I wish you’d all read Dave Eggers’ ’ new book, “The Every”, and tell me what you think. Especially the science mavens: is his scenario possible?
Here’s the central conundrum: people behave better when they know they are being watched, right? Sunshine is the best disinfectant, etc. Seriously, that is unquestionably true, isn’t it, it’s why we install security cameras, why we have Right to Know Acts.
If you don’t like that idea: what? you WANT to encourage crime and abuse?
That tension is one theme of the book. The other is: choice. Is it really good for people, is it even pleasant? Decisions can be agonizing, no doubt about that. One character articulates the undeniable truth that religions are always about finding THE path. ThE way, THE truth…you know the rest. THE One “whose service is perfect freedom”. (Get that? Service =freedom? How’s that for Newsspeak? Just sayin’….). So one of the goals of the global Corp, the eponymous Every, is to eliminate choice. People will only be able to get what’s “best” for them. And what they are getting WILL be good quality, and cheaper, , if someone who Knows Best controls manufacturing and food production. That’s the upside.
On Thanksgiving we celebrate (or we traditionally did) an act of volition by the Pilgrim Fathers. Kinda; they had already left England for Leiden, but they and their kids were getting Dutchified, which they didn’t like, plus King James was threatening to withhold anti-Spanish aid from the Dutch if they didn’t cede him back control over the expat colony. It’s complicated. So they applied to the King for a charter to Virginia and got it, not with an explicit guarantee of religious freedom, but a tacit understanding that if they didn’t bother James, he would t bother them. What they really wanted was religious hegemony—their own. (And Thank God for that!)
Now, of course, we hafta see this little band of, like, 25 Puritans (half the passenger on the Mayflower were not religious separatists, cue the Mayflower Compact) as vicious, selfish colonizers and oppressors.
Is there any such thing as “brave” any more? Doesn’t that word imply aggression or at least selfishness? Oh yeah and above all it implies individual choice and conscious risk. It’s brutal. It’s …brutISH.
Here’s the kicker: yes, choice CAN be that way, and submission, “meekness” CAN be virtuous and desirable if you’re focused on society as a whole. Can anybody deny that? WHO shall “ inherit the Earth”?
So if you read the book, please let me know: do you think it’s time to halt “progress”? And is halting the destruction of privacy and choice even desirable?
Wishing everyone a magnificent Thanksgiving feast in our land of plenty, the home of the brave!