How global networks drive the efficiency curve of Evil (and why it will screw them in the end).
"Diversity is our strength" is ironically true but not in the way they think it is. What Screwtape et al really hate is diversity of loyalties. In the days of nations, each with its own character and prejudices, people could never have been sucked into these global networks of sin. But the internet has come close to abolishing the nations. Bad actors and bad ideas within every nation can now join up like drops of vomit running together.
To make matters worse, evil has a built-in advantage in networked spaces. Good doesn't seek social support for its ideas, because good already has support in God. The good look to heaven while the bad look to each other, always and everywhere searching for accomplices within human social frameworks to prop up their (ultimately futile) stand against the Eternal. So evil has an ineradicable advantage in forming networks... and now, it has the technology to create them on the global scale.
The silver lining is that the internet can also be used in the way it was meant to be used, as a communications tool, to bring together the remnants of Christendom, which used to coexist comfortably with national differences, but will have to look different in this post-national era: truly global, and yet as always, a body not a network.
"The implication seems to be that we cannot lead ourselves effectively according to our principles, or don’t want to assume the risk of trying. Instead we look to outsource the work to distant and powerful strangers who we know almost nothing about."
This is really the crux of the issue: That most people have given over their sense of courage and responsibility to "leaders," "experts," and "authorities." They *assume* — because they have been told repeatedly — that these "authorities" have their best interests at heart. Well, first of all, those "authorities" have no hearts: They long ago sacrificed those for cushy gigs and other perquisites, and they've all been blackmailed in black-and-white with their own perversions. And getting out of the death-cult isn't like "hey, I don't wanna do this anymore" and then walk out the door, if you get my drift.
Yes, most people are complacent and therefore extremely weak in mind, body, and spirit, and like you said, they become wrathful when called on the carpet over their stupidity and/or hypocrisy. Taking real risks most often involves making mistakes and amending them: This is one way that we build moral character, not by having someone *tell us* what it is, or worse, allowing someone else to become the martyr so that we can continue our slothful, uncreative, unthinking, spiritually wasteful ways.
Thanks again, Mark, for a well-written, thought-inspiring article. I could go on but I've got students about to ring my doorbell! 🎹🎸🥁🎤
EDIT: Liked and cross-posted!
Excellent extrapolation of Screwtape’s days of yore into our current digital realm. Think the totality of sin is still equal to the sum of it’s parts, revealing a stunning array of fractions reverberating within the digital matrix. Agree that the appearance of buy-in poses a significant challenge to evil, due to the refractive nature of sin upon confrontation.
Am thrilled at your prospects of becoming a fly in the proverbial ointment! Can only hope that you will aspire to becoming a globopsycho’s worst nightmare.
As they slowly defile our warm and fuzzies, cute and cuddlies, austere and revered, we can continue to dismantle their illusions with a stark assessment of reality, branded with ubiquitous truth.
I don't care if the odds are 10,000 to 1, I am on the side of the creator and creation.
Fantastic, Mark. I think Screwtape isn't happy, although his ilk usually shies away from intelligence and nuance because they believe it's weakness and beneath them.
I liked your remark that thoughts can be sinful. This is actually confirmed by experts working with serial criminals (Inside the Criminal Mind): the few ones who achieve reintegration only do so because they managed to radically change their thinking, and all of it. Thinking always precedes and leads to action, one way or another, and even small actions can be catastrophic spiritually. Which isn't to say I want to guilt-trip people who have "bad" thoughts at times, we all do. As long as we catch ourselves it's all good. But thoughts do become ingrained fast, and the road to hell isn't just a highway, it's a damn flood.
Thought provoking and interesting read!
Terrific article. Very, very little that I'd even quibble with.
I haven't read enough C.S. Lewis aside from his most famous work, of course. I need to track down a copy of Screwtape once I'm able. Sounds extremely relevant.
