Archimedes, Sophocles, Hitler, Peter, and Orwell are just some of the few men in history that have tried to predict the future, with many of them predicting the downfall of civilization. But, although many of these great thinkers have come startlingly close to the stark reality in which we live. Many have argued the opinion that our culture most resembles that of Orwell’s creation, but I disagree for a number of very important and relevant reasons.
First, Orwell feared that censorship would be rampant in society, with the government controlling every single printed piece of paper. This is certainly not so, especially with many journalistic companies printing negative opinions of the government. Plus, why would the government really have to censor articles in this day and age? A poll done by the Associated Press showed that over thirty per cent of teenagers thought our current president was Al Gore, and I would bet anything that the typical high school senior has no idea what 1984 and Brave New World are. I fear that within the next two generations the literacy rate will take a dramatic fall off of its current perch, just as Huxley has suggested – people will not want to read anymore.
Furthermore, how do most people generally spend most of their time? Pleasuring themselves. Our culture is no longer immersed in trying to better itself. It is mostly concerned with “playtime,” or, if we do better ourselves, it is usually in a form that exerts more physical pleasure. In Orwell’s vision, there was no pleasure. People were driven by fear and unmercifulness. While, in Huxley’s revelation, society was driven by pleasure, much like ours is today. With a crack, cocaine, pot, smack, ludes, horse, and Whiffy Puff whipped cream, we are a people that thrives on the “10-minute high.” Just as drugs are to us, soma was to Huxley’s world.
Another aspect of Orwell’s world in which we do not share is that of warfare. True, we are always in constant conflict with another country, but do we really purposefully wage war? I do not believe we do. In fact, I would go as far as to say that we prevent war more than anything. For example, the spy plane incident in China was not very good. If I were in charge, there would be around one billion dead Chinese, but our government did not bend in the midst of political turmoil. It compromised. Plus, how about many of our modern wars? Were they not fought for the sheer fact of keeping the peace? Are we not the “policemen” if the world? Therefore, since the war was the backbone of Orwell’s society, we are surely not living in a time resembling his.
Everyone has their own point of view in today’s society. We all share different backgrounds, different cultures, different experiences, and, although Huxley’s rendering of our world is more accurate than Orwell’s, neither come close. In both 1984 and Brave New World, each society had cultural unity. This was central to both themes and was necessary for civilization in those conditions to continue. I believe that the world could swing either way in respect towards the future, but, right now, neither society is on our horizon. But, as Orwell and Huxley were, I am fallible and am probably making the wrong prediction. I find one must draw his conclusions through his life experiences, and my being an aspiring theoretical physicist leads me to one final conclusion. “Optimists are people who think that the future is uncertain.”
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