How Deus Ex takes major themes from Orwell and Huxley, and my analysis of the endings
I posted this in another thread, but since it turned out to be so huge, I decided that it might justify its own thread.
Here it is, in its entirety.
This is the world that the Illuminati and JC Denton wanted to create, and that is the world that the Knights Templar wanted to destroy.
Are the Knights Templar racist, evil, and bigoted? Yes, but surprise, surprise, they offer the only GOOD path for humanity. The only path that even LEADS to humanity.
The Illuminati want to eliminate individuality by propaganda and constant surveillance of every citizen. There is no doubt in my mind that they represent George Orwell's 1984, where citizens are so stupid that they can say, "Well, the Ministry of Plenty is doing very well today," and then ask if anyone has a razor blade without realizing the irony in that because they've been so effectively disciplined in doublethink.
Has ANYBODY here read ANY dystopian novels? I mean seriously, this surprises me, as CLEARLY Deus Ex Invisible War takes MANY themes from George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. I can't believe that nobody else has brought this up.
The Illuminati want power for the SAKE of power.
This is *EXACTLY* what the Party wanted to do.
Here is an excerpt from the novel to prove my point.
"He came closer to the bed. ‘For ever!’ he repeated. ‘And now let us get back to the question of “how” and “why”. You understand well enough how the Party maintains itself in power. Now tell me why we cling to power. What is our motive? Why should we want power? Go on, speak,’ he added as Winston remained silent.
Nevertheless Winston did not speak for another moment or two. A feeling of weariness had overwhelmed him. The faint, mad gleam of enthusiasm had come back into O’Brien’s face. He knew in advance what O’Brien would say. That the Party did not seek power for its own ends, but only for the good of the majority. That it sought power because men in the mass were frail cowardly creatures who could not endure liberty or face the truth, and must be ruled over and systematically deceived by others who were stronger than themselves. That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better. That the party was the eternal guardian of the weak, a dedicated sect doing evil that good might come, sacrificing its own happiness to that of others. The terrible thing, thought Winston, the terrible thing was that when O’Brien said this he would believe it. You coul
d see it in his face. O’Brien knew everything. A thousand times better than Winston he knew what the world was really like, in what degradation the mass of human beings lived and by what lies and barbarities the Party kept them there. He had understood it all, weighed it all, and it made no difference: all was justified by the ultimate purpose. What can you do, thought Winston, against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy?
‘You are ruling over us for our own good,’ he said feebly. ‘You believe that human beings are not fit to govern themselves, and therefore—’
He started and almost cried out. A pang of pain had shot through his body. O’Brien had pushed the lever of the dial up to thirty-five.
‘That was stupid, Winston, stupid!’ he said. ‘You should know better than to say a thing like that.’
He pulled the lever back and continued:
‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinqu
ishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?’
Winston was struck, as he had been struck before, by the tiredness of O’Brien’s face. It was strong and fleshy and brutal, it was full of intelligence and a sort of controlled passion before which he felt himself helpless; but it was tired. There were pouches under the eyes, the skin sagged from the cheekbones. O’Brien leaned over him, deliberately bringing the worn face nearer.
‘You are thinking,’ he said, ‘that my face is old and tired. You are thinking that I talk of power, and yet I am not even able to prevent the decay of my own body. Can you not understand, Winston, that the individual is only a cell? The weariness of the cell is the vigour of the organism. Do you die when you cut your fingernails?’
He turned away from the bed and began strolling up and down again, one hand in his pocket.
‘We are the priests of power,’ he said. ‘God is power. But at present power is only a word so far as you are concerned. It is time for you to gather some idea of what power means. The first thing you must realize is that power is collective. The individual only has power in so far as he ceases to be an individual. You know the Party slogan: “Freedom is Slavery”. Has it ever occurred to you that it is reversible? Slavery is freedom. Alone — free — the human being is always defeated. It must be so, because every human being is doomed to die, which is the greatest of all failures. But if he can make complete, utter submission, if he can escape from his identity, if he can merge himself in the Party so that he is the Party, then he is all-powerful and immortal. The second thing for you to realize is that power is power over human beings. Over the body but, above all, over the mind. Power over matter — external real
ity, as you would call it — is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute.’"
