As I wrapped the garbage the other day, a scrap of yellow onionskin caught my eye. It was a letter, scrawled in a barely decipherable, old-fashioned hand. By chance I had found another communication in the now well-known series of letters to young Wormwood from a shrewd old devil, his uncle Screwtape (the rest are in C. S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters). It read as follows:


You need to be brought up to date on some recent management decisions of the Lowerarchy. Our Father Below is scorching his regular staff meetings about the upsurge in Enemy guerrilla activity. I can remember when we had essentially all the popular support of the earthlings, even though—and precisely because—most didn’t know or care that we even existed. Men then did the will of our Father Below thinking that they were following their own inclinations or, more hilarious, that they were pleasing our Enemy! Fortunately these attitudes are still common among your Perishioners (sic).

But people are becoming more aware of us. (There’s a rumor among the lower managers here that this awareness is part of a BOTTOM SECRET plan that we middle-level spirits are not party to.) Awareness of our operations in itself hasn’t produced the Enemy guerrilla activity. Whenever a human dedicates himself to the Enemy, he becomes aware of us along with other spiritual realities. This fact calls for some strategies that have been discussed in other memoranda. It is the guerrilla activity that concerns us just now.

The guerrillas are common people who are motivated personally by the Enemy. That is the real danger in the guerrilla movement, since common people will attract other common people to ally themselves with the Enemy. They are much more dangerous than the Enemy’s regular paid professionals, because we can usually get our Perishioners to discount as biased whatever the professionals say.

But the amateur, the guerrilla, is loyal to the Enemy himself, without any organization that pays his salary. He studies the Enemy Command Manual and regularly communicates directly with the Enemy himself, motivated by his relationship rather than by duty, or by the need to prepare a formal talk. Guerrillas obtain direct help from the Enemy leader, who reminds them of that unspeakable time when our Leader actually had the Enemy killed and yet the tables were somehow turned. For reasons we cannot fathom, the Enemy’s people are enabled to resist our best efforts whenever they consider their Leader’s ignominious treatment and unexpected recovery of the battle initiative. It then becomes difficult to convince them to ignore or obey the Enemy Command Manual. Worse yet, they may foment rebellions among our subjects as they tell of their personal relationship with the Enemy.

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Enemy activity in the common people is not a new threat to us. Even the Enemy himself, in coming to earth, lived as a common man and drew most of his first foul followers from among the uneducated and unsophisticated. This switch in Enemy tactics caused our Lowerarchy to develop a marvelous and still useful strategy: formalize, organize, and institutionalize the guerrilla movement. Note the methods and results.

To “formalize” involves letting the guerrillas think of the Enemy Command Manual and their communication channels as ends in themselves. Concentrate their concern on the forms of communication between themselves and their Leader rather than on the content. Anyone who desires to serve the Enemy will then be required to do so within the limitations imposed by the formalism. Becoming thus preoccupied they will soon forget about the meanings of the terrible events that spawned their movement and that would otherwise serve to focus their attention on their Leader and from him derive abilities to resist us.

For example, if in their meetings they tell one another what they are learning personally from the Enemy Command Manual, then you might formalize their meeting procedures. Let them get used to certain phrases or words—even those of their Manual will do—so that these expressions become the only acceptable forms in the group. Similarly, activities during their meetings can be formalized. You can multiply the benefits by helping different guerrilla groups develop different sets of acceptable activities and expressions for use in their own assemblies. Use your imagination plus the common tendency of humans to let their methods become their goals.

To “organize” involves getting these various guerrilla groups to look to their human leadership for guidance and opinion, rather than to the Enemy himself. With very little help from you, these leaders will establish their committees and boards, their own methods and goals, activities and meetings—in short, organizational machinery that can also become an end in itself—along with more formalisms to justify them. This properly channels the guerrilla zeal and devotion away from the Enemy Leader himself and toward the organizational goals. Typical useful goals for you to suggest are more or new emotional experiences, more members, better community acceptance, defense of the fundamentals of the faith (by which they should mean that their particular interpretation of the Enemy Command Manual is the only possible correct one). Added benefits again result if you can arrange for different groups to argue about which organizational goals best please the Enemy.

