Brave New World Revisited

Brave New World Revisited
By Aldous Huxley

Judging the SF of the past on what they managed to get “right,” as though its main function was prediction, is a mug’s game. All the more remarkable then to have this look back by Aldous Huxley himself on the classic novel he’d written over 25 years earlier with that judgment of history in mind.

Not surprisingly, he thinks he got things mostly right. Indeed, it seemed to him that his dystopian projections were actually being realized sooner than he anticipated, driven by the twin banes of overpopulation and over-organization (increased centralization of political control and bureaucracy). The end result was, in his estimation, going to be a new kind of “soft” tyranny or neofeudalism, presided over by a technocratic elite.

There’s a lot here that rings as true, or even truer, than ever. (Much the same can be said for Neil Postman, whose Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985) leaned heavily on Huxley’s speculations.) What Huxley gets right, at least to my eyes, are operations of timeless social and political dilemmas, particularly as concerns democracy vs. oligarchy. His thoughts on technology have aged less well, as hypnopaedia and subliminal projection turned out to be fads. Instead, of speaker pillows we came up with social media, which does an even better job of doing the same sort of thing.

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17 thoughts on “Brave New World Revisited

    1. Hypnopaedia is sleep-learning. So you have speakers in your pillow that lecture you as you’re in dreamland, making you into a better person without your even being aware of it. As with subliminal projection, Huxley figured the scientific/managerial elite would have to resort to dirty tricks like this to brainwash us. He didn’t realize we’d be happy to brainwash ourselves.

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