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Library General Brave New World,1984, Dystopic Novels
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Brave New World,1984, Dystopic Novels
I entered a debate yesterday. It was with my friend. I won. There were no hard feelings. We are still friends.

The debate, had it been on THINQon, would have been subjected to The Library Room. Thus, I am now subjecting the same debate in said room. It also will rest in the Me and Society section, because it involves me (and you) and society.

By way of my title line you can predict the topic of the remainder of this post, but I will introduce it again in the following sentence. Who would win in a Cage Match, Brave New World by Alduous Huxley or 1984 by George Orwell? That isn't my real question. This is: Which book has more accurately predicted the course of society since publication?

In the (notso) Great Debate of yesterday I took the banner of Huxley while my combatant (friend) trumpeted Mr. Orwell. I conceded to my friend that on first readings of both I indeed sided with Orwell's vision. This was, I believe, because his vision was much scarier. The idea that a group of people, a group of superiors, a Big Brother is in charge of every facet of society is horrifying. It's easy to attach oneself with that vision because the brain wants to blame someone, or some people. Orwell was afraid that the Mighty would become mightier; he was afraid that they would seek more power which corresponds to less individual power. In 1984 the citizens were prisoners to the state.

Brave New World was written 15 years earlier than 1984. I think it is more visionary. Huxley predicts that citizens will become prisoners to themselves. He guessed, rather accurately in my eyes, that we will become victims to pleasure. We will seek out entertainment and in doing so, forsake identity. I still have my identity. So do most people. But, I watch a lot of Tv. So do most people.

George Orwell was afraid someone would censor books. Huxley feared censorship wouldn't be necessary because no one would want to read. Orwell was afraid that our state would hold back information, Huxley was afraid that we would be so inundated with information we will stop caring.

Which sounds more true today? . I see this headline every week: Hundreds Dead half-way across the globe. Is it any wonder that apathy is on the rise?

I did concede to my friend that this is strictly western. In countries in Africa and the Middle East and China governments employ Orwellian rules to govern. Look at Iran.

Maybe they are both right. They are both good books. They are both fair fears. But I have been trained to read with Western eyes. And through a western lens Huxley's vision has come true to some degree.

On a less morbid note, what are other good dystopic novels? I love them and have read most of the big ones at this point I think.
Books Discussed
1984 (Signet Classics)
by George Orwell
Brave New World
by Aldous Huxley

You can't touch on dystopia without mentioning Farenheit 451, and I actually am very fond of Stranger in a Strange Land, which I'm not sure really qualifies as dystopia, but certainly is somewhat relevant long past its time.
Zamyatin's We is a player in this game, and given that Orwell stole whole chunks of 1984 from it,  a worthy competitor. 
Having read Huxley's Brave New World wholly, and having read 1984 until Part II, Chapter 9 (Just after Weston's meeting with the big dude who has "the book") before leaving it in the waiting area terminal at the O'Hare airport in Chicago en route to home in Minneapolis (I had left it right near the ticket desk by the plane... got on the plane... begged the stewardist to let me off the plane to get my book... she hesitated and said OK.... I ran off the plane... went to the spot, and it was GONE... after only 5 minutes!!!   Only in Chicago would someone steal a $1.50 classic... at least they stole it not for the money... Kudos, Chicagoians)...

I would argue that Huxley was spot on, and SO FAR, Orwell was less so. 

I just feel that the world Orwell posited was over-dramtic.  It was like nazi germany and one was a counter-insurgent.  It was like you could say or do nothing out of the ordinary, or your life was on the line.  You could simply disappear.  It was a world in which sensation was negated by complete censorship, he could not love nor feel nor have sex because all of those were censored beyond mental capacity.  It was like the human condition was wholly dessimated through stringent external control by big brother.  This end result of this was certainly on-track and on-point... that humans have become removed from our nature.  That the external big brother (aka society at large) had successfully maintained a constant control / censorship so as to erradicate the human individual.  That we had become, as Marx would argue, a proletariat... a single individual in the large mass of society... a mass so large that we had no choice but to be a part of it, to become a cog in the wheel, and to know nothing else but the present---an ever defined present by changing history.  C'est a dire, our inner-self had been conquored by an external force that was so strong so that we had forgotten who we were truly.

Conversely... and maybe not so much, Huxley argued we had total control over ourselves if we desired.  He positied a society in which there was an external force--to a lesser extent than Orwell, imho--that created alphas/deltas/epsilons et cetera.... that we were created in test-tubes and told from an early age what we were through a procative style.  Unlike Orwell's society in which censorship and coercion were used after the person developed themselves, Huxley's soceity softly spoke into the ear of the young human... wihispering their worth... their place in soceity and that "without all of us, we would be none."  It was a soft-coercion.

And if you take a look at soceity today... the television, the consuermism taht permeates... it seems to me that we are not being hard-coerced like in Orwell's world... we are not being threatened by big brother with our lives, we are being soft-coerced... that if we do not have this nice car, we are less of a human.  That if we do not have a certain image, we are less of a human. 

I am too lazy and busy at work to delve much deeper via text, and debating with noone, but to me the division was in

Soft-coercion :  HUXLEY

Hard-coercion:  ORWELL


To me, today reflects more of a soft-coercion. 
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