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February 13, 2021

Team Biden: Orwell or the Huxleys? [KT]

Huxley.jpg

Are you adoring your oppression yet?

This isn't all that high-tech. Does it make you feel any better? It makes Oprah feel better.

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The last time we discussed Aldous Huxley (in terms of propaganda) in this thread, we discussed a segment on Propaganda in a Democracy from Brave New World: Revisited.

In their propaganda today's dictators rely for the most part on repetition, supression and rationalization - the repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as true, the supression of facts which they wish to be ignored, the arousal and rationalization of passions which may be used in the interests of the Party or the State. As the art and science of manipulation come to be better understood, the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to combine these techniques with the non-stop distractions which, in the West, are now threatening to drown in a sea of irrelevance the rational propaganda essential to the maintenance of individual liberty and the survival of democratic institutions.

J.J. Sefton picked up a perceptive piece recently which relates statist propaganda in our time to descriptions in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. One interesting example:

In reality, standing alone with election fraud notwithstanding, last October's lockstep decision by an entire news industry to suppress the starkly headline-worthy scandals around Hunter Biden's laptop, along with all other negative stories about Joe Biden, accounts directly for 17% of Biden voters who would have abandoned him "had they known the facts about one or more of these news stories." Because those lost votes "would have changed the outcome in all six of the swing states won by Joe Biden," re-electing Trump, burying those stories was first-degree election interference.

Huxley foresaw this, too:

The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects, by lowering what Mr. Churchill calls an "iron curtain" between the masses and such facts or arguments as the local political bosses regard as undesirable, totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have done by the most eloquent denunciations, the most compelling of logical rebuttals.

There is much more at the link.

I think it was here at AoSHQ that I recently saw a comment or two on how Aldous Huxley's views had changed as a result of the horrors of WWII. His Brother Julian's views on eugenics led to disaster, of course. But similar views were widely shared at the time by some people we still admire today. Sometimes a "scientific bandwagon" is hard to resist. But Julian Huxley held on to his interest in eugenics. From 1957:

I believe in transhumanism: once there are enough people who can truly say that, the human species will be on the threshold of a new kind of existence, as different from ours as ours is from that of Peking man. It will at last be consciously fulfilling its real destiny.

From what I have read, some Chinese scientific and military types have been thinking and working along these lines.

But back to the Huxleys. R.S. Deese wrote a book about the brothers in 2014 entitled "We Are Amphibians". From the editorial reviews:

"This is a remarkably informed and engaging intellectual biography of two famous brothers who together formed the yin and yang of the modern evolutionary worldview."

"The importance and excitement of We Are Amphibians lies in its positive engagement with utopian visions."

I wonder if we need to take a little more cautionary approach toward Huxley's views, even if he was right in many ways about the capacities of technology to change our lives? From The Guardian,

'Everybody is happy now' A world of genetically modified babies, boundless consumption, casual sex and drugs ... How does Aldous Huxley's vision of a totalitarian future stand up 75 years after Brave New World was first published, asks Margaret Atwood
In the latter half of the 20th century, two visionary books cast their shadows over our futures. One was George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, with its horrific vision of a brutal, mind-controlling totalitarian state - a book that gave us Big Brother and thoughtcrime and newspeak and the memory hole and the torture palace called the Ministry of Love and the discouraging spectacle of a boot grinding into the human face forever.

The other was Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932), which proposed a different and softer form of totalitarianism - one of conformity achieved through engineered, bottle-grown babies and hypnotic persuasion rather than through brutality, of boundless consumption that keeps the wheels of production turning and of officially enforced promiscuity that does away with sexual frustration, of a pre-ordained caste system ranging from a highly intelligent managerial class to a subgroup of dim-witted serfs programmed to love their menial work, and of soma, a drug that confers instant bliss with no side effects.

I don't know that I have seen a comparison of these two novels with regard to Team Biden yet. But Victor Davis Hanson chooses another Orwell novel in this piece on Our Animal Farm: :

George Orwell published Animal Farm in August 1945, in the closing weeks of the Pacific War. Even then, most naive supporters of the wartime Soviet-British-American alliance were no longer in denial about the contours of Moscow's impending postwar communist aggression.

The short, allegorical novel's human-like farm animals replay the transition of supposedly 1917 revolutionary Bolsheviks into cynical 1930s Stalinists. Thereby, they remind us that leftist totalitarianism inevitably becomes far worse than the supposed parasitical capitalists they once toppled.

Orwell saw that the desire for power stamps out all ideological pretenses. It creates an untouchable ruling clique central to all totalitarian movements. Beware, he warns, of the powerful who claim to help the helpless.

VDH gets into a lot of detail, comparing the positions of The Left in the '60s and '70s with the positions of The Left today. Just remarkable.

We are now finally witnessing the logical fruition of their radical utopia: Censorship, electronic surveillance, internal spying, monopolies, cartels, conspiracy theories, weaponization of the intelligence agencies, pouring billions of dollars into campaigns, changing voting laws by fiat, a woke revolutionary military, book banning, bleeding the First Amendment, canceling careers, blacklisting, separate-but-equal racial segregation and separatism...The revolutionary animals are now running the farm in a way that would be nightmarish even to Farmer Jones.

We have all seen this before, but it seems appropriate somehow:

Hope you have a good weekend.


This is the Thread before the Gardening Thread

Serving your mid-day open thread needs


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posted by Open Blogger at 11:16 AM

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