You are herecontent / Amusing Ourselves to Death
Amusing Ourselves to Death
By Ralph Nader
What's your pleasure?
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.
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.
"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.