Book 8, part 1. The New Civilization (2005)
The slaves walked slowly in single file, every one of them car-rying a polished stone. Four lines of them, each line stretching a kilometre and a half long, from the stone quarries to the site where construction on the walled city had begun, under the watchful eyes of armed guards — one military guard for every ten slaves.1
Off to one side, on the pinnacle of a thirteen-metre-high ‘mountain’ crafted out of polished stones, sat Cratius, one of the high priests. For the past four months he had been silently observing the construction activity. Nobody distracted him, not a single person dared interrupt his contemplation, even with a sideways glance.
Both slaves and guards accepted this artificial mountain with its throne on top as a fixed feature of the landscape. And nobody paid attention to the figure either sitting motionless on the throne or walking to and fro around the lookout platform atop the ‘mountain’. Cratius had set himself the task of restructuring the state, consolidating the power of the priests for a millennium, subjugating to them all the people of the Earth, turning all without exception (including national rulers) into slaves of the priests.
One day Cratius came down from his throne, leaving a double in his place. The priest changed his clothes and took off his wig. He gave orders to the captain of the guard to have him bound in chains like a simple slave and placed in the line behind a strong young slave named Nard.
Looking into the faces of the various slaves, Cratius had noticed that this young man in particular had a penetrating and purposeful look, not a wandering or detached gaze as did many of the others. Nard’s countenance alternated between excitement and intense contemplation. That means he’s hatching some kind of plan, the priest realised, but he wanted confirmation of the accuracy of this observation.
For two days running Cratius followed Nard’s every move, silently hauling the stones, sitting beside him at mealtimes and sleeping next to him in the barracks. On the third night, directly the Sleep! command had been given, Cratius turned to the young slave and in a tone of bitterness and despair whis-pered to no one in particular:
“Will this situation keep up the rest of our lives?”
The priest watched as the young slave gave a shudder, and suddenly turned to face him. His eyes were sparkling, which was noticeable even in the dim torchlight of the cavernous barracks.
“It won’t last much longer,” the young slave whispered back. “I’ve been working out a plan. And you, old fellow, can be part of it!”
“What sort of plan?” the priest asked with a sigh of indif-ference.
Nard began to explain with an air of confidence and enthu-siasm:
“You see, old man, soon you and I and all of us will be free men instead of slaves. Figure it out for yourself: there’s just one guard for every ten of us. And one guard, too, for every fifteen women slaves who do the cooking and sewing. When the time comes, if we all fall upon the guards at once, we can overpower them. It makes no difference that the guards are armed and we’re in chains. We outnumber them ten to one, and our chains can also be used as weapons, to shield us from the blows of their swords. We’ll disarm all the guards, tie them up and seize their weapons.”
“Hold on there, young man,” Cratius sighed again, and added with feigned indifference: “Your plan isn’t completely thought through. Sure you can disarm the guards watching over us, but it won’t be long before the ruler sends in replace-ments — a whole army, maybe — and he’ll have the insurgents killed.”
“I’ve thought of that, too, old man. We’ll have to choose a time when the army’s not around. And that time is coming. We’ve all noticed how the army’s preparing for a campaign. They’re getting provisions ready for a three-month trek. That means that in three months the army will arrive at its destination and engage the enemy in combat. It will be weak-ened in battle, but it will be victorious, and bring back many new slaves. They’re already building new barracks to house them. We have to start disarming the guards just as soon as our ruler’s army goes into battle. The couriers will need at least a month to go call it home, and it will take at least three months after that for the weakened army to return. By the time the four months are up we’ll be ready to meet them. We’ll have at least as many fighters as there are in the army The slaves they seize will want to join us when they see what’s happened. I’ve thought it all out in advance, old man.”
“I see, young fellow, with your plan you can disarm the guards and overpower the army,” the priest answered, already sounding more cheerful, and then added: “But what will be-come of the slaves after that, and what will happen with the rulers, the guards and the soldiers?”
“I haven’t given too much thought to that. Only one thing comes to mind, though: whoever was a slave in the past will become a free man. Whoever’s not a slave today will be a slave tomorrow,” replied Nard with some hesitation, as though thinking aloud.
“But what about the priests? Tell me, young man, after your victory, will they be slaves or not?”
“The priests? Haven’t thought about that either. But now I’m thinking: the priests can stay where they are. The slaves and rulers listen to them. Sometimes they’re hard to under-stand, but I get the feeling they’re harmless. Let them keep on telling their stories about the gods, but we know best how to live our lives and have a good time.”
“Have a good time — that’s great,” responded the priest, and pretended he couldn’t wait to get to sleep.
But there was no sleep for Cratius that night. Only contem-plation. Sure, he thought, the simplest course of action would be to report this to the ruler, and have them seize this young slave — he’s clearly the chief instigator. But that won’t solve the problem. The slaves will always have the desire to be freed from bondage. New leaders will emerge, new plans will be hatched, and as long as that goes on, the main threat to the state will always be from within.
Cratius was faced with the challenge of working out a plan to enslave the whole world. He realised there was no way he could attain his goal through physical compulsion alone. What he needed to do was exert a psychological influence on every single individual, on whole nations of people. He had to bring about the thought of every single human being to the notion that slavery is the highest bliss. He had to launch a self-developing programme to disorient whole nations in space, time and ideas — especially in their literal perception of reality
Cratius’ thought was working faster and faster, he was no longer conscious of his body, or the heavy chains on his arms and legs. And all of a sudden, like a bolt of lightning, a programme came to his thought. Even though all the details were still to be worked out, and he could not yet explain it to anyone else, he could already feel it within, exploding off the scale. Cratius was now feeling himself to be the omnipotent ruler of the world.
