• Principal Skinner's Principle

    Orwell and Huxley describe the two main methods of controlling populations. Brave New World describes the carrot method (control by trivial desire), while Nineteen Eighty-Four depicts the stick method (control by fear).

    In Western society both methods of population control complement each other. The terms “government” and “cybernetics” both come from the Greek kybernan, “to steer” or “to control”. Cybernetics deals with maintaining an equilibrium in systems, often by applying two opposing forces.

    If you attempt to control by trivial desire alone, the control subject eventually becomes distracted and bored, wanting to focus its desire on personal matters that do not benefit the controller. If you attempt to control by fear alone, the control subject eventually breaks down, becoming too emotionally crippled to benefit the controller.

    For the two control methods to work effectively, the control subject (on a micro scale the individual, on a macro scale the combined populations of states that share common values) needs to be aware of the existence of its alternative and to be able to find some degree of middle ground between the opposing forces. Finding that middle ground between desire and fear is precisely what defines the acclaimed freedom of Western civilisation in the context presented to us by the powers that be.

    In the post-communist brave new nineties the attention of the Western consumerist population started to drift too far away from matters that benefited the controllers. Thus people needed to be made aware again of the alternative to desire. Enter the PNAC with its disaster spectacle of 9-11.

    • Your Mom

      >Nineteen Eighty-Four depicts the stick method (control by fear).

      Nineteen-Eighty-Four depicts Stalinist Russia. Never, never, never, never, never, never forget it:

      “First of all, a message to English left-wing journalists and intellectuals generally: Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Don’t imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the Soviet régime, or any other régime, and then suddenly return to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore.” Orwell's “As I Please” column in the leftist paper “Tribune,” 01 September 1944.

      http://www.netcharles.com/orwell/essays/asiplea

      • emperorreagan

        1984 depicted totalitarianism. Stalinism is not the only form of totalitarianism to manifest itself in history.

        George Orwell rightly chastised the British left of the time for the bias some of them showed towards the USSR. Don't confuse that with any other political or economic beliefs beyond opposition to a totalitarian regime and the fools of the time who fell in love with Stalin.

      • Connie Dobbs

        My recent novel [Nineteen Eighty-Four] is NOT intended as an attack on Socialism or on the British Labour Party (of which I am a supporter), but as a show-up of the perversions . . . which have already been partly realized in Communism and Fascism. . . . The scene of the book is laid in Britain in order to emphasize that the English-speaking races are not innately better than anyone else, and that totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere. (The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 4 – In Front of Your Nose 1945–1950 p.546 (Penguin))

      • Haystack

        George Orwell was a socialist. The novel depicts a Stalin-style totalitarianism, but was set in England. INGSOC = English Socialism. His views were more nuanced than people often suppose.

        • emperorreagan

          I think it's more of an intentional misrepresentation of his views on the part of some people. He was fairly explicit about what his views were.

          • Gemmarama

            I think it's important to remember that Orwell was an Etonian and also worked for the MOD, so much of 1984 is probably based on his experiences from that time… it was no fantasy. Since then the forces of advertising and the media have infiltrated our desires, something that Huxley accurately foretold. To me that just edges it in Huxley's favour, as he was a true visionary. His only real flaw was equating drug-induced mystical experience with true mystical experience (in The Doors of Perception). Read Mysticism: Sacred and Profane by Zaehner for a full critique!

        • Andrew

          “Thus, the Party rejects and vilifies every principle for which the Socialist movement originally stood, and it chooses to do this in the name of Socialism.” – George Orwell

  • Adam

    Very interesting, I did my honors thesis on the different authors' interpretation of Western totalitarianism, and this seems to hit the nail on the head. Orwell was for 'hard' totalitarianism as the future of the West, and Huxley for the 'soft' view, which, these days seems to be the prevailing model.

    Adam, Phnom Penh

  • Gemmarama

    I think it’s important to remember that Orwell was an Etonian and also worked for the MOD, so much of 1984 is probably based on his experiences from that time… it was no fantasy. Since then the forces of advertising and the media have infiltrated our desires, something that Huxley accurately foretold. To me that just edges it in Huxley’s favour, as he was a true visionary. His only real flaw was equating drug-induced mystical experience with true mystical experience (in The Doors of Perception). Read Mysticism: Sacred and Profane by Zaehner for a full critique!

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