The Water Thief by Nicholas Lamar Soutter is a simple satire of the downhill slide of western civilization as a result of the unrestrained greed and corruption of capitalism and the widening disparity between the have and the have-nots. It’s a simple narrative, somewhat along the lines of Brazil by Terry Gilliam. Sometimes the political and societal sentiments expressed in the novel are a little to didactic and obvious, but if you’re anti-fascist and somewhat progressive, you will probably enjoy this novel. The overall premise of the novel is that the corporations have taken over and governments are a faint memory … as is individual freedom, social concern, human rights, etc. People only do things when they are profitable. Greed is not only good, it is the only thing.
Here are a few of the passages I noted.
Every child born to this world knows for certain that he or she is special, that they’ll grow up to be a CEO, to become richand famous, to change the world for the better. That is hope, and it’s never true, and so we live lives of resentment and pain—inflicted on us by the gradual and repeated death of our dreams.
“Business is war,” Linus would say, “and war is based on deception.”
I wondered, casually, if Linus could tell the difference between truth and a lie anymore, or if, indeed, the distinction was even important to him.
“Compasion isn’t natural, it certainly isn’t economical, and it’s the antithesis of capitalism.”
No, but I was responsible for my own actions. At some point we had abandoned responsibility and began fostering corruption in others so that we might shield ourselves from persecution by virtue of common guilt. We did this in the name of profit, and we justified our crimes with the rationalization that, somewhere down the line, better people would safeguard our victims from us.
I wasn’t a looter or a moocher. I wasn’t a producer either. None of us were. We certainly weren’t capitalists. We were pillagers.
Decency exists. That alone must make it important; even the great Darwin himself would say that. But we tried to cut decency out of others so as to lower the bar for ourselves.
We are relative creatures. The man who teaches his slaves to read is a saint in a world where slavery is legal, and a monster where it isn’t. We aren’t born knowing if we’re good or bad. We decide by comparing ourselves to others—and by that yardstick it’s no different to measure by our own successes tham by our neighbors failures, save that it’s easier to corrupt the neighbor.
She was a person, just like me. And she said that A=A and that there was no God, and that to say so was Objective. But just as Objective was the inevitable conclusion that it must not be the crime that is wrong, but getting caught. Objectively, with the death of God, how could it be any other way? And with God dead, capitalism is as good a substitution as any.
“Fairness is nothing more than the distribution of wealth and power as those who already have it see fit. Money lets you buy favorable interpretations of right and wrong, and that benefit accrues quickly.”
The single best indicator of where you end up in life is where you start, no matter what the capitalists tell you.