Required: In the three forms of drama, discuss the rise and fall of Industrial Man.
Angels take exams. Of course they do. They have to learn, just like you.
She-He-It, a clumsy term, perhaps not the best that we can do for an immaterial entity without gender or digestion, although it will have to digest and pass out a lot of material in order to pass its exam. Let's call it Angelic Entity or Angelic Examinee or even Angelic Examinor or better still, just AE for short. Anyway, this disembodied spirit was on a learning curve, just like You, I and Everything else. Now, you really didn't think Existence or your awareness of it, was pointless, did you? There are arrangements for opening even the most hard shelled atheist materialist, and its best to avoid them.
Anyway - we can hardly begin with 'One day' or 'Once upon a time' can we, when speaking or writing of the activities of entities not constrained by time?
'As Above, So Below' - you were told, even if you didn't believe it. Who you know is undeniably important both Above and Below, but even Friends of God may need little helpers, and those messengers or helpers have to know stuff and be able to do things, just like the management and staff in an army, a bureaucracy or a corporation. The Company of Heaven, The Heavenly Choirs, the Heavenly Host (and the Infernal Legions), the Celestial Hierarchy, all are rather like their earthly counterparts, at least to human understanding.
Some of the success of the British and Chinese Empires, for instance, depended on their use of competitive examinations to prove knowledge and ability to justify promotion to more senior positions of responsibility within their governments and organisations. Therefore its not really surprising that one fine morning - if that's when you want it to be- this Angel was sitting - if that's the posture you wish It to adopt - an examination.
AE, in researching the history of the Industrial Revolution had consulted the Akashic and many other records. He had noted that although conditions had seemed propitious on earlier occasions, such as in Ptolemaic Alexandria and medieval China, it had actually happened first in England and that statistics showed a sudden and sustained rise in average income per head, combined with growth in the number of heads, from about 1800. AE had been pleased to come across a book or the psychic imprint of a book, which explained it all. This was 'A Farewell to Alms', by George Clark . This had referred to the famous Rev. Thomas Malthus who had explained that population increased to the limit of subsistence so that mass attempts to raise the incomes of the poor were fruitless, because they would breed themselves back into poverty. He had been right, right up to the time he wrote in 1798, but since then had been spectacularly wrong. Clark's book seemed to be the victim of a similar irony, for it had been published in 2005, just about the time of peak-oil and just before the beginning of the financial crashes which had marked the start of the downturn. He had not acknowledged the special role of non-renewable fossil fuels in enabling this sudden rise and subsequent decline. He had however highlighted the other factor, the intellectual and moral side which had enabled those people to recognise and respond to the physical opportunity.(Coal and oil had been known and even used to a small extent long,long before.) There had been a long period of preparation in Britain, of effectively evolutionary pressure working to promote intelligence, invention and industrious sober behaviour via reproductory success.He had shown that the main factor in economic growth had been intellectual capital, intelligence applied to means of production.
The results however had not been as expected. It had been amusing to see that despite all the moans about exploitation of the working class, the main long term beneficiaries of industrialization had been the unskilled workers, who were enabled to live better than kings of old - at least in material terms, and without their worries and responsibilities. There had been truth in the saying that the only thing worse than being exploited by capitalists, was not being exploited by capitalists.The differential income of skilled workers over unskilled had declined, not risen, as more and more intellectual capital was created and applied. Later of course in the era of the crooked banksters when they controlled both politics and the economy and also the media forming the public mind, wealth had been drained from the public to the tiny number of top crooks, but initially the classical economists had been correct in predicting that competition between producers would chiefly benefit their customers.
The book was interesting for other reasons. It showed that the average living standards of the population even of the wealthiest and most technically advanced countries, although fluctuating with population, had not substantially risen for thousands of years, or ever! The people of ancient Babylonia seemed to have been about as well off as those of Britain before 1800, and so probably had been those of the stone age.
That had been a slap in the face for those on the Path of Progress. It was curious to note that living standards had risen for about a century after the Black Death, so workers were better off in the mid 15th century than they were to be again before the early 19th, as population grew again.
Then the wet fish reversed and hit the faces of the beneficiaries of their ancestors intelligence and diligence, causing them to slip on a banana skin. Having got to the top, they'd never had it so good, relaxed their manners and morals, accepted a lot of specious nonsense, lost their way and their identity, and their successors found themselves going downhill to extinction, once more under the laws of the Rev. Malthus, but working in the reverse direction.
