Brave New World Revisited: 2023
Brave New World is a novel written by Aldous Huxley in 1932. The book is set in a futuristic society where technology and science have advanced to the point of creating a totalitarian state in which individuals are genetically engineered, conditioned, and controlled by the government to fulfill specific societal roles and maintain order. The novel explores themes of individuality, freedom, and the consequences of technology and science when used to control society.
The book is set in a society known as the World State, where people are born and raised in a controlled environment and are genetically engineered to fit into predetermined societal roles. The society is ruled by a group of scientists and bureaucrats known as the World Controllers, who use advanced technology and manipulation to maintain order and control the population. The story follows the life of a young man named Bernard Marx, who starts to question the society in which he lives and becomes disillusioned with the lack of freedom and individuality.
The novel was written in 1932, during a time when the world was recovering from the economic and political turmoil of World War I and the Great Depression. The novel reflects Huxley’s concerns about the rapid advancements in technology and science and the potential consequences of their use in controlling society. Huxley was also influenced by the rise of totalitarian regimes in Europe, particularly the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, and the use of propaganda and mind control to maintain power.
Aldous Huxley was a British writer and philosopher, best known for his novels and essays. He was born in 1894 and was educated at Oxford University. He began his writing career in the 1920s, publishing several novels and essays on literature, culture, and politics. He was a member of the Bloomsbury Group, a group of writers, artists, and intellectuals who were influential in the cultural and political scene of the time. Huxley’s other famous works include “The Doors of Perception” and “Island”.
Brave New World Revisited is a 1958 non-fiction follow-up to Huxley’s 1932 dystopian novel Brave New World. In the book, Huxley revisits the themes and ideas he presented in his original novel and reflects on how they relate to the world of the 1950s. The book contains a series of essays in which Huxley examines the dangers of totalitarianism and the increasing role of technology in society. He also looks at the issues of overpopulation, the use of drugs and mind control, and the concept of happiness.
In the book, Huxley explores the potential dangers of the then-new technology of television and the use of it as a tool for manipulation and control. He also examines the increasing use of drugs, particularly in the form of antidepressants, and the potential consequences of relying on them as a way to deal with problems in society. He also addresses the issue of overpopulation, which he saw as one of the most pressing problems of the time.
Huxley also discusses the concept of happiness, and how society’s preoccupation with achieving it can lead to the suppression of individuality and freedom. He also explores how the desire for order and control can lead to totalitarianism and the erosion of civil liberties.
To summarize, “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, first published in 1932, is a dystopian novel that explores the potential dangers of technological advancements and their impact on society. The novel is set in a future society where individuals are genetically engineered, conditioned and controlled by the government through the use of drugs and mind control techniques. The society is presented as a utopia where pleasure, conformity, and efficiency are the main goals, but at the cost of individuality, freedom and critical thinking.
In 1958, Huxley wrote a non-fiction book called “Brave New World Revisited” in which he reflects on the themes discussed in his earlier work and how they apply to the world of the time. The book is a collection of essays in which Huxley examines the threats to freedom and individuality that are posed by technological advancements, particularly in the areas of mass media, advertising, and the manipulation of human behavior. He also discusses the dangers of totalitarianism, population control, and the use of drugs and mind control techniques by governments and large corporations.
As of 2021, Huxley’s warnings in “Brave New World” and “Brave New World Revisited” are still relevant. Advances in technology have led to an unprecedented level of control over individuals and society by governments, corporations, and other powerful institutions. Social media, artificial intelligence, and big data analytics have enabled the manipulation of public opinion and behavior on a massive scale. The use of surveillance technologies has increased, raising serious concerns about privacy and civil liberties.
Furthermore, the theme of population control and the manipulation of human biology is also still relevant today. With the rapid growth of the world population, the issue of overpopulation is becoming increasingly pressing. Governments and organizations are exploring various ways to curb population growth, such as promoting birth control and family planning programs. However, these efforts raise ethical questions about the manipulation of human biology and the right to reproductive autonomy.
