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Huxley and Orwell Were Both Right

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: Chris Hedges, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, dystopia, consumerism, narcissism, oligarchy, politics, The Progressive, Keith Goetzman,

1984, first edition 

Irascible, hard-digging journalist Chris Hedges tells The Progressive in an interview that both Aldous Huxley and George Orwell were on to something, and their dystopic visions are neither far fetched nor incompatible:

“I used to wonder: Is Huxley right or is Orwell right? It turns out they’re both right. First you get the new world state [Brave New World] and endless diversions as you are disempowered. And then, as we are watching, credit dries up, and the cheap manufactured goods of the consumer society are no longer cheap. Then you get the iron fist of Oceania, of Orwell’s 1984.

“That’s precisely the process that’s happened. We have been very effectively pacified by the pernicious ideology of a consumer society that is centered on the cult of the self—an undiluted hedonism and narcissism. That has become a very effective way to divert our attention while the country is reconfigured into a kind of neofeudalism, with a rapacious oligarchic elite and an anemic government that no longer is able to intercede on behalf of citizens but cravenly serves the interests of the oligarchy itself.”

Whew. Hedges also critiques President Barack Obama as “seduced by power and prestige,” describes being booed off the stage at a college commencement for speaking out against the Iraq War, and explains that Americans have some growing up to do. It’s hard stuff, but in the end he tips his hand—he’s doing it all for his new baby girl:

“What kind of a world are we going to leave the next generation? I, at least, want my children to look back and say, ‘My daddy was being arrested at the White House fence and booed off commencement stages. He was trying.’”

Source: The Progressive (full article available to subscribers only) 

Image by markhillary, licensed under Creative Commons. Panel image by Shepard Fairey.