Intelligent Design Naturalism

Was Orwell a better techno-prophet in 1984 than Huxley was in Brave New World?

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A photo showing the head and shoulders of a middle-aged man with black hair and a slim moustache.
George Orwell

Some curious turns in the debate, now that 1984 is 70 years old:

But now whose dystopia is the more accurate? Orwell’s or Huxley’s? In January, a British journalist and novelist posed the question directly, offering some background:

“One particular area of Huxley’s prescience concerned the importance of data. He saw the information revolution coming — in the form of gigantic card-indexes, true, but he got the gist. It is amusing to see how many features of Facebook, in particular, are anticipated by Brave New World. Facebook’s mission statement “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together” sounds a lot like the new world’s motto “Community, Identity, Stability”. The world in which “we haven’t any use for old things” dovetails with Mark Zuckerberg’s view that “young people are just smarter”. The meeting room whose name is Only Good News — can you guess whether that belongs to Huxley’s World Controller, or [Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer] Sheryl Sandberg? …

“A globally dominant society ruled by a party and a strong leader, a society which uses every possible method of surveillance and data collection to monitor and control its citizens, a society which is also enjoying a record rise in prosperity and abundance, and using unprecedented new techniques in science and genetics — that society would look a lot like a blend of Orwell’s and Huxley’s visions. It would also look a lot like modern-day China. The developing Chinese “citizen score”, a blend of reputational and financial and socio-political metrics, used to determine access to everything from travel and education and healthcare, is such a perfect blend of dystopias that we can only credit it to a new writer, Huxwell.” – John Lanchester, “Orwell V Huxley: Whose Dystopia Are We Living in Today?” at Financial Times

While Lanchester doesn’t make it quite clear, he seems to prefer Orwell by a hair. In 1985, a well-known culture critic, Neil Postman (1931–2003), came down for Huxley

Denyse O’Leary, “1984 is 70 years old yet still feels current” at Mind Matters News

Others weigh in as well.

Generally, the materialist constructors of brave new worlds entirely believe in design in nature, as long as they design it themselves. Anything else is pure randomness or else it sucks, right?

See also: British novelist predicted the internet over a century ago

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2 Replies to “Was Orwell a better techno-prophet in 1984 than Huxley was in Brave New World?

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    Silver Asiatic says:

    Huxley actually promoted and indulged in the lifestyle that he prophetically-complained about in his novel. He with the CIA in pushing LSD on the public as a means of controlling the population (it started as a military experiment to see if it could be used as mind control). Huxley requested LSD on his death bed. I think he didn’t like that government would use sex and drugs to manipulate the population (sex liberation as social control has worked), but he also felt that a condition of drugged-euphoria was a good way to deal with life. It’s the belief that psychedelic drugs offer a liberation of the mind — which is a false notion since the drugged-mind is living in an illusion and therefore has lost freedom of viewing reality as it is.

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    But more to the point, people surrender their freedom for the sake of belonging to a group. Zuckerberg understands this as people hand over private data. It was an appeal of communism – the sense of belonging. Both Orwell and Huxley were trying to provide a warning.

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