Animated Aldous Huxley interview

Here's a very good animated version of an interview with the writer Aldous Huxley, recorded in 1958. Huxley wrote 'Brave New World', a classic work of dystopian prophecy.

In the interview, Huxley paints a picture of what we have to watch out for in terms of totalitarian control. Sadly, I think Huxley's warnings have mostly come to pass. Nowadays, our Western society may not have the obvious flavour of a communist/fascist totalitarian state but that is not because we are free of such control, it is simply that the powers-that-be have chosen a more glamorous, mesmeric system which still suits their needs and keeps us drugged but productive.

Huxley tellingly stated towards the end of the interview that the ideal result for the controllers is that the masses they control don't know they're enslaved or that they even
like their servitude and enslavement. This is not such a far-fetched situation. Tragically, many slaves in history have rejected freedom and returned to slavery because slavery guarantees food and lodging; freedom doesn't. For those that contest that we are still free, it's worth noting that even the mainstream press now accept that our emails are read, our internet browsing is collated and examined, we are identified automatically on CCTV, our social networking profiles are psychologically analysed, our smartphones movements are tracked, we can be detained without access to a lawyer for a month, we can be legally watched without evidence being required. The list is long. Some say that this keeps us safe but from what? Fear is a great controller, as Goering himself once pointed out. Read More...

Aldous Huxley letter to George Orwell

The current edition of New Philosopher magazine includes a copy of a fascinating letter written by Aldous Huxley to George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair) after he read a first edition copy Orwell's famous book, '1984'. I thought I'd reproduce it here in its entirety, as I think it touches upon a very important subject, that Orwell's dark dystopia was very perceptive and prescient in its warnings and ideas but missed a key point, that it wasn't the most efficient system of population control. Here's the letter:

Dear Mr Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the middle of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor eyesight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on ‘Nineteen eight-four’.

Agreeing with all that the critics that have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once once, how fine and how profoundly important the book is. May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals - the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution - the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at the total subversion of the individual’s psychology and physiology - are to be found the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen eight-four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in ‘Brave New World’. I have had occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a hundred and fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognisance of the discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile and the rest. Read More...

The treadmill conundrum

We now have a Conservative government in power in this country (give or take a very strange attempt at a Liberal Democrat party). As a result, there’s lots of comment in the news about ‘reducing inefficiency’ and ‘getting the work-shy to do their fair share’ and other such political statements. It’s got me thinking about an idea I had ages ago to try and come up with a social setup that could be successful at encouraging everyone to do their fair share.

To try and reason out how this could be done, I thought up a fictitious room. In it, a group of people would be standing on a treadmill. They would run on the treadmill and thereby generate power. To keep them going while doing this work, food and drink would be given to them at regular intervals while they ran on the treadmill. This, in a very simple way, could represent a society. People work together to generate output and receive sustenance in return. Read More...