When George talks about the end of handicapping causing society to return to the "dark ages", what does he mean by this?

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When Hazel suggests to her husband that he should take a few lead balls out of his cumbersome handicap restraint, George responds by saying that other people might do the same thing and society would eventually return to the "dark ages." Since the novel takes place in the year 2081, which is a time when every American citizen is completely equal in every aspect of life, George's reference to the "dark ages" is any time before the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments were added to the Constitution. These amendments created a completely equal society and eliminated all forms of competition by handicapping talented, intelligent people. According to George, the dark ages was a time when everyone was in competition with each other and only talented individuals with opportunities succeeded in life. In this competitive society, only the talented and privileged prevailed, and the less talented individuals did not experience the same success. The disparity in talent, beauty, and intelligence created a society where some people felt left out and at a disadvantage, which prompted the additional amendments to the Constitution that created a completely equal society.

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George is using "the dark ages" to refer to the time before the handicapping system was put into place. In those long-ago days, people were not equal with each other. Some had unfair advantages because they were more athletically capable or because they were smarter or because they were more physically attractive than others. Other people were disadvantaged because they were slow to learn or had poor coordination or were impaired in other areas.

In 2081, all people

were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else.

George, and the rest of society, considered this universal equality to be a very good thing, an advancement from the past when people were not equal, but instead were "competing against everybody else." George had no interest in breaking the system enforced by the Handicapper General and her agents, even when he suffered greatly from his personal handicapping devices, because he supported the system of equalizing all persons.

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