Are We Living in “1984” or “Brave New World?”


    One of my “Facebook friends” (appropriately enough for the topic he raises) pointed this out to me and I thought it was worth passing along. As my “Facebook friend” – who’s actually a real friend as well, what a concept! – writes, it’s about “Orwell’s vision vs. Huxley’s… one of the most interesting things I’ve read in a long time… you won’t be sorry if you read it, and it takes about a minute.”  For instance, here’s one view of where we’re at — “Brave New World” more than “1984” –with which I mostly agree.

    Thus, only in a “Brave New World” world like this one could an ignorant buffoon like Sarah Palin become almost universally loved, hated…but most importantly, talked about at all. Just remember, every second you spend talking or thinking about Sarah Palin and her antics – or any of the constant stream of “infotainment” idiocy that spews forth from your TV screen, computer screen, or radio – is a second you could have spent doing something important, enjoyable, rewarding, fulfilling, etc. Or just dusting the house, anything would be more productive than a second spent on Palin (or “Dancing With the Stars,” or whatever other mindless drivel is on the tee-vee).

    On this same topic, and also per my “Facebook friend’s” suggestion, I’d also recommend Neil Postman’s classic, “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” which I read about 15 years ago – most definitely prior to the internet age – and which I thought was brilliant. From the Publisher’s Weekly blurb:

    Postman’s theme is the decline of the printed word and the ascendancy of the “tube” with its tendency to present everything – murder, mayhem, politics, weather – as entertainment. The ultimate effect, as Postman sees it, is the shrivelling of public discourse as TV degrades our conception of what constitutes news, political debate, art, even religious thought.

    On that cheery note, back to shopping online!  (just kidding, I pretty much boycott the consumerist frenzy also known as “the holiday season”)

    • Teddy Goodson

      Not only is news now delivered as infotainment, it is delivered in almost meaningless bumper sticker sound bites, which daily seem to get shorter and shorter. When was the last time you heard/saw a “story” that lasted more than three seconds, five seconds tops? Never mind nuances, in-depth reporting, back story, or genuine information (perish the thought!). In the generation of tweets and 6-word novels, it’s hard to see how much smalleer, shorter, and less serious news can become— but I’ll bet it does. By the way, to hear some old-style reporting, go to

    • kindler

      –  Paradoxical slogans that promote the opposite of what they claim: in 1984, they were “War is Peace”, “”Ignorance is Strength”, “Freedom is Slavery”. Today, we have Tea Party Dolts babbling on about “freedom” and “liberty” when what they really mean is letting megacorporations like Exxon-Mobil gain even more complete control over our lives.

      – Doublethink: the ability to hold two contradictory viewpoints simultaneously.  As in: Stop socialist government intrusion into health care — and keep your hands off my Medicare!

      – Newspeak: Orwell was a master of the English language and a brilliant observer of how it is purposely distorted through euphemisms. Before “1984”, he wrote a novel about advertising — not a coincidence.  Repubs, of course, have mastered this art, renaming the estate tax the “death tax”, etc.

      – Mass distraction: Orwell too talked about how papers aimed at “the proles” would focus on crime and such sensationalist stories, distracting people from the reality of their powerlessness.

      – Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: in Orwell’s companion novel to 1984, Animal Farm, the animals that overthrow the farmer end up becoming just like him. Kind of like all these so called revolutionary Republicans who will always, always, always put Wall Street before Main Street.

      – Finally, in the Bush-Cheney years especially, we did have an overly powerful executive detaining people without trial, committing torture, launching a bitterly destructive war based on a lie.

      Orwell remains utterly relevant. I only wish he were around today to write about figures like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and how they inflict  torture upon language, truth and ultimately democracy.