This was as riveting a read as 'Brave New World' and I'm sort of creeped out by how much of our present world Huxley was able to predict back in the 50s when he wrote this book. There's no mention of anything like the internet coming into existence, but even without that, there's so much he gets right. Here are just a few examples:
- Rise of reality TV and mindless consumption of sensational media
- Rise of advertising and loss of journalistic integrity
- Increasing urbanization and the breakup of community life
- Rise of Big Business, Big Government and bureaucracy
- Overpopulation and environmental degradation
- The weaknesses of democracies and the rise of a ruling oligarchy
- The opioid crisis and dependence on prescription medication
- Loneliness and isolation fuelled by technological advancements
- Genetic manipulation/CRISPR technology
- Today’s social justice movements and the rise of outrage culture (termed ‘herd poisoning’ by Huxley)
My only qualm with the book is that Huxley paints too cynical a vision of the future and is convinced that the world will befall the rule of a tyrant/dictator. I understand why he felt that way though. This book was written after WW2 when the atrocities committed by the Nazis had been newly brought to light. Huxley does an excellent job analyzing Nazi ideology in the book as well and relates it back to 'Brave New World' and how the Germans were conditioned to follow Hitler's plans. His analysis is on par with how Jordan Peterson talks about Nazism.
This book got under my skin and I had to put it down a number of times while reading to fully distill what I had read. If you've read 'Brave New World' and liked it, you have to check out this one too. It's short but is packed to the brim with high philosophies that'll take you quite some time to unpack, while also taking you behind the scenes and shedding light on Huxley's thought-procesess as he was writing 'Brave New World.'
I read a very rare copy of this book. It was printed in 1958. I find it very sad that he was this right that far into the future. It's sad that it still has marit to this day, and the for seeable future.
This piece by Huxley was just alright for me. I thought it came of as a little egocentric, elitist and preachy at times. I do find it interesting however that he wrote this piece in 1965 just twenty years after his Novel and how hauntingly true some of it is today. Take for example the war on terrorism in comparison to this sentence, "Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of the central government." Or how about while writing this in 1965 Huxley stated that, "In the democratic West there is economic censorship and the media of mass communication are controlled by members of the Power Elite." Even more true today 50 years later. Huxley also speaks of mankind's need for distraction in modern society and entertainment long before the internet, iPhones, Facebook, memes, the Kardashians and twitter. However in the end I think while he got many things right in his summation of the future he also allowed his own sense of self-importance to block reality. In a letter written to George Orwell he was convinced that his theory of narco-hypnosis would be more accurate than Orwell's Jack Booted surveillance state. Though not even Huxley could have imagined a President as evil as George W. who would use fear mongering to roll out policies of preemptive strike, the DHS, TSA and the loyal, tranquil sounding Patriot Act.
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