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There are somewhat similar questions but I'm asking specifically. If the Bene Gesserit bred the guy and they know that he sees the future, why are they utterly opposed to the Golden Path? I realize they had plans of using the Kwisatz Haderach for their own purposes, but when they realized humanity was going to be wiped out wouldn't they figure that needs to be solved first? They don't believe Paul or Leto II that it's the only way for humanity to survive? They do believe it but they don't care if humanity survives so long as they gain some power before before humanity is wiped out?

Everything else about the Bene Gesserit is wisdom and long term planning. How could they just ignore the worst disaster possible? Do they ever discuss it? "Well Leto II's prescience is faulty, we believe that if we could take over the universe, we could avert this disaster." "Leto II made up a story about a disaster to just to take over the universe." "Humanity will be wiped out in 2,000yrs but at least the Bene Gesserit could rule until then if only the Kwisatz Haderach would look out for us."

If Leto II and Paul never told them then why is that? Somehow that's part of the Golden Path that the Bene Gesserit need to be kept in the dark or it won't work out the way they plan it? Why would that be?

1
  • Can you teach a child how to fly a jumbo jet?
    – Valorum
    Nov 10, 2021 at 18:49

4 Answers 4

15

There have been some good answers already, but I'd like to provide another option in addition to these.

The truth might destroy the BG.

In Dune Messiah, Scytale says the Bene Tleilax created a Kwisatz Haderach of their own.

"Because we once bred a kwisatz haderach of our own," Scytale said.

With a quick movement of her old head, the Reverend Mother looked up at him. "You didn't tell us that!" she accused.

"You didn't ask," Scytale said.

"How did you overcome your kwisatz haderach?" Irulan asked.

"A creature who has spent his life creating one particular representation of his selfdom will die rather than become the antithesis of that representation," Scytale said.

"I do not understand," Edric ventured.

"He killed himself," the Reverend Mother growled.

Keep in mind, this is early in Dune Messiah, when Paul is considered the Kwisatz Haderach.

We don't know if the Tleilaxu KH grappled with the same "terrible purpose" that Paul did, but whether he did or not, they both were suicidal.

This epigraph later in the book appears to also reference the Tleilaxu KH's suicide:

Here lies a toppled god --
His fall was not a small one.
We did but build his pedestal,
A narrow and a tall one.
-Tleilaxu Epigram

The BG has spent thousands of years breeding & training humans towards the goal of a new level of prescience. They have worked tirelessly to shape human governments and society for their purpose. After countless generations of work, they actually succeeded, and created a Kwisatz Haderach (or two).

How would they react when Leto tells them their new to-do list?

  • breed out prescience
  • eliminate the need for spice
  • invent navigation computers & no-ships
  • leave the empire forever and never return

Thanks for the millennia of work, BG, now you can get to work on doing the opposite. Remove what you bred in, wean yourself from your wonderdrug, embrace heretical machinery, and then blast off into the blackness of space.

So, there's a fair possibility they would collapse when faced becoming the antithesis of themselves. Leto needed them to help fulfill these goals, but he instead chose to manipulate them into doing so.

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  • 2
    OK, OK I agree. You've covered it.
    – Joe C
    Aug 20, 2015 at 4:29
  • 1
    Note that it’s very likely that Scytale was lying, in particular as this Tleilaxu Kwisatz Haderach was never mentioned again. This does not invalidate this answer in any way, however.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Aug 20, 2015 at 8:19
  • 1
    The Tleilaxu Kwisatz Haderach is never directly mentioned again, but throughout Heretics and Chapterhouse, the Bene Tleilax always refer to the BG's creations as "your Kwisatz Haderach" or "their Kwisatz Haderach". Additionally, it is central to the plot of those books the suspicion that the Tleilax may have tampered with the latest Duncan ghola to create another potential one.
    – friggle
    Nov 8, 2021 at 16:09
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To address the question that Richard’s answer didn’t:

If Leto II and Paul never told them then why is that? Somehow that's part of the Golden Path that the Bene Gesserit need to be kept in the dark or it won't work out the way they plan it? Why would that be?

Leto’s tyranny is a gargantuan zero-approval gambit aimed at providing an intense historical lesson to humanity that prescience, dependency on one resource (spice), universal centralism, religious worship of individuals and a few other things are to be avoided. If it became common knowledge that this lesson was staged, it could very well render it moot and at least make it less effective. If I recall correctly, Moneo was the only person ever to be informed about the true nature of the Golden Path.

While the Bene Gesserit have proven to be good at keeping secrets, informing them would still pose a risk. Moreover, the difficulty would arise that they have to keep pretending that they are oppressed by Leto just like everybody else. Finally, Leto also wants to teach a lesson to the Bene Gesserit, which they only begin to realise thousands of years after his death (during the events of Heretics and Chapterhouse).

