At the same time, A Square continues, the intellectual arts were dying. The arts of sight recognition and feeling were no longer practiced, and other academic subjects, such as Geometry or the Physics of motion, were soon neglected. Then the Isosceles classes grew in size, since Specimens were no longer needed in the service of education.
What is striking is how subjects so familiar to Abbott’s readers (i.e. physics and geometry) start to lose favor as painting is practiced. It suggests that knowledge is never entirely objective, but can be manipulated by those in power.
As time passed, the lower classes began to advocate for equality and asserted that there was no difference between them and the highest class of Polygons. They demanded that the aristocratic Arts be prohibited and that the funding of the studies of Sight Recognition, Mathematics, and Feeling be ceased. Eventually, they argued that all individuals and classes should be recognized as equal.
Consider the fact that the knowledge of something new, in this case, color, literally inspires Flatlanders to desire something better, equality among all the figures. Yet at the same time the rise of a new power leads to new corruption, as the “Chromatistes” then try to suppress the teaching of older forms of knowledge.
Finding the higher classes indecisive, the leaders of the Revolution finally demanded that women and priests be painted as well. Against the objection that women and circles had no sides, they presented the Universal Color Bill to the General Assembly, proposing that both women and priests be painted half red and half green.
The way in which color schemes are proposed onto the women and priests illustrates how arbitrary social distinctions are, whether they be the number of sides or colors.
A Square asserts that the bill was devised in such a way that would gather the women’s support for Chromatic Innovation. Surely the prospect of being treated like a Priest—since they were assigned the same two colors—was attractive to the women. A diagram is included illustrating how a woman could be confused for a priest.
That color can easily be used to trick one’s social status again speaks to how meaningless class distinctions can be. As the Color Revolution progresses, it does not promote equality, but it instead just shifts the power to the revolutionists.
Secondly, the bill sought to disempower the Circles, who had still held onto their social status by refusing to give into the fashion of painting. Once painted, the circles would demoralize each other and, eventually, the aristocracy would be overthrown.
It is not difficult to notice that the Chromatistes are acting in the same way the circles, who have also pitted the isosceles against each other to keep them contained and powerless.