Creative LeadershipEngaging Culture

Which Vision Of The Future Are We Experiencing Today?

From time to time it’s good to remember this classic quote from the writer of “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” Neil Postman. His book is a classic on the media driven culture we’ve created, and how it has transformed the way we live. In the book, he makes a case between two views of the future – those of Aldous Huxley, author of “Brave New World” and George Orwell, author of “1984.” He compares the two versions and speculates which one was right. Let me know which you agree with:

“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, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

― Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

What do you think?

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  1. Just my opinion but there’s truth in both author’s visions. I feel there is a great deal being hidden by the government, Snowden revealed that is true. Score 1 for Orwell. BUT, when those hidden things are exposed, few people even care; NSA spying on EVERY phone call and email? Okay, but what did Taylor just say about Rihanna on Twitter?! Score for Huxley.

  2. Excellent! That is so true. Huxley describes the culture of today exactly, but Orwell describes our government! Now I must go read Brave New World again!

  3. Just wanted to tell you I thought this was a thought-provoking article. I personally don’t share the Orwellian fear of Big Brother, but there’s no doubt we’ve become in many ways the pablum-for-brains masses Huxley envisioned.

  4. Orwell and Huxley’s fears have both come true in the present world.

    Society’s level of anxiety explodes while we drown in contradicting information on the world’s sufferings; none you can trust is the truth while everyone holds on to their side with gnashing teeth.

    Media makes the mundane bombastic to the point where not having the latest fashion is more important than the people covered in chemical dyes and dying to give you five seconds of what we call, “joy.”

    While one is being indoctrinated into the bible of materialism, another is being killed for possessing a Christian bible. Though you won’t be killed for that in the United States, our “peaceful” culture’s new commandments will shut you up or welcome you to a trail of punishment and shaming.

    There’s a hunting season against our bodies and minds as we look to other people on how to be ourselves and look to ourselves to ‘fix’ other people.

    Desire indeed ruins us because it turns us away from God. It’s definitely no surprise that we are engrossed in our desires. How better to ruin us than to get us as far from God as possible.

    I believe Orwell, Huxley and other writer’s that have taken a stab at our futures usually have truth in them because in all generations are still the same sinful people, seeking the same things. We just have new tools to achieve what we are trying to accomplish.

    Truth stands on it’s own wether we choose to believe it or not and only truth allows us to focus away from ourselves.

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