Huxley’s Amazingly Accurate Prophecies of American Politics
By Dr. Douglas Levesque
The headline is not The Art of the Deal , the bestselling biography and how-to book by our new entertainer President, Donald Trump. It is a chapter title of Aldous Huxley’s own commentary on his bestselling and iconic novel Brave New World. That is why it is pertinent today. The topic and title are uncanny, and a bit scary. Huxley’s Brave New World Revisited is not a novel, but a political warning twenty years after the dystopian thriller. Prophetically, it has to do with Donald Trump.
In the novel, a new technological Armageddon puts the whole world under a scientific dictatorship where a citizen’s every move is watched, their thoughts seemingly perceived, and even their emotions catalogued. Written between two world wars, it was a futuristic stab at what we might become if individual freedoms were curtailed. Huxley could not have seen the likeness to the new oligarchies of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and the like. In the commentary, written in the 1950’s, Huxley reflects on the realities being then experienced that the novel only foreshadowed. We were on our way to a brave new world indeed. The chapter title here mentioned is preceded by one titled, “Propaganda Under a Dictatorship” and followed by one entitled, “Brainwashing”. “The Arts of Selling” so strikingly reminds the current reader of Trumps best-seller. Considering his incredible rise to power It cannot be dismissed. Donald Trump became the most powerful man in the world in such a Huxleyan sort of way. Consider the following from this chapter:
“All that is now needed is money and a candidate who can be coached to look “sincere”. Under the new dispensation, political principles and plans for specific action have come to lose most of their importance. The personality of the candidate and the way he is projected by the advertising experts are the things that really matter.” Most modern politicians since Kennedy can be accused of marketing. Reagan, Clinton, and Obama all reflect this ideal, but Trump is the epitome of this thinking. In fact, it is this thinking that the Art of the Deal highlights and celebrates. Americans have just elected an international real estate mogul, a reality TV star, a shameless self promoter. Apparently, Huxley had us pegged. In Revisited, he calls us out. More from the chapter The Arts of Selling:
“In one way or another, as vigorous he-man or kindly father, the candidate must be glamorous. He must also be an entertainer who never bores his audience. Inured by television and radio, that audience is accustomed to being distracted and does not like to be asked to concentrate or make a prolonged intellectual effort. All speeches by the entertainer-candidate must therefore be short and snappy. The great issues of the day must be dealt with in five minutes at the most – and preferably (since the audience will be eager to pass on to something a little livelier than inflation or the H-bomb) in sixty seconds flat.”
Truly we have our entertainer candidate a la Twitter followers galore. Now that the election is over, the Twitter rants against political foes, and guffawing of accomplishments continues. Fake news is true on CNN, and true news is fake on FOX. On any given day, the President can be bombing Syria or smashing Arnold Schwarzenegger. Trump can dine with the Chinese Premier at Mar-a-lago, while sending Carriers to North Korea, or nominate a conservative Supreme Court judge while attack Tweeting the conservative Freedom caucus. The only enemy is the enemy of the arch personality.
And we watch. Powerless and so . . .entertained. We have been artfully sold a bouquet of lies. The deal of the century. A cult of personality. “You make me great, and I will make you great.”
“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” -2 Peter 2:3
Finally, Huxley warns: “From a pulpit or platform even the most conscientious of speakers finds it very difficult to tell the whole truth. The methods now being used to merchandise the political candidate as though he were a deodorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.”
If “at least he is not Hillary” or “Obama’s finally gone” is the best thing we have going for us then we have truly entered a brave new world. Voting for the lesser of two evils is still installing evil. We keep doing it and so the arts of selling are not being used for good but for evil. What is being sold and who is selling it needs to be an ongoing conversation in Trumps America.