So far so usual really. What was different about Industrial Man? Put a beggar on horseback and watch him ride to the devil. It was as if The Gods, for their amusement, had given him vast resources to see what he would do with them. Perhaps not a new idea, but unprecedented in material terms.
What had he done with them? In one way it was a comic situation where an heir receives an unexpected inheritance and wastes it; or one of those characters who wins a fortune in a lottery and is unable to cope, allowing the wealth to deteriorate his already weak character until it had been dissipated and its temporary possessor reduced to a situation even worse than he had previously experienced. In another it allowed his vanity and character flaws to expand and become even more visible and risible.
Had they taken the opportunities of greater numbers and information and opportunities presented by the huge expansion of wealth to devise and implement great and noble religions, philosophies, or literary and artistic achievements? Merely to ask the question was to indulge in humour.
Had the ignorant and toiling masses, now more numerous and far,far less constrained by poverty, short lives, restricted possibilities in life and narrow education, liberated themselves and produced mighty works worthy to rank with the best in the achievements of humanity? Ha!Ha! An answer in the range between 'evidently not', and 'not evidently' sufficed to dispose of the hopes of all those earnest reformers and eager revolutionaries, whose violence, desecration and oppression had been justified by such a claim on behalf of anonymous masses. Sows ears and silk purses came to mind.
Had the huge numbers of ordinary people without much ambition or talent, at least taken the increased chances for being useful,helpful, happy and charitable; strengthening their souls, their families, their communities and their world? Cue more laughter.
How had the men of wealth and power and talent used their increased opportunities? Had they taken the chances unrecognised, undesired and ignored by the swinish masses whose concerns seldom rose above their bellies? Had they created a great era worthy of their unique and unprecedented and apparently unrepeatable situation? Would it be long remembered for its great art and architecture, its literature philosophy and science, its justice and civilisation; a golden age which had enabled and expressed the positive potentials of their people? How would their era compare with others? There had certainly been a lot of science and technology, mostly devoted to greed and destruction; not a strong claim to lasting fame. Huge but ephemeral building constructions, not ranking with the achievements of the Megalithic were not even to be mentioned in the same breath as the temples of ancient Egypt, the Gothic Cathedrals, the palaces of the Renaissance. As architecture of culture, piety and power, office blocks, shopping malls and housing estates ranged between the risible and the contemptible. As did the modern art associated with them. Pigs had better taste than the swinish modern successors to the wealthy and prominent patrons of bygone art and culture; they never perpetrated such monstrosities.
Of course it hadn't been all waste. While still vigorous and intelligent and well organised and somewhat moral they had applied their strength, augmented by the new inventions of their ingenuity,to resisting and rolling back the evil barbarism of Islam - including their worldwide slave trade -and had enhanced civilisation and its opportunities in a century of major peace around the world.The Pax Brittanica had been even greater than the Pax Augusta. Then evil had overwhelmed them in the calamitous 20th century.
AE envisioned proud Prometheus, who had risked and suffered so much to enlighten Man, stealing the conscious fire of the gods on his behalf. There he was before his 'eyes', chained to his Caucasian rock with the eagle of Zeus gnawing at his liver. What did he now think of the results of his benefaction? 'They're fools, nearly all of them', had been his response. 'They thought it was to keep their caves warm, as if I suffered thus for their comfort. Of course they're not grateful, even for that! They'll whine and moan, complain about the price of fuel, protest any infringement of their inalienable right to Lechery, Luxury and Satiety, and go sniveling and groaning into the great darkness when it comes for them and the lights go out.Good riddance. I always knew the herd to be fools, although I never foresaw the form their folly would take. I did it for the philosophical few, and I still do not regret it.'
AE pondered how that divine fire cased in a tube, had through intelligent invention and application, become the fire in the boiler of the steam engines which had driven the Industrial Revolution, and then the petrol engine which had permitted mass mobility, and the ingenious electrical successors which had given cheap computing to be played with as toys and spies.
