In 1932, English author Aldous Huxley published Brave New World, a social science fiction novel warning of ways in which future society could become dystopian.

A lot like George Orwell’s 1984, right?

For generations, the two dystopian novels have been compared to each other. Even Huxley wrote to Orwell (his former student), contrasting differences between each respective work.

But, while both describe totalitarian governments controlling their citizens, there is at least one glaring disparity in how those governments achieve that control.

In 1984, sex is illegal. Or, more precisely, the enjoyment of sex is illegal. Orwell’s totalitarian government, the Party, is determined to bar pleasure from the lives of its citizens and, accordingly, sex must be rare and purely functional.

Many of 1984’s predictions of the future have indeed proven to be remarkably accurate. Nonetheless, our modern culture is making no attempt to crack down on sexual freedom. It, in fact, seems to be doing the exact opposite.

In this regard, Huxley’s Brave New World is far more plausible.

In Huxley’s vision of the future, promiscuity is so rampant it is famously said that “everyone belongs to every one else,” which means exactly what you think it means. Not to mention that orgies are mandatory every other week. Even children are sexualized.

At the same time, any Christian or religious notion regarding sex is spurned. Marriage, family, traditional morality and faithful commitment are all considered “obscene” by the new standards.

See Also: The Liberty and License of the American Family

Yes, the people are caught in servitude to the World State, but between sex and Soma, a widely-distributed drug that offers an euphoric escape from the pains of life, they are enjoying themselves too much to care.

The point is that people can be controlled through pleasure. As Huxley said in his letter to Orwell, “the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.”

If the modern West is becoming dystopian, this component of Brave New World will almost certainly be true of our future. Totalitarian regimes don’t have to use fear to subdue a population; we can subdue ourselves through our own decadence and dissipation.

There’s no question our culture is increasingly preoccupied with sexual matters. Entertainment is sexualized. Education is sexualized. Daily headlines prove just how perverted we have become.

This sexualization may be pleasurable to some but it is exactly the kind of pleasure that Huxley warned could lead to oppressive servitude.

Our attention can easily become too fixated on what the government might do to oppress us when we must also pay attention to our own moral decline and how this, too, can be a cause of enslavement.

It’s easier, of course, to blame the government for all of our political problems. It’s a lot harder to take responsibility for the fact that your own habit of sleeping around or watching porn or gratifying pleasure might also be contributing to those problems.

Yes, what you do in your personal life really does affect not just your own morality but the politics of the nation at large.

See Also: Make Men Responsible Again

Perhaps the real reason so many people are indifferent to a loss of personal autonomy is due to the fact that while the government may be restricting liberties it is also becoming more and more tolerant of licentiousness. At least they can dress in drag, be celebrated for their sexual identity and indulge themselves in obscene pleasures.

They may not have true liberty but they are far more content with unbridled license than liberty with responsibility – which is exactly what Huxley predicted.

We have a unique obligation to live responsibly. Sometimes, that includes denying ourselves of certain pleasures. What Huxley described in Brave New World is not a people who merely had a sex problem, but, more fundamentally, a people who could not deny themselves. A people who could not say “no” to their appetites.

On the path toward totalitarianism, don’t expect the government to forbid pleasure. Expect it to encourage pleasure. To indulge it.

Dystopia may be horrific and nightmarish, but, heeding Huxley’s poignant words of warning, we must remember that the easiest road to our Brave New World very well may be quite enjoyable.

Jakob Fay is a former SIA Coordinator and current writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance.