June 20, 1944
It is with the utmost affection that I write you, my dear nephew and subordinate. I thought it might be beneficial for you to be privy to information my sources have lately shared with me. It has come to the attention of our Fuhrer that some generals are giving their troops a good deal more freedom than has been our usual practice of the past. I hope I need not inform you that he is quite upset at the potentially ruinous consequences of such radical measures. Indeed, there are a good number of other generals besides myself who are in a tizzy that such behavior could even be possible, much less found present, in our great military.
Now, you may be thinking that you can see certain benefits in such an approach. After all, it would seem that independent, mature and autonomously functioning soldiers who are themselves from the heart loyal to the Fuhrer would make up the stronger army. Our cause would be better equipped if we were to employ such an approach on a large scale, you say. For example, you may imagine a battle in which you as the commanding officer might be eliminated. You in your feeble mind are thinking that the troops would be more able to function in your absence given such development. You suppose they would be more adept at independent thought and decision-making.
But you fail to take into account the significant risks you take in granting your troops any such freedom. While it is true that some soldiers may become fully functioning, independently loyal and faithful cannon fodder, there will no doubt be others who take advantage of such "grace." These dissenters would compromise the tight control we hold over these cretins. You must seriously contemplate the results of removing these heavy loads with which we have laden them. Much time and effort has been expended in enslaving them. And, these bonds are there for a purpose!
This brings me to a key point you must understand if you are ever to be worth your salt as an up and coming tyrant. Our chief goal must be control. For I have handed on to you as of first importance what I had in turn received: chiefly, the preeminence of order and predictability. As a leader you must in every way convey a message of order, stability and security. No doubt the rise of our Fuhrer to power is in part due to his beautiful compulsion to seek, yes, his craving of, security and predictability. And, it is so sweet to see the results in this well ordered country, and we are beginning to see some results in Poland as well. Of course, we must be patient. These things take time.
Finally, you may be thinking that such an approach that has been so foolishly attempted and now nipped in the bud by our Fuhrer would enable us to achieve real unity in our great army. This thought simply betrays your obvious lack of experience and real knowledge of our true goals. Unity is achieved as free people submit to one another. This is a messy process we want to avoid at all costs. Rather, we may impose a much simpler conformity that is essentially external and can be prescribed, measured and monitored. A variety of rules and regulations strictly enforced are sufficient to make this work. You will find great success with this tried and true approach. Can anyone really complain that our citizens do not enjoy the intoxication of being part of the chosen who are ridding the world of the undesirables?
As a commanding officer, understand this point well. You cannot tolerate the differences and loathsome diversity created by real unity, especially when a unanimity will achieve much more desirable results. If you choose the road of developing true unity, it will have to be based on the vile concept so highly esteemed by our enemies, that creature they call freedom. Thus, this idealistic unity you dream of must be based on mutual submission and be freely and voluntarily given. What kind of authority do you fancy yourself to yield if your men must give it freely? Do you want to diminish your ability to coerce? God forbid. You must protect yourself from critical examination. You must at all costs maintain your power. To lose your authority is to lose your importance. Maintain it through conformity. Hold on tight through total control over the decisions and actions of your inferiors. Manipulation and control are your chief tools. Use them well!
Our approach is the only viable alternative. To change at this point in the war would certainly lead to the dissolution of our great army and certain defeat (besides the loss of my summer home). But to continue the status quo will undeniably lead to our immediate victory. By attacking at Normandy our enemies have sealed their fate. They are right where we want them. The reliability of our approach will soon be made manifest to the whole world.
Till next time.
Your affectionate uncle and loving superior,
P.S. And please do spend some time examining your motives. It appears you are falling into the trap of looking after the soldiers "best interests." Don't forget that they exist to serve you, not the other way around.
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Wormwood and Screwtape are taken from The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. The ideas concerning legalistic Christianity and the abuse of spiritual power come from Healing Spiritual Abuse by Ken Blue, an exposition of Matthew 23 as it applies to our present day Christian ministries (1993, Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois).
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