How Should We Then Live? Chapter 12: Manipulation and the New Elite

 So if humans are merely a collection of DNA strands, what should govern the way those humans who are in power treat the humans who aren't?  If there is no human nature which fundamentally defines what a human is, what limits should those in power have on their plans for other humans?

Francis Schaeffer answers those questions in Chapter 12 titled, "Manipulation and the New Elite."  He spends several pages going through an article written by Francis Crick who with a team discovered DNA and recorded its double-helical structure.  This was exactly how Crick saw humans, nothing more than complicated connections of DNA strands.  His beliefs about what was good for humanity stemmed from that reductionist, materialist philosophy.  Schaeffer in the first half of the chapter describes the philosophy of Determinism which Crick and other elites held, er hold today.  He spends the second half describing the starting line from which elites, motivated by Determinism, were manipulating society.  When standing at that starting line you can look down the track and see where that race has taken us into 2021.  He starts the chapter with an astute observation.

                            "We must think rather of a manipulative authoritarian government.
                            Modern governments have forms of manipulation at their
                            disposal which the world has never known before.  We will
                            examine a number of these methods."

Schaeffer splits these methods into categories of psychology, biology, mass media, and data.  The philosophical foundation of these manipulation techniques is Determinism.

Philosophical And Sociological Determinism
Determinism says that mankind does not have the ability to choose.  Human choice is simply what happens on the surface but is strictly governed by the interworking of the universe.  Humans are cogs in the great cosmic machine.  We are acted upon by those cosmic forces and we respond mechanically not with any real will or volition.

This was Sigmund Freud's (1856-1939) philosophy.  He believed that everything a person does is governed by early childhood experience and relationship to their mother.  B.F. Skinner (1904-1990) applied similar thoughts to society saying that individuals should be conditioned by society to do what society needs them to do.  By society he meant those in charge of society.  He explicitly denied the humanity of human kind and boiled down all value to mere survival.

                            "To man qua [as] man we readily say good riddance."

                            "Survival  is the only value according to which  a culture is
                            eventually to be judged, and any practice that furthers survival
                            has survival value by definition."

First, if there is no objective value and human nature, why say human survival is the ultimate goal?  Second, can you detect this philosophy within business shutdowns, stay at home or social distancing orders, and mask mandates?  Biological existence is the only value.  How you desire to live or assessing risk individually within the pandemic is not even considered by the experts.

The Christian world view doesn't deny that learning and training is important to a functioning society.  But it denies that this is all there is.  In the Bible, God made each one of us in His image.  Therefore each individual is given dignity and agency.  Determinists believe they can make humans into anything they want.  Christians believe we are made for a specific kind of life as designed by God.

The outcome of Determinism is the idea that whatever exists is what should exist, or a rejection of all "should" statements.  Either way, those with power get to decide what "should" be.  This means that part of the conditioning is to make people more amenable to manipulation.  Men like B.F. Skinner even now are working to put these ideas into practice.

                            "Those who hold behavioristic concepts are often in positions of
                            influence.  For example, they often control education down to the
                            lowest grades.  Articles in the press constantly remind us that 
                            behaviorism dominates various university psychology departments."

Chemical / Genetic Determinism
Francis Crick (1916-2004) along with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins discovered the DNA code and its structure.  It was a huge scientific breakthrough that still brings mankind benefits.  However, he believed that all we are is DNA.  He also believed that DNA was created by natural selection according to chance events.  Accordingly, there is no purpose to life and there is no such thing as fixed human nature.  There is just what we are today and perhaps what we can make ourselves into tomorrow.  In order to protect his view of what society should become, he stated, in an article titled "Why I Study Biology", that people who believe humans are more than DNA shouldn't be allowed into university.  That is because biology was more than biology to him.

                            "why I do biological research, it is for philosophical and what you
                            might call religious reasons."

The science of DNA to him was a religion.  It is obviously a purposeless and impersonal religion.  But he betrays his own thoughts.  He uses anthropomorphic language to refer to it  as "she".  He gives it human traits like "clever" and says it can "think".  His philosophy was anti-religion but in the process he created his own religion based on science's respected reputation.  But there was no logical link between his scientific discoveries and his pseudo-religion.  Most importantly he popularized the idea that people are only made of two things: genetics and environment, nature and nurture.  This is what our culture thinks today.  They totally forget (reject?) the fact that mankind is a spiritual being made to relate to their Creator. 

