1. The structure of the Brave New World
1.1 The castes of the society
1.2 The conditioning with making use of the rules of Pavlov1
1.3 The sleepschool
1.4 The drug Soma
1.5 Ford “God” of the Brave New World
2. What happens when you don´t fit in the society?
2.1 The savage reservations, John, Bernard and Helmholtz-Watson
3. Brave New World a “perfect” society?
List of literature
2. Pavlovian dog
Brave New World (published in1932) has become one of the most famous pieces of science fiction literature.
This book written by Aldous Huxley concentrates on the development of mankind in a future society.
The author makes use of many scientific aspects which were hardly developed at the time of writing this book. He depicts a society which is supposed to be a perfect one. In this paper I am going to analyze whether this living together of human beings can really be called a perfect society.
The length of this paper being limited, it is not possible to give a detailed analysis of all aspects Huxley concentrates on. It must be focused on only one topic. I chose an analysis of the society the people live in. As Huxley makes use of the latest developments in science some people might have thought that this society must be ideal.
My main aim in this paper will be to outline Huxley´s society and to show that this way of living together has many disadvantages.
1. The structure of the Brave New World
To be able to evaluate the society of the Brave New World it is necessary to sum up the main elements of this future society.
The structure of the Brave New World has one motto that is community, identity and stability, which are the pillars of this society. Nobody is a “real” individual - individual behaviour is one of the greatest dangers this model of society has to cope with. One very important fact is the complete control of the development of each member of society. This control does not start with a birth of the people, everyone gets his place in the society before he or she is born. People don´t reproduce in the normal way they are produced in big factories. Huxley no longer speaks of the birth of human beings, he calls it decanting, because people are bred in bottles.
To protect and to save this motto they need many helpful things to keep the society alive and especially to control it. The most important means to achieve this are the Bokanovsky-Process, Conditioning - by making use of the rules of Pavlov, the drug Soma, the Sleepschool and Ford who is their God in this society - and explanation of “Ford” will be given in the next chapters of my coursework.
The given society produces its own members and gives them their place in the society where they have special tasks they have to fullfill.
There is no love, because this could lead to individual wishes and desires. Everyone can follow his sexual drives with people he wants to have contact to. There is no family life and no marriage; a relationship to only one person is strictly disliked and even forbidden, multi-sexual affairs are supported but the members are only allowed to have any relationships within their castes. This reinforces the stability of the hierarchy we can find in this society, because it hinders the members of the different castes from getting an intimate contact to other castes. So the stabilitty of of the different social classes of society is more or less guaranteed.
1.1 The castes in the society and the Bokanovsky-Process
All citizens of the Brave New World are produced in bottles in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre.
The most important thing and the use of the latest technology in this society is the Bokanovsky-Process. With this process it is possible to produce ninety-six identical embryos with the same genetic structure, a process which is nowadays called cloning.
With the use of this technology it is possible to determine the grades of the intelligence of the embryos.So it is obvious that two of the pillars of society are directly appealed to: community is formed by the production of identical human beings. Their behaviour is predictable and so stability can be kept. In addition to this they make use of a reduction of oxygen in order to have influence on the intellectual capacity of the members of society. Less oxygen means less intelligence. To influence the growth of the different groups of society alcohol is used. The result is that the lower castes in society are different in their outward appearance, they are small and apelike. With this process they create a special hierarchy in this Brave New World. The people in the Brave New World are subdivided into five castes. From the best, that means the most intelligent people, called the Alphas, to the underpriviliged people, called the Epsilons.
To emphasize the belonging to different castes members of the same group wear identical clothes. So it becomes obvious at first sight to what caste of society someone belongs . So the following hierarchcal pattern is developed:
Alphas and Betas:
The Alphas and Betas are the most intelligent citizens in the society, although they are bred in bottles, too. Their development is not influenced by messures as they have been mentioned above. They grow in the bottles as if they were in a woman´s womb.They are not produced by the Bokanovsky-Process, so they get individuals in the society with the highest amount of intellect. They work as Directors in important factories and the most intelligent, the Alpha plus work in the World Center, an institution which controls the whole society, where they have to care for the stability of the society. The Betas work as Directors in small factories or in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. These two castes are vitally important for the running of this society. They are in a way the administration which has to guarantee the basis of Brave New World. As it will be stated below there must be measures which even control these people, too, because they otherwise would be too much individuals in the given society.
Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons:
They are less intelligent and produced by the Bokanovsky-Process, too. Their task in the society does not need much intellect, they work in the normcenter or in a lift and have only minor tasks which they have to fullfill. Their inttellect and their body are on the lowest level. They are small, apelike and underpriviliged.
1.2 The conditioning with making use of the rules of Pavlov
1 Another important help to sustain the society is the conditioning by the rules of Pavlov. Pavlov(1849 - 1936) was a professor of pharmacology in Russia. His most famous realization was the Pavlovian dog2. He found out that you can unite an unconditoned stimuls with an conditoned reflex.
On this basis they conditon the children in the Brave New World.
They have to learn that flowers are bad, because flowers do not support the economy; years before it was a general rule that they conditioned the members of that society that flowers are good, because so the Deltas had to take a bus to go to nature and that supports the economy, but when anything is free you don´t have to pay for the nature and so you do not support the economy any longer. So they conditioned the people to like different kinds of sports and hobbies which support the society. Airplanes are good and sports where you need much equipment, like tennis and golf, for is supported, because these things are expensive and in that way good for the economy. These tendancies can be seen in the following quotation:
“Small hands reached out uncertainly, touched, grasped, unpetalling the transfigured roses, crumpling the illuminated pages of the books. The Director waited until all were happily busy. Then `watch carefully`, he said. And, lifting his hand, he gave the signal… Alarm bells maddeningly sounded. The children started, screamed; their faces were distored with terror. He waved his hand again, and the Head Nurse pressed the second lever. The screaming of the babies suddenly changed its tone… Their little bodies twitched and stiffened ; their limbs moved jerkily as if to the tug of unseen wires. ´We can electrify that whole strip of floor,` bawled the Director in explanation.” (Huxley, Brave New World, p. 28)
With repititions of this process the children will never like flowers or books, they will always connect them with fear and pain, with the electric shocks and the alarm bells. Books are forbidden, because they support individual thinking and that is disliked, it doesn´t support the society, it makes the stability insecure. You should never think too much and are not allowed to read texts which could evoke individual thoughts, it is too dangerous for the society.
1.3 The Sleepschool
In the sleepschool the children are also influenced and determined, while they are sleeping the nurses play tapes with texts that deliver contents and attitudes which support the society.
It supports the differences between the castes. Every caste gets the feeling of being the best caste of the society, so the people never long to become members of a different caste. They are satisfied and contented with their lives. The members of these different groups are never envious and don´t try to be promoted.
The Alphas get to know that they are the most intelligent people of the society, the Betas are happy, because they do not have to work as much as the Alphas because of being not so intelligent as the Alphas. The effect of this method can be proved with the following quotation:
“… all wear green, said a soft but very distinct voice, beginning in a middle of a sentence, ´and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don´t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They´re too stupid to be able to read or write. Besides they wear black, which is such a beastly colour. I´m so glad I´m a Beta. Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they´re so frightfully clever. I´m really awfully glad I´m a Beta, because I don´t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki…”
With many repititions of these phrases the meaning of the text is established and internalized in the subconsciousness of the children. That means that the children never think about this aquired behaviour; it is part of their identity.
In these phrases they learn to love their caste they are placed in and to accept the castes above them.
Their place in the society is directed and fixed by these tapes and they underline that they do not have contact to other castes except in their jobs.
They also learn that death is a normal event in the society, there should be no mourning, that´s why the sleepschool also has texts about the death which say that it is normal and you do not have any fear. There should´nt be bad things in society, people should always be happy and when there is a problem you can take soma and after that you feel better.
1.4 The drug Soma
Another important pillar of society is the drug Soma. Whenever there is a problem you take Soma and feel better. It is like alcohol, but without bad side- effects like a headache and things like that, so that you can take a vacation to a better place without the side- effects of a drug and after that you can go back to work.
People do not have to fight against their problems, they take Soma and feel better. Soma still has some bad sides as well, it keeps the life expectancy low. So people in the Brave New World do not become older than sixty when they die.
Soma is a drug for free, the citizens get it after their work, so that they cannot take too much of it.
As it is not desirable that people are consuming soma all day , because they cannot do their work properly when they consume soma all day and it would be a bad thing for their health. They cannot go on a summer vacation, because they have to work every day and with Soma they can go for a walk on the moon or to a wonderful place they want to be just for a few hours and then come back and do their work. It supports the society. So reality is completely excluded from their minds for a couple of hours.
1.5 Ford “God” of the Brave New World
To find out who is Ford I had to read many papers other students wrote, because the novel Brave New World always deals with Ford which replaces the word God in aur religion. But you don´t really know who Ford is.
