Amusing Ourselves To Death

I saw this comparison of Aldous Huxley to George Orwell the other day. I thought it was extremely well done and thought you might find it insightful:

Amusing ourselves to death by Stuart McMillen - Aldous Huxley, author of "Brave New World vs. George Orwell, author of "Nineteen Eighty-Four"


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.


"Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business" by Neil Postman


I think I need to read Brave New World again. It seems that Huxley was quite accurate. We are a society of apathetic, ignorant, ego-centric fools.

Found Here.


  1. In many ways, both of them were right.

  2. Two of my favorite books ever. They were both right more than they'd ever know.

  3. I was thinking the same thing antimattr

  4. I agree. I read Nineteen Eighty Four several years ago for the second time and saw the movie again. It was chilling.
    I think reading Brave New World again will be even more so. We don't have people taken and tortured until they lose all of their empathy, but it seems that we are drowning in a sea of ignorance, even though we have access to all kinds of information.

  5. Orwell's 1984 vision is an allegory specifically about the Soviet Union's methods of control (it was written in 48).

    Huxley's dystopia, written earlier, is more of a projection of the kind of numbing which our society is undergoing.

    They are both brilliant iconic 20th century works, but they serve different fuctions altogether. I don't think they should be framed as though in 'competition' with each other. In fact, Huxley heaped much praise on Orwell's book.

  6. I agree, Quixie, they really aren't in competition with each other. I think they work together and both have very important messages.

  7. Neece, you seem to be forgetting about GITMO

  8. I didn't mean that the government doesn't torture people in Gitmo. That's torture under the false assumption that you can gain otherwise secret information. Of course, then those who are tortured don't necessarily lose empathy, but I would venture to guess that they gain quite a bit of hate and rage (well deserved, I might add).

    What I meant was everyday citizens aren't tortured to lose their empathy and be drones for the government. A bit different.

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