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Amusing Ourselves to Death

By Ralph Nader

What's your pleasure?

Watching Football?

Late night movies on cable?

A day at the beach?

The great thing about America is there are endless opportunities for amusement.

Hundreds of cable channels.

Amusement parks.

Shopping malls galore.

But are we amusing ourselves to death?

Amusing Ourselves to Death is the name of Neil Postman's 1985 classic that weighed in on the debate between Aldous Huxley and George Orwell.

Here's Postman:

"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, Huxley 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.


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Postman's book and one in a similar vein by Jerry Mander helped ween me off television back in the late 80s. Both are excellent resource works.

What's Nader doing posting things to this site ??? He's a big reason Bush got "elected" in 2000 and thus that 9/11 was used as an excuse to invade Iraq. Had Gore been in office there would have been no invasion, and, who knows, maybe even 9/11 would have been stopped by more attentive counter-terrorism efforts.

Nader's comments appear to have been submitted by a David Swanson, and I appreciate his thoughtfulness. There are who claim that 2000 was a rigged count, that voters were discouraged & even turned away and variety of other machiavellian chicanery all designed to steal the election. Or, in the words of some, to steal the government or even the country.
Seems a little like rank partisanship on behalf of the one other well entrenched organization to gainsay anyone else that would try to make a difference. If you feel that the election wasn't a very fair polling of the citizenry, so do I. If you were crestfallen at the outcome, so was I. I feel that we have witnessed 6 years of accellerated decline in our civilization, but not the onset of decline.
In 2000 I voted for a guy named Brown who was on our ballot. I figured Gore was practically in office. I never imagined how skewed the process itself would prove to be. I feel Gore was cheated - rhetorically and electorally - but not by the little guys. I didn't anticipate 9/11, and was appalled at reactions to it from nearly all corners. And every other development along the way.

Don't blame Nader for what Bush has done. From Ralph Nader's perspective, the difference between Bush and Gore was like Coke and Pepsi.

And who knows what Gore would have done, anyway, especially if the Pentagon really wanted us to go to war? Besides, Kerry certainly wasn't anti-war.

"If I knew then what I know now I would still have voted to give the President the authority to go to war."

Remember that?

At least it's nice to have Ralph back on the grass roots playing field and off the Presidential candidate stage.

Good Golly! Coming from a Progressive(??) or are you a voyeur from the other side?? Elections are fixed, have been fixed and WILL CONTINUE TO BE FIXED until WE do something to change that! "DON'T BLAME RALPH", is right!

"You can't HANDLE the truth" for that's ALL he speaks! Lighten up! He's on OUR side!!!

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