Huxley and Orwell’s Nightmare Visions

10 January 2023

6.1 MINS

Aspects of the totalitarian dystopias described in the seminal works of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell have sadly come to pass in our lifetimes. Let us take heed of their warnings, lest we further succumb to the creeping encroachments upon morality and freedom.

Decades ago I read those two dystopian novels, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Like many of my fellow students, I was sickened by the scenarios depicted, but was reassured by the belief that it couldn’t happen here.

Brave New World

Aldous HuxleyAldous Huxley’s novel depicts a future where peace has eventuated under world government after a disastrous global war in which, he imagines, anthrax bombs were used. Benevolent-seeming Controllers preside over a society where social stability is paramount and the economy is focused on maximising consumption. This is achieved by manufacturing human beings to fit the requirements of this society, their abilities being chemically determined to supply Alphas, Betas, etc, down to Epsilon semi-morons, all conditioned to accept their lot.

This is achieved by eliminating families and separating sex from procreation. Fertilisation and gestation are both totally in vitro, and children are raised in hatchery conditions with sleep-teaching to meet the needs of their social conditioning, including a required predisposition to sexual promiscuity. Recreation caters exclusively to the sensual appetites, and comprises complex sports, orgiastic sex and a psychotropic drug called soma. Youth is prolonged and old age is avoided via an overdose of this drug.

Brave New WorldThe novel’s title is itself ironic, echoing the rapture of Shakespeare’s Miranda in The Tempest on learning of a world outside her island: “O brave new world, that has such people in it!” Huxley introduces John, a “savage” from a reservation, who is at first dazzled by, and then disgusted at, this society, having imbibed his moral and aesthetic values from reading the works of Shakespeare. He at first tries to protest against this obscenity of a society, then seeks isolation to purge himself of its effects, and finally in despair, he commits suicide.

Chilling Reality

The modern reader might find Huxley’s vision unexceptionable. Consider how far we have gone in sidelining the family, making children a commodity, elevating a fabrication of freedom and autonomy, and removing nearly all the taboos of sexual behaviour. Graphic pornography is there now for the young at the touch of a screen, to desensitise them to all but the most horrifying of material. Both social and mainstream media are so pervasive that their effects are comparable to sleep-teaching.

Millions of babies’ lives are lost to abortion, while reproductive technologies are employed to manufacture human life in our brave new world, where sections of the medical profession seem to play God. There are calls to legalise all mind-altering substances, in spite of mountains of evidence of the damage it would inflict. As for the meaning of life, hedonism is almost a human right, while transcendental beliefs are derided — unless they are chemically induced or those of some primitive society.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

George OrwellSeventeen years after Huxley’s prophetic masterpiece, George Orwell, with his insights into totalitarianism both in his personal life and in the world, gives us an even bleaker vision of the future. Unlike others of his generation who had joined the International Brigades, his illusions concerning Communism had been shattered in the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War, after which he had witnessed the privations and suspension of freedoms imposed on the British people during the Second World War. His novel envisages a world where force and propaganda enslave the bodies and minds of mankind forever.

As in Huxley’s novel, the early chapters give us the scenario. The world is divided into three power blocs: Eurasia, East-Asia and Oceania, permanently at war, with alliances shifting so regularly that the populace remains confused about who is the current enemy.

In his futuristic England, “War is Peace” is the repeated slogan and the country’s Ministry of Peace wages an interminable war. This state of war perpetuates the maintenance of a savage police state with shortages of every consumer item, reminiscent of wartime Britain and what was to be the norm in communist Eastern Europe for the next forty years after Orwell published his novel.

1984England, renamed Airstrip One, has a population divided into the equivalent of party members and a lower class of “proles”. The latter live in deplorable conditions, distracted by lotteries and Victory gin, but are relatively ignored by the anonymous figures who wield real power. As in Huxley’s novel, love and intimacy are discouraged, and those who break rank are “disappeared”, as in Stalinist Russia. Informers are everywhere, even in one’s own family.

Two-way telescreens, with the capacity to spy on citizens in their homes, bark commands and unleash the daily Two Minutes Hate, in which everybody is expected to participate, against the principal enemy of the state, a subversive figure named Emmanuel Goldstein

Language is a vital means of control, and the novel’s anti-hero, Winston Smith, who introduces the reader to his world, is employed at the Ministry of Truth, where the vocabulary is progressively shrunk, in order to restrict critical thinking. Thus the word “bad” is no longer necessary and is replaced by “ungood”, the concept of the most dire evil being conveyed by the term “double-plus ungood”.

