Food for Thought


While I was surfing the net this afternoon I came across this piece by Andrew Postman which grabbed my attention.


“My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – it’s not Orwell, he warned, it’s Brave New World”

The ascent of Donald Trump has proved Neil Postman’s argument in “Amusing Ourselves to Death” was right. Here’s what we can do about it

By Andrew Postman

Andrew Postman, author of more than a dozen books, wrote the introduction to Amusing Ourselves to Death (2005 edition).

Over the last year, as the presidential campaign grew increasingly bizarre and Donald Trump took us places we had never been before, I saw a spike in media references to Amusing Ourselves to Death, a book written by my late father, Neil Postman, which anticipated back in 1985 so much about what has become of our current public discourse.

At Forbes, one contributor wrote that the book “may help explain the otherwise inexplicable”. CNN noted that Trump’s allegedly shocking “ascent would not have surprised Postman”. At, Richard D Land reflected on reading the book three decades ago and feeling “dumbfounded … by Postman’s prophetic insights into what was then America’s future and is now too often a painful description of America’s present”. Last month, a headline at Paste Magazine asked: “Did Neil Postman Predict the Rise of Trump and Fake News?”

Colleagues and former students of my father, who taught at New York University for more than 40 years and who died in 2003, would now and then email or Facebook message me, after the latest Trumpian theatrics, wondering, “What would Neil think?” or noting glumly, “Your dad nailed it.”

The central argument of Amusing Ourselves is simple: there were two landmark dystopian novels written by brilliant British cultural critics – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – and we Americans had mistakenly feared and obsessed over the vision portrayed in the latter book (an information-censoring, movement-restricting, individuality-emaciating state) rather than the former (a technology-sedating, consumption-engorging, instant-gratifying bubble).

The misplaced focus on Orwell was understandable: after all, for decades the cold war had made communism – as embodied by Nineteen Eighty-Four’s Big Brother – the prime existential threat to America and to the greatest of American virtues, freedom. And, to put a bow on it, the actual year, 1984, was fast approaching when my father was writing his book, so we had Orwell’s powerful vision on the brain.

“Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd”.

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I had not read Neil Postman’s book but I think that I will now if I can find it. I did read both “Brave New World” and “1984” for the first time as a teenager in the 1970s and later as an adult. I have to admit that the first time I read “1984” it was a Reader’s Digest edition and heavily edited. After I read the unabridged edition some years later parts of it upset me so much that I couldn’t touch it again for many years. I felt we had dodged a bullet with 1984 but thinking back to “Brave New World” our society does seem to have some parallels to that book. We do live in a society that seems to want instant gratification and we are obsessed with how things look. Certainly some politicians prefer to have the population happy and ignorant. They don’t have to justify their actions that way.

Anyway I have included a link to the full article and hope that some of you may find it interesting reading.



Read the full article