To The Editor:
Many people are reading the dystopian novel 1984 these days to see if they can find clues about where our country is headed under President Trump. But the book they should be looking at is Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s magnum opus that posits it is not Big Brother we have to worry about, but rather a technologically addicted, emotionally impulsive citizenry that demands instant gratification and does not have the ability to think critically. Such people will not resist authoritarianism because they won’t be able to recognize it.
So said Neil Postman, more than 30 years ago, in his prescient book Amusing Ourselves to Death. He argued that electronic media, specifically television, has weakened attention spans and ushered in an era of show-biz politics where style is king and reason is superfluous. To succeed in this milieu, politicians have to keep the public distracted and entertained and away from analytic thinking.
Enter Donald J. Trump, reality TV star, showman extraordinaire and master of getting the American public to watch him on television with huge assists from the news networks, which make out like bandits from the high ratings that ensue.
Can anything be done to save us from the potentially dictatorial consequences of the Donald Trump Show, an entertainment that consists of big-league lying, insults and undermining the media to imprint Trump’s despotic and dark vision of the world upon the inhabitants of the USA? I’m not sure, but for a start I suggest reading Postman’s book. Forewarned is forearmed.
Martin H. Levinson, PhD,