A ‘Conspiracy-tape’ Letter
Conspirators ought to fear that in attempting to hurry us they awaken us to a sense of our awful situation. For they who see our position as it really is, must never forget how totally different it ought to appear to us. They have introduced a change of direction in our course which is already carrying us out of our true orbit; but we must be made to imagine that all the choices which have effected this change of course are necessary, trivial and revocable. We must not be allowed to suspect that we are now, however slowly, heading right away from the sun on a line which will carry us into the cold and dark of utmost space.
For this reason they are almost glad that we are still a ‘democracy’. They know there are dangers in this; but anything is better than our realising the break we have made with true freedom and our natural rights. As long as we retain externally the habits of a democracy we can still be made to think of ourselves as those who have had a change of government but whose individual state is much the same as it was a few weeks ago. And while we think that, they do not have to contend with our explicit rejection of a definite, fully recognised, corrupt and malignant conspiracy that seeks to overthrow our freedom and give conspirators total control, but only with our vague, though uneasy, feeling that something isn’t quite right of late.
They ought to give this dim uneasiness careful handling. If our uneasiness gets too strong it may wake us all up and spoil the whole game. On the other hand, if they suppress our uneasiness entirely through controlled ‘fact checking’, no-platforming, and removing posts — which the more awake in liberty among us will probably not allow them to do quietly — they lose an element in the situation which can be turned to their advantage and our loss.
If such an uneasy feeling is allowed to live in us, but not allowed to become irresistible and flower into real rejection or revolution, it has one invaluable tendency where conspirators are concerned. It increases our reluctance to think about the awfulness of our situation. All humans at nearly all times have some such reluctance; but when thinking of the awfulness of our situation involves facing and intensifying a whole vague cloud of half-conscious fear and helplessness, this reluctance is increased tenfold. We hate every idea that suggests we are being slowly trapped and stripped of rights and freedoms by tyrants, just as men in financial embarrassment hate the very sight of their bank statement. In this state we will not necessarily omit, but will increasingly dislike, anything that reminds us of our buried suspicion that something isn’t right in London, Washington, Geneva and The Hague. We will think about it as little as we feel we can, and forget it as soon as possible. We will dread nothing so much as credible information that supports that which we fear. Our aim will be to let sleeping dogs lie, even if it allows woke wolves to be liars.
As this condition becomes more fully established, conspirators will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of staying under cover. As our uneasiness and our reluctance to face it cut us off more and more from reality, and as habit renders mind numbing distractions harder to forgo, it will be discovered that anything other than the dreadful truth attracts our wandering attention. We will no longer need a good book, or film, which we really like, to keep us from seeing the truth; a rerun of a show we barely enjoyed the first time round will do. We will rather spend our time not only in conversation we enjoy with people we like, but in conversations with those we care nothing about on subjects that bore us, long into the night on social media. Rather than face reality we can be kept up late at night, not roistering, but in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that we are only half aware of them as we keep scrolling, until we are too weak and fuddled to shake it off.
These may seem like small things to hold us back, but do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which we are separated from possession of the facts. It does not matter how small the individual distractions are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge us away from the light of freedom and into the grip of tyranny. For the conspirators the safest road in bringing us into their hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.
Note: The 12th letter in “The Screwtape Letters”, by C. S. Lewis, which inspired this post, resonated so many similarities with the machinations of ‘wannabe’ world rulers, that it’s almost a parable for current affairs. Bernays, author of the infamous ‘Propaganda’ would possibly approve of such an approach, but I prefer truth and freedom.