November 7, 2016
T minus one day: A good time to watch Aldous Huxley predict the future in 1958
by Melville House
You write in Enemies of Freedom specifically about the United States. You say this, writing about American political campaigns: “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.”
During the last campaign, there was a great deal of this kind of statement by the advertising managers of the campaign parties. This idea that the candidates had to be merchandised as though they were soap and toothpaste and that you had to depend entirely on the personality.
I mean, personality is important, but there are certainly people with an extremely amiable personality, particularly on TV, who might not necessarily be very good in political… positions of political trust.
That is pacificist novelist, psychedelics enthusiast, and band name whiz Aldous Huxley, speaking with Mike Wallace in May of 1958. That makes the election in question 1956’s second face-off between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. Here’s some of the messaging that would’ve been immediately in-frame for Huxley and Wallace’s audience:
Or if you have a few minutes:
Throughout the interview, Huxley—whose writing in novels like Brave New World and Point Counter Point asks questions about fascism and democracy, individual action and mass effect—sounds like he’s been seeing 2016 in his nightmares.
Watch it here:
“The rather alarming picture that you’re being persuaded below the level of choice and reason” is the perfect tag-line for contemporary America.