AE wondered about the fall of Lucifer. Perhaps he had fallen for aeons as sunlight upon the earth, to be compressed and stored as coal and oil to eventually become fuel for the age of Industrial Man. "Yes, it amuses me" he heard the voice of Lucifer, or was it Fenris? say. "I was cast down, constrained, and now my power has been released. Is it time for Armageddon, or even Ragnarok?" "Now they've unleashed a deeper older binding of power within the atom, reaching greedily and blindly for wealth and dominion, blundering in regions where the angels fear to tread. Doom shall come against them, though they be unprepared."
AE and his guests continued to watch the play of Man. His long struggle between the constraints of physical capacity on the one hand and his developing intellectual powers and moral intentions on the other. What had this evolutionary pressure produced? What had happened when the constraints had been eased?
There was the image of a compassionate lad who had seen a caterpillar on a branch struggling to emerge from its chrysalis as a beautiful butterfly. The lad saw that it was making little progress and might die before it succeeded, so he carefully and compassionately used a sharp blade to enlarge the aperture to help the creature emerge. Returning the next day, hoping to find a lovely butterfly, he was dismayed to find instead a dead monstrosity. The front part had formed properly into a butterfly, but deprived of the natural resistance against which the rest of its body had to transform itself, it had not been able to do so, and so the freak of nature had died, killed by human kindness. What had happened to that lad? Here he was, serving or performing penance, as one of the good intentions paving the well known route to Hell. Not a very funny story? No, but part of the comedy played between the gods and man. An illustration of the unintended consequences of ignorant, albeit well-intentioned, meddling. It had another twist. Such ignorance was part of Man's estate. Compassion was always encouraged, and preferred to blind and hard-hearted selfishness, but there were costs to both. It was to be hoped that not too many other creatures or people would have to pay the price of educating the self righteous idealists in the Delphic wisdom. 'Man, know thyself. Nothing to excess.' Merlin had much occasion to laugh, although he knew that wisdom was a pearl of great price, and it was likely that others would have to pay largely for it, as they would for its lack and the failure to acquire it.
Curious to see what Industrial Man had made of his bounty and how he had progressed in wisdom, AE followed the path of progress popularised by evolutionists portraying the ascent of man from knuckle-dragging naked ape to upright modern man surrounded by the products of his genius, to even a stooping post-modern metro-sexual festooned with gadgets into which it chattered nonsense. This latter was disconcerting, the script seemed to be going 'off-message'.
As he climbed these imagined heights, AE passed what seemed to be a vast rock-face into which had been carved the faces of several highly esteemed leaders of a powerful people. A little later came the apparition of another mountain carved to depict their leader at the imagined height of their powers; President Big Ears, Teleprompt-Reader-in-Chief, smirking into his teleprompter hoping to change his poll ratings as he dreamed of a life of perpetual golf. AE shuddered and hurried on.
At last he reached the sunny uplands where resided the height of human evolution, at least in their own estimation. Resided? Well, reclined at any rate, in comfortable loungers, Recline before decline? It wasn't as if they attended a banquet of the Gods, or a symposium or even a Roman dinner party. Those hosts would not have invited or admitted them. Even Trimalchio might have been put off by their crass and ignorant vulgarity.'You're worth it' was their motto. Not much else in the cosmos would have agreed with them.
As AE gazed at them their forms and features and mental activities seemed to become ever grosser and more bestial. There seemed to be, not crowds of people but herds of domestic animals, cow-people, sheep-people, pig-people, interspersed with predatory fox or wolf-people and officious sheepdog-people. AE became aware of their thoughts and emotions. The herd animals were quite happy with their lot, they wanted nothing better than to be housed and fed and protected and spared all thought and striving, other than pecking-order rivalry. Seldom were their minds disturbed by anything which would distinguish them from the beasts of field and byre. There might be a dim awareness that there could be an abattoir nearby and judas-goats to lead them to it, but even formulating the pejorative concept of a 'conspiracy-theory' was slipping beyond their capacity, and their only dreams were of lotus-land.
Was this really the great being, made only a little lower than the angels, before whom Lucifer had refused to bow and been cast out of heaven as a consequence? "No, it certainly wasn't" said the spirit of Lucifer, with an arm around AE's shoulders as he wiped tears of laughter from his eyes. Prometheus smiled grimly as the eagle of Zeus took a break from tormenting him, to chase away a Roman eagle whose people had forfeited any claim on victory when their rulers had expelled the signs and images of the gods from their Senate, and then to tear chunks of flesh and feathers from the eagle of those modern imitators who had latterly specialised at great expense and after much preliminary self glorification,in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Herakles, whose superhuman efforts had elevated him from mortal to Olympian through a fiery apotheosis which was no mere imperial pumkinification, passed by to cast an eye over the activities of humanity. His mighty frame still garbed in a lionskin and casually resting his huge club on a broad shoulder, he shook his head at the imperial antics of President Big Ears, his unworthy imitator. "Wearing the Lion's skin, but weighed down by the Club" he muttered as he departed.