Determinism Applied

Schaeffer continues quoting long stretches of Crick's article from 1971, "Why I Study Biology", where he expounds on how his views on biology should be applied to politics and society.

He calls for the government to take an active role in limiting population, even while bemoaning the idea that medical technology keeps old and frail people alive.  He wanted the elite class to determine how many people should live in each country.  The Chinese Communist government implemented this type of policy in 1978 making it illegal to have two children.  It lasted until 2016, but parents are now limited to two children.  To enforce this law the Chinese state actively imprisoned, stole from, and killed people who didn't comply.  Enforcement wasn't consistent across the whole population.  It was more stringent for racial and religious minorities.  That means they also controlled the demographics of their country.  This is exactly what Crick was preaching in the early 70s.

                            "the discussion as to how many people there should be in the world
                            has now... become quite acceptable.  It is not acceptable... to discuss
                            who should become the parents of the next generation, who should
                            be born, and who should have children... Some group of people
                            should decide that some people should have more children and some
                            should have fewer... You have to decide who is to be born."

He calls here for governments to restrict the rights of married couples to build a family.  Those who believe like him consider your children their property.  That is very much the attitude of US federal and state agencies today.  He logically extends his advocacy to education.

                            "what is wanted is education- an education at the level of younger people
                            ... in school, you're forced to learn it in a more regular way... You absorb
                            it ... at a more impressionable period."

Life from cradle to grave dictated by elites.  Undesirables aborted, children taught not how to think but what to think, working to bring about a Crickian utopia whatever that may be, and then euthanasia once old age has made them unproductive or undesirable.

Humanity Lost
The ideas expressed by Freud, Skinner, and Crick whittle away at the idea of there being a definable human nature.  Human nature teaches that humans are a specific type of creature with specific needs.  It teaches that there is a specific morality and a specific course of life that should be considered good.  As Schaeffer wrote about these developments he recognized there was a loss of humanness.

                            "morals would be shifted, and once more humanness would be weakened.
                            What the family is, is weakened."

Technological advancement has been a great benefit to all of us, but Schaeffer clearly sees dangers when all authority is given to secular leaders.

                            "removing these things from the uniqueness which Christianity gives
                            to people, and from Christian absolutes, tends to lead to an increasing
                            loss of humanness."

Ironically, as elites call for more manipulation, society's resistance to manipulation wanes.  This is logical because society too is ingesting their philosophy.  If people are only machines, then there are no moral questions of what should be done with mankind.  All that matters to anyone is what do those in power want to do in the moment.  As society sees itself as no different than a herd of cattle or a flock of sheep, it more naturally follows those in charge of the herd.  Remember, the end result of the course of Western intellectual thought is the acceptance of moral relativity.  There are no objective or absolute truths about what is good for people.

                            "All morals and law are seen as relative.  Thus people gradually accept
                            the idea of manipulation, and a bit more gradually open themselves to
                            accept the practice of the varying forms of manipulation."

This truth is self-evident now in the world of COVID-19.  Not only did people accept business closures, restrictions of movement, and mask mandates, they called out for them and attacked those who didn't agree.  It is not only because of this herd mentality. It is also because government policy and laws are cloaked in science.  Through technological advancement, science has an exalted reputation.  When scientists or experts speak they are viewed as authoritative.  But health policy and law isn't science.  Humans should be able to take medical and scientific advice on a subject, assess their lives, and decide for themselves how to live.  That is why humanness had to be erased, because the elite require uniformity.  We aren't allowed to have our own idea about what is the best path of life.

Medical Manipulation
Now that society is ready to be manipulated what methods will be implemented?  Schaeffer discusses manipulation in the areas of medicine, psychology, mass media, and data.  In each case he not only exposes the practices of his day but outlines how they will be carried out in the future.

