The Les enfants terribles project was a eugenic experiment. Eugenics is the science of manipulating life in order to manifest a predetermined phenotype in the resulting offspring. The practical application involves two types of genetic manipulation: selective breeding (to coax the desired traits into future offspring) and genocide (to eradicate undesired traits from present and future generations).
The most historically recognized eugenics policy occurred in Nazi Germany at the behest of Ernst Rüdin. Rüdin was one of the most influential proponents of "racial hygiene." He is also responsible for the ideology that the Teutons were the rightful creators of human culture. Quoting Adolf Hitler, Rüdin spoke the language of both Liquid and Solidus Snake:
Whoever is not physically or mentally fit must not pass on his defects to his children.
Les enfants terribles was an American experiment that portended the same ends as Nazi eugenics experiments. It is hardly coincidental that the "successful twin" of the first experiment—Liquid Snake—expresses the phenotype of the Nazis' Nordic ideal: blonde hair, blue eyes, and creamy skin. The name of the organization strived toward by Liquid and Solidus Snake (as well as Big Boss) likewise carries overtones of the Teutons' mythic Valhalla: Outer Heaven, a paradise of eternal war.
The terrorists on Shadow Moses Island believed in the ideology of genetic materialism. The belief requires the abnegation of free will in the belief that one cannot avoid biological destiny. By worshipping his genes as an oracle, Liquid Snake worshipped "wyrd"—the ancient Norse ideal of "warriors fate."
The three Snakes were conceived and born as weapons of war. They were designed to help the Patriots achieve their goals as conquerors. The project’s genetic conditioning ultimately expressed the ideals of Nazi totalitarianism through Liquid Snake.
The social philosophy most closely associated with eugenics is "social Darwinism," in which the theories of biological evolution are applied fallaciously to societal trends. Social Darwinism can only work when we delineate between "inferior" and "superior" genetic identities. The core idea holds that those who are fittest to survive socially have survived because they possess superior genetic materials that increase their odds of survival. If we take Social Darwinism one step further, we arrive at a cultural elitism whereby we recognize inferior and superior social and cultural identities. The Les enfants terribles project forecasted the turn that the Patriots would take in Sons of Liberty.
During the final revelatory Codec conversation in Sons of Liberty, the Patriots defined themselves as "[a] kind of consciousness formed layer by layer in the crucible of the White House." Again the Patriots invoked the language of evolution, natural selection, and genetic destiny when they compared their development to "the way life started in the ocean four billion years ago." They then described themselves in a disturbingly intimate way: "We are the very discipline and morality that Americans invoke so often.... As long as this nation exists, so will we."
At this point many gamers gave up trying to understand the narrative of Sons of Liberty. Their reaction is understandable. Sons of Liberty invoked a political idea that is distinctly Japanese. The West has no analogous counterpart to the concept of kokutai.
The origins of the concept of kokutai are bound in Japan's mytho-political past. According to Japanese Shinto mythology, a direct genetic descendant of the sun-goddess Amaterasu occupies the Japanese imperial throne. Because of the uniquely biological relationship between the Japanese emperor and the fabric of the cosmos, the nation of Japan possesses a civic soul. This civic soul is the kokutai. The closest term found in American political language might be "patriotic spirit." Yet the ideas don't match perfectly. The kokutai is the living presence of the soul of a nation.
In a lecture presented in October 2000, University of Toronto history professor Dr. John Brownlee described one Japanese philosopher's ideal of the kokutai.
In Outline of a Theory of Civilization, Fukuzawa held more explicitly . . . that the concept of [kokutai] did not apply solely to Japan. Every country has one: China, India, and all the countries of the West (Brownlee).
Brownlee later quoted the Japanese political philosopher Fukuzawa directly.
The national structure of a nation is not something immutable. It is subject to considerable change. It can unite or divide, expand or contract, or even vanish entirely. Its existence or disappearance does not depend upon such considerations as language, religion, and the like (Brownlee).
The Patriots are the American kokutai, given birth from the Cold War following the Second World War.
The American economic and political developments leading up to the Second World War support the claim that an American kokutai did not fully exist until the end of the Cold War. America had split in a Civil War less than a century earlier. After the Civil War, America was hardly uniform in its economic ideology: the West was regarded as a chaotic land of fortune; the Midwest and the New England states were established as cultural and industrial centers; and the Southern states had been dominated as the agrarian epicenter of raw materials for processing in the industrial North.
World War I prefaced the global economic depression that gave rise to industrial military states such as Nazi Germany and early Shôwa Japan. America still had not achieved economic solidarity, however. The struggle between industrial and agrarian economies had reached its climax before the Second World War with a final bold statement published by twelve Southern men-of-letters—the book of essays titled I'll Take My Stand.
American culture accepted its identity as an industrial capitalist economy during the Second World War. The United States turned into an industrial military state in order to manufacture war supplies needed to fight both the European and Pacific fronts of the Second World War. The United States' economic boom following the Second World War solidified the national economy.
