How Aldous Huxley’s 1962 speech “The Ultimate Revolution” predicted how the controlling oligarchy’s behavioural controls will get the masses to love their servitude.
By Marica Micallef
On 20th March 1962, at the Berkeley Language Centre, Aldous Huxley, a renowned Essayist and Novelist, who was residing at the university in his capacity of a Ford research professor, gave a speech entitled “The Ultimate Revolution”.
“The Ultimate Revolution” concerned itself with the development of new behavioural controls, which operate directly on the psycho-physiological organisms of man, that is the capacity to replace external constraint by internal compulsions. Traditionally it has been possible to suppress individual freedom through the application of physical coercion through the appeal of ideologies through the manipulation of man’s physical and social environment and through techniques of physical conditioning.
Part of Huxley’s speech was thus:
“If you are going to control any population for any length of time, you must have some measure of consent; it’s exceedingly difficult to see how pure terrorism can function indefinitely. It can function for a fairly long time, but I think sooner or later you have to bring in an element of persuasion, an element of getting people to consent to what is happening to them.
It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in the process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude. This is, it seems to me, the ultimate in malevolent revolutions shall we say, and this is a problem which has interested me many years and about which I wrote thirty years ago, a fable, Brave New World, which is an account of society making use of all the devices available and some of the devices which I imagined to be possible making use of them in order to, first of all, to standardize the population, to iron out inconvenient human differences, to create, to say, mass produced models of human beings arranged in some sort of scientific caste system. Since then, I have continued to be extremely interested in this problem and I have noticed with increasing dismay a number of the predictions which were purely fantastic when I made them thirty years ago have come true or seem in the process of coming true.
A number of techniques about which I talked seem to be here already. And there seems to be a general movement in the direction of this kind of ultimate revolution, a method of control by which a people can be made to enjoy a state of affairs by which any decent standard they ought not to enjoy. This, the enjoyment of servitude, well this process is, as I say, has gone on for over the years, and I have become more and more interested in what is happening.”
Aldous Huxley 1962 U.C. Berkeley Speech on “The Ultimate Revolution”