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To “institutionalize” is the next step after formalizing and organizing. This involves setting the beliefs and lifestyles of these now ex-guerrillas into cultural patterns. When they have convinced themselves that their particular life-style is consistent with their faith, the various subcultures among the Enemy’s people are easily isolated. This forces them to defend their established lifestyles and cultural patterns against those of others of the Enemy’s people. Nowadays long hair, rock music, political views, concern for social issues, and the nature and purpose of the Enemy’s spiritual gifts are useful issues that different subcultures can defend in the name of the Enemy. When a human’s faith and devotion have been properly institutionalized, he no longer has the mental categories needed to wage a personal, spontaneous, guerrilla-type rebellion against our Father Below, whom even the Enemy calls “The Prince of this World.”

It shouldn’t be too hard for you to start this process of formalization and organization among the Enemy guerrillas in your Perish. One technique is to use the human tendency to embrace extremes. Provoke overreactions. Remember that formlessness (among those particular subcultures that value it) can be formal, and that lack of organization can be made an end in itself and thereby organized. Many of your younger Enemy guerrillas have a well-founded fear of the already institutionalized Enemy camp. This may seem to be a problem to you, but you can use it by deflecting these young, dedicated irregulars away from the real war and getting them occupied with the defects in the Enemy’s institutions, producing overreactions in both the institutions and the guerrillas. The young, in rejecting the form and organization, will move away also from the discipline demanded of them in the Enemy Command Manual. The old, already institutionalized, will organize and formalize even more tightly to protect their limited and manageable understanding of the Enemy. The young ones will then be easily led to formalize their informality, to organize their fear of organization, and eventually to institutionalize both their formalisms and organizational methods.

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Another proven approach is simply to attract some of the guerrilla leaders with the lure of notoriety, profit, or status in their groups and subcultures. This is so obvious that I need not dwell on it for such an able tempter as you, my dear Wormwood.

There are some potentially grave situations where the Enemy has begun spontaneous guerrilla activity within the very institutions we thought were safely preoccupied with their forms, ritual, and organization. These guerrillas require special care. If the threatened institutional leaders react against these spontaneous spiritual movements in their midst, the guerrillas may be strengthened. Therefore, our strategy should be in this case to welcome the guerrillas into the institutional structure and to formalize their disgusting activities into rituals that can gradually lose their personal meaning and become acceptable to us. In other words, our old “substitution of means for ends” trick.

So you see, there are many ways to deal with the present upsurge of Enemy guerrilla activity, and they are methods that we have already used and found quite successful. Because of the Enemy’s mistake in making man free either to follow him or to rebel and follow us, we can often induce his own people to formalize, organize, and institutionalize even their supposed devotion to him. Our guerrillas are active, too, so don’t be discouraged, my slimy nephew.

We cannot know how the battle will come out, of course. Even though the Enemy Command Manual has been widely published—a seemingly stupid breach of intelligence—we can only surmise what some parts of it mean, especially when it predicts happy days for us, with many defections from the Enemy, but then hints darkly that the Enemy will suddenly strike and prevail over our Home Base. Perhaps it will happen again as it did when our Father had the Enemy dead and buried only to see the horrible thing arise victorious. Our Father, according to his closest staff (for only they are allowed to see him), still has a nasty, ulcerous scar on his head from that battle.

Remember your mission: take best advantage of the situation. Work to formalize, organize, and institutionalize the Enemy guerrilla activity, thereby forcing the Enemy to seek other ways to continue his battle.

Your affectionate uncle,


Director, Dirty Tricks Department

P.S. Pass this along to Glubose and others.

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