There once was an army of soldiers who considered themselves to be fighting a war which must be won at all costs. What this war was over or who the enemy was are both questions that need not concern us here. What matters for now is that any other objectives which these soldiers might have also valued in life paled in comparison to the primary objective of victory. Accordingly, the goodness or desirability of these other goals or ends was essentially measured in terms of the degree to which they tended toward victory in this war rather than defeat.
For example, it was of the utmost importance that the soldiers trusted each other. As such, the virtues of honesty, accuracy and consistency were strongly endorsed as well as enforced within this army. Of even greater importance was that the soldiers obeyed and did not question their commanding officers. These virtues were emphasized in addition to those of honesty, accuracy and consistency for at least two reasons. First, the effectiveness of the army clearly and directly depended upon the officers’ ability to direct their troops without any equivocation or hesitation in the latter. Second, it was by no means obvious that full honesty, accuracy and consistency on the part of the officers was the policy that most tended towards victory. Since victory was what counted most, there were no small amount of exaggerations, half-truths and out-right fabrications in the “intelligence” which commanding officers shared with their troops. Of course every soldier acknowledged this tension to be possible in general, but they were never allowed to question any particular order or information they were given.
Although the average soldier was obviously not briefed in full regarding all details of the war at large or even of his particular part in it, this army did in fact have an “intelligence” division in which many soldiers were specifically charged with knowing as much as they possibly could. This division had at least three important responsibilities. First, these soldiers were to gather as much accurate and consistent information about the world around them as was possible. Second, they were to prioritize moves, battles and other such strategies in the war in terms of their relative importance to victory. Third, they were in charge of recognizing if and when any such strategy was a hopeless waste of time or simply not possible at all.
While this army could only become more efficient and more effective by devoting some time and resources to the analysis of the proximate means to victory, it was only a matter of time before some within the intelligence division began to apply their intellectual tools to the war itself, the final end. They thus came to ask whether the war itself was really the most important objective after all or whether victory might actually be a hopeless pipedream. Once these questions had been seriously raised such that they commanded the respect and attention of a great many within the intelligence division, these soldiers are already well on their way to an inversion of values. There was simply no way that asking “Can this war actually be won and, if so, is it really worth it?” was an activity which tended toward ultimate victory in the war. In other words, once the intellectual took these questions seriously, the importance of victory had already taken second seat to the importance of answers.
As these questions came to be asked and taken seriously by more and more soldiers, a tension emerged within the army between those who judged and valued victory in terms of their quest for answers and those judged and valued answers in terms of their quest for victory. The latter, more conservative side saw those questions raised by their answer-oriented colleagues as being not only a pointless squandering of precious time and resources, but positively harmful and potentially dangerous threats from within. The former, more progressive side, in contrast, saw their victory-oriented colleagues as being obtuse fanatics which were in the grips of a baseless illusion. Of course the actual truth was that these two depictions merely represented two extremes between which most of the soldiers situated themselves. The soldiers for victory did not truly despise, but in fact valued all of the intelligence which did not tend toward defeat. The soldiers for answers did not truly despise, but in fact valued all of the moves, battles and strategies which did not contradict their intelligence. It is, however, an unfortunate fact that neither victory nor answers were to be attained by the commitment of time or resources to areas which were not really in dispute.
As time went on, the intelligence community steadily increased in popularity, influence and power. Indeed, they eventually grew so bold as to openly mock those who blindly clung to their faith in victory in the face of well-established answers. But it was at this point that a minority within the intelligence community emerged which took the same tools of analysis around which their movement had been built and then applied these tools to the movement itself. They thus began to wonder, what made the quest for answers any more possible or worthwhile than the quest for victory? How was a faith in answers any less blind than a faith in victory? Were not the scientific pigs simply walking just as the religious farmers had done before them? What reason could the intellectual possibly give for ignoring the battle cry “Onward, Christian Soldiers!” while heeding that of “Hold up, Christian Soldiers, while we try to answer a few questions!”?