The Mold of Yancy by Phillip K. Dick is a science fiction story written in 1954 about mind control and subliminal messages, a cautionary tale of molding society. It later was adapted into his novel, The Penultimate Truth.

The story follows the life of Colony Callisto, a young woman who is the epitome of a model citizen of what looks like the perfect society that has emerged from the ashes of an off-Earth war on the planet, Jupiter. Her grandfather, John Edward Yancy, is the leader of the colony.

To the outside world, they live in what appears to be an idyllic society, but beneath the plastic façade lies a hidden world of secrets and deception.

It is a really totalitarian society that controls the populaces’ every thought and move through politics and the media.

Yancy, the colony’s leader, is a popular figure who uses his virtual persona to control all aspects of life for the colony’s inhabitants. ‘

Through broadcast shows and advertisements, Yancy dictates what the people of the colony should eat for breakfast, what music they should listen to, and even what political views they should hold.

The citizens seem to mold their thinking and behaviors exactly to whatever Yancy says, even though they seem to think their acting on their own accord.

He has the ability to speak on almost any subject by saying what people want to hear without really saying anything at all is what gives him power.

If Yancy delivered opinions on philosophy, art and culture, the plan would not work.

In this society, people are allowed to express their opinions freely without fear of repression. They enjoy life, reading, listening to music, and watching TV.

And even though they may complain about the government from time to time, they all ultimately subscribe to the same beliefs that Yancy gently suggests.

The result is a de-politicized, nonphilosophical and homogenized society of android like humans that follows Yancy’s every whim.

Analyst Peter Tavener works for the Niplan police, studying and creating reports on the political situation of Callisto.

He tells Police Director Kelleman that while Callisto they achieved a totalitarian society without an actual dictator, any elected Parliament has the potential to become totalitarian if they reach too deeply into people’s lives.

Tavener agrees to go undercover on Callisto, posing as one of their own who are increasingly looking alike.

Phillip K. Dick said that the Yancy character was roughly based on U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Banal middle class culture has long been a source of inspiration for writers and filmmakers. In the 1950s, Dick saw this culture as a tool for conformity in the United States.

He used Eisenhower as an example of someone who was vapid and musing, yet still held immense power over the people through his broadcasts.

Of the story PKD had this to say:

“Obviously, Yancy is based on President Eisenhower. During his reign we all were worrying about the man-in-the-grey-flannel-suit problem; we feared that the entire country was turning into one person and a whole lot of clones. (Although in those days the word “clone” was unknown to us.)

I liked this story enough to use it as the basis for my novel THE PENULTIMATE TRUTH; in particular the part where everything the government tells you is a lie. I still like that part; I mean, I still believe it’s so.

Watergate, of course, bore the basic idea of this story out.”

Today, we can clearly see the hundreth-Yancy affect with political clones directing our thinking, as myself and others in the so-called middle class complain against many of these government policies, we still have to follow them and consume what is on the store shelves in order to survive.

Dick is correct in seeing the entry point of totalitarian conformity in consumerism.

While people may disagree on politics, they tend to find common ground when it comes to popular culture, which continues to move the population towards certain values.

Arguing against anti-intellectualism, it is often said that without intellectuals to question the status quo, fascism and other forms of totalitarianism can more easily take hold.

This is because intelligence and critical thinking are necessary to challenge authority and keep society free.

However, this argument presupposes that all opinions are equally valid, which is clearly not the case. Some opinions are simply better than others, and this is especially true when it comes to art, culture, and philosophy.

To be truly neutral on these matters would be impossible for anyone with a brain; one must either have an opinion or be dead inside or possibly a clone or android in Dick’s novels.

Thought and behavior control operating under the guise of social virtue is particularly invidious, easily capturing those of us suffering from the widespread malady of intellectual laziness.

The effort to mold a national way of thought can result only in a mouldering state of mind, a decay of initiative inviting totalitarianism to creep into every aspect of our lives.

I will leave you with Dwight D. Eiesenhower’s farewell speech to the colony, warning them about the danger of becoming captive to the military industrial complex and a technological elite.

The most famous quote from Eiesenhower came about halfway through the speech: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

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