Big or Brave: A Comparison Between the Worlds of Orwell and Huxley

Last year I read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and started examining the differences it holds in comparison to George Orwell’s similar theory in 1984.  The main idea of Huxley’s world is based on the advancement and all-encompassing achievements of genetics, while Orwell’s world is dictated by the omniscient and all-seeing “Big Brother.” Furthermore, Huxley’s world is driven by the pursuit of pleasure, while Orwell’s world is consumed by power through the rule of fear.

My personal opinion between the likelihood of the two is persuaded by Huxley’s philosophy. On the basis that people seem more intrigued and driven by pleasure rather than power. Granted, the fulfillment of pleasure may be achieved by obtaining power, but even then, that initial desire begins with the driving force of seeking pleasure, fulfillment. In which case power is merely the means, and pleasure the end. Both of these being desired as a result of the urge and need for fulfillment. Either way, these books illustrate the consequences of ideas and the ripple affects that impact society when people abuse their position of ability and responsibility. Power is good, but it is not to be worshipped. Pleasure is likewise good, but only in the right context. But neither of these things are to be placed above the value of humans as was demonstrated in Brave New World and 1984. We must be wise in the decisions we carry out as they will affect those around us, for good or for bad. Thus, we must be aware of the force with which pleasure and powers enticing propositions have on us. We must stay on guard and identify our weak points for temptations so as to reject them when they come (2 Peter 2: 14-19, Ephesians 4:27, Romans 7:7-25).

Again, power and pleasure are not bad things in and of themselves, but are rather good. Thus we should not stop short in despairing over the presumed inevitable dystopia of America. Rather, we should live by experiencing and applying these things, pleasure and power, in their proper place, demonstrating the Kingdom of God by using them the way God intended.

For a more thorough comparison of these worlds, read Neil Postman’s work, Amusing Ourselves to Death, Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. His overarching theory is based on the opinion that,

“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, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy… 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” (Amusing Ourselves To Death, Neil Postman, Forward).

Let us not lose hope. The world is corrupt, but God is good. And we have hope, and are called to be a people of hope.


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