Brave New World?   Leave a comment

I’ve referenced 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 in the past as examples of dystopian novels that prophesied many of the problems with have today. The recent news is that 1984 is selling like hotcakes because, supposedly, the world thinks Donald Trump is Big Brother.

Well, now I want to turn my attention to Brave New World as a utopia I would not want to live in.

For the purpose of discussion, a utopia is defined as:

  1. an imaginary and indefinitely remote place
  2. a place of ideal perfect especially in laws, government, and social conditions
  3. an impractical scheme for social improvement

 Many Americans today would philosophically embrace Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World  as a utopia with its limitless drugs, guilt-free sex, perpetual entertainment and a genetically engineered society designed for maximum economic efficiency and social harmony.

Most people would also view George Orwell’s 1984 as a dystopian nightmare, with its terrifying existence under the iron fist of “Big Brother”.

And, yet the overwhelming message I get from Brave New World is that we don’t want to live there.

 

Aldous Huxley was born to academic parents, the grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, a famous biologist and an enthusiastic proponent of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution who was known as “Darwin’s Bulldog”.  Huxley’s own father had a well-equipped botany lab where young Aldous began his education.  Given the Huxley family’s appreciation for science, it makes perfect sense that Brave New World began in the “Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre” where human beings are artificially grown and genetically predestined into five societal castes consisting of: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon.

Initially, the story centers on Bernard Marx, who is a slightly genetically flawed Alpha Plus psychologist with an inferiority complex due to his short stature.  By the end of the novel, however, the protagonist becomes a boy named “John the Savage” who is the bastard child of the “Director of the Central London Hatchery”, and a lady named Linda, who naturally birthed John on a remote American Indian Reservation.  Bernard discovers the two there and when he realizes their true identities, he arranges to fly them back to London in order to leverage his position with John’s biological father, the Hatchery Director.

Eventually, John’s “antisocial” tendencies gets him noticed by Mustapha Mond, one of ten “world controllers”.  A debate ensues between John and Mond who explains to the Savage that a stable society requires the controlled suppression of science, religion, and art. John argues that human life is not worth living without these things.

In Brave New World, the State achieves a harmonic equilibrium through the economic parity of production and consumption while utilizing eugenics to counterbalance the life and death of the citizens. Technology is employed as a means of control in lieu of any search for scientific, spiritual or ethical truth. In fact, these “truths” are considered a threat to the established order.  People are cloned in hatcheries to meet the needs of the State and trained into obedience through sleep-teaching. Dignity takes a backseat to happiness, morality is considered subversive, and emotions are regulated through the use of the drug, Soma, amid constant entertainment including superficial games and virtual reality venues called the “feelies”.  There’s no god or religion, but Henry Ford is lauded as a testament to corporate efficiency, assembly line production and rampant consumerism.

As in 1984, Brave New World addresses themes of government, orthodoxy, social hierarchy, economics, love, sex, and power and portrays propaganda as a necessary tool of government to shape the collective minds of the citizenry toward the specific goals of the state, which is stability, conformity and continuity.

In Brave New World, the “Bureaux of Propaganda” shares a building with the “College of Emotional Engineering” and all media outlets including radio, television, and newspaper. Much of the brainwashing of the citizens includes messaging to stay within their genetically predetermined castes and encourage the daily use of the drug, Soma, in order to anesthetize emotional agitation:

  • a gramme in time saves nine
  • A gramme is better than a damn
  • One cubic centimetre cures ten gloomy sentiments
  • When the individual feels, the community reels.

 

 

Living in Brave New World’s urban centers means an empty existence, so Huxley envisioned the Helmholtz Watson character as a creator of “hypnopaedic” phrases designed to fill the mental and emotional vacuum left by the lack of knowledge:

 

Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfuly glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides, they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I’m so glad I’m a Beta.

– BNW, Chapter 2, pg. 27

 

The citizens of Brave New World consisted of a rigidly held caste system based on genetic predetermination, which largely constrained information within a certain caste, but the government also filtered information and propaganda in accordance to the class ranking of their citizens. In Brave New World, the separate castes, except for the Epsilons who couldn’t read, received their own newspapers delivering specific propaganda for each class of society.

 

In Huxley’s vision of the future, the higher power of consumerism guided the people; complete with memorized short phrases designed to encourage the replacement of material items in lieu of repairing them; and, those wearing older clothes were shamed into purchasing new apparel:

  • Ending is better than mending. 
  • The more stitches, the less riches.

