Orwell vs Huxley

It is a popular trope to compare USA society to that of the society in George Orwell’s 1984. I have read a lot about this and have always contended the argument that Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is the more appropriate analogy to America, while 1984 is more representative of modern day Great Britain.

Think about it this is my point: In Brave New World, the people are constantly inundated with and endless barrage of constant media, so much so that the masses are apathetic to anything they hear and the elites use this to run roughshod over all the workers.

In 1984, there is endless war the people are’t sure where or why, and big brother censors and controls all info it’s kind of the opposite.

I was watching a very old Simpsons maybe from 1990 it was the one where the Superbowl teams are Washington vs Buffalo. And when the game starts the announcer proudly boasts now broadcasting to 52 countries around the world, including our newest affiliate W Gimmel Alef Nun in Tel Aviv.

It is a very subtle two level joke that I always overlooked because immediately after it shows two french people on the couch watching and they make a face at football and change it to Jerry Lewis and start laughing like frogs.

But the having football in Israel joke is well placed and timed because the only TV in Israel at the time was broadcast UHF. And from the founding of the modern state until early 90s, they had only one channel. Lot’s of countries were like this.

When I was talking to my brother about this, he is younger, I was reminding him that our mom growing up here in USA baby boomer in the 60s, they had only 3 channels but 3 is huge step above 1.

And in 1990 in USA if you include satellite and pay per view there were hundreds of channels to choose from.

It reminds me of Huxley and Orwell because in an age where I live in USA 2019 there is constant never ending flow of bs pumping at me over the screens from big tech but also, every business in USA has a tv inside the waiting room playing cable news. No soap operas, no day time talk, anytime I go anywhere its cnn, fox, msnbc, some lame propaganda mill.

It’s like Orwell’s three minutes of hate have become mandatory. We need to be cognizant of the threats presented not only by the nauseating ad based prattle constantly flowing and the blocking and stifling of truth and factual pertinent info to the people.

Both are dangerous, both are to be avoided.


Agree. The danger is real. I posted about this too, and the post has some great links: How do we avoid a Brave New World, reverse dystopic trends?


Very fair assessment, and interesting how that’s come to be. The faux numb utopia vibe rang true for me in “Brave New World” relative to U.S. culture also. In general BNW resonated more with me as a book and analysis of human nature. I should re-read 1984 again.

YES! YES YES YES! Please keep writing. This is really good stuff. The world needs a truth bomb. Keep writing!

@Broodwich, good stuff. Your line of thinking is similar to Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves To Death - though he leans towards Huxley’s dystopia being the more common/likely across the board. Comic artist Stuart McMillen summarized Postman’s thesis beautifully in this comic:


I do think it’s both. I speak from the standpoint of the UK. Here we have an aggressive government deeply enmeshed with surveillance culture using digital panopticon techniques developed by a combination of GCHQ and marketing. It is prepared to do real violence to people who fall outside the (increasingly digital) fences it erects. Orwell’s interest in the reduction of language, reducing the availability of ideas so that people can’t even conceptualise new thinking is in full swing. This is led by the digital (right-wing) media, and their attempts to simplify everything into binary choices, good vs evil, loyalty vs treachery.

Huxley had it right with the dulling of consciousness, the flood of distraction, trivia, social media where we do digital labour so that value is extracted from what we do. Everyone has a voice, so the crowd is deafening…so no-one can be heard…so none of it matters. So that power can be performed elsewhere, unexamined. Self-policing is in both novels, but Huxley took it further, with no longer the need for compulsion because we simply cannot conceive of fighting back. It’s almost the sequel to 1984 in a strange respect - we are almost there.


Plus ‘Walden two’ by Skinner.


Plus ‘The Machine Stops’ by E.M. Forster. Written in 1909, it pretty much spells out the ‘alone together’ world and dulling of the human consciousness into a state of total infantilised compliance and meaninglessness. It’s online here, an extraordinary read, for 110 years ago…