Dear Mark and Shari--
C.S. Lewis was my teacher's teacher, and one thing among others I remember from Screwtape was that the devil's effectiveness depended on people not seeing him.
I love the good-guy side, where real men and real women are brave, free, and intelligent, as we seek our own interest and help other good people. That's what concentrates against the worthless enemy through the system dynamics they have set up, as they draw weakling imbecilic slaves to their side.
As I sometimes taunt the bastards, singing to the tune of "The Old Grey Mule,"
"The Old Illuminati just ain't what they used to be....
ain't what they used to be....
ain't what they used to be."
And as for us, here's a song I've been listening to by one of our friends in Russia.
I love it when the Don overflows and the groves turn green in the spring
And the fog spreads over the river, oh how I love it
I love it when a clear, crimson dawn is reflected in the window
And the red sun shines in the domes, oh, how much I love it.
I love it when a familiar song heartily rips my soul
And all my relatives are in the circle at the table, oh how I love it.
I love it when there is a church holiday in a quiet monastery.
At a prayer service, they call on St. Nicholas the Prelate.
I love it when the hot prowess inspires fear in the infidels.
And I love the good glory of the Cossacks, oh how I love it!
And I love how you mock them!
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. BECAUSE narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13--14
Strange point about all of this that my study of the Sermon on the Mount has brought to my attention. On the subject of so much of humanity's following the broad and easy way, in context the broad way of NPCness, assign the cause to the narrowness of the Way to Life. More modern versions reduce this 'because' at the beginning of v.14 to a simple connecting conjunction but the Greek seems to support the causative nature of the connection. What I am trying to get at, is that the comparative wideness and ease of the path to destruction is not chosen by Screwtape or his dark master, but by the nature of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
He is narrow and He is difficult. Mark seems to be assuming that the demons have chosen this path and don't realise how badly it will turn out for them, but I think that the terms of the war were inevitable based on the unchanging and unchangeable Way to Life. We think of NPCness as something of the modern world but it is really a perfect description of almost everyone in antiquity, of the pagan world as a whole.
Humanity has always realised that a spark of divinity is required to make an individual, hence the demigod ancestry of all of the heroes. But the Gospel allows that seed to be planted widely. What has changed about the war is the exact opposite of the way that we perceive it. We are now more than we have ever been, though we do not gain our significance from numbers or accumulate into blobs or mobs.
I said, a long time ago I don't remember how long, that the long term impact of the internet would not be based on any of the things that we usually consider important about it, but on how you and I use it to spread the Gospel. And that is the truth. I spent 15 years being the solitary 'Grace Guy' before I ever found another. And the 'Grace Guy' numbers in any place are tiny, but if the strange magic conjured up by DARPA allows us to connect the power that is unleashed will truly change the world. This is the vision that should make our enemies afraid, an army made of Kierkegaardian individuals, Athanasius Contra Mundi multiplied.
For me this resonates with Langan's idea of a parasitic divergence. The divide between the big sinners and the NPCs becomes greater than it ever was in the past. And whereas previously a hierarchy of sinners (fewer in number) was necessary to sustain the one at the apex, now the middle tiers have been leveled down to the bottom. The food may not taste as good, but the quantity is now what sustains the top feeder(s). The goal is to lock that system into place, to create a stable feeding ground.
"...This is due to the inherent inefficiencies of freedom, individuality, creativity and openness to debate. But the end products are men and women who have been tested and tempered in the flames... Who would you take to war with you? A hundred honed Rohirrim cavalry, or a thousand gibbering goblins of Mordor?"
This really spoke to me. It reminds me of something I saw online. Some guy invented a pair of glasses that generates ChatGPT responses that scroll past your eyes in response to things other people say to you. Then, instead of responding spontaneously, you're supposed to just say whatever the language model says.
There's an implicit message of "adopt this or be left behind" with a lot of this tech, but I think the opposite is true. How much of an advantage will you have if you DON'T use that crutch?