But think in terms of individual men, women, and children, not of States, Religions, Economic Systems and such-like abstractions: there is then a hope of passing between the horns. For if you begin by considering concrete people, you see at once that freedom from coercion is a necessary condition of their developing into full-grown human beings; that the form of economic prosperity which consists in possessing unnecessary objects doesn’t make for individual well-being; that a leisure filled with passive amusements is not a blessing; that the conveniences of urban life are bought at a high physiological and mental price; that an education which allows you to use yourself wrongly is almost valueless; that a social organization resulting in individuals being forced, every few years, to go out and murder one another must be wrong. And so on. Whereas if you start from the State, the Faith, the Economic System, there is a complete transvaluation of values.Individuals must murder one another, because the interests of the Nation demand it; must be educated to think of ends and disregard means, because the schoolmasters are there and don’t know of any other method; must live in towns, must have leisure to read the newspapers and go to movies, must be encouraged to buy things they don’t need, because the industrial system exists and has to be kept going; must be coerced and enslaved, because otherwise they might think for themselves and give trouble to their rulers.
The sabbath was made for man. But man now behaves like the Pharisees and insists he is made for all the things—science, industry, nation, money, religion, schools—which were really made for him.Why? Because he is so little aware of his own interests as a human being that he feels irresistibly tempted to sacrifice himself to these idols. There is no remedy except to become aware of one’s interests as a human being, and, having become aware, to learn to act on that awareness. Which means learning to use the self and learning to direct the mind. It’s almost wearisome, the way one always comes back to the same point. Wouldn’t it be nice, for a change, if there were another way out of our difficulties! A short cut. A method requiring no greater personal effort than recording a vote or ordering some “enemy of society” to be shot. A salvation from outside, like a dose of calomel.
Eyeless in Gaza
Aldous Huxley 1936