Could it really be the man who produces cars? I was surprised when I found it out. Ford is the founder of the “assembly line ”, which is the starting point of mass production. And the T-model was the first car which was produced with the help of the assembly line. Referring to this fact there is an analogy to the production of human beings in Huxley´s novel. Henry Ford established the breakthrough of industrial production; cars could be produced in great amounts. In Brave New World human beings can be mulitplied and the identical set of people is created. So it is probable that Ford is worshipped by the people in this future society. Instead of a cross, which is a symbol for Christianity, the Brave New World has an “T” which stands for Ford´s T- Model .
But Ford instead of “God” does not only stand for Henry Ford it also stands for Sigmund Freud. He got the first views into the subciounceness of the human beings. He found out how you can manipulate the subconsciousness and what it means for the behaviour of people. With these insights into human beings’ minds they can build the society. The people who are created in bottles on the assembly line and the knowledge how to manipulate human behaviour. That is important knowledge for the society to keep it alive an safe. So it seems to be a suitable explanation that these two important figures are coined to be the “God” of this new society.
2. What happens when you don´t fit in the society?
In this chapter I will present some characters of the novel, who are very intelligent and think “too much” about their lives in the society so that they are dangerous for the society. They behave as individuals and do not want to be part of anything. They want to be free and so they have to be sent to another place where they cannot endanger the society. And in this way they are eliminated.
2.1 The savage reservations, John, Bernard and Helmholtz - Watson
The savage reservations are outside of the society, so that the people who live there don´t have any contacts to the civilization. In these reservations the people live like cows on a free land with an electrified fence, so that they cannot leave this territory. There live people who are born in the normal way, not decanted out of bottles.
They live a life you know from the indians with religion and indian rituals. One of these people is John; he lives in a savage reservation, his mother, Feline once lived in the civilization and his father is still the director of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. Feline had to leave the civilization because of her pregnancy.
Feline has many problems in this reservation, because she is conditioned to make love to the men she wants to. So she often has problems, because in the reservation men and women are married and she commits adultery when she has affairs with several husbands, because she is a permanent danger for the married women. She loved to tell John about civilization and he wants to go there one time just to see what is going on there.
Bernard lives in the civilization, he is an Alpha but there was a mistake made in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, the man who worked on the assembly line thought Bernard was supposed to be a Gamma and not an Alpha and so he got alcohol while he grew and as a result of this he was smaller than the other Alphas. Because of this he is an outcast and is not really accepted by the other members of society. So he thinks about his life and is unhappy about his situation, not being an idividual person.
Helmholtz-Watson is an Alpha plus he writes texts for the sleeping school and seems to be the most correct member of society. He had affairs with more than four hundred girls in four years, likes playing golf and flying helicopters. He really supports the society with his behaviour , but he is really unhappy with this situation. He wants to be as Bernard too an individual person and not only a member of a big group.
Being threatened by the director of the Hatchery to be sent to Iceland, Bernard tries to take revenge. He wants to ridicule the Director of the Hatchery in showig all the members of society that he has an illegal son who lives in the reservation.
One day Bernard goes to the savage reservation and takes John and Feline back to civilization. John dislikes the civilization. He loses his mother because of this society, Feline consumes soma all day, because of her past and unhappiness and she dies because of that.
When the Deltas get their soma after work John wants to “help” them and to show them that this society is not as good as it seems to be so he throws the soma out of the window, Helmholtz -Watson helps him.
Bernard and Helmholtz-Watson now are dangerous for the society and have to go to an island where they couldn´t endanger the society.
John went to a lighthouse to find a place for himself to be alone, because he doesn´t want to support this society which killed his mother .
Gradually he gets to know that this was impossible, all the members of society wanted to see the savage and how he lives. They regard him as a savage animal in the zoo. He couldn´t live with this so he commits suicide.
3. Brave New World a “perfect” society?
As you can see in the chapter above there are persons in the society who are not satisfied with the structure of the Brave New World. They want to behave as individual persons and don´t want to be part of a big group. They cannot do this, because of the use of different means to control and influence the individuals. Only being part of groups or castes hinders these people from developing their own identity. Offending the rules leads to punishment, which can even result in the elimination of these people.
This is one point why I think you cannot call this society a “perfect” one.
Intellectual behaviour is a dangerous thing in the society, but Alphas and Betas - the only human beings who have the copacity to reflect on their behaviour - are needed to run and organize the system.