A host of angels, demi-gods, immortals and spirits great if not always good, gathered in the theatre of the gods against the backdrop of the universe, to watch as on the circular stage of the world, the comedy of humanity played itself out into farce; and they laughed and laughed and laughed.
The Satire of Peak Flint
As our angel mused on human history its creative imagination whimsically conjured up the figures of two ancient sages. They lived in adjacent caves and each Monday and Thursday preached a similar sermon to similar audiences so the angel easily conflated their message and their audience. Long white robes hadn't been invented in their remote times and combs and razors were rare. However, there they were, clad perhaps in bearskins (although not Guardsmen) or in goatskins (although not Robinson Crusoe), but probably not in grass skirts (they weren't frivolous maidens in tropical climes). It was the Stone Age so they lived in caves. Perhaps they were not Platonic Caves, but these were serious prophets or prognosticators or commentators on the Trends of Their Times so they would probably have liked the notion that they were disabusing their followers of false impressions and superstitions created in them by having paid too much attention to the flickering shadows cast by the media on the walls of their caves. Nonetheless, there they were, week after week, dispensing wisdom to their students whose eager faces turned to them away from the central fire and ignoring the flickering shadows.
"Peak Flint!" the sages cried."We're passing Peak Flint." "What do you mean?" asked some of the slower students who had arrived late. "We know all the hills and mountains around here and there's no peak called 'Flint'." "Yes", said the student known as 'Sloth', or was it 'Smarty'?; waving his hands around to indicate their immobile status,"We're all sitting here. We're not passing anywhere!" Taking deep calming breaths our philosophical duo would restrain themselves from falling upon the fools and casting them into the outer darkness where giant hyenas laughed and wept, and sabre-toothed tigers gnashed their sabre-teeth.
Patiently they would again explain that the flint which they all used so thoughtlessly in their daily lives was a 'non-renewable resource'. "We're using it up, but the Gods aren't making any more of it!" "Long ago it was all predicted in the mystic petroglyphs Old Mother Hubbard found written on the walls of her cave-cupboard, which was otherwise bare.The Oracle told us what they meant, 'You can't have your cake and eat it.' We're running out of flint.That's what they meant.That's how we know. As it was predicted, so it has come to pass. This is the One, the True, Apocalypse. You also may experience it when these things are uncovered or revealed to you! Life will never be the same afterwards."
(Parenthetically it may be observed that there had been a small faction of heretical dissenters, long since having provided food for hyenas and worms, who had doubted our sages intimate knowledge of the will and actions of the deities. They had even blasphemously asserted that the Chtonic deities out of their love and care for the People, were in fact busily making more flint deep underground and disgorging it along with the occasional belches and shudders which rocked the earth. Some even claimed that the Celestial deities occasionally threw down fiery gifts to earth which cooled to reveal stones harder than flint which could have an edge even sharper than flint and which were obviously closely associated with fire. What nonsense!)
"We've already used up most of the practically recoverable flint from our own territory, and are having to import it from foreign lands", they explained."Those people will soon also run short, and not have so much spare flint to sell us, and their prices will become more than we can afford."
"But Sage",growled a heavily muscled warrior, "Big Chief Ugg will deal with those foreigners. He's sending some of his Ugglies to kill the foreigners and steal their flint. Any survivors can carry the flint home for us. He's instructed me to take part in this humanitarian mission, I'm proud to say. You can stop worrying and praise the deities who have given us such a good and strong chief."
Again the sages take deep and soothing breaths. "That's all very well" they say, "but not even the Uggliest warriors can steal what does not exist." Here emerge looks of concern and murmurs of dismay from the audience. "Are you doubting the strength and wisdom of our Chief, and the providential care of our Gods? Remember what happened to The Last Know-Alls Who Did That. The giant hyaenas have only just finished crunching their bones!"