BNW, Chapter 3, pg. 49

In Huxley’s futuristic society, romantic love is discouraged, but sex is not. Brave New World treated sex as a “pressure relief valve” remaining constantly open in order to release any negative emotions like suspicion, distrust, jealousy, rage or envy.  “Everyone belonged to everyone else”, so there was no need for secrets. Even children were encouraged to sexually experiment guilt free.  Of course, sex was meant to be enjoyed only as a means of pleasure in Brave New World. Procreation was considered anathema by the people and beneath the dignity of mankind. This shows the power of the government to invade the most personal expressions between individuals.

 

The concept of “everyone belongs to everyone else” in Brave New World allowed intimate acts to be considered trivial recreation.

Although very different from 1984Brave New World shows the same end result of extreme philosophical collectivism.

 

I started out by saying that a lot of Americans would consider Brave New World to be a utopia worth inhabiting, but that I would not. I value individual autonomy, knowledge and the pursuit of truth. I don’t fear the pursuit of self-actualization. I don’t need anyone to hand it to me. When the government creates immoral laws, I’ve already determined my response to the ethical dilemmas that arise. I stand with the apostles Peter and John in an Acts 4 rebellion against government in honor of God. Yeah, I know what happened to them. I’ve also “skipped to the end” and know it will work out okay for those whom God has loved.

Huxley’s vision of the future removes the lid of a Pandora’s box of questions.  If you’re happy in your prison of pleasure, are you truly free or merely deluded? It is still a prison of man’s own making, formed by a government following its own directions toward something they consider “good. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and renewed with bad policies.

I’m reminded of a passage in 1984, when the administrator of torture tells the protagonist Winston Smith:

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.

 – Obrien, ”1984”: part 3, chapter 3,

The power structures in both Brave New World and 1984 chose to diminish individual rights in order to achieve societal stability.  To the governments of both super-states, their citizens were considered as means to an end –that of the leaders’ continuation of power.

 

But, could this type of power consolidation occur in the nonfictional world?

Absolutely!

Study history, then go turn on all screened devices in your home. Tyrannical regimes have been centralizing and fortifying ramparts of power before Noah stepped off the Ark. Edward Snowden is just the latest to pull back the curtain on what’s going on behind the governmental scenes. If we don’t think it can happen here, we assure it will happen here.

Brave New World existed in a prosperous technological paradise, where the societal elite had unrestricted access to intercontinental transportation and private helicopters. Even the lower classes enjoyed pampered lives of perennial comfort, ceaseless entertainment, and eternal recreation. What could be so bad about that?

Today, the westernized cultures of the world, including some Asian nations like Japan and South Korea, increasingly resemble Brave New World, while they increasingly sacrifice individual freedom upon the altar of collectivism. Political correctness stifles free speech. Families suffocate beneath mountains of debt. United Nations Agenda 21 policies release a deluge of regulations causing extra-governmental autonomous innovation to collapse before the inexorable, gravitational pull of the hive-mind. Corporations like Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung and Apple have become the eyes and ears of Big Brother who is always watching, and ever listening. Yes, I am deliberately referencing 1984 there because I believe the promised utopia of Brave New World is the bait for dragging us into something more like 1984. People resist a dark future, but walk happily into comfort and ease. There’s a reason trappers disguise their traps and it’s not because it won’t hurt you when it closes.

Like in Brave New World, science now rules supreme over ethics as medical professionals sell fetus organs to advance the cause of genetic research.  The United States currently leads the world in illegal drug use and consumes near all of the global opioid supply.

Statistics show at least 35% of all internet downloads and at least 30% of all data transferred across the internet are porn-related.  Sex runs rampant throughout the modernized nations and sexually transmitted diseases have reached a record high in the United States.

 

 

The writings of Huxley, Bradbury, and Orwell resonate with the echoes of history and land on the shore of where we now stand. Propaganda spews from five corporations which control 90% of all mainstream media channels.  These companies toe the war-party line, wielding their great powers of disinformation to contort facts or censor the failures of the politicians they favor while, simultaneously, attacking their political enemies with lies and innuendo; even to the point of creating a phony election hacking narrative to satisfy their radioactive lust for war with nuclear-powered enemies.

 

Yet the irony fails to impress America’s young social justice warriors of the Millennial generation who have been raised in the public schools on a steady diet of socialism, political correctness, and participation trophies. They are so afraid of losing their “free” medical insurance that they can’t see how immaterial that is compared to the freedom they’ve never known.

They would prefer to live in the utopia of Brave New World rather than the dystopia of 1984, never recognizing that the one is the gateway into the other.

No government ever gives up power willingly. If it can hold power through bread and circuses, so be it, but when the time comes when people wake up in their velvet-lined prison and realize that they aren’t free and yearn to be so, that government will quickly take on a darker and less utopian visage, because no government ever gives up power willingly.

 

 

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