The Abolition Of Man
In 1944 C.S. Lewis published The Abolition of Man, a three chapter handbook that uses a horse tranquilizer of logic to paralyze the legs of the enduring progressive quest to pillage and burn objective truth to the ashy ground. The book is named after its final chapter, which in one line strikes at the heart of the predicament that the progressive plan now logically and inevitably faces:
“Man’s final conquest has proved to be the abolition of Man.”
According to Lewis, there exists a body of first principles; traditional values that are universally and objectively applicable to all humanity. Lewis calls this body of collected ancient wisdom the Tao. Lewis argues that the conditioners rebel against the Tao to their own detriment (Lewis refers to progressives as “progressives” occasionally throughout his argument, but more commonly calls them “the conditioners,” a term that more aptly describes their tactics). They believe that in destroying the Tao, they can then either build a new body of values, or they can finally live in a world absent of values and first principles.
To those conditioners who would build a new body of values, Lewis reveals that by their mere recognition that some first principles are worthy, they recognize that there are worthy human values. Therefore, any attempt to alter the Tao is done to suit a personal or ideological agenda or done out of ignorance of the Tao. Lewis rhetorically asks:
“Whence comes the Innovator’s authority to pick and choose?” Lewis then explains, “Since I can see no answer to these questions, I draw the following conclusions. This thing which I have called for convenience the Tao, and which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality of the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of value judgment. If it is rejected, all value is rejected.”
To the conditioners who would reject all value, who adhere to the Nietzschean ethic and believe there are no values and there are no first principles, Lewis argues that the logical conclusion of their belief only means that in the end, they will have destroyed themselves. Lewis relays a personal story, where a man claimed that “Man has Nature whacked,” even as he was, ironically, dying of tuberculosis. The man said that although we would be a casualty in man’s war against nature, it is not uncommon for the winning side of a fight to still suffer casualties. Lewis aptly points out that “Man’s conquest of Nature is an expression often used to describe the progress of applied science.”
Lewis argues that man has made no progress against nature and has gained zero power over it since the dawn of time. He uses airplanes as an example. Airplanes simply use the physical laws of nature to function; they do not defy those laws or subvert them. Although new inventions and new applied science might seem to give man an advantage over nature, this is not the case; Nature is merely the tool by which man makes those claims of power and any power gained by any man is only power gained over other men, and not over nature. If you were the last man on Earth, could you alone rebuild civilization? Could you alone build and fly a jet? Perhaps you can, but most cannot. So in inventing the airplane, men who were capable of doing so used Nature to gain power over those men, like me, who have to rely on buying a ticket to achieve flight.
Lewis makes this distinction because nature includes human nature. There are men in this world who have been conditioned by the conditioners into thinking human nature can also be beaten. And they are deceived by the apparent retreat of nature from man’s newly gained ‘powers over it’. But nature’s arms held high in surrender is merely a Trojan Horse, because when man draws near enough to claim final victory, he will only find that he has destroyed what he is; he will have abolished himself, because he no longer believes anything; he sees through everything, and as Lewis says, a man who sees through everything sees nothing. Humans will walk the earth, perhaps for a short time longer, but they will not be men by definition, because they have ripped from themselves everything that is objectively true about being a man.
Why do the conditioners, the progressives, the so-called innovators, think that their goals are worthy when every ‘advance’ they believe they make is in fact a denial of truth and a piecemeal removal of the laws that make us men?
Applicability To Feminism
Take feminism. After 200,000 years of mankind’s existence, did the 1960s feminists and their descendants happen upon a new truth about humanity? Feminists will argue that feminism merely requests that women be equal to men under the law and in perceived worth and dignity; but equality under the law already exists, and equal worth and dignity is certainly a first principle, a branch in the Tao, if there ever was one. So what else do they fight for?
Feminists want total control. And they perceive, most ironically, that the way to gain full control over men and over society, is to behave like men; in dress, in attitude, and in professional pursuits. They also encourage men to not behave like men – that is, they want men to be more like the traditional woman. They deny gender roles, which are unequivocally true and necessary (another immutable branch of the Tao). Women are best suited to be women, and men are best suited to be men. Women in the 1960s, however, found a new truth and made ‘progress’ for all humanity, or so they continue to believe.
I would ask them: whence comes your authority to pick and choose? Feminists, after all, at once recognize the branch of the Tao that calls for equal dignity and respect of men and women, but not the branch of the Tao that defines the two genders separately and assigns them separate roles in nature. In their picking and choosing they have denied all objective value, and they now seek to burn down the nature of man and build a new one. But in doing so, they only burn down themselves; they have systematically rejected all the true and wonderful things about womanhood and feminine quality, and traded it for a construct that is unnatural and doomed to collapse.
The silver lining is that this history of humankind is cyclical, and the feminist revolution can only be tenable for so long before it collapses under its own weight and a counter-revolution takes its place; a counter-revolution that encourages men to be men and women to be women. But until then, the conditioners, the progressives, the innovators, and the feminists will live in their fairy tale land of progress. A fairy tale land that Lewis describes thusly:
“What I most fear is the reply that I am ‘only one more’ obscurantist, that this barrier, like all previous barriers set up against the advance of science, can be safely passed. Such a reply springs from the fatal serialism of the modern imagination — the image of infinite unilinear progression which so haunts our minds. Because we have to use numbers so much we tend to think of every process as if it must be like the numeral series, where every step, to all eternity, is the same kind of step as the one before. I implore you to remember the Irishman and his two stoves. There are progressions in which the last step is sui generis — incommensurable with the others — and in which to go the whole way is to undo all the labour of your previous journey.”
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