Postman: Orwell vs. Huxley

“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

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Postman: Orwell vs. Huxley

  1. Having read both books (not necessarily recommended) I would have to agree with this assessment. It’s slightly amusing to me that the surveillance state is not needed officially when most people are voluntarily filming themselves and others, broadcasting their thoughts, and carrying recording/tracking devices everywhere they go.
    As far as culture is concerned, I definitely agree that Huxley had the more accurate prediction of the two.
    -Ben

    1. “It’s slightly amusing to me that the surveillance state is not needed officially when most people are voluntarily filming themselves and others, broadcasting their thoughts, and carrying recording/tracking devices everywhere they go.”

      Exactly! I’ve read Orwell’s book, and Huxley’s is on my list for this year. Not certain I can say I’m looking forward to it, but I’ve no doubt it will prove a fascinating read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s