In this ministry also, file copies of past newspapers are reprinted with omissions and alterations in order, in effect, to change history. The ruling Party justifies this with its mind-deadening slogans: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past” and “Ignorance is Strength”.

When Winston and his lover Julia rebel in thought and deed by building what they believe is a tiny oasis of privacy, they are duped into believing that they are secure, until a brutal raid by the Thought Police has them hauled off to the Ministry of Love for torture and re-education.

A senior Party official, Comrade O’Brien, explains to Winston and the reader the rationale of a system where power — essentially the capacity to inflict suffering on others — exists for its own sake and that minds must become capable of “double-think”, that is, believing two mutually exclusive points of view. In the process, Winston betrays Julia, as she does him, and when released he comes to realise that he loves the dictator, Big Brother, the cult figure unmistakably based on Josef Stalin.

Sobering Developments

So much of Orwell’s nightmare has comes to pass, not only in the former Soviet Union, Communist China and North Korea, but even in today’s Western world, that Orwell is hailed by some for his eerily prophetic powers. His warning is often hidden from the young by so-called progressive educators, so it is little wonder that freedom of speech, and even of religion, are imperilled. Cancel culture has captured the universities and tolerance is beginning to become a one-way street in public and even private life.

The worst offences now seem to be those committed against the dictates of the environmental movement and the canons of racial and gender identity. A new tyranny has made the legal principle of innocent until proved guilty problematic, if not obsolete. The past is dredged for offenders whose statues must be toppled and histories rewritten by our current ministries of truth.

Australia’s retired tennis champion, Margaret Court AC, MBE, currently a Christian pastor, has spoken against same-sex marriage. As a consequence, she has been vilified, and even her reputation as the greatest ever women’s tennis player must be expunged.

During the recently induced pandemic panic, police powers in Australia were wielded in the manner of the Stasi, the feared secret police in the former communist East Germany. State premiers even assumed the role of Orwell’s Big Brother. Recall those daily television appearances by Daniel Andrews in Victoria.

Orwellian “double-think” is clearly discernible in the hypocrisy of a government that believes that it can eliminate fossil fuels, while simultaneously deriving revenue from exporting them and coercing its producers to make the supply more affordable and reliable.

Thoughtcrime is now definitely on the agenda, as we saw in the case of the Essendon Football Club firing its newly appointed CEO, Andrew Thorburn, within 24 hours, because of something the pastor at his church reportedly said a decade ago. If the bludgeoning today is done to reputations and careers rather than with the truncheons of Orwell’s Thought Police, the difference is only a matter of degree.

While a defence of Huxley and Orwell’s respective classics ought to be unnecessary, the contest for the place of Western civilisation in the school and university makes these prophetic works worthy candidates for inclusion alongside the Bible and the works of Shakespeare, as championed by the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation.

Winston struggles to recall what life was like before the scenario presented in Nineteen Eighty-Four came to be; but the ideals and aesthetics which Huxley’s John the Savage espouses, after being exposed only to what we now call “Great Books”, underline by contrast the drabness and sterility of what the two dystopias offer and the printed and electronic fare on which the young are raised today.

Both of these works deserve a recall to the literary canon.

___

The above article originally appeared in the December 2022 edition of the Endeavour Forum, Inc. newsletter. Photo by Moose Photos.

We need your help. The continued existence of the Daily Declaration depends on the generosity of readers like you. Donate now. The Daily Declaration is committed to keeping our site free of advertising so we can stay independent and continue to stand for the truth.

Fake news and censorship make the work of the Canberra Declaration and our Christian news site the Daily Declaration more important than ever. Take a stand for family, faith, freedom, life, and truth. Support us as we shine a light in the darkness. Donate now.

One Comment

  1. Kaylene Emery 10 January 2023 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    Your synopsis of the two books 1984 and Brave New World are so important John, thank you !
    Years ago I had a close encounter with a group who saw the latter as more of a Bible and the author as….well perhaps best not to go there.
    I believe you make valid points as you link our current universal experience of State Control to these classics.
    May our Lord continue to protect and guide us as we continue on.

Leave A Comment

Recent Articles:

Use your voice today to protect

Faith · Family · Freedom · Life

MOST POPULAR

ABOUT

The Daily Declaration is an Australian Christian news site dedicated to providing a voice for Christian values in the public square. Our vision is to see the revitalisation of our Judeo-Christian values for the common good. We are non-profit, independent, crowdfunded, and provide Christian news for a growing audience across Australia, Asia, and the South Pacific. The opinions of our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of The Daily Declaration. Read More.

MOST COMMENTS

GOOD NEWS

HALL OF FAME

BROWSE TOPICS

BROWSE GENRES