Monday, October 13, 2008

50 Years On . . .

From an interview of Aldous Huxley by Mike Wallace on May 18th, 1958:

HUXLEY: Well, there are certainly devices which can be used [to diminish our freedoms]. I mean, let us er… take after all, a piece of very recent and very painful history is the propaganda used by Hitler, which was incredibly effective.

I mean, what were Hitler’s methods? Hitler used terror on the one kind, brute force on the one hand, but he also used a very efficient form of propaganda, which er… he was using every modern device at that time. He didn’t have TV., but he had the radio which he used to the fullest extent, and was able to impose his will on an immense mass of people. I mean, the Germans were a highly educated people.

WALLACE: Well, we’re aware of all this, but how do we equate Hitler’s use of propaganda with the way that propaganda, if you will, is used let us say here in the United States. Are you suggesting that there is a parallel?

HUXLEY: Needless to say it is not being used this way now, but, er… the point is, it seems to me, that there are methods at present available, methods superior in some respects to Hitler’s method, which could be used in a bad situation. I mean, what I feel very strongly is that we mustn’t be caught by surprise by our own advancing technology.

This has happened again and again in history with technology’s advance and this changes social condition, and suddenly people have found themselves in a situation which they didn’t foresee and doing all sorts of things they really didn’t want to do.

WALLACE: And well, what… what do you mean? Do you mean that we develop our television but we don’t know how to use it correctly, is that the point that you’re making?

HUXLEY: Well, at the present the television, I think, is being used quite harmlessly; it’s being used, I think, I would feel, it’s being used too much to distract everybody all the time. But, I mean, imagine which must be the situation in all communist countries where the television, where it exists, is always saying the same things the whole time; it’s always driving along.
It’s not creating a wide front of distraction it’s creating a one-pointed, er… drumming in of a single idea, all the time. It’s obviously an immensely powerful instrument.

WALLACE: Uh-huh. So you’re talking about the potential misuse of the instrument.

HUXLEY: Exactly.

* * *

I wonder, how many of us ever take the time to stop and think about what we & our children are watching on TV? And too, how many of us have ever deeply considered how what we watch may be - over time - permanently influencing what & how we think in the first place?

Maybe an even better question is, do we even have the ability to ask ourselves those questions anymore?

Watch the interview or read the entire transcript at: Wallace/Huxley Interview

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