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IPFS News Link • Political Theory

What Orwell and Huxley Got Wrong and Kafka Got Right

•,By Charles Hugh Smith

For self-evident reasons, the fictional visions of Orwell and Huxley resonate as maps to the present distemper. Orwell's account of full-spectrum technological totalitarianism maps Big Tech's mastery of Surveillance Capitalism and governments' full-spectrum surveillance powering the fine-grained coercion of social credit scores and related tools.

Huxley's vision of a doped-up, med-dependent populace that loves its servitude also maps the present. Indeed, not only do we love our servitude, which manifests in our endless addictions and dependencies on everything from debt to junk food to painkillers, our servitude has been so normalized that we don't even recognize the servitude that underpins "normal life."

What Orwell and Huxley got wrong is the limits of these nightmarishly effective systems of control. Full-spectrum technological totalitarianism can certainly enforce compliance with the desired behaviors and expressions of consent, but it can't force individuals to have ambition or creativity, to marry for love and children, or possess values or beliefs beyond the superficial lip-syncing of compliance.

The coercive structures of the Surveillance State and Surveillance Capitalism are intrinsically inauthentic, ersatz, hollow, demanding an entirely artificial and easily faked appearance of consent that mimics devotion to the principles and narratives being shoved down the throats of the populace.

These structures enforce what isn't allowed and superficial compliance, but they can't force what actually makes a society functional: the convictions, hopes and values that inspire individuals to marry, raise a family and pursue self-expression via achievement. What actually happens in societies controlled by the Surveillance State and Surveillance Capitalism is decay and decline, as young people abandon ambition, marriage and raising children by lying flat and letting it rot, expressions of young people in China that speak to youth everywhere where compliance is more important than individual liberty.