Orwell vs Huxley
Orwell vs Huxley
Society was greatly under the influence of the work of Orwell’s 1984, entranced by its cryptic message it left on people. The effect from this novel left them in panic and shock. Neil Postman, a contemporary social critic was a person who derailed this myth and emphasized upon the equally horrible societal values of Huxley’s Brave New World to base his assertions on.
This potential downturn is enforced by our society’s laziness and lack of any knowledge of our history, which could further drag us as a populace to the inevitable of the horrible society that Huxley has sculpted, the loving oppression that starkly contrasts to Orwell’s less irrelevant oppression under force.
Work is often the bane of many people’s existence in our society, but why else would man invent the alarm clock, Picasso once said. Our society is extremely lazy, for we must “take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” Modern innovations such as the television only aided in intensifying this effect. Television shows such as Honey Boo Boo garnered more views than the Republican Convention itself when it first aired, showing the obvious ignorance and inherent laziness of our society.
If we succumb to this same laziness, it only makes it easier as a population for the government to control and abuse us for an innumerable amount of time, easily taking advantage of our potential unfamiliarity of current events and other important news, thus, making us, a gullible society, an easy target for the government to pin down through the greatest pleasures as defined by Huxley’s Brave New World. In addition, our society is immature and young, defined by their constant quarrels of each other, and for reprehensible reasons to support.
For as long as humans existed, as an advanced race, we could never attain a high level of peace and prosperity for extended durations of time with one another, only working for the benefit of themselves and not on a common goal. Such notable events include the melancholic period of the 20th century, World War 2, in which Hitler mercilessly slaughtered millions of Jews for the service of a non-existent Aryan race when he could have used that same time to peacefully fix the problems in a more humane matter.
This event proves the animalistic and manipulative nature of humans when given some immense power. As a result, these examples emphasize Postman’s beliefs of Brave New World and reinforce the message within the novel, proving to be a completely possible prediction if we keep allowing ourselves to be “drowned in a sea of irrelevance, -to adore the technologies that undo [our] capacities to think.”
The passage of time flows on without hesitation and history is forever emblazoned in its forever extending ribbon; human history is no exception as time violently twists and turns toward the present. We increasingly find the importance of history in our education to be utmost crucial, in that way, not only do we know ourselves as humans better, but also prevent disastrous mistakes made by previous humans and civilizations again in the future.
As profound as it is, its relevance in society is slowly fading as people are slowly losing this vital knowledge to the point of being merely esoteric to select individuals. Postman predicts that because of this, he, as well as the author, Huxley fears “that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism.” Scarily, it could come true, given the right pre-requisites. It’s apparent that our history is slowly disappearing from minds left and right: society itself is proof of what a terrible feat is currently being undergone if not stopped. As people glue themselves onto TV’s and other distractions, it’s seemingly impossible to persuade an audience to learn history, even if it was a short and concise lesson.
This butchering of history is further exercised by the History Channel itself. Its name, self explanatory, is not a history channel in itself, despite what it persuades you to think it appears. It has been reduced to a mere entertainment channel in which broadcasts many programs completely irrelevant to history such as several truckers traveling across Arctic regions and hillbilly folk. What purpose does this serve for history? Channels with historical content are few and far between and the History Channel proves to be a hollow shell with little historical substance from time to time as to The Learning Channel and MTV within their own rights.
The effects are disastrous that if left untreated, society will be left uninformed and unable to create decisions based on the context of history, only spearheading the collapse of society or the formation of a dystopia. This easily means that anyone or anything could easily control a mass of people without backlash, as if we were a mass of zombies. Greater contribution towards the expanding insignificance of history is the desensitization of it as well.
The desensitization of history is the decreasing emotional response toward history or an altogether different response toward the subject. Movies, novels, and even works of art provide the greatest examples of the romanticizing of history at its worst. People commonly draw conclusions that these situations depicted in these forms are greater or even worse than they actually are in reality; this results in the complete misconception of their history and thus forms a desensitizing bond toward that particular strand of human history.
If this were to occur on such a widespread scale on a very broad audience, our under-estimation of history would be merely reduced to “a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.” In the end, we would be subject to complete control of an oppressive force if we haven’t possess the knowledge to counter those who wish to rule the government, essentially a society without a base to support itself if deprived of its roots.
As grim as Huxley’s Brave New World’s take on society is, all is not lost as we have the willpower to support ourselves all the way through the discords of time. Huxley and Orwell feared that our society was too lazy for its own good. This may be true to an extent, but perhaps reasons behind this explanation are that we are simply far too advanced. It may well be understood that society has gotten too complacent as we reached far levels higher in groups such as technology than our ancestors have ever hoped to achieve within their lifetime.
This probably resulted in a more lenient tone amongst society in most modern areas such as the United States and viewed to be problematic by a few contemporaries. Collapse seems far too unlikely to occur under these conditions. We are people who are standing on top of pillars of previous civilizations who helped shape and perfect the ideal society, however, it is debatable that such a society is able to foster such minds to think beyond normality and thus spawned many enriched works of literature such as Brave New World and 1984. With such a rich human history combined, theories like these may question the boundary of what reality is and what fiction is.
We also believe that the history of ourselves would soon fade from existence due to society’s toll on our humanity. However, it simply isn’t possible for history to disappear off the face of the Earth for reasons that transcend upon human personality. As we are human, we cannot control our influences that shape who we are and evidently our interests. These interests could be anything and history is a prime example of one of the multitudes of interests in the world.
This is manifested by the constant discoveries of many historical artifacts and evidence that further supply our thirst for history, to obtain a complex view of the world that was once modern. We can’t assume everyone is void of this knowledge, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to learn the basics and fundamentals of it, as challenging as it may seem. Postman may believe that society may soon fall as we know it, but it proves no means that we are ignorant, cynical, and dimwitted by nature.
In conclusion, Postman was a social critic who based his social ideas on Huxley’s Brave New World. It was under the assumption that society’s laziness and the seemingly esoteric knowledge of history amongst people would prove to be catalysts towards disaster and strengthen the ideas of a bleak society, namely a society controlled through our pleasure.
However, reality is a threshold that holds this idea in place as it must be taken account of the uniqueness of human beings and the analysis of truly how advanced our society is and the long strides it took to get where we are today. Postman often pondered on the thought of what we would do to society, but the question still remains of what would society do to us?