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C.S. Lewis

I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.

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5 replies to this post
  1. Any Imaginative Conservative looking to write the great, anti-ideological novel might take as a guide this quote from Lewis plus Nicholas Joost's review of Kirk's "Enemies of the Permanent Things (elsewhere on this website). Set not in Orwell's Stalinist Animal Farm, analogous to a cruder former era, it would as Lewis says be set in a seemingly mild bureaucracy recalling Hannah Arendt's 'banality of evil' where otherwise 'nice' people, in the interest of politeness and 'consensus,' do hideous things influenced by their institutional or cultural zeitgeist which is laced with ideology of which they may be largely unaware. Such a setting would save the author from a crude daemonisation of modern ideologues and their unwitting followers – no ranting leftists or cardboard Randian ubermenschen – but make readers question poisoned assumptions.

  2. John, I'd give it a try if I can ever find a publisher for the one i've finished, the Nativity story as told by the Magi during the Cold War between Persia and Rome. So far, no luck: UK and NYC publishers seem to be scared off by the Holy Family, who'd be hard to edit out of a Nativity tale!

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