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Old 08-31-2018, 02:36 PM   #1
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Default "1984" vs. "Brave New World"

Social critic Neil Postman contrasted the worlds of Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World in the foreword of his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death. He writes:

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 egotism. 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, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that our fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us.
I think we're closer to BNW than 1984.

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Old 08-31-2018, 03:07 PM   #2
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Both novels were prescient in their own way.

Huxley was prophetic insofar as he seemed to foretell the Internet age and the dumbing-down of society via diffusion and satiation.

Orwell's image of Big Brother asking "how many fingers am I holding up?" is a more apt metaphor for the post-modern merger of corporate media and the state, Fox News and its influence over mass audiences via disinformation, propaganda, etc., IMO.

1984's depictions of various forms of manufactured entertainment (e.g., trivial music created entirely by machines) dovetail with Huxley's visions of a proletariat subjugated by a ruling class via distraction and pacification, so there's some overlap there, obviously...
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