Whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants the ruling class makes Liberalism the prime bogey

We have been reading C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” recently, and though we have found the book to be an excruciatingly dull and tedious defense of Christianity, we have found one – just one – memorable quote which may inadvertently give some insight into the current abysmal political situation in the US, where two phony “opponents” in our phony “democracy” are pretending to be presenting the US electorate with some kind of choice between two evils.  In “The Screwtape Letters” something similar is going on.

The book is composed of a series of letters from a senior demon in the pay of “the Devil”.  This upper-level fiend is tutoring a junior devil on the finer points of how to lure men and women to their doom by causing them to commit sin, thereby allowing their souls to be harvested by “the Devil”.  All very silly stuff, to be sure.  But we have this neat little bit of advice being given by the arch demon Screwtape to his pupil Wormwood which seems to have been plagiarized by Karl Rove and kept close to his heart (if he indeed has one) all these many years.  The Democrats, in a desperate effort to keep up with the latest methods of squeezing profits out of the working class on behalf of their capitalist masters have long been working from this same playbook as well:

“”The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers.  We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic.  The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.  Thus we make it fashionable to expose the dangers of enthusiasm at the very moment when they are all really becoming worldly and lukewarm;  a century later, when we are really making them all Byronic and drunk with emotion, the fashionable outcry is directed against the dangers of the mere ‘understanding’.  Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritanism; and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey.”

— C.S. Lewis, “The Screwtape Letters”, HarperSanFrancisco, 2001



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