The Moron Manual
The experienced moron may have noticed an omission from this text: we have not mentioned that all-purpose icon, human nature. We mention it now in order to warn against it.
THE MORON MISTAKE: Human Nature
- "Humans are gregarious by nature."
- "It is human nature to make mistakes."
- "Following the crowd is human nature."
- "Humans by nature demand to be ruled."
One might easily assume that "human nature" is synonymous with "only human," so that the two can be used interchangeably. Morons do fall into this error. It is a Trojan Horse. We must guard against it with all our might.
Since we have laid the groundwork, we can state the reason for this warning succinctly: human nature is NOT a new CONcept, encompassing only those meanings beneficial to us. It is a traditional concept, with meanings which, were they widely known, would be fatal to our moron cause.
One of the reasons for this manual is to remedy our deplorable lack of self-knowledge. Morons blithely assume that all concepts are CONcepts, to be embraced equally—as if tabby cats and tigers made equal pets. Since the Media Establishment contains a gratifying number of morons, our slips are generally glossed over. Still, they can be glaring.
"Well of course people are selfish!" says some moron on a talk show. "You can't change human nature!" Usually, his point is the admirable one of advocating more controls on selfish humans. He means to say: "It's only human to be selfish, so we need more controls." This has the correct tone. It directs the attention outward, toward the spectacle of human selfishness, which needs to be controlled. He thinks that the term human nature does the same, but it does not. To the contrary, it directs the attention inward. It invites the individual to consider his own nature—his own individual, unique, specific nature. This opens the trap door in the Trojan Horse and allows the enemy inside the citadel.
We have justifiably emphasized in this manual the accomplishments and victories of morons across the centuries. But there have been, inevitably, defeats also. One such in modern times was the failure to substitute a correct CONcept of "only-human nature" for the classic concept of "human nature." We must, alas, expatiate on this failure at length, because morons in general think that the correct CONcept does exist. They think they are using it when they say, "You can't change human nature." What they are actually doing is what the citizens of Troy did.
What is referred to by the term human nature? Everything, and nothing. The conceptual classification contains every sort of information about all of us—viewed from the standpoint of the individual rather than the collective. This is the opposite of the standpoint from which morons wish to view mankind.
In the years between World Wars, an effort was made to socialize this concept. The "new communist man" was to have a new and improved human nature. His individual nature was to recede; his collective nature was to advance. An entire region of the world was to devote its energies to nothing but this transformation of human nature.
What happened in the end is not a fact which morons should acknowledge, so we will limit ourselves to what must be said: human nature was not transformed. Sociologists did redefine human nature as the nature of groups, and did get this definition into dictionaries; but only as a technical term, not as a general term. While it is true that, in general, morons should not acknowledge failure, in this particular case, which presents unique dangers, an exception should be made. We must recognize that a normal man, upon hearing human nature mentioned, does NOT think of his neighbor's nature. He thinks of his OWN nature. Might not he notice that it includes free will?
What a man thinks of his own nature is not within our control. That is the overlooked fact which has such grave implications. We may hope that each man contemplates his nature only as a member of a suitable group. We may examine polling data to bolster this hope. If we ask practicing psychologists, however, we do not get encouragement. The hope itself is, sadly, irrelevant. What is chilling to morons is that there is no way to know what is going on inside another man's mind.
A man may nod, smile, agree, assure us again and again of his agreement—and simultaneously be thinking the exact opposite. This behavior is common especially in groups. Let us not shrink from saying it: it is human nature. It is the very thing that distinguishes human beings from animals. It is the reason that controlling animals is so simple and controlling humans so complicated.
Not that beneficial manipulation is dead—far from it. Men normally desire to be manipulated, and respond well. But we must grit our teeth and admit that they choose to do this. We must not evade the fundamental unpredictability of human beings. We must stop assuming that men can be manipulated even when they choose not to be.
It is a matter which is simply too serious to mince words about: the problem is exactly that we cannot change human nature. We cannot know beforehand what men will actually think, actually choose, actually decide. Usually, they go along—until they don't.
This is why self-knowledge makes us cringe when the well-meaning moron on television says:
Good God! Why not just look into the camera and come right out with it?
