728 x 90

‘The Abolition of Man’: How C.S. Lewis’ Prophecy Is Being Fulfilled

‘The Abolition of Man’: How C.S. Lewis’ Prophecy Is Being Fulfilled

For years now, our culture has waged war over the question of what it means to be a man. To that battlefield, some online pundits have brought the heavy artillery of C.S. Lewis’s 1943 book, The Abolition of Man: “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”

In the well-stocked armory of words and ideas comprising Lewis’ short treatise, we find other weapons of enlightenment of which we have need today, concepts that mark Lewis not only as a philosopher but as a prophet. Chief among these is the Tao (translated literally as path or way), a synonym for “Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes.”

Lewis writes: “It is the sole source of all value judgments. If it is rejected, all value is rejected.” Rid ourselves of the Tao, and “the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of men to make other men what they please.”

As Lewis describes a world without Tao, we see the first resemblances between his broken but imaginary world and our real one. With the advent of postmodernism, in particular, capital-R Reality has been exchanged for the quasi-truth of individual opinion. We now longer have objective principles we can appeal to; rather, everyone creates their own reality and morality.

Lewis foresees two deadly consequences in this exchange of natural law and traditional virtue for man-made values. The first is that this “power will be enormously increased” such that “the man-moulders of the new age will be armed with the powers of an omnicompetent state and an irresistible scientific technique.”

These powers and scientific techniques are in play in the 21st century, and though we may shake with laughter at the notion of our federal government as omnicompetent, there are people hard at work in our Capitol trying to make it omnipotent.

The second consequence Lewis dubs even more significant. The traditional practice of handing the Tao from one generation to the next, of “old birds teaching young birds to fly,” will give way to Conditioners, “who know how to produce conscience and decide what kind of conscience they will produce.” He goes on, “The Conditioners, then, are to choose what kind of artificial Tao they will, for their own good reasons, produce in the Human race.”

Though he recognizes that some men and women hope that these Conditioners will be benevolent, Lewis has his doubts, unable to think of “one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, had used that power benevolently.”

Fast-forward to our day, in which we are conditioned daily to accept new ideologies, sometimes twisting language to bring them to life. Phrases like toxic masculinity, reproductive choice, white privilege, gay marriage, and cisgender vs. transgender—all concepts that ignore objective truth and the anchor of tradition—now abound. Conditioners in our culture, for example, have taken a phenomenon like transgenderism (once rare and, until recently, regarded as a mental illness), reworked it into an ideology, and encouraged more and more people to accept it as the norm, with deniers often suffering severe consequences.

Other Conditioners are intent on convincing us to eat bugs rather than beef and to eradicate fossil fuels, all to save the planet from climate change, a measure which could leave countless people impoverished or dead of starvation. As Lewis told us, our Conditioners know how to produce and influence conscience, and they busy themselves day and night to that end.

At the heart of these efforts are two modern dogmas: universal relativism and irrational toleration. Put those two together, and a path can indeed be built—not a Tao but a roadway to the extermination of our humanity.

Because, as C.S. Lewis sees it:

Either we are rational spirit obliged for ever to obey the absolute values of the Tao, or else we are mere nature to be kneaded and cut into new shapes for the pleasures of masters who must, by hypothesis, have no motive but their own ‘natural’ impulses. Only the Tao provides a common law of action which over-arch rulers and ruled alike.

Lewis then writes:

Traditional values are to be ‘debunked’ and mankind to be cut into some fresh shape. … The belief that we can invent ‘ideologies’ at pleasure, and the consequent treatment of mankind as mere … specimens … begins to affect our very language. Once we killed bad men; now we liquidate unsocial elements.

Fighting against this constant brainwashing requires a stout will and a strong sense of the traditions, morality, and natural law inherent in the Tao. The battle is constant, and sometimes the future appears dark, but only if we forget that we have reason and truth on our side, and that we possess (as some “old birds” once told us) the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—all endowed not by a government but by a Creator.

The lies and power lust of Conditioners are shackles intended to enslave us. Heeding and defending the truths of the Tao will keep us free, come what may.

Image credit: Pexels

1 comment
Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

1 Comment

  • Avatar
    March 14, 2024, 5:41 pm

    Once we killed bad men; now we liquidate unsocial elements.

    Oh how I WISH this were still true. Sixty plus year on, CS Lewus would be appaled that we no longer do this. Instead of a cute language shift, insttead of "liquidating unsocia elements, we WAREHOUSE these "elements" for weeks, maybe months if he is particularly evil, hen release them back into the Briar Pach of civil society to, once more, do that which they want to do.


Posts Carousel

Latest Posts

Frequent Contributors