“The ends justify the means” is the universal axiom that every moral decision hinges upon. Cannon fodders dug into the trenches believing that they were justified, by mass destruction, to achieve a nation’s utopian dream. However, Vonnegut reveals that the brutal means occurred for delusional ends. A ‘perfect world’ is illusory, hence every battle to establish that fantasy is meaningless.
“If the death penalty is ever to be imposed for desertion, it should be… not as a punitive measure nor as retribution, but to maintain that discipline upon which alone an army can succeed against the enemy” exemplifies that to survive is to discipline one’s self to exterminate the opposition. Thus, the ends to survive is through the means of death, and both sides of war sustain this philosophy. Therefore, to survive is to die, yet a soldier is disciplined to think otherwise. Pilgrim describes his comrades as “woods creatures, living from moment to moment in useful terror, thinking brainlessly with their spinal cords.” The soldiers are disciplined not to think by their cerebral capacities, but to act by their corporeal capabilities. They are heteronomous to human warfare instead of autonomous to human welfare.
Indeed, a ‘perfect world’ requires humans to become non-humans (machines)! Android autonomy is acting without thinking, but consistently, reliably, and efficiently. The mass has to be systemized to formalize a permanent economic cycle, as seen in the dystopian-totalitarian regimes of 1984 or Brave New World.
“Tralfamadorians say that every creature in the universe is a machine,” because they “produce an image of life [with] no beginning, no middle, no end, no moral, no causes, no effects.” These alien concepts imply that war for a perfect world is an illusion, i.e. a changeless world of peace, power, and parity, since a perfect world eliminates the concept of vices and virtues. A perfect world is just “is,” because of its autonomic-monotonic consistency. Consistency undermines free will, akin to consistently operating machines without free will. Tralfamadorians discern no morality, but machinery.
“[Billy and Weary] had found life meaningless, partly of what they had seen in war.” Giorgio de Chirico, a surrealist artist, found that nationalism and patriotism are meaningless. Soldiers and leaders believe that the ends of war are superstructures of complete uniformity and harmony, through the means of war that involves fatality and barbarity. Hence, instability leads to stability—war is a distorted state of mind to achieve an ordered state of mass.
Yet, for Pilgrim, “science fiction was a big help [to] reinvent himself and his universe.” The fantasy of a perfect world is a fiction, not a reality. Until it is believed to be sane to believe in false truths of mythology where one can truly escape from actuality. This is Vonnegut’s revelation: “fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” The book itself is part fiction that reveals the truth that we imperfect humans have to live as if our humanly lives will be made perfect.