Aldous Huxley on Freedom, Propaganda, and the Future of Technology: A Rare and Prophetic 1958 Interview by Mike Wallace
“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
By Maria Popova
Aldous Huxley (July 26, 1894–November 22, 1963) — 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 half 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 Revisted (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.
Complement with Huxley on drugs, democracy, and religion, then revisit his little-known children’s book.
Published July 26, 2012