On Orwell, Huxley and Anonymous

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Anonymous, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. Anonymous Member

    The following image offers a very powerful insight into the present state of civilization. The author is clearly attempting to make the case that Huxley was 'more correct' than Orwell in terms of prediction. I would like to offer an alternative thesis - but first, the image:

    I don't think Orwell was wrong; I think Orwell was warning us about one possible outcome. There are many nations on this planet that have fallen into the hell Orwell described. Huxley, however, was wise enough to see the dangers of the 'next level up.'

    We live in that 'next level up', and - as Huxley claimed - it has proven to be unsustainable. We are now in a period of instability and upheaval. The economy is in shambles, there is poverty all around, and less privileged outside groups are perceived (rightfully or not) as 'threatening' our society (through terrorism, illegal immigration, 'unfair' economic competition, etc).

    My thesis is this: We are presently in a Huxlian 'future' that is presently unraveling for the reasons he predicted. The way 'down' is into an Orwellian nightmare. The way 'up' is uncharted territory - and Anonymous is a pioneer into that territory. Mr. Postman's argument raises a number of fantastic points, but he clearly is not familiar with the cute cat theory, which challenges his assumption that a 'sea of irrelevance' must inherently undermine progress.

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  2. Anonymous Member


    I am not a Marxist, but this book is an interesting read. It's interesting to consider a lot of things that Anonymous does in terms of detournements.

    (from Wikipedia)
  3. Praevus Member

    This Huxlian distopia we live in reminds me of anciend rome during it's descent. they had a phrase that they used, "panem et circenses", litterally meaning "bread and circuses."
    They said that rome had become distracted, the people had given up their birthright of political involvement, the thing that made rome so great; and that the only two remaining cares of the roman people were "bread and circuses"
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  4. none given Member

    "bread and circuses."
    AKA cable and pizza.

    Of course this is true, Involvement in politics is the one pseudo academic pursuit the new nerdism could not resurrect.

    Anthropologists long ago noted that civilizations in their ascendancy paint/sculpt mature, often pregnant female (oedipal) figures while those in their decline create younger, waiflike Electra images.
    Lolicon anyone?

    See you at the bottom.
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  5. Robert S Member

    the appearance of freedom is the means of control.
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  6. Nishleeya Member

    Yevgeny Ivanovich Zamyatin (February 20, 1884 – March 10, 1937) was a Russian author, most famous for his 1921 novel We, a story of dystopian future which influenced George Orwell's 1984 , Huxley's Brave New World and, indirectly, Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano. I don't know if it is translated in English, but I strongly recommend it.
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  7. Anonymous Member

    Orwell huxley and this infographic by mc millen are very mainstream and widely accepted material. While i agree with either and with mc millen. To get a better understanding of what I think we are living today i recommend reading the future shock and third wave series by alvin toffler.
  8. Nishleeya Member

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  9. none given Member

    Anyone who references Vonnegut gets a like outta me.
    Also, I desperately need to rap with someone about the connection between "Slapstick"
    and internet collectives.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. veravendetter Member

    lurking for the goldrush
  11. anon8109 Member

    There is a tragedy of the commons effect that applies to democracies. Political activity such as voting and other forms of political participation have a cost. It takes time and effort and money to be aware of political issues, such as what each candidate in an election proposes, or what limits a current government is placing on freedom of speech. It takes even more effort to work at changing the status quo. It is much cheaper to let others do this work for you while sitting back and reaping the benefits, which is one reason why so many people don't even bother voting much less actively participating in political debate.

    The solution to the tragedy of the commons is to create laws and impose penalties on those who abuse the resource. Similarly, there should be penalties imposed on people who do not carry their fair share of the democratic burden. Australia (I think) has a law making it illegal not to vote, for example.
  12. Herro Member

    What would you consider to be an "abuse" of "democratic resources?"
  13. What if you don't like any of the options on the ballot? What if you don't have an opinion?
  14. Anonymous Member

    This is an upgrade in the threads I have seen come up. Thanks for some cool.
  15. Unanimouse Member

    Furthermore, what if you're opinion is uneducated?
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  16. RonDoe Member

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  17. Herro Member

    Quoting this before he gets a chance to realize his hilariously ironic mistake and fix it.
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  18. Anonymous Member

    Quoting this before he gets a chance to realize his hilariously ironic mistakes and fixes it.
    • Like Like x 3
  19. It was translated into English at least once and is available in translated form on Kindle. It is one of my all-time favorite books. I can't wait to learn Russian so I can appreciate it in its native tongue. I found it had a greater amount of humanity than the later works by Orwell, Huxley, Vonnegut, and Rand (Anthem). I bet it would make an excellent screenplay.

