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Brave New World by Hulexy is a novel written about the future. The writer is giving an insight into the future life of the people under the influence of technology. Unlike other novels, that author sought to give a frightening vision of the future. In most of the novels that are futuristic, we expect a sort of positive utopia, but the novel is a clear example of negative utopia. The future in reference appears to be totally different society with queer occurrences. The present ruling is only concern with anything that will make them stay in power, while subjects are concern with survival.
The novel takes us through contemporary issues of the 20th century. The society had been widely influenced by the emerging and sustained industrial revolution. At the time the world had been transformed by the mass production of cars, telephones and radios that were now readily available and affordable nearly to the wider population. The then political, cultural and economic upheavals play a key role in shaping the society, (Noelle, 2005). The novel author captures this in the novel by naming the characters in the novel after the then influential people of the time.
Through the use of setting and characters from science fiction, that author expresses the widely held of opinion of fear of losing one’s identity in the fast changing world. The fear was the main concern of the civilized society at the time. There was the fear of Americanization in Europe, (Walard,1999). The novel contributes to the struggle by the few individuals who in the face of the changing world, struggled to maintain their identity. These are few individuals with a clear purpose in life.
The novels talks about a society that is unified under ‘The World State’, a peaceful and stable society with platy of goods and resources. The population permanently limited to not more than two billion. The population is controlled by the state using new technology. The natural reproductive method was done with. The society remains stratified with castes consisting of people with different economic levels. This is a clear case of the use of technology to control the society. The novel portrays the dangers of leaving the state to be in control of new and powerful technologies.
The state here is controlled by the few individuals in the higher caste who want to maintain their position in the society and to have dominion over the rest. As captured in the novel, the society if stratified into five castes. The individuals in the castes are designed to perform predetermined roles in the socio economic well being of the society. Right from the fetus stage, the individual position in the social strata is predetermined. The individuals in the lower strata have their fetus put to in situ chemical interference that cases arrested development in intelligence and physical growth. This is to enable the individuals in control of the state to rule and subdue them, (Noelle, 2005).
This is a warning to the present society that the state should not be granted control over the new and powerful technologies. As depicted in the novel, the individuals who are in leadership positions can easily use the technology to manipulate the society in order to advance their selfish anterior motives. The novel illustrates this by the control of reproduction through medical interventions such as surgical removal of ovaries, the Bokanovsky Process, and the hypnopaedic conditioning.
The use of Soma in the novel is symbolical; is a drug that symbolizes the use of instant gratification to satisfy the world populace. Soma stands for science and technology. The state feeds the population with ‘Soma’ in order to drug them in their control. The state emphasizes the need to improve science and technology as a way of making life comfortable and creating happiness to the people. The main focus of the state being on the results of scientific inventions that brings happiness to the people rather than scientific research in itself, (Noelle, 2005).
Huxley further warns of a society where, “individual happiness is defined as the ability to satisfy ones needs and the success of the society is equated with economic growth and prosperity”. This is a clear picture of the present society in which the individual’s economic prosperity plays a key role in the positioning of the person in the social strata. The present society as it is, depicts the same scenario; conforming to Huxley’s views of the society in the Brave New World.
The author compares truth with happiness in life. With the later appearing to be the most important in almost all the characters in the novel, it is clear that the happiness sought here is just for instant gratification rather than basing on the truth. The drug Soma is widely used to conceal the truth and plunge the individual into happy hallucinations and thus promoting social stability. The state is keen on ensuring the happiness of its citizens while protecting them from the truth. Mastapha Mond says that “the World State prioritizes happiness at the expense of truth by design”, he believes that “people are better off with happiness than with truth”.
It is however not clear from the novel the truth in reference. From Mond’s discussion with John, two types of truths can be identified that the state seeks to eliminate. First, the truth in the context of scientific and empirical truth; the state is in control of science and technology. The new scientific inventions and innovations remain under the control of the state. This is one type of the truth that the state is keen to keep it away from the citizens.
The second truth is ‘human’ truth such as love, friendship and personal connection. Generally, in the novel, the truth remains a secret weapon used by the state against the citizens. In exchange, happiness is provided but in the form of the drug soma.
