Chapter 2                       Dance With The Devil         By Gunther Schwab                   Written in 1963.



dressed in the latest New York fashion, with nothing devilish in his appearance.

He bowed to Rolande, and then to the Boss.

"Ah, Mondo. My guests require some information from the Progress Department.

You can speak quite freely."


Mondo stepped back a couple of paces and stood for a while with bowed head, gathering his thoughts.

Then he began to speak and seemed to be directing what he said chiefly towards the girl.


"Life has existed on earth for about two billion years. From the moment of its coming into being,

it carried within itself those basic laws which are valid throughout the world.

These laws are inexorable, immutable and binding upon all living things.

Nature is older than man.

Whatever forms life may have taken upon earth, the laws to which it is subject were never different

from those to which it is subject today.

These laws have been tested millions upon millions of times,

long before man emerged out of the various species that preceded him

and assumed dominion over the earth.

In the life of this little star, man is but as the twinkling of an eye."


Mondo paused for a moment, smiling at Rolande's rapt and astonished face.

Then he continued :

"Man is an integral part of nature; nature is geared to slow evolution.

If environment is changed too quickly, then life can­not follow it and must die."


Groot interrupted. "That is precisely the meaning of progress," he cried, eagerly.

"It enables man to adjust himself to changing circumstance."


Mondo: "That is precisely the meaning of the idea of pro­gress, which is my own invention.

It means that man continues to change his environment at a mounting pace and with patho­logical haste.

Man is quite incapable of bringing about any change in himself at a comparable speed."


Sten: "Then man will return to nature?"


Mondo: "Man has neglected and lost his capacity to do so. Laced with the powers of nature,

he is no longer capable of life. Every beast, every tree is more efficient than he.

Take away from man his money, his house, his food; take his clothes and his car,

and all the aids with which he supports his decadent existence, and place him naked and helpless

in the world of natural forces before which every bird, every blade of grass must justify itself.

You will find within the realm of nature no more pathetic figure than Man.


"It is I who invented the slogan that salvation can only come from progress;

it is I who tossed that nonsense into the midst of mankind.

I taught them to value progress above everything;

it is I who planted that hysterical haste in the human heart that eternally seeks the new;

it is I who taught them to despise the eternal and unchanging, and all slow and healthy growths,

made diem bring 'Progress' to the unspoiled races and so poison them in body and mind."


Groot remarked: "You seem to suggest that all inventions are inspired by the Devil

and are devilish in their effects."


Mondo: "Only such as transgress against the commands of nature."


The Devil: "When we come across inventions that might possibly serve life,

my agents have orders to take them out of the hands of the inventors and either use them

for purposes that are inimical to life, or suppress them."


The engineer angrily raised his head. "The picture you draw may well correspond with your own plans

and your own desires. In much of what you have said there is an element of truth,

but you under-estimate the human spirit.

The achievements of medicine and of science as a whole will ultimately bring

all your devilish plans to nothing."


Mondo gave a polite and gentle smile. "You will have to hurry then," he said.

"We know very well that almost all technico-chemical achievements go contrary to life,

even when men boastfully declare that they help to make life more abundant."


This made the engineer quite furious. "That's a shockingly one-sided view," he cried.

"It's the very opposite of the truth; all the world over we are deliberately raising

the standard of living, and that will steadily make life a finer,

healthier and more beautiful thing than it is today."


Mondo exchanged a glance with the Devil.

"What actually do you mean by a standard of living?" he asked the engineer.

"Can 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."


"Excellent," gleefully cried the Devil. "For once we are in complete agreement.

But my representatives have given man­kind quite a different sedative.

The living standard of a people is the purchasing power of its income expressed in terms of money."


Mondo: "You can read that in any book of economics, and so far no economist has realized

what a low estimate of human life it represents. As it is, the standard of living,

calculated in terms of money, has become the measure of human satisfaction."


But the engineer refused to be intimidated. "Whatever you may say," he cried,

"the result of 150 years of technical progress has been the doubling of the average

food intake and a rise of10,000 per cent in the consumption of industrial products.

What more do you want?"


"Yes, what more do I want? I, the Devil, am very satisfied indeed, for we know something

which we have made men for­get, namely, that happiness and contentment can only be had

if man will reduce his wants to a minimum.

Real riches are to be found in the poverty of his requirements."


Mondo: "That is why I do all in my power to whip up their desires.

I tell men that the possession of a car, of a television set, or a refrigerator,

of a wardrobe full to bursting, are things which belong to the very essence of humanity.

I am only a devil, Mr. Groot, but I could well imagine an unchanging and eternal standard

depending neither on passion nor business, a standard that did not cultivate the ludicrous

external embellishments of human existence but the values of true life, a standard which

was imposed by the spirit and perfected in the spirit, a standard that resulted from inner quiet

and was fulfilled in faith, in goodness, in love and in beauty."


Rolande showed the astonishment of a profoundly startled child.

"You speak like someone with true nobility," she said.


The Boss interrupted, "Oh, he's a devil all right. Have no doubts about that!

And it is he who has blinded man to this lapidary truth.

A general, if he's to be successful, must know where the enemy has his best troops."


Mondo: "Man is co-operating quite splendidly with us. Who­ever has been in contact with

the idea of progress and with modern man's conception of the good of life, always asks for more.

The more primitive he is, the more he asks; and it completely escapes his notice that through

such artificial raising of his needs, he loses all the social gain which during the last century

he shed his blood to attain."


Sten broke in: "Men will turn back as soon as they realize this."

"There is no turning back, Mr. Stolpe. The machinery of

progress has become independent of man; it runs by itself and drags him along,

and man does not know where this dance of the Devil will end."


The Boss laughed: "But we know it. Every sound develop­ment is the fruit of constancy and quiet,

that is why we have condemned man to restlessness. You will now understand

why we have made an idol of constantly changing fashion.


Every year a new car, every half-year a new fashion in clothes and in art.

All these things are merely the small, unimportant symptoms of a trend, which I have initiated.

People no longer ask whether a thing is good or bad, but whether it is modern or out of date.

Yes, we have so intensified the pathological mania for change that men can no longer endure

anything that has remained the same over a period of time.

Do tell him that story about the Swedish professor."


Mondo: "You mean Gustafson? He thought that our cereals were getting antiquated;

for instance, he declared that barley had hardly undergone a change for half a million years.

Modem research must, therefore, change the different types of cereal with radio-active isotopes,

and so modernize them."


The Boss grinned. "A typical example of scientific lunacy. Something that has maintained

its value over 500,000 years must, for that very reason, be changed.


Anything else, Mondo?"


The Devil of Progress made a slight bow before his Lord and Master.

"May I say a few words in conclusion, Boss?

True pro­gress can only be of a spiritual and intellectual kind, and so in the world of man

as it is at present true progress does not exist at all. In the midst of their over-intensive civilization,

mankind has sunk back to the level of the cannibal. Divorced from nature without manners or morals,

and without care for the future, they are laying their unwitting hands on the very foundations of Life.


"Thus I leave developed and intensified the possibilities of complete destruction throughout the centuries.

I have done this slowly, in silence, and beneath the surface.

And mankind, in­toxicated by their so-called progress, has never noticed me.

With pride and satisfaction,

I can say today that we have come close to the final chaos."



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