Daily Recco, July 16: Brave New World, the dystopia we want
Has our use of social media as weapons of mass distractions turned Brave New World into a horror story?
- Total Shares
There are few books in literary history that have been celebrated and banned with equal zeal as Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It was a book that changed the very way humans viewed the nature and goals of society. Though it was not written as a work of horror, the world we live in today could end up making this book a chilling read.
Brave New World, published in 1932, is sometimes seen as a reactionary work to the utopian fantasies that flowed from the pens of giants like HG Wells. These works generally assumed that humans would use technological advances to make human life better. These were works of white. Huxley jumped in and flipped this model on its head and wrote a story in a shade of grey that looked even darker than it truly was because of what it replaced.
The first edition cover of Brave New World, designed by artist Leslie Holland. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Brave New World is a fictional dystopian world in which large parts of the globe are covered by a World State. This scientifically advanced society has no human reproduction - its babies are spawned in labs - and there is no free will. From childhood, every individual is conditioned to love the class he has been assigned. And then there is this intoxicant, called Soma, that the residents of the World State are given regularly to keep them euphoric.
In effect, the World State is a society where everyone is happy, through one method or another. This happiness has led to complacency and self-absorbedness that creates no desire to learn more or reflect on the nature of the world. The people of the World State are also taught to be equanimous in their emotions and are conditioned to think that feelings are icky.
Into this world is brought a 'natural-born' man from a tribe outside the World State. He becomes somewhat of a curiosity in the World State because he has no compunctions about feeling his human emotions in front of others.
Brave New World is an examination of human nature and how any political philosophy when broadly applied to society without allowing rook for heterogeneity will turn into an oppressive society. In the case of Brave New World, this oppression is loved by the oppressed.
Naturally, Brave New World is often spoken of in the same breath as George Orwell's 1984, which was written years after it. While the world of today looks like it doesn't need politicians to use force to suppress, it definitely looks more like Huxley's vision — the people oppress themselves.