2nd October 2006
Aldous Huxley - Author of "Brave New Worlds" George Orwell - Author of "Nineteen Eighty-Four"
Lets break this down:
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 would want to read one.
Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information Huxley feared those would give us so much that we would reduce to passivity and egotism
Orwell feared 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 feelies, the orgy porgy and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.
As Huxley remarked in "Brave New Worlds Revisted" the civil libertarians and the rationalists who are ever the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions."
In "Ninetetth Eighty-Four" people are controled by inflicting pain. In "Brave New World" people 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.
Looks like Huxley is winning so far.
2nd October 2005
Big Brother did it for the lulz
Voice of joy and sunshine
26th May 2003
Orwell feared that the media would define our reality - and that certainly seems to be becoming true. Turn on the news and you'll get a heavily slanted version of events.
Take the recent London riots for instance, most of the trouble wasn't started by students, it came off the nearby estates. And because the National Union of Students did not organise the protests individual university groups had to go it alone which resulted in no agreed upon route so when violence kicked off it spiralled out of control. On the police side you had no centralised liaison authority that could dictate or agree upon safe zones for the students to stay in if they didn't want to fight.
But you turn on the TV and it's the Students' Riot. Those evil bastard students.
Two effectively contradictory versions of events, hiding behind picture of violence.
Reminds me of this bit from 1984:
[INDENT]By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.[/INDENT]
To reduce Orwell to simply banning books is to reduce him a step too far I think. He seemed to be talking more about a perversion of meaning. While in 1984 he represented an extreme case of the societies he was talking about it's not as if he was immune to the idea of manipulating people through their pleasures as much as their pains. Even the concept of Newspeak ties back to consideration about the construction of language in a society,
[INDENT]I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words or constructions.[/INDENT]
In 1984 people are controlled by far more than simple pain, there's a patriotic pleasure, akin almost to the energies of sex - an involvement in the market of government. The people in 1984 prostitute themselves and their ideals for safety. What does that remind you of? It reminds me of the Patriot Act. There's a sense in which peoples greatest indulgence - their soma if you will - is the boot stamping on a human head.
5.56 smoke Haji every day
18th July 2008
Both of their distopia novels are excellent. I think examples of the predictions from both books coming true can be seen today. Fahrenheit 451 deserves a mention too.
Quetron's alt account
10th December 2005
NemmerleTo reduce Orwell to simply banning books is to reduce him a step too far I think. He seemed to be talking more about a perversion of meaning. While in 1984 he represented an extreme case of the societies he was talking about it's not as if he was immune to the idea of manipulating people through their pleasures as much as their pains. Even the concept of Newspeak ties back to consideration about the construction of language in a society, I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words or constructions.
I honestly think you've got it backwards. After all 1984 was written AFTER his essay about the english language. If anything, I would say "newspeak" is a logical conclusion for his fears that the English language was being degraded. Essentially, he stated that new authors were babbling on with lots of big words and pseudo-intellectual phrases that in reality had no meaning. In the conclusion of his essay Orwell expresses his fear that the written language would be used as a way to disguise ideologies of hatred and violence - burying genocidal ideas in a mountain of meaningless jargon so the readers don't recognize it, but subconsciously accept it. Perhaps that's what we saw in Nazi Germany - Hitler never actually said "kill all the Jews", just set up an atmosphere of propaganda and brainwashing where his subordinates felt COMPELLED to kill the Jews. You can see this at work in the War on Terror, most of the "presentations" I've read about it are meaningless. Lots of acronyms like "coin" and "ooda loop", lots of babbling about "centers of gravity", "winning hearts and minds", "clear, hold build" - but there's no real meaning to it. We're fighting an entire war buried in propaganda and meaningless catch-phrases. That is a good definition for newspeak, I think.
You can't fire me, I quit
16th April 2005
Vasili;5453043As Huxley remarked in "Brave New Worlds Revisted" the civil libertarians and the rationalists who are ever the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions."
Both writers dealt with the idea that a people can be kept under control by providing them with distractions. Isn't that more or less the way the Party in Nineteen Eighty-Four prevents the proles (the vast majority of the populace) from organising a revolt? They are provided with as many "freedoms" as most of them will ever really desire, so that they cannot conceive that it could be in their interests to overthrow the ruling class. In a way, the fact that we imagine our society today as being closer to Brave New World is very much in line with Orwell's thinking. Perhaps the only real difference is that our controlling elite is not so centralised as the one presented in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The People's Politsayski
25th January 2004
I would agree that both are very real dangers. But in our culture, I think the things that Huxley feared are far more prevalent. Truth is being buried in favor of personal pleasure and selfishness. Sad to see.
Quetron's alt account
10th December 2005
1984 is a good read as long as it is taken in context with everything else he wrote. Too many people read JUST 1984 and think Orwell was just another anti-communist. In reality, he was a socialist who believed in the class struggle and the oppression of the working classes - he just recognized that both the Left and the Right are capable of tyranny and hypocrisy.
I didn't make it!
Oh man, just finished reading Brave New Worlds. Dont wanna talk about the ending cause that would be the biggest spoiler in the world, but I highly recommend people read it. Damn.. If you like this book, I also highly recommend Animal Farm