Let’s take a look at this universe and its possible futurist mutations

Alright so the Dune universe begins in something like 19,000 BC. The solar system is colonized and Earth is thought of as a natural park around 13,000 BC. History extends to about 11,000 AD. During this time civilizations rise and fall.

There are three main types of mutant with advanced mental powers- the Bene Tleilax, the Spacing Guild, and the Bene Gesserit.

I haven’t seen the new adaptation yet. Does it downplay any of this?

He began writing Dune in 1963, i.e. before the Hippie movement was firmly entrenched. What allowed him to slide under the radar with that crowd was his mystical themes and focus on the mind-expanding “spice”. Plus there are anti-colonial and ecological themes in Dune too.

Here is a fair write-up about it (from the 90s, naturally).

This is important to know because Dune is the best selling sci fi novel of all time. I have a hunch that Herbert’s reactionary themes are often absorbed without conscious awareness, subcutaneously as it were. One example to use, the Bene Gesserit, a sisterhood and thus an icon of feminism, has many qualities that could be perceived as “nazi fascist” but since it’s a group constituted by women, people probably interpret it in a sympathetic light.

Another good write-up on “a more objective interpretation of Dunehere.

You can’t beat this

Herbert has quite compelling reasons for his belief that liberal democracy will not take mankind to the stars and that mankind can only spread across the galaxy by returning to archaic social forms like hereditary monarchy, feudalism, and initiatic spiritual orders.

You know the famous desert of Star Wars?

Herbert believed Lucas plagiarized him with this. Herbert believed Lucas plagiarized lots of sci fi authors in fact. What would the US look like today if a true-to-the-text Dune adaptation had blown up on the level of Star Wars

Heh, women be plottin

The Bene Gesserit sisterhood’s aims are clearest. They aren’t seeking political power. They simply wish to continue their ancient breeding program by crossing Paul with Irulan or his sister Alia. They don’t want Paul’s heir to come from Chani, who is half-Fremen, a strain that the sisterhood regards as too “wild.” But the purpose of their breeding program is to produce the Kwisatz Haderach, a Janus-faced superbeing who has access to his ancestral memories as well as the power to see into the future. But Paul is the Kwisatz Haderach, which means that their plans have already been fulfilled. Of course, the sisterhood wanted to control the Kwisatz Haderach, but none of their plotting could guarantee control over Paul or any of his offspring.

Don’t you think it’s not a coincidence that this series is so popular? Something in people’s unconscious yearns for the reactionary themes above to be a reality.

“It’s just a good book, OKAY?!” Sure sure sure.

As a digression, upon reflection, I’m realizing that Mass Effect was more inspired by Dune than I noticed at first glance.

Anyway, I don’t know if it goes without saying that Paul is a “God Emperor” and Übermensch.

What makes him special is that he synthesizes and perfects the mental abilities of the Bene Gesserit and Spacing Guild.

Remember- none other than Leary named Herbert as the one who predicted nine mutations into the future. So Dune can be interpreted as Leary’s political philosophy. I.e. the practical societal framework necessary for humanity to universally reach the 24th stage of consciousness.

Something else to keep in mind- consider the name Paul Atreides. This is a clear allusion to the House of Atreus, the family the Oresteia revolves around.

Paul’s son Leto can be seen as Orestes

Children of Dune begins nine years after Dune Messiah. Leto is still a child, but he has all of Paul’s powers, both ancestral memories and prescience… [His] goal is “the survival of humankind, nothing more nor less.” Leto called himself “the first truly long-range planner in human history.” 

Herbert is describing himself in a way here. (I think Leary is an even better “planner”, personally.)

What Herbert calls “prescience” could be interpreted as Aristotelian phronesis by the way. Even more fitting would be Alfarabi’s spin on phronesis, given the messianic theme of Dune, and the Atreides’ similarities with Muhammad. Heh, Leary himself had a messianic-complex (which could be kind of cringey at times) (because he was a real person and not a fictional character–hence one of the edges Dune has on him).

This is such a perceptive reading

The whole Dune saga is premised on the thesis that liberal democracy cannot give rise to a galactic civilization because of its inability to engage in long-term planning. Herbert’s imperium is, instead, modeled on medieval Europe, with a feudal nobility, guilds, and initiatic religious orders.

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