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In 1932, Aldous Huxley wrote his famous novel about a futuristic dystopia called Brave New World. Whereas Orwell depicted dystopia in 1984 as an ever-watchful surveillance state, Huxley saw that humanity could be so consumed with its pursuit of happiness that it would give away its freedoms for pleasure. In his book, Huxley envisioned a society advanced in reproductive technology, narcotics, and psychology which kept most humans docile and bound to their pleasures while the truly free individuals were exiled from society. Orwell’s future, despite the hyperbole in our political discourse, is only present in a handful of countries that are ostracized from the world. Huxley’s vision, however, is even more present in our societies.
Our own fast-changing world seems in peril. From the urgency of the climate crisis to the war outbreak in Ukraine against the backdrop of a sticky Covid-19 pandemic, symptoms continue to roam. Other noteworthy risks have reached unprecedented magnitude: widespread disinformation, the resulting collapse in public trust, and the retreat of democracy whilst authoritarian ideas take up more space.
We can meet these complex issues with fearful prudence, impatience, or helplessness. Nevertheless, we have called this 22nd edition of The Kennedy School Review “Brave New World” (an echo of Huxley’s dystopian work) to remind us of the unabated force of policymaking in combining analysis with imagination to fix today’s most challenging issues with braver ideas.
You are about to read a curation of engaging articles written by policymakers, observers, and researchers from political, military, and NGO backgrounds on diverse topics like the new geopolitics of renewable energy, inclusive economic development, the role of social media in influencing elections, or curbing violence in Latin America. Drawing on their experiences, engagements, and research findings, the authors of this 22nd edition, are laying their recommendations with one point in common: to build a realistic yet ambitious action plan to move away from an undesirable status quo.
By preluding a totalitarian world, Huxley showed us that rather than turning a blind eye on the sufferings of our societies, we owe ourselves to see them, endure them and confront them. The disruptions we have experienced over the past 20 years both advanced and regressed humanity, but the next 20 years can be an era where we avoid Huxley’s world. We invite you to read these diverse viewpoints so you can reflect on how we can remain human.
Khadija Saleh, Editor-In-Chief 2021-2022
Heberto Limas-Villers, Executive Editor 2021 -2022