This is EXACTLY like the Illuminati. They don't want power for the good of the majority, but for the sake of power itself. Clearly the Illuminati ending is very bleak.
Now look at JC Denton's ending. Everybody is happy, there is no suffering, people are unified, there is no war, and the economy prospers.
Let me see here...
I do believe that every one of those items can also be applied to Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World. Indeed, everybody is happy...how could they not be happy? They've been completely and utterly brainwashed into thinking their world is flawless, and the government supports constant sex and drugs (Soma) to get rid of any lingering doubts. Very few people in A Brave New World could be bothered to stop to think how shallow and meaningless their lives are when they are too busy having constant sex and popping soma tablets to get high whenever they feel depressed.
Everybody is happy NOT because the world is good, but because they've been CONDITIONED to be happy. This is even a theme in 1984-even the most MISERABLE citizens of Oceania fully support the government-they can't help it, they're mere shadows of humanity.
There is no suffering in JC Denton's world, therefore every good thing is without meaning. People in JC Denton's world are like insects. Their lives are shallow and pointless. No accomplishment is worth a when there is absolutely nothing bad in the world to compare it to.
Think a world without conflict would be nice? Think again.
Think about reading a book that had zero conflict in it. Would it not repulse you? Would you not throw it in the trash?
ART DEPENDS ON SUFFERING AND CONFLICT
Books depend on conflict to appeal to people. Without conflict, there is no appeal. In JC Denton's world, there are no books worth reading. There will be no movies worth watching and all of the music and the paintings will be empty of meaning. I've heard the argument before, "Oh, in JC Denton's ending, there is still emotion!" No there isn't, for crying out loud. Emotion CAN NOT SURVIVE in JC Denton's world. All art has been destroyed for the sake of "happiness."
This is EXACTLY like A Brave New World. Let me illustrate this with an excerpt from the Savage's debate with Mustapha Mond.
"But the new ones are so stupid and horrible. Those plays, where there's nothing but helicopters flying about and you feel the people kissing." He made a grimace. "Goats and monkeys!" Only in Othello's word could he find an adequate vehicle for his contempt and hatred.
"Nice tame animals, anyhow," the controller murmured parenthetically.
"Why don't you let them see Othello instead?"
"I've told you;it's old. Besides, they couldn't understand it."
THAT IS RIGHT. In JC Denton's world, THERE IS NO SHAKESPEARE. THERE IS NO OTHELLO. THERE IS NO MACBETH, NO ROMEO AND JULIET, NO HAMLET. People can not understand art in a utopian world because ART DEPENDS ON CONFLICT.
"Why not?" [Why not make a new version of Othello for the new world utopia]
"Because our world is not the same as Othello's world. You can't make flivvers without steel--and you can't make tragedies without social instability."
"What?" questioned the Savage, uncomprehending.
"It's one of the conditions of perfect health. That's why we've made the V.P.S. treatements compulsory."
"Violent Passion Surrogate. Regularly once a month. We flood the whole system with adrenin. It's the complete physiological equivalent of fear and rage. All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and being murdered by Othello, without any of the inconveniences."
"But I like the inconveniences."
"We don't," said the Controller. "We prefer to do things comfortably."
"But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."
"In fact," said Mustapha Mond, "you're claiming the right to be unhappy."
"All right then," said the Savage defiantly, "I'm claiming the right to be unhappy."
"Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind." There was a long silence.
"I claim them all," said the Savage at last.
Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders.
"You're welcome," he said.
As you can see, DX2 has a lot of themes from Orwell and Huxley. If you really want to enjoy the storyline of Deus Ex Invisible War then I would have to say that you HAVE to read these books.
And then there is the abolition of individuality. Remember when Helios said, "Yes...share...your mind...with everyone."? Well, that points to there being no individuality in JC Denton's world. Which isn't surprising, seeing as we've already established that art cannot exist in such an environment. Indeed, the citizens of JC Denton's utopia aren't really human beings. They're CELLS. Cells of a larger organism. This theme is explained in both 1984 and A Brave New World. In 1984, O'Brien cooly explains (as he tortures Winston) that the Party can never be overthrown, because every "individual" is just a cell of a larger organism-The Party.