According to George Orwell’s 1984, this novel depicts a dystopia in which an all-powerful state controls the behaviors and actions of its people in order to preserve its own stability and power. George Orwell believed that Brave New World "must be partly derived from" We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. The present society is a reflection of this scenario in the sense that the political class controls the popular opinions in the society. Without direct influence; majority of population conform to this opinions without questioning its truth and admissibility. This therefore is a case of the truth concealed and the happiness promoted, (Higgins, 2000).
In order to remain in power, the ruling class does everything within their means. The Orwell gives a case where the state maintains control by constant surveillance, secret police, and torture. This show what the old regime did in order to maintain their control over the society. The case is however different in the Brave New World; the government uses technological interventions rather than force and intimidation. The government citizens happy and superficially fulfilled hence make them not to care about their personal freedom. The consequences of this being loss of dignity, morals, values and emotions. The outcome of this is individuals who are culpable for government manipulation. This makes it easier for the political elite to remain in power. In the 21st century, with the widening democratic space, the political class is keen on employing modern technological strategies in order to maintain their power and dominion over the majority. ‘Knowledge is power’. The more technologically advanced nations command a stronger economic power and have influence on the others.
The story is a clear case of benevolent dictatorship where there is no war, poverty or crime, but the state remains static, efficient and totalitarian welfare-state. The stratification into the intellectually superior Alphas on top, Servile, Grammas, Delta and Epsilons makes easy for such dictatorship to thrive. This stratification being done employing the modern scientific methods further make it impossible for mobility between strata. The historical awareness is discouraged for fear that it might create discontent which would stir dissatisfaction with the ‘Utopian’ present. According to the novel, the Brave New World is sterile; mass consumption is emphasized as opposed to production. The philosophy of “Ending is better than mending” is widely applicable with the world state motto as “Community, Identity, and Stability”. The state promotes this as a way to conceal their motives from the wider society, (Higgins, 2000).
The use of soma is clear indication of imbecility in the society. Benard Marx, for example, takes four tablets of soma to pass away a long plane journey to the reservation in New Mexico. Lenine, swallows half a gram of soma when she begins to tire of Warden’s lecture. "With the result that she could now sit, serenely not listening, thinking of nothing at all" the society here is portrayed to be using soma only for instant gratification. Everyone is struggling to move away from the reality with the main motive being instant happiness. While the drug is popular with the wider majority in the society the political state finds it as an appropriate weapon to retain their position in power. This short-term happiness brought by the drug seems to keep the population comfortable and satisfied. Even today, majority of the youth seem to fall prey for the drug abuse; making them lose focus of the critical aspect of focusing into the future. In his trip to America, Huxley outraged by the culture of youth, commercial cheeriness, sexual promiscuity and the inward-looking nature of many Americans;
Soma gives a person unjustified and amoral happiness. It forces a person to be happy even when the situation does not allow that. This makes the individual to be vulnerable for disappointment.
In The World State, people typically die at age 60 having maintained good health and youthfulness their whole life. The awareness on the dangers of the drug increases with Savage’s denunciation that "Don't take that horrible stuff. It's poison, it's poison...Poison to the soul as well as the body...Throw it all away, that horrible poison". Don't all chemical euphoriants rob us of our humanity? It is at this instance that the novel shows people realizing the darker side of the drug. Symbolically, we would say that the possible danger of technology in the hands of the state is manifested. Technology is known to make life comfortable and instant happiness is guaranteed, but it also comes with a fair share of disadvantages. The author brings this clearly in the novel.
The benevolent dictatorship in the society is also depicted in the way the state controls the entire life of an individual from conception. The roles are predetermined and the life preconditioned. Children are not brought up by their families in their natural setting. They do not develop affection with the family, neither do they fall in love, marry and have their own kids. They develop loyalty and allegiance to the state by getting rid of potential sources of tension and anxiety.
Brave New World is then centered on control and manipulation. The state is utopian and is conceived on the basis of selfish interests. This is the main occurrence in the society which is increasingly becoming capitalistic. Brave New World is a stupid society. The Alphas are not doing anything; most of them are playing Obstacle Golf. Although a few Alphas like Benard, Helmholtz and Mustapha Mond are truly clever, the ignorance of the other Alphas makes them not to believe in the three. This makes the situation to remain much the same for them.