I agree that there has been a sickening amount of "feel-good" propaganda in the relatively recent past, in no small part thanks to the movie industry, but please note that this "feel-good" tendency and the true pursuit of happiness are two completely different things.
I'm under the impression, possibly wrongly, that a lot of people confuse instant gratification with happiness. Confusing the two is seeing the forest for the trees, like assuming sex is the same as love. Real happiness is deep-rooted, it isn't swayed easily, nor is it a direct consequence of transient events.
No real advocate of the pursuit of happiness has ever believed that life was inherently happy, however most think that life provides the conditions and the tools to make it happen. The subject has evidently been discussed ad nauseam, but I think Buddhism covers the basics really well.
> One of the many paradoxes is that if you accept unhappiness and just get on with the job, greater happiness can follow.
Subsequently (and hopefully not being too pedantic) I don't think there is any paradox here, simply a misunderstanding on your part. I honestly don't think "unhappiness" should even be a word, there is "sadness", but even that is not a direct antonym of "happiness". In your sentence, replacing "unhappiness" with "trouble" (or "problems") shows that there is no paradox, simply a difference in scope(s) of understanding.
I'm not even sure any of this makes sense to anybody, it took a very long time for it to even make sense to myself.
 I'm not Buddhist, I just appreciate the teachings, like I do other beliefs.
..."What you need," the Savage went on, "is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.”
The Savage's conversation with Mustapha Mond in chapter 17 has a lot of heady stuff. It feels like a modern Book of Ecclesiastes.
The whole book is thought-provoking, but chapter 17 in particular says something to modern society and our desire to constantly entertain ourselves. This is why to me Brave New World is more relevant today than 1984. We've all seen 1984 in real-life, through totalitarian states. Society as a whole rejects categorically the world of 1984. But engineered utopia of Brave New World is a lot closer than we realize, and in mass advertising and relentless consumerism, as a society we show a desire to accept it as devastating as it is to individualism and broader and nobler concerns.
“Why, suffering is the sole origin of consciousness. Though I did lay it down at the beginning that consciousness is the greatest misfortune for man, yet I know man prizes it and would not give it up for any satisfaction.”
Or, maybe the people in our real society are oblivious to the peace and happiness experienced in A Brave New World's society.
> they have no desires and no ambitions, they create nothing and have no desire to, they feel no real emotions and all sex is mechanical, and they happily march to their own deaths at a certain age.
Are any of those differences actually useful things inherently, or only in pursuit of happiness? If you've got your happiness from another source (a drug), why keep doing the things that were previously necessary to attain happiness?
How do we draw the line between "helping people live happier lives" and "tricking the masses into contented servitude"?
What is the ultimate goal of humanity and our global society? What should it be? How do we reconcile differing opinions on this question?
A frequent answer for me is "to reduce suffering as best we can for the greatest number of people" but if taken to the extreme... a sedated and distracted society might be the one with the least amount of suffering? I can't support that idea but it is the unfortunate logical extension which reminds me of the sci-fi dystopias in which AI is tasked with ensuring the best for humanity...
"Billions of people just living out their lives, oblivious. Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world, where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program, entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world, but I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from." - _The_Matrix_
Because being happy and content is by far not all what makes life worth living, and these people are stuck in eternal mental infancy. And they don't get a choice, either: they are conditioned to despise natural birth, not sleeping around, and deep affection -- and the caste system is proper for insects maybe, but not fully developed human beings. It is not what they eventually happened to agree on, it was engineered that way, they were born into it without even the ability to see what has been done to them, and all of this calculated. They are instant gratification junkies in an endless loop of mental stagnation, what's not to hate?
> but never really justified why they'd be necessary. All of them (and the 'orgy-porgies') were, I felt, added to be able to make the argument that the society he was portraying was morally wrong.
Do you think Huxley is making the argument that "being happy and content is bad", and the rest is just filler? If so, read his this one:
Clearly, he's not against being happy and content. But it has to be real and come from within, not just from being deprived of the ability to grasp injustice or reasons to be sad, or reasons to love (which implies the possibility and eventual reality of loss, too).
If I injected you with drugs that made you a mindless, but very happy and healthy zombie, and hooked you up to IV everything-you-need -- "you" (there would not be much left of the former you) would love it, but how would your friends react? Badly. Does this then mean they are against happiness? Of course not.
Do the social structure and outlook of cattle appeal to you?
Edit: because that's what the dystopia presented in A Brave New World is similar to.
Even a short interruption of soma led to a riot. You would get grumpy if you didn't have coffee one morning, but would you start destroying things? And it is likely a common thing, as they have a special police group just for addressing this scenario. So, to reiterate my original question, if even the smallest bad thing causes riots, are they really happy?
The scene from The Matrix where Cypher enjoys a "steak" with Mr. Smith:
The problem is with using behaviorist methods to train (and breed) out all possibilities of choice or creativity outside of specified bounds for human beings, who are naturally creative and whose choices of what to think and consider doing are nearly limitless.
In his book The Man's Search for Meaning, Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl made the case that "happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue." He said that one can't simply be happy. Rather, they must have a reason to be happy.
This article does a great job of summarizing his philosophy and relating it to the current state of our society: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/01/theres-m...
It's a shame that recombinantrecords.net has removed that from his site, even though it's original work, because lawyers sued him for using the title of a (good) book "Amusing Ourselves to Death". Then, 9GAG & other sites have no problems copying the content. It just goes to show you that you can't stop information flow. All you can do it stop legitimate players from controlling it.
...but was apparently taken down due at the copyright holders' request. More on the book:
If they left the comic up but clarified what it was inspired by it would definitely help the Postman estate.
The conversion rate of "Do yourself a favour and read Neil Postman's words in full. Purchase a copy of Amusing Ourselves to Death new/used (aff)" must be a rounding error on 0.
(I'm guessing that the subtlety of the comic's original Postman mention – at the very bottom – compared to the top line "AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH by Stuart McMillen" may have started the attribution discussion off on the wrong foot.)
Some of this stuff is expanded on in Huxley's forword to BNW, btw, written in 1947. I have always been fascinated by this assertion in it:
As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase.
Not scientific in the slightest, I just think it's easier to miss the subtler ways that Huxley's predictions have been realized.
Part of that is that I'm not sure there's ever been a point in history in which the majority of people actively contribute to the political sphere on a regular basis. They have always been distracted by something (often mere survival). Even revolutions have usually been driven by top-down movements led by discontent elites.
Given that, I don't find the argument that a state in which most people are content and non-participant (somewhat the current state of most western nations) is worse than one in which most people are discontent and non-participant (the previous state of most western nations, and the extreme form of which is presented in 1984).
Even more fundamentally, there's a distinct air of moralism to Huxley's arguments. Anti-sex, pro-marriage, body-is-temple kind of stuff. These positions are taken as given, and given very little support, in all of his writing. I think it taints his entire premise.
Island is pro-drug (magic mushrooms), pro-sex, pro-enjoying life, sensible use of sperm banks, sensible non-coercive education, playful response to religion.
Sado-masochism is presented as child abuse or a kinky adult game, not as in BNW as a nobel response to an immoral world (BNW ends with the savage whipping himself, getting into an orgy with curious onlookers, and then hanging himself in disgust).
I would not describe this state as 'content and non-participant', it is more of a self-perpetuating drug-induced ignorance.
So I'm here arguing about the idea that Huxley would see the state we're in now as being representative of his dystopic ideas in principle if not in fact. And given his own commentary on his and others' work, I think he probably would.
The question then is: is the contentedness of the masses right now reflective of a 'drug/distraction-induced ignorance' of a Huxleyan style? It's often asserted, but I don't think I've seen a compelling argument. People are largely free to be discontent, and what means the state actually seems to use to work against popular discontent look more like Orwell than Huxley to me.
The next graph down on the wiki page is far more representative:
It actually makes your case stronger by showing a relatively flat line from the 20's through the 70's, indicating that this is really a recent trend. The other graph made it look like a historical inevitability, since the prison population is always increasing.
For all Brave New World's glib exaggeration for comic effect, I'd argue that anticipating sexual liberation (and mass consumerism and distraction-based mass media strategy) was a far more perceptive view of the future than Orwell's ideological slavery. Whatever the intended or actual psychological effects of the "War on Drugs" may be, those prison sentences certainly aren't an Orwellian attempt to unite the population in support of the executive.
Then again, Huxley was satirising what he perceived as relatively novel trends emerging in the United States whereas Orwell directed his ire at the Soviet Union, fascism and highlighted tendencies present in virtually every other authoritarian state that had gone before.
So what I'd really like is an example of a state that undisputably reduced in political and economic freedoms while also undisputably increased in sexual freedoms. Maybe Rome? But I think sexual freedoms probably only increased for the most privileged classes there. I'm not aware of a sexual renaissance in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany or Soviet/American client states with brutal puppet governments.
First, there's the artistic stele of the books. 1984 has got this graphic novel, Noir feel to it, like Walking Dead or Sin City. Brave New World has this brightly colored surreal feel to it. It's hard to compare books that are different in this way.
Overall, Orwell's world felt more real to me, like it could have been brought about by real political circumstances. The system itself is evolved around the principle that whatever improves control survives. It feels like a political system that has devolved into its current state with the original vision or rhetoric of the ideology that brought it about remaining as a vestige, like Marxism in China.
Huxley's world feels a little more fake to me. It's like some political genius designed it head to tail and things went ahead as planned. It's like Canberra (If you go there, you'll see what I mean). That makes it feel more like a made up word to me, inorganic.
Orwell's "mechanisms," training society to gradually train their minds using language, euphemism, historical revisionism, social penalties for bad thought patterns and as much control over what people see & hear as possible… it feels real to me. We see that stuff at work now as Orwell saw it in his time. It feels possible, though I think Winston's are inevitable too. Euphemisms to control thought is stronger today than it was in Orwell's time.
Huxely's mechanisms of Soma, infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis feel less real. I can't count that against the author or the book though. Brave New World is distant future. That's inevitably more fantastical and less realistic. I think he's right though about using pleasantness over direct confrontation. Humans are pleasure seeking and denied pleasure, there will always be a force of instability.
The point where 1984 slips ahead though is the book-in-the-book 'The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, by Emmanuel Goldstein.' In particular, it describes how the system must allow some non hereditary class movement. If the class system is too rigid, pressure builds up as talented individual press against the ceiling. If some are allowed to progress and there are prominent examples the class system becomes less explicit and more stable. I don't know if it's some of my earliest political exposure being socialist, but that just rings true to me. I see it today. Statistically, classes are fairly rigid, but individually, they are malleable.
I'm very biased though I think 1984 is one of the most important books I read as a teenager. It shaped how I saw things.
1984 felt just too dystopian. It just tasted wrong; like someone would have stood up and said, "No thank you" well before the point the book stepped into.
A Brave New World? That's simply distraction taken to the nth degree. Perfectly plausible.
I read Huxley's book when I was a teenager, and as you said, it shaped how I see things. Moderation and critical thinking are key in everything (moderation, even in moderation).
Good point. Technology can help create newer, more engaging distractions. Magic Leap hopes to offer a new "magical" layer on top of reality, when their devices are "on", for instance.
> 1984 felt just too dystopian. It just tasted wrong; like someone would have stood up and said, "No thank you" well before the point the book stepped into.
This is part of why there's such a push towards punishing intelligence community whistleblowers. When the public is made aware of the mass surveillance programs, they do say "No thank you."
Both books examine a different facet of human nature, and they both remain relevant to this day.
Watching how people react to the Occulus, "OMG it's sooo real!" I can't help thinking how badly screwed we are as a species when it goes mainstream. FarmVille addiction, World of Warcraft will look like a walk in the park to Occulus addicts who no longer know or care what reality is. Perhaps I'm just overly pessimistic
No matter now realistic Oculus appears, it's still just a device strapped to your face - it's not that immersive.
If people can get this addicted and consumed to World of Warcraft or Facebook games, imagine what will happen when that's literally at eye-level.
The first time I saw a 3D movie it was incredibly immersive. But after a few, the brain reconfigures its expectations, and the same inputs are interpreted as "just a movie".
