“Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto the World State goes by. Using these words as a mold, they’ve shaped a world where people are treated as lab rats, derived and produced in test tubes, to do nothing else but work their entire lives for their own greedy benefit. In the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the narrator follows the protagonist, Bernard Marx: an inquisitive and rebellious man, who is rumored to have more alcohol in his blood-surrogate than the average, as an explanation for his “queer” behavior. He seems to be the only one who’s unique in the entire population. Living in a society where people are stripped from their individuality and persona, Bernard is the first to conceive the faults of what they call home. As he tries to raise awareness to the apathetic populace, including a clueless yet average girl called Lenina, he struggles to push the truth forth. Through the process, they encounter John, a young man from the Savage Reservation who clandestinely cracks a hole in the impenetrable, “civilized” society.
Just like in many other dystopian societies, the government aims to erase emotions and possibly hazardous feelings that individuals could have. The only thing the government wants in this book is that people conform to their norms and don’t ask any questions. “Everyone is happy nowadays,” Lenina recites in the novel from her hypnopaedic conditioning. That’s the lie that they’re all fed. All castes believe that they’ve always had what they wanted and that they’re lucky to be in the class they are in. Apart from these hypnotizing phrases that are stapled into their brains, the government has also popularized soma. This drug allows individuals to escape from reality and mask themselves from any truth they want to forget. This drug doesn’t have any side effects such as headaches and therefore are so popular. Soma also allows people to hide from their problems instead of facing them, which is just what the government wants. By using soma, people can feel happy all the time, no sadness nor anger or even pain, just happiness. After all, that’s what they want right?
To “protect” the populace from any thought-provoking information they could possibly find in books, the government in Brave New World prohibited any reading, except for certain essential texts that won’t contradict or question anything about the way things are run in the community. Knowledge is a limited thing that is categorized as “dangerous” by the World Leaders. Only specific, and most likely, censored books are passed down to the Alpha’s and Beta’s for general reference, but the World Leaders were cautious enough to not introduce any bizarre books with foreign ideas or opinions. For the castes below the Alphas or Betas, the government had come to a conclusion that the only way to keep them away from any books is to scar them for life. What they do is take a batch of toddlers and put them in a room where they’re introduced to two new things: books and plants. Out of curiosity, these little babies crawl towards the objects and once they start playing with them, they electrocute them until they starting bawling. All this just to teach them a lesson that if they come in contact with either books or nature, they’ll get hurt real bad.
The books that can be found in the civilized community are modern and don’t contain any information about the past. Everything, as they know of, is stated in the year After Ford, or A.F. Since the government had wanted to start from complete scratch, they’ve also introduced this new religion where everyone worships Ford. Henry Ford became famous for perfecting the assembly line as well as mass production and in the society they molded, humans are mass produced in assembly lines as if they were supplies on a product shelf.
In the civilized society, the World State had decided to put forth a strict social class system that rigidly defines and diverges groups of people. Humans are classified into a structure called the caste system, where those at the top are smarter, better looking and just a little more unique as individuals. The lower the caste, the uglier and dumber they get. Since birth, these castes are taught to despise each other, as a result of the repetitions they’re fed every night. Each caste is obligated to wear a distinct color and fulfill caste-specific tasks. At the top you’ll find the Alphas, followed by the Betas, then Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. All castes are mass produced by the government except for the Alphas and Betas, the privileged ones. The government has eliminated a very dangerous thing: greed. By making each caste believe they’ve always had what they wanted and that they’re content with what they’re doing, there has never been any greed. Deltas are happy that they don’t work as hard as the Alphas and Betas are thankful they don’t have to drag things around all day like the Epsilons.
Stability is one of the words that forms part of the World State’s motto: “Community, Identity, Stability.” That’s what the government wants in their society, but to achieve that, they’ve had to sacrifice several things. The World State had decided that the only way to achieve social stability is by assembling a hierarchal pyramid. What they mean by that is a caste system. They’ve decided to strictly define these castes so that there isn’t any social instability. Another thing they’ve put into practice is using the Bokanovsky process, a fictional process where they can create 96 identical twins from only one embryo. These “batches” of 96 are also a huge part of their road to stability. The second thing they sacrificed is the identity of individuals. The “identity” in the motto refers more to the castes that they’re classified into and the mindsets they’re manipulated to have. They’ve made individuals but multiplied them to make whole populations. These genetically identical individuals are less likely to spark riots and conflict, which is just what the World State needs. Their definition of stability is minimizing conflict and diminish any change. Another major aspect they’ve sacrificed is freedom. Mustapha Mond, one of the several World Leaders, believes that freedom has to be sacrificed in order to attain happiness. He believes that if you take someone’s freedom away, they will be thankful for what they have and not ask for something they know they can’t have.
