Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, provides a grim depiction of a world completely dedicated to the concept of community and the “common good.” In Huxley’s world, the World State, individuals are created in test tubes and developed into certain groups with set physical and intellectual capabilities. These groups constitute a rigid caste system in which the highest levels of society are handsome and intelligent and the lower classes are increasingly less attractive and intelligent. Their society has been able to create a world in which there is no war or civil unrest of any sort. Instead babies are created in test tubes and are taught the same sets of morals and beliefs. This, in combination with heavy doses of soma (the state funded drug that pacifies civilians) allows them to maintain a subdued, uniform world. The concept of soma is one that stood out to me when looking for similarities between Huxley’s world and our current world. Soma is a drug used regularly by almost everyone in the World State that put’s one in a dreamlike escape from reality. The rampant over prescription of opiates, like Oxycodone, has provided beneficial results to millions of people suffering around the world, but it has had lethal effects on the American population, with 15,000 people a year dying from prescription painkillers (castlemedical.com). Due to the efforts by major pharmaceutical corporations and failure to impose proper legislation, far too many Americans are falling victim to opioid addiction, much like the citizens in Brave New World.
Rather than deal with the variety of issues and dangers posed by an uncontrolled population, the leaders of the World State, like Mustapha Mond, decided to subdue individuals by pumping them full of soma, rendering them pacified, lifeless lemmings with no ability or motivation to protest or rally. They seem to have discovered the key to avoiding the primary troubles that once plagued the planet. Culture is entirely focused on the community and doing whatever one can to further the prosperity of the collective group. This would not be possible without the influence of rampant soma usage. Whenever a protest does happen to break out, the police distribute soma among the protestors and all is brought back to normal.
I fear that our current society is moving in a similar direction. While our law enforcement officials are not spraying use with gaseous forms of Oxycodone, we are witnessing a rapidly spreading epidemic. The U.S. has failed it’s people by neglecting to regulate these highly addictive substances and allowing doctors to prescribe them indiscriminately. We are faced with a growing percentage of our population that is becoming increasingly dependent on a pharmaceutical narcotic that renders them useless drones, much like soma. I pray that our elected officials begin to take this issue seriously and take the necessary steps to create a realistic and effective solution. If not, we will undoubtedly witness a descent into a World State realm in which more and more citizens are prescribed a highly addictive drug that ruins lives and removes all sense of self purpose or value.