The nation became almost completely unified in its economic outlooks by the addition of a political and military enemy whose economic structure implied an ideology that contradicted "American discipline"—the Soviet Union. Through the Second World War and the Cold War—along with the progression from the American Philosophers to the Patriots—the American kokutai was born.
In Snake Eater, the American Philosophers broke away from their predecessors' humanistic economic ideals and quarreled clannishly with the Chinese and Soviet Philosophers. When they possessed the whole sum of the Philosophers' Legacy, they funded their outward transformation from a diplomatic pretender to humanistic concerns into an aggressive, nationalistic body that conscientiously exploited the whole world for the sake of its own maintenance. The Les enfants terribles project was part of this, as was the lapse into the practice of the same near-sighted nationalism of Nazi Germany and early Shôwa Japan.
They fulfilled the Philosophers' nightmare. Yet the facts revealed in Sons of Liberty indicate the Patriots’ oncoming collapse.
The Patriots' control of cultural information in Sons of Liberty allows them to condition the responses of future generations across the world. The Patriots have edited the histories of The Boss, Colonel Gurlukovich, Solid Snake, and the incipient Philosophers at some time or another. The Patriots edited this information in order to condition future generations' reactions to history. After all, unremembered history cannot educate children against the power structure. The Patriots took the general results from Les enfants terribles to the cultural level by manipulating memes—units of cultural information. Erasing cultural information for the purpose of controlling future society serves as an abstract form of genocide—a policy that the Patriots are keen to pursue.
Prior to the advent of digital information, the Patriots only needed to control cultural information abroad. With their ability to maintain their historical control slipping, they proposed in Sons of Liberty to "create context" for the American people. The language used by the AI Colonel and Rose during the revelatory Codec dialogue tied together Snake Eater's theme of economic philosophy with Metal Gear Solid's theme of genetic materialism. They wed these ideas within the theme of human culture.
They use the language of genetic materialism when they say: "A small percentage of the whole [of human culture] was selected and processed, then passed on. Not unlike genes, really." They later imply the practice of racial hygiene when they say: "[Junk data] will only slow down social progress, reduce the rate of evolution."
They use economic language when they say: "The digital society... selectively rewards development of convenient half-truths." They later say: "The untested truths spun by different interests continue to churn and accumulate in the sandbox of political correctness and value systems." They intimately connect the Patriots’ intentions to Snake Eater’s theme: "Building a LEGACY involves figuring out what is wanted, and what needs to be done for that goal” (my emphasis).
The Patriots clearly regard cultural information as analogous to genetic information. They cheapened the dignity of life by manipulating it into preferred forms, and they proposed to cheapen the dignity of human culture by treating it likewise. Yet a more obscure connection exists between the American Philosophers' economic concerns in Snake Eater and the Patriots' cultural concerns in Sons of Liberty.
The Patriots described the accumulation of cultural information on the Internet with the ideological language that capitalists use to refer negatively to Communism. The Patriots criticized that no competition exists and that no clear winner can be determined between conflicting cultural values. The "[selective rewards for] development of convenient half-truths" suggests the triumph of a population defined by a lack of accountability. The Patriots have discovered that the Internet cultivates relativistic attitudes among people who do not share cultural memories. In other words, the Patriots have discovered that the capitalist ideology (according to which they directed American politics) has become undermined by a lapse in cultural competition. A new kind of “free market” on information is born in which failed competitors are not removed from existence.
Heilbroner concluded The Worldly Philosophers with an overview of capitalism’s health. The economic system did not seem as secure as many would have preferred. Stagnation was capitalism’s biggest threat, and stagnation was ironically one of capitalism’s resulting tendencies. The United States had no more frontiers like the Wild West; its population growth had noticeably slowed; and product invention had been overshadowed by product customization. Market competitors didn’t need to create new desires for their customers—they only needed to customize existing products. Of course, even this failed to bolster capitalism since customized products were usually sold at higher prices. Prices decrease as a result of competition in a healthy capitalist economy. Excessive customization at invention’s expense tainted the process of competition, capitalism’s nourishment.
Heilbroner described the observations offered by economist Joseph Schumpeter.
For capitalism, to Schumpeter’s mind, could maintain its forward momentum only as long as capitalists behaved like knights—or at least pioneers. Not all of them, of course: for every daring entrepreneur, there was bound to be a whole flock of timid followers. But the driving impetus fir the system came from men of courage, men who risked their fortunes to implement new ideas, who dared to innovate, to experiment, to expand (Heilbroner 334).
Schumpeter regarded rationalism as capitalist gumption’s main deflator. A rational individual quickly learned to doubt the truth of his own values which led to timidity in the marketplace.
“Money isn’t everything,” said the intellectuals, and in so doing they sowed a seed of doubt about the values of money-making as an end in itself. “Private property is no more sacred than the divine right of kings,” said the intellectuals, and in so doing they exposed the basis of privilege in a business society to be no more necessary or inviolable than that of privilege in a feudal society. The romantic ideals, the sacrosanct ideology of business were thus held up to the harsh light of rationality, and the result was that the values of the business way of life lost their attractive glow. You cannot hold a jousting tourney if the audience thinks the whole performance is slightly ridiculous: even the most ardent of knights will lose his zest if no one applauds his success (Heilbroner 335).