The current state of North Korea indicates that this statement is wrong. When the odds are so overwhelmingly stacked against you, its hard to start a rebellion.
Granted, things weren't looking very good for the U.S. when the revolutionary war began, but we had astronomically good odds when compared to the average North Korean.
I can fairly easily envision the same happening in North Korea, where by all accounts nearly the entire population is dissatisfied with the current state of affairs. One big protest in Pyongyang, and boom.
I have been listening to lecture about the english empire and comparing americans with the lower class in North Korea is quite a strech.
I never suggested that we were battling an oppressive regime. Literally the entire point of my comment was to highlight the difference between us and North Korea; I didn't suggest the things you seem to think I did.
Where exactly is that inflection point? So far, we've complained a lot, yet we slide more into it every day, and statistically, no one is leaving.
If these two developments are allowed to continue, 1984 doesn't sound unlikely at all to me. There just needs to be one point in history where somebody grabs the power, and then it will be impossible to take that power away.
From what I've heard, 1984 was passed around as "samizdat" in the Soviet Union, and many were convinced George Orwell was actually living in the Soviet Union since his descriptions were so true to their lives.
Think of all the distractions that already occur today with smart phones, facebook, twitter, continuous streaming TV, constant video games that are always with you and continuing to grow more immersive. Here we have our growing distractions.
Now start giving these things to younger and younger children; how many toddlers do you see tapping on a smart phone or a tablet?
Add to the mix a good healthy dose of drug induced behavioral control via Ritalin or Adderall, prescriptions written for these are at an all time high http://www.wnd.com/2013/04/radical-increase-in-kids-prescrib....
Fast forward to that child as an adult; they have spent their whole life on behavioral modifying drugs and start to feel uncomfortable or dissatisfied with their lot in life. What are these "strange feelings", so off to the doctor they go where they can be diagnosed with depression and get put on some Paxil/Prozac/Zoloft so they can be content going back to that same hum drum existence they were starting to question. Since they were trained as children to take behavior modifying drugs, as an adult they are predisposed to accept this as the correct course of action.
Seems to me, at least in the USA, we are already coming pretty close to Huxley's vision today.
Not to derail the conversation too much, but fuck you. That's not even close to what depression is or how it works. Depression isn't when your life sucks so you feel bad, it's when you feel bad for no reason, even when your life is objectively pretty good. It's a well documented medical phenomenon that can fortunately be managed rather well with, among other things, medication. Comments like this, though, serve only to stigmatize treatment and actively discourage people from seeking help.
I have a close family member with depression. They've been on Zoloft for a little over a year now and it has been a huge blessing. The single biggest obstacle to getting them help was helping them overcome the social anxiety and sense of failure caused by stigmatizing and belittling attitudes like yours.
Yes, many more people are on antidepressants than in generations past. Many more people also take antihistamines daily and get an annual flu shot and nobody thinks that signals some downfall of civilization. Modern medicine has provided effective treatments for countless conditions, ranging from minor annoyances to debilitating illnesses, that previous generations had no alternative but to endure quietly. In almost every area, save this one, this is rightly regarded as a triumph of science and a huge net good for humanity. Why is it about mental illness that causes otherwise smart, empathetic, and scientifically literate people to start clutching their pearls?
You don't know me; and you almost certainly haven't seen the personal affects of depression up close like I have.
My post was in no way "belittling" depression. The fact is a mix of lazy doctors, lazy teachers, and yes lazy parents makes it very easy for children to be put on drugs for ADHD. So much so that the FDA has launched investigations into this practice, but ultimately no change has come out of. Also FACT, Ritalin and Adderall are both known to cause drug induced depression to such an extent that is has been highly tied to teen and young adult suicides. Catching this early results in treatment with anti-depressants to continue mood altering. This is a case where the patients do not suffer underlying depressive disorders, but rather it is directly caused by long term use of other mood altering drugs that in many cases were not necessary.
This is a situation where you have unwittingly stuck your foot in your mouth. You have no idea the level of irony that you just reached by trying to call me out on this.
I have, actually. The person I care about did not have any substantial pre-depression experience with mood altering substances, prescription or otherwise, but post-depression treatment with antidepressents has been a huge help to them and, indirectly, to me and the rest of my family. Nevertheless, I do have a pretty good guess as to what your experience has been like.
My post was intemperate, to say the least. Your post struck a nerve with me and provoked a reaction that was undeserved. I've had to deal with one too many "depression isn't real" and "people just want happy pills" attitudes in the past and it's apparently caused my reading comprehension to suffer. I painted with far too broad a brush and you have my sincerest apologies.
So, what's the entity without agency (agenda?) that would be objective. There is no objectivity. I don't know how well documented it is, but I doubt I really want to know. If it is well known, why isn't it prevented regularly or is it?
> Why is it about mental illness that causes otherwise smart, empathetic, and scientifically literate people to start clutching their pearls?
It's treating the symptom, not the problem. Just a hunch.
So then why isn't taking an ibuprofen for a headache, or cold medicine to help with cold symptoms the same?
Plenty of medicine treats the just symptoms, and there don't seem to be people proclaiming the downfall of society because of cold medicine. It helps alleviate the symptoms and allows the sufferer to work towards curing the cause. I would imagine that this is especially true for something like depression where the symptoms are a direct obstacle to curing the cause. I've read that exercise and a healthy diet have been shown to help with depression, which in my opinion is probably better than just taking medication. However I'd be willing to bet that someone who is currently experiencing the symptoms of depression (such as fatigue, apathy, and a reduced motivation and task salience), is going to have quite a bit a of difficulty in doing that, and sticking with it. On the other hand, if the medication gets rid of the symptoms, the individual would probably have far more success eating healthy and exercising, or addressing any other issue that may be the cause of their depression. We don't tell people to get over a heart attack or chastise those who take medicine to help with cardiac problems, we deal with the symptoms as best we can, and then we deal with the cause once we get the symptoms in check.
