Political Correctness, The Matrix, and Harrison Bergeron

I feel like this could become a geeky party game: give me three random things and see what connection I find.

The original Matrix and its components have been used as an allegory for nearly anything and everything under the sun.  However, flaws in the story have also been a subject of conversation.  One of these is the fact that using humans as batteries to power their own illusions is technically infeasible…keeping a human body alive requires a much greater energy input than can be obtained by its output.  Futurama once used this as an amusing plot point.

But I have come to think that even this is an instructive point.  The key point of The Matrix’s universe is that humans live in an illusory world.  By constructing that illusory world to be dependent on its participants for power, the point is made that living in such an illusion is an unsustainable drain on human productivity and potential.  Indeed it literally saps the energy of its participants in an unsustainable manner.

And such it is with political correctness, something most of the bloggers I follow would associate with the Blue Pill world.  Every day countless resources in the form of time, energy, money, and materiel are expended to prop up a world that isn’t real.  (Much like The Parable of the Cupcakery…)  For brevity’s sake I’ll point to the broken system of financing higher education.  Under the Blue Pill paradigm that everyone needs to go to college and everyone deserves to go to college, massive amounts of funding have been made available to send people to college who don’t need to be there and who aren’t academically prepared to be there.  Supply of graduates has far outstripped demand, colleges are soaking up these extra students in the form of ever-expanding liberal arts programs with little hope of landing a related job, and students who are only partially funded are encouraged to take out massive loans to fund their share of their worthless education, leaving them indebted for life for no good reason whatsoever.  It feels good to send underpriviledged, underqualified, disadvantaged, pick-your-label high school students to college, but after decades of this practice the numbers are clearly showing what a massive waste of resources this has been.  We are worse off for trying to maintain the illusion that we live in a society where everyone needs and gets to go to college.

Which reminds me a bit of Harrison Bergeron, a short story by Kurt Vonnegut about a dystopian society in which a counsel of government officials hands out arbitrarily imposed handicaps to keep everyone equal.  Beautiful people wear ugly masks, good dancers wear heavy weights to prevent them from appearing graceful, etc.  A lot of work is done in this society, for sure.  But the work goes into maintaining an illusion of equality of condition, and as a result, no one is better off for all this effort.

I’m not earnestly attempting to retcon what was probably just a plothole in The Matrix, but the observation that there was a point to be learned from it just couldn’t go unspoken of.


3 thoughts on “Political Correctness, The Matrix, and Harrison Bergeron

  1. Pingback: Post-Modernism Understood Through Aristotle’s Four Causes | iParallax

  2. Pingback: Post-Modernism’s Final Causes and Pyrrhic Victory | iParallax

  3. Pingback: John C. Wright’s “The Unified Field Theory of Madness” | iParallax

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