Warnings From Great Voices

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

– Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. [1961]



In 1984, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

– Aldous Huxley (quoted in Amusing Ourselves
to Death by Neil Postman) [1985]

I’ve taken some creative liberties with the passage below because Dostoyevsky is a novelist and this character is in the middle of a wordy tirade. I’ve condensed the ideas and removed unnecessary references to characters.

Slaves are bound to be equal. There has never been either freedom or equality without despotism, but in the herd there is bound to be equality. Every one belongs to all and all to every one. All are slaves and equal in their slavery.

To begin with, the level of education, science, and talents must be lowered. A high level of education and science is only possible for great intellects, and they are not wanted. Great intellects cannot help being despots. They will be banished or put to death.

– The Possessed by Fyodor Dostoyevsky [t:1916]



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