David Westerfield

Theology. Culture. Technology.

Tag: Aldous Huxley

The Gamification of Consent


In what is one of the more frightening uses of cloud computing, big data, data science, and data analysis, China has been working on what can only be described as the gamification of consent (a twist on the title of Edward Bernay’s book The Engineering of Consent). Via a new social media scoring system that rates your submission to the party line (though currently only running in numerous pilotprojects), the communist government will give incentive rewards for “appropriate” behavior in the light thereof, and take those rewards away for a dissenting score. This has huge implications as it relates to the study of mass psychology and the use by governments of tools like this to manipulate and coerce their populations into submission.

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Albert Mohler – Brave New World of Cloning

“I was convinced that there was still plenty of time.” With those words the author Aldous Huxley looked back to 1931, and the publication of his famous novel Brave New World. Huxley’s vision of an oppressive culture of total authoritarian control and social engineering was among the most shocking literary events of the twentieth century. But just 27 years after the publication of Brave New World, Huxley was already aware of his underestimation of the threat represented by modern technocratic society.

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Aldous Huxley on Propaganda in Democratic Societies

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.”

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Huxley’s Assessment Proving to be Correct More Everyday

If Aldous Huxley were still alive, I can’t help but think that he would say, “Told you so,” except with a longer, deeper explanation of how his vision of the future was coming to pass in ways he predicted and ways he couldn’t have foreseen … all in his quaint, British accent of course. The methods cited above, being employed by this administration to “educate” the public in this new postmodern version of collectivism, are striking, and in light of Huxley’s assessment kind of chilling and ominous concerning the precedent being set for the future.

We’re certainly not to the final end-point Huxley describes as the Final Revolution, but good grief. Some of the things being employed by this administration are some of the exact methods described by Huxley that are now being employed on a large scale, just as he warned. They are intertwining government messages to service (as they have described this themselves here and here) with television shows! It may be this is purely benign at the moment, though it is clear they want to funnel you to government sponsored websites. What if such a method continues 10, 20 years down the road? What will that look like by then?

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Mike Wallace Interviews Aldous Huxley

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Huxley Versus Orwell’s Vision of the Future

“What Orwell feared were 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 who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that 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 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.”

Excerpt from the book Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman.

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