There is a difference between refusing, properly, to acknowledge an inconvenient fact in public, and refusing to take account of it privately. We cannot stop men from thinking for themselves. Morons have been trying to do so for millennia, in vain. What we can do is avoid encouraging men to think for themselves. That is usually quite sufficient. Thinking takes effort.
Is it widely believed that morons are in charge of things? Then it should not surprise us that this exalted position brings not only riches and power, but also dangers and frustrations. We must always take precautions.
- Do not mention "human nature."
- Do not say, "Think about it."
- Do not speak of "will," free or otherwise.
- Do not use the word "force."
- Never use "choice" without a modifier.
A single principle gives rise to all these rules: the necessity to avoid the idea of individual choice.
THE MORON NEMESIS: Choice.
It is all too easy for morons, who naturally dislike choice, to assume that everyone dislikes choice. Such is not the case. "Freedom of Choice" is an American icon. Even people who never do it worship it.
Good morons do not ever, for any reason, say, "You have a choice." Quite the contrary.
Why do morons speak like this all the time, when it would plainly be better to omit any mention of choice at all? Precisely because we know that the idea of choice is ever-present in people's minds. It must be addressed. The desire for choice must be handled. There is a right way and a wrong way to do this.
The wrong way is shown in an article in The New Republic of Jan. 27, 1992. The article, written by a professional journalist, is titled: "The Tyranny of Choice." This sample gives the essence:
F "I keep thinking that the more choices there are, the more wrong choices there are—and the higher the odds I'll make a mistake."
At first glance this might seem to be the right angle of attack—and indeed, the writer goes on at splendid length listing disadvantages of having too many choices. We may note the excellent use of the consumer CONcept in the heading:
F "Choice Leads to Inept Consumption."
Alas, the effect of the article is to maximize rather than minimize the idea of choice. The thrust of complaint is about the number of choices available. This is like the Hollywood movie which warns against sin by displaying many sins in loving detail. The horror to be warned against is not the horror of having too many choices, but the horror of choosing.
Preaching against the proliferation of choices is preaching to the converted. One who actually enjoys choosing will simply turn the above quotation on its head by saying, "The more things there are to choose, the more good things there are to choose—and the higher the odds I'll choose a good thing."
Morons have no reason to be concerned with the number of things to choose. What is important to consider is simply who does the choosing. If we would prefer the choice to go our way, then we should offer as much help as possible in the process.
Is the subtle truth clear yet? When we say "You have no choice," we are offering relief from the tyranny of having to choose. We are saying: "It's over; you don't have to choose." This is the correct message. It has nothing to do with the number of choices. In the moron view, one choice is too many. The message should be that choosing is not worth the bother. We have many agencies of government able and eager to do the choosing for us.
THE MORON GOAL: Freedom from choice.
This is the culmination of all our rules to remember. It is the ultimate goal of the Moron Muddle, the Moron Method, and all the rest.
Humans regard in many ways the action of choosing: as the basic thought, the first privilege, the base of freedom. Our appeal is to those who regard it as an annoyance. We offer surcease from that constant demand to choose which proceeds from the abundance brought about by the system we fight: capitalism. We understand that the more morons help save people from the demand to choose, the better off will morons be.
We have made great strides toward our goal of eliminating choice altogether. We have overcome obstacles and errors. Ahead of us lies a final obstacle: the fact that there are large numbers of human beings who enjoy choosing. These are the people who enjoy life, enjoy effort, enjoy exercising the power of thought. In order to protect our livelihoods, we must learn the correct attitude toward these people.
That correct attitude is benevolence. This is so because, while effort-loving people are our nemesis, they are also our means of living. When morons forget this immutable fact, moron empires collapse. The trick of remaining in charge of things is to balance natural hatred with assumed benevolence. We want to give orders—but we ask for help instead. We want to refuse help—but we offer it, provisionally, instead. We want to say NO—but we say yes, temporarily, instead. We want to take—but we ask nicely first. We want to overthrow the system—but we work quietly at the margin. We want to exterminate—but we also want to eat.
This manual has offered morons the chance to grow stronger through self-knowledge. We have tried to strike a balance between mentioning necessary truths and flaunting unpleasant facts. If we have given offense, we apologize. If we have enlightened, we rejoice. It is not always easy to be a moron; but, at least, it is always effortless.