from The Waking Times:
Aldous Huxley, an English writer and philosopher, wrote nearly 50 books, the most famous being “Brave New World,” a dystopian science-fiction novel published in 1932. The world in the novel is a futuristic one based on science and technology. Emotions and the sense of individuality are eliminated, starting in childhood, via the use of conditioning.1
It’s a work of fiction, but concepts on which it is based, including the power to condition humans to accept an abnormal state of life, are not. In the video above, you can hear a 1962 interview with Huxley, in which he speaks about the use of persuasion and conditioning to gain ultimate power and control over society.
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“If you are going to control a population for any length of time you must have some measure of consent,” he said.2 His words ring eerily true in 2021.
Conditioning Humans to Love Servitude
Frederick Douglas once said, “When a slave becomes a happy slave, he has effectively relinquished all that makes him human.”3 How does a human get to the point of loving their servitude, or consenting to live in, and even enjoy, a state of affairs that they should not?
Often, it’s through techniques of terrorism. While the word implies violence, some of the most profound and dangerous techniques combine methods of terror with methods of acceptance, Huxley said. By bringing in elements of persuasion, it’s possible for a controlling oligarchy to get people to love their servitude.
In 1957, William Sargant published “Battle for the Mind,” which delves into the techniques used by evangelists, psychiatrists and politicians to change beliefs and behavior. Religious leaders produce conversions, Huxley said, by heightening psychological stress, talking about hell, then releasing this stress by offering a promise of heaven. Prisoners of war can be similarly brainwashed and pressured into making admissions of guilt.
Pavlov’s dogs study is one of the most well-known displays of the power of conditioning. The dogs salivated not only in response to food but in response to any object or event that they learned to associated with food.4
The findings also apply to humans, who can be conditioned to associate abstract images with food, as shown by researchers with the Wellcome department of neuroimaging science at University College London.5
When shown pictures of the food-associated images, their reaction times increased and areas of their brain involved in motivation and emotional processes were activated.
After Pavlov’s demonstration of classical conditioning, the profound observations “sunk into the creature,” Huxley said, and Pavlovian methods were recognized as tools that could be applied with extraordinary efficiency, creating large armies of totally devoted people.
Ultimate Power Involves Voluntary Acceptance
Non-terroristic methods are also essential in gaining ultimate control, as some measure of voluntary acceptance is necessary. Suggestion and hypnosis are two examples. According to Huxley, about 20% of people are easily hypnotized, while 20% are very difficult, if not impossible, to hypnotize. The remaining 60%, the majority, can be gradually hypnotized if you work hard enough at it.6
Similar figures apply to the power of placebo, or suggestion, Huxley said, referring to a study on the administration of morphine or a placebo following surgery. The subjects were experiencing similar levels of pain and were able to receive injections for pain relief whenever requested. Half the injections were morphine and half were distilled water, the placebo.
While 20% of the subjects got just as much pain relief from the placebo as from the morphine, 20% got no relief from the placebo and 60% got some or occasional relief from the placebo.7 Such studies are important, because it isn’t hard to figure out which segment of the population is extremely vulnerable to suggestion and which is in the intermediate space.
As Huxley pointed out, such differences allow for organized society to exist, because if everyone were unsuggestable, there would be no order to society. At the other end of the spectrum, if everyone were highly suggestable, dictatorship would be inevitable. Having the majority of people in the “moderately suggestable” category is a happy medium, allowing for the formation and preservation of organized society.
At the same time, the fact that there are 20% of people who are extremely vulnerable to suggestion is of enormous political importance. Whoever gets ahold of the 20% can easily overthrow any government or country, Huxley said, using the example of Hitler to show what can be done using the power of suggestion.
Hitler understood human weaknesses and exploited them. For instance, knowing that conditioning is easier when people are tired, Hitler held all of his big speeches at night solely so that people would be tired and therefore less capable of resisting persuasion.
What Are the Limits of Human Obedience?
In 1962, in a now infamous experiment, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram tested the limits of human obedience to authority. The study administrator instructed the study subjects — the “teachers” — to give electric shocks to a student.
The “student” was actually an actor, but the study subjects were unaware of this, and complied with the demands to shock him whenever he gave an incorrect response to a question. Even as the student moaned, begged for the shocks to stop and ultimately stopped responding, the subjects obeyed the authority figure in the room and issued painful electric shocks.
The subjects were clearly uncomfortable with the task at times, but still continued, showing that people may carry out heinous acts when ordered to do so by authorities because they feel less responsible for the behavior in this capacity.8
The Milgram experiment was later criticized for being unethical and, in the U.S., studies that cause subjects serious distress were later banned. However, similar studies in Europe confirmed the results, suggesting that people will willingly and blindly obey authoritarian orders, especially if they feel disconnected from their actions.9
With societal norms rapidly changing, and an increasingly authoritative environment emerging, will humans stop thinking for themselves and proceed fully into a world where privacy no longer exists and citizens turn in their neighbors if they buck the status quo?