Orwell, Huxley & the New Authoritarianism
George Orwell and Aldous Huxley are two of the great figures of the 20th century. Their novels, 1984 and Brave New World focus on authoritarianism. Both draw grim pictures of totalitarian rule but in each book the dictatorship to effect control deploys different techniques. For Orwell it’s straight out force. His dark image is brutal state oppression—“a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” Big Brother is watching your every move. You can be arrested at any time. Endless war is in the background. Whereas, in Huxley’s dystopia, societal control is achieved by more subtle means such as entertaining diversions, staged spectacles and the directed pursuit of manufactured needs and desires. People are infantilized. They are to be concerned with trivia like shopping, celebrity divorces and scandals leaving them with little time or interest to challenge power.
Henry Giroux, a prominent public intellectual, prolific writer, commentator, and scholar. He teaches at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He is a founding theorist of critical pedagogy. Among his many books are Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education, The Violence of Organized Forgetting, and America at War with Itself. He is a member of Truthout‘s Board of Directors and a regular contributor to the nonprofit, independent online news organization.