Experts of the day were suggesting "super-tranquilizers" to remove aggression or bring calmness to people.  Today we have multiple families of psycho-tropic drugs.  This isn't strictly a bad thing.  In many cases they are a great benefit to a person dealing with depression or other psychological ailments.  However, there are always side effects, draw backs, and the threat of over prescription.  Only an objective, absolute morality gives us a way to determine which drugs should be produced, how they should be introduced into therapy, and how widely they should be prescribed.

Schaeffer also highlights the use of Electrical Stimulating of the Brain (ESB) to eliminate aggressive behavior.  ESB or electro-shock therapy is mostly used to treat severe depression today.  It does have some positive benefits, but it can seriously damage your brain if not controlled properly.  Even when done correctly, there are side effects of memory loss and flattened emotions.  These are usually temporary but both diminish humanness.  We must be vigilant  that these kinds of methods should never be used by government for political purposes.

Psychological Manipulation
My previous paragraph should become more clear within the discussion of calls for psychological manipulation.  It should also become clear that medical manipulation is the most benign form with way more upside than the others.

Schaeffer starts by reporting the ideas of two leading psychologists in 1971, Kenneth B. Clark and Russel V. Lee.  Clark suggested that all politicians should be given medication to remove aggressive impulses and was an advocate for brain control experimentation.  Lee thought all politicians should be given psychological evaluations every year to determine fitness for office.    Then if a politician's score was low enough recommendations could be given to Congress or another political body to remove that person from office.  I am all for limiting government scope and power.  But adding another agency to government increases its scope and opens up an even bigger problem.

                            "the man who dispensed the pills or who controlled the psychological
                            testing would be king."

                                                        "who will control the controllers?"

Schaeffer then notes that Russia at the time would put political dissidents into mental hospitals.  They had wrong thinking according to elites so their minds were considered defective.  Their thinking had to be brought into conformity with those in power.  Another way of putting it is that they were mentally ill and had to be brought back to mental health.  Until then they were non-persons with no rights.  Western nations may not manipulate as crudely and harshly as the Soviets did, but don't be deceived.

                            "Any modern authoritarian government has almost endless means of

Mass Media Manipulation
The most relevant form of manipulation today is that which comes from the news or mass media.  Schaeffer mentions data manipulation at the end.  Today both data and media have been combined in very powerful ways.  This is essentially what we call Big Tech today.  More on that later.

The first manipulation technique Schaeffer mentions is subliminal messages.  That isn't something we fear today and Schaeffer even mentioned that it was illegal in Western countries.  But the technology exists.

                            "only a law stands between us and its use; and we must not forget
                            the drift in law toward that which is considered the sociological
                            good at that moment."

The other techniques are more common but just as subtle and dangerous.  Schaeffer reminds the reader that any TV image is not real.  Each image is narrowly focused.  It isn't the same as being in the time and place of the event, even though it gives the viewer the sense that they are.  This isn't a conspiracy.  It is simply the nature of video, it gives a narrow view of a situation.

                            "The physical limitations of the camera dictate that only one aspect
                            of the total situation is given.  If the camera were aimed ten feet to the
                            left or ten feet to the right, an entirely different 'objective story' might
                            come across."

Moreover, the news reporters and editors do have a subjective viewpoint.  We are seeing what they want us to see, whether correct or incorrect.  Schaeffer gives the example that the American press reported differently about Hitler's oppression than Stalin's, both sooner and with more intensity.  They weren't objectively different situations.  With this in mind, all that must exist for manipulation is for the world view of political elites and the news media to coincide.  At that point you aren't receiving news reporting per se, but political or intellectual propaganda.  Would you say that both groups today predominantly have a modern, secular humanist worldview?

Media manipulation occurs not only by the way the news chooses to depict a certain event.  It also occurs as a result of what stories editors choose to report and which ones they don't.   There are certain news sources which are considered "news makers".  Other news organizations take their cues from the stories these news makers release.  They often simply pass along the stories which they receive.  Think of the Associated Press or the New York Times for two traditional examples.

                            "This ability to generate news rests upon a kind of syndrome or
                            psychology or mind-set, not only in the journalistic fraternity but
                            also in influential circles comprised of congressman, other
                            government officials, and professors."

Stories are picked to circulate.  Others are picked to bury.  Then the news makers give each story a certain tone, which comes from a hard hitting headline or opening statement.  Some times this tone even colors other articles or reports about the same topic.  Their view is the one elevated as "truth".  Couple this with the loss of objective morals and values in society at large and the stage is set.  Editorial opinion gets injected into straight news reports.  Politics gets injected into reports on culture, sports, and entertainment.  Anybody watched ESPN or MTV lately?  Once again pointed comments from Schaeffer.  This time about the news makers.

                            "if either the elite captures them or if because of their world view they
                            and the elite coincide, then the media is a ready vehicle for
                            manipulative authoritarianism."

Consider now that part of the revolving door has the CIA sending people into Hollywood and news organizations.  George HW Bush became CIA Director in 1976 in order to manage CIA interaction with the Church Commission which was prosecuting their corruption.  Among the deals Bush struck was to keep documents sealed which discussed CIA involvement in entertainment, media, and universities.  The king makers are the news makers.

Data Manipulation
Now combine the threat of news manipulation with the world of the information age.  Computers are great of course.  They are the world's most powerful tools.  Still, in the 21st Century news, reporting, and computers were fused together in what we call Big Tech today.  Big Tech uses the same forms of manipulation presented by Schaeffer even though the information platforms are different. 

Schaeffer doesn't get into much detail here other than to say how powerful this new technology was and asked how it could be used by elites.  We can answer his questions now.  The CIA is recording every phone call, email, and blog article in their servers, sitting there until there is a need to use it against us.

At the beginning, the internet and social media decentralized how we received news and other information.  It was a way to bypass the news makers and the king makers.  But now Big Tech has combined with the US government to control the access people have to information even while giving the false impression of freedom and transparency.  Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Youtube manipulate algorithms which determine what post, video, or article we see when we scroll through social media.  Sometimes they interfere personally by removing videos and even removing people from their service for having the wrong political or scientific opinion.  The threat to our freedoms in the area of data should be obvious.

Authoritarian Future

                            "Many who talk of civil liberties are also committed to the concept
                            of the state's responsibility to solve all problems; so in a time of 
                            overwhelming pressures... at some point the feeling of
                            uncomfortableness will be submerged."

Schaeffer warns at the end that authoritarianism can come from any of our 3 branches of government now that law is arbitrary and people have been reduced to a herd.  He also warns that non-government organizations could take control as well or at least be used by governments for such.  Think of the CDC, the WHO, the UN, or the IPCC.  Schaeffer deftly depicts the root of these types of movements.

                            "As the memory of the Christian consensus which gave us freedom
                            within the biblical form increasingly is forgotten, a manipulating
                            authoritarianism will tend to fill the vacuum."

This book is about how a Christian worldview shapes society and culture in positive ways.  It brings technological advancement, political freedom, and societal peace.  It also details step by step how the Christian worldview has lost its influence in the Western world and how that has impacted us negatively.  But those are secondary issues in Christianity.

The central issue is Jesus' work to save mankind from sin.  He died on the cross.  His death paid for everyone's sin past, present, and future.  He was truly dead as evidenced by his body being in the grave for 3 days.  But then He was raised up to new life.  Jesus' resurrection demonstrates that He conquered sin and death.  When we make Him our Lord and Savior, we die and are raised with Him.  No longer are we controlled by sin and death, just like Jesus.  All other good things flow from this central truth.

We now look at a Western culture that has rejected and is rejecting that central truth and therefore the secondary blessings that come with it.  Authoritarianism is coming in some form or another.

                            "There is no difference between an authoritarian government
                            from the right of the left; the results are the same."

                            "An elite, an authoritarianism as such, will gradually force form on
                            society so that it will not go on to chaos.  And most people will
                            accept it - from the desire for personal peace and affluence, and
                            apathy, and from yearning for order to assure the functioning of
                            some political system, business, and the affairs of daily life."
We are back in Rome Christian.  How shall you then live?  There is one more chapter to go.


Most Popular:

The Church And State In Romans 13

The Forgotten Man: Tony Timpa

How Should We Then Live? Chapter 8: The Breakdown in Philosophy and Science, Part 2

How Should We Then Live? Chapter 1: Ancient Rome

My Case Of COVID

The Beast Of Revelation - Part 1