Another great English writer during this same period who also discussed these matters was C. S. Lewis. In a number of books and articles he warned about where we were heading, as new technologies, coupled with increased statism, spelt “the abolition of man”.
And that was the title of his 1947 book. In it, he said this: “What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.” He continued, “Man’s conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men. There neither is nor can be any simple increase of power on Man’s side. Each new power won by man is a power over man as well.”
And of course, his third volume in his space trilogy was all about rogue science and unethical technocrats. That Hideous Strength (1946) was a clear warning about coming coercive dystopias. The evil organisation N.I.C.E. is the villain in the novel.
The National Institute for Coordinated Experiments is a government bureaucracy established to help mankind – aren’t they all? It of course does nothing of the sort. Several quotes can be offered here. One makes the point of how euphemisms and subterfuge are ever the weapons of choice for these technocrats:
We want you to write it down – to camouflage it. Only for the present, of course. Once the thing gets going we shan’t have to bother about the great heart of the British public. We’ll make the great heart what we want it to be. But in the meantime, it does make a difference how things are put. For instance, if it were even whispered that the N.I.C.E. wanted powers to experiment on criminals, you’d have all the old women of both sexes up in arms and yapping about humanity. Call it re-education of the maladjusted, and you have them all slobbering with delight that the brutal era of retributive punishment has at last come to an end. Odd thing it is – the word ‘experiment’ is unpopular, but not the word ‘experimental.’ You mustn’t experiment on children; but offer the dear little kiddies free education in an experimental school attached to the N.I.C.E. and it’s all correct!
And another gives us the bigger picture of this war on humanity:
The physical sciences, good and innocent in themselves, had already… begun to be warped, had been subtly manoeuvred in a certain direction. Despair of objective truth had been increasingly insinuated into the scientists; indifference to
it, and a concentration upon mere power, had been the result… The very experiences of the dissecting room and the pathological laboratory were breeding a conviction that the stifling of all deep-set repugnances was the first essential for progress.
This important thriller clearly shows the deep concerns Lewis had about where unethical science and unconstrained technocracy can take us. And his vision of a dark new world has certainly proven to be quite accurate. Eugenics certainly did not die out with the Nazi experiments but is alive and well in the West today.