Brave New World

Brave New World by AldousHuxley

ISBN 0060929871 The values of a futuristic high technology civilization are challenged by a "savage primitive" who has respect for his parents, dislikes "soma" drug-induced "happiness", and values individuals.

It's also available as a movie (as seen on TV):
Brave New World isn't a parody on 1984. It was written before 1984 (i.e., before 1949). It is a very disturbing view on the future, and one that's probably a whole lot more likely to become reality than the one depicted in 1984. NineteenEightyFour is a story about a totalitarian society which monitors all of its citizens' conversations, moves, thoughts and ideas. The ThoughtPolice, who do all of the monitoring, also burn books that promote contrary ideas and liberally rewrite history to ensure that all of the government's decisions have always been correct.

Brave New World is a story about an equally enslaved (yet non-totalitarian) society. But there are no thought police. Nobody monitors your every thought because you aren't having any. Nobody burns books because nobody ever reads them. Nobody rewrites history because nobody cares anyway. Nobody makes any real decisions because everyone is drowning in a sea of irrelevant choices. And nobody "does this" to everybody... Everybody does it to themselves.

No need for perpetual warfare to soak up excess production; rampant needless consumerism is a sufficient sink.

Everybody takes a drug called Soma which makes them feel happy and content. They take it all the time, so that they always feel good and never have to think about anything.

Soma is not Ecstasy, and it's not Prozac. Soma is television.

Other evidence suggests: Perhaps it is VideoGames.

Substitution noted as television viewership declines among youth
Television viewing habits and the effects

On Performance On Health On Behaviour
BraveNewWorld juxtaposed with MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds: the society has achieved lower needs (food, shelter, sexual release) to an extreme degree, and neglected higher needs (learning, personal actualization). The theory would predict that people will naturally feel dissatisfied with this situation, and try to move on. Therefore while it's an interesting book, it's not a very likely future.

Good point.

Ah, but what effect does soma (whether you see it as television, heroin, or Prozac) have on Maslow's hierarchy? There seem to be quite a few people in modern society who, being supplied with food, shelter and sexual release, don't seem to hanker for learning or self-actualization.

They do hanker, perhaps just not noticeably to someone with strong hankerings. Hankering is relative. Also, it may be that they hanker for they know not what, and in their ignorance, can think of nothing else but to seek more food, bigger shelters and more varied/frequent sexual release.

Soma is not the only method of control in Brave New World; embryonic development is carefully controlled to ensure that people will fit into the role in life they have been allotted (and possibly to give them an addiction to soma in the first place). Also, I am not sure you can deduce that the government in Brave New World is not totalitarian; it seems to be some form of extreme CorporateGovernment which could be very much a totalitarian regime.

I think that totalitarian is an attribute that is irrelevant in the context of BraveNewWorld, because everything there is so extreme and other than our usual regimes, that it just doesn't match. There is no need for control by force in BraveNewWorld just because everything is engineered to need no force, only logistical control.

Agreed. We actually see very little of the leadership of the regime itself in the book, if I recall correctly. We are shown the methods of control (incidentally, I don't see any reason why a regime must use force as a method of control to be totalitarian by definition) and it is mentioned that the Ford motor company seams to be in control, or jointly in control (which also seems to have another form of control involved as is a sort of pseudo Ford religion) but we never see the people in power, presumably Ford's boardroom and shareholder(s).

I agree that the definition given on doesn't say anything about force. But the mentioned usual means is force and mass surveillance. Maybe BNW is an interesting special in this regard.

See also: TheManufacturingOfConsent, AmusingOurselvesToDeath, HiveMind.
CategoryBook CategoryMovie

View edit of February 27, 2010 or FindPage with title or text search