Aldous Huxley was a great writer and novelist. And more than that – he was an essayist as well and maybe one of the best trend forecasters in history. At least he was the best trend-forecaster of the 20th century, I think.
I’ve read a lot of his novels like Island or Eyeless in Gaza. And off course, like everyone of my age I had to read Brave New World at school. All his books are great. Wonderful stories, some more utopian, some less, some more critical, others more poetic, but each of them has been written by its own purpose. And each of them is immersed with realities about people and society. Till now I thought Aldous Huxley was great… … and now I think Huxley was brilliant. I just finished the essay Brave New World Revisited. And this is an unbelievable truth. What Huxley wrote down in 1958 seems to be written between 2008 and 2010. It’s about Over-Population, it’s about Quantity, Quality and Morality, about Over-Organization, about Rational and Unrational Propaganda, about The Arts of Selling and about Education for Freedom – What Can be Done? All of them up-to-date trending topics, I suppose.
In 1958 Huxley was aware of his forecasting talents, sure in content, but the reality of the future society was coming true much sooner than he thought it would. In 1958 a Brave New World was already around the corner. I think he had a point. While very sensitive and seeing some serious topics about the future, the future is already around the corner. That’s the main role of trend forecasters in society. Read Huxley’s awareness of the speed of the developments, speed of change…
‘….in the West, it is true, individual men and women still enjoy a large measure of freedom. But even in those countries that have a tradition of democratic government, this freedom and even the desire for this freedom seem to be on the wane. In the rest of the world freedom for individuals has already gone, or is manifestly about to go. The nightmare of total organization, which I had situated in the seventh century After Ford, has emerged from the safe, remote future and is now awaiting us, just around the next corner.’
And I think he was right in 1931 and in 1958, off course the measure of freedom in the West was on the wane (watch Mad Man) and now in 2010 it’s for sure. We entered the seventh century after Ford already. We are not free at all. For instance soaring mortgages and other material commitments we’d made in the past made us slaves of the systems, if you like it or not.
Maybe now in this period of crisis and big changes in organisations and economy we’ll pass through an end of an era. The era started before 1931 (when Huxley wrote his novel Brave New World), not changed in the years between (George Orwell wrote 1984 in 1948 and Huxley wrote Brave New World Revisited in 1958) and left its climax behind us in the nineties of the twentieth century, the ultra-individualistic nineties. There’s a strong feeling we are looking for other, more serious things in life now. And off course with the help of technology and the rise of the word wide net there’s more chaos and therefore more freedom.
I’m an optimist and believe (or wish…) our children shall write other utopian essays for the future. At least I expect less dystopian stories. Maybe thanks to the insights of Huxley we are aware of our slavery now and don’t accept it in future anymore. And that’s a second role of the trend forecast business. Keep your eyes wide open and let’s shape our newborn future…!
(Read the full essay on http://www.huxley.net/bnw-revisited/index.html )