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The Guiding Specialist paused, as if to stress the importance of what he was about to say. "Love," he went on, his voice rising slightly, "must be stripped of all artificial romantic glamour and exposed for what it is: a necessary biological technique for the propagation of the race. Its exercise must be confined to a rigorously selected few men and women whose sole function in our society is to further that aim."
A murmuring arose in the hall and ran back and forth between the tiers.
The speaker paused again and his features took on a harsher aspect, so that his image on the lighted screen no longer seemed beneficent but resembled more that of a man passing inexorable judgment.
There was a murmuring in the seven-tiered speaker-guidance hall, a heightening of tension, a drawing together of many thoughtful minds.
The hall had a seating capacity of eight thousand, and every seat was taken. Every seat was occupied by Ruling-Caste Monitors, the guardians of the most powerful and complex World State that Earth had ever known.
It was a society of gigantic industrial plants and research laboratories, of vast agricultural projects, of inland waterway and harbor-spanning bridges, of atomic generators and throbbing power turbines, of parks and playgrounds and athletic arenas where recreation was carefully supervised.
It was the first experiment in survival on a planetary scale to sanction taboos which previous ages would have rejected with horror, and to punish the violation of those taboos with the sternest kind of repressive measures and personality-transforming techniques.
"Far back in the twentieth century," the speaker went on, "the kind of social control which we have succeeded in exercising would have seemed a folly and a madness. It would not even have been achievable on a purely scientific basis, for our remote ancestors did not have sufficient scientific knowledge to subdue and regulate the love impulse and keep it from becoming a danger to the entire social fabric.
"We have been much too lenient," he said. "When the love-impulse manifests itself outside of the mating centers we must punish the offenders immediately. No mercy can be tolerated. We must not attempt to deceive ourselves as to the extent of the evil. We must wear no blindfolds. We must not condone or overlook the wickedness of a few individuals simply because they possess unusual qualities of body and mind. All who offend must be brought to judgment."
The whispering began again and this time it seemed to annoy the speaker. The frown on his face increased in severity and a tiny muscle in his jaw began to twitch.
Before he could completely regain his composure an hysterical scream rang out at the rear of the hall.
"It is you who are cruelly distorted and blind. You call the refusal to deny all men and women the right to love a madness and a folly. But it is you, it is all of us, who are mad! We have cut ourselves off from joy, from beauty, from everything that is truly creative and life-transforming. And I, for one, will not submit. I will no longer endure such a tyranny."
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