    Edit: The Natasha Randall translation is also available on Google eBookstore for $9.99 for those who don't want to catch Amazon cooties.
  20. anon8109 Member

    I tried to be brief, but ended up being cryptic I suppose.

    The "democratic resource" is the benefit shared by the members of a democracy resulting from a new law. Let's take the simple example of a law that allows a new park to be built on public land. The benefit is enjoying the park which is open to all, whether they participated in bringing it about or not.

    Before the law is passed, a great amount of altruistic work must be done by members of the democracy, starting from figuring out which representative to elect who will vote for (or against if you don't want higher taxes say) the new park. But there is also the work of gathering information, finding an acceptable solution, and sharing information. Representatives like to have public input, and they are usually required to consult the public by law as well.

    Gathering information can be as passive as watching an ad on TV for or against the new park, or can involve quite a bit of time effort and cost such as independently researching the impact of the park.

    Finding an acceptable solution can be difficult and involves taking into account many conflicting opinions and coming up with proposals that satisfy people that have opposing views on whether the park is too costly, where the park should be, it's boundaries, the price of maintenance, etc.

    Sharing information can be quite expensive and time-consuming. Once data has been collected about the costs and benefits of the park, and you have come up with a proposal (or part of one), there still remains the problem of convincing others that your solution is good. This includes writing to the representative and getting others to write to the representative, which can mean placing ads, door-to-door activism, organizing public debates, etc.

    All this work is unpaid. The people who put in the work and money do not get to enjoy the park any more than those who sat back and let others do the work.
    So here lies the tragedy: from an individual's standpoint it is more rational to let others do the work while you collect the same reward as they do. But of course if everyone acted in their selfish interest, nobody would do any work, and the park would never get built.

    The example of a park is a simplistic one. Often laws involve complex tradeoffs and clashing political ideologies. Consider public healthcare for example.
    • Like Like x 2
  21. anon8109 Member

    Legally obliging people to vote poses its own problems as you point out. I agree that the problem is not an easy one to solve.
    How can you oblige people to carry their fair share of the political effort? I don't know, but the least they can do is to vote.

    In some places there is a way to officially vote for "none of the above" by declaring a protest (I think Canada lets you do that).
    If you don't have an opinion or feel that your opinion is not educated enough, you can spoil your ballot on purpose.

    Not ideal solutions, but I don't know what is. The tragedy of the commons is a difficult problem to solve.
  22. adhocrat Member

    Uh, you have heard of Adam Smith?

    Same goes for everything from medical care to parks. It is the self interest of people that make it happen. Not government.Not altruism.

    One more quote from Adam:

  23. Anonymous Member

    Quoting this before he gets a chance to realize his hilariously ironic mistake and fixes it
    • Like Like x 1
  24. anon8109 Member

    Adam Smith was wrong because game theory had not been discovered yet, and so he did not know about it.
    To answer your objection, please tell me in whose selfish interest is it to work towards the creation of the park?

    Let's assign numbers to the costs and benefits. Let's say it costs $9000 to get the law for the park passed. Also let's say
    each person can choose to spend $10 (of their labor) or not to. Also let's say each person gets the equivalent of $100 of benefit from the use of the park.

    I work and 899 others work: my reward = 100 - 10 = 90
    I don't work and others work: reward = 100
    I don't work and others don't work: reward = 0
    I work and others don't work: reward = -10

    If I work there are two possible rewards, 90 or -10
    If I don't work the possible rewards are 100 or 0

    Whatever the others do, I get a greater reward by not working.
    So it is in my selfish interest not to work, assuring the outcome that everyone gets a reward of 0, where the optimal outcome
    would have been a reward of 90 if everyone ignored their selfish interest and shared the work instead.
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  25. anon8109 Member

    One way to solve this problem is to change the game by passing a law that imposes a punishment on those who do not work.

    The new law assigns a cost to not working, thus making it everyone's selfish interest to work towards the law that creates a park.

    Similarly, a law requiring everyone to vote may be beneficial for a democracy.
  26. adhocrat Member

    Cost of fixing the park: >$9000
    Having a park I can play in: priceless.

    Your assumptions are all monetary, but you have not considered the fact that the $9000 comes, in part, from my pocket, so is it in my interest to pay for something that I may have no interest in?

    The people work to fix up the park in order for them to have a place, or because spending other people's money makes them feel good.
  27. Anonymous Member

    And I forgot the period. How ironic!
  28. adhocrat Member

    Laws are ultimately enforced by a gun pointing at a head. So you seem to be saying that you would enforce your rules by a gun. Thanks, but no thanks. I don't want to be forced into doing something against my interests.
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  29. anon8109 Member

    The point of a law that solves the tragedy of the commons is not to actually inflict punishment, but to change the game so that co-operating towards the worthwhile goal (of building a park for example) now becomes rewarding and in each person's selfish interest.