But even these groups are not allowed to modify the system. They can only do things which stabalize the structure of this future society. To be “perfect” members they are conditioned and become addicts of Soma, which makes them keep the rules. So for them life always seems to be positive; they never get to know negative aspects of life. So in a way they can´t see the deficiencies of the Brave New World.
You only can be happy when there are also bad sides in life - which enable you to learn and experience your own identity (e.g. the death of a friend and the resulting mourning). You need bad sides in life to appreciate the good sides.
The assembly line where they produce the members of the society is a point which doesn´t convince in ethical views.
To control and manipulate the intellect of an individiual person by the reduction of oxygen to keep the intellect at a low level, is abject in ethical view. You can say it is mutilation of the unborn child. That cannot be the basis for a society.
The children grow up without parents, without love and the security of a parental home; they are conditioned by electric shocks and alarm bells. That cannot be the way to show a child what is wrong and what is right. They are socialized with the help of fear and pain, so that they never can develop a strong and unique identity and character. They don´t get any education they just learn, because of fear and pain.
In the Brave New World you cannot choose the job you want to do, your whole life is determined by the people who work in the World Center. Nobody gets the chance to live a life he wants to live. Everything is predetermined.The Epsilons just live for the society they are so underpriviliged that they always do what others say and so they can be regarded as the biggest victims of society. But they do not really know they are victims, as their intellectual level is hardly developed. That cannot be a perfect society where nobody can live out his feelings and his thoughts. Without any friends and persons you love, everybody is alone and has to fit in this society, has to work and lives for consuming expensive things to support the economy.
Bernard and Helmholtz Watson do not want to consume Soma that is one reason why they are different from the other members of society. They live with their problems and that´s why they are a danger.
Bernard really could live better with consuming Soma. Because of his outward appereance which does not fit to the other Alphas he is ridiculed by the members of his caste. He is aware of these facts but he wants to live with this problem; he doesn´t want to flee into the superficial dreams of a drug. So he seems to see the problems and the defects of society.
It seems to be as if the members of society always live in a bottle which they never can leave.Their minds are limited to the main facts, the main pillars of society: community, identity and stability. Nobody speaks about individuality and feeling these points because if doing so they would leave this bottle and they would find out that they are not free.
But even Bernard and Helmholtz Watson never really get free, because of the big system. When they try to become free they are sent away, if they hadn´t been sent away, it wouldn´t have been possible to reach a great number of people and to explain to them the faults and failures of society. The Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons would never understand the meaning of feelings and individuality. These groups can´t understand that they live in an imperfect society and people like Helmholtz Watson and Bernard haven´t got the chance of opening their eyes. To sum up one can say that the members of this future society are reduced to mere puppets. They are types and not individuals, they don´t develop and are addicted to happiness. This happiness is superficial, static and inhuman. Living in such a world is senseless, and there is no goal to aim at. People can´t find their identity, they don´t reflect on the sense of life.
List of literature
1. Huxley, A., Brave New World, London, 1980²
In August 1927 Aldous Huxley wrote an article entitled “Entertainment for the Masses”. In his article he explains, “that increased leisure does not lead to increased culture […]”(1). In 1933 he published the novel Brave New World in which he tries to prove this thesis.
In Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, happiness is supposed to be achieved by increased leisure, such as the consumption of mass-products, by doing sports like electromagnetic “Obstacle Golf”, by frequent sexual encounters with changing partners, "the feelies", and of course the utopian wonder-drug “soma”. All these institutions and means have been developed for the society to satisfy basic, human needs.
Soma causes a feeling of content and helps to prevent negative emotions, the community sing substitutes religion, different sports are there for the sake of fitness and feelings of success, the feelies are a substitute for a variety of feelings and the desire for sex is satisfied by frequent sexual encounters. In the following text these different possibilities of entertainment are explained.
The word “soma” could be derived from the Latin word somnium which means “the dream” or from somnus, “the sleep”. Another possibility is that the name refers to the plant “soma”, which the Hindus produce a drinkable, intoxicating drug from.
In the brave new world soma is one of the most important scientific inventions. It is a drug that causes a longer or shorter time of well-being, depending on the amount swallowed. Unlike alcohol or tranquillisers soma works positively on the human mind without having side effects or causing hangovers. For many people in the brave new world taking soma is like a short holiday after work. This fact especially appears in the case of the lower caste people. They get their soma-ration every day and swallow it although it shortens their lives. With soma the citizens of the brave new world can compensate emotional stress. If they feel sorrow, pain, anger, jealousy or other negative emotions the universal solution always seems to be soma. So soma is a remedy to reduce aggression and discontent to a minimum and it helps to keep the social stability in the brave new world. It helps to prevent emotional amplitudes, which means that all citizens are on a constant level, never feeling really good or extremely bad. Soma keeps people away from dealing with their problems or having a critical look at them. Mustapha Mond claims that “You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle”(p.235).
