The passage compares the radically different worlds depicted by Orwell in his “1984” and by Aldous Huxley in his “Brave New World.” Both novels show an Earth whose inhabitants have been rendered helpless and brainwashed, and are considered the quintessential dystopian novels. The term Big Brother, after all, was coined by Orwell for his novel. Yet they depict a radically different approach to enslave humankind.
I’ll leave you to the word of Postman and to the wonderful, if not a little spine-chilling, imagery of McMillen.
What Orwell feared where those who would ban books.
What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one would want to read one.
Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information.
Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would reduced to passivity and egotism.
Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us.
Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
Orwell feared we would become a captive culture.
Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.
As Huxley remarked in “Brave New World Revisited”, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “Failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”
In “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, people are controlled by inflicting pain.
In “Brave New World”, people are controlled by inflicting pleasure.
In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us.
Huxley feared that that what we love will ruin us.
It is worth noting that Huxley, 26 years after publishing his novel and with World War II having happened in between, wrote an essay entitled “Brave New World Revisited”, in which he analyzes how correct he was in his prior assumptions.
Both novels, and possibly also Huxley’s and Postman’s essays mentioned above, should be — in my humble opinion — read by anybody who has any interest in the future of humanity, even though it might mean having to deal with uncomfortable truths.