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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 14:59:12
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The most obvious way to increase population was waken the hundreds of millions whom past governments had from time to time put into cold storage all over the world in order to solve the unemployment problem. There was at first great reluctance to do this, for a reason which reveals the incredible stupidity and superstition of the human race in this period. Declining population, far from solving the unemployment problem, had increased it. Demand was constantly declining. Mass-productive machinery could less easily be worked at a profit. Though the rulers saw clearly enough with one side of their minds that an increase in population was needed, on the other side they were painfully aware of the unemployment problem, and reluctant to add to the stagnant pool of potential labour. Consequently, though there was much discussion about the cold-storage houses, nothing was done. Meanwhile population continued to decline.

Beyond this point I see nothing. The life of those future men is wholly beyond my range. I emerged from my vision in weariness but also in peace and joy, for it seemed that those new men, though I could not keep pace with the movement of their minds, were loyal to the light and well equipped to serve it, loyal to that same light which my own generation so vaguely sees and falteringly serves.

To appreciate his contentions it is necessary to understand the mentality of the oligarchs. They were in the main sincere believers in their respective empires, and in imperialism itself. Their conscious minds were those of devoted, meticulously accurate civil servants who felt that their society was in danger of disintegration through an enthusiasm beyond their comprehension. On the whole they disliked the orgy of torture with which it was hoped to break the movement, but they believed it necessary. Moreover most of them unwittingly derived satisfaction from it, for most were frustrated spirits, teased by an unrecognized itch of resentment against those who had maintained spiritual liberty and integrity by rebelling against the established barbarism. Moreover in the Russian and the Chinese cultures there were elements which favoured cruelty. The Russians were a kindly not a cruel people, but in the pseudo-mysticism of degenerate Russia there was in some respects a return to prerevolutionary ideas. Suffering was conceived of as the supreme purifier and the supreme source of illumination. Consequently the infliction of suffering on others might sometimes be laudable. The Chinese, on the other hand, though so fastidious and so friendly, had always been liable both to cold cruelty and to passionate vindictiveness. The Chinaman who had ‘run amok’ did but manifest an impulse which was latent in all his race, and indeed in all mankind, though with less dramatic expression.

But the forwards did not leave matters thus. They suggested also a hope and a policy. The hope lay in the fact that, after all, the snowstorm of physical and potentially spiritual universes must come from somewhere. The ‘titans’ were not the whole ultimate reality. And so it might after all be that further discipline and contemplation might enable man to penetrate the utter blackness of the sky and come at last face to face with the true light.

Whatever the defects of the Chinese tradition, in one respect it had been indirectly of immense value. Among both rich and poor the cult of the family had persisted throughout Chinese history, and had survived even the modern revolutionary period. In many ways this cult, this obsession, had been a reactionary influence, but in two respects it had been beneficial. It had prevented decline of population; and, more important, it had prevented a decline of intelligence. In China as elsewhere the more intelligent had tended to rise into the more comfortable circumstances. But whereas in Europe and America the more prosperous classes had failed to breed adequately, in China the inveterate cult of family ensured that they should do so. In post-revolutionary China the old love of family was a useful stock on which to graft a new biologically-justified respect not merely for family as such but for those stocks which showed superior intelligence or superior social feeling. Unfortunately, though public opinion did for a while move in this direction, the old financial ruling families, seeing their dominance threatened by upstart strains, used all their power of propaganda and oppression to stamp out this new and heretical version of the old tradition. Thus, though on the whole the Chinese Empire was richer in intelligence than the Russian, it seriously squandered its resources in this most precious social asset. And later, as I shall tell, the reactionary policy of the ruling caste threatened this great people with complete bankruptcy of mental capacity.

At last a new invention, one of the very few which the declining species managed to achieve, brought temporary aid. A biochemist produced a method of putting human beings into a state of suspended animation from which, he said, they could be easily wakened, ‘fresh and young’, after a sleep of many years. The world-government, believing that unemployment was a passing phase, and that later on there would be a great need of labour, set about building in every country a system of cold-storage warehouses where unwanted human beings could be deposited until the times changed. The unemployed and their families were forcibly stored in these warehouses. The struggling creatures were chained down, lying shoulder to shoulder on tiers of shelves inside huge tanks, which were then filled first with a succession of gases and finally with a preserving liquid. Millions of men, women, and children in almost every country were thus stored for future use. Though the lives of the workers were almost intolerably arid and distressful, they did all in their power to avoid being sent to the cold-storage houses. The will for the light expressed itself in them as a blind will for active life, however abject. But a few welcomed this opportunity of escape, without irrevocable extinction; believing that in their next phase of active life they would have better opportunities of expressing themselves. In most of these, the acquiescence in suspended animation was at bottom an expression of the will for darkness, though rationalized to satisfy the still smouldering will for light. For the individual in whom the will for the light is strong and clear finds his heart inextricably bound up with the struggle of the forces of light in his native place and time. Much as he may long for the opportunity of fuller self-expression in a happier world, he knows that for him self-expression is impossible save in the world in which his mind is rooted. The individual in whom the will for the light is weak soon persuades himself that his opportunity lies elsewhere. And so, as the spirit of the race was progressively undermined through ever-deteriorating physical and psychological conditions, acquiescence in ‘the deep sleep’ became more and more widespread.


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