When I was young, I thought Orwell's future was the most dangerous an imminent. Then later Huxley, especially once things like "apps" were created. Now I see they both work together to erode liberty.
Your culture works against the expression of your constitutional rights, especially in certain areas of our country. And of course, if you stop using those liberties you might never notice once they're taken away.
It's also interesting to note that Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia are also literary reactions to that time period. Note that Saruman turns Isengard evil with "The fires of industry"; orcs cut down the trees and defile large areas of the countryside, while the Nine Rings corrupt men in the name of greed and power. Tolkien's answer to industrialization was to return to small pastoralist villages; Lewis's was to accept the redemption of Christ, in the form of the lion Aslan.
It was also a response to WWI. Tolkein's childhood friends were killed and shattered by that war...and why? Because in 1831, Britain agreed to be a guarantor of Belgian neutrality.
So when Gondor calls for aid... when Isildur calls the Men of the White Mountains to war... when Minas Tirith is besieged... what ought elves and men do but honour their allegiance? We now have all seen that war is obscene as cancer, but perhaps to march to death is still more fitting than to forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship.
Otherwise... what was the point?
But stories are still about (among other things) the choices people make, the way we see those choices, and the things we think about our own choices.
The rise of mass media (hollywood, netflix), pornography, the pill (and other forms of contraception), large expendable incomes, smart phones, pharmaceuticals - the world now is basically Huxley's + a bit of a Orwellian propaganda sprinkled on top to keep you in Huxley's world.
Maybe you could say that these are non-core aspects of the story, like the fact that in BNW they travel by rocket instead of jet, but I think they’re extremely central to the story.
These ideas didn’t come out of nowhere, many of them ( like the replacement of family life with communal life) were taken seriously by progressives of the day.
Huxley took the trends and novelties of the early 1930s and imagined what things would be like if they continued in that direction. Some trends continued, but others stalled out, and these trends are perhaps more interesting than the ones that continued.
Just consider the Facebook newsfeed. Do you think the false headlines, or the memes and reaction videos scattered throughout, have more of an effect on people's inaction to perceived injustice? People won't react any differently to a headline that claims one things or the other. That's Huxley's prediction right there.
> I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency.
I've recently been reading a book called "Why Liberalism Failed" by Patrick Deneen, which also sees these two forces as working together to harm both the individual and society at large, but not by restricting our liberty so much as trading away other valuable social goods for a surfeit of liberties most of us don't actually need or benefit from. The liberty to buy whatever our appetites desire, at any time. The liberty to uproot ourselves and live "globally" without concern for the locales we leave behind. The liberty to profit seek without regard for externalities.
Deneen draws a contrast between "liberty to <do, own, or be something>" and "liberty from being ruled by our animal urges and appetites". The ancient Greeks who coined the term saw liberty as a virtue explicitly in the latter capacity. But the modern sense of what it is to be liberated is explicitly centered around the former. But I think the liberty you allude to is more of the ancient conception, and I agree, the pincers of the government and the market are eroding our liberty from animal urges, in exchange for an ever expanding menu of nominal liberties to which are often harmful to ourselves and others.