Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by jonahmann, Oct 24, 2014.
Our world is a little of each.
Damn it @jonahmann , I wanted to make this thread, I have this picture on my computer for about six months, but I haven't found the time to read 1984 yet.
Orwell was more concerned with human malice and callous. Orwell was keenly aware of "human as hierarchal pack animal" (and no, I will not water that down by saying "social animal") and saw that our innate refusal to see this basic part of out core programming (because that would mean admitting we are animals) would be our undoing. In some ways, the American plutocracy and the oligarchy hidden in the shadows is a precursor to this.
Huxley was more concerned with hubris. His story doesn't hide the "human as hierarchal pack animal" in the least. In his story, his culture sees this fact and embraces it to the point of eugenically breeding it to its extreme form. Once he has this in place, the rest of the comic plays out perfectly. Everyone gets to enjoy the level of pleasure their genetic position allows for them and pleasure is the goal in life. Society becomes masturbatory and in their endless masturbation, the few who have their hands off their dicks can turn the machine any way they want.
I can't agree with it's depiction of Brave New World. For one thing, the people of The State didn't seem to be consuming all that much beside Viagra and Soma.
I once had a really good debate about which vision was more scary. I've always liked Nineteen Eighty-Four more, but my friend said that Brave New World did not need to resort to violence by brain-washing from birth, and that made Brave New World more nightmarish, because at least you could die in Oceania, in Brave New World you wouldn't likely even get the idea.
Orwell overestimated the ability for a government to watch that many people that closely. All one need do is look at the amount of data the NSA collects to see how impossible it is to follow every individual.
Huxley missed the profit motive behind selling pleasure to the population, the greed and the desire for power of many individuals and instead thought there would be people in control who wanted to make everyone happy and the world peaceful. That's surprising giving he was supposedly influenced by exposure to the rise of the military industrial complex.
My novel addresses both concepts with the hindsight of the early 21st century.
People say this a lot, and I don't think it's true. Winston Smith even admits the Thoughtpolice do not watch everyone all the time. The point is to make you feel you are being watched even when you aren't. Once that effect has became the norm among just the Outer Party, you don't need to work so hard, and the Inner Party are barely watched at all. The Party don't give a damn about the Proles, they are only animals to The Party, and the Outer Party apparently only represent about 25% of the population.
I think Orwell's version of totalitarianism was more realistic given other megalomaniac dictators (think Kim Jong Un, N Korea for the ultimate totalitarianism) display this version of control. More than a few dictators have ruled via terrorizing their own populations. But I think his version of how populations would be watched missed the whole corporate contribution to the new world order.
And yet we don't see them turning the machine in a way that fits what we know about the human species.
Yes, this I get and don't disagree that people will be manipulated to comply. I disagree with how they will be motivated to comply.
I don't feel watched, rather, I feel I can't do anything that doesn't go into the data collection data base. Soon people resign themselves to these intrusions. Do you have grocery store cards in the UK yet? Here everything you buy is recorded either on your store card which you use because they charge you money not to use it, or on your credit and bank account records depending on if you use credit or debit cards. When I use my Safeway or QFC cards their cash register spits out coupons to get me to buy other products based on my shopping data that they collect every time I'm in the store. I'm being manipulated, but I don't act out of fear.
Take another example: The government has my picture in many anti-war marches (I've seen uniformed men taking the pictures) but the way that government suppresses those anti-war protestors is more akin to Huxley's drowning them out, making them irrelevant, making sure they don't get media amplification even as free as the Internet currently is. And I don't have high hopes of Net neutrality lasting very long given the political moves away from Net neutrality under the facade of the free market.
So I'm not really 'behaving' out of being watched. Most people are law abiding and don't usually present much challenge to the powers that be. But look how easily we were sold the Iraq War. And once it started look how easily the images of war were controlled. We didn't see a lot of bloodied dead children even though those images were out there. Corporations control that media message, the government controlled or at least heavily influenced the media because corporate power and profit is so deeply integrated into government.
You may not agree with the Theory of Oligarchical Collectivism (I think that's what the book within a book is called) but it's clear what it is.
The problem here is Nineteen Eighty-Four isn't talking about western style governments with a mixture of capitalism and collectivism, it's talking about North Korea - about pure totalitarianism. Whatever ideology Insoc started out as, be it Socialist or Fascist, you cannot any longer tell because the people no longer matter. Only power matters. It's collectivism, but you are not getting any of the spoils.
You may not feel worried about using a Tesco nector card or being watched by CCTV on every street you step onto, that's great, but you've never watched your friends, family, and neighbors disappear without a word or trace, and then see their names suddenly absent from the list of chess club members they were on their entire lives - like they never existed. You've never had to worry about what you say because if some kid patriot heard you you'd be ratted out, within a few hours find yourself behind some chemical plant with a bullet in your brain. You've never had to worry about what you said in your sleep because for all you know you could wake up in a prison cell (like what happened to Sime - I think his name was, Winston's mate). You've never had to fear being beaten up by over zealous blackshirts who will face no repercussions, yet if you fought back you'd be beaten again, or thrown in a prison cell. You've never lived under fascism.
You may be being manipulated by capitalism, you may be being watched by your government, but you don't think 'If I don't comply with all this I'm going to die - taken behind the bike shed and shot' and you have the freedom to turn the news and the propaganda off - Winston Smith, the people of North Korea do not have this freedom.