In A Brave New World, someone comments that murder is the least of all crimes, because murder only eliminates one cell. The real crime in A Brave New World is disagreeing with the World State's utopian agenda-that affects multiple cells, and could (theoretically) bring down the whole organism-The World State.
Now let's move on to the Renegade ending. This was the first ending that I picked, because I thought the resulting anarchy would end with the formation of stable countries that through the course of years would develop from despotisms to monarchies to democracies. However, that was not the case. Instead, rather than having what I call the "volcano effect" the anarchy in the Renegade ending had a "nuclear bomb" effect on the world.
Now, let's look at the Knights Templar. When they take over, they plunge the world back into the Dark Ages.
This is a GOOD thing. Humanity was so close to completely transforming itself that it NEEDED to be pushed back a few centuries.
I call upon all historian and science personalities here to consider this from a historical and scientific perspective.
Pushing man back to the Dark Ages would be like a volcano destroying a forest.
Everything is destroyed. All progress is undone. Complete devastation of the ecosystem.
And guess what happens?
The burnt trees and organic matter form a rich soil base that within a century will begin to support an even more impressive ecosystem than the one before it.
THE DESTRUCTION WAS IN THE END A GOOD THING
And guess what is going to happen with the Knights Templar ending?
The people will suffer greatly for many centuries, until a middle class emerges. This middle class will overthrow the feudal system (for it will likely be a feudal system) and lead humanity to a RENAISSANCE!
That is right!
The world will be better off in the end for being pushed back into the Dark Ages.
Surely those of you who studied population growth in Science back in high school will understand where I am coming from.
POPULATION GROWTH HAS UPS AND DOWNS-FLUCTUATIONS. THESE ARE NECESSARY, HEALTHY, NATURAL.
YOU THINK THAT BEING PUSHED BACK TO THE DARK AGES IS BAD, BUT IT IS ONLY A FLUCTUATION IN POPULATION GROWTH...THE POPULATION GOES DOWN, THEN IT COMES BACK UP (Renaissance). IT IS NATURAL, HEALTHY, AND NECESSARY TO PRESERVE THE SPECIES.
And by the way, while I didn't choose the Knights Templar the first time, I did choose it the second time. And because I am a historically-minded person, I can look past the present of the ending and look towards a brighter future. Which, sadly, some people can't do. Probably because when their history teacher was talking about the fall of Carthage and the rise of Rome they were too busy gossiping or catching z's.
Last edited by Haethurn; 12-31-2003 at 11:35 AM.
This is an old thread, but as I replayed Deus Ex 2 just now, I feel compelled to follow-up and urge anyone else who's still thinking about Deus Ex 2 (perhaps now that Deus Ex 3 is almost with us) to follow-up too.
I agree with the essence of this post, which is that most of the Deus Ex 2 endings are dystopian. However I would go further and say that they are all dystopian, depressing and ultimately terminal for some important aspect of humanity.
The Illuminati centralize power and destroy privacy.
The Templars resurrect the Dark Ages of religion, destroying innovation and all differences of opinion.
The Omar elevate individuality and chaos, destroying everything except enduring solitude.
The Dentons centralize democratic government into a well-intended machine that over time destroys the barriers that enable us to remain individuals.
None of these will actually happen, however the internet and globalization are dragging us inevitably towards a hybrid of the Denton and Illuminati scenarios, where diversity of culture is destroyed by constant exposure to the peak of the Internet's long tail of opinion, and where politics and government are increasingly managed by software agents.
Of course, it's entirely possible that Cairo's Nanite Swell will happen, not simply as a localized meteorological phenomenon but as a global biological one; that our food chain will be polluted by genetic engineering, or that nano or genetic technology forces both bacteria and viruses to evolve ever more rapidly along ever more destructive lines, making AIDS and swine flu look like a case of the common cold.
Brave New World indeed.
Last edited by novadove; 06-22-2009 at 12:23 PM.
