Alice and I arrived back from our visit to the government operated residential unit assembly plant in time for a leisurely swim before we had supper with the family and the professors. After the meal, we all settled ourselves before the open fire for an evening of discussion. While the others were still engaged in individual conversations, I sat before the fire and let my thoughts wander into the ancient past. The flickering blaze, with its enchanting power to stimulate the imagination, carried me into a fantasy of a lifetime in Egypt with lovely Alice as a companion. Mrs. Karoll had decorated her gracious family room for the evening with a large arrangement of wild flowers placed in an old Egyptian urn. This, I assumed, had sent my thoughts to the land of the Nile. The aroma of the burning wood added to the charm of the atmosphere and a spirit of fellowship, like sunshine, pervaded the room.
The familiar glow tube of the vision-phone interrupted before our conversation had taken a direction. As I compared their communications with those I had known, I thought to myself how every detail was improved. All was wireless and the entire system supervised and operated by the civil service. The glow tubes in each room silently indicated incoming calls and, in addition, a high pitched musical signal operated when it was switched into service. Dr. Karoll's position qualified him to have direct person to person service with any location on the globe. Depending upon individual responsibility, a family's service might be restricted to the local community except on occasions when specially authorized otherwise.
The call was for Dr. Karoll advising him of a meeting of the governing body for the community, the Centuria, of which he was a member. After the call, Dr. Karoll took a few minutes to explain some of its details to me. The nation was divided into communities, each comprised of one thousand families, and their allotted proportion of single adults. Each family unit held one vote and the community elected one hundred of their members to form its Centuria. This highly sensitive group met weekly and the meetings were always fully televised to the local community. A new election could be called for by petition at any time if the people were dissatisfied with even one member of the Centuria.
This group in turn selected one of its members to represent it in a higher governing body. In elections of centuria members, everyone knew the candidates personally and no campaign expenses, sponsorship by private interests or the like were involved. As the matter of government was explained, private interests in the sense of financially powerful groups had been eliminated as an influence. Exploitation of natural resources or even ownership of land was a thing of the past, as far as private interests were concerned. Dr. Karoll had the honor and distinction of representing the local Centuria. An important congress of Centuria representative, the Decamillennia, a body of one hundred men in the same position as Dr. Karoll, was impending. The local meeting was to discuss the issues upon which Dr. Karoll, as spokesman, would represent the local Centuria before the Decamillennia. This higher governing body of one hundred men represented one hundred thousand families, or ten thousand Centuria members. One representative from each Decamillennia made up a still higher echelon called the Decamillennia Council, also composed of one hundred individuals.
The Decamillennia Council selected one of its members to be representative to the World Government Council, whose number was thereby related to the voting members of the world's population. It was presently made of up eighty-three members and total world population stood at around four billion souls.
The details of local government were organized and the means developed and carried out on the Centuria level but phases of human activity which required cooperation on a wide scale were planned at the Decamillennia level. The concerns which related to the overall welfare of the race and posterity, such as insuring an equal opportunity for self development for every soul, the preservation and enhancement of natural environs, and proper use of natural resources, were pondered and evaluated by the World Government Council and augmented by the Decamillennia Council.
Members of the Decamillennia were men of integrity and character. This was assured by scientific means to accurately analyze character. Even in the process of his selection to be a representative in the local Centuria, Dr. Karoll explained, each candidate's auric colors and other physically measurable evidences of his character were fully visible to the people. His auric colors, for example, revealing his emotions, are projected upon a screen while he addresses the people.
When the Centuria elected its representative, a more elaborate use of available practical means were used to determine that the candidate was motivated by the highest of ideals and endowed with a high degree of capability to carry them out. All qualified voters were required to be learned in the sciences dealing with evaluation of human personality. But standing before the Centuria with his auric colors showing, no man could deceive this especially sensitive group. To aid the Centuria in making it selection, all needed services in connection with making an individual's character known were a routine provision of civil service agencies. The full print of the Decamillennia candidate's hand, voice prints, and similar evidences of his nature were available. His overall personality, the measure of his emotional control and discipline, his sincerity and his evolutionary development is thus openly set before the Centuria. The prospect of such a revealing exposure of a man's character, according to Dr. Karoll, causes one to search his own soul before offering himself as a candidate. An insincere person would be disqualified from the honor of public service as effectively and simply as a foot race excludes any but the fastest runner from the winner's circle. Science had made narrow self interest incompatible with political authority from the very lowest level on up to the World Government Council.
