“[Revolutions] will happen,” said Rampion, “whether you count on them or not. Industrial progress means over-production, means the need for getting new markets, means international rivalry, means war. And mechanical progress means more specialization and standardization of work, means more ready-made and unindividual amusements, means diminution of initiative and creativeness, of all the vital and fundamental things in human nature means increased boredom and restlessness, means finally a kind of individual madness that can only result in social revolution. Count on them or not, wars and revolutions are inevitable, if things are allowed to go on as they are at present.”
“So the problem will solve itself,” said Phillip.
“Only by destroying itself. When humanity’s destroyed, obviously there’ll be no more problem. But it seems a poor sort of solution. I believe there may be another, even within the framework of the present system. A temporary one while the system’s being modified in the direction of a permanent solution. The root of the evil’s in the individual psychology; so it’s there, in the individual psychology, that you’d have to begin. The first step would be to make people life dualistically, in two compartments. In one compartment as industrialized workers, in the other as human beings. As idiots and machines for eight hours out of every twenty-four and real human beings for the rest.”
“Don’t they do that already?”
“Of course they don’t. They live as idiots and machines all the time, at work and in their leisure. Like idiots and machines, but imagining they’re living like civilized humans, even like gods. The first thing to do is to make them admit that they are idiots and machines during working hours. ‘Our civilization being what it is’ –this is what you’ll have to say to them- ‘you’ve got to spend eight hours out of every twenty-four as a mixture between an imbecile and a sewing machine. It’s very disagreeable, I know. It’s humiliating and disgusting. But there you are. You’ve got to do it; otherwise the whole fabric of our world will fall to bits and we’ll all starve. Do the job, then, idiotically and mechanically, and spend your leisure hours in being a real complete man or woman, as the case may be. Don’t mix the two lives together; keep the bulkheads watertight between them. The genuine human life in your leisure hours is the real thing. The other’s just a dirty job that’s got to be done. And never forget that it is dirty and, except in so far as it keeps you fed and society intact, utterly unimportant, utterly irrevelant to the real human life. Don’t be deceived by the canting rogues who talk of the sanctity of labour and the Christian service that business men do their fellows. It’s all lies. Your work’s just a nasty, dirty job, made unfortunately necessary by the folly of your ancestors. They piled up a mountain of garbage and you’ve got to go on digit it away, for fear it might stink you to death, dig for dear life, while cursing the memory of the maniacs who made all the dirty work for you to do. But don’t try to cheer yourself up by pretending the nasty mechanical job is a noble one. It isn’t; and the only result of saying and believing that it is will be to lower your humanity to the level of the dirty work. If you believe in business as service and the sanctity of labor, you’ll merely turn yourself into a mechanical idiot for twenty-four hours out of the twenty-four. Admit it’s dirty, hold your nose, and do it for eight hours, and then concentrate on benig a real human being in your leisure. A real complete human being. Not a newspaper reader, not a jazzer, not a radio fan. The industrialists who purvey standardized ready-made amusements to the masses are doing their best to make you as much of a mechanical imbecile in your leisure as in your hours of work. But don’t let them. Make the effort of being human.’ That’s what you’ve got to say to people; that’s the lesson you’ve got to teach the young. You’ve got the persuade everybody that all this grand industrial civilization is just a bad smell and that the real, significant life can only be lived apart from it. It’ll be a very long time before decent living and industrial smell can be reconciled. Perhaps, indeed, they’re irreconcilable. It remains to be seen. In the meantime, at any rate, we must shovel the garbage and bear the smell stoically, and in the intervals try to lead the real human life.