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Today, there are many news articles and research into communication and censorship. Also, there is a lot of talk of genetically modified babies. To many people, this may be a very new thing, but to the people who read the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, these things are very familiar. The novel Brave New World shows that in order for a utopian society to achieve a state of stability, control, a loss of individuality, and the undoing of Mother Nature must occur. Completing these three things ensures happiness but at a very high cost.
In the novel, The World State exercises tremendous control over all areas of life with the ultimate goal of keeping the citizens permanently happy–a happiness that comes from the ability to satisfy wants. Stability is corresponded with economic growth, which is achieved through strict governmental control of the economy. “… civil liberties are restricted; All aspects of the economy… are controlled by the central government.” (Barr 854) This quote shows that everything is controlled by the government from their liberties to their economy. This is seen in the real world today. When the economic downturn of America happened, the government used an “exorbitant amount of borrowed taxpayers’ dollars”, which was used to “pay a number of financial institutions” (Barr 855). Here, the government is using taxpayer’s money to help institutions grow. Now all of these institutions are in the government’s control. This is like in the novel where everything is controlled by the government ever since a person is born. As infants, people are brainwashed to participate in the consumer society. Through electric shocks and sleep-learning, The World State is able to control consumers’ tastes and preferences in order to shift the demand curve of certain goods outward. For example, the Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon classes had once been conditioned to enjoy nature with the intention that they would travel to the country often and use transportation, which would grow the economy. However, once it was realized that “a love of nature keeps no factories busy” (Huxley 23), it became necessary to abolish the love of nature, but not the habit of using transportation. Therefore, the people were again persuaded to hate the country but to love all country sports, with country sports requiring the use of a number of sporting equipment. This brainwashing has changed people’s tastes so that their demand for transport and country sporting equipment has increased. When the entire demand curve increases, price and quantity also increase, accomplishing the World State’s goal of keeping the economy growing and the wheels turning steadily. And when the wheels turn steadily, “there must be men to tend them, men as steady as the wheels upon their axles, sane men, obedient men, stable in contentment” (Huxley 42). By controlling the economy, The World State is able to keep the citizens happy and content.
Another key ingredient to having full control is the absence of individuality. The government of Brave New World understands that fact and, in that world, there is “no civilization without social stability. No social stability without individual stability” (Huxley 31). The need for stability creates a government which believes that only if everyone thinks and looks the same, stability can be achieved. Stability makes people into robots and not human beings. The main element of what makes a person human are their emotions, which they can control to some degree. Barr agrees to this by defining the meaning of a human. He says,
“Man alone among the creatures of the earth possesses the ability… to question, to imagine… to take risks for the advancing [of] some perhaps unarticulated goal; in other words, to achieve” (Barr 847).
Emotions are the basis that drives a human being to act on an opinion, to dream, to become a better person, to learn and to love. Emotions are such intimate feelings of individuality, that it is no surprise that the government in Brave New World discourages these human characteristics. Therefore, emotions are controlled in the novel. Stability can be achieved when everyone is happy. The government does its best to make sure every feeling, which also includes pain and passion, are gone. Once individuality and emotions are gone, next enters art and personal expression.
“A major character, Bernard Marx, indicates a preference for a thoughtful relationship with a female… [this] man is later admonished… for not exhibiting enthusiasm to ‘conform’” (Barr 850).
Since no one is Brave New World can express emotions, individual expression is looked down upon. Without art and literature, people lose their creativity and their ability to think. The leaders of the government suggest that the people have to choose between happiness and art and the people chose happiness. The citizens of the novel see the purpose of life as just living their life not learning and expanding their knowledge. Religion, which is the way one sees creation and life, is also gone. “…in the world of Huxley, human beings are limited in… mental abilities to meet the needs of government” (Barr 850). The creation of a religion is an act of expression because religion needs an enormous amount of emotion and belief. With the belief of a higher being and an idea of a there being a more important aspect to life would be against the idea of a utopian world. This leads to the citizens being committed to their society instead of thinking about God. The importance of an individual is nothing. “… [the] manipulations of the government keep Huxley’s people… totally submissive, content, and unquestioning” (Barr 850). The society has deleted the individuality and has stopped human growth, even though they think they’re expanding humanity. This is how warped their image of society really is. With the controlling of the government in the novel, a number of ways are implemented to slowly lose the population’s uniqueness and individuality to ensure stability.
Loss of identity is the biggest result of genetically engineering test tube babies. Manipulating with nature and life guarantees that in early life, there are no emotional ties. “… the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ have become the ultimate in unmentionable obscenity.” (Huxley 18). The people in the novel are not born into a family with a mother or a father. Alternatively, a single fertilized egg is cloned until there are ninety-six separate embryos. They are then put into test tubes and then grown until they are ready to be born. Every single person in this society is parentless. With the wrecking of families, the government has eliminated the single largest human emotion known, familial love. There are no ties to a family. Everyone is put into one huge generic group of people. This is done all for stability and progress. To further stabilize the society, sexual encounters and freedoms are legalized. “…by using the power of technology to deliver pleasure… to its [the government’s] subjects” (Barr 849). Sexual relationships are highly encouraged for everyone, especially young people, so that they don’t feel love. With sexual encounters starting early on in their lives, none of the citizens in the novel can properly value and respect love and all the feelings that come with it. Everyone can have sexual relationships with each other, but there are no emotions involved. This loss of emotions shows a cunning way the government is covering up the destruction of basic human emotions. In Brave New World, if a person were to fall in love with another person, this would lead to the development of emotions and the advancement of family life, which would interrupt with the stability of the community. In the novel, the citizens embrace their lifestyle fully. This is because they are taught this when they are young. Controlling how people are born and numbing their emotions while they are actively having sexual encounters, a person in this society is created. The way they teach the citizens is more like programming their brains than actual learning. The government uses hypnopedia, which is more commonly known as sleep teaching and shock therapy to ‘teach’ the people. In addition, there is drug called soma, which is used to numb all feelings. “The government in Brave New World repeatedly conditions its citizens to use ‘soma’” (Barr 849). Soma is highly encouraged by the World State to be used by all their citizens. This is because when a person takes soma, all of their feelings are numb and puts the person void of any feeling. In Brave New World, a person takes a dose of soma to get rid of the weird feelings they feel inside them. In the novel, the author shows that whenever the citizens are alone or free time, the feelings come out and then they take more soma. By tampering with nature since a person is born, the government is actively practicing stability.
For a book published in 1932, Brave New World has a surprising connection and impact on the world today. Genetically engineering babies are becoming very popular in the world as people can choose what characteristics their babies can have. It is already to see the loss of individuality here. The society in Brave New World does have a good side to it: there is no war, and very little diseases. But their society is paying a very high price. There is no literature, art, love and uniqueness. We have to avoid becoming this type of society at all costs.
- Barr, Bob. “Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World- Still a Chilling Vision After All These Years.” Michigan Law Review. 108. 6. (2010): 847-857. Article.
- Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. London, England. Arcturus Publishing Limited, 2017.
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