brave new world revisited

Aldous Huxley wrote his famous work Brave New World in 1932, and then wrote an essay in 1965 revisiting his “fable”, as he likes to call it. The main premise of his essay, that overpopulation will necessarily lead to democratic demagogues, is a bit dated in my opinion, but in making some other observations, he was fantastically prescient.

Today’s example is a passage he wrote about the concentration of power in the hands of a few:

In a world of mass production and mass distribution the Little Man, with his inadequate stock of working capital, is at a grave disadvantage. In competition with the Big Man, he loses his money and finally his very existence as an independent producer; the Big Man has gobbled him up. As the Little Men disappear, more and more economic power comes to be wielded by fewer and fewer people. […] In a capitalist democracy, such as the United States, it is controlled by what Professor C. Wright Mills has called the Power Elite. This Power Elite directly employs several millions of the country’s working force in its factories, offices and stores, controls many millions more by lending them the money to buy its products, and, through its ownership of the media of mass communication, influences the thoughts, the feelings and the actions of virtually everybody. To parody the words of Winston Churchill, never have so many been manipulated so much by so few.

That was in 1965 folks. Things have only gotten worse since in terms of megaconglomerations and concentration of the media. It’s a problem you ought to be conscious of, and at least have in the back of your mind, along with world hunger, global warming, and people who drive slow in the left lane.

(what, you thought you would actually get answers from me? I only highlight the stupidity of the world without proposing real solutions.)