"A Dictatorship Without Tears"

Aldous Huxley's prescient 1961 speech

In 1961, President Eisenhower gave his famous “Military-Industrial Complex” Farewell Address in which he warned about “the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power.” During this same year and in the following year, Aldous Huxley gave a talks at different institutions in California, including the UC Medical Center of San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley, in which proposed that in the future, tyrants would no longer use terror and concentration camps, but far more refined methods of inducing the servitude of the citizenry.

Tapping into the understandable desire for comfort, security, and pleasure, the new dictators will obtain the consent of the governed by inducing them to ENJOY their servitude. At his talk at UC Berkeley in 1962, he explicitly contrasted his vision with that of Orwell’s in the book 1984.

And here I would like briefly to compare the parable of Brave New World with another parable which was put forth more recently in George Orwell’s book, Nineteen Eighty- Four. Orwell wrote his book between, I think between 45 and 48 at the time when the Stalinist terror regime was still in Full swing and just after the collapse of the Hitlerian terror regime. And his book which I admire greatly, it’s a book of very great talent and extraordinary ingenuity, shows, so to say, a projection into the future of the immediate past, of what for him was the immediate past, and the immediate present, it was a projection into the future of a society where control was exercised wholly by terrorism and violent attacks upon the mind-body of individuals.

Whereas my own book which was written in 1932 when there was only a mild dictatorship in the form of Mussolini in existence, was not overshadowed by the idea of terrorism, and I was therefore free in a way in which Orwell was not free, to think about these other methods of control, these non-violent methods and my, I’m inclined to think that the scientific dictatorships of the future, and I think there are going to be scientific dictatorships in many parts of the world, will be probably a good deal nearer to the brave new world pattern than to the 1984 pattern, they will a good deal nearer not because of any humanitarian qualms of the scientific dictators but simply because the BNW pattern is probably a good deal more efficient than the other.

That if you can get people to consent to the state of affairs in which they’re living. The state of servitude the state of being, having their differences ironed out, and being made amenable to mass production methods on the social level, if you can do this, then you have, you are likely, to have a much more stable and lasting society. Much more easily controllable society than you would if you were relying wholly on clubs and firing squads and concentration camps.

Another talk that Huxley apparently gave around the same time (I’m struggling to find a copy of the complete transcript) is quoted more often, especially the following passage. Most online references state that the quotation is from a speech he gave to the “Tavistock Group, California Medical School, 1961,” though I am unable to verify this. At any rate, what he apparently stated in this speech strikes me as remarkably prescient:

There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.

These reflections immediately resonated with me, because in recent years I’ve often thought that the power of our overlords derives as much from our own stupefaction and distraction as it does from their potency.

Every passing day brings fresh revelations of the preposterously fraudulent character of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the official response to it. The reality of it isn’t even being concealed—it just isn’t being reported in the legacy media, and a large swath of the population is too stupefied and distracted to see what is right in front of them.

This originally appeared on Courageous Discourse.