Monday, December 15 (UPDATED)

In re the Neil Postman book: the argument that in fact "Brave New World" reflects a significantly more horrifying (and likely) future society than "1984" is precisely the one I've been making for almost 50 years (I was precocious).

The Face Book generation, faceless and oblivious to books, is rapidly proving me prescient.

"O brave new world,
That has such people in it!"

Posted by Rob De Witt at December 14, 2008 7:08 PM

Yes, I agree. Brave New World does seem more pertinent than 1984 at the moment, although any totalitarian thugocracy is going to have elements of both.

Posted by rickl at December 14, 2008 11:06 PM

Actually, rickl, you have missed out another possibility for an utterly ghastly type of future society. The society in "If This Goes On" where a theocracy with its roots in Christianity keeps control by mind-control techniques both ancient and modern. The society, in fact, that the Moral "Majority" (actually a minority) want; one in which anything they consider immoral is also illegal and subject to severe penalty. A society different from Wahabist Mordor (aka Saudi Arabia) only in the language spoken.

America is the only Western country in which, in the 21st or maybe 22nd century, that could happen without takeover by Islam. After all, the first step was taken in the 1920s; fortunately, you stepped back - but not before the Mafia were given the best leg-up any criminal organisation could have hoped for.

And this horror has nothing to do with the imagined worlds of either Huxley or Orwell. And the Constitution is no defense; it can be changed.

Perhaps the USA will be split into three; modern technological civilisations on either coast, with a backward theocratic hellhole in the middle. Jesusland is no joke - and I am fairly sure He wouldn't approve of what certain people want done in His Name.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at December 15, 2008 12:40 PM

Fletcher, just out of curiosity, have you ever lived in a place where the majority of people believed in God, or is that just paranoia on your part? Maybe you've never seen the unbridled chaos which results from having no boundaries, although that's hard to believe if you've been alive long enough to see the precipitous decline in the quality of living between the '50s and the '60s.

Your namesake btw, was an elitist who found himself the leader of a mutiny which rapidly degenerated into anarchy.

Just a thought.

Posted by Rob De Witt at December 15, 2008 3:08 PM

Mr. De Witt, I was born in 1958; so technically I did live through some of the 50s and all of the 60s - but some of that time (63-68) was spent in a completely different country from the UK, namely South Africa. Of course, at none of those times was I really capable of understanding the issues, especially in the 50s.

To answer your question; yes, I did spend some time living somewhere deeply religious - South Africa in the 60s. And it was (and still is, for different reasons) a hellhole. The religious beliefs of the white minority didn't seem to preclude their treating the black majority worse than they treated their domestic animals.

Incidentally, most of my education there was conducted by monks (in the Christian Brothers College) and a more sadistic bunch of bastards you really wouldn't want to meet. Being hit hard enough, at the age of 7, to leave bruises that lasted a fortnight, for minor infractions, was only the start of it. Of course, all was sweetness and light when the parents turned up.

As for "decline in the quality of living"; well, the main reason why my parents wanted to emigrate was that 50s Britain was a grimy, deprived dump where a fair amount of the war damage was still not repaired, and everything was extremely expensive, and tax was extremely high (partly to repay war loans from the US, which took us fifty years to repay). 60s Britain was a lot better than that. Of course, if you come from a country whose physical assets (with one exception) were never touched by the war and whose citizens never went hungry even at the height of said war, perhaps you wouldn't understand that.

Posted by Fletcher Christian at December 16, 2008 12:30 AM