Lying on his bunk in chains, he was full of self-exultation: Tomorrow morning, when they’re escorting us all to work, Til give the secret signal and have the giards captain take me out of the line and remove the chains. Til finalise my programme, say a few words and the world will start to change. Incredible! Just a few words, and the whole world will be subject to me, to my thoughts. God really has given to Man a power unequalled in the Universe — the power of human thought. It brings forth words which can change the course of history.
The situation’s turned out very well indeed. The slaves have prepared their plan of insurrection. It’s logical, this plan, and is clearly capable of leading to an interim result very favourable to them. But with just a few words I shall ensure that not only they, but their future descendants, and the rulers of the Earth too, will be slaves for millennia to come.
In the morning, on Cratius’ signal, the captain of the guard freed him from his chains. And the very next day the five other priests, along with the pharaoh, were invited to his observation platform. Cratius began his speech before the gathering as follows:
“What you are about to hear must not be noted down or passed along by any of you. There are no walls around us, and my words will be heard by no one but you. I have thought up a way of turning all people living on the Earth into slaves of our pharaoh. That is not something one can do even with the aid of vast numbers of troops and exhausting wars. But I shall accomplish it with a few simple sentences. All I need do is utter them and just two days later you will see how the world has begun to change.
“Take a look down there and you will see long lines of slaves in chains, each slave carrying a stone. They are guarded by a host of soldiers. The more slaves there are, the better for the state — or so we always thought. But the more slaves there are, the more we have to be afraid of their rebelling. So we increase the size of our guard.
“We are obliged to feed our slaves well, otherwise they will not be able to perform their heavy manual labour. But still they are lazy and inclined to rebellion. See how slowly they move, and the guards have become lazy and do not bother using their whips to beat even the strongest and healthiest slaves. But they will soon be moving much more quickly. They won’t need any guards. The guards themselves will be turned into slaves. This can be effected in the following way: “Before sunset today heralds will be sent out everywhere to proclaim the pharaoh’s decree: With the dawn of the new day all slaves will he granted complete freedom. For each stone brought to the city, the free men will receive one coin. The coins may be exchanged for food, clothing housing a palace in town, or even a whole town. From here on in, you are free peopled
After the priests had let Cratius’ words sink in, one of them, the eldest, said:
“You are a demon, Cratius! The demonry resulting from your plan will cover most of the nations of the world.”
“So, I may indeed be a demon, and what I have thought up, people in the future may call democracy”
At sunset the decree was proclaimed to the slaves. They were astounded. Many of them could not sleep at night, thinking about the new and happy life that lay ahead of them.
The next morning the priests and the pharaoh once again climbed up to the lookout platform atop the artificial moun-tain. They could not believe the scene unfolding before their eyes. Thousands of former slaves chasing one after the other, hauling the same stones as before. Dripping with sweat, many of them were carrying two stones apiece. Others with only one stone in their hands, were literally running, kicking up the dust as they ran. Some of the guards were also hauling stones. These people, who now considered themselves free — after all, they were no longer in chains — strove to obtain as many of the sought-after coins as they could, so that they could build a happy life for themselves.
Cratius remained at his post on the platform for several months after that, continuing to observe with satisfaction what was going on below. The transformation was colossal. Some of the slaves had organised themselves into groups and built themselves carts. Then they piled stones on top of the carts, and pushed them along, their skin covered in sweat.
They will invent many more devices, Cratius thought to himself with satisfaction. Internal services have already started — food and water delivery. Some slaves have been eating right on the go, not wanting to waste time going back to the barracks for a meal, andpaying for the food delivery with the coins they’ve earned. Wow! They’ve also got doctors going around, offering help to people with physical needs right on the spot — also for coins. And they’ve appointed themselves traffic regulators. Soon they’ll be choosing their own rulers and judges. Let them choose: after all, they consider themselves free now, whereas nothing has really changed — they’re still hauling the same stones as before...
And so they have been running, down through the millennia right up to the present day, through the dust, sweating to carry the heavy stones. And today the descendants of those slaves still keep up their senseless running.
“You’re probably thinking of ordinary working people, Anastasia?” I observed. “Sure, anybody could agree with that. But you can’t apply the term slaves to heads of corporations, or government officials, or entrepreneurs.”
“Do you see a difference, Vladimir? If so, tell me what it is.”
“On the one hand you’ve got people labouring and hauling stones like slaves. The others are in charge of the hauling — or, in today’s terms, managing the operation.”
“But managing, after all, is still work, and often more com-plex work than slaves hauling stones.”
“Well, in a sense you’re right: entrepreneurs have a bit more thinking to do. Their thought is occupied with their work from morning ’til night. So, does that mean that the pharaohs, the presidents and chancellors are slaves, too?” “Yes, that is correct. Even the priests have become slaves, the ones who dreamt up this whole fateful scheme.”
“But if there are slaves, there must also be slave-owners. Who are they, if you aren’t including even the priests in this category?”
“The slave-owner is the artificial world people have been creating themselves. And the guards sit within most people’s minds or bodies, whipping them and making them earn coins.”
“It’s a sad scene indeed,” I observed, “and it looks as though there’s no way out. Over the past thousands of years empires have come and gone, religions and laws have changed, but in fact nothing has really changed: just as Man was a slave before, he remains one now. Tell me, is there anyway this situation can be corrected?”
“How? And who can do it?”
“What d’you mean, imaged What kind of image?”
“The image that offers people a different situation. Judge for yourself, Vladimir: people who control the world today through money believe that only power and money can bring happiness to Man. And all the people out there striving to earn a few coins have convinced them that they are right. But often — very often, in fact — the winners in this senseless rat-race are the ones who suffer the most. They reach illusory heights and feel, more acutely than others, the whole senselessness of their life. I shall show you a scene from the future — go ahead and describe it. Let it be played out in real life.”