It probably says something about us that we accept the dystopian future of Orwell as being to some degree inevitable, despite the fact he has proven to be wrong about most things. He was not wrong about everything. He got communism right in Animal Farm. His critique of writing is timeless and is probably more applicable today than in his era. On the other hand, the future is not “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” Not even close. The future is a bot making sure you never get your feelings hurt or have a bad day.
In that regard, Huxley has proven to be the more prescient. Brave New World was much more accurate, especially with regards to the upper classes. Whether or not we will ever be “decanting” humans is questionable, but science may be closer to genetically enhancing people than maybe is proper. Similarly, H. G. Wells understood the arc of humanity was toward a softer end than Orwell imagined. His depiction of the Eloi, and his explanation for why they existed, is being proven out today.
Even so, Orwell is what resonates with us even today, as we drift into the soft authoritarianism of the custodial state. The most likely reason is that at some level, people understand that at the core of every Utopian scheme is a coldness toward humanity that eventually leads to the sort of ugliness we associate with Orwell. Huxley’s future is eerie and disconcerting, but Orwell’s gets right to the heart of it. There is no hope and there is no joy, because in Utopia, those things have been banned.
This has always been obvious with the global Left. They have always imagined a world that, at best, could work for a slim majority of people. The rest of humanity was not going to be a good fit. There are only two ways to solve this problem. One is to “fix” those people who can’t seem to go along with the program. The other is to get rid of those people who don’t fit the new society. It’s why re-education camps have always been a fixture of left-wing societies. It’s also why mass murder is where they always end up.
The assumption is that what drives this is an absolute belief in the blank slate. If people are infinitely malleable, then all of those bad thinkers can be adjusted. Since some defects are beyond repair, the only solution is to remove the defective from the population and the gene pool. In reality, the effort at re-education is always ceremonial. The people in charge go through the motions in order to justify the inevitable. There’s also a fair amount of sadism at work. Leftist regimes seem to take pleasure in culling the herd.
In fact, what may be the main attraction to Utopianism is its underlying antipathy toward humanity in general. Human existence is messy, dirty and frustratingly irrational, but this is also the source of its beauty. There is nothing rational about falling in love. There is nothing orderly about laughing at your own stupidity or your screw ups. What drives the people dreaming up the perfect society is a hatred of this reality. They hate the apparent randomness, the part that makes life worth living, so they seek to eliminate it.
It is why Whittaker Chambers recoiled in horror at the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Chambers had spent most of his life as an atheist and a communist. He fully understood the materialism at the heart of every Utopian scheme. He saw it right away in Randian moral philosophy. The libertarian dream world is one in which everything about the human condition is squeezed out. The libertarian Utopia is one in which everyone is an isolated economic unit with no emotional ties to anyone.
Libertarians deny this because they hate this truth about themselves. It is the one thing that distinguishes them from the other Utopian dreamers. They flinch at the idea of shoving the deviants into the ovens. Instead, they dream of the isolated colony populated by the productive. What drives the Leftist is a hatred of mankind. They dream of a place where anything resembling humanity is gone. Libertarians, in contrast, are driven by self-loathing, so their dream is to be isolated away from humanity, like prisoners.
Libertarians will dispute this, but they are wrong. They think because they have opposite ends than the Left, they must be the opposite of the Left. It is a form of hive mindedness, though, as things can be different without being opposites, just as things can have similarities, without being the same. It is another feature common to all Utopians. That’s a binary worldview. There are those inside the walls and those outside the walls. It’s why libertarianism, particularly Rand variety, is not of the Right.
It is one of the ironies of the Enlightenment. The people who came out of it with a head full of ideas about eliminating the human condition are cast as the friend of mankind, while those skeptical of these schemes are cast as the misanthropes, the reactionaries. The truth is exactly the opposite. The social reformer, the proselytizer and the Utopian fanatic are all driven by hatred of humanity and themselves. The skeptic, in contrast, is motivated by an appreciation of and a love for humanity and the human condition.
Whatever you care to say about the alt-right and the fellow travelers in the Dissident Right, they at least maintain a healthy respect for the diversity of the human animal and the need to respect that diversity. Throwing a tribe of Somalis into Lewiston Maine is not helping anyone. Diversity plus proximity is misery. The Somalis need their place and the Mainers need theirs. It’s why man invented borders and has always been willing to die maintaining them. Only the sociopath dreams of a beige future and what it would take to achieve it.
The Utopian dreamers start out thinking about all the things they hate about humanity, which if often everything about humanity. They have no respect for people, only disgust which is why they are consumed with changing everything about human society, including the people in it. This why Orwell remains the go to guy for dystopia, over more accurate people like Huxley. The Utopian hopes the future is “a boot stamping on a human face — forever”, while the skeptics suspect he may be right.