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Aldous Huxley : The Nihilist Revolution

Dernière mise à jour : 31 juil. 2023




Extracts from :

Aldous Huxley

Do What You Will

(1929)




"(...) In highly industrialized states, like America, there is a tendency towards equalization of income. There is a tendency for the unskilled workman to be paid as much as the skilled — or rather, since the machine tool is abolishing the diflerence between them, for skilled and unskilled to fuse into a single semiskilled type with a given standard of wages — and for the manual worker to be paid as much as the professional man.


(...)


A century should see the more or less complete realization in the industrial West, of Mr. Shaw’s dream of equal incomes for all. And when the dream has been actualized, what

then ? Will the spectre of revolution be definitively laid and humanity live happily ever afterwards ? Mr. Shaw, at any rate, seems to imagine so. Only once, if I remember, in the whole length of his Guide to Socialism does he even suggest that man does not live by equal incomesalone ; and then suggests it so slightly, so passingly, that the reader is still left with the impression that in equality of intome lies the solution of every problem life has to offer.


Fantastic doctrine, all the more absurd for being so apparently positivistic ! For nothing could be more chimerical than the notion that Man is the same thing as the Economic Man and that the problems of life, Man’s life, can be solved by any merely economic arrangement. To suppose that the equalization of income could solve these problems is only slightly icss absurd than to suppose that they could be solved by the universal installation of sanitary plumbing or the distribution of Ford cars to every member of the human species.


That the equalization of income might in some ways be a good thing is obvious. (It might also, in others, be bad ; it would mean, for example, the complete practical realization of the democratic ideal, and this in its turn would mean, almost inevitably, the apotheosis of the lowest human values and the rule, spiritual and material, of the worst men.) But go*od or bad, the equalization of income can no more touch the real sources of present discontent than could any other large-scale book-keeping operation, such as, for example, a scheme to make possible the purchase of every conceivable commodity by deferred payments.


The real trouble with the present social and industrial system is not that it makes some people very much richer than others, but that it rnakes life fundamentally unlivable for all. Now that not only work, but also leisure has been completely mechanized ; now that, with every fresh elaboration of the social organization, the individual finds himself yet further degraded from manhood towards the mere embodiment of a social function ; now that ready-made, creation-saving amusements are spreading an ever intenser boredom through ever wider spheres, — existence has become pointless and intolerable.


Quite how pointless and how intolerable the great masses of materially-civilized humanity have not yet consciously realized. Only the more intelligent have consciously realized it as yet. To this realization the reaction of those whose intelligence is unaccompanied by some talent, some inner urge towards creation, is an intense hatred, a longing to destroy. This type of intelligent hater-of everything has been admirably, and terrifyingly, portrayed by M. Andre Malraux in his novel, Les Conquerants, I recommend it to all sociologists.


The time is not far off when the whole population and not merely a few exceptionally intelligent individuals will consciously realize the fundamental unlivable essence of life under the present regime. And what then ? Consult M. Malraux. The revolution that will then break out will not be communistic — there will be no need for such a revolution, as I have already shown, and besides nobody will believe in the betterment of humanity or in anything else whatever.


It will be a nihilist revolution. Destruction for destruction’s sake. Hate, universal hate, and an aimless and therefore complete and thorough smashing up of everything. And the levelling up of incomes, by accclerating the spread of universal mechanization (machinery is costly), will merely accelerate the coming of this great orgy of universal nihilism. The richer, the more materially civilized we become, the more speedily it will arrive. All that we can hope is that it will not come in our time."



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