In other words, capitalism’s success tends to result in its own obsolescence. Comfort and excess lead to stagnation. The system will only remain viable through eternal competition. Only a market version of Outer Heaven can keep it alive. The Patriots propose to create context in order to limit the population’s cultural options and create genuine competition for truth.
The greatest indicator to the Patriots' real intentions lies buried in their rhetoric: "building a legacy." All of the games’ ideologues use the concept of a legacy as their foundation—the idea of inheritance from a progenitor. Snake Eater revealed the Philosophers' Legacy and the inheritance of power remaining in the wake of World War II. The Sons of the Boss were included among The Boss’s gifts to Volgin as materials to complete Volgin’s collection of post-Second World War historical power. Metal Gear Solid revealed Big Boss's genetic Legacy. The Sons of Big Boss inherited martial power. Sons of Liberty prompted its audience to consider the informational Legacy fought for by the Sons of Liberty. The latter Legacy suggests the existence of an identity inherited through memories, whose forms are determined according to the information that an individual accepts as "real."
Raiden experienced the type of informational Legacy that the Patriots would build. They disregard the emotions and reactions that Raiden felt during the Plant Mission as flotsam prompted by context that they created. As they defined the S3 Plan (Selection for Societal Sanity) near the end of Sons of Liberty, their Legacy is not a set of ethics and values. It is a method of manipulating human behavior and consciousness. By defining the specific information available for public consumption, they create boundaries for human awareness. Any information that finds root outside those boundaries will be considered fantasy, since it will exist beyond the bounds of "societal sanity."
The Patriots' intentions through the S3 Plan (hereafter referred to as "the Patriots' Legacy”) require the suppression of any other individual legacy. In Raiden's situation, the legacy of his past was supposedly erased to make him an improved vessel for emulating Solid Snake. A whole host of cultural information needed to disappear in order to empty Raiden of his memories: the historical erasure of a civil war, Raiden's recorded appearance in a foster home, and Solidus's leadership of the Army of the Devil. Likewise, in order for the Patriots' Legacy to establish itself, the Patriots must disregard the emotional and psychological contradictions of Raiden's experiences as detritus. The S3 Plan's lapse in judgment comes through its inability to account for unquantified aspects of life.
The limits implied by the Patriots' Legacy are exactly the same limits implied by an epistemology based on market capitalism. Capitalism thrives on the exchange of currency for goods. The quicker that people exchange currency and goods, the better the economy becomes. However, capitalism's only way to understand meaning requires the conversion of qualitative meaning into quantitative meaning.
To get a better grasp of that idea, let's look at an example.
In a certain town, all of the houses are made of wood. Insects have recently migrated to the area, and the houses have begun to deteriorate because of an increase in termites.
John and Rick are house builders. John builds houses out of wood; Rick builds houses out of materials that are not wood. In the town with the termite problem, Rick's business soars while John's business fails.
Two sides of the situation exist: the qualitative side and the quantitative side. The quality of Rick's work shows through because his customers do not have to worry about termites destroying their homes. They experience a cessation of anxiety, improved personal relationships because of less stress, and more physical comfort. As well, Rick experiences a boost in his self-esteem. He has greater relevance to his community because of his work’s quality.
A strictly capitalist epistemology does not regard any of this as knowable. The only knowable information within capitalist epistemology comes through the expression of Rick's customers' satisfaction in numbers. Examples of these numbers are Rick's gross profit, his increased spending because of his greater wealth, and John's fallen gross profit.
With respect to the Patriots' Legacy, individual memories and experiences are not knowable because they are not quantifiable. The Patriots can create context and can condition an individual toward certain physical and mental reactions. However, they cannot directly manipulate the idiosyncratic reactions of the S3 Plan's subject.
They also cannot destroy the individual's desire for truth. We might call this faculty an individual's Will-to-Truth. Raiden's Will-to-Truth began dissolving the Patriots' masquerade after he met Solid Snake. When Raiden saw that Solid Snake existed, he knew that he (Raiden) could not also have been Solid Snake, regardless of simulated training. Raiden even asked Snake about the meaning of violence and terrorism. He would have feigned lacking these concerns if he were still maintaining the S3 Plan’s fantasy at the expense of truth.
Still another flaw exists in the Patriots' Legacy. The S3 Plan clearly shows that the Patriots have not learned a thing from their past experiences. The economic circumstances that resulted from the American Philosophers' inheritance of the Philosophers' Legacy created war over limited industrial resources. The genetic circumstance that resulted from the Les enfants terribles project (as well as the Genome Army) was genetic symmetry, which compromised the health of both the Genome Army and the clones of Big Boss. It stands to reason then that the cultural circumstances resulting from the Patriots' creation of "context" will likewise result in sterility and the abscession of energy.
-- Article by James Clinton Howell