Chapter 2 Dance With The Devil By Gunther Schwab Written in 1963.
ENTERED. HE WAS A TALL MAN OF UNCERTAIN AGE,
in the latest New York fashion, with nothing devilish in his appearance.
bowed to Rolande, and then to the Boss.
Mondo. My guests require some information from the Progress Department.
can speak quite freely."
stepped back a couple of paces and stood for a while with bowed head, gathering
he began to speak and seemed to be directing what he said chiefly towards the
has existed on earth for about two billion years. From the moment of its coming
carried within itself those basic laws which are valid throughout the world.
laws are inexorable, immutable and binding upon all living things.
is older than man.
forms life may have taken upon earth, the laws to which it is subject were
those to which it is subject today.
laws have been tested millions upon millions of times,
before man emerged out of the various species that preceded him
assumed dominion over the earth.
the life of this little star, man is but as the twinkling of an eye."
paused for a moment, smiling at Rolande's rapt and astonished face.
he continued :
is an integral part of nature; nature is geared to slow evolution.
environment is changed too quickly, then life cannot follow it and must
interrupted. "That is precisely the meaning of progress," he cried,
enables man to adjust himself to changing circumstance."
"That is precisely the meaning of the idea of progress, which is my own
means that man continues to change his environment at a mounting pace and with
is quite incapable of bringing about any change in himself at a comparable
"Then man will return to nature?"
"Man has neglected and lost his capacity to do so. Laced with the powers
is no longer capable of life. Every beast, every tree is more efficient than
away from man his money, his house, his food; take his clothes and his car,
all the aids with which he supports his decadent existence, and place him naked
the world of natural forces before which every bird, every blade of grass must
will find within the realm of nature no more pathetic figure than Man.
is I who invented the slogan that salvation can only come from progress;
is I who tossed that nonsense into the midst of mankind.
taught them to value progress above everything;
is I who planted that hysterical haste in the human heart that eternally seeks
is I who taught them to despise the eternal and unchanging, and all slow and
diem bring 'Progress' to the unspoiled races and so poison them in body and
remarked: "You seem to suggest that all inventions are inspired by the
are devilish in their effects."
"Only such as transgress against the commands of nature."
Devil: "When we come across inventions that might possibly serve life,
agents have orders to take them out of the hands of the inventors and either
purposes that are inimical to life, or suppress them."
engineer angrily raised his head. "The picture you draw may well
correspond with your own plans
your own desires. In much of what you have said there is an element of truth,
you under-estimate the human spirit.
achievements of medicine and of science as a whole will ultimately bring
your devilish plans to nothing."
gave a polite and gentle smile. "You will have to hurry then," he
know very well that almost all technico-chemical achievements go contrary to
when men boastfully declare that they help to make life more abundant."
made the engineer quite furious. "That's a shockingly one-sided
view," he cried.
the very opposite of the truth; all the world over we are deliberately raising
standard of living, and that will steadily make life a finer,
and more beautiful thing than it is today."
exchanged a glance with the Devil.
actually do you mean by a standard of living?" he asked the engineer.
you define it?"
Groot thought for a moment. "To have a home," he said at length.
"To be able to provide decently for your family by some healthy kind of activity,
and to be able to enjoy life."
gleefully cried the Devil. "For once we are in complete agreement.
my representatives have given mankind quite a different sedative.
living standard of a people is the purchasing power of its income expressed in
terms of money."
"You can read that in any book of economics, and so far no economist has
a low estimate of human life it represents. As it is, the standard of living,
in terms of money, has become the measure of human satisfaction."
the engineer refused to be intimidated. "Whatever you may say," he
result of 150 years of technical progress has been the doubling of the average
intake and a rise of10,000 per cent in the consumption of industrial products.
more do you want?"
what more do I want? I, the Devil, am very satisfied indeed, for we know
we have made men forget, namely, that happiness and contentment can only be
man will reduce his wants to a minimum.
riches are to be found in the poverty of his requirements."
"That is why I do all in my power to whip up their desires.
tell men that the possession of a car, of a television set, or a refrigerator,
a wardrobe full to bursting, are things which belong to the very essence of
am only a devil, Mr. Groot, but I could well imagine an unchanging and eternal
neither on passion nor business, a standard that did not cultivate the
embellishments of human existence but the values of true life, a standard which
imposed by the spirit and perfected in the spirit, a standard that resulted
from inner quiet
was fulfilled in faith, in goodness, in love and in beauty."
showed the astonishment of a profoundly startled child.
speak like someone with true nobility," she said.
Boss interrupted, "Oh, he's a devil all right. Have no doubts about that!
it is he who has blinded man to this lapidary truth.
general, if he's to be successful, must know where the enemy has his best
"Man is co-operating quite splendidly with us. Whoever has been in
idea of progress and with modern man's conception of the good of life, always
asks for more.
more primitive he is, the more he asks; and it completely escapes his notice
artificial raising of his needs, he loses all the social gain which during the
shed his blood to attain."
broke in: "Men will turn back as soon as they realize this."
is no turning back, Mr. Stolpe. The machinery of
has become independent of man; it runs by itself and drags him along,
man does not know where this dance of the Devil will end."
Boss laughed: "But we know it. Every sound development is the fruit of
constancy and quiet,
is why we have condemned man to restlessness. You will now understand
we have made an idol of constantly changing fashion.
year a new car, every half-year a new fashion in clothes and in art.
these things are merely the small, unimportant symptoms of a trend, which I
no longer ask whether a thing is good or bad, but whether it is modern or out
we have so intensified the pathological mania for change that men can no longer
that has remained the same over a period of time.
tell him that story about the Swedish professor."
"You mean Gustafson? He thought that our cereals were getting antiquated;
instance, he declared that barley had hardly undergone a change for half a
research must, therefore, change the different types of cereal with
so modernize them."
Boss grinned. "A typical example of scientific lunacy. Something that has
value over 500,000 years must, for that very reason, be changed.
Devil of Progress made a slight bow before his Lord and Master.
I say a few words in conclusion, Boss?
progress can only be of a spiritual and intellectual kind, and so in the world
it is at present true progress does not exist at all. In the midst of their
has sunk back to the level of the cannibal. Divorced from nature without
manners or morals,
without care for the future, they are laying their unwitting hands on the very
foundations of Life.
I leave developed and intensified the possibilities of complete destruction
throughout the centuries.
have done this slowly, in silence, and beneath the surface.
mankind, intoxicated by their so-called progress, has never noticed me.
pride and satisfaction,
can say today that we have come close to the final chaos."
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