The following is an excerpt from the book Amusing Ourselves To Death by Neil Postman, where the author compares and contrasts two famous books depicting a dystopian society: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
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 would want 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 egotism
Orwell feared 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 Bumble-puppy.
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 Nineteen Eighty-Four, people are controlled by inflicting pain.
In Brave New World, people 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.
Democracy is a fair system that gives the people the power to run the country. This also weakens the politicians’ grip on the people. If you were a leader of a democratic nation, how could you gain more power? The obvious answer would be to become a good leader who gains the people’s trust and rules a government of the people, by the people, for the people. However, if you want to rule against the wishes of the masses yet not lose their trust, you can use the Ignorant Masses Policy.
The Ignorant Masses Policy is a type of policy that makes the people foolish to make ruling them easier. It was used by Imperial Japan to try make colonising Korea easier in the 1930’s, while also being famous as the policy of choice by Nazi Germany. The most classic example is the 3S Policy used by Japan and Korea in the 1980’s. “3S” stands for mankind’s never-ending interests: sex, screen and sports. The Policy uses these to enthuse the public and making them naturally lose interest over social issues. For example, in the 1980’s, the president of South Korea, Chun Doo-hwan (who rose to power through a coup d’état) hosted the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, while establishing pro baseball, pro football and pro ssireum (Korean wrestling). Furthermore, he installed colour television on a national level, lifted the curfew (promoting prostitution) and lessening censorship on sexually suggestive dramas and movies.
The Ignorant Masses Policy oppresses the people in the complete opposite way to the reign of terror seen in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Instead of destroying freedom, it provides even more freedom and information to drown out interest for the more important field of politics. This policy was well-represented in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. A government that oppresses its people with pleasure and distractions is far more formidable than a government that uses pain and control.
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” ~ Goethe