“One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.” – Aldous Huxley
A month ago, I wrote about George Orwell and his works, praising his writings for being uncomfortable and making us reflect on society‘s past, present, and future. And I thought, talking about another equally famous author of the same genre might be obsolete. However, I came to the conclusion that, especially, Orwell’s 1984 (1949) and Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) kind of complement each other in addressing a similar topic while being so different. It’s also nice to know that Huxley was Orwell‘s French teacher at Eton and actually wrote a letter to his former student regarding 1984 praising and also criticising the novel.
Huxley believed his version of government rule to be longer-lasting and more efficient as it doesn’t use fear and violence to make people obedient but conditioning and happy drugs causing citizens to love their state. Moreover, unorthodox thinkers are not broken in Brave New World but given the choice of either becoming rulers themselves or leaving society suggesting relative freedom.
In his letter to Orwell Huxley writes: “I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. […]The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency.”
Comparing and contrasting both novels and simultaneously looking at the present was highly interesting for me. Both draw on people’s fears of being controlled by the government and worst-case scenarios can be good means to discuss and reflect about our contemporary and future society in the EFL classroom.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALDOUS!