These two classic novels both describe societies that are completely controlled but by quite different means.
George Orwell in 1984 depicts an existence somewhat reminiscent of the old Soviet Union in which a centralized government controlled by Big Brother exercises totalitarian control over its people by surveillance of their every move and the exercise of brute force. A major means of maintaining control consists of weeding out thought crimes. Diametric distortion of the truth is employed to camouflage the meanness of the government and the abject misery of the people. For example, the Ministry of Truth was tasked with formulating lies that would secure the power of the ruling party. The end result is a drab, oppressive state of being.
In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World the central government controls people primarily through pleasure. They brainwash people to like who they are and what they do. They provide pleasure for them through total sexual freedom, drugs, and other creative sensual avenues. In essence they use technology to maximize pleasure and eliminate any unenjoyable experience.
In brief, the 1984 model of government control uses surveillance and force to subjugate people while in Brave New World they are controlled by pleasure.
I often wondered which of these might work and whether either of them might be used by our government to control Americans. We now see the answer taking shape.
In previous posts we described the nature of the culture adopted in the sixties as American mania because it assigns the right to people to seek maximum immediate gratification. The Obama administration has played to this cultural orientation by providing benefits to Americans that make their lives pleasurable. This has been achieved through uncontrolled spending. The reelection of Barack Obama demonstrates that this approach to control is working in our nation. The majority of Americans do not seem to care if a rational analysis of this approach reveals that ultimately it will lead to disaster. As long as they feel good now, they are satisfied. In essence, Barack Obama has morphed America into a Brave New World.
A major achievement of President Obama resides in his capacity to prop up the experience of prosperity in American even in the face of serious economic decline and irresponsible spending. He has kept Americans feeling good, thus enabling him to maintain control over his Brave New World.
However, this does not seem to be the end of the story. One reason is that current spending levels are unsustainable. This many not concern President Obama and other Democrats as long as the money does not run out before their terms expire; however, there are some indications that the facade of prosperity may end prior to 2017, and with it the pleasure and capacity for government control that it brings.
Perhaps the major means of maintaining the myth of prosperity has been the quantitative easing employed by the Fed. However, sooner or later this must be terminated. There is speculation that the easing of quantitative easing may begin sometime soon.
What happens if this or some other factor throws our economy into a tailspin and the good times come to an end? Politicians will no longer to be able to buy power with pleasure. What then?
One concern might be that the Obama administration may already be planning for this by moving from a Brave New World means of control to a 1984 approach. We already see signs of this. The collecting of data on Americans by the NSA, the efforts to reduce gun rights, the use of drones, the expansion of the IRS, ObamaCare, and many other initiatives by the Federal Government to expand their control over private citizens may mark preparation for a more totalitarian approach to control when the money to pay for pleasure runs out.
In summary, American mania has provided the means for the Obama Administration to gain control over the nation through providing pleasure. However, now that we have been subjugated by pleasure, we are vulnerable to control through brute force. We might enjoy Obama’s Brave New World while it lasts, but 1984 might be coming some year sooner than we think.