Vaccine against totalitarian dystopia
In the last century, two novels that depicted a future totalitarian state appeared: Brave New World, in 1932, by Aldous Huxley, and 1984, in 1949, by George Orwell.
Brave New World portrays a world in which citizens are controlled through pleasure. Citizens are allowed to watch all the sexually explicit movies they want and encouraged to engage in promiscuous sexual relations. But they are not allowed to have children. Neither marriage nor families exist. Children are conceived in state hatcheries, and then raised and indoctrinated by the state. There is constant entertainment. Books about God are considered disruptive of material happiness, and banned. To alleviate dissatisfaction and anger, citizens receive an endless supply of soma, a drug that produces feelings of well-being and contentment.
1984, on the other hand, portrays a surveillance state that rules by controlling education, by rewriting history, by verbal engineering (Newspeak), by inciting mass hatred of certain individuals or groups (and thereby unifying the population behind the government), and above all, through fear: torturing dissidents.
Now, many decades later, we can see in what ways these books were predictive. Some of what was predicted in Brave New World has come to pass. Viewing pornography is now portrayed as “freedom” instead of a soul-corroding addiction that harms society. Promiscuity is encouraged through “sex education” programs. There is constant entertainment: video games, movies, spectator sports, TV, and online videos, leaving little time for solitude, prayer, dances, group games, or community singing. Mind-altering drugs that were justly illegal are now legal, due to their supposedly “medically beneficial” effects. Discussion of God is virtually verboten in public schools. Government programs ostensibly designed to help promote self-reliance instead can create an addictive and dehumanizing dependency, enslaving recipients on what Star Parker, a former welfare recipient, calls “Uncle Sam’s Plantation.”
Some of what was predicted in 1984 has also come to pass. Education has been politicized. American history has been rewritten so that the Founding Fathers are no longer honored as heroes for creating a Constitution and Bill of Rights that protects our inalienable rights, but disparaged as hypocritical slave owners. Deceptive euphemisms, such as “reproductive healthcare,” instead of abortion, “adult content,” instead of pornography, and “death with dignity,” instead of assisted suicide, are common. Mass hatred is directed against “anti-choice” prolife groups, “judgmental” Christians, “homophobes” who insist that sexual acts between those of the same sex are intrinsically immoral, and most recently the police, who are portrayed as collectively racist.
Upon receiving a copy of 1984 from Orwell, Huxley wrote to Orwell: “The lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.” This was surely a great insight of Huxley--- that pleasure could be used as an instrument of enslavement--- and more effective, because of the illusion that in choosing it, one was exercising one’s freedom.
As we find our country moving ever deeper into the future predicted by Orwell and Huxley, what is the solution? Oddly, Huxley, who was not a Christian, and who died in 1963 after taking LSD, pointed to the answer in his novel. There, the Controller, or dictator, shows the protagonist, John, his stash of “pornography”--- books that have been banned. The first three books he brings to John’s attention are the Bible, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, and a book of sermons by Cardinal John Newman, from which he reads: “We did not make ourselves; we cannot be supreme over ourselves. We are God’s property.” The Truth contained in books such as these is the nemesis of totalitarianism. The vaccine against a totalitarian dystopia is the imitation of Christ.
Our nation’s founding document, The Declaration of Independence, says “we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights…” Therefore, it follows, that the result of a loss of belief in God will be a loss of belief in God-given rights, and then, the loss of those rights. Our patriotic duty as Catholics, as Christians, is to preserve everyone’s freedom by preserving our nation’s faith in God.
God bless America!