2011: A Brave New Dystopia

Chris Hedges writes:

The two greatest visions of a future dystopia were George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” The debate, between those who watched our descent towards corporate totalitarianism, was who was right. Would we be, as Orwell wrote, dominated by a repressive surveillance and security state that used crude and violent forms of control? Or would we be, as Huxley envisioned, entranced by entertainment and spectacle, captivated by technology and seduced by profligate consumption to embrace our own oppression? It turns out Orwell and Huxley were both right. Huxley saw the first stage of our enslavement. Orwell saw the second.

We have been gradually disempowered by a corporate state that, as Huxley foresaw, seduced and manipulated us through sensual gratification, cheap mass-produced goods, boundless credit, political theater and amusement. While we were entertained, the regulations that once kept predatory corporate power in check were dismantled, the laws that once protected us were rewritten and we were impoverished. Now that credit is drying up, good jobs for the working class are gone forever and mass-produced goods are unaffordable, we find ourselves transported from “Brave New World” to “1984.” The state, crippled by massive deficits, endless war and corporate malfeasance, is sliding toward bankruptcy. It is time for Big Brother to take over from Huxley’s feelies, the orgy-porgy and the centrifugal bumble-puppy. We are moving from a society where we are skillfully manipulated by lies and illusions to one where we are overtly controlled.

Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission. But Huxley, we are discovering, was merely the prelude to Orwell. Huxley understood the process by which we would be complicit in our own enslavement. Orwell understood the enslavement. Now that the corporate coup is over, we stand naked and defenseless. We are beginning to understand, as Karl Marx knew, that unfettered and unregulated capitalism is a brutal and revolutionary force that exploits human beings and the natural world until exhaustion or collapse.

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10 thoughts on “2011: A Brave New Dystopia

  1. sprechblase

    It’s a little bit flawed because you only open up two ways of direction in which humantiy is able to steer towards…

    What if… a third, fourth or fifth possibility opens up…

    Nice read nonetheless. I just recently stumbled upon your blog and found it to be very informative and a blast to read.. Kudos…

  2. DE Teodoru

    I remember how much I despised all the –Left/Right– media war profiteers making careers off mailing lists. Now they’re all bloggers and it’s all the same, except for a number of idealists like Hedges. But perhaps Iraq’s PM al-Maliki cut a deep gash into the alleged Petraeus SURGE “success” when he declared to the Wall Street Journal that the 2011 deadline for TOTAL US withdrawal is carved in stone. Perhaps now we realize what we should have realized after Vietnam: IT DOESN’T MATTER IF USA HAS THE BIGGEST PLANES, BIGGEST BOMBS AND BIGGEST TANKS….IF IT’S RUN BY LITTLE MINDED PEOPLE IT WILL FALL TO THE FATE OF THE SMALLEST. In being a pretend Wizard of OZ, the US has forced together the world’s Shias– and many others coalitions like this will form—so, no doubt America’s “unipolar” power will suffer the consequences at the pump and in trying to sleep at night worried about Shia nukes proliferating.

    Mao once spoke of revolutions to beat America as “one, two, three…many.” Could it be that China’s post-Mao rulers had long been thinking of atomic armed nations as “one, two three…many” as well, so that it slipped nuclear technology to any Third World’s nations? Nukes are still a far better deterrent against attack, cheaper than regular armies and don’t start a coup d’etat. Iran, North Korea…many will be the states pointing atomic missiles at each other and the enfeebled giant will defuse its aimed nukes stock until the Russo-Chinese capacity will look like a formidable nuclear giant against whatever else the US has left to focus on it.

    You can’t stay as the world’s greatest imperial power, bullying the world, run by the hubris of idiots and star whores generals. Orwell’s 1984 may only have been off by a millennium.

  3. Norman

    There is a difference today vs the 20th Century, even the 19th re: Marx, the speed that changes take are accelerated, to such a degree, that nothing seems to last too long. Political led regimes change quickly, some faster than others, but patience, if you have it, for the larger ones, as they too fall, especially when they run out of treasure. At the risk of alienating a group of people in charge, what’s happening here in America is what the Greatest Generation’s children, the Boomers, have created. True, they have their elder statesmen as guides, but for the most part, they are the ones implementing the changes. They are the ones who are destroying the U.S., not some rag tag guerrilla outfit from the Middle East. We are being destroyed from within and the political KABUKI that passes for a Government in Washington D.C., well, it doesn’t really take more than a 3rd grade education to see what’s happening. The big “Q”, will the U.S. see the folly of it’s ways, or just go silently into the hole?

  4. pangloss

    Read Chris Hedges’s latest essay yesterday, it’s an interesting twist on an argument made by Neil Postman in his 1980’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death. I wish Hedges had credited Postman for his argument and part of the Forward Mr. Postman’s Forward for his book:

    Neil Postman – last paragraph in Forward to: Amusing Ourselves to Death:

    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, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy.

    Chris Hedges – 3rd paragraph in Truthdig essay: 2011: A Brave New Dystopia

    Orwell warned of a world where books were banned. Huxley warned of a world where no one wanted to read books. Orwell warned of a state of permanent war and fear. Huxley warned of a culture diverted by mindless pleasure. Orwell warned of a state where every conversation and thought was monitored and dissent was brutally punished. Huxley warned of a state where a population, preoccupied by trivia and gossip, no longer cared about truth or information. Orwell saw us frightened into submission. Huxley saw us seduced into submission.