Now to make some wild and likely inaccurate generalizations. I frequently get the feeling that people who rally against mental health medication have the mindset of "It's their fault, and it's just because they're weak, they should just stop being lazy, buck up and get over it like I would instead of cheating and taking pills for it." or even think that they deserve it due to some unknown choice they made and should have to deal with the consequences.
Honestly, even if it was "cheating" to take a pill, and people could just get over depression if they tried hard enough, why the hell is that a problem? I'd have no qualms "cheating" and taking a medication that improved my cognition, abilities, health, or anything else even if there was no issue with it in the first place. I know I'm just knocking down my own strawman here, but isn't that the whole point of technology? We create new things so that we longer have to waste our time and effort doing things "the hard way". Why is it any different when that optimization benefits our body or mind instead of our computer? Pshh, smart phones, get over your laziness and hand deliver letters to whoever you wanna talk to, don't cheat and take the easy way out. You got hit by a drunk driver? Well that's your fault for driving, you should've just walked 30 miles through the woods instead. And now you want to go to the hospital too? Why don't you just buck up and walk on your broken leg, no one else has a problem walking. And don't give me that paralyzed crap, everyone else seems to be able to walk just fine, you just want attention. Getting surgery is the easy way out.
> think that they deserve it due to some unknown choice they made and should have to deal with the consequences
That's the conservative approach. If the depression comes from social interactions, there has to be another side of the coin, this is it.
> Honestly, even if it was "cheating" to take a pill
In the context above, it's a masquerade and can make the interaction even more difficult, because besides the obvious symptoms, there are probably others as well.
Also, a certain fear of medication based on ignorance is there, I won't deny that I don't know.
It's surprising so many on HN would
With a few exceptions, everyone on this site experienced childhood without the barrage of information and sensations that is the Internet.
It is scary to imagine how children who from birth have been trained to always look for entertainment through iPad games and the need to always be connected - how that might affect them. I suspect this is an overblown concern, people probably said the same when the television became a staple in society and human beings are adaptable. Still, children are especially malleable at that age, the impact modern technology will have on them is...interesting.
I personally witnessed people saying the same thing about TV after it had become a staple in society. I suspect that earlier that they said the same thing about radio.
I strongly feel that BNW is more realistic. Neither will play out in entirety, but we are certainly addicts of our opioid receptors.
I'm certainly not arguing that the world should be viewed solely through the eyes of the lowest classes - I think this can result in focusing on zero-sum solutions that invariably invite more tentacles of control into our everyday lives. But looking at such perspectives is a good way to get over the initial "soft controls" and see that there definitely is a system of "hard controls" backing them up.
Just like Whitman, Price, and Haddad!
Overview from Wikipedia:
"This series is about how those in power have used Freud's theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy." —Adam Curtis'
Edward Bernays also wrote a book titled Propaganda and he invented the term Public Relations.
Edward Louis Bernays was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, referred to in his obituary as "the father of public relations". He combined the ideas of Gustave Le Bon and Wilfred Trotter on crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud. He felt this manipulation was necessary in society, which he regarded as irrational and dangerous as a result of the "herd instinct" that Trotter had described.
In Propaganda he wrote:
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind."
You don't need to look far to see how hedonism, particularly through television programs like American Idol and ESPN*, have supplanted the laymans need for government involvement. I see no better example of hedonism than the fact that the word 'Selfie' was awarded 'Word of the Year' by the Oxford dictionary last year: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-24992393. I work at Disney and when I look to the television monitors I see ‘inspirational’ quotes that tell me that selfishness is desirable. In particular, I have learned that ’mephobia’ is defined as the 'Fear of becoming so awesome that the human race can't handle it and everyone dies.' Disgusting…
Although I will add that Freud's theories are only one part of it. The documentary really exposes a vast plethora of social control techniques.
Along the same lines as Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent". The book is great, and there's a documentary from 92: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzufDdQ6uKg
What's that got to do with your workplace?
Selfishness is desire. It has just the negative meaning because it is either considered rude to call others selfish unless it's too much selfishness, or because it is a common selfishness, at which point it's only selfish against a third party. Just my interpretation.
Thats basiclly lenins great innovation. If you look at the leaders of the USSR, you will see people from all around the empire, while in the older system you would have the older familly based fudalism.
The soviet dream, get into the low levels of the party, work yourself up. That was not possible befor.
Marijuana legalization is Soma. We don't need as many workers any more, and pot will help to keep the drones passive.
Weed does seem to foster novel insights about longstanding things, but when it wears off the thoughts don't seem so coherent or actionable - imho. Then again I only smoke occasionally and socially, and haven't really tried eg coding while high.
I personally think all laws against drugs are immoral. But I see the present absorption of marijuana into the status quo and can only lament "not like this" - counterculture sucking up to power via taxes, regulatory complexity increasing rather than simply being erased, and persecution of other drugs even stepping up (not that I really want to see anybody putting needles in their arm. but public health, not societal banhammer). Feel good rationalizations like "change is slow" only make sense if you aren't simultaneously taking multiple steps back in other areas, and focusing on one substance seems quite myopic.
On the other hand, I don't know too many people where pot has had the reverse effect, and increased their drive. It does seem to have a numbing effect, broadly speaking.
Not saying I completely agree with the OP's sentiment, though.
Loosing desire is just a way to cope, switching one activity for the other, as both can't be combined. I am convinced the addictive effect, the positive connotation people allude to it are largely placebo.
>(myself not included)
You are not per chance paranoid or subconsciously ashamed?
Soma is described as being able to take a few grams and experience an eternity of time within a few hours. It sounds more like an intense psychedelic.
The term you are looking for is trance. Think of those manic church sessions, where people feel all so connected to god and go stark raving mad. Psychedelic trance can be achieved playing music or through meditation, as well.
Edit: Maybe It is funny if you get the message and I just don't get the kind of dark humor, though.
One word: Circumcision. Do I need to explain?
yeah, right. Which invention was there in the books, that seemed unlikely at the time and that had a significa
t impact on the story?
Drugs, microphones, cameras, TVs were basically an old hat at the time, like 50 years past for television and the phone, not comparing consumer articles. The stretch from widely available radio to TV is not a big one.
