Aldous Huxley predicted our current political climate?

in #life4 years ago (edited)

I was listening to an Aldous Huxley talk at UC Berkeley from 1962 and a few parts really stood out to me:

[Hitler] knew intuitively this pavlovian truth that conditioning installed in a state of stress or fatigue goes much deeper than conditioning installed at other times. This of course is why all his big speeches were organized at night. He speaks quite frankly, of course, in Mein Kampf, this is done solely because people are tired at night and therefore much less capable of resisting persuasion than they would be during the day.

Trump's rallies run at night and his constant droning unorganised way of speaking could definitely be described as hypnotic and then add to that all the chants he has his crowd perform on queue...

obviously we now have mechanisms for multiplying the demagogues voice and image in a quite hallucinatory way, I mean, the TV and radio, Hitler was making enormous use of the radio, he could speak to millions of people simultaneously. This alone creates an enormous gulf between the modern and the ancient demagogue. The ancient demagogue could only appeal to as many people as his voice could reach by yelling at his utmost, but the modern demagogue could touch literally millions at a time, and of course by the multiplication of his image he can produce this kind of hallucinatory effect which is of enormous hypnotic and suggestive importance.

And now we have social media, Trump can tweet something and have it read by millions instantly.

If there are 20% of the people who really can be suggested into believing almost anything, then we have to take extremely careful steps into prevent the rise of demagogues who will drive them on into extreme positions then organize them

I now worry that since giving this talk this 20% has risen to at least 30% of the population (i.e. Trump's "base") who are completely suggestible and who have been totally conditioned to follow Trump and everything he says.

I worry that Huxley undersold the danger we now find ourselves in.


transcript of talk


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