George Orwell's '1984' is quite simply one of the best books ever written. What it offers is a dark perspective into reality and a horrifying dystopia that parallels eerily close to the present day. Orwell was a visionary and a pessimist who ultimately went against the 'feel good'/'self-help'/'be positive' culture we are now surrounded by. What Orwell was offering was the possibility that it is SOCIETY which shapes the individual and it is subsequently the STRUCTURE OF POWER which allows for happiness and anguish alike. He essentially stated that without the correct societal structure the individual can never hope to feel fulfilled!! Additionally, with enough people brainwashed into a specific reality there will be no hope of returning to a sane world. Now I think there is some real power in this way of thinking since we as human beings are undeniably products of our environment, undeniably! .. I think we need to understand exactly where Orwell got it right and whether 'getting it right' was ever enough to prevent it from happening. So after reading '1984' or even 'Animal Farm' for that matter, one naturally has to investigate 'Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley.
- 'Brave New World' is interesting for similar reasons but also stands as a work of art in its own right for different reasons. The impression from 'Brave New World' is still that the individual is a product of its environment. However, he suggests that this does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. If we look specifically at the 'savages' from Brave New World it is clear that there are many benefits to our current society! IN FACT this is predominantly the main argument many offer in defending capitalism. For example, the fact that everything is so READILY AVAILABLE nowadays for such an affordable sum is obviously a benefit to this 'concrete jungle' we live in. But this is also juxtaposed in 'Brave New World' by Huxley's comments on being numbed of ANY NEGATIVITY WHATSOEVER. What has this led to? We live in a numbed out society now where distractions are in and around every corner so it is too easy to avert from pain and turn towards pleasure! Just notice how many times a day you check your phone unnecessarily whenever that feeling of angst arises within you. Well where is that angst coming from? Should it even be there?! I would argue that it shouldn't and that we naturally shouldn't take pleasure in distracting ourselves. You might say: well what happens if I'm bored? Ok fine. Let's look at boredom for a second:
Ok. Yes. We're bored. We're all bored now. But has it ever occurred to you that the process which creates this boredom that we see in the world today may very well be a self-perpetuating unconscious form of brainwashing created by a world totalitarian government based on money? And that all of this is much more dangerous than one thinks? And it's not just a case of individual survival - coping with that low level refrigerator hum drum that society has now labelled 'mental health' but somebody who's bored is asleep and somebody who's asleep WILL NOT SAY NO. Well THIS would definitely be what Orwell would argue if he could see us now! or even Huxley for that matter! because IT IS true that most of us spend our days doing jobs we hate to spend money on things we don't need. It is also true that we are all equipped with distractions to make the day feel less like a drag. It is also true that we spend our weekends drinking alcohol to keep ourselves too stupid to figure out the prison that we're living in and then use coffee throughout the week to make us productive enough to be worthwhile obedient workers.
(notice the amount of coffee shops and pubs surrounding you. This should tell you something about our standard of life)
So in that respect I guess Huxley and Orwell both hit the nail on the head didn't they (bloody visionaries!) However, would '1984' and 'Brave New World' even be considered worthwhile reads if we were happy? If we were genuinely fulfilled there would be nothing to talk about here. I would have no cause for complaint. But from the level of antidepressants, psychotherapy, meditation apps and mental health issues that have sprung into existence over the last decade I think it's self-evident that we're not fulfilled. We are far, far from it. And nobody seems to care. So I would suggest taking Orwell and Huxley's books very seriously indeed because we ARE products of our environment and if you are not happy take a look at the system you are living in. Why are we ignoring these incredibly precise predictions that these two incredible novelists made? Here's a theory: maybe our current reality is the new model for the new concentration camp where the inmates are the guards and the guards are the inmates and maybe we have taken pride in this thing we've built - whilst also existing in a low level state of schizophrenia I might add. Maybe we were lobotomised a long time ago and we now exist solely as robots walking around thinking nothing and feeling nothing. Maybe the last stage of the human being is extinct.
Or maybe Orwell and Huxley were crazy. And maybe everything is just fine.