Sunday, September 28, 2008

Phlip K. Dick on John McCain

In Philip K. Dick's classic novel The Man Who Japed, purity and morality are emphasized through "Morec" ("Moral Reclamation, which actually sounds suspiciously like this "national service" nonsense), in which citizens are policed by themselves, and have to stand at weekly neighborhood meetings and defend themselves against accusations of impurity.

Allen Purcell is the main character in the book- an advertiser and propagandist who's just been offered the job of director of Telemedia ("T-M"), which is the national propaganda/entertainment bureaucracy. Except, he's suffering from a split personality, John Coates, who is a practical joker who has sawed the head off a statue of the beloved hero Major Streiter, apparently in an attempt to foment discord among the Morec-benumbed populace.

From there the book gets weird.

Anyway, at one point Mr. Purcell finds himself accused of drinking wine, and at the neighborhood meeting, someone comes to his defense, and offers up words that could easily have been used by John McCain to describe himself:

"This a mockery is. Mr. Purcell is one of our most distinguished members... Are we supposed to believe that a man involved in the maintenance of society's ethical standards is, himself, morally defective? What does this say about our society in general? This a paradox is. It is just such high-minded men, devoted to public service, who set by their own examples our standards of conduct...

"Some of us seem to imagine the more respectable a person is the more reason to attack him. When we attack Mr. Purcell we attack our better selves. And there's no percentage in that.

"These meetings... operate on the idea that a man is morally responsible to his community. That's a good idea. But his community is also morally responsible to him... It should realize that having a citizen like Mr. Purcell up there is a privilege."


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