The control and deception, dissociation and assimilation likewise. 1984 was the time of WW2 no less. What do you know about the situation in some hidden archipellagos somewhere in Oceania.
BNW i found much less irritating, though it is not far from reality either. The only take away for me was sociatal exclusion, soma and population control through distraction. Enough in my bookkeeping, but not much science is involved.
I feel sorry for past thinkers who could only stumble upon ideas from books and digest them one at a time, rather than instantly find the history and connections and evidence and counter-arguments for an idea as we can now.
Thing is, thinking ideas through on your own sometimes doesn't help much. For ideas to really develop, they need dialogue, and experimentation and evidence, and for people to communicate with each other. IMHO People who are left to think about things on their own for too long can become defensive and obsessed with their own ideas and end up in dead ends, like Huxley did with his ideas about drug-enhanced hypnotism.
The internet is like a Large Hadron Collider for Ideas.
How horrible to go to a library to find what you need.
Well, frankly yes I find the notion of going to a physical location to find out simple bits of knowledge pretty horrible. You really shouldn't underestimate the immense potential we now have to access knowledge very quickly. Its fashionable to disparage it but frankly I think its a wonder of the modern world.
The sheer inhumanity of going 20 minutes without compulsively checking a glowing screen because you feel restless
"Haha they made a handheld device that contains all human knowledge and now we make fun of each other for looking at it too much"
Many students I know were on ADHD drugs even though they didn't really need it.
Many professionals are on anti-anxiety and anti-depressants now too...
The legitimately dystopian part of Brave New World are often technical in nature—effectively mind control through drugs and a caste system propped up by genetic engineering. These don't just require advances in technology but also a surprising level of social organization. Where 1984 feels like a continuous progression from a Soviet Union that never collapsed, these core parts of Brave New World comes of as discontinuous, a jump both socially and technically.
And without these extreme social and technical changes, it stops being a dystopia. If not for the eugenics, genetics and soma, it sounds like a nice place to live! Freer sex, freer entertainment, more automation, more leisure... It's radical, certainly, but not in a bad way—a radical departure from our current almost Puritan work ethic and our obsession with certain abstractions (the poorly defined "real vs superficial", "honor", "the dignity of work"¹...etc) sounds like just what we need.
I like giving people what they want, even if I think it's shallow or superficial. Then again, I've never been one to treat hedonism as a bad word.
That cartoon people like to pass around really captures my thoughts—in a way that's opposite to its intended message! It shows how some of the believable things in Brave New World are believable, but never shows why they're bad. It just assumes, and ties into cultural ideas (like "hard work is good" or "your life must have meaning") that many people don't question. But it misses the mark because it ignores the parts that are not plausible but actually created the dystopian environment.
The cartoon (much more than the book itself) is also a bit grating because I sense some condescending overtones. "Look at all those people who don't care about the world but just distract themselves with popular entertainment. How shallow!" Obviously you, the reader, do not belong to this group. And hey, I don't disagree per se—I think most popular distractions are shallow and have much better alternatives—but I also think there's nothing inherently wrong with enjoying them. I mean, I follow the news, I care about recent events and where does it get me? Nowhere. I guess I could vote² a bit better, but all it's done is sour me on all major candidates. Is this meaningfully better than comfortable ignorance? No, but people tell me it is. And here I am.
Really, Brave New World minus the implausible bits and with a larger dash of individual freedom thrown in is pretty much as far from dystopian as it can get. Radical, certainly, and jarring—very different from our current social order—but fundamentally good. It feels like it's just a few exaggerated risks thrown in to make leisure and entertainment seem crass and indolent. 1984, on the other hand, doesn't feel all that different from my parents' tales about the Soviet Union.
I know which one I'm more afraid of!
¹ I've always really disliked this phrase. It's one part rationalization and one part a way to keep people down and working even if they don't want to. Doing something menial or boring or easily automatable just for the sake of working is not my picture of dignity!
² Haha, no I can't, because I'm not a citizen. So I'd have to become a citizen first. It doesn't matter, but it is annoying.
Well, it's all fun and games if you happen to win the genetic dice roll and end up as an Alpha. I imagine it's considerably less fun if you're a Gamma.
More to the point, the world in Brave New World isn't dystopian on account of torture suffered, atrocities committed, or free expression squelched, a la 1984. The real horror of Brave New World is the complete reduction of the human race to a soulless, animalistic state. Or a robotic state, if you prefer that sort of analogy.
The humanity we encounter in Brave New World is a dead end: artistically, culturally, technologically, philosophically, and evolutionarily. This humanity will never reach beyond its comfort zone to achieve anything else. It will never colonize the solar system, or explore the stars. It will never make brilliant art, or profound discoveries. It will never question anything, and because it will never question anything, it will never improve itself. If you believe that humanity's crown jewel is its capacity for self-improvement and progress, then the world in Brave New World is a severely bleak one. It is a vision of the human race infantilized, neutered, and forever trapped in that infant state. (If there are any ihyperintelligent beings out there, bent on conquering Earth and rendering humanity a null threat, Brave New World reads like a perfect playbook).
On a visceral level, sure, I suppose I'd rather live in Huxley's dystopia than in Orwell's. That doesn't make Huxley's vision any less scary for me. Big Brother puts us in a cage; Huxley's society convinces us the cage doesn't exist.
From the standpoint of literary merit, 1984 is the superior book. But that's a whole different discussion, and I digress.
> Well, it's all fun and games if you happen to win the genetic dice roll and end up as an Alpha. I imagine it's considerably less fun if you're a Gamma.
Yes, from the external point of view of a book reader, i would prefer to "win the genetic dice roll". But if i were decanted as a Gamma, i wouldn't mind, i wouldn't prefer to be an Alpha, with all that complex work they do, i'd prefer my simpler life. The casts system in BNW works only because the members of each cast feel happy to belong to their cast.
> It will never question anything, and because it will never question anything, it will never improve itself.
This is actually why i think the vision of Huxley in BNW is not as dystopian as 1984 [spoilers of both books ahead!]: they not only not kill or get rid of the free thinkers (Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson) as they do in 1984, they actually send them to an island with an environment more suitable for their mental fostering, thus allowing new ideas to be born, and maybe very very gradually be introduced in the society.
