This article first appeared in the National Book Review:
Andrew Postman has taken to The Guardian to remind us of his father Neil Postman's classic 1985 work, Amusing Ourselves to Death, which predicted a dark -- dare we say Trumpian -- future for America. He says many people have been contacting him since the election to ask what his father would think of the rise of Donald Trump -- and it's understandable.
Neil Postman's thesis was that there were two major dystopian British 20th century novels, George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and that Americans feared the wrong one. We should be worried, argued the elder Postman -- a New York University professor who died in 2003 -- not about Orwell's nightmare, of an information-censoring, movement-obstructing, individuality-crushing state, but rather Huxley's, which emphasized endless consumption and instant gratification.
Postman includes this classic excerpt from his father's book:
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.
Read the full essay here.