differences and sometimes benefit from them.

INDIVIDUALS

For individuals the variety of Scitech means an end to addiction. Addiction is for individuals what intolerance is for nations: a failure to enjoy Scitech variety.

An addiction begins when we find something we enjoy. We turn to that pleasure again and again, which is only natural, but the addict focuses on it and turns to it excessively. This is self-defeating, because most enjoyments lose their pleasantness if used excessively. The addict hammers at them, taking larger and larger doses, using them excessively until the pleasure is virtually nil.

This is the case with television in our society. Television is actually a dazzling pleasure if you only watch it once in awhile. Even silly programs can be enjoyed for their silliness, and shallow programs for what they tell us about society. And there are in fact many fine programs.

But people turn on the tube again and again, night after night, and then they wonder why there's nothing on. They've worn off the charm. They've become jaded and depleted. Like any addict, they've reached the stage of exhaustion.

The greatest addiction in our society is romance. The man and woman meet, enjoy each other's company, and derive intense pleasure from it. So they focus on each other, and obsess on each other, and keep turning to their relationship, "forsaking all others," for their enjoyment of life.

In a few cases this works. There are couples who are so in tune with each other that they can go on deriving enjoyment from each other indefinitely, moreso than from anyone else. But this is rare. In most relationships, if pursued exhaustively, exhaustion sets in. The magic goes out of their romance, and indeed most of the enjoyment.

Romance is a form of intolerance, and as usual, it winds up hurting the folks who are intolerant the most. If jealousy sets in, the man cannot enjoy any other relationships with women, and the woman cannot enjoy any other relationships with men. Life for the couple, as well as the people around them, is poorer, which is usually the case with addictions and intolerance.

Many people, to be sure, consider romance to be natural for human beings. If so, we human beings are in for a bad time, because Scitech is plainly against it.

In Agsoc morality, as we've already seen, marriage was vital, because Agsoc is patriarchal and political power as well as wealth were inherited through the male line. This made marriage essential, and the double standard as well. Women were the personal property of their husbands, and women could have sex only within marriage, or else they would pay a terrible price.

In Scitech, these ideas have changed. Women are not willing to accept inferiority, nor should they. As far as anyone can see, women can function as well as men can in most areas of our Scitech world, like voting and employment and dealing with money. Scitech has made men and women equals, which is certainly a more appealing situation for everybody.

But it's hard on marriage and romance. Even in recent times, marriage worked well because the wife was a kind of satellite of her husband. If the man's job moved him to Chicago, off went the wife with him. She cooked and cleaned for him, and unless she was unusually strong, he spent the money he earned the way he chose. With equality, the pressures on romance has become terrific. Couples are torn apart by differing careers, differing ways of wishing to spend money, differing ideas on who does the chores, and especially the constant flood of variety and new ideas the Scitech world offers.

It seems to me that women, in gaining equality, need to give up the idea of romance. The idea that two completely free people can be locked up together seems obsolete. But I think people are only just beginning to realize this. As always, when people cling to obsolete ideas, the price is misery.

Of course, sometimes romance seems to work, and then everything is fine. But in our time, on an individual level, romance seems to cause more misery than anything else. Heartbreak, separation, arguments, money troubles, jealousy, even physical violence. If any make of car broke down and caused harm as often as romance does, no government would allow it on the road.

The only other competitor to romance for causing misery to individuals in our time is a related activity, raising kids. As we've seen, Scitech has made the job of raising kids very expensive as well as very time-consuming. Traditionally the money was provided by the man and the time by the woman. But now, in most cases, the man cannot earn enough money and the woman has to go to work too and so she doesn't have the time and anyway she wants her own life because she's a free modern woman so she tries to get the man to help with the chores and looking after the kids and he's got a career to think of for Christ's sake and she deserves something better and neither of them ever thought it would be like this and on top of it there's all the expense and . . . crash.

Another car that should never have been on the road.

Of course there are many other addictions to avoid. In our society Scitech has given us so much wealth that it is easy to get addicted to overeating or owning things or working, as well as the traditional addictions like gambling and drinking and smoking and other drugs.

Scitech is so powerful that the traditional addictions have probably become relatively unimportant. Gambling, drinking, smoking, and drugs, probably cause far less human misery than our modern addictions to television and romance and overeating and working and owning things. So it seems.

In any case, the formula for moral behaviour, and hence happiness, on an individual level in the Scitech world, seems plain. Scitech provides variety, and it also rewards variety. We need to avoid addictions of all kinds, and instead enjoy the variety that Scitech extends to us. We need especially to avoid romance and kids, and this will have the added benefit of helping to ease the pains of a grossly overpopulated world.

If we do have kids, we need to be prepared for a life of considerable effort and expense. If we do want romance, we need to be ready, not only for considerable effort and expense, but probably also a loss of considerable individual freedom. Anything else would be immoral. And being immoral, it won't make us happy anyway.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

Agsoc had its Ten Commandments, which everybody knows. They were good for their time, but their time, thank goodness, is gone.

Can we make a similar formula for our time? Can we make a Ten Commandments of Scitech?

Well, of course we can't. One of the major lessons of Scitech is that there are no commandments, no lessons from on high. There are only acts and their consequences, which we must evaluate as best we can, by our own standards.

But we can, if we like, run through the Ten Commandments of Agsoc, and see how Scitech has changed them.

I. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
ST. There are many gods, and intolerance of any gods, or of any peoples, is wrong.

II. Thou shalt make no graven images.
ST. Imagination is magical, and creates endless and wonderful variety. The more graven images you have, the better.

