“I didn’t know I was a slave until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.” ~ Frederick Douglass
If you have at any point of time in life felt that our society is a matrix or subtly controls us in multiple ways. Or that the freedom we experience is actually confined to a box, and anything that can break the controller’s power by either waking consciousness or empowering oneself, is deemed illegal.
More importantly, if you think that you have absolute freedom or the controlling authority is perfect, then here are two books that definitely need to be on your reading list if you haven’t read them already
George Orwell’s 1948 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. There’s a similar train of thought in both, the systems they talk about are totalitarian, but nothing like each other.
Both these hypothetical systems are meant for mass control, both are manipulative but how they do it perhaps will bring forth a tingling feeling that you perhaps are currently living in a system that is equally similar.
Let’s take a look at the Utopias and Dystopias in both these magnificent pieces of literature that were written close to a century ago:
A Gist of George Orwell’s 1984:
“We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force. ” ~ Ayn Rand
Imagine a world where you’re constantly in fear, bombs from so-called enemy countries fall anytime randomly killing people. Top that up with – you have no friends or aren’t allowed to communicate with anyone without purpose.
The food provided is based on your hierarchy in the system, only the elite have access to food and drink that tastes like what its suppose to. Most of the others have stale bread, drink hootch that is heavily adulterated and burns as it goes in.
Anything you read supports the controllers’ propaganda, you have no diaries to log anything, in fact time itself has ceased to exist – each day is just another day and dates and years ceased to exist. All literature, books, everything has been burnt a long time ago, you’re now left with only the information that has been fed to you.
Everything you say, everything you do is tracked by telescreens that are placed everywhere, your home, your work space on the roads. Everywhere you go, you have posters of “Big Brother is Watching You,” to remind you to follow the drill.
The whole system is based on fear, the only work available is based on keeping the system alive. Those who don’t conform, disappear, but before they do they are made to love “Big Brother”.
There’s a special building that has to be mentioned. “The Ministry of Love” where they break your spirit into submitting to Big Brother, each person is confronted with their own worst fear.
In 1984 control is maintained with authority, fear and torture. The population is divided and this segregation is maintained. Only the lowest rung of people seem to have a sort of freedom because they have been dumbed down and completely manipulated by “Newspeak” (the media).
So 1984 is somewhere you definitely don’t want to be, although for some, to be on the top rungs of the system where you have the finest food and drink as well as a certain amount of liberty and perhaps enjoy torturing the ones who don’t conform may fit their life’s purpose.
A Video Summary of George Orwell’s 1984
A Gist of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
While the control displayed in 1984 is a fascist totalitarian regime controlling a dystopian system, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World explores a system created by science and human conditioning that created a hierarchical utopian kind of system.
Here babies aren’t born from humans any more, their gene edited according to their purpose and grown in batches in labs. Each batch has been specifically created for their role in society, from menial work to the intelligent ones and those in between.
Each batch is conditioned based on who they are, right from the time they are babies, like the menial worker babies are brought into a room, there are beautiful smelling colourful roses on one side, and they crawl towards them gurgling and as they touch and play with them, they receive electric shocks.
This happens more than once at the end of it the babies start howling as soon as they see or smell these beautiful flowers. This batch where adults are supposed to work in mines, they are also conditioned to hate cool temperatures and find working in the mines the most apt job for them due to their conditioning.
Through their growing years they are conditioned in their sleep with repetitive instructions to mould them into whom they need to be for society. For example the ones who are higher up in societies hierarchy are kept with played recordings that they should not mingle with the lower rungs, that the colour of the clothing that the others wear are repulsive etc.
Unlike 1984 here, each one belongs to everyone, sex with multiple partners is not just allowed but expected. Sexuality is explored from a young age and not shied upon, there are medicines to keep woman infertile and this is how it has always been.
All rungs of this society are allowed to have pleasure, their even rationed a super drug called “Soma” that has immense pleasure, takes away all your pain and problems and leaves no side effect or hangover. The place is a utopia and unlike in 1984 if you do not conform or want to live in this society you can choose to live on an island where other free thinkers reside.
A Video Summary of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
Are You Really Free?
Is the media where you’re based free to publish content against the regime in control? Are books banned or not allowed to be published in your country? Are films banned and have to be approved by a censorship board before they are screened or allowed to be watched.
Does the system that you exist have direct or indirect separate rules for people? Are you allowed to browse the Internet freely? Are you allowed to intake any substance of your choice that does not harm those around you?
There can be so many questions that can be put forth to question if you’re really free. The truth is no matter where you are there will always be chains that tie you down.
“Today as always, men fall into two groups: slaves and free men. Whoever does not have two-thirds of his day for himself, is a slave, whatever he may be: a statesman, a businessman, an official, or a scholar.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche