Brave New World Revisited
by ALDOUS HUXLEY - 1958
See alsoThe Original Introduction to Animal Farm
From the back cover: "When the novel Brave New World first appeared in 1932, its shocking analysis of a scientific dictatorship seemed a projection into the remote future. Today the science of thought control has raced far beyond the dreams of Hitler and Stalin. Methods for destroying individual freedom are being rapidly developed, and the pressures to adopt them are becoming increasingly powerful. Now, in one of the most important, fascinating, and frightening books of his career, Aldous Huxley scrutinizes these and other threats to humanity and demonstrates why we may find it virtually impossible to resist them.
"...this book is a challenge to complacency and a plea that mankind should educate itself for freedom before it is too late."
Chapter 5: Propaganda under a Dictatorship
What were the methods used by Hitler and Goebbels for “depriving eighty million people of independent thought and subjecting them to the will of one man”? And what was the theory of human nature upon which those terrifyingly successful methods were based? These questions can be answered, for the most part, in Hitler’s own words.... In his comments on crowds and propaganda he was writing of things he knew by firsthand experience....
As he himself said, “To be a leader means to be able to move the masses.” Hitler’s aim was first to move the masses and then, having pried them loose from their traditional loyalties and moralities, to impose upon them (with the hypnotized consent of the majority) a new authoritarian order of his own devising."[p.41]
Let us see what Hitler thought of the masses he moved and how he did the moving.... The first principle from which he started was a value judgment: ...Their behavior is determined, not by knowledge and reason, but by feelings and unconscious drives....To be successful a propagandist must learn how to manipulate these instincts and emotions.
“The driving force which has brought about the most tremendous revolutions on this earth has never been a body of scientific teaching which has gained power over the masses, but always a devotion which has inspired them, and often a kind of hysteria [passion] which has urged them into action. Whoever wishes to win over the masses must know the key that will open the door of their hearts.”[pp.41-42]
Hitler made his strongest appeal to those members of the lower middle classes who had been ruined by the inflation of 1923, and then ruined all over again by the depression of 1929 and the following years. “The masses” of whom he speaks were these bewildered, frustrated and chronically anxious millions. To make them more masslike, more homogeneously subhuman, he assembled them, by the thousands and the tens of thousands, in vast halls and arenas, where individuals could lose their personal identity, even their elementary humanity, and be merged with the crowd....
Groups are capable of being as moral and intelligent as the individuals who form them; a crowd is chaotic, has no purpose of its own and is capable of anything except intelligent action and realistic thinking. Assembled in a crowd, people lose their powers of reasoning and their capacity for moral choice. Their suggestibility is increased to the point where they cease to have any judgment or will of their own. They become very excitable, they lose all sense of individual or collective responsibility, they are subject to sudden excesses of rage, enthusiasm and panic. In a word, a man in a crowd behaves as though he had swallowed a large dose of some powerful intoxicant. He is a victim of what I have called “herd-poisoning.”...[p.42]
During his long career as an agitator, Hitler had studied the effects of herd-poison and had learned how to exploit them for his own purposes. He had discovered that the orator can appeal to those “hidden forces” which motivate men’s actions, much more effectively than can the writer. Reading is a private, not a collective activity. The writer speaks only to individuals, sitting by themselves in a state of normal sobriety. The orator speaks to masses of individuals, already well primed with herd-poison....
Twenty years before Madison Avenue embarked upon “Motivational Research,” Hitler was systematically exploring and exploiting the secret fears and hopes, the cravings, anxieties and frustrations of the German masses.
It is by manipulating “hidden forces” that the advertising experts induce us to buy their wares—a toothpaste, a brand of cigarettes, a political candidate. And it is by appealing to the same hidden forces... that Hitler induced the German masses to buy themselves a Fuehrer, an insane philosophy and the Second World War...[p.43]
“All effective propaganda,” Hitler wrote, “must be confined to a few bare necessities and then must be expressed in a few stereotyped formulas.” These stereotyped formulas must be constantly repeated, for “only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea upon the memory of a crowd.”...
Propaganda... teaches us to accept as self-evident matters about which it would be reasonable to suspend our judgment or to feel doubt. The aim of the demagogue is to create social coherence under his own leadership.[p.44]
Note: These excerpts from the out-of-print Brave New World Revisited are posted on various websites, apparently without any copyright requirement. This section came from our own copy, pictured above (New York: Harper&Row, 1958).
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