Orwell, 1984 & Huxley, Brave New World


Forum Staff
May 2008
'You all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford's: History is bunk.'​
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Ch. 3​

'Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'​
- George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Part I, Ch. 3.​


Forum Staff
May 2008
In the mid1950's a great atomic war broke out in which "some hundreds of bombs were dropped on industrial centres, chiefly in European Russia, Western Europe and North America." This war led to civil wars and revolutions, with great ideological battles and purges occurring in the late 1950s and the 1960s. By the next decade, Big Brother and his Party had become the dictators of Oceania, an empire spanning the British Isles and the Western hemisphere, and one of three such empires controlling the whole world. This is the starting point of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

George Orwell's final novel is clearly his most mature. Certainly, by comparison with Animal Farm, the political philosophy is more developed and point-by-point analogy no longer helps with deciphering the story. Nineteen Eighty-Four narrates a small-scale rebellion against a perfect tyranny in that then future year, 1984. Its three chapters, like its scenery, remains stark with only numerical titles. As a tale, its development is simple and may be broken down as so:
  • In §1, Winston Smith's defiance of the regime begins;
  • In §2, Winston has an illicit affair with Julia. Both decide to join the Brotherhood, an underground revolutionary organization, and shortly thereafter are captured by the Thought Police;
  • In §3, O'Brien, the Inner Party member, proceeds to force them into orthodoxy.

Brave New World is, in many ways, the polar opposite to Nineteen Eighty-Four. It might be described as a polar future alternative. It’s set in London in a world where permanent stability has been attained not through atavistic nuclear holocaust, but through scientific progress – specifically biology. It is remarkable for its reasonably accurate predictions about science and technology, economics and politics, and arts and leisure. It concerns itself with genetics, endocrinology, behaviourism, and pharmacology (IVF and cloning via Bokanovsky’s Process, Malthusian belts, hypnopaedia and soma respectively).

Jul 2009
Total Slack
'You all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford's: History is bunk.'​

- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Ch. 3​

The rest of the text concerning Mustapha Mond's speech to the young Alphas I found particularly well written, and considering our main concern on the forum, poignant:

"'You all remember,' said the Controller in his strong deep voice, 'you all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford's: History is bunk. History,' he repeated slowly, 'is bunk.'
He waved his hand; and it was as though, with an invisible feather whisk, he had brushed away a little dust, and the dust was Harappa, was Ur of the Chaldees; some spider-webs, and they were Thebes and Babylon and Cnossos and Mycenae. Whisk, whisk - and where was Odysseus, where was Job, where were Jupiter and Gotama and Jesus? Whisk - and those specks of antique dirt called Athens and Rome, Jerusalem and the Middle Kingdom - all were gone. Whisk, the cathedrals; whisk, whisk, King Lear and the Thoughts of Pascal. Whisk, Passion; whisk, Requiem; whisk, Symphony; whisk..."
Good links there, by the way, Avon. The problem is the suggestion, from the image and the link to the associated website, that there is a case to me made for either author's anti-utopian vision to be more valid than the other today. It may be the case that both co-exist to some degree, though of course uneasily, and fractiously. Producing a kind of schizophrenic society.
The jackboot to face is definitely employed when neccesary, the blatant employment of fear as a governmental tool of control, omnipresent surveillance, the diminishing of complex language (Newspeak), the use of constant war as the engine of state stability and the threat of unseen enemies is ubiquitous, and more besides, speak to a world with discomforting similarities to Orwell's book.

Huxley's "happiness machine" phantasmagoria just seems to paper over the cracks in the core of the "hard machine" of the corporate/militarist state we occupy in the west, at large.
The real core of our "secret society" is Orwellian, the sugar coated pill that ensures the masses swallow it and not rock the boat is of Huxley's description.

Of course there are some distinct and important aspects in your world that don't match Orwell's dystopia. Perhaps the most prominent being there is no monolithic authoritarian dictatorship, dictated by "The Inner Party."

There is instead a business plan, the corporation as God, instead of the state, as in Nineteen Eighty-Four. So Huxley seemed more prescient there, I suppose, with the installation of Henry Ford as a kind of diety.
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Apr 2010
I'll post tomorrow about 1984. Seems I'm not that prepared. :)

Just my opinion about 1984...
The story of the 1984 is about the negative Utopian embellishment for equal society but the class structure seems to persists very well. The inner party, outer party and the proles still have the same allegory for the nobles, bourgeoisie and the proletariat. But the middle class holds it very well when the Ingsoc came after the war that was described in the book.

The city of Airstrip One, formerly London was not an outrageous society of comrade, and freedom is has become slavery. Hatred has become the ideology of every human. It is very terrific and creatively done by his wits that he could imagined a world without freedom, a world full of hate, a world full of wars and the world without reason. This is the very end of the negative Utopia that he has in his mind.

Winston Smith is a truly remarkable character, but the appalling story and the reader's longing for revenge is not portrayed and betrayed by our ideal psychology, the human's needs: freedom and love. The way it ends, I like it very much, when I read it seems that George Orwell plays mind tricks that the reader knows how lovely they are going with love and freedom. But this characteristics never show, and the message is brought to our mind. The 'what if' questions has fascinated me with this story.
Jul 2009
Total Slack
I've been waiting for more to post, in order to play off the discussion. I will post later with some thoughts I have on Huxley's book.


Ad Honorem
Apr 2008
Decade for decade it seems to flip between more toward 1984 to more towards Brave New World. It's almost like a two party system we get a democratic choice between the two each election.

1984 intrigues me more of the two books because of its post modern leanings. Julia asks Winston how he even knows East Asia and Eurasia exist as he knows all party properganda is lies. Has he any objective proof? She suggests maybe Oceana regularly bombs its own cities to keep the myth other countries exist going.

Winston is perturbed most by the fact he wants the truth and can't find it. The idea truth might not exist is something he can't consider. He is largely an anqtique in this sense and his rebellion and old fashioned one. Julia doesn't believe truth exists and has no problem with the fact, she simply wants to create her own subjective pleasure based world around her. She a post modernist and has a pragmatic view of the world which contrast Winstons idealism.

The book touches on French philosopher Jean Baudrillard's dilemna that what happens if we create so many lies, for such a long time that the the last person who remembers the real truth dies, all that is then left for future generations have is the fake. Truth is lost forever and people are stuck in the hyperreal never again able to reality.
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Forum Staff
Jun 2009
land of Califia
She suggests maybe Oceana regularly bombs its own cities to keep the myth other countries exist going.
I wonder if this is where the idea of U.S. complicity in 9/11 stems from. I also find Julia's pragmatism much more a vital commodity than Winston's idealism.

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