[ExI] 1984 and Brave New World

John Clark jonkc at bellsouth.net
Wed Jan 27 17:30:57 UTC 2010

On Jan 27, 2010, at 5:55 AM, Stefano Vaj wrote:

> The alternative is probably to part altogether with the idea of
> "safety and happiness for the largest number" as exclusive societal
> goals and takes one's risk with progress and change, isn't it?

Well sure, but how likely is it that we will choose the path of progress especially when we can receive the pride of making great progress while sitting on our ass and without progressing one inch. If you think this is a debasement of the human spirit then all you need to do is change your mind, and I do mean CHANGE YOUR MIND. Now you think the idea is downright noble. 

> What is especially curious, and indeed quite sadistic, in the 1984
> ideology is that in that context suffering is the only conceivable
> parameter of the party's influence, since, as O'Brien says "if
> something is pleasurable, one might be doing it simply out of its own
> interest/will" (quoting by heart). In fact, *real* influence is rather
> measured on one's ability to determine what one considers pleasurable
> or at least desirable.

In Brave New World only happiness was important and nothing else, in 1984 only power was important ant nothing else; if you accept that as an axiom and add the further one that power is the power over minds and nothing else then what the inner party did in 1984 was quite logical.

> a Brave New World require that change, conflicts, progress, etc. be frozen and disposed of.

A Brave New World would be totally static, if you looked at it in 10,000 years things would be almost identical to what they are now. 1984 is not static, it is devolving; once newspeak became the primary language the wretched inhabitants could hardly even be called human. 

Stathis Papaioannou wrote:

> But if we had complete control of our brains we could arrange it so
> that the happiness is coupled to some activity we consider
> intrinsically interesting

But if you want to make progress you can't get pleasure just by glancing at that interesting thing, you must accomplish something significant in it; but doing significant things in interesting fields is hard and rare, and that means you won't be at maximum happiness very often. But who among us wouldn't want to be a little happier? No matter how happy we are we could always be a little happier, and that happiness slide switch is very easy to get to and would only take a slight movement of my finger to move it just a little way to the right, and then a little more, and then a little more, and then....

> We could also arrange it so that we are not tempted to pervert this mechanism.

Well sure we could, but would we? I really don't know the answer to that.

 John K Clark 

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