Prudently postponing any personal perambulation pertaining to the interior of the belly of the beast, our sages resumed their expositions."Its not about our wise and strong chiefs and providential deities" they proclaimed. "It's about you greedy people! You're using far more than your fair share of flint - even if obtained through Fair Trade - far more than other people get and far more than your ancestors ever dreamed of having. The more you have, the more you want. Not even the strongest and wisest chiefs can collect enough to keep up with your insatiable demands. You're greedy and wasteful I say, and that will anger the Gods. Why, some of you are even using flint to shave yourselves!" Here the audience was encouraged to note the hirsute adornments of their intellectual and spiritual superiors. Brownbeard and White Whiskers as we may call them from the luxuriant facial foliage which gave prima facie evidence, right 'in your faces', of their philosophical cast of mind and austere devotion to their creed of not wasting precious flint on the vain and wasteful habit of shaving. Very evidently they had not dulled the edges of their flint razors by excessive use.
"What shall we do without flint!" wailed the multitude. "Must our economy and standard of living be destroyed, as they surely will in the absence of cheap and abundant flint. Must we look unfashionable and scruffy? Our descenants will lack sharp edged tools. They will have to go back to the older and more arduous process of rubbing sticks together to make fire. Benbankster will foreclose the mortgages on our caves if we can't give him flint. Woe are we. Save us Great Masters, O save us!"
"You must follow our example" Brownbeard and White Whiskers sternly said."Give up frivolous consumption. Learn to make fewer fires and cut down fewer trees and kill fewer animals. Let your hair grow. You'll be cold but you'll be cool! Remember to use the sliding rule, that'll keep you sharp, you'll be no fool! There'll be a long emergency, but as you're already making everything by hand, don't let it worry you. The important thing is to grow as many greens as possible. Pass on those skills and you may even have enough descendents for some of them to eventually emerge from the Stone Age."
Candidly,and almost in the white toga clad manner of candidates for election to a public body after white robes had been invented, shining with sincerity, they proclaimed their slogan, 'It is necessary to cultivate our garden'. All would be for the best in the best of all possible worlds were that to be done.
Some of the stouter listeners were disturbed. One who was strung about with flints and flanked by armed guards complained, "Its natural to want more. That's Progress!" "No", declaimed one one of the most ardent tax consumers who lived more on what his wits and sad stories and rapid fingers could filch from those more accustomed to what later might be known as 'honest toil',"Giving a lot more of your hard-earned flints to meet the ever expanding needs of the needy, such as I, who are obviously far more deserving than Reactionaries such as those who already have the flints,now THAT would be Progress! We need a lot more Progress, and all who hate those who have more flints than themselves should unite to steal them by fraud if they lack sufficient force."
"Progress makes things worse. Its a snare, a delusion, a heresy." exclaimed the sages.When you use up more than one flint to mine another flint, you end up with fewer flints despite all your efforts. Progress is Regress." This advanced philosophy was a little too progressive, even post-modern, for many of the audience to appreciate. Beetlebrow, a mighty warrior,stood up and beetled his brow. "I'll kill all the Progressives" he said fiercely, scowling at some of the weedier members of the assembly, who may actually have been smoking something. "That will solve the problem."
"Haven't you noticed something, Beetlebrow?" asked one of the more thoughtful members of the audience." Big Chief Ugg gives a lot of the flints to his friends. Mostly they don't find any flints for themselves, they just tell him and us how wonderful he is and how they really-really-really need a lot more flints from the rest of us especially as they have bigger families than we do. The Ugglies steal a lot of flints from foreigners, and the Big Chief gets people like you to ..'collect' a lot more from the rest of us. Isn't it strange that the people who get all those flints from the Chief seem to have less to do than us, there's more of them all the time, and they get to live in nicer caves also? Back in the time of Good Chief Grand Ugg, he wasn't so Big and didn't have so many Ugglies or friends for us to support and didn't need to steal from foreigners ..or us! We kept nearly all of our own flints and were happy. These people who get most of our flints now hadn't even arrived here. Don't you see that evil sorcerers have turned us into foreigners in our own country? You should find and kill those sorcerers." Beetlebrow just scowled.
"I'll tell the Big Chief about you," sneered Leftwing, one of those too busy telling other people what to do to have any time to mind his own business. "Already he only listens to my friends. We tell him what to think and say. We'll get him to steal all your flints and throw you and your family down the shaft of an abandonned flintmine. All is prepared for the Progress of Evil. Evil is good and Good will be made evil. Here beginneth and endeth the First and Last Enantiodromia."
