Welcome back to Trafford Publishing Author’s Corner for part two of Mark Gooding’s two-part series. Gooding continues to share the story behind his jocular novel Organisms. Although most of the sentiment behind Organisms is unyielding, Gooding expresses his appreciation that society has maintained pragmatic views, rather than falling victim to the political desires of control.
I’ve always gotten a kick out of those B horror movies of the fifties, and the political subtext of my favorite, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, is similar to that in Organisms. I hope Organisms is similarly entertaining. The novel was written tongue in cheek, but of course, the purpose of satire is generally to poke fun at power. That is what Organisms does.
Anybody who is bothered by the implicit connection between the novel’s president and our current holder of that office—a connection readers have been quick to make without any prompting from me—can insert George W. Bush into the role of the nameless, faceless president if that’s less threatening. The connection with Bush is a little more tenuous than that with his successor, but the shoe still fits.
Bush’s fantasy about an “ownership society,” which led, with plenty of good old-fashioned “bipartisan support,” to the collapse of the housing market and the Great Recession, is very similar in character to the appeals Hitler made to the German people, especially the young, to try to inspire a sense of “ownership” in the German culture on the part of the country’s poorest, disenfranchised citizens. “Hey, we’re all in this together! Let’s make everybody feel welcome!” Hitler enjoined his compatriots. Bush’s idea was vastly different in that it wanted to instill a sense of independence and self-reliance in those who were down and out, but it was similar in that it wanted to make everybody feel a part of the great American enterprise.
If we all own our own homes, we’ll all feel like we have a stake in the country and the culture. And that was precisely what Hitler wanted to do: make every German feel like a valid and cherished participant in the Third Reich—every German, of course, except those who, mostly through their greed and smug complacency, were holding everybody else back. “Let’s make the working poor feel wanted and needed!” Hitler exhorted. How can anybody object to a cause so noble? Don’t we all want to feel part of something larger than ourselves?
The point is that only in the movies do arch villains twist their moustaches while laughing maliciously and vowing world domination—apparently just for the sake of world domination. Real life’s villains generally have the intention of making the world a better place for “the people.” Their villainy is in the fatal conceit that Hayek tried to warn the world about half a century ago. No human—or group of humans, in the case of Roosevelt and his “brain trust,” for example—is capable of realizing such grandiose intentions. There are just too many variables hard at work to confound such best-laid plans, and the planners never know as much as they think they do and are never as smart as they think they are. And that doesn’t even account for the fact that there are also just too many would-be planners, with too many divergent ideas about what the plans should be.
We all know what happens when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, and we all know what material was used to pave the road to Hell. In my view, a demagogue is a demagogue is a demagogue. Put any face on him you want; the results are generally unpleasant, especially for “the people.”
In what I like to call “the Star Wars dichotomy,” there are good guys and there are bad guys, and it’s never hard to figure out which side to root for. The real world is a little trickier. Everybody thinks he’s a good guy, and both sides have their cheering sections. But there’s still a dichotomy: between those—let’s call them idealists—who fantasize about some kind of perfect world (whatever that’s supposed to look like), and those of us—let’s call us realists—who see a greater threat to everybody’s freedom, prosperity, safety, and comfort in the idealists and their fantasies than in the world’s imperfections. (An excellent place to read about this dichotomy is in Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions, by the way.)
In Organisms, Martin Wentzler plays the idealist whose utopian cult classic presents a vision of perfection—his vision, of course. It’s a vision in which everybody has plenty of time for love and leisure, but we never get to see the folks who are mopping the floors or cleaning the toilets—or for that matter building and repairing the machines that make Paradise possible.
What does a perfect world look like, anyway? Who cleans up after the idealists in a perfect world? Wentzler may not know how to create a perfect world—except in fiction—but he certainly is ready and willing to take advantage of one when it comes along. And, of course, he’s ready and willing to do his own small part to help it come along.
Our world has its share of idealists who are just sure they could make the world a better place if the rest of us lunkheads would just fall in line and cooperate. Don’t we realize it’s our own best interests they have in mind? In Organisms, cooperation is finally assured, thanks to a bit of creative science. In our real world the lunkheads still have their say, and we should all be thankful for that.
Organisms was a fun novel to write; I hope it is a fun novel to read.
Trafford Publishing Author’s Corner thank Mark Gooding for his contribution and for his ability show us that the gravity of certain topics can be adapted into books in a jovial manner, whilst still expressing a significant message.
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