The Ultimatum

If someone told you, in the form of an ultimatum, that the only way to combat some new crisis or impending disaster was to submit yourself, your family, and your friends, to a permanent and institutionally self-perpetuating tyranny, i.e., the enslavement of the vast majority of the human population under a universal regime untethered from any notion of intractable and fundamental limits on government authority or any notion of inalienable and fundamental freedoms of private citizens; with the range and purpose of one’s daily life choices determined by state edict; with everyone’s whereabouts and comings and goings monitored at all times by technocratic overseers with punitive powers; with one’s ability to work for pay, to control one’s own property, to trade, to access and dispose of the money one has earned, and simply to participate in normal social life in good standing, subject to the current results of a running calculation of one’s moral purity and social submission according to standards determined by government algorithms administered by faceless and unchallengeable bureaucratic apparatchiks, for whom morality is indistinguishable from compliance with, and acquiescence to, the ever-changing and unpredictable behavioral and attitudinal norms defined and redefined by the tyrants themselves on a monthly basis, and reinforced by a bullying mob of millions of self-appointed public morality snitches — if, I say, you were faced with such an ultimatum from your leaders and your neighbors, how would your soul reply? 

Would your soul answer, “Yes master”? Then you will be a willing slave and an approved member of the (ever-growing) public morality snitch mob and tribunal.

Would it answer, “You must prove to me that this crisis of which you speak is serious enough to warrant such extremes, because I will only accept your terms to the extent that I am convinced”? Then you will be one of the reluctantly compliant (and ever-shrinking) majority, embittered and forever diminished by powers you do not trust, but which you cannot resist, and thus susceptible both to nihilistic self-destruction and to pied pipers or doomsday cults promising salvation from the chains to which you have agonizingly submitted yourself.

Or would it say, “My enslavement to earthly authority could not be justified under any circumstances, so your ultimatum has no rational or rhetorical influence over me whatsoever”? Then you are in the smallest group, and also the most isolated, inasmuch as both the first and second groups will despise you for different reasons, and the state itself will tend to view you as the most worthless kind of nuisance.

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