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.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World takes a unique approach to the dystopian genre. While many stories within the genre take place in a chaotic world with an oppressive government, Huxley’s is quite the opposite. The society in Brave New World has complete social order and control, which is maintained not by government intervention but by the very structure of society. Continue reading
Relative to the entire lifespan of all living organism, humans span a very minute part of this timeline. Continue reading
Recently, we have seen many advances in science and technology that aim to “improve” life. What we do is target a specific problem, and attempt to fix it or improve it. What do we achieve by doing this? What is the motive behind it? I’ve discussed before that a popular motive tends to be efficiency. After reading Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, I have rethought this assumption. Now, my thinking might be that we innovate to take control, and in turn we feel powerful.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, set in England, describes a “perfect” world created by a Director at the Central London Hatching and Conditioning Centre. At the center children are created from modified embryos and are geared towards certain disposition. While this idea of creating children in bottles and forcing upon them various dispositions and morals may seem far fetched, the practice is not that foreign to current day science. However, the desire to artificially create life shows humans need to claim control over a process in which they once had no control over.
Brave New World is the world we live in today. It has been since the scientific revolution and becomes more so with every passing invention, at least from a science standpoint. Test Tube Babies, psychologically altering medications, and birth control are all real in today’s world and staples in Brave New World. The two worlds are not as different as many may see them. The biggest difference lies in the political changes and the social caste system. While the people stuck in the lower tiers are not any dumber or genetically engineered to be held back, they are nearly stuck for life in a lower caste. The scientific and political themes of Brave New World parallel the themes in today’s world with striking similarity.
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World depicts a society that is based on keeping everyone happy. If anyone is unhappy, they can simply pop a soma: a government-provided drug that is “Euphoric, narcotic, and pleasantly hallucinant.” Huxley writes, “Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much a headache”, as soma has “All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol, but none of their defects.” Soma essentially creates a fake fantasy- an escape from reality for members of this controlled state. Emotions and experiences that people don’t want get replaced with a sense of happiness and overall wellbeing. In a world that creates life from test tubes, soma seems like it is pretty fictitious and has no real consequences. However, I argue the opposite. Soma renders humans as machines that are completely devoid of emotions and rational thought and thus, represents the powerful influence of science and technology on society. Continue reading