Increasingly, I ask myself (and one or two close friends) the question – would you rather live in 1984, a totalitarian society of mass surveillance and repressive regiments or Brave New World, a “negative utopia” (as the author put it) of corporate tyranny that uses behavioral conditioning alongside other scientific advancements to enslave its people in recreational servitude?
When I first read those two books the summer before my high school freshman year, I found both concepts bizarre, almost other-worldly. Nonetheless, having been a science/sci-fi fan in middle school, I was receptive to both ideas and thought maybe I’ll appreciate them better when I get older.
Now, seeing the drastic ways technology is transforming both my country of upbringing that is China and the US, I feel shivers down my spine that eerily reflect how right both authors were, despite their contrastive predictions on technology’s impact on society.
China is becoming 1984.
US is becoming Brave New World.
Since (the nonexistent) readers of this blog are more familiar with the latter, I’d limit my thoughts to what’s happening here.
.As we are seeing the current election cycle unfold, the democratic system is woefully unprepared for the impact of technology.
An example: On the issue of automation alone, voters fail to see through the political spin or media bias that the root cause of Trump’s victory wasn’t a Russian conspiracy, Facebook, the radical left, far-right, or any individual group of individuals, but the loss of manufacturing jobs & closing of factories. Trump saw this in 2016, but instead of addressing it, manipulated public fear to his chicanery by blaming immigrants, who come from the places the jobs were lost to, and politicians, who made trade deals that led to these jobs. 4 years later, the Democrats think Trump is the source of all problems. It doesn’t make as trending a political story, but technology is the primary force behind the blasting away of the middle class way of life.
While mass media and neoliberal capitalism continues to blanket the democracy’s conscience, corporations will simply continue their devised plan to impose a tyrannical utopia on us. What do you do with the masses that are unproductive but can cause trouble? According to Huxley, the most effective solution is to enslave them with dopamine-controlling services/products that condition us to love our servitude, as corporations are already doing.
As I watch the conscience be drained out of the public conscience, I can’t help but compare that to the 1984-like regime that China has imposed on its citizens. Despite having no voice whatsoever, I find the public much more conscientious/reactionary to the state of affairs than in the US.
Which is worse? A quote from my favorite anime, Attack on Titan, comes to mind: “There’s nothing further removed from freedom than ignorance.” Even under a totalitarian regime, oppression is proof that there is still a force of good; it’s just being suppressed.
As I watch the debacle that is the 2020 Democratic primary unfold, I can’t help but revisit my stance on the question which I posed at this post’s beginning – would I rather live in 1984 or Brave New World – in pertinence to my own options in the future.