From We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1924):
This is merely a copy, word for word, of what was published this morning in the State newspaper:
"In another hundred and twenty days the building of the Integral will be completed. The great historic hour is near, when the first Integral will rise into the limitless space of the universe. One thousand years ago your heroic ancestors subjected the whole earth to the power of the United State. A still more glorious task is before you: the integration of the indefinite equation of the Cosmos by the use of the glass, electric, fire-breathing Integral. Your mission is to subjugate to the grateful yoke of reason the unknown beings who live on other planets, and who are perhaps still in the primitive state of freedom. If they will not understand that we are bringing them a mathematically faultless happiness, our duty will be to force them to be happy. But before we take up arms, we shall try the power of words.
"In the name of The Well-Doer, the following is announced herewith to all Numbers of the United State:
"Whoever feels capable must consider it his duty to write treatises, poems, manifestoes, odes, and other compositions on the greatness and the beauty of the United State.
"This will be the first cargo which the Integral will carry.
"Long live the United State! Long live the Numbers!! Long live the Well-Doer!!!"
I feel my cheeks burn as I write this. To integrate the colossal, universal equation! To unbend the wild curve, to straighten it out to a tangent--to a straight line! For the United State is a straight line, a great, divine, precise, wise line, the wisest of lines!
--From Record One of We by Eugene Zamiatin (Yevgeny Zamyatin)
(Dutton paperback edition, ), pp. 3-4
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My thesis is that there is a dichotomy between infinity and entropy, between the circle and the arrow. That seems to be the dichotomy set up in We, with the man D-503 on the side of obedience and submission to an entropic Utopia in the form of the United State, versus the woman I-330 on the side of rebellion, an endless cycle of life, and no final revolution. He and the State seek happiness. She and her fellow revolutionaries prefer freedom. The same dichotomy--obedience and submission, which lead to a yearned-for happiness among humanity, versus freedom, with all of its inherent burdens and occasional and perhaps inevitable unhappiness--is also in the parable of the Grand Inquisitor.
* * *
The mission of the Integral is the selfsame mission of the historical and present-day Socialist/Statist. In summary:
To subjugate to the grateful yoke of reason those who live in a primitive state of freedom. Our duty will be to force them to be happy.
The Grand Inquisitor says that humanity yearns for unity and a unified State. The Well-Doer in We provides it, and it's the same goal that is afoot in the world today: Unity, equality, and an equal distribution of all appearances, all abilities, and all things--not individuality, not freedom, not merit. As D-503 writes:
"We" is from God, "I" from the devil.
I don't think it's any coincidence that the woman who disturbs his happiness bears the prefix I.
* * *
And so he sets out in the first of his records "[t]o unbend the wild curve, to straighten it out to a tangent--to a straight line! For the United State is a straight line, a great, divine, precise, wise line, the wisest of lines!" (emphasis added).
The entropic universe is one in which there are outward lines of force, an uncountable number of vectors or arrows pointing away from the Big Bang and an uncentered, unfocused Cosmos towards a definitive end to history. The entropic earthly State lies at the endpoint of History, at the tip of the arrow that flies through Time in its inexorable path. An arrow flies in an arc, though, its path being bent by the force of the feminine Earth. D-503 wants to unbend that wild curve: men draw lines, women move in circles.
* * *
Like Woman, infinity moves in circles that cannot be straightened. Like her, the Earth and its inhabitants are free, in their hearts wild and untamed. They--we--live in and will forever live in "the primitive state of freedom." We cannot be subdued. So get all of that out of your heads, those of you who would like to impose your will upon us. What you're trying to do cannot be done. It's a fantasy and a delusion. We are free, we are made free, and there's nothing you can do about it. Murder, torture, and imprison us: Free. Oppress us: still Free. Try to take away our rights, our individuality, our words, our way of life: Forever Free and Indomitable.
Finally a pertinent quote from a work of today:
In his objection to the idea of the fluidity and mutability of human nature, John Adams resonates with Czeslaw Milosz a century later, the Polish poet laureate who argues that the ultimate enemy of the Communist regime is not the propertied class, Kulaks, and capitalists, the nations and churches which prevent man from recognizing himself as purely proletariat worker, but "Man, This Enemy"--human nature itself, born anew in every generation, with its desire for truth and freedom, is the ultimate enemy of the totalitarian state. (Emphasis added.)
(From "How America's Adams Family Inherited And Preserved The Pilgrim Mind" by historian Susan Hansen on the website of The Federalist, November 24, 2020, here.)
Original text copyright 2020 Terence E. Hanley