Sunday, 2 August 2009

The Devil is (wrong) in the details.

Devil's Kitchen has a rather chilling dystopian image to put over; all about citizen spies and the state. However, I think he's tilting at the wrong windmill. States, as such, don't plan to control their citizens. People plan to control citizens through the state, to make them 'better' in some way.

But there's a model that is far older than ... well, not far older than politics, in fact. But far more famous. Never mind the rise of totalitarian parties. We are in the grip of a religion. People are doing things because they /believe/ in a set of moral choices. They think that a better society will follow if they are prepared to guide a citizenry down the right path.

There are competing priesthoods, and even cults within those. But they almost all buy into the belief that society is a good thing in and of itself.

(Personally, so do I. I have this little voice inside my head that says 'violence is right in the right cause'. Which is not a good thing for other people to have of me, so I keep it reined in. The thing that keeps journalists safe from the man behind Devil's Kitchen is the same thing that keeps him safe from me. I fear to hurt him, because I will be punished. I don't actually care how he feels - I think he's wrong about how people behave, and the easiest way to show him that would be to hit him. But I won't, because it's against, heh, my religion.)

But there is a very good point in what he says, although I think he's attributing malice where there is in fact a genuine desire for the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Humankind has walked alongside religion for all of recorded history. I think it's hardwired in, and I think that the capacity to believe in the unknown has been displaced onto the amorphous but powerful symbol that is 'society'. My god's better than your god, say the various parties. But they all agree there is a god, and a better future.