You are here:   Aldous Huxley > To Understand Trump, Read Huxley — Not Orwell
These are still early days, but it is striking that among Trump’s biggest critics are some of America’s biggest corporations. Recent Budweiser and Coca-Cola TV commercials have stood up for immigrants and America’s diversity as a nation. Companies such as Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and eBay filed legal documents in Washington against Trump’s immigration ban. There are no equivalents to Coca-Cola or Facebook in Orwell’s fictional world. How could there be? He never anticipated the kind of consumerism and new technology that are at the heart of Huxley’s vision.

There are two Americas today, not one. Two sets of values, two kinds of politics. Trump speaks for only one. That’s why he’s not an Orwellian figure who could control the way opponents think. Opponents know exactly who he is and what he stands for. They were fractionally outnumbered in a small handful of states in November. That could change dramatically in two or four years. If it doesn’t, it’s because Trump’s policies will continue to speak to voters, maybe even bringing them prosperity.

Trump won last year’s election for several reasons. One is that corporations were closing down whole towns in order to find cheaper labour abroad. Meanwhile, computer scientists are inventing new machines which will provide even cheaper labour. The dystopian future is not about Newspeak, it is about the robots that are being developed in Silicon Valley. They will have the biggest effect on the future of the West for generations to come. In recent years, millions of people have lost their jobs to cheap Mexican and Chinese labour. Soon many millions more will be losing their jobs forever to robots.

There will be populist protests against this, just as there have been against globalisation. But in southern California scientists are also inventing new forms of entertainment that will pacify and delight future generations of people in the West. This is closer to Huxley’s vison of a population distracted by drugs, sex and boundless consumption. That is Huxley’s brave new world, not Orwell’s 1984. We are not the children of George Orwell. We are the children of his old French teacher, Aldous Huxley.  

View Full Article
April 26th, 2017
2:04 AM
Glad to see I was not the only one to pick up on this - my letter to the FT highlighting the need for Orwell to be in read in tandem with Huxley was roundly ignored. Orwell was a secular socialist who believed in mankind finding happiness through democratic materialism. Huxley did not believe materialism makes us happy, hence the bleak vision of Brave New World. Unlike Orwell, Huxley was a scientist (an amateur one but serious nevertheless). More importantly, in his later years he was a mystic who perceived, like all the great pioneers of quantum physics, that we are spiritual beings manifesting human experience. That consciousness is primary to space, time, energy and matter. And that only by realizing this truth do we experience human happiness instead of the fears and frustrations arising from the pursuit of temporary materialist pleasures. Check out The Perennial Philosophy. We need Huxley now.

Mel Profit
March 23rd, 2017
1:03 PM
Herman is correct that Huxley's "totalitarian lite" is our present and probable future. But his musings about Trump's limited constituency are mistaken. For if, as he speculates, the dystopian future is driven by the substitution of humans by machines, then Trump's base of disposed and disenfranchised will only increase, leaving the two coasts as gated fortresses for an elite 1% fast on its way to becoming a half-percent or quarter percent. How does one employ 300 million people who cannot all be high tech entrepreneurs and engineers, investment bankers and hedge fund managers, nor all bartenders, burger flipper and dog walkers? Until we figure out how, Trumpian "populism" will have gale winds at its back

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.