In the civilized society, the government has accomplished to make people social in every way possible. Privacy almost seems to be a fictional thing in their community. Individuals don’t have secrets and always are part of the crowd. Since all castes have been conditioned to despise nature in every which way, they’ve always had the tendency to stay together within the city like a pack of scared wolves. Solidarity is seen as “queer” by others and even unhealthy in a sense, as it’s emphasized as something unnatural. The importance of being part of the community is stressed through discouraging individuality. “When the individual feels, the community reels,” is an example of another sleep-taught phrase, which indicates that if an individual were to start catching feelings, they would bring the community into danger and make it collapse just by presenting their thoughts to the crowd. The government was also able to achieve a relationship-free community. No true communication is allowed to develop between individuals and any bonds are broken so that individuals can’t feel attached to others. Bernard tries to open up to Lenina, but by nature, Lenina shuts it back down by pushing his words away. Most importantly, though, family, the strongest bond of them all, is targeted and torn apart. Without genetic bonds or relationships, individuals are vulnerable and become easy targets for the government.
It seems to be that the slogans that are cemented into their minds are the only thing individuals in this hand-crafted world live by. Their entire childhood, children are compelled to learn through a method called hypnopaedia. Instead of going to school during the day, children are taught in their sleep. Hypnopedia is a method in which sentences or phrases are repeated over and over again in one’s sleep until the individual can unconsciously recall it. Through this, the government has unlocked their way into the mind of individuals and have achieved to brainwash them. All of these phrases are chosen purposefully by the government to trick the population into conforming to their rules. An example of a phrase that’s pumped into their heads is “A gramme is always better than a damn.” This implies that it’s always better to take a gramme of soma to get rid of anger, sadness, bitterness or any other feeling than to face it. Apart from that one, countless others talk about how they should always retreat to soma in emotion-provoking situations; “A gramme in time saves nine,” “One cubic centimetre saves ten gloomy sentiments.” Not all revolve around soma; “Everybody’s happy nowadays” misleads and tricks them into believing that everything in their society is perfect, a place where everyone’s happy and nothing could be better. But what these people aren’t aware of is that it’s all an illusion, a cut-out.
In the beginning of the novel, Bernard Marx is the character that presents the flaws of the society on a small scale. Through his eyes, one can finally pry out the negatives of their contemporary lives and are introduced to the first contrasting point of view. Bernard seems to be the only one in his society to notice something’s just not right. Maybe it’s the extra alcohol in his blood-surrogate that sparked curiosity in him. Who knows? Bernard feels like he doesn’t belong, and therefore finds connections with the outside world, nature in this case. While everyone finds their way to surround themselves in masses of people, Bernard escapes to the ocean at night to reflect on what’s on his mind. After getting to know Bernard pretty well, a new character comes into the spotlight. Bernard travels with Lenina to the Savage Reservation in hopes trying something new and completely wild, and to his surprise meets this young man called John the Savage. John has always been an outcast, even in his own society, and when Bernard decides to bring him back to London with him, the way things are run in the civilized society are nothing like what his mother had told him in her stories and shocks him. John goes completely insane and starts a riot by violently throwing soma out the hospital window in hopes of pushing the truth forth to the enslaved population. Wistfully, the witnesses only end up taking more soma to forget it ever happened and John, alongside Bernard and Helmholtz, are sent to Mustapha Mond who decides to send them far away to avoid any other dangerous acts. While Bernard and Helmholtz are sent all the way to Iceland, John is given the option to live on the outskirts and takes that option. Apart from the fact that he’s so far away from the city, he somehow still manages to grab the attention of hundreds.
Brave New World presents an uncommon image of the future where one mighty government gains power and ends up taking complete control of the entire society. Aldous Huxley portrays a future in which a group of leaders have decided to dominate the minds of millions, not with violence or fear, but with soma, a hallucinatory drug that doesn’t have any side effects. The leaders had to sacrifice various things in order to create an illusion of a perfect society for the population. They’ve managed to brainwash individuals by chaining phrases into their minds and making them believe that “Everyone is happy nowadays.”
There are several aspects that Aldous Huxley was criticizing from our contemporary society that he affirmed would impact us negatively if we continue to handle that issue the way it is right now. One of the major ones is that our technology and science is advancing so fast, that soon there won’t be any human relationships. Society will have no space left for true human interaction. In his novel, you can clearly see that the relationships between characters are superficial and that nobody can truly consider anyone as a friend. Aldous Huxley is also critiquing sex. In the novel, sex isn’t taking as anything serious, if anything it’s just for fun. He’s noticing that sex is slowly becoming something that is being valued less and less every day. Apart from that he also touches upon how the government has unlimited power. In the story, one mighty government rises above all and takes complete control of everything. Nowadays, most governments revolve their actions around the fact that it will benefit them in the end. If it isn’t for their benefit, they’ll eliminate it. If this continues to grow, the government will eventually start taking drastic and inhumane measures just for their greedy benefit.
Aldous Huxley’s world-known book, Brave New World, is a dystopian novel that presents the readers with a frightening perception of what the future could look like. From being mass-produced in bottles as identical twins to taking a drug to lock our vulnerable selves away from any emotions, Aldous Huxley has created a world where family doesn’t exist and individuality is a joke. Through this engaging story, I believe that Huxley has does an admirable job at presenting a feasible future through his clever wording. Brave New World is a must on your book list.