    As for not wanting to be forced to participate, if everyone thought that way, there would be no democracy. Instead we would be ruled by a tyrant with guns pointing to our heads much more literally.
  30. adhocrat Member

    the tragedy of the commons as I was taught is that unowned goods becomes worthless from over exploitation. The point being that it is unowned. When a resource is owned, it is no longer subject to the tragedy. Problem solved, without force.

    And as far as doing good by force, well, sorry, I don't buy it. You are asserting a good not in evidence, namely a solution to the commons problem. But you are creating several other problems in your attempt to solve another problem. That is where voluntary cooperation between consenting free men and women is most needed, not force at the point of a gun, saying only one solution is good.

    The current health law says that in 2014 all adults must buy insurance or face fines. If that law stands (it's is being challenged) then the US no longer exists. Instead it will have been taken over by the statists.
    But I have a feeling neither of us is going to convince the other...
  31. mongrel Member

    Granted, I have not read "revisited" but Huxley made no claim even remotely near this in Brave New World. On the contrary, he showed that his dystopian world was bullet-proof, making it that much more intimidating.
  32. mongrel Member

    I gotta admit, that bit of ridiculous hyperbole just made me laugh. I didn't bother reading the rest of the post but I'm sure it's just as funny. Can you give us another? I need a good laugh.
  33. adhocrat Member

    polemic is always so much fun. But being forced to buy something is a bit of overreach.
  34. Anonymous Member

    The government being forced to provide emergency medical care for people who don't have insurance isn't fair either. Would you be happier if uninsured people involved in serious accidents were just left in the streets, if you weren't required to buy insurance? Or would you prefer that the government provided insurance and charged everyone a tax?
  35. anon8109 Member

    Property is ultimately enforced by a gun to your head, so making the commons private property does not solve the problem of eliminating force.

    Following your solution of the problem of the commons, I guess you think parks should all be private property and charge an admission fee?
    But the park was an analogy for a benefit of democracy. So taking the analogy further...

    Make government into a privately owned company and charge people for the use of it? Is that not the very definition of tyranny?
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  36. adhocrat Member

    let me ask, you 8109, are rights ours because the government grants them or because of our natural right?

    And, how does private property come about?
  37. anon8109 Member

    Rights are something people grant each other, and are protected by government. Rights need to be protected from people who would deny them to us for their own personal benefit. For example we grant each other the right to live and not be murdered. When a murder does occur, the government does its best to punish the perpetrator.

    Private property is a tricky concept. Many animals have the concept of property, since at the most basic level, property consists of the things necessary for survival, such as territory and food. Animals enforce property rights through force. People, being animals, also have an instinct to use force to protect the objects considered necessary for survival. This instinct then becomes abstracted and turned into the much much more complex legal notion of property which is a right protected by the government.
  38. Anonymous Member

    That definition of rights is inconsistent with the US Constitution which defines certain ïnalienable rights" that are not granted by others but are part of every person.
  39. Oh, you mean like mandatory automobile insurance laws, seatbelt laws, sales tax, income tax, speed limits, regulations prohibiting the amount of lead in goods, etc.? The law is being challenged by Republicans who have used polemic and straw man arguments to get people afraid of something that will save them money and be better for them. Furthermore, their challenges are spurious and will not survive challenge at the appellate or Supreme Court level. By the non-partisan CBO's reckoning, will save the government something on the order of $180 billion, compared to a cost of $230 billion should the GOP get its way and enact the repeal. Those are cold, hard, dispassionate numbers. Doing the right thing and making it cheaper and easier to do so will save money on the part of the taxpayer, the small business owner, and the government.

    The current federal court scorecard is 10-1-1 with 12 pending in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The one I scored a draw was U.S. Citizens Association v. Obama, which struck down three claims but is allowing the suit against the mandate go to trial. The one success by opponents of the law (Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius) was adjudicated by a Bush (43) appointee, Henry E. Hudson, who felt so strongly about his ruling that he did not grant any injunctions against any portion of the law. If he thought it had any chance of success on appeal, he would have granted the injunction. IANAL, but it's just common sense. Two of the dismissed cases are already being appealed by the plaintiffs, and of the two judges, one was a Clinton appointee, and the other a Bush (43) appointee: Baldwin v. Sebelius and New Jersey Physicians Inc. v. Obama, respectively.
  40. anon8109 Member

    I agree. The constitution's use of the word "inalienable" does not correspond to facts. Inalienable means that nobody can take it away. The sad fact is that my right to live is in fact not inalienable since I can be murdered. I depend on some people not murdering me because they wish to grant me the right to live, and other people who would deny me that right and murder me, say to get my possessions, being coerced by the government not to murder me under threat of heavy punishment.

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