America Today: 1984 and Brave New World

George Orwell’s novel 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World are each prophetic dystopian works. Both have come true in different ways in these United States. Neil Postman first drew my attention to the differing visions in Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Orwell wrote of the omnipotent state–“Big Brother is Watching”–that controls the population from the top down. (C.S. Lewis wrote of the threat of “the omnicompetent state” in The Abolition of Man,) Privacy is nearly dead and the state aspires to omniscience to control its slaves.

Huxley warned of a culture that self-medicates itself to death by entertainment: “the feelies” (full sensory immersion) and soma (the recreational drug). In his vision, the population denudes itself of critical faculties through voluntary oblivion.

America has realized both nightmares. Through “amusing ourselves to death” (Neil Postman) we have lost our ability to critique the omnipotent state seen in the Obama regime. Given our immersion in entertainment technologies, our shortened attention spans and “low information voters” (that is, ignoramuses), we have led a power-mad manipulator become President, a man who flagrently disregards and violates the Constitution of the United States. Why care? If one is sleepwalking or sleep-running, distracted by endless stimulation, there is no reason to care–if we still have our toys. The legalization of canabis is another indicator of the passive, escapist mentality.

Ala 1984, spying on citizens has reached a new low. Cameras are everywhere. Drones can spy and kill.

In a nutshell, Brave New World leads to 1984. Those drugged into oblivion lack the resources to resist the intrusions and excesses of the civil government. So what can be done?

Work at rebuilding a foundation for a better civilization, which is probably long in the future. Be countercultural by educating your own children; do not give them over to statist indoctrination. Be critical of the technologies you use. Study the past so you are not controlled by the zeitgeist. Have a transcendent and true point of reference by submitting to the God of the Bible. Think through your philosophy of protest and resistance.

Author: Douglas Groothuis

Author of Christian Apologetics, Truth Decay, On Jesus, On Pascal, and others. Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary since 1993. Head of The Apologetics and Ethics Masters Degree Program and Co-Director of The Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture. Senior Fellow for Apologetics.com.

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