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Tag: inequality

What determines happiness? 

Many people believe they have a clear idea of what happiness is, and exactly what they need to do in order to achieve it. However, countless are misguided in their beliefs. Although many would think that wealth, power, and stability constitute happiness, this is certainly not the case. Brave New World portrays a perfectly controlled society, meant to eliminate the horrors of conflict, instability, and unknowns such as death. Sounds perfect, right? Not quite. Despite its surficial benefits, it is clear that this society is far from perfect in terms of happiness and human mental well being. The society of Brave New World has stripped its inhabitants of the privileges that help define happiness as well as those that determine humanity itself.

Brave New World creates a society designed to be perfectly stable and orderly, creating and conditioning its inhabitants to function practically as robots. It attempts to make everyone equals by creating large groups of identical twins, and genetic classes of people designed to fit into certain roles in society. However, this only reinforces the division between groups by creating classes that determine a person’s genetic makeup and everything about their life. People are denied liberty and basic human rights in the creation of these classes.  And even further, people are deprived of individuality, by being created as twins and conditioned to have the same beliefs. Everyone is forced to conform to the strict order of society, and no one can have any personal opinions or character. Bernard struggles with this throughout the novel, as he feels different from everyone else and is alienated because of his attempt to express his personal opinions and general discontent with society. People are not able to form true human relationships in this environment.

Yes, the people in Brave New World claim to be living happy lives. But this is only because they do not know what happiness really is. Their society has been confined so much that they are not able to experience true human emotions, such as love and happiness. And even their superficial perceived happiness has its limits. The people rely strongly on their daily dose of soma to keep them going, as evidenced by the riot that occurs when Bernard begins throwing the soma rations out the window. They are craving fulfillment that they are not able to achieve under the constraints the the World State society.

Brave New World shows us that human happiness depends on true human connections. Without individuality and opinions, there can be no meaningful connections between people. Yes, the people in Brave New World are social, but they have been deprived of the humanity necessary to form real relationships. And without these bonds, they are not able to experience true human happiness. They believe they are happy, but looking in from the outside it is clear that what they are experiencing is far from the true human happiness we know. In a world so stabilized that there are no individual opinions or personalities, people have no true basis on which to connect. Yes, there is no conflict and no horrors experienced by the inhabitants of the World State, but there is no love and happiness either.

 

Was Aldous Huxley trying to tell us something and if so what?

Carter Liou

4/24/18

STS 112 – WA

 

In Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World, the context of the story is set in a dystopian-like future labeled the “World State.”  Naturally, this fictional society differs in many ways from our own, and Huxley distinctly describes the points where our world and the World State diverge.  While these differences, such as how babies are genetically engineered through artificial wombs, or how infants in different castes are classically conditioned in different ways, may seem quite obvious to the reader, what is not as evident are the ways in which the New World society mirrors ours.  Through the idea that this future New World shares the similarities with our current society, Huxley is ultimately warning us of the harmful effects that expansion and development of a capitalist ideology can impose on society.

 

While in modern society we are forced to sacrifice certain aspects of our lives to conform to certain norms, in Brave New World, the sacrifices that are made are far more extreme.  In Huxley’s dystopia, the ruling body, under Mustapha Mond, pursues a society driven by absolute consumerism by ultimately sacrificing certain human values, that in today’s society, might be seen as essential.   The first value that Mond believes must be sacrificed are personal relationships that produce emotions or feelings of passion. For this reason we see that the citizens of the New World do not have parents, lovers or children.  Ironically, in the real world family is essential and often acts as a primary support system, in the World State that job is given to Soma, a recreational drug, that alleviates any pain the user is experiencing. While in our current world this concept seem unimaginable, in the eyes of Mond, the restriction of personal relationships lead to an economic stability in society.  

 

Another sacrifice is that of equality.  It’s true that today we are not all born equal, but in the western world it is believed that even if one is born into poverty, that with hard work and dedication, one can climb the socio-economic pyramid.  In Brave New World this idea of the American Dream is nonexistent.  People are born into a certain caste (Alpha, Beta, Gamma Delta, and Epsilon) and will remain is such caste for their entire life.  This is ensured through the treatment of the embryos, fetuses and infants in different castes. For example the Gamma Delta, and Epsilon embryos are shocked into form 90 identical embryos, but the Alpha and Beta embryos are not.  During the fetal stage, the lower castes are given alcohol and deprived of oxygen to ensure lower intelligence, and during infancy.  The lower classes are also dissuaded from the pursuit of knowledge.  For example, the Delta class is classically conditioned to fears flowers and books through a series of repeated shocks whereas hypnopaedia is instilled in the Alpha and Beta castes.  This may seem diabolic, but Mond explains that inequality is crucial for the stability of their heavily consumerist society. In this way the castes know their role in the larger mechanism that is productivity of goods and services.

 

The debate between capitalism and communism was prominent during the twentieth century, when Huxley wrote this story.  Is it then safe to say that Huxley is intrinsically communist? Not exactly. For a decent portion of the novel, we the readers, identify Bernard Marx as the protagonist of the novel.  The fact that Bernard exemplifies an outcast who envies his friend makes him inherently human, unlike all his brainwashed counterparts. While Berard defies the system by bringing John to the World States, he does so not to expose the defects of society, but rather for his own personal gain.  It should be noted that his last name is clearly hinting at Karl Marx, one of the leading figures in communism, and although he opposes the corruptness of the World State, he does not do so for the right reasons. Is this sense Huxley’s view can be seen as one that stresses moderation over extremity.

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