Excerpt from Brave New World: Revisited (1958), Chapter 4

I cannot exhaust the various sectors of our society these words apply. Huxley was prescient in his outlook.

“There are two kinds of propaganda — rational propa­ganda in favor of action that is consonant with the enlightened self-interest of those who make it and those to whom it is addressed, and non-rational propa­ganda that is not consonant with anybody’s enlight­ened self-interest, but is dictated by, and appeals to, passion. Where the actions of individuals are con­cerned there are motives more exalted than enlight­ened self-interest, but where collective action has to be taken in the fields of politics and economics, enlight­ened self-interest is probably the highest of effective motives. If politicians and their constituents always acted to promote their own or their country’s long-range self-interest, this world would be an earthly paradise. As it is, they often act against their own inter­ests, merely to gratify their least creditable passions; the world, in consequence, is a place of misery. Propa­ganda in favor of action that is consonant with en­lightened self-interest appeals to reason by means of logical arguments based upon the best available evi­dence fully and honestly set forth. Propaganda in fa­vor of action dictated by the impulses that are below self-interest offers false, garbled or incomplete evi­dence, avoids logical argument and seeks to influence its victims by the mere repetition of catchwords, by the furious denunciation of foreign or domestic scape­goats, and by cunningly associating the lowest pas­sions with the highest ideals, so that atrocities come to be perpetrated in the name of God and the most cyni­cal kind of Realpolitik is treated as a matter of reli­gious principle and patriotic duty.”

“In regard to propaganda the early advocates of uni­versal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or it might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democra­cies — the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”

“Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by demo­cratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but some­where else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those who would manipulate and control it.”

“In their propaganda today’s dictators rely for the most part on repetition, suppression and rationaliza­tion — the repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as true, the suppression of facts which they wish to be ignored, the arousal and rationaliza­tion of passions which may be used in the interests of the Party or the State. As the art and science of manip­ulation come to be better understood, the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to combine these tech­niques with the non-stop distractions which, in the West, are now threatening to drown in a sea of irrele­vance the rational propaganda essential to the mainten­ance of individual liberty and the survival of demo­cratic institutions.”