"Character development is the very purpose of life in the earth. Positions of responsibility and authority test and develop character and so they are considered a great honor. The world has focused its best scientific minds on the question of how a Christ-like nature may be individually developed. The competition among men now is to be the better servant of the race. The progress of each soul may be evaluated and individuals are grateful to learn about themselves and how they can make progress. In the truest sense of the word, we are seeking to create a society which encourages the most cooperative and self sacrificing expression of life of which man is capable of as an individual, to become a perfect expression of the Christ-Consciousness," said Dr. Karoll in closing his discourse on government.
"Surely you still have problems with human ego," I said. "What happens when the Centuria realizes that, in spite of everything, they have sent the wrong man to the congress of the Decamillennia?"
Dr. Karoll explained that when the Centuria did assign its voice to an elected representative, it was retained by him only as long as no one raised objection to his decisions. The call for a vote of confidence in their representative by the Centuria could be initiated by one member at any time, even when the Decamillennia was in session. This was accomplished by portable vision-phones kept always at hand by Centuria members when the congress was in session. These provided intercommunication among the Centuria while they observe the televised activities of the Decamillennia. There were no secret meetings or agreements at any level among the governing bodies. Such a refined system of communication used in this manner, according to Dr. Karoll, made a practical reality of the American Dream: Government `of the people, by the people, and for the people.' It functioned down to the individual level. No man, said he, could hold a representative's place, even in the Centuria, for twenty-four hours, if his actions did not express the will of the body that elected him. The support of private interests as a factor in attaining a political office had become completely irrelevant. Any qualified voter had a fully equal opportunity to be a candidate for the Centuria and thus, potentially, could rise to a position on the World Council.
After this short discourse about government, my thoughts could not be diverted to any other subject. I began with questions arising from my skepticism that Utopian dreams could ever become a working reality. A representative government, I thought, would always be plagued by corruption.
"Why is your system not subject to the misuse of the channels of communication like ours was, and why can't politicians appeal to the childish and irresponsible nature of the masses to gain power to enslave them?" I asked.
"Well, David, in the first place, the masses of emotionally and morally immature people all have a fully equal opportunity to develop to whatever degree they wish. But they don't have the initiative to qualify themselves to have a voice in government," said Dr. Karoll.
"They don't!" I fairly shouted. "Who decides who qualified and who doesn't?"
Everyone in the room burst out in good humored laughter. For a moment, I must have glowed purple for I did not see how there could possibly be any humor in my question. The room fell silent as they quietly allowed me to fume. When Dr. Karoll thought I might be rational again he began, "David, did you have a license to fly a plane?"
I sat there glowering in silence, wondering if I was amidst a group of people representing the top rung of some kind of caste system enslaving thousands of voiceless peons farther down the line. The group could hardly contain its humor at the ridiculous figure that I made with my indignant self-righteousness pose. Alice took the lead hoping, I think, to bring me down off my high horse without bruising me more than could be helped.
"David, do you imagine that your environment developed in you a sense of fairness and justice superior to that of my father and his associates?" she said, with a gentle, uncritical tone and some not altogether concealed humor.
To save me from the embarrassment that engulfed me, Mrs. Karoll stood up and suggested we all have some herb tea. She commented that the tea she had made for us had special properties to make one alert and to improve the operation of all the mental faculties. As I raised my eyebrows at that statement, some broad smiles went around the room. We all knew Mrs. Karoll so well that I couldn't help smiling myself because she had unintentionally made a joke at my expense.
In a short while we had again settled about the glowing fire with a fragrant steaming drink. I thought to myself that, according to the theories of reincarnation, we might all have gathered this way in the distant past. Perhaps we had enjoyed the same kind of fellowship as primitive tribal fathers imbibing in some fermented beverage as they talked of the lore of their people, sharing stories and songs about their beginnings.
The group sat in silence awaiting my response to the last question that had been directed toward me by Alice. Perhaps it was the property of the drink, or perhaps the opportunity for more thought on my part; at any rate, my mind seemed clearer and I answered Alice slowly and painfully. "As a matter fact, Alice, before you spoke, I was thinking that I was mistaken about the nation's advancements since my time. I figured all of you must be a part of a ruling class exploiting the lives of countless masses. When you thought my outburst was funny, it shocked me to think how cold blooded you must be. After you spoke, I realized my self-righteousness and pride had made a fool of me again. Still, I just don't see how you can deprive the common people of a voice in the government without having despotism. Besides, the question Dr. Karoll asked about a pilot's license seemed irrelevant, and it irritated me."
"David," said Dr. Karoll, "I didn't mean to insult your intelligence with my question. I hoped you would see the point I was making. We simply require people to prove their right to vote by demonstrating that they are responsible emotionally, mentally disciplined, knowledgeable, and have the ability to think rationally. All are allowed to vote who prove their qualifications by passing examinations. You didn't think it was unfair to require a man to actually prove his ability to fly a plane and demonstrate his knowledge of navigation and weather before allowing him to take responsibility for the safety of his own life and that of others?"
"Of course not," I said.
"This is just a parallel to the course of action which mankind decided it was imperative to pursue in order to successfully govern itself. It seemed evident that only those citizens who identify their own best interests with what is best for the race, who have this understanding and have exercised the self discipline to become informed, could be allowed to participate in governing a nation. Otherwise, we could not hope for an honest administration, one dedicated to and capable of solving man's dilemmas in trying to control greed and shortsighted self interest without restricting freedom," said Dr. Karoll.
"This seems utterly contrary to the ideal of democratic government," I objected.
"It is easy to have good hindsight, David," said Dr. Karoll. "When we look back at your times, the approach then being made to self government appears quite immature. The idea of equality had been planted well but was not growing in soil that was free of weeds. Your politicians made a great issue of free enterprise so that there would be incentive for the individual to excel in matters of business. However, where a voice in government was concerned, regardless of his efforts, every man was flattened to the same level. The poorly educated, the indolent, the irresponsible, the self-deluded masses who eagerly and naively believed when politicians promised to take from the rich to give to the poor; all were lumped together with your most responsible and learned men at voting time."
"Don't you remember how vigorously economic equality, as proposed by socialists, was opposed? Wasn't it considered democratic that people who worked harder than others should have the right to give their children advantages which other children's parents couldn't afford? Wasn't such thinking contrary to the basic concept of being `born equal?' How obvious it is that any governing body will reflect the average quality of the individual voter's thinking."
"But allowing every one to vote, regardless of his education or economic status, was the very basis for democratic government, I thought," I said in surprise.
"Americans of your times were imbued from childhood with the fatal error that one vote for each person of a predetermined voting age means democracy. There is hardly a better way to insure failure of popular government than by subscribing to this faulty reasoning. The common people parroted phrases taught to them in grammar school about their freedom and right to vote. Their opinions upon politics were manipulated through the mass media. While they talked about being free, their minds were in chains, and so the masses were little more than well fed slaves."
"All channels of communication were owned by private interests. This alone would have predetermined that the nation's governing body should degenerate into an instrument to deliver the wealth of the land to private interests. Your newspapers had many fine champions of true democracy but the power of money was stronger. The so-called political parties became instruments of private interests, vying with each other for the political power to exploit the public. The winning team divided the spoils and set about their work of taking care of the vested interests which had installed them in office and to whom they had committed themselves to serve faithfully."
"But, Dr. Karoll," I interrupted, "we, also, had many great leaders elected as government officials down through the years."
"You surely did, David, and many of them are with us today in positions of governmental authority. Integrity was the first prerequisite for a candidate for office in the early days of America. At that time, only a very small percentage of the population could read or write. There was no radio or television and only the wealthy class was able to be informed or politically active. Those who founded the nation did not anticipate the effects of mass education. They would have made carefully worded provisions in the Constitution if they had foreseen what effect mass media communications could have upon the republic they hoped would someday unite the world in brotherhood. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson set the stage for the decay of democracy with his belief that America would do best to have as little government regulation over trade and commerce as possible. He felt that the government which should do the least to regulate the money system, transportation, food production or similar activities was the best for a nation. Keeping law and order and dealing with other nations, he felt, were the principal functions of government. In the early days of America, because of this thinking, there was no deterrent if the strong chose to exploit the weak in areas of trade and commerce. Evidently, many political leaders felt such affairs were a private matter. From the very founding of America, forces were aligned to enable the wealthy to accumulate more political power and, by inheritance, to preserve and enlarge the monumental inequities in the land."
"Tell me," I demanded, "how could America have become the great nation in the earth that she was, if we had all those weaknesses in our government right from the start? How could such unquestionably humanitarian leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson or Herbert Hoover ever have been elected as Presidents?"
"You needn't be on the defensive, David," said Dr. Karoll. "There have been many great humanitarians on America's political scene. The nation was founded upon beautiful ideals, the same ideals we are simply trying to realize in a very practical and real way in government today. We are Americans like yourself. America's failure in your time was our failing, too. Many who lived with you in the Twentieth Century are again living in America and they realize how they erred. Pride was the chief failing of America. Had the common people not elevated themselves in pride over the people of other lands, America would not have lost her way. Corrections in the laws would have been made to uphold the ideals set in the Declaration of Independence and make them a reality in the land. Then, America would have led mankind into an era of peaceful co-existence and human progress. She would have wrought a transformation in government of the entire earth. Even the shifting of the poles could have been avoided had America not departed from her ideals of trust in God, of the brotherhood of men, of purity and equality."