Most parents have heard the voice of a child in the backseat asking, “Are we there yet?” This question may prompt a map-check or a search for signs and landmarks.
Two books are often referenced for pictures of our future - “A Brave New World,” by Aldous Huxley, and “1984,” by George Orwell. Both depict a future that, in many regards, is already here.
With mental manipulation and tyrannical control accelerating, while personal freedoms take flight like startled blackbirds on a power line, Huxley and Orwell deserve a re-visit.
Both writers agree that the future will be totalitarian rather than democratic and free. Both Big Brother’s world and the Brave New World are ruled by authoritarian elites in a basically socialist/communist society. The real purpose of the ruling class is the maintenance of their own power and privilege, which is axiomatic historically.
Some will remember Nikita Khrushchev declaring that communism would bury the
U.S. by incrementally introducing socialism in
our culture until America
would wake to find itself under communism.
I believe Khrushchev said this in 1959. It was worth a laugh back then, but maybe not
so far fetched now.
So what did western culture look like in Huxley’s prescient predictions in “A Brave New World?” Huxley describes the perfect dictatorship that would have the appearance of a democracy, but would actually be a prison without walls. In his concept, the prisoners would not want to escape. This was a system of slavery where the slaves “love their servitude,” and are pacified by entertainment, seduced by consumption and captivated by technology. Relieved of the burden of freedom, the sheep embrace their voluntary oppression.
Huxley’s totalitarian system would have a strong centralized government run by a single party without opposition, ruling over all political, economic, social and cultural life. Society would be ruled by a benevolent dictatorship whose subjects were programmed to enjoy their subjugation through conditioning and the use of a narcotic drug called “soma.”
Today “soma” might be an actual drug, but the drug might also be technology, entertainment, sex, or the social media. It’s interesting that people today are anxious to reveal the intimate details of their personal lives on the internet, unaware that they are making things easier for “Big Brother.”
Huxley was born into a family of scientists and was concerned with the results of scientific progress on mankind and its harmful applications. He foresaw cloning, genetic engineering, and test tube babies – things we are playing with today.
In “A Brave New World,” Huxley describes how human beings are genetically designed for jobs needed by the state. Artificially inseminated with gestation in a jar, physical and mental characteristics are precisely designed to benefit society.
According to some writers, while both Huxley and Orwell saw our descent into totalitarianism, Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement while Orwell saw the second. People were seduced by political theater, technological and sensual amusement, and, while manipulated and distracted, the laws that were written for their protection were rewritten for their subjugation.
The “Brave New World,” crippled by deficits, endless war, corporate and political malfeasance, and bankruptcy, suddenly found itself in Orwell’s “1984.”
Huxley pictures a society where people are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions moving to Orwell’s society where people are overtly monitored and controlled. According to Orwell, as people wake up and speak up, more controls are required. Closer surveillance, more laws, more restrictions, and enhanced enforcement are required for control.
The use of science, technology, education, and the media are all used to bolster tyranny. Voices of descent are ridiculed and silenced, while the “party line” megaphone is handed to popular icons and servile sycophants to herd the sheep. When government, education, and the media speak with one voice, the young and the uninformed masses are easily controlled, while the resistance is extinguished.
The people are led to believe that life is improving and that technology is their slave, when in fact, technology may be their master. Freedoms evaporate, controls become increasingly pervasive, and cheerful conformity and political correctness lead to complete servitude.
It’s much easier for us today to grasp the future described by Huxley and Orwell than it may have been when those books were first published. Monitoring speech and surveillance in use today exceeds Orwell’s concept. Enforcement techniques are being expanded with the DHS, BLM, NPS, NSA, EPA, IRS, and every other governmental acronym joining in the fun. And we thought PMS was bad.
Based on this brief overview of Huxley and Orwell, how do we answer the kids in the back seat asking, “Are we there yet?”