But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.

An hour-long, 1998 talk by Postman on technology and society is available on YouTube (irony noted).

267 notes

Show

  1. cloudsoverpompeii reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  2. em1578 reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  3. zootedthoughts reblogged this from upallnightdemonstofightxx
  4. upallnightdemonstofightxx reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  5. lonelytravelersroad reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  6. natthebuddhist reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  7. theweariestrivers reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  8. heavensigh reblogged this from yakuria
  9. yakuria reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  10. vitaganiedae reblogged this from fuckyeahreading
  11. noble-winged reblogged this from fuckyeahreading
  12. conqueringshelves reblogged this from fuckyeahreading
  13. somethingratherclever reblogged this from going-to-scranton
  14. lalalaexistence reblogged this from i-was-promised-tea
  15. nolandwithoutstones reblogged this from mohsinaat
  16. mohsinaat reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  17. silverclef reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  18. speakingintothevoid reblogged this from fellfromfiction
  19. quiquito reblogged this from fellfromfiction
  20. ramman12608 reblogged this from fuckyeahreading
  21. lindsers251 reblogged this from timaspublishing
  22. nonsensetwice reblogged this from timaspublishing

Blog comments powered by Disqus