Wednesday, December 5, 2012

liberty and leisure

Political liberty's a swindle because a man doesn't spend his time being political. He spends it sleeping, eating, amusing himself a little and working—mostly working. . . . How can there ever be liberty under any system? No amount of profit-sharing or self-government by the workers, no amount of hyjeenic conditions or cocoa villages or recreation grounds can get rid of the fundamental slavery—the necessity of working. Liberty? Why, it doesn't exist. There's no liberty in the world; only gilded caiges. . . . even suppose you could somehow get rid of the necessity of working, suppose a man's time were all leisure. Would he be free then? . . . would a man with unlimited leisure be free[?] I say he would not. Not unless he 'appened to be be a man like you or me . . . a man of sense, a man of independent judgment. An ordinary man would not be free. Because he wouldn't know how to occupy his leisure except in some way that would be forced on 'im by other people. People don't know 'ow to entertain themselves now; they leave it to other people to do it for them. They swallow what's given them. They 'ave to swallow it, whether they like it or not. Cinemas, newspapers, magazines, gramophones, football matches, wireless telephones—take them or leave them, if you want to amuse yourself. The ordinary man can't leave them. He takes; and what's that but slavery?

Mr. Bojanus' speech from Aldous Huxley's Antic Hay, 1923.

[It concludes on the topic of "sexual freedom—what's that? . . . It's an 'orrible, 'ideous slavery. That's what it is."]

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