But soma does not give more than a cheap thrill to the intellectual Alpha Plus Bernard Marx, nor does it make him happy with his circumstances in life.
This stands in contrast to Lenina who takes large portions of soma. Whenever she has emotional difficulties or is not able to cope with a situation, she escapes into the dream world of soma. An example of her escape from her surroundings, is the situation when she and Bernard Marx visit the reservation. Just because she is bored by the warden’s speech she swallows half a gramme of soma to flee from the boredom of the warden’s speech. Because of soma she seems to pay attention, but in reality she does not listen nor does she think at all.
Another purpose of the drug is the usage of soma for sick and dying people. In hospitals patients get huge concentrations of soma to ease their suffering and pain especially before death. Soma makes death as pleasant as possible. But the consumption of soma also causes these patients not to be able to think clearly any more, and stay drugged until they are dead. The exaggerated consumption of soma can lead to death, like in Linda’s case. She needs to take huge portions of soma just to repress memories of her past in the reservation. This is an extreme example of how people escape from reality by taking soma. But there are far more other drugs offered by the Internal and External Secretion Trust, which is in charge of hormones and medicines to keep people fit, young-looking and happy.
As the technical development has progressed in the brave new world there is also a new form of cinema, which is called “the feelies”. The difference between cinema today and the feelies in the brave new world is that the impressions one can get are not only conveyed in the visual and auditory way, but also by the sense of touch and the sense of smell. At the beginning of the movie a scent organ spills a diversity of fragrances through the theatre and delights the audience by smells of rosemary, lavender or sandalwood and new-mown hay. After that a music machine produces sounds of synthetic music and warbling human voices that changes its heights every couple of seconds to fascinate the listeners. The “feely” effects are caused by metal knobs on the arms of “pneumatic” chairs.
Lenina likes this form of movie very much. That is why she invites John to such an event. Sitting comfortably in their pneumatic stalls, among six thousand other spectators, they are waiting for the beginning of the movie.
[ … ]then suddenly, dazzling and incomparably more solid- looking than they would have seemed in actual flesh and blood, far more real than reality, there stood the stereoscopic images, locked in one another ’ s arms, [ … ] (cf. p.169)
A special technique conveys a very vivid picture of the action. From this sentence one could think that Huxley already had an idea of the 3D technology which was actually invented decades after he had written the book.
The coloured movie “Three Weeks In A Helicopter”, which has an extremely simple plot, is a genre-mixture of eroticism and action. John thinks that this film is horrible and superficial, but for Lenina, as a typical inhabitant of the brave new world, it is brilliant, as it is a substitute for real feelings.
As in the real world people may not have intense feelings, especially negative feelings like hatred aggression and pain, it is the main purpose of these feelies to enable people to experience these sensations in a safe place. The masses in the brave new world are not able to develop real feelings because the state policy tries to prevent them from committing such offences in any way. For example it is not acceptable for a couple to have a relationship lasting more than a few weeks, because stable social relationships mean instability for the state (cf. frequent sexual encounters).
The importance of the feelies is also shown by the enormously large Hounslow Feely Studio which covers seven and a half hectares.
Obstacle Golf and other Games
Obstacle Golf, centrifugal bumble-puppy, escalator squash and Riemann-surface tennis are popular activities in the brave new world. What is remarkable about these sports is that the equipment needed for them is very elaborated and is constantly improved and easy to break. The reason for this is that the state wants to increase consumption (cf. consumption, p.5).
Obstacle Golf is mentioned for the first time in Chapter 4, when Henry and Lenina play this game. The game is based on electromagnetic technologies, which means that the metal ball rolls into the hole almost automatically. This self-cheating game is good for fast feelings of success, nobody ever loses. That is important because no feelings of depression or disappointment are provoked and negative feelings can be compensated. All the other games are only mentioned in passing without being described in further detail.
Nevertheless these activities are of great importance. The inhabitants of the brave new world are supposed to take part in these games. That is the reason why Bernard feels guilty about confessing to not having played anything that afternoon when he is asked by a girl at the Solidary Service what he did (cf.p.89).
