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You Actually Love Your Slavery

Aldous Huxley, social critic and author of 'Brave New World', talks to Aldous Wallace about threats to freedom in the United States, overpopulation, bureaucracy, propaganda, drugs, advertising, and television (5/18/58)


(Harry Ransom Center, the University of Texas at Austin)

Aldous Huxley -- [...] the dictatorship of the future, I think will be very unlike the dictatorships which we've been familiar with in the immediate past. I mean, take another book prophesying the future, which was a very remarkable book, George Orwell's "1984."

Well, this book was written at the height of the Stalinist regime, and just after the Hitler regime, and there he foresaw a dictatorship using entirely the methods of terror, the methods of physical violence. Now, I think what is going to happen in the future is that dictators will find, as the old saying goes, that you can do everything with bayonets except sit on them!

But, if you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you have to get the consent of the ruled, and this they will do partly by drugs as I foresaw in "Brave New World," partly by these new techniques of propaganda.

They will do it by bypassing the sort of rational side of man and appealing to his subconscious and his deeper emotions, and his physiology even, and so, making him actually love his slavery.

I mean, I think, this is the danger that actually people may be, in some ways, happy under the new regime, but that they will be happy in situations where they oughtn't to be happy.

Aldous Wallace -- Well, let me ask you this. You're talking about a world that could take place within the confines of a totalitarian state. Let's become more immediate, more urgent about it. We believe, anyway, that we live in democracy here in the United States. Do you believe that this Brave New World that you talk about, er...could, let's say in the next quarter century, the next century, could come here to our shores?

Aldous Huxley -- I think it could. I mean, er...that's why I feel it so extremely important here and now, to start thinking about these problems. Not to let ourselves be taken by surprise by the...the new advances in technology. I mean the...for example, in the regard to the use of the...of the drugs.

We know, there is enough evidence now for us to be able, on the basis of this evidence and using certain amount of creative imagination, to foresee the kind of uses which could be made by people of bad will with these things and to attempt to forestall this, and in the same way,

I think with these other methods of propaganda we can foresee and we can do a good deal to forestall. I mean, after all, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

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