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(36,658 posts)
Wed Jun 29, 2022, 06:28 AM Jun 2022

Aldous Huxley's letter to George Orwell following the release of 1984: [View all]

Wrightwood. Cal.
21 October, 1949

Dear Mr. Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is. May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals — the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution — the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual’s psychology and physiology — are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World. I have had occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a hundred and fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognizance of the discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile, and the rest.

Partly because of the prevailing materialism and partly because of prevailing respectability, nineteenth-century philosophers and men of science were not willing to investigate the odder facts of psychology for practical men, such as politicians, soldiers and policemen, to apply in the field of government. Thanks to the voluntary ignorance of our fathers, the advent of the ultimate revolution was delayed for five or six generations. Another lucky accident was Freud’s inability to hypnotize successfully and his consequent disparagement of hypnotism. This delayed the general application of hypnotism to psychiatry for at least forty years. But now psycho-analysis is being combined with hypnosis; and hypnosis has been made easy and indefinitely extensible through the use of barbiturates, which induce a hypnoid and suggestible state in even the most recalcitrant subjects.

Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency. Meanwhile, of course, there may be a large-scale biological and atomic war — in which case we shall have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds.

Thank you once again for the book.

Yours sincerely,

Aldous Huxley

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Glad I read this... interesting..... secondwind Jun 2022 #1
+1000 Solomon Jun 2022 #2
A touch of ego in that compliment? BSdetect Jun 2022 #3
Yes indeed... jimlup Jun 2022 #6
The fascists are not handicapped by any lack of ego in their leadership. hunter Jun 2022 #18
Wow. Huxley was right. yardwork Jun 2022 #4
partially... jimlup Jun 2022 #7
Add in a little Postman lonely bird Jun 2022 #29
Opiods Plus Fox Brenda Jun 2022 #5
Pro hypnotist warned us about Dimento Trumpnosis in 2016... Kid Berwyn Jun 2022 #8
Seems like Hitler was very effective at using "Trumpnosis". keithbvadu2 Jun 2022 #19
So was Jim Jones, who convinced followers to give him all their possessions and join him. Lonestarblue Jun 2022 #26
I've often wondered if Putin used this method on Drumpf and other GOP stooges judesedit Jun 2022 #21
Huxley's exploration of hypnosis and mind control in politics appears prescient. sop Jun 2022 #9
Hmmm PTWB Jun 2022 #11
Trump was the hypnotic strongman who was able to harness their ignorance, racism and hatred. sop Jun 2022 #15
No, Huxley's discussion of hypnosis and mind control is not like Trump and his followers muriel_volestrangler Jun 2022 #13
I concur. Trump's appeal to the masses involves a vast harumph Jun 2022 #16
I attended a Trump rally in South Florida several years ago and saw the effect he had on the crowd. sop Jun 2022 #17
I think it has to do with his tv popularity as a figure who could make or break you judesedit Jun 2022 #23
No doubt Trump's years as a reality tv star, and his notoriety in general, had a lot to do with it. sop Jun 2022 #27
Appealing to what people hate and/or fear is very effective lonely bird Jun 2022 #30
Also, IME there's an element of self-selection not fooled Jun 2022 #32
I guess (some) people really do learn to love their chains.... FM123 Jun 2022 #10
This is a very interesting OP and peek into "Trumpnosis" as well. Pretty quick read if you are so dameatball Jun 2022 #12
Bookmarking for later Bayard Jun 2022 #14
Fascinating, thanks for posting PatSeg Jun 2022 #20
Love the post Joe Nation Jun 2022 #22
I have an ongoing internal debate: Are we now living in "1984" or "Brave New World" librechik Jun 2022 #24
This message was self-deleted by its author librechik Jun 2022 #25
Huxley was right Bok_Tukalo Jun 2022 #28
I would posit that they are both right lonely bird Jun 2022 #31
Weird, I said years ago that what was happening most resembled, gab13by13 Jul 2022 #33
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