Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Aldous Huxley - Science, Liberty and Peace - Chatto and Windus - 1947 (First Edition)

In the aftermath of World War Two, many of the assumptions made by people in the western world at the time had taken a knock.

Prior to the war, there had been a belief, fairly widespread, in the civilising value of culture. As the atrocities committed by the Nazis, many of their leaders highly cultured men, came to the public`s attention, that belief was no longer viable.

At the same time, while the Allied forces had (eventually) brought  Russian communism into an alliance with the capitalist UK and USA in a common fight against fascism, few were persuaded to embrace the Communist cause and only a handful of Communists were ever elected to the UK Parliament.

Many prominent thinkers of the time were moved to put pen to paper as they considered the implications of the situation. Among them were three of the Huxleys ; Julian, T H and Aldous. Aldous` contribution came in the form of this book, Science, Liberty and Peace. 

Aldous is probably best known as a novelist and writer of short stories and screenplays, but in fact he wrote widely in a number of different genres including non-fiction on a variety of subjects. Science, Liberty and Peace may sound on the face of it like some sort of `30s Marxist tract, but in fact it advocates a political philosophy of decentralisation as a `third way` avoiding the pitfalls of monopoly power of whatever sort.

Huxley`s interest in Eastern philosophies, his advocacy of psychedelic drug use and his tendency to collect `-ists and -isms` (at various times he embraced humanism, pacifism, Hinduism, mysticism, vegetarianism, parapsychology, the Alexander technique and much else) can make him seem rather an odd and anachronistic character. This book is in part influenced by an American group called the Decentralists who, perhaps sadly, seem to be largely forgotten now, but who Huxley name-checks a few times. At a time when the more progressive-minded in the UK, whether  left, right, centre or green, are looking into the implications of decentralisation, maybe his ideas are worth a second look.

This book will be at number 3761 in our listings and should appear online in a day or two. Any questions, just ask.

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