Yeah, it's quite a bummer that no radical improvement can happen; the society could stuck in a local maximum. But it's a trade-off for stability, peace and abundance.
Would Huxley live today, i'd wager his vision of BNW would not include such a restrictive casts system. BNW's society had a great desire for efficiency, so it is expected that they would use computers to thoroughly automate as much labor as possible. And with that thorough automation, there'd be no need for conditioning humans to accept and do the worst kinds of labors that Deltas, Gammas and Epsilons do.
I guess the means of control applied to higher casts would still "make sense" in order to maintain social stability, which is rather discomforting. But without the restrictive casting system, that future doesn't seem as bleak.
Huxley's society functions largely because no one questions their role in it. Gammas have no aspiration to rise up because theu have been coached to not have any aspirations.
Thus doesn't this form of society rob humans of the ony characteristic that separates them
from animals?The ability to think, reason and make decisions for themselves. A world where humans cannot and ARE NOT allowed to think for themselves is definitely a horrible dystopia.
At least in 1984 some humans still have the ability to think for themselves.
In BNW they have no choice in the matter, unless of course they are born with
the ability, which again resembles the relative freedom of the Party members
from 1984. Come to think of it, the upper echelons of both societies
employ a sort of doublethink, whereby they convince themselves that what they are
doing is correct.
There really isn't much difference between the two societies, in 1984 the commoners
get to fuck and entertain themselves as they wish, and the same goes for
society in BNW.
I think that media, public discourse, entertainment and most especially industrial schooling are already tuned to condition people to accept servility to capital. There's a whole economic religion set up to perpetuate the superiority of the top 1% of the capitalist caste.
There's more to it, but it's not a conspiracy, it's not a conscious thing, but it is an emergent properly of the system we've set up, and individual incentives exist that perpetuate the system.
I think it's unstable - the trends observed by Piketty cannot continue for more than a few more decades without significant risk of social upheaval. But for now, the system is fairly unassailable, and it is very like BNW already.
The sheer number of sports/movie stars, well-off politicians and entrepreneurs in the US with humble beginnings don't give weight to your claim. Sure, there might be a top "caste" that
controls who can belong to that "caste", and very much tries to use the law to protect their collective wealth, but they don't have much control on the rest of the population's "caste mobility": http://www.verisi.com/resources/prosperity-upward-mobility.h...
It doesn't matter if there's a different 1% every year, if 1% owns 90+% of the wealth - and that's where trends are headed.
I think "deserved" wealth often isn't; a lot of it is luck of birth and opportunity, and more of it is being in a position of leverage to earn more by being high up in a hierarchy. But even if it is fully "deserved", it is still problematic.
What does "deserved" even mean in this context, anyway? It is not enough for wealth to be gotten by moral means, "deserved" must reflect a judgement by society as a whole, that everyone is in aggregate and justly better off by rewarding any particular person their particular share of everyone's future production (viewing wealth as a claim on future production).
So, the first question in my mind, is to define what characteristics you want to maximise in society. Without such a set of characteristics it's hard to say "this social structure is better".
I also think it's unlikely that a clear consensus on this metric can be found. That is, if it is even meaningful to create one.
Instead of Deltas, Gammas, and Epsilons doing awful labour, they will do none.
While CGP Grey has a very consumer-oriented view, it's quite compelling. www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU
I'm not sure I follow your logic from sentence A to sentence C here. I think I get what you're saying, but you kind of lose me on the point about "That's the same as saying there's no point to your work." Are you suggesting I've made a statement whose logical outcome is "There's no point to your work?"
"You're saying humans are going to stop being competitive."
That's not really what I said. I said humans in Huxley's world are going to stop trying. Trying, full stop. We can fill in the blank however we wish: trying to explore; trying to create; trying to question; trying to answer; trying to figure out; trying to obtain; trying to..., etc. Sure, I guess you could fit "compete" in there, but competition was not the crux of my point.
"And if we're relieved of the nagging sense that we have to achieve something, you could consider that a cure."
It's not about a "nagging sense that we have to achieve something." It's about a nagging sense that we can improve our lot beyond its current state, whatever that state happens to be. Maybe we can and maybe we can't. But we try, and over time, we usually do. It's not that the trying holds any intrinsic meaning -- and you'll notice that I've been very careful to avoid words like "meaning," which I find squishy and soft for arguments like these. Rather, it's that trying has a chance at improving our circumstances in some measurable way.
Even if you remove "meaning" from the act of trying, you can still place a value on trying. That value, very simply put, is the expected value of whatever you're trying to do/build/make/learn/achieve, plus any ancillary achievements/learnings/accomplishments/etc. along the way. (Recognizing, of course, that progress is not teleological or deterministic!)
Let's take this a step further, though. Let's play with the assumption that a life of care-free leisure is perfectly fine, if not exemplary. Ok. Then isn't a life of superior leisure and more entertainment even better? The citizens of Huxley's world -- at least the privileged Alphas -- have it pretty good, from a purely hedonic standpoint. But certainly they could have it even better. They never will, because they've lost their ability to wonder what "better" might be. That wonderment, even absent any intrinsic value, is still a very valuable thing to have lost.
Even if we evaluate Brave New World's society from a purely utilitarian standpoint, we conclude that society can do better. For example: a society based on pure leisure and entertainment, just as in BNW, but in which there are no subordinate/slave classes. That would be an improvement, I'd think.
And that's why Brave New World is far more frightening: an educated, intelligent person looks at it now and thinks, 'that's not so bad!'
Yes, BNW is a better dystopia to live in than 1984. But... it's still a dystopia. Free thinkers are socially ostracized, personal preferences (outside a certain set) are ignored, personal destiny is decided at conception (one case where the world of 1984 is preferable). It's a shocking world, and one that I wouldn't want to live in.
And inevitably, the discussion revolves around the fact that it's not as bad as 1984. As if "actually only the second-worst dystopia in classic fiction" is anything but damning.
