Saturday, February 07, 2009

This dystopia wins

George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” gave us two slightly different dystopias. While “1984” showed a totalitarian state that rewrites history to suit its needs, BNW posits a society that is too concerned with trivia to really care about “what’s going on.”

And while “1984” is the one that is in the pop culture radar (see Apple’s groundbreaking super bowl ad), Huxley’s oeuvre is the one that is proving to be prescient. Like Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” – which foresaw various oil crises and the dangers of monotheistic, violent religions espoused by desert people – “Brave New World” correctly predicted that pleasure, not fear, will reduce us into unthinking imbeciles.

It's easier when you have a "big brother" to fight. Being suppressed and silenced for your radical views isn't as frustrating as drowning in a sea of mediocrity. 


Danny Boy, FCD said...

I think both dystopian views are not mutually exclusive. The uncritical lust for pleasure is lulling people into a blind stupor. "Materialism" and greed have indeed contributed to the "unthinkingness" you see today.

But fear, especially the one being rammed down our throats by the fear-mongering media, also blinds us into over-reaction and the acceptance of losing our freedoms for the sake of "feeling safe". George W. Bush was successful in breeding both forms of blindness (and a third one based on religious faith).

missingpoints said...

Hmmmm. Interesting point. Although in the case of the US under Bush, the information wasn't state-controlled. Basically they used Fox News and other popular media to get their message across. The problem was that their message was simpler and played on people's fears while the more moderate camp had difficulty expressing a more nuanced line of reasoning.

Danny Boy, FCD said...

Fox News during the Bush years was just an extension of the White House propaganda machine. They just regurgitated WH and Pentagon press releases as if it was independent news. And their commentators like Hannity and BillO were just partisan apologists. That's even worse that state-sponsored propaganda.

The fourth estate should be independent and critical of the government. That is what a free press is for. When the press acts in concert with the state to misinform the public, then you can kiss your freedoms goodbye.