Archive for January, 2011

Aldous Huxley on Freedom and Totalitarianism

My summary and a bit of interpretation.

Threats to freedom:

  • Overpopulation and resultant pressure on ecological systems and depletion of natural resources.
  • Overly bureaucratic and hierarchical information systems in government and business
  • Use of media and technological advances to distract populace, potentially evolving into overt propaganda
  • Use of psycho-active drugs

Regarding freedom and totalitarianism:

  • Dictators of future will rule by propaganda and entertainment, if not by force
  • Price of freedom is eternal vigilance
  • Inculcation of children via advertising: cannon fodder training via radio/TV propaganda
  • Passion for power puts all democratic processes at risk
  • People can be persuaded at level below choice and reason by subjugating one’s rational self-interest through entertainment and advertising
  • Bifurcation of society into a ruling, relatively free oligarchy on the one hand, and oppressed slaves on the other, a state of affairs that can endure for a long time

Regarding political campaigns:

  • All it takes is money and a candidate perceived as sincere can allow elites to take control of the whole democratic procedure

Regarding democracy:

  • Education in critical thinking inoculates against totalitarianism
  • Decentralization empowers voters. Centralization dis-empowers them
  • Freedom is not necessary for industrial production, but it necessary for the creative life of man

All in all, Mr. Huxley’s arguments are still salient, if not prescient today.

Here’s the rest of the interview:

Aldous Huxley is the author of the dystopian novel Brave New World.

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