I actually have been thinking a lot about it lately. I've decided upon the fact that conflict means variety. A perfect world would be essentially imperfect. Without constant war between factions, there would be no change, no dictatorships, no new leaders, nothing to keep things interesting. A perfect world means a strict law which every human being must want to follow. Everyone's rallying for peace, but thankfully, the inevitable peace that will come after something particularly devastating has happened (perhaps nuclear war or genetically-engineered viruses causing a genocide) will not last long. No-one really wants peace, and the fact that we are individuals with differing opinions means that peace will just not last, no matter how much everyone thinks that they do want it.
The foundations of each leadership:
Dentons: Unified democracy
They would all work, but only the Templar and Omar endings offer any sense of freedom. While I hate religion more than anything else in the world, I think that if religion was alone in the sense that it became the government, it would work flawlessly. People would be raised to believe in one thing, and not have to vote between different parties. Limiting freedom is different to stopping it altogether. Every religion has a set of laws to live by, but these limitations are nothing compared to the freedom which it also provides. There are no wars, because people all believe in the same thing. No wars means no conflict, which also limits individuality, but not to the extent that the Dentons and Illuminati endings would.
The Omar's ideal is simply, hide in the shadows until every single faction on earth has killed each other off. Then emerge, clean up what's left of the "winning" faction, and take over from there. But the Omar don't have a set of laws to live by. I think they would encourage different, but altogether new factions, one for each set of ideals (construction, trading, security, etc). Ones that could agree with each other, and live side-by-side peacefully. If that's not possible, which I highly doubt it could be (because factions create differing opinions), then the laws in these new factions would be to not harm other factions, and keep to themselves. I doubt the Omar would want any form of power. They would name themselves as the primary traders in this new world, and they would be happy with it.
The Dentons and Illuminati ending eliminate all forms of individuality, by eliminating privacy and the right to your own opinion. While seemingly "perfect world", they are anything but.
Think about it enough, and it'll almost appear that war is good.
Trust. Duty. Love. Hate. Fear. Lust. Leo.
Ideas, Factions, War and Population Culls!
It's good to see some more folks thinking about this; lots of different ideas.
The thing that's interesting about all the factions is that they are believable; they would clearly appeal to different kinds of people. However they are each "one theme" organisations; they are not well rounded, because otherwise they would become too complex or undifferentiated; this is speculative fiction after all.
It's even more interesting to consider which real world groups come closest to the Dx factions:
The Illuminati most resemble the US, EU and especially China, and especially the wealth of corporations that supports those regimes.
The Templars represent religion, but also fascism.
The Omar have no direct parallels as we are not yet capable of bio-augmentation, but internet activists, geeks and scientists come closest, as they tend to act individually but in loos alignment.
The Dentons are tough to match, but to some extent social media like Facebook and Youtube are driving us towards common idealogies and cultures, driven from and driving the groundswell of public opinion.
The notion that wars and population culls are good and necessary has been proposed here. I would argue that both are inevitable, and that culls can occur either through wars, disasters or disease, but they are not necessary. Conflict between different ideologies *is* necessary, but does not need to be expressed as war; an idea proves it's worth through its success, not because someone kills you because they believe in it.
I think you all got it wrong when it comes to the Omar.
They are the DX equivalent to the Borg.
With the Omar, there is no individuality, there's no Joe the Omar and Richard the Omar.
Maybe you give up your privacy with the Helios/JC ending, but at least you retain your individuality - in fact I understood JC's idea as a form of direct universal democracy, supervised/made possible by an emotionless impartial machine.
Of course, how that will work out in the end depends a lot on how far the connection to the machine really goes, how much you are aware of other humans, how benevolent the machine is, and so on.
The illuminati ending I always envisioned as 20th century capitalistic corporate world continued, only with even more surveillance due to better tech to do so. Your thoughts are still yours, only your communication is not.
The templar ending is a fallback to a dark age, with a fascist/racist regime dictating you what to think - so no freedom here either (you don't think it will stop with biomodifications, do you?)
All in all I did not particularly like any of the endings, all of them have their problems and certain dystopian aspects.