Huxley Vs. Orwell: Infinite Distraction Or Government Oppression?

Huxley Versus Orwell Comic

The Huxley vs Orwell comic is originally from Recombinant Records: Amusing Ourselves to Death, adapted from Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman.

When I read this comic, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Brave New World:

“It’s curious,” he went on after a little pause, “to read what people in the time of Our Ford used to write about scientific progress. They seemed to have imagined that it could be allowed to go on indefinitely, regardless of everything else. Knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value; all the rest was secondary and subordinate. True, ideas were beginning to change even then. Our Ford himself did a great deal to shift the emphasis from truth and beauty to comfort and happiness. Mass production demanded the shift. Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning; truth and beauty can’t. And, of course, whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered. Still, in spite of everything, unrestricted scientific research was still permitted. People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were the sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years’ War. That made them change their tune all right. What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when the anthrax bombs are popping all around you? That was when science first began to be controlled–after the Nine Years’ War. People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We’ve gone on controlling ever since. It hasn’t been very good for truth, of course. But it’s been very good for happiness. One can’t have something for nothing. Happiness has got to be paid for. You’re paying for it, Mr. Watson–paying because you happen to be too much interested in beauty. I was too much interested in truth; I paid too.”


There was something called liberalism. Parliament, if you know what that was, passed a law against it. The records survive. Speeches about liberty of the subject. Liberty to be inefficient and miserable. Freedom to be a round peg in a square hole.


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  1. Brent Norris says:

    Did Huxley or Orwell ever read Emerson or Thoreau? Might have changed their perspectives.  

    Until we completely overcome the limits of nature, I’d maintain that Natural Law will prevail. 

  2. fighting the conditioning says:

    they are both accurate and correct . . . . . the two theories actually work together…..

  3. Caterpillarcatcher says:

    Brilliant blog that illustrates that they were both right. They are just different apparatus with the same outcome.

  4. […] Nineteen Eighty-Four vs. Brave New World […]

  5. […] Thanked 173 Times in 152 Posts Huxley Vs. Orwell: Infinite Distraction Or Government Oppression? | Prose Before Hos liberal lies:…ml#post1865718 Dumb liberal quotes: […]

  6. Jim Bert says:

    Actually Brave New Word, does ban “old books” considering them as “pornography”…for more explanation re-read the dialogue between John “The Savage” and Mustafa Fond.

  7. Tahitiancookie says:

    I love the comic and enjoy reading the comments below. A lot of the stuff I see is about how society ‘today’ is a mix of how both pain and pleasure are producing the same imprisonment for us; but only today? Hasn’t it been this way for…ever? As humans, we hate pain and love pleasure. It is natural for us to feel this way as it reaches into the extent of our emotions; and yet, we agree that we can both be imprisoned and controlled by both pain and pleasure. Ergo, this has to have been happening for a long time. Right?

  8. […] the question, in my mind.  Ironically, it’s a comic, but a fabulous one not to be missed:  Huxley vs. Orwell:  Infinite Distraction or Government Oppression?  – Amusing Ourselves to Death by Stuart […]

  9. […] about: Hipster Racism article  Demolition Man Wikipedia 35 year old taking SAT — Deadspin Aldous Huxley v George Orwell  […]

  10. […] un tiempo me encontré con esta página:… y me dio que pensar. Para un fan de todo lo que puede englobarse en el término ciencia-ficción, […]

  11. […] can actually be wrested from the hands of our corporate masters. Our society exists somewhere between the dystopian views of Orwell and Huxley; the corporate-owned surveillance state continues its attempt to peer into & control every […]

  12. I am in accordance with several of those who commented here. Both authors were accurate, neither wrong. The methods of oppression are utilized according to situation and circumstance, where one may not work in a particular instance, the other will.

  13. […] we have both the Orwellian world and Huxley’s too much information […]

  14. Dfoavvoog says:

    Both are relevant, applicable, etc. They are not opposing ideas.

  15. […] Huxley Vs. Orwell: Infinite Distraction Or Government Oppression? | Prose Before Hos A poignant comic on the different dystopian worlds envisioned by George Orwell and Aldus Huxley. […]

  16. clueless says:

    THIS IS SOOOOOO FREAKING CONFUSING AND HARDDD. Im trying to write an essay stating whether I support or refute Neil Postman’s claim in “Amusing Ourselves to Death” that it wasn’t Orwell’s world of “1984” that Americans needed to fear nut the dystopia of Huxley’s “Brave New World” which was more of a predictor of the state of modern discourse. And I have no clue what to even write. HEPL

  17. 1984 says:

    I don’t pick sides. They are both as chillingly accurate as each other.

  18. Indecisive H says:

    I ask myself, apt comparison or false dichotomy?

    Go outside, have a drink with your neighbor or take or road trip. You will learn more about people that way, than you maybe able to extract from old utopian/dystopian novels.

  19. Thought Criminal says:

    The irony of both Orwell and Huxley, is that whilst they wrote their dystopian, sci-fi novels as warnings, they have ultimately served to inspire future powers to make their predications a reality.

  20. […] Cool comic strip juxtaposition of Orwell vs. Huxley […]

  21. Duygu Elci says:

    How about Yevgeni Zamyatin’s ‘Us’?

  22. Tammo Fouad says:

    I do believe that you missed a key point on the 1984 side, that society is at peace with the oppression. That they love it and need it. Yes pain is inflected to those who disagree, and the truth was hidden, however, the mass wanted to keep it that way.

  23. Edohiguma says:

    They work hand in hand. On one hand you want to distract the populace with trivial crap. Justin Bieber farted! Kim Kardashian’s butt doubled in size and is about to be considered as a new planet in the solar system!

    And while people are distracted you can go Orwell on them.

    Hitler would have a field day with today’s tech. It makes manipulation so much easier.

  24. winston smith says:

    I think it really where we live in the world. Richer nations are more like Huxley. Poorer are more like 1984

    • Kati says:

      Indeed. My thoughts exactly. I think there’s a little Generation P mixed in, too.
      It’s interesting to look around and see stories like this all working together like that.

      • winston smith says:

        I have never heard of Generation P. I will have to look it up.

        • Kati says:

          The book is in Russian, but the movie they made of it’s worth checking out, yeah. What stood out to me, and what I’m applying to this article, is just the effect that advertising is shown to have on citizens in the story (as well as the overwhelming presence/influence it has on the lives of those working within the advertising industry, itself, too). I hope you find it as interesting as I did 🙂

  25. Drogo Empedocles says:

    I am surprised no one has mentioned “Ape and Essence”; a book in which Huxley compares his own book, Brave New World with Orwell’s 1984; and argues why control through reward is more sustainable than control through fear.

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