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The two dimensional Orwellian / Huxleyan vector space

In his book “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, Neil Postman compared Orwell and Huxley:

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 and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.

Neil Postman, Book: Amusing Ourselves to Death

As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

Neil Postman, Book: Amusing Ourselves to Death

Neil Postman wrote ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’ in 1985. It was the age of TV. I wonder what he would write about today, the age of social media.

Orwell and Huxley each gave a deep dissection of humanity and human society. They painted two sharply contrasting futures, namely a terrifying dystopia by Orwell and an equally terrible (perhaps even more depressing) utopia by Huxley.

What is even more astonishing is the fact that human society can (and has) become a quantum superposition of both states, Orwellian and Huxleyan, with different weights but without fundamental contradiction of the two states.

One could argue that today’s China weighs more toward Orwellian while the US more Huxleyan, but it is important to realize that in this two-dimensional vector space, both the direction and the magnitude of the vector can change without an apparent constraint.

Anyone who has doubts about this only needs to consider the fact that TikTok, the most corrupt Huxleyan app in the world, comes from China, while the most extreme thought-controlling Orwellian environment originates in the US.

Any attempt to use central control (Orwellian) to tenuate individual corruption (Huxleyan) or to use ‘personal freedom’ (Huxleyan) to combat authoritarian oppression (Orwellian) is fundamentally hopeless.

The only hope is when mankind humbles itself and seeks objective Truth rather than pursuing subjective good and pleasure.

Human good and pleasure are derivative, not fundamental. These are things that ”shall be added unto thee” (Matthew 6:33) when ”thou shall seek truth.”

Those who pursue truth may be few, but they are in a different dimension and are not subject to the two-dimensional Orwellian/Huxleyan vector space.

“Thou shall know the truth, and the truth shall set thee free.” – John 8:32.