Tuesday

Huxley's "Brave New World": Fiction or Prophecy?

Imagine a world without disease. A world where there is no such thing as unemployment, poverty and where everyone is free to indulge in hedonistic desires without shame; religious morality thing of the past.

It sounds much like the Utopian society envisioned by progressives but the idea has been around for a while; perhaps since the dawn of society itself.

In 1932 Aldous Huxley published his novel "Brave New World" which presents us with just such a society. The only problem is that in order to achieve such a blissful existence we must, as a society, give up long held concepts such as individual freedom and self determination. We must submit to the "benevolent" control of those in charge.

Huxley's novel was far beyond its time and outlined then futuristic concepts like genetic engineering. Much of the technology in Huxley's novel is now within the reach of humanity and has opened the door to the inception of such an "idyllic" society.

We can see shades of the coming "Brave New World" in the policies now been proposed and passed. Global governance, universal health care, abortion on demand and the demonizing of traditional Christian values such as monogamy and marriage.

The question is not can we but should we? Is the trade off worth the reward? Is a world free from war and disease worth the loss of liberty? I can only answer for myself.

I found myself strongly aligned with John the "savage". He was raised in a society outside of the Utopia and adhered to traditional values. John was shocked and amazed by a society that lacked traditional moral values and found it appalling rather than idyllic despite the supposed advances.

Below is a quick summary of "Brave New World" from Enotes.com. I recommend reading this book as it is a stark look at a world where self determination is a thing of the past; perhaps a thing of our future if we are not careful.

Brave New World Summary

Brave New World opens in the year 2495 at the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, a research facility and factory that mass-produces and then socially-conditions test-tube babies. Such a factory is a fitting place to begin the story of mass-produced characters in a techno-futurist dystopia, a world society gone mad for pleasure, order, and conformity. The date is A.F. 632, A.F.—After Ford—being a notation based on the birth year (1863) of Henry Ford, the famous automobile manufacturer and assembly line innovator who is worshipped as a god in Huxley’s fictional society.

Five genetic castes or classes inhabit this futurist dystopia. In descending order they are named for the first five letters of the Greek alphabet: Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. While upper castes are bred for intellectual and managerial occupations, the lower castes, bred with less intelligence, perform manual labor. All individuals are conditioned by electric shock and hypnopaedia (sleep conditioning) to reject or desire what the State dictates. For example, infants are taught to hate flowers and books, but encouraged to seek out sex, entertainment, and new products. Most importantly, they are conditioned to be happiest with their own caste and to be glad they are not a member of any other group. For instance, while eighty Beta children sleep on their cots in the Conditioning Centre, the following hypnopaedic message issues from speakers placed beneath the children’s pillows:

“Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully 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. . . .”

The director pushed back the switch. The voice was silent. Only its thin ghost continued to mutter from beneath the eighty pillows.

“They’ll have that repeated forty or fifty times more before they wake; then again on Thursday, and again on Saturday. A hundred and twenty times three times a week for thirty months. After which they go on to a more advanced lesson.”

The story begins in the London Hatchery’s employee locker room where Lenina Crowne, a Beta worker, discusses men with another female coworker, Fanny Crowne. The subject of their conversation is Bernard Marx, an Alpha-Plus who is... » Complete Brave New World Summary

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