Thirty years after writing Brave New World, Aldous Huxley revisited it in Brave New World Revisited.  It is not a novel, but a chapterized narrative on how the world has changed towards the eschaton, the Time Of Days when the Brave New World will come about.

What Huxley Offered

Huxley’s first work and first chapter of BNWR are marred by Modernist racism; he does not shrug off his blindness upon his re-visitation thirty years later.  He wrote of Indians of the Southwest in the most beastly terms, obviously never having met one.  He frets over the dilution of the (White European) IQ, not realizing that the IQ is as absurd and mythical as any of the tropical Rain Gods of the various continents.

That being said, his dissertation is fascinating. He is inconsistent with his humanism and racism – he states both sides of his dilemma, he was clearly changing at the time of BNWR.

Some of the techniques in human control are ingrained into our culture so deeply, that his pointing them out seems absurd. We believe that these methods of living have gone on forever, as the Birmingham factory workers believed after about 30 or 40 years of the factories.

He outlined some techniques of subliminal suggestion which were feared fifty years ago, but these have not panned out to be as extensive as they seem.  However, our ability to become narrow-minded and blind has been exploited far beyond his anticipation.

“Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

The Promulgation of Stupidity – my take from Huxley

Information Technology is unable to make machines truly smart.  That is beyond our ability. What we CAN do is make people dumber, and that we are doing in spades.  People now seem to have a built in “fail” mode.  when they have run through their instruction set and cannot find a rule to proceed upon, they fail.  An error code is sent upwards to the controller.

The other default response for bureaucrats is NO.  This will not be accepted.  It is not on the proper form, which means that they cannot recognize it.  That is a common habit of machines, but not at all that of humans.  We have consciously adopted the machines’ limitations.  In the normal process of human thought, when one hits an obstacle, one calls for more thinking resources to be applied – to kick it up a notch.  That spells trouble for Weberian bureaucracies, so they require a handoff for higher level thinking to occur.

One other vital necessity of bureaucracy is aphoristic rules, not conditional rules.  Conditional rules are a branch point – if A then B, else C.  A→B or A→C are the two outcomes possible (excluding FAIL and NO for a moment.)

Aphoristic rules are all negative.  A⇥B, A⇥C, A⇥{U}  Do NOT proceed from A to B, do NOT proceed from A to C, and do NOT proceed from A to anything (else).  This is the equivalent of calling the default state FAIL.  When someone/something comes in with A, do not proceed.  NO.  It is a broken rule set – it does not allow anything to follow from A.  It is the bureaucrat’s dream.

If one DOES proceed, say from A to B, invoking the rules A⇥C, A⇥{U}, then the Checking/Quality team can say – “Look, a rule violation!  A⇥B is the rule!” negating of course the broken universe of other rules.  The decider may be punished by the bureaucracy; the same as if the decider proceeded from A to C.  The meta-rule is that all decisions can be traced to human error of some sort.  Not all WRONG decisions, but ALL decisions can be attributed to human error, if one has a broken rule set.  This is why bureaucracies do not like decisions – someone becomes exposed to internal criticism.

This is also why bureaucracies RAISE THE ALARM rather than FIX THE PROBLEM.  To raise the alarm states that one is being watchful, but does not have the ability to fix the problem.  Whoever has the ability to FIX THE PROBLEM is therefore being inattentive, and therefore, being liable.  Whistleblowers?  A bureaucracy is an unceasing din of whistle blowing.  It results in alarm fatigue.

When I joined one bureaucracy, a wise advisor suggested to me that I write all of the day’s CRITICAL CATASTROPHES on the calendar, and revisit them four weeks later.  Universally, they had become forgotten, without resolution.  CRITICAL CATASTROPHES give bureaucrats without something to do, something to do.