6

There are two different questions here. I'll take them each in order:

Why didn't the BG institute their own Golden Path?

Simply put, they didn't see the disaster coming. Their own prescience is pretty poor and while they can see 'something' is on the horizon, it's so indistinct that they need to come up with a solution. They've investigated the Guild's solution (making themselves inhuman) and rejected it. Their own solution is to breed a human with advanced presience; The Kwisatz Haderach.

Why do the BG keep trying to kill Leto II?

It's not entirely clear what Leto had shared with the BG. On several occasions they implore him to share his plans with them so they can avoid pissing him off.

Our address to him will continue to be:
“Tell us if we threaten you that we may desist.”
And:
“Tell us of your grand plan that we may help.”
He has provided no new answers to either question during this period.

One of their most honoured sisters is someone who seems to have quelled his anger with them after a disastrous (and incompetent) attempt on his life. He even states that he considered killing them all.

They're walking the tightrope. They don't want the universe to end in cataclysm, but nor do they want to be under Leto's flipper, nor do they want Leto to get so hacked off that he murders them all. And let's not forget that in extremis they can always breed another KH so killing Leto doesn't necessarily destroy the bloodline

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  • sorry, but "Why didn't the BG institute their own Golden Path?" does not sound like what OP is asking at all. Instead it should be something like "Why did Paul/Leto II not explain the Golden Path to the BG".
    – Justin C
    Aug 17, 2015 at 12:55
  • @justinc - I'm addressing why the BG seem to be attempting to stymie Leto's plans.
    – Valorum
    Aug 17, 2015 at 13:22
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It was because Bene Gesserit were blinded by pride in their own abilities. They were breeding for Kwisatz Haderach:

a term signifying “one who can be many places at once.” In simpler terms, what they sought was a human with mental powers permitting him to understand and use higher order dimensions.

They were breeding for a super-Mentat, a human computer with some of the prescient abilities found in Guild navigators

The problem with their approach was:

When the Arrakis Affair boiled up, the Spacing Guild made overtures to the Bene Gesserit. The Guild hinted that its navigators, who use the spice drug of Arrakis to produce the limited prescience necessary for guiding spaceships through the void, were “bothered about the future” or saw “problems on the horizon.” This could only mean they saw a nexus, a meeting place of countless delicate decisions, beyond which the path was hidden from the prescient eye. This was a clear indication that some agency was interfering with higher order dimensions!

(A few of the Bene Gesserit had long been aware that the Guild could not interfere directly with the vital spice source because Guild navigators already were dealing in their own inept way with higher order dimensions, at least to the point where they recognized that the slightest misstep they made on Arrakis could be catastrophic. It was a known fact that Guild navigators could predict no way to take control of the spice without producing just such a nexus. The obvious conclusion was that someone of higher order powers was taking control of the spice source, yet the Bene Gesserit missed this point entirely!)

In the face of these facts, one is led to the inescapable conclusion that the inefficient Bene Gesserit behavior in this affair was a product of an even higher plan of which they were completely unaware!

This indicates that B.G. thought "they knew better". If Spacing Guild is unable to go beyond the mentioned nexus point in the future, then B.G. will.

But the question remains: who's "higher plan"?

Before I'll answer OP questions, one thing needs to be raised. Some sources claim that Bene Gesserit are aware of the problem of The Golden Path. I think it's incorrect. They knew something called so exists, but not what it exactly is.

Anyway:

  1. B.G. were ignorant participants in the Golden Path, the only solution to the problem of making human beings out of homo sapiens (i.e. to allow humanity to progress from animal to higher order being - "sift(ing) people to find the humans"), without them destroy themselves first. They didn't know the problem even exists - all they knew there is a nexus point in the future.
  2. They breed for K.H. in order to pierce that barrier in the future. The problem is that their goal is the actual trigger to The Golden Path. In other words: The Golden Path requires K.H. to even become a possibility, but this creates the paradox of it being inevitable with the appearance of Kwisatz Haderach (the willing one). The Golden Path is ruthless plan to domesticate human race in order to give it an opportunity to develop prescience-proof humans (Siona and her progeny), without it extinguish itself before that. But it also causes untold suffering and countless lives to be sacrificed for it to have even a chance of success.
  3. B.G. cannot participate in THe Golden Path, because they're unaware of it's existence and to prevent them in distorting it, it must stay that way. Once Leto II appears, he appropriates B.G. breeding program for his own purposes, thus making B.G. obsolete by their own standards. The Tyrant cannot allow for them to participate, either, because B.G. needs to evolve, too. I think Valorum with his answer hits the nail in that part.

Yeah, I don't think Leto II was that "someone of higher order powers", running "even higher plan of which they were completely unaware!". As I said: that's the real question.

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