Having a dystopia-off distracts from a significant part of the value that these works have to us as members of a society: There is more than one road to hell (and more than one hell to reach). 1984 shows an example of a possible future, why it is bad, and how it got that way. BNW shows an example of a very different future, why it is bad, and (less clearly) how it got that way. They give useful common ideas for possible outcomes of current actions. While BNW is preferable to 1984, it still shows that avoiding a 1984 outcome as hard as you can is not enough because there are other ways that freedom can be destroyed. To simply say "I would prefer my freedom be destroyed in one of these two ways" is not the most useful thing one can take away from reading these two books.
Let's conjugate together: "I understand X, you believe Y, they are obsessed with certain poorly defined abstractions T, U and V" (after the old saw: "I am erotic, you are kinky, they are perverted").
You reel off things like "Freer sex, freer entertainment, more automation, more leisure" as if all these things are an a priori universal good while values that you don't prize are wrapped up in a snarky prelude (people are apparently "obsessed" with "certain abstractions" that are "poorly defined"). Later on other people's ideas about the meaningfulness of life are presented as "cultural ideas" that "many people" don't question. Hilariously, you then go on to sense "condescending overtones" in a cartoon....
To quote the Dude: "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."
I don't doubt from your perspective that Huxley's dystopia doesn't sound so bad. I think that tells us more about you than it does about Huxley's dystopias.
These seems like crazy steps in our modern society, but keep in mind, Huxley was writing this in 1931. Eugenics were something readily embraced by the upper classes. The Soviet Union gravitated towards the totalitarian state it was, but at that time, it wouldn't have been crazy to imagine a government (imagine a less jingoistic Germany, with all the creativity and efficiency), creating something very much like what Huxley envisions. In fact, had the West not had the ongoing competition with the totalitarian Soviet Union, the capitalist impulses could have merged with a much larger government, and the United States, or Continental European powers could have turned into something like that. Constant conflict both militarily and ideologically may have been the only thing that prevented it.
> It's also a bit grating because I sense some condescending overtones. "Look at all those people who don't care about the world but just distract themselves with popular entertainment. How shallow!" Obviously you, the reader, do not belong to this group.
You may be right, but that's probably not fair to Huxley. In writing his book, he was speaking directly to his readers, trying to convince them that they were not so different from the utopia which he mocks.
> And hey, I don't disagree per se—I think most popular distractions are shallow and have much better alternatives—but I also think there's nothing inherently wrong with enjoying them. I mean, I follow the news, I care about recent events and where does it get me? Nowhere. I guess I could vote² a bit better, but all it's done is sour me on all major candidates. Is this meaningfully better than comfortable ignorance? No, but people tell me it is. And here I am.
But here's the thing. At that stage, you have two choices. Either realize that our societies are flawed and struggle to do something about it, whether you can turn the tide or not, or take the soma, act like the world is okay (in the West, or own small worlds often are perfectly fine), and do nothing. What is disconcerting about our society, and similar to Brave New World, is apathy and consumerism have caused a lot of people (not necessarily you), to fall into the latter column, which could very easily lead to 1984.
That's easy to say in California, but not New England. Mental models give one the ability to plan ahead, and are necessarily based on heuristics. Winter is coming.
Some specific heuristics, and the ways they are interpreted, are a bit outdated. But it sounds like you're advocating for letting go of independent moralistic thought, and going along with the flow of what feels good.
> It's also a bit grating because I sense some condescending overtones. "Look at all those people who don't care about the world but just distract themselves with popular entertainment. How shallow!" Obviously you, the reader, do not belong to this group ... I mean, I follow the news, I care about recent events and where does it get me? Nowhere
I take the opposite analysis - World events are a stratum of popular entertainment, and politicians are just a different set of celebrities. Each focused topic makes you feel a way, but it's ultimately tourism because your opinion on something that will not affect you and that you have no input to does not matter. Any discussion of topics where an intelligent decision could actually be reached ultimately get lost in the noise and clamped to one of two choices. Voting itself has devolved into a team sport where you channel all your built up outrage at the "other people" who are messing up the world, but it ultimately just signals assent to the entire system.
My two main points do seem a bit at odds, and I think the second is what causes people to depart from the first. They don't want to be like the people who cling to the first yet deny the second and thus spend their time shouting at the TV, especially as we all now carry self-activating TVs in our pockets. But I think the resolution is embodied in phrases such as "be the change you want to see in the world", "cypherpunks write code", etc. (Not that any mantra is free of problems, but I digress..)
What has moralistic thought ever done for us? No, seriously. Moral titans don't normally do good things because they've thought about it, they do it because they feel like it. Ethics professors IIRC behave less ethically in real life than their peers. Human moral instincts are pretty sound. While I'm usually all for a careful analysis, in this particular field it doesn't seem to have paid off.
Speaking more broadly, Orwell portrays a world where the freedoms of people are forcibly oppressed, whereas Huxley portrays a world where they are willingly oppressed. The people in Brave New World are more caught up in (what Huxley might call) a shallow culture, disinterested in the real world. This view does not seem so far fetched after all. Looking at the modern world, how easy it is to turn a blind eye to the troubles of far off countries when you are living in relative comfort?
Fahrenheit 451 is interesting novel to consider from this point of view as well, as I think it portrays a middle ground between these two extremes.
"Caste system via selective breeding," actually. If you believe Charles Murray, that's what we have now. We also have some huge fraction of the population taking soma pills, and while the words "father and mother" are not yet considered dirty words, we're half way there. I submit the reason you don't consider BNW a dystopia would be the uncomfortable realization that this is more or less the world we live in, minus the enlightened caste of "alphas."
I would agree though that not all aspects of the 'dystopian world' are bad, and it's very interesting to read his utopian book Island, that definitely embraces drug and hedonism, but in a different way.
Are they not realistic to us because we already exist in a kind of Huxleyan dystopia and therefore we simply perceive them as not bad?
I also thought of Mark Crispin Miller's re-vision of the parallels between Orwell's 1984 and TV advertising culture, in his essay, "Big Brother is You, Watching" . It's a long essay but it is very insightful on the current significance of Orwell's book. Just substitute "internet" for "TV" and you can update it to today.
 http://books.google.com/books?id=Lhsg1ZZ3hMQC&pg=PA331&lpg=P... (and scroll up to the start of the chapter)
"We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right."
