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Aldous Huxley on Technodictators

"If you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you have to get the consent of the ruled." - Aldous Huxley

AIRED: March 06, 2017 | 0:06:04

- It's a question of education,

to teach people to be on their guard

against the sort of verbal booby traps

into which they're always being led,

to analyze the kind of things that are said to them.

I think it's terribly important to

insist on individual values,

that every human being is unique.

And it is of course on this genetical basis

that the whole idea of the value of freedom is based.

- [Mike Wallace] This is Aldous Huxley.

A man haunted by a vision of hell on Earth.

Mr. Huxley wrote Brave New World.

A novel that predicted that someday the entire world

would live under a frightful dictatorship.

Today Mr. Huxley says that his fictional world of horror

is probably just around the corner for all of us.

- There are a number of impersonal forces

which are pushing in the direction of less and less freedom.

The first of them can be called overpopulation.

The whole essence of biological life on Earth

is a question of balance,

and what we have done is to practice death control

in a most intensive manner,

without balancing this with birth control at the other end.

In the underdeveloped countries,

people have less to eat and less goods,

and the central government has to take over

more and more responsibility for keeping

the ship of state on an even keel.

And then of course you're likely to get social unrest

under such conditions,

with again an intervention of the central government.

One sees here a pattern which seems to be

pushing very strongly towards a totalitarian regime.

- Are there specific devices,

or methods of communication which diminish our freedoms?

- Well there are certainly devices

which can be used in this way.

Hitler used terror on the one kind,

brute force on one hand.

But he also used a very efficient form of propaganda.

He had the radio which he used to the fullest extent,

and was able to impose his will

on an immense mass of people.

I mean, the Germans were highly educated people.

We mustn't be caught by surprise

by our own advancing technology.

This has happened again and again in history,

and suddenly people have found themselves

in a situation which they didn't foresee,

and doing all sorts of things they didn't really want to do.

The presence of television

I think is being used quite harmlessly,

but I mean imagine,

which must be the situation in all communist countries,

where the television where it exists,

is always saying the same thing the whole time.

It's always driving along.

It's drumming in the single idea all the time.

It's obviously an immensely powerful instrument.

All technology is in itself morally neutral.

These are just powers which can either be used well or ill.

It's the same thing with atomic energy.

We can either use it to blow ourselves up,

or we can use it as a substitute for the coal and the oil,

which are running out.

In this book of mine, Brave New World,

I postulated a substance called soma,

which was a very versatile drug.

It would make people feel happy in small doses,

make them see visions in medium doses,

and it would send them to sleep in large doses.

I think it's quite on the cards

that we may have drugs,

which will profoundly change our mental state,

without doing us any harm.

Well, what is going to happen in the future,

is the dictators will find, as the old saying goes,

that you can do everything with bayonets

except sit on them.

If you want to preserve your power indefinitely,

you have to get the consent of the ruled.

And this they will do, partly by drugs,

partly by these new techniques of propaganda.

They will do it by bypassing

the sort of rational side of man,

and appealing to his subconscious,

and his deeper emotions,

making him actually love his slavery.

I mean I think this is the danger that actually people

may be in some ways, happy, under the new regime.

But they will be happy in situations

where they oughtn't to be happy.

- [Mike] Writing about American political campaigns,

you say all that is needed is money,

and a candidate who can be coached to look sincere.

- [Aldous] This is perhaps this idea that the candidates

had to be merchandised,

as though they were soap or toothpaste.

And that you had to depend entirely on the personality,

I mean personality is important,

but there are certainly people

with an extremely amiable personality,

particularly on TV,

who might not naturally be very good

in positions of political trust.

I mean what does a democracy depend on?

A democracy depends on the individual voter,

making an intelligent and rational choice,

for what he regards as his enlightened self-interest,

in any given circumstance.

But what these people are doing,

is try to bypass the rational side of man,

and to appeal directly to these

unconscious forces below the surface,

so that you are in a way

making nonsense of the whole democratic procedure,

which is based on conscious choice,

on rational grounds.

I must say I still believe in democracy,

if we can make the best of the creative activities

of the people on top,

plus those of the people on the bottom,

so much the better.

- [Mike] Mr. Huxley, I surely thank you

for spending this half hour with us.

And I wish you Godspeed, sir.

- [Aldous] Thank you.


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