Jeffrey Wasserstrom has a lovely piece on China which examines a pleasure-driven versus fear-driven authoritarianism, embodied respectively by the distinction between Brave New World and 1984, and creatively summarized in this comic by Stuart McMillen. I’ve always been more familiar with and symapthetic to Orwell’s writing and creative vision than Huxley’s, so in thinking about authoritarianism this isn’t a distinction I have often thought to make. What Wasserstrom suggests is that there might be a scale of authoritarianism which runs between 1984 and Brave New World, in which North Korea marks the Orwellian extreme while Singapore marks the Huxley-esque one, and China falls somewhere between. It’s fun enough as food for thought–I find that “pleasure-driven authoritarianism” is an eerily appropriate way to describe Singapore–and it’s enough to make me want to revisit Huxley. And how better than in vintage audio form, read by the maestro himself?
while on the subject of authoritarianism, if you haven’t already seen this, you should!