Mike Wallace and Aldous Huxley [video]
Mike Wallace died Saturday at the age of 93. He'd been a contributor to the television show "60 Minutes" for 42 years, and before that he had a long journalism career. That included "The Mike Wallace Interview," a show that broadcast on ABC "discussing the problems of survival and freedom in America," the announcer intones over the credits as Wallace, in "Mad Men" style, puffs a cigarette in the background.
In 1958, he interviewed Aldous Huxley, the author of "Brave New World." When Wallace asks Huxley what the greatest threats to our freedom are, Huxley responds gently but incisively. First, he points to overpopulation, its pressure on resources and, with scarcity, the greater need for state control.
Then he outlines the second force: "As technology becomes more and more complicated, it becomes necessary to have more and more elaborate organizations, more hierarchical organizations. And incidentally, the advance of technology has been accompanied by an advance in the science of organization. It's now possible to make organizations on a larger scale than was ever possible before. So you have more and more people living their lives out as subordinates in these hierarchical systems in control by bureaucracies, either the bureaucracies of big business or the bureaucracies of big government."
Wallace presses him on the devices he says diminish our freedoms. "We musn't be caught by surprise by our own advancing technology," Huxley says. Huxley was living, at the time, in Southern California, and would die just five years later. He must have sounded a little alarmist at the time, but now, well, it seems like a very reasonable 28 minutes.
-- Carolyn Kellogg