"Benbankster is the source of the problem," declaimed Rightwing, someone so charitable that he sacrificed his chances of expanding his own humble business in favour of trying to alert the public to the plots against them. "He is the head of the Sorcerers Clan."
Growl! Roar! Hiss! Grunt! Groan! Whine! Whimper! Thump! Crash! Howl! Scream! Snarl! Already it was hard to discern whether the greater beasts were within or without the cave.
Wisely the sages retired to tend their gardens, leaving their audience and the rest of the world to howl and growl, snarl and brawl, with and without the aid of flint. And so it went, week after week; age after age.
AE stared, amazed and amused, at the reports of research showing that average IQ had declined in Britain by roughly two points per decade since the mid 19th century. It wasn't just that the average had fallen, but that far fewer people of exceptional talent were appearing to make discoveries and inventions and provide leadership.
People were getting dumber, a full standard deviation in only a century and a half. Modern society in the 'developed' world really did dumb people down. It had been known, but ignored, that exam questions in late 19th century America, for instance, had been at a much higher standard than that of a century later, despite or perhaps because the grip of government and professional educational 'standards' on the minds and education of the public had been much less.
Peak Intelligence? That looked like a killer. When had they passed that? How far were they on the downward slope? How far down would it go? Could it be that there had been something to that old Parable of the Talents found in one of their sacred scriptures? Those who had used their talents to develop more had graduated, those who had buried their unused talents in earth had been sent back there without them, and the talents required for their immediate survival in a savage state were of a much lower order.
'Resource constraints' thought our angel, 'and perhaps the greatest of these is not faith or hope or charity but intelligence.' 'Here lies Humanity. They passed Peak Intelligence. R.I.P.' Might that be their epitaph? Or, 'Welcome back to Planet of the Apes.You get to meet again all the species you met on your way up. They'll be delighted to see you.' Humanity had been the apes best shot. Would the ants or the cockroaches do any better? He would not wait around to find out.
What had caused the change? Here was a story about how a parasite could cause its host to act contrary to its own survival interests.
Could it have been some sort of mental parasite which had caused the most civilised and advanced people of the Victorian era to have turned against themselves, undermined the sources of their own success and survival and degenerated themselves into virtual morons?
It looked as if they had needed to use both their physical and mental resources under selection pressure, to build up societies where the better possibilities were more widely available - crudely proxied by material wealth - but then the selection criteria were reversed by their moral intellectual and social corruption and forward they Progressed downwards. There was an interesting thought from Spinoza that intellect could be used to build up more and better intellectual tools - crudely proxied and parodied by 'intellectual capital' to which was attributed their economic development after they had the wit to be able to make use of the succession of 'non-renewable resources' each of which in its time had seemed the ultimate.
It was clear that reproductive success in the modern era had changed. Instead of the brightest and best breeding most, they were those who were not reproducing themselves. They were being replaced by the proliferation of the underclass - at their expense since the economically successful and socially valuable had to pay for the statist programmes which demeaned them and paid the trash of the world to come to their countries and join their own lower orders in outbreeding and replacing them.
Then they had destroyed their intellectual resources by subverting the social institutions which had promoted and protected them. They had recognised that intelligence depended on 'breeding', both heredity and cultivation, but then thoroughly debased and destroyed both aspects. People too stupid to maintain complex thoughts or institutions or machines were on their way out, more stupified and degraded in each succeeding generation. Welcome to Planet of the Apes - descendents meet ancestors.
Could there be some sort of mental parasite causing the best to undermine and destroy themselves? Was it a tragedy-meme or virus which led to the hero causing his own downfall through his moral deficiencies, cunningly disguised and presented as virtues by the disease?
AE considered what it knew of Western history and society. Yes, a candidate came to mind. It was Leftism. This had become prominent from the time of the French Revolution, about the time that the Industrial Revolution was giving Britain the material means to resist it. Grandiloquently proclaiming its love of humanity, it had rapidly progressed to murdering as many it could, starting of course with the best. The same lies led to the same results elsewhere, particularly in Russia. Progress in Britain and America had been slower and hence less bloody, but by infiltrating and controlling the public mind these societies had been turned against themselves and driven to suicide.
