Enter a group of soldiers led by a swaggering officer who challenges the authority of Goldsmith, mocks him and his old man in the cave. A power struggle ensues and Goldsmith is debunked as a fraud. The old man is revealed to be no more than a computer, and thus the people, led by the soldiers, are "liberated" and are free to eat whatever they please. In the end, well,--here's the rub--we see Goldsmith walking about, surveying all the dead bodies, thus as things turn out the "old man computer" was right after all.
Many have interpreted this episode as a religious parable; others as a defense of the "nanny state"; and some as a veiled attack on big government. Those points are well made but I view matters in simpler terms, as a moral tale which may or may not have religious implications: prior to the arrival of the soldiers the people in the story were for all intents and purposes kept alive by messages from a computer, jealously guarded by one man, and those messages, as things turned out were correct. As the people were ignorant as to what was good for them to eat and what wasn't they were in a good place even as they were living in hard times.
As I see it, the man, Goldsmith, may or may not have been an egotist but he did know what was good for his people even as he fooled them by not telling them that it was a machine that was doing the thinking, not an old man. In the end I don't see what difference it makes whether Goldsmith was lying. The system worked, everyone was alive and well, and that's all that matters. Is this a defense of authoritarianism and big government? I don't think so. Big government had already failed; the nuclear war had happened. No, it's more the old expression "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applied to an extreme situation, and working nicely till challenged by the soldiers. The community was safe so long as Goldsmith and his Magic Computer were around and functioning. All the people had to do was follow their orders, albeit blindly, without question, and they might have survived till the radiation wore off and the world once again be a fit place to live in. In the larger scheme of things, with the survival of the human race at issue, is this such an awful thing?
Food for thought, in the form of a K-ration, courtesy of The Twilight Zone.