Huxley argues that control through punishment of bad behavior is less effective in the long run than control through rewards for good behavior. They also suggest that government through non-violent manipulation of the environment and thoughts is more effective than government through terror. They also mention that death control is easy to achieve, but birth control is difficult and that this has led to a rapid increase in population which creates problems for freedom and democracy. Huxley also mentions that there is a correlation between increasing population and the rise of authoritarian philosophies and totalitarian systems of government. He further mentions that advances in medicine tend to increase the survival rate of individuals with genetic deficiencies, thus offsetting the benefits of these advances.
Huxley argues that mental illness is not just about having symptoms, but also about being well-adjusted to an abnormal society. He suggests that many people who appear normal are actually suffering from mental illness because they have been silenced and deindividualized by society. They are, in other words, pathologically normal. In the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti , “it is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Huxley also mentions that uniformity and mental health are incompatible, and that any culture that tries to standardize people goes against their biological nature.
Huxley also mentions that the desire to impose order on chaos can be beneficial in some areas like science, art, and philosophy, but it can be dangerous in politics and economics, where it can lead to totalitarian dictatorship and the reduction of human diversity to subhuman uniformity. In addition, the desire for tidiness can be used to justify despotism.
Huxley discusses how advancements in technology and knowledge in fields such as psychology and neurology are making it easier for would-be dictators to control and manipulate people’s thoughts and behavior. In the past, these techniques were based on trial and error, but now they are becoming a science and practitioners understand how and why they work.
Huxley also mentions that in the novel “Brave New World” the characters were conditioned to obey authority and behave like machines, similarly, in today’s world the Chinese and Russians are conditioning their lower leaders to be obedient. Huxley expresses concern that the advancements in technology and knowledge in these fields could lead to the complete realization of the nightmare of being dominated by technical means.
Huxley is discussing the use of a drug called “soma” in the novel “Brave New World” and its relationship with religion. In the novel, soma is a drug that brings happiness and is used as a form of social control by the government. Huxley also mentions that advancements in fields such as pharmacology, biochemistry, and neurology are likely to lead to new methods of increasing suggestibility and lowering psychological resistance in the future. These new methods may be used for good or bad, to help psychiatrists or dictators, respectively. Huxley also mentions that birth control is a problem that is simultaneously a puzzle in psychiatry, pharmacology, sociology, psychology, and theology and raises questions about how such methods would be distributed and how to persuade people to use them, and also the objection from the Roman Catholic Church.
Huxley discusses the potential dangers of a future society where people prioritize convenience and pleasure over personal freedom and responsibility. Recall that “Brave New World” depicts a society where the government uses technology and drugs to control the population. He also mentions the idea that under a scientific dictatorship, education and mind manipulation will be used to make people accept their servitude and not desire revolution. It is appropriate to wonder whether such a dictatorship is “scientific” or “scientistic.” In the case of the latter, it has much less to do with proper science, and much more to do with a political agenda.
He suggests that some people may not value freedom and that it is the duty of those who do to resist the forces that threaten it.
“The Age of Surveillance Capitalism” by Shoshana Zuboff, delves deeper into how the business model of companies like Google and Facebook has been built on data collection and analysis, and how this impacts our privacy, autonomy and democracy.
“The Social Dilemma” by Tristan Harris is a book that describes how social media companies have been using technology to manipulate users and create a distorted version of reality. It describes how these companies have been able to gather data on users and use it to influence their behavior, and how this has had a negative impact on society.
“The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age” by Astra Taylor is a book that looks at how the internet has changed the way we consume and produce culture, and how this has led to a concentration of power among a few large tech companies. The book argues that we need to take back control of the internet and use it to promote a more democratic and equitable society.
There are countless other books that touch on similar ideas. Thus, Aldous Huxley’s works discuss a number of themes that are still relevant today, particularly in light of recent technological and social developments.
One major theme that Huxley explores is the way in which technology and the manipulation of human behavior can be used to control and manipulate society. In Brave New World, the use of the drug “soma” is used as a means of pacifying the population and preventing dissent, while in Brave New World Revisited, Huxley warns of the dangers of the increasing use of mind-manipulating techniques and technologies.
Another major theme that Huxley explores is the concept of “entertainment” and how it can be used to distract and pacify people. In Brave New World, the use of “feelies” and other forms of entertainment are used to keep the population preoccupied and prevent them from thinking critically about their society. Think about how the mainstream media focuses on presenting sexually attractive reporters and sound bites disguised the nightly news. In reality, the news is just an entertainment package. Similarly, most movies and TV shows and music videos are all designed, not to provoke thought or critical thinking, but simply to entertain and distract. And if there is a message being promoted, it is one that is designed to distract from important social issues, and it does so by providing surrogate social issues that are trendy.
