Orwell Was Wrong

When it comes to the dystopian future, George Orwell is the undisputed champion for most people on the Right or Left. It is just assumed that the bad future is something like the cartoon version of Nazi Germany or maybe East Germany after the war. The assumption is, failure to craft the glorious egalitarian future will only lead to the hellish Orwellian future of 1984. The truth is though, the future imagined by Orwell requires a physical courage our rulers lack. Instead, the future will more like Brave New World.

It will not be an exact copy of what Huxley imagined, as his vision of the future was an exaggerated version of what he saw evolving in his time. Instead of genetically engineered class of stupid people to performed manual labor, robots will do much of what is now done by low-IQ people. The ruling class will not go to the “feelies” in order to get emotional fulfillment. They will instead perform public acts of piety and provide testimonies to their victimization. Being seen as both noble and helpless will be the highest honor.

A glimpse of this is in this very strange personal affirmation statement in Slate. The short version is that the author, having been shot because he foolishly walked into the wrong area, learned nothing from the experience. A less noble person may have noticed the race of the shooters and the fact that America has no-go zones. The noble hero, in contrast, can come close to death, having been shot by blacks, but he steadfastly refuses to notice any of it. Instead he noticed the race of the surgeon who removed his spleen.

The frightening part of Orwell’s vision of the future was the brutality. Getting tortured or killed because for drawing outside the lines touches man’s basic fear. Huxley’s future is more frightening, because life is pointless, yet the people in it will fight to maintain a pointless existence. While Orwell’s future is cruel, Huxley’s future is inhuman, because it lacks the basics human quality of having a reason to live, beyond getting high, eating and fornicating. It is the celebration of this degraded existence that troubles people.

There’s a hint of that in the Salon article. The writer is celebrating himself and his willingness to adhere to a mode of thought that could very get him killed. In fact, his absurd acceptance of anti-racism almost got him killed. The future our rulers imagine for us is one where people steadfastly adhere to a set of beliefs that are dangerous to their well-being, when they could acknowledge reality and have a happier life. It is a strangely anti-human existence that makes a mockery of sacrifice, in order to promote an inhuman ideology.

The reason people prefer Orwell’s version of the future is because it is rational. The people in charge benefit from the system, so they ruthlessly impose their will on the population. Presumably, the people at the very top have the luxurious material existence that comes from sitting atop the system. That aspect of it is just assumed and the privations of the population is proof that a system without freedom is unable to provide material abundance. Orwell confirms the materialist belief of modern people.

In the Huxley version, everyone benefits in the material sense, but everyone suffers in the spiritual sense. Huxley’s hellscape is a world lacking in spiritual fulfillment and that is what frightens people. Generations of preaching about the primacy of economics has convinced modern people that there is an economic answer to cultural and spiritual needs of people. What Brave New World reveals is that the fantasy of economic man has always been a lie. In other words, Huxley being right is what’s frightening.