In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or it might be false. They did not foresee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies - the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions.
In the past most people never got a chance of fully satisfying this appetite. They might long for distractions, but the distractions were not provided. Christmas came but once a year, feasts were "solemn and rare," there were few readers and very little to read, and the nearest approach to a neighborhood movie theater was the parish church, where the performances, though infrequent, were somewhat monotonous. For conditions even remotely comparable to those now prevailing we must return to imperial Rome, where the populace was kept in good humor by frequent, gratuitous doses of many kinds of entertainment - from poetical dramas to gladiatorial fights, from recitations of Virgil to all-out boxing, from concerts to military reviews and public executions. But even in Rome there was nothing like the non-stop distraction now provided by newspapers and magazines, by radio, television and the cinema. In Brave New World non-stop distractions of the most fascinating nature (the feelies, orgy-porgy, centrifugal bumblepuppy) are deliberately used as instruments of policy, for the purpose of preventing people from paying too much attention to the realities of the social and political situation. The other world of religion is different from the other world of entertainment; but they resemble one another in being most decidedly "not of this world." Both are distractions and, if lived in too continuously, both can become, in Marx's phrase, "the opium of the people" and so a threat to freedom. Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those who would manipulate and control it.
In their propaganda today's dictators rely for the most part on repetition, suppression and rationalization - the repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as true, the suppression of facts which they wish to be ignored, the arousal and rationalization of passions which may be used in the interests of the Party or the State. As the art and science of manipulation come to be better understood, the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to combine these techniques with the non-stop distractions which, in the West, are now threatening to drown in a sea of irrelevance the rational propaganda essential to the maintenance of individual liberty and the survival of democratic institutions.
The principle of selection solved the riddle as to how what was purposive could conceivably be brought about without the intervention of a directing power, the riddle which animate nature presents to our intelligence at every turn, and in face of which the mind of a Kant could find no way out, for he regarded a solution of it as not to be hoped for. For, even if we were to assume an evolutionary force that is continually transforming the most primitive and the simplest forms of life into ever higher forms, and the homogeneity of primitive times into the infinite variety of the present, we should still be unable to infer from this alone how each of the numberless forms adapted to particular conditions of life should have appeared precisely at the right moment in the history of the earth to which their adaptations were appropriate, and precisely at the proper place in which all the conditions of life to which they were adapted occurred: the humming-birds at the same time as the flowers; the trichina at the same time as the pig; the bark-coloured moth at the same time as the oak, and the wasp-like moth at the same time as the wasp which protects it. Without processes of selection we should be obliged to assume a "pre-established harmony" after the famous Leibnitzian model, by means of which the clock of the evolution of organisms is so regulated as to strike in exact synchronism with that of the history of the earth!
All forms of life are strictly adapted to the conditions of their life, and can persist under these conditions alone. There must therefore be an intrinsic connection between the conditions and the structural adaptations of the organism, and, since the conditions of life cannot be determined by the animal itself, the adaptations must be called forth by the conditions. The selection theory teaches us how this is conceivable, since it enables us to understand that there is a continual production of what is non-purposive as well as of what is purposive, but the purposive alone survives, while the non-purposive perishes in the very act of arising. This is the old wisdom taught long ago by Empedocles.
The committee on sexual discrimination in the workplace has highlighted Supremo Company as a chief offender. Of the twenty senior executives in the firm, only one is a woman. And of the forty junior executives, only five are female.