Frequent sexual encounters with changing partners
“Everybody belongs to everybody else”, that is the brave new world’s motto concerning the relationship between men and women. Romantic love is discouraged in order to prevent permanent relationships that lead to lasting love.
In fact, there are no stable relationships in brave new world, just short sexual affairs for mere fun. Already in their childhood the inhabitants of the brave new world are indoctrinated with the state’s ideology. Therefore children are encouraged to play the “Erotic Play”, in which they explore one another’s bodies. This game has been induced to lead them to an uncomplicated, natural relation to their bodies and to prevent any adult feelings of guilt concerning sex.
John realizes that the only meaning of sex in the brave new world is lust, but love does not play any role. This stands in contrast to his life in the reservation, where monogamy, faith and love are among the highest values. That explains John’s “strange” behaviour towards Lenina. The society of the brave new world is loveless, because love between men and women and love within a family is taboo. Families do not exist any more, because children are “decanted”, raised and educated by the state.
In Chapter 5 (cf.pp.88) Bernard goes to the fortnightly "Solidarity Service" at the Fordson Community Singery which is organized regularly for the Alphas and Betas. This is a parody of religious centres in our “real” world.
On a Thursday he arrives a little late and takes a seat in the group. There are twelve men and women taking their seats around a table. All of them take some soma in its liquid form and as tablets. After the soma has taken effect they begin to shout like in ecstasy. Although he does not feel anything, Bernard pretends to be overwhelmed by the appearance of “Ford”, the equivalent of God of the brave new world. In order to praise him they all dance around the table and shout "orgy-porgy" in a frenzy.
After they have fallen back into their seats exhaustedly sexual relations conclude the "service". In the end all except Bernard have a feeling of total satisfaction and common perfection.
The Solidarity Services are the new form of religious services in the brave new world. It is supposed to strengthen peace and solidarity among the participants. Human beings always tend to believe in superior powers. The World State has recognized this fact and misuses these religious urges. Soma is used to induce this "religious" feeling. In contrast to Christian services in reality the Solidarity Services in the brave new world do not convey any message, they are rather orgies. Consumption is the “new” religion of society. Therefore Henry Ford is praised as the new god. He is the pioneer of mass-production representing the ideals of the brave new world. The Christian "Lord" is replaced by "Ford", and instead of the cross a “T” is used.
The system of the brave new world is based on production and consumption. The inhabitants of the brave new world are encouraged to increase their consumption of mass-produced goods.
First of all a certain demand must be created. Additionally, consumption must be held up. This is supported by the state’s slogan “Ending is better than mending”, which means that people ought to buy new products instead of repairing old goods. These two factors drive the economy. It goes even that far that the children are manipulated to dislike nature because people who like nature do not consume enough products. Thus, for the majority of the brave new worlders the only motivation for working is to consume more and better products. Consumption is regarded as beneficial to society. People are conditioned to believe that more consumption means that the more goods will have to be produced. This will increase the number of jobs and keep the society fully employed.
All the institutions mentioned above have one aspect in common: they are supposed to distract the people’s attention from their lack of freedom. There seem to be parallels to Neil Postman who claims that “[…] people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.”(2)
With regard to “Brave New World” this means that the world-controllers have managed to make the “oppression” of the inhabitants as pleasant as possible. That is why Huxley thought that “[…] truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance”(2), which means that the inhabitants are given no time for spiritual contemplation. They simply are too busy being entertained.
According to Huxley, the dictators of brave new world have finally discovered “man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”.
This can - to some extent - be compared to the living conditions in the Roman Empire. At its climax the masses were turned away from the political instability of the system by an abundance of various kinds of amusement.
But improved technology and increased leisure do not lead to increased culture according to Huxley (cf. 1).
It is a fact that society can be “overloaded” with entertainment, so that improved living conditions rather lead to blindness towards problems and real culture. An example of such developments in our time is current entertainment structures like the TV-shows “Big Brother” or “Girls Camp”, which are superficial, voyeuristic and have hardly any sense. The success of these shows seems to underline Huxley’s thesis.
Consequently the crucial question seems to be, whether a life without war, violence and disease, and with never-ending fun and distraction is worth a total lack of freedom.
1.)Aldous Huxley, Brave New World; Stuttgart 2000, (Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH)
2.)Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death; London 1985 (William Heinemann Ltd.)
3.)Aldous Huxley, Entertainment for the Masses, in Harpers Magazine, “ The Outlook For American Culture”, August 1927, p.26.
(1) Aldous Huxley, Entertainment for the Masses, p. 26
(2) Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death, pp. vii-viii