Huxley continually warns of the dangers of the increasing use of entertainment as a means of control, particularly in light of the rise of television and other forms of mass media.
Huxley also explores the theme of the worship of “generic unity” and the dangers of anti-religious movements. In Brave New World, the society is built around the idea of “community, identity, stability” and the rejection of traditional religion. This theme is also present in Brave New World Revisited, where Huxley warns of the dangers of societies that reject traditional values and beliefs in favor of a focus on efficiency and conformity.
Huxley also discusses some political and social movements and figures such as Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky, as well as the Rothschild family and death cults. He draws attention to the dangers of totalitarian regimes and the manipulation of the masses by powerful figures and ideologies.
He references historical figures such as Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky as examples of individuals who have advocated for revolutionary change and the overthrow of existing power structures. He also mentions the Rothschild family, a powerful banking dynasty, as an example of a group that wields significant economic and political influence. Furthermore, Huxley introduces the concept of a “death cult” in the novel, which refers to a group or ideology that glorifies death and destruction.
The novel is set in a dystopian future where society is highly controlled and regulated by a powerful government, and individuals have been conditioned to conform to the ruling ideology. Through the characters and their experiences, Huxley illustrates how easily individuals can be manipulated and controlled by those in power, and how this can lead to a loss of freedom and individuality. He also warns against the dangers of blindly following ideologies or leaders without critically examining their goals and methods. Ultimately, his message is to be vigilant against government and commercial entities who try to control people, and try to reduce people to mindless automatons.
In some ways, Huxley’s vision of a dystopian society in “Brave New World” has come true in the current world. There are several examples of how technology and progress can be used to control and manipulate individuals and society as a whole. Recent news about the censorship taking place on mega platforms like Facebook and Twitter (Cambridge Analytica, Snowden, Twitter Files) bring to mind the themes discussed in Huxley’s Novel and Orwell’s 1984.
In many countries, governments have implemented mass surveillance programs that track citizens’ online activities and communications. This has raised concerns about privacy and civil liberties, as well as the potential for misuse of this information by those in power. Similarly, corporations have been accused of collecting and using personal data for targeted advertising and manipulation of consumer behavior.
Another example is the use of technology for social control, where individuals are encouraged to conform to societal norms and ideologies through the use of social media and other online platforms. Social media companies have been criticized for their role in spreading misinformation and fostering a culture of echo chambers, where individuals are only exposed to ideas that align with their existing beliefs.
Furthermore, the increasing use of automation in the workplace has led to job displacement and economic inequality. We can expect this trend to continue in the near future. Recall that the novel also touches on these topics, where the society is divided between a small elite class and a large underclass.
On the other hand, Huxley’s vision has not come entirely true, in some places, yet. In some countries in the Western hemisphere, society has become more tolerant and open-minded in many ways, and individuals have more access to information and opportunities for self-expression than ever before. Activist movements and organizations have emerged to challenge government and corporate abuses of power, and in some cases, have been successful in achieving change. The internet, while in some ways can be oppressive, distracting, and misleading — offers people an unprecedented opportunity to practically learn about anything. If knowledge is power, then it’s hard to imagine a world where power can be democratized much more than it is now. And yet, that is precisely the trap that Huxley warns about.
Huxley suggests that most people in his dystopian society are simply not interested in reading books, and that the government actively discourages the reading of books that might challenge the ruling ideology. Instead, the society is focused on providing distractions and entertainment to keep the population content and docile.
In the novel, the government controls the media and uses it to disseminate a sanitized version of history and culture that supports the ruling ideology. The characters in the novel have limited access to information and knowledge, and books are seen as a threat to the status quo. Additionally, people are conditioned to be content with their lives and to not question their surroundings, which further discourages the reading of books.
Huxley’s warning is not necessarily about the disappearance of books, but rather the manipulation of information and the suppression of critical thinking and intellectual inquiry by those in power. He argues that a society in which individuals are not encouraged to read books and to think critically is a society that is ripe for manipulation and control.