21 October, 1949
Dear Mr. Orwell,
It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of
your book. It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that
reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it
necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before
to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell
you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is.
speak instead of the thing with which the book deals the ultimate
revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution —
revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at
total subversion of the individual's psychology and physiology — are to
found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator,
the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling
minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to
its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in
fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems
doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less
wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and
these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World. I
occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and
hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a
fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognizance of the
discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile, and the rest.
Partly because of the prevailing materialism and partly because of
prevailing respectability, nineteenth-century philosophers and men of
not willing to investigate the odder facts of psychology for practical
men, such as politicians, soldiers and policemen, to apply in the field
government. Thanks to the voluntary ignorance of our fathers, the advent
of the ultimate revolution was delayed for five or six generations.
lucky accident was Freud's inability to hypnotize successfully and his
consequent disparagement of hypnotism. This delayed the general
hypnotism to psychiatry for at least forty years. But now
psycho-analysis is being combined with hypnosis; and hypnosis has been
made easy and
indefinitely extensible through the use of barbiturates, which induce a
hypnoid and suggestible state in even the most recalcitrant subjects.
Within the next generation
I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant
conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as
instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for
power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into
their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other
words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to
modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that
which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as
result of a felt need for increased efficiency. Meanwhile, of course,
there may be a large scale biological and atomic war — in which case we
have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds.
Thank you once again for the book.
In: Science and Technology
Tags: Orwell, Huxley, scifi, sci-fi.ww3, shtf, war, future, science fiction.science
Location: England, United Kingdom (UK/GB) (load item map)
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