III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain.
ST. You should not take any pleasure in vain, or foolishly.

IV. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
ST. If Scitech succeeds, all days will be the Sabbath.

V. Honour thy father and thy mother.
ST. Honour thy father and thy mother, and all people, and all creatures, and the Earth.

VI. Thou shalt not kill.
ST. You shall not kill, and this time we mean it. No wars.

VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
ST. Enjoy sexual activity in all its forms. But be careful.

VIII. Thou shalt not steal.
ST. You shall not steal.

IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
ST. You should not bear children unless you are willing to accept the consequences, which will dramatically limit your life, and burden an over-populated world.

X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, or anything that is his.
ST. Wealth for anyone depends on wealth for everyone.

But we don't need to pontificate. The advantage of the Scitech world is that it allows us to see cultures and ideas from everywhere, from all times and places. We can take our ideas from the best of sources.

From the tribal world, we can take the idea that we are part of Nature, part of the Earth, and that whatever happens to the Earth happens to ourselves. Earth is a heritage to care for, not a dominion to exploit.

From the world of other religions, we can take ideas to feed the spirit, and know the varieties of paths there are to peace.

From the world of the past, we can study the miseries of Agsoc, and the adaptations we have to make to be happy.

SCITECH HAPPINESS.

On a personal level, the way to be happy in a Scitech society is easy. First, avoid the pitfalls, and second, cultivate the pleasures. Above all, avoid outmoded Agsoc ideals.

The major pitfalls are romance and having children. These are inordinately difficult because they are not suited to a Scitech world. Those people who cling to the idea that they are necessary to happiness are probably in for a bad time.

Scitech offers us great wealth, but another pitfall is using that wealth badly. You need to dedicate the necessary money to the things that are still expensive in our Scitech world, especially medical care and real estate (the latter mainly becaus of over-population). If you go in for romance and kids, these will probably swallow up all your money. Otherwise, there should be lots left for pleasures.

Scitech itself offers pitfalls, as we saw in Essay 5, because Scitech is sometimes used unwisely or has bad unforeseen consequences. As an individual, you cannot always escape these; the person who is careful about energy and gasolene use will be engulfed in the Greenhouse Effect as fully as the fossil fuel guzzler. Sometimes, though, you can avoid popular calamities, for example by living well and being careful what you eat.

Cultivating the pleasures of Scitech is easy. You merely have to seek out and learn about the pleasures, and then be free and open to enjoy them: television, travel, games, good foods, good drugs, sexual pleasures, collecting, creating, and cultivating. Above all, cultivate yourself.

If you do this, it will be easy to avoid addictions, the main personal pitfalls of a Scitech world. We have so much wealth that addictions are easy. Learning about the variety of Scitech pleasures, and avoiding the Scitech pitfalls that cause misery, are the best ways to control addictions.

If you follow these simple principles, you can hardly miss having a contented life, unless you have the bad luck to be struck by one of those few diseases or calamaties that Scitech still hasn't learned to solve.

Doesn't seem too hard, does it? Scitech makes it easy. After all, that's what Scitech is for.

THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

Humanity began in the Tribal Ecotype. Life was easy, there were hardly any diseases, and the population was low. It was a pretty good situation, and maybe we should never have left it. But these wasn't much wealth, and there was hardly any change, or progress.

Into this world Agsoc fell like a bombshell. Sowing seeds and herding animals seemed like a good idea at the time. No one could have imagined the overwhelming effects they would have.

But humanity entered a difficult time. Farming became hard work, as the population grew. People got all sorts of disease from the larger populations too, as well as living with animals and staying in one place, causing bad water supplies. Cities grew up, and that meant kings, and bureaucracies, and police, and taxes, and oppression. There was lots of wealth, but some people seemed to get all of it before long, usually the king. Before long, there were wars.

It was all so miserable for the common people that religion soon had to explain why they were so miserable. Misery had to be made into a virtue, and soon the religion itself was making people miserable. Priests were everywhere, and they seemed to spend all their time making up rules for misery.

But there were good things about Agsoc. Architecture began, and all the arts. There were magnificent buildings, and soon magnificent songs and music and paintings and sculptures in them. There were parts of life that were absolutely glorious.

There was lots more knowledge too. Mathematics began, to lay out the fields and make the buildings. The priests began astronomy. Writing began, to record it all. Soon writing itself became an art: history and plays and books. Civilization was full of wonderful things.

People even began making gadgets, to make life easier. That was another idea, like sowing seeds and herding animals, that had unforeseen consequences.

Humanity tumbled into the Scitech world. Soon Scitech began to solve the problems of Agsoc: diseases, and hard work, and the famines of over-population.

Scitech also solved the social problems. Scitech brought democracy to replace the kings and oppression. Scitech made the priests and wars obsolete.

Scitech, indeed, brought the best of both worlds. We have all the good qualities of the Tribal and Agsoc ecotypes. Like the tribes, we have free time, simple living, democracy, peace, and good health. Like agsoc, we have wealth and a wide variety of pleasures.

At least, this is the happy situation that Scitech is trying to create. But just as when Agsoc overwhelmed Tribal society, there are lots of adaptations to be made. That's the point of these essays.

Some people would rather die than give up their outmoded ideas. And they do. The price of clinging to outmoded Agsoc ideas is nearly always misery, and sometimes catastrophe.

But for those who adapt to Scitech, and the virtues that are inherent in it, the result is generally happiness. Scitech is the high road to happiness. You could say, virtue is its own reward.

 


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