Aldous Huxley—author of the classic Brave New World, little-known children's book wordsmith, staple of Carl Sagan's reading list—would have been 118 today. To celebrate his mind and his legacy, here is a rare 1958 conversation with Mike Wallace—the same masterful interviewer who also offered rare glimpses into the minds of Salvador Dalí and Ayn Rand—in which Huxley predicts the "fictional world of horror" depicted in Brave New World is just around the corner for humanity. He explains how overpopulation is among the greatest threats to our freedom, admonishes against the effects of advertising on children, and, more than a century before Occupy Wall Street, outlines how global economic destabilization will incite widespread social unrest.
It's extremely important, here and now, to start thinking about these problems—not to let ourselves be taken by surprise by the new advances of technology.
We can foresee, and we can do a great deal to forestall. After all, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Wallace reads a passage on American political campaigns from Huxley's Brave New World (originally written under the title Enemies of Freedom) that rings with remarkable, and remarkably unsettling, timeliness:
All that is needed is money and a candidate who can be coached to look sincere; political principles and plans for specific action have come to lose most of their importance. The personality of the candidate, the way he is projected by the advertising experts, are the things that really matter.
This post also appears on Brain Pickings, an Atlantic partner site.
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