Polish playwright Janusz Glowacki recalls visiting a “This Is America” exhibit in Warsaw during the darkest days of Stalinism. While listening to a decadent boogie-woogie soundtrack, he gravely filed past displays of loud ties, gaudy billboards, KKK crosses, and even insects from Colorado that were supposedly dropped from planes at night to devour socialists’ potatoes. “The exhibition was meant to evoke horror, disgust, and hatred,” he says. “It had, however, the opposite effect. Thousands of Varsovians, dressed in their holiday best, waited every day in lines as long as those to see Lenin’s Tomb and in solemn silence looked at the display, listened respectfully to the boogie-woogie, wanting in this way, at least, to manifest their blind and hopeless love for the United States.”
Now, thanks to the astonishing changes in Europe, Poles and even Russians can freely design their own loud ties and gaudy billboards and compose their own boogie-woogie. Against all odds, Western culture has triumphed, with very few shots being fired. With the U.S. no longer defining its identity in opposition to communism, what lies ahead?
Author Neil Postman suggests that though we seem to have escaped George Orwell’s 1984, we are still in peril from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Those two books actually present quite different visions of the future—the difference between Big Brother and Big Nanny.
Orwell warned against an external enemy that relies on violence and propaganda to impose its will. In contrast, Huxley warned against a more subtle enemy from within. People will gladly trade away their freedom and autonomy for a technology that promises comfort, safety, and amusement, ...1
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