Oh yes, they thought and taught that the division into 'left' and 'right' was just a conventional leftover from seating arrangements in the French Revolution. All people of goodwill, compassionate towards the unfortunate and desiring progressive amelioration of their lot, were surely on the 'left'. The 'right' was reserved for everyone evil, 'reactionary', old-fashioned, uninformed and religious. They ignored, obscured and forgot - such was the power of leftists in influencing the mind of the less well informed public-, that long, long before that, it was the other way around! Not for nothing had the right hand been called dextrous and the left sinister. It had been usual to lead with the right. The right of the line of battle had been regarded as the position of most danger and difficulty and hence of most honour. It had been important to be in the right, to be right-thinking. Now the evil leftists had reversed that both in language and in morality, and they were damned for it. The descriptions and depictions of the Last Judgment always showed Christ separating the blessed from the damned. The Good went to His right and the Evil to his left.
That was a powerful archetype and the attempt to reverse its effect had been part of the subversion they had inflicted on their societies, their spirits and their souls.
In fact AE saw that by this time they were all lefties - and would take the road to the left of the Judge.Those who had taken the right had ascended. The rest of history, as long as they were able to write it, concerned only those of and on the downward path to dissolution, darkness and death.
Of course the modern fossil fuel era may not represent the height of human achievement. Much says otherwise. Ancient Egypt may have represented the summit of spiritual achievement in a society and it's been downhill from there, with the modern era merely the height of material achievement. Its even rumoured that in earlier cycles of ages greater heights had been achieved at all stages. The Indian system of cycles of yugas and the Hesiodic cycle of metallic ages, and the Biblical legend of the statue with head of gold and feet of clay representing a succession of empires of increasing material strenth but declining moral worth suggested much the same thing.
Its not even as if the age of material wealth squandered on the basest desires of the basest elements had left much of worth behind it. The Ancients had a culture whose impoverished poets were of outstanding quality, Hesiod, Homer, Virgil, Horace; the modern world produced television entertainment. Patrons like Maecenas had been men of taste able to support the best achievements of all the arts and architecture. The moderns had the souls of vermin.
As AE pondered the decline of Industrial Man and his concomitant moral and intellectual fall, he noticed an elegantly dressed figure in evening dress and top hat sporting a cane, who smiled and introduced himself . "Admiring my handiwork, I see", the figure said."I'm quite proud of it actually. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Satan of course, King of the World and God's Quality Tester. I've been very busy here, but I'm the first to admit that I couldn't have done it without them. I tested and tempted them, deceived and seduced them, revealed their faults and flaws to them, made success difficult and encouraged them to fail - and most of them were very happy to do so. I'm a bit of a spiritual martial artist. I used their strengths as well as their weaknesses against them. So many associated me with just their obviously bad qualities and with harsh circumstances, but I also encouraged them to overreach in the direction of sentimentality and compassion, of which they were so proud. On the way up I made it hard, and on the way down I made it easy! No more 'onwards and upwards' for them! Now they're breaking themselves down below the human level, for convenient recycling. Nothing will be wasted." He laughed, then became serious."There's also those who are no longer here, those who have progressed or graduated, those who developed against the obstacles and resistances I provided, and who overcame them. I claim part of the credit for their success, they would scarcely have done it without me!"
AE looked along the curve of rise and decline and this is what It saw. Out of Africa, from the Dark Continent, supposedly Man had emerged, then grown enlightened in paler places. Slowly and painfully the best had improved themselves and their societies until able to make use of a great gift of natural resources. A few had made good use of the opportunities they found, but most had turned the blessing into a curse, and degenerated themselves and their societies below the level of humanity. Now the light of Man had been first dimmed and then extinguished by the choice of Man. On Earth the Form of Man no longer had physical expression.Those who could transcend had done so, those who could not attain or maintain had fallen back into darkness below the estate of Man. The stars as seen from Earth gleamed brighter and more numerous in the sky at night without the obstruction of man-made smog or artificial light. Orion the Hunter still bestrode the night; but none on Earth considered it, for there were none to raise their heads to the heavens in awe and wonder and to dream the Dream of Man.
AE wondered whether it had done enough in the 'time' available to justify a passmark on this question. It wasn't Dante or Aristophanes or Aeschylus, but it was what the limitations of talent and circumstances had produced, and it might suffice.
I think so.