Fox News announced today that conservative reporter, commentator, and (let’s face it) philosopher Tucker Carlson is leaving the network. During Carlson’s time on Fox News, his show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, was regularly the top-rated cable news show. His last show was Friday night.
The very next night, at the Heritage Foundation’s 50th-anniversary celebration, Tucker Carlson delivered a thoroughly engaging keynote address on the decline of American values and the rise of liberalism and leftism. During the course of his speech, Carlson boldly declared that policy debates in America are now an outright war between theological good and evil. And many conservatives, he explained, seem recalcitrant to admit this fact.
“None of this makes sense in conventional political terms,” Carlson stated, referring to what he called “the transgenderist movement” and the ever-more-rabid pro-abortion lobby. He continued, “When people … decide that the goal is to destroy things — destruction for its own sake — ‘Hey, let’s tear it down’ — what you’re watching is not a political movement, it’s evil.”
Carlson then channels the great Christian author and thinker C.S. Lewis in defining both good and evil. “Good,” the journalist-cum-philosopher propounded, “is characterized by order, calmness — tranquility, peace, whatever you want to call it, lack of conflict — cleanliness.” Evil, he asserted, is characterized by the opposite of those simple but noble qualities: disorder, chaos, violence, and filth. “And by the way,” Carlson added, “I think the Athenians would have agreed with this; this is not necessarily just a Christian notion, this kind of a, let’s say, widely agreed upon understanding of good and evil.”
C.S. Lewis said nearly the same thing 80 years ago. In his 1943 nonfiction book, The Abolition of Man, Lewis described a set of objective, immutable principles he called the Tao. The Tao, or natural law, forms the basis of both Western and Eastern morality, according to Lewis. It is common to Greco-Roman and Norse pagans, Confucianists, Buddhists, and, of course, Christians. Guided by the Tao, Lewis is able to examine objective good and objective evil.
Lewis also examines the possibility of a society that has no objective good or objective evil. For such an ideological state to be achieved, Lewis posits that there must be a cabal of “conditioners,” that is, a set of shadowy cultural elites working behind the scenes to manipulate education and national sentiment to produce a new generation willing to work, fight, live, and die for a set of arbitrary goals benefitting or corresponding to the ideals of the conditioners rather than the ideals of the Tao.
Although rarely discussed outside of literary circles, Lewis paired much of his nonfiction with his more widely celebrated works of fiction; the companion piece to The Abolition of Man is an apocalyptic fairy tale titled That Hideous Strength. The villains of the novel correspond to the conditioners in The Abolition of Man: a group of scientists, sociologists, economists, politicians, and bureaucrats called the National Institute of Coordinated Experiments. The cabal works behind the scenes to manipulate national sentiment, using everything from newspapers to engineered public emergencies in order to serve its own warped, relativistic goals. One of those goals, it is later revealed, is literal human sacrifice to literal demons.
One might ask why a group of empirically minded scientists and godless bureaucrats can succumb, at their highest levels, to occult practices. In The Abolition of Man, Lewis explains:
The serious magical endeavor and the serious scientific endeavor are twins: one was sickly and died, the other strong and throve. But they were twins. They were born of the same impulse.… There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the “wisdom” of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdued reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique; and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious — such as digging up and mutilating the dead.… The true object is to extend Man’s power to the performance of all things possible.
The villains of That Hideous Strength are not Satanists who seek power to further their goals; rather, in seeking power through an abandonment of self to modern science, they sell their souls and become Satanists. Fittingly, they do not even call the novel’s demons “demons” but extraterrestrial “macrobes” whose wills must be exercised over mankind.
According to Tucker Carlson’s analysis of America’s present condition, Lewis’ villains are very real.
Carlson noted that arguments in favor of abortion previously consisted of claiming that abortion is “sometimes necessary,” but that these arguments have now progressed to the point sought by the conditioners: “If you’re telling me that abortion is a positive good … you’re arguing for child sacrifice.… That’s like an Aztec principle, actually.”
While Lewis’s magician-scientists might have been willing to mutilate the dead, today’s magician-scientists are foaming at the mouth to mutilate the genitals of living children. Tucker Carlson is absolutely right when he says that today’s policy debates are not policy debates but, as C.S. Lewis predicted, a war between good and evil. One can only hope that, as he parts ways with Fox, Carlson will continue to boldly voice such Christian and conservative ideas and becomes today’s C.S. Lewis.