  5. pangloss

    Correction in my previous comment:

    and part of the Forward Mr. Postman’s Forward for his book

    should have been

    in part of the Forward Mr. Postman wrote for his book

  6. Joseph Partida

    yikes. We seem to be heading to the past; the days without regulations, unions, safety nets, endless wars, an uninformed population. France,Greece, Spain, and even England have taken to the streets in violent demonstrations. I believe our breaking point will be Social Security. This country has an ugly past that should not be forgotten. Invasions, occupations, extermination of indiginous peoples,slavery. The bottom line is cheap labor, my friends. Thats what built this country. The rich always need more poor babies to make them richer. Will you be complaisant in your enslavement? Eternal vigilance, war against the machine, we have to fight the bastards.

  7. BillVZ

    DE Teodoru December 28, 2010

    In being a pretend Wizard of OZ……

    You comments, as I have mentioned before, certainly give great insight both to the issues and your perspective of them. I especially like the many catchy phrases and references you use to highlight them. The Wizard of Oz –just a wonderful film and star studded cast was filmed in 1939, as you well know and most likely appreciated and enjoyed with me and many of our generation.The Wizard (Frank Morgan) the entire cast, the film itself with he exception, proably of it’s wonderful,never to be forgotten star –Judy Garland are vague if not mostly unheard of to the majority of the audience you are writing for.
    In the same vain it is equally difficult to find in this present day material to relate to in order to make meaningful catchy phrases to illustrate your point. There are many great movies and shows to draw from but few if any have reached Dorthy and the Yellow Brick Road historical fame yet.

    Dangerous Minds,A few Good Men, the General’s Daughter, In the valley of Elah?

  8. Renfro

    We are in the midst of both the Huxley and Orwell.
    So how do you fight back and destroy capitalist domination?
    First capitalism is not a ‘thing’, it’s nothing but a collection of ‘people’ who pull the strings of capitalist practices.
    So you destroy those men/women …literally , figuratively, financially or by whatever means available.
    Extreme to suggest? Not really. I am always amazed by those faint souls who think there must be some clean, peaceful or less extreme way to change this jaggernaught course. They don’t understand the nature and mentalities of those they are dealing with. They really think they can save the country and survive without getting their hands dirty or that some heroic figure will come along and save the country and them…and the ones who don’t believe that are quite willing to accept enslavement in return for their ever dwindling lesser, more constricted little lives.
    “If” anything is changed it will be done by that proverbial 20% who do 80% of the work….
    20% is all it would take to overcome the 2 % that creates the world you have to live in…the other 80% will follow, like sheep as they always do, whoever comes out on top.
    Yep it’s depressing….pray that 20% is stirring out there somewhere .

  9. DE Teodoru


    Many Americans (certainly not all), I found since meeting them as a refugee child, lack the modest Gary Cooper characters we so admired, adopting the aggressive salesmen style instead, trying to blind you with bluster…assaulting thus so projecting an illusion of overpowering, whatever their deficiencies, that it causes them to feel that they will overcome indeed. This I knew of German and Germanic family friends. But these Germans were convinced of their superiority, living and dying by it. Americans bluff themselves, calling it “self-confidence” to the point that they never learn from failure, doomed to repeat it because they won’t see where they go wrong. “You can’t win them all,” they might say dismissing what defeat might say about their judgment; but then the only thing they conclude is that there was not enough aggressiveness in the last time try. Look at Petraeus, his lesson from Vietnam was loss of aggressive salesmanship, as if Westy betrayed a desperate sense of: we’re losing so we must up the ante. So Petraeus sends out his peanut gallery of “experts” to announce that we are losing because everyone else erred and then he comes out insisting: I’m the wizard of COIN, give me more and, because I know what to do, I’ll turn it into victory. Where’s the beef? Where’s the difference? Where’s the victory?

    The Wizard of Oz, as I remember from seeing the film, deceived, got caught, the bluffed, sure no one would catch him so long as he talked big. As soon as he got caught, he went back to the old delusional grandomania, convinced that the *ILLUSION* of bigger is how you get better. And so, from Wizard of Oz he goes to great expert off to another grand task as if his last failure never happened. Petraeus peddled his Vietnam PhD thesis only to repeat our Vietnam failings as if nothing was learned. And, gilding his Iraq surge as a victory, he simply goes on to sell his Afghan surge. One has to wonder if America ever realizes that you can fool some of the people some of the time but once you proved that you’re not a wizard you can no longer fool all the people for long. After a while, the Bush-it American threat of “preemption ” provokes only: Oh yea, I remember you, big guy, you’re the one who pretended he’s an overpowering monster but has repeatedly been bled, time after time, bled by little people armed only with Kalashnikovs and Korans. The cheers stop, especially from Europeans angered by the excuses of Petraeus’s peanut gallery: Europeans are incapable of fighting COIN!

    Truth is, after Bill ClintoBushObama, Europeans&Asians finally saw that the American Wizard is a little old man who can’t ever stop the hyperboles while blaming others for his failure as a wizard. After we swindled them all on Wall Street, it’s time to be more modest and rebuild rather than an old pushy shyster salesman. We are a great people but we choose dumb leaders irresponsibly; full of hope in them, I had voted for all three!

  10. BillVZ

    DE Teodoru December 29,

    Hey, thanks for taking the time to reply – my words didn’t really warrant a response. The Wizard of OZ behind the screen is a vivid reminder, in my recollection, of what you so aptly put across in your articles about the desperate state of affairs in the US government, the military and the Obama administration. It works for me-the difficulty as a writer of our generation, it seems though, is being able to find a meaningful ‘Wizard of OZ’ like analogy for today’s audience.Not a big issue compared to the realities of what is going on.
    You do a great job of writing and expressing your perspective, that is appreciated across the generation spectrum. Thanks just “carry on”.
    “We are a great people but we choose dumb leaders irresponsibly; full of hope in them, I had voted for all three!” Me too- let’s see were we the ‘Scarecrow’, ‘Tin Man’, or the ‘CowardlyLion’ by doing so?

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