Posts Tagged ‘aldous huxley’

Quote of the day: DEMAGOGUERY

December 7, 2020


We must never forget that the spellbinders, the rabble-rousers, the potential Hitlers are always with us. We must never forget that it is very easy for such men to turn an innocent orgy into an instrument of destruction, into a savage, mindless force directed toward the overthrow of liberty. To prevent them from exploiting crowd intoxication for their own sinister purposes we must be perpetually on our guard. Whether a world inhabited by potential Hitlers on the one hand and potential herd-poison addicts on the other can ever be made completely safe for rationality and decency seems doubtful, but at least we can try to make it a little safer than it is at present. For example, we can give our children lessons in the elements of general semantics. We can tell them about the frightful dangers of intellectual sin. We can make their flesh creep by reciting to them the disastrous consequences to societies and to individuals of the rabble-rouser’s oversimplification, overgeneralization, and overabstraction. We can remind them to live in present time and to think concretely and realistically, in terms of observable fact. We can unveil the absurd and discreditable secrets of propaganda and illustrate our lectures with examples drawn from the history of politics, religion, and the advertising industry. Would such a training be effective? Perhaps – or perhaps not. Herd poison is a very powerful intoxicant. Once they get into a crowd, even upright and sensible men are apt to lose their reason and accept all the suggestions, however nonsensical or however immoral, that may be given them. All we can hope to accomplish is to make it more difficult for the rabble-rouser to do his nefarious work.

–Aldous Huxley, “History of Tension,” 1956

Quote of the Day: SOMNAMBULISM

November 29, 2019


All children are good hypnotic subjects – so good that four out of five of them can be talked into somnambulism. In adults the proportion is reversed. Four out of five of them can never be talked into somnambulism. Out of any hundred children, which are the twenty who will grow up to be suggestible to the pitch of somnambulism? … We can spot them, and it’s very important that they should be spotted…Politically speaking, the twenty percent that can be hypnotized easily and to the limit is the most dangerous element in your societies. Because these people are the propagandist’s predestined victims. In an old-fashioned, prescientific democracy, any spellbinder with a good organization behind him can turn that twenty percent of potential somnambulists into an army of regimented fanatics dedicated to the greater glory and power of their hypnotist. And under a dictatorship these same potential somnambulists can be talked into implicit faith and mobilized as the hard core of the omnipotent party. So you see it’s very important for any society that values liberty to be able to spot the future somnambulists while they’re young.

–Aldous Huxley, Island

Quote of the day: DYSTOPIA

July 26, 2019


[Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is often compared with George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948), since they each offer a view of a dystopian future.] What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture. … In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that our desire will ruin us.

–Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

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