From the point of view that criticism of your own enemy is often far easier to swallow than criticism of yourself, it isn't quite so surprising that 1984 is the more popular and better-known work.
Both are tremendously prescient.
As noted elsewhere in comments, Neil Postman, particularly Amusing Ourselves to Death, continues Huxley's critique. Postman himself is very strongly influenced by (and studied under) Marshall McLuhan. You'll also find this theme in Jason Benlevi's Too Much Magic, and other more recent works.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny ‘failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.’ In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.
In the information age, access to entertainment is utterly unfettered, and it's shockingly easy at times to get caught in a dopamine loop (example: Zynga, candy crush). While this is, I believe, a valid concern, I find the conspiratorial aspects a little absurd. Claims that this is orchestrated specifically to prevent the unwashed masses seizing power describe such an undertaking so as to be unfeasible. We're in this position due to very, very, rapid changes in technology that as a society, we have yet to fully adapt to and understand.
Quoting his speech at UC Berkeley in 1962:
> If you are going to control any population for any length of time you must have some measure of consent. It’s exceedingly difficult to see how pure terrorism can function indefinitely. It can function for a fairly long time, but I think sooner or later you have to bring in an element of persuasion. An element of getting people to consent to what is happening to them. Well, it seems to me that the nature of the Ultimate Revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: that we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably always will exist, to get people actually to love their servitude!
Huxley discounts the pure pleasure of putting your boot on someone's face, of being able to raping anyone in your country at will (as Trujillo was particularly fond of doing). Intriguingly, I think it is this class of evil people that will actively prevent humanity from turning into the Brave New World cul-de-sac, since it represents a steady-state that absolutely denies the kind of sadism that they crave.
I'd say Ignorance is Strengh
And the worst part? Both of these elements do these things because we ask them to.
Support sunset clauses (continue to justify a thing is necessary).
Support full accountability.
People said about Aldous Huxley that he could have an in-depth conversation about virtually any subject. As a well read person, he was aware the current developments at the time in the fields of psychology, management and life sciences--to name a few. It is no surprise that he came to speculate about the rise of advertisement and human resources management, which turned psychology on its head by applying it as a tool to generate and maintain a compliant supply of consumers and producers before anything else. His utopia is one where life is ruled by convenience, from the crib to the death. The more alarmist speculations of managed births and intitutionalized overmedication are simply logical extensions of this philosophy. It may be too easy to just go along with it without asking ourselves if life shouldn't be about something else than finding purpose through our given social functions. There's something deeply tragic about BNW, which isn't so unfamilar and requires us to take a step back from such ideals. The questions it raises are terribly current to us.
BNW is far from perfect, but the last century showed us that Huxley was right. Most of us want to love their servitude, and we're willing to work pretty hard in order to do so. The spectre of 1984, of surveillance and repression, is mainly reserved for those who stray away from what's expected of us. It stands as a menace to keep us in check. When people occupy the streets or participate in activity that undermine the accepted order, only then does it show its ugly head. In a way, 1984 and BNW are complements to each other.
This is why my response is almost always that it is Brave New World for the people, and 1984 for anyone who dares resist.
And if you doubt the veracity of Huxley's claims about hypnosis, and other mental manipulations, just refer to MKULTRA and similar programs.
Another factor that most people don't like to hear about, because it leans too far on the side of "conspiracy theory", but the reason Huxley and Orwell both were so fearful of the coming future was because they were actually insiders of the power elite that has largely guided this progression. Orwell was trained at Eton college, and was a member of the Fabian society. Huxley was less involved, but from what I understand his younger days he did talk with Bertrand Russell, but as far as I can tell he didn't really interface with the elite, so I consider his point of view more independently insightful.
Now, at the risk of going off the deep end a bit, I would like to introduce HN readers to the origins of Orwell's Fabian society: The British East India Company. Overlap this with the secret "rings within rings" will of the Rothschild backed Cecil Rhodes (the goal of which was to establish and maintain anglosaxon dominance of the west), and the picture of the elite will make more sense. It was the Rhodes and Fabians behind the round table groups, including but not limited to, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and Committee of 300.
Unfortunately, I have found very few places on the internet where modern talk of this subject isn't quickly overrun with the less fact-based "conspiracy theories". I said in about 2009 to one of my British friends that this is why we are going to see an increasing attack on the internet (TPP anyone?). As the last bastion of free speech, it won't be allowed to stand unified much longer.
I'll end it on that note for now.
On one side, Chaves, Evo Morales and Lula assembled fantastic propaganda machines in order to ensure their respective parties continue in power. They claim that those countries are at war against the "imperialists".
On the other, they provide plenty of "soma" in the form of popular sport and music events and public subsidies.
It would be better if we focus our energy on how we can help fix that before it's too late.
The thing is, the indoctrination of children and coordinated use of psychotropic drugs as a means of control would be morally repugnant to a human. But for a non-human ruling class, morality does not apply and the efficiency argument makes more sense.
Obviously, neither of these men could have predicted computers the way they exist today. It is now plausible to think that a malicious AI could undermine our entire system of government without us knowing. No such AI exists today, but if it did, it would have near unfettered access to communications and data globally simply based on today's technology systems. The levers for control are already in place.
Ultimately, when the machines take over, it'll probably be because we willingly hand over the keys. What happens to us after that is anyone's guess.
Do you have any reasoning to back up this assertion?
I see quite a number of self-modifying systems that are unintelligible to humans, unaccountable to others, and that exert significant control over the larger world. Whether these systems qualify as 'AI' seems like a question of how developed they are, and that seems like just a matter of time and available resources.
Interesting to note the emphasis in both BNW and the Culture on drug taking. In the case of the culture their bodies are engineered to produce a wide variety of drugs on demand:
You could argue that the humans in the Culture are effectively kept as pets by the god-like AIs that run that civilization. However, this is probably less threatening than it sounds as the Culture seems to be quite open to people (or AIs) leaving for whatever reason and seems to be slightly reticent about encouraging immigration as they are aware that it looks like a form of disguised colonialism.