"And therefore we must consider whether in appointing our guardians we would look to their greatest happiness individually, or whether this principle of happiness does not rather reside in the State as a whole. But the latter be the truth, then the guardians and auxillaries, and all others equally with them, must be compelled or induced to do their own work in the best way. And thus the whole State will grow up in a noble order, and the several classes will receive the proportion of happiness which nature assigns to them." (1, italics mine)
Jorund also notices the "convergence between the real and virtual world." However, it is viewed in a negative light with reference to The Matrix and something like E. M. Forester's The Machine Stops. The emphasis is naturally on our use of technology to forward our indulgences while humanity gets further lost in its fantasies-made-real in VR. Naturally, it is the very use of the term 'real' that irks me.
For those of you interested in this topic, I highly suggest the book Objectivity by Daston and Galison. It provides an excellent historical description of the search for this kind of 'Truth.' Thus contextualized, it is much easier to understand the usefulness of the methods we developed in search for truth while abandoning the unnecessary ideologies that are currently attached to them.
If the The Matrix is at all telling, humanity will not be able to survive without the suffering Jorund seems to enjoy--a suffering of thought projected.
And, I might add, that the privileged Western position being critiqued is also being enjoyed by the author, if I am not mistaken. I, too, am privileged and believe suffering is productive, but I do not believe it is the only way: it would be hubris to think that the way things are now or the way things have been is the way they should or have to be.
In brief, humans are less dangerous to the planet and themselves when pacified. If this comes through VR, so be it.
And we alone shall feed them in Thy name, declaring falsely that it is in Thy name. Oh, never, never can they feed themselves without us! No science will give them bread so long as they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, "Make us your slaves, but feed us." They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious. Thou didst promise them the bread of Heaven, but, I repeat again, can it compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, ever sinful and ignoble race of man? And if for the sake of the bread of Heaven thousands shall follow Thee, what is to become of the millions and tens of thousands of millions of creatures who will not have the strength to forego the earthly bread for the sake of the heavenly? Or dost Thou care only for the tens of thousands of the great and strong, while the millions, numerous as the sands of the sea, who are weak but love Thee, must exist only for the sake of the great and strong? No, we care for the weak too. They are sinful and rebellious, but in the end they too will become obedient. They will marvel at us and look on us as gods, because we are ready to endure the freedom which they have found so dreadful and to rule over them- so awful it will seem to them to be free. But we shall tell them that we are Thy servants and rule them in Thy name. We shall deceive them again, for we will not let Thee come to us again. That deception will be our suffering, for we shall be forced to lie.
And all will be happy, all the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil. Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in Thy name, and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall allure them with the reward of heaven and eternity. Though if there were anything in the other world, it certainly would not be for such as they. It is prophesied that Thou wilt come again in victory, Thou wilt come with Thy chosen, the proud and strong, but we will say that they have only saved themselves, but we have saved all. We are told that the harlot who sits upon the beast, and holds in her hands the mystery, shall be put to shame, that the weak will rise up again, and will rend her royal purple and will strip naked her loathsome body. But then I will stand up and point out to Thee the thousand millions of happy children who have known no sin. And we who have taken their sins upon us for their happiness will stand up before Thee and say: "Judge us if Thou canst and darest."
From Chapter 5: The Grand Inquisitor