I want you to go on to picture the enlightenment or ignorance of our human condition somewhat as follows:
'Imagine an underground chamber like a cave, with a long entrance open to the daylight and as wide as the cave. In this chamber are men who have been prisoners since they were children, their legs and necks being so fastened that they can only look straight ahead of them and cannot turn their heads. Some way off, behind and higher up, a fire is burning, and between the fire and the prisoners and above them runs a road, in front of which a curtain-wall has been built, like the screen at puppet shows between the operators and their audience, above which they show their puppets.'
'Imagine further that there are men carrying all sorts of gear along behind the curtain-wall, projecting above it and including figures of men and animals made of wood and stone and all sorts of other materials, and that some of these men, as you would expect, are talking and some not.'
'An odd picture and an odd sort of prisoner.'
'They are drawn from life', I replied. 'For, tell me, do you think our prisoners could see anything of themselves or their fellows except the shadows thrown by the fire on the wall of the cave opposite them?'
'How could they see anything else if they were prevented from moving their heads all their lives?'
'And would they see anything more of the objects carried along the road?'
'Of course not.'
'Then if they were able to talk to each other, would they not assume that the shadows they saw were the real things?'
'And if the wall of their prison opposite them reflected sound, don't you think that they would suppose, whenever one of the passers-by on the road spoke, that the voice belonged to the shadow passing before them?'
'They would be bound to think so.'
'And so in every way they would believe that the shadows of the objects we mentioned were the whole truth.'
'Then think what would naturally happen to them if they were released from their bonds and cured of their delusions. Suppose one of them were let loose, and suddenly compelled to stand up and turn his head and look and walk towards the fire; all these actions would be painful and he would be too dazzled to see properly the objects of which he used to see the shadows. What do you think he would say if he was told that what he used to see was so much empty nonsense and that he was now nearer reality and seeing more correctly, because he was turned towards objects that were more real, and if on top of that he were compelled to say what each of the passing objects was when it was pointed out to him? Don't you think he would be at a loss, and think that what he used to see was far truer than the objects now being pointed out to him?'
'Yes, far truer.'
'And if he were made to look directly at the light of the fire, it would hurt his eyes and he would turn back and retreat to the things which he could see properly, which he would think really clearer than the things being shown him.'
'And if,' I went on, 'he were forcibly dragged up the steep and rugged ascent and not let go till he had been dragged out into the sunlight, the process would be a painful one, to which he would much object, and when he emerged into the light his eyes would be so dazzled by the glare of it that he wouldn't be able to see a single one of the things he was now told were real.'
'Certainly not at first,' he agreed.
'Because, of course, he would need to grow accustomed to the light before he could see things in the upper world outside the cave. First he would find it easiest to look at shadows, next at the reflections of men and other objects in water, and later on at the objects themselves. After that he would find it easier to observe the heavenly bodies and the sky itself at night, and to look at the light of the moon and stars rather than at the sun and its light by day.'
'The thing he would be able to do last would be to look directly at the sun itself, and gaze at it without reflections in water or any other medium, but as it is in itself.'
'That must come last.'
'Later on he would come to the conclusion that it is the sun that produces the changing seasons and years and controls everything in the visible world, and is in a sense responsible for everything that he and his fellow-prisoners used to see.'
'That is the conclusion which he would obviously reach.'
'And when he thought of his first home and what passed for wisdom there, and of his fellow-prisoners, don't you think he would congratulate himself on his fortune and be sorry for them?'
'Very much so.'
'Then what do you think would happen,' I asked, 'if he went back to sit in his old seat in the cave? Wouldn't his eyes be blinded by the darkness, because he had come in suddenly out of the sunlight?'
'And if he had to discriminate between the shadows, in competition with the other prisoners, while he was still blinded and before his eyes got used to the darkness – a process that would take some time – wouldn't he be likely to make a fool of himself?
And they would say that his visit to upper world had ruined his sight, and that the ascent was not worth even attempting.
And if anyone tried to release them and lead them up, they would kill him if they could lay hands on him.'
'They certainly would.'
--- end excerpt Plato
“This irrational behavior is only possible because we, the citizens of the nation, permit it. It is no longer a question of controlling a military-industrial complex, but rather, of keeping the United States from becoming a totally military culture.” — The United States: A militarized society, Jerome B. Wiesner, president emeritus MIT, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Aug. 1985, pg. 104
This is the outline of Jerome B. Wiesner's own militarized career according to wikipedia:
“Jerome B. Wiesner (May 30, 1915 – October 21, 1994), was associated with MIT for most of his career, joining the MIT Radiation Laboratory in 1942 and working on radar development. He worked briefly at Los Alamos, returned to become a professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT, and worked at and ultimately became director of the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT (RLE). He became Dean of the School of Science in 1964, Provost in 1966, and President from 1971 to 1980. He was also elected a life member of the MIT Corporation.”
These much noted pangs of belated conscience evidently make zero impact on the dystopian forces which they unleashed in their heyday, or, as one often wonders, upon their own decrypt soul as they “died holily in their beds.” (from MacBeth 5:1:47-49 “Yet I have known those which have walked in their sleep who have died holily in their beds.”) Perhaps this is why it is respectable to make [these lofty moral proclamations only] upon retirement.
Zahir Ebrahim: What Have I Learnt as a Student of Truth?