As much as people like Russell Brand and people like that (and for the record, I'm sort of in that camp) can go on about how the west is a totalitarian system, the playing field and rules is different in Oceania, there is a difference between the US and the NSA spying and North Korea.
It has to be remembered, this is a book that came out in 1949, or 1950 (I forget which) Orwell's dark vision isn't always going to be relevant.
Also, we don't know if The Party lasts. I don't honestly think it does. However, it could be said that Brave New World does come out of capitalism. Thus the two novels would be pretty much incomparable, since they are talking about different things.
It's not that Orwell's world couldn't or wouldn't happen. Many dictatorships fit the description you write. It's not that it wasn't an interesting story to consider. Many of the concepts from the novel were especially insightful for the time. It boggles the mind how many people don't recognize modern day Newspeak which saturates our lives.
That is my point. The vision is losing it's relevance. As is Huxley's. And the reason, like I said, is made with early 21st century hindsight.
I would argue that these books will never lose their relevance.
Yeah, I agree. Sorry if I missed your point.
I do think Orwell's world could still happen. It would just be harder now so the novel is I don't think as relevant, but the certainly still relevant bit is Orwell's example of Newspeak, you are absolutely right about that. It's too early to say, but I think it's wrong to say that there will be a time when Orwell's novel doesn't still have something to teach us, even if that message is just about the end result of Fascism uncontested. Fascist tendencies seem ingrained in human beings.
I would actually love to see a novel that combines the best of Huxley with the worst of Orwell. If you are working on such a project ... let me read it one day.
I hate to say so given it's so presumptuous to dare imply one is attempting something on the scale of Huxley or Orwell. I don't expect to come close to the level of those novels but I am including a number of elements of today's Brave New 1984.
By no means will either novel fade into irrelevance any time soon.
I always thought it would be interesting to see a sort of mix of the two.
A novel about a future society about huge media corporate conglomerates that have an 'accepted history' like Huxley, and any deviation from it would be treat with the force of Orwell. A novel that focuses on the propaganda machine in another way: other than deleting history, some sort of massive propaganda machine could create huge narratives that never existed. I've often imagined that if I was to do it then in the world entire novels would be rewritten, so they have access to books, like, their version of Jane Eyre was completely changed so that it would be unrecognizable to us.
I don't know, about a model called Jane Eyre who learns the value of hard work in some sort of Ayn Rand world.
What about We by Yevgeny Zamyatin? I remember I had this teacher who was on the side that Orwell straight up stole We for 1984. Seems there are also those on the other side who believe the similarities are superficial...not sure what that means, same characters? I've never read either so it would be interesting to hear an opinion of someone who read both.
I've read both. Your teacher was an idiot.
Orwell admitted he was inspired by We, and used it as a sort of blueprint but he was also inspired by Huxley and H.G. wells, but there is more to it than that. Orwell was also heavily inspired by what he saw of Communist Fascism during the Spanish Civil War. That's not a contradiction if you read his account of the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia.
We is part of a Russian tradition of thinly veiled political novels, and is based on an entirely different form of government, and really it's an entirely different world. Huxley can be said to have 'stolen' more from We. We has an outside, the ending of We seems to indicate the events of the novel leads to the victory of the people, also in We sex is perfectly legal, in Orwell it obviously isn't. There are too many differences that separate the two novels.
The novel that did steal from We, though, is Ayn Rand's Anthem.
Haha! Well sucks to be her then.
I personally always liked the idea Orwell stole the book because I hate Orwell. No, I have never fully read any of his work. I just hate his name and the names of his books, that I was being made to read Animal Farm in school and thought it's idea ridiculous, and that I can't separate his stories from politics. I bet I'd hate his face if I ever managed to give it a good long look.
Thanks for the knowledge/opinion though, was curious about the truth of it. I got the feeling my teacher hadn't really read both books, but was actually reiterating an opinion she read or heard.
Fair enough. I'm a big Orwell fan, so, I guess you and I can never be friends.
Nonsense, every good friendship has a friendly disagreement. Too boring without it.
When I read the title that picture was the first thing that popped into my mind. I think everyone already said what could be said. I do have to admit that, as a book, I liked 1984 much better than Brave New World. I don't re-read books often, but I must have read Orwell's book about 5 times.
@Lemex if you are interested in 1984/Brave new world crossover you might wanna see this movie:
Of course it's a bit different, and I wasn't rexactly sober when I watched it, but you have a a more totalitarian control on one side and a certain drug on the other.
Cool stuff! I've not actually heard of that film, but if I can then I'm checking that out.
It's actually a huge shame no good film version of Brave New World has been made, while two very respectable version of Nineteen Eighty-Four have been made. One version staring Peter Cushing, and the other, of course, with John Hurt. What gives?
Yes, but don't hold me to it, don't expect a dark world where junkies hide in half demolished buildings. There are some scenes wehere you see there are many cops on the streets, and that police can put cameras wherever they want... It's a weird movie, I jsut think it has a few elements from both books.
I haven't seen 1984 yet, need to read the book first
In 2009, Ridley Scott and Leonardo Di Caprio announced that they would collaborate on a new adaptation of the book. However, as of 2013, the project has been on hold while Scott has been involved with other projects such as the Prometheus film series.
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