In his essay “Propaganda in a Democratic Society,” Aldous Huxley observes, “In the field of mass communications . . . technological progress has hurt the Little Man and helped the Big Man” (266). Emphasizing “man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions” (267), Huxley warns, “As the art and science of manipulation come to be better understood, the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to [use] the non-stop distractions which . . . are now threatening to drown in a sea of irrelevance the rational propaganda1essential to the maintenance of individual liberty and the arrival of democratic institutions” (268).
The publications by Mosley, Mantsios, and Chomsky are examples of such “rational propaganda.” Their propaganda is not banned, but rather obscured and marginalized. Meanwhile, our fast attachment to technological amusements is a perfect illustration of “the non-stop distractions” that leave us neither taste nor time for rational thought beyond immediate needs.
Consider the impact of technology-based diversions on us and write an essay in which you would explain that these distractions “are deliberately used as instruments of policy, for the purpose of preventing people from paying too much attention to the realities of the social and political situation” (Huxley 267, emphases added) and focus your thesis on Huxleyan vision of mass manipulation through the media of mass communications.
As you develop your thesis, support your reasoning with ample evidence from Huxley’s writings, other assigned readings, and your experience with electronic entertainment. Format your typescript and cite your sources in MLA style (assigned length: 1, 200 words).
“Propaganda in a Democratic Society,” by Huxley (Chapter IV of Brave New World Revisited). “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” by Neil Postman.
“The Age of Distraction,” by Michael Bugeja.
“The Binge Breaker,” by Bianca Bosker.
“The Technological Revolution Devours Its Children,” by Dmitry Orlov.
1“Propaganda in favor of action that is consonant with enlightened self-interest appeals to reason by means of logical arguments based upon the best available evidence fully and honestly set forth. Propaganda in favor of action dictated by the impulses that are below self-interest offers false, garbled or incomplete evidence, avoids logical argument and seeks to influence its victims by the mere repetition of catchwords, by the furious denunciation of foreign or domestic scapegoats, and by cunningly associating the lowest passions with the highest ideals, so that atrocities come to be perpetrated in the name of God and the most cynical kind of Realpolitik is treated as a matter of religious principle and patriotic duty” (Huxley 264).