Network - excerpts
by Paddy Chayevsky
This is one of the better (and darker) writings I've seen on the subject of the decline of America and the role of business and television in it. It was written for the screen by Paddy Chayevsky in 1974 and was just one of many wonderful things he wrote, including one of my favorite screenplays, "Marty".
You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won't have it! Is that clear? You think you've merely stopped a business deal. That is not the case. The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country and now they must put it back. It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity. It is ecological balance. You are an old man who thinks in terms of nations and peoples. There are no nations. There are no peoples. There are no Russians, no east, no west, no Communists, no Third Worlds. There is only one holistic system of systems. One vast and immane, interwoven, interactive, multi-variant, multi-national dominion of dollars; Petrol-dollars, electro-dollars, Yens, Pounds, Rubles and sheckles. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the stucture of the world today. That is the atomic, and sub-atomic, and galactic structure of things today. And you have meddled with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and you will atone. Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale?
You get up on your twenty-one inch
screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America.
There is no democracy. There is only I.B.M. and I.T.T. and
A.T.&T and Dupont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are
the nations of the world today. What do you think the Russians
talk about in their Council of States? Karl Marx? They sit down
with their statistical decision theories, lineal programming
charts, and their Mini-Mac solutions and compute the cost-price
probabilities of their stocks and transactions, just like we do.
We no longer live in a world of nations and ideologies, Mr.
Beale. The world is a college of corporations, all inexorably
determined by the immutable by-laws of business. The world is a
business, Mr. Beale, and it has been ever since Man crawled out
of the slime.
Our children, Mr. Beale, will live
to see that perfect world in which there is no war or famine,
oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company
for whom all men will work to serve a common profit; in which all
will hold a share of stock; all necessities provided for, all
anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.
At the bottom of all our terrified
souls we know that democracy is a dying giant; a sick, dying,
decaying political concept writhing in its final pain. I don't
mean the United States is finished as a world power. The U.S. is
the richest, the most powerful, the most advanced nation on
earth, light years ahead of any other country. And I don't mean
the communists are going to take over the world because the
communists are deader than we are. What is finished is the idea
that this great country is dedicated to the freedom and
flourishing of every individual in it. It is the individual
that's finished. It's the single, solitary human being that's
finished. It's every one of you out there that's finished,
because this is no longer a nation of independent individuals.
It's a nation of some 250 odd million transistorized, deodorized,
whiter-than-white, steel-belted bodies, totally unnecessary as
human beings and as replaceable as piston rods.
The time has come to say, "is
dehumanization such a bad word?" because good or bad, that's
what is so. The whole world is becoming humanoid; creatures that
look human but aren't. The whole world, not just us. We're just
the most advanced country so we're getting there first. The whole
world's people are becoming mass produced, programmed, numbered,
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