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Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

Watch all the short videos about Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” here :

http://www.60secondrecap.com/library/brave-new-world/

You might just end up wanting to read the whole book ! Enjoy !

Main Ideas :

Dystopia

Alienation & the denial of the Individual

Totalitarian control by means of consumerism and the promotion of hedonism

Science – genetic control at birth, & the use of drugs to keep people practically stupefied into conformity


Thematically-organised quotes from the book :
http://www.shmoop.com/brave-new-world/quotes.html

Below is Wikipedia’s description of the society (called “the World State”) in which the novel –published in 1932- is set. Compare this with our modern society.

The novel opens in London in 632 (AD 2540 in the Gregorian Calendar). The vast majority of the population is unified under The World State, an eternally peaceful, stable global society in which goods and resources are plentiful (because the population is permanently limited to no more than two billion people) and everyone is happy. Natural reproduction has been done away with and children are created, ‘decanted’ and raised in Hatcheries and Conditioning Centres, where they are divided into five castes (which are further split into ‘Plus’ and ‘Minus’ members) and designed to fulfill predetermined positions within the social and economic strata of the World State. Fetuses chosen to become members of the highest caste, ‘Alpha’, are allowed to develop naturally while maturing to term in “decanting bottles”, while fetuses chosen to become members of the lower castes (‘Beta’, ‘Gamma’, ‘Delta’, ‘Epsilon’) are subjected to in situ chemical interference to cause arrested development in intelligence or physical growth. Each ‘Alpha’ or ‘Beta’ is the product of one unique fertilized egg developing into one unique fetus. Members of lower castes are not unique but are instead created using the Bokanovsky process which enables a single egg to spawn (at the point of the story being told) up to 96 children and one ovary to produce thousands of children. To further increase the birthrate of Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, Podsnap’s Technique causes all the eggs in the ovary to mature simultaneously, allowing the hatchery to get full use of the ovary in two years’ time. People of these castes make up the majority of human society, and the production of such specialized children bolsters the efficiency and harmony of society, since these people are deliberately limited in their cognitive and physical abilities, as well as the scope of their ambitions and the complexity of their desires, thus rendering them easier to control. All children are educated via the hypnopaedic process, which provides each child with caste-appropriate subconscious messages to mold the child’s life-long self-image and social outlook to that chosen by the leaders and their predetermined plans for producing future adult generations.

To maintain the World State’s Command Economy for the indefinite future, all citizens are conditioned from birth to value consumption with such platitudes as “spending is better than mending,” i.e., buy a new one instead of fixing the old one, because constant consumption, and near-universal employment to meet society’s material demands, is the bedrock of economic and social stability for the World State. Beyond providing social engagement and distraction in the material realm of work or play, the need for transcendence, solitude and spiritual communion is addressed with the ubiquitous availability and universally endorsed consumption of the drug soma. Soma is an allusion to a mythical drink of the same name consumed by ancient Indo-Aryans. In the book, soma is a hallucinogen that takes users on enjoyable, hangover-free “holidays”. It was developed by the World State to provide these inner-directed personal experiences within a socially managed context of State-run ‘religious’ organizations; social clubs. The hypnopaedically inculcated affinity for the State-produced drug, as a self-medicating comfort mechanism in the face of stress or discomfort, thereby eliminates the need for religion or other personal allegiances outside or beyond the World State.

Recreational sex is an integral part of society. According to The World State, sex is a social activity, rather than a means of reproduction (sex is encouraged from early childhood). The few women who can reproduce are conditioned to use birth control (a “Malthusian belt”, resembling a cartridge belt holding “the regulation supply of contraceptives“, is a popular fashion accessory). The maxim “everyone belongs to everyone else” is repeated often, and the idea of a “family” is considered pornographic; sexual competition and emotional, romantic relationships are rendered obsolete because they are no longer needed. Marriage, natural birth, parenthood, and pregnancy are considered too obscene to be mentioned in casual conversation. Thus, society has developed a new idea of reproductive comprehension.

Spending time alone is considered an outrageous waste of time and money. Wanting to be an individual is horrifying. This is why John, a character in the book, is later afforded celebrity-like status. Conditioning trains people to consume and never to enjoy being alone, so by spending an afternoon not playing “Obstacle Golf,” or not in bed with a friend, one is forfeiting acceptance.

In The World State, people typically die at age 60[10] having maintained good health and youthfulness their whole life. Death isn’t feared; anyone reflecting upon it is reassured by the knowledge that everyone is happy, and that society goes on. Since no one has family, they have no ties to mourn.

The conditioning system eliminates the need for professional competitiveness; people are literally bred to do their jobs and cannot desire another. There is no competition within castes; each caste member receives the same food, housing, and soma rationing as every other member of that caste. There is no desire to change one’s caste, largely because a person’s sleep-conditioning teaches that his or her caste is superior to the other four. To grow closer with members of the same class, citizens participate in mock religious services called Solidarity Services, in which twelve people consume large quantities of soma and sing hymns. The ritual progresses through group hypnosis and climaxes in an orgy.

In geographic areas nonconducive to easy living and consumption, securely contained groups of “savages” are left to their own devices.

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