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The death of Aldous Huxley on 22 November 1963 was overshadowed by a much bigger news story Though most of Huxley!s writing seems dated his main legacy is the dysto"ian vision of the novel #rave New $orld% one of the classics of modern literature Though often com"ared with &rwell!s 19'(% brave New $orld is currently loo)ing li)e the more accurate "rediction of where humanity was heading
How Many Goodly Creatures Are There Here
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Since I started to write to write satirical blogs on the frequent reports and studies about breakthroughs in cloning, transhumanism, creation genetically modified humans and the mandating of drug use (most worryingly anti - depressants) that are thrown at us every day, the misinformation and disinformation that comes out of certain branches of the scientific community I have often been told us ordinary punters "cannot understand science because you are not scientists "
It has occurred to me several times as I wrote of plans to put anti!depressants in water, to withhold medical treatment from those who self harm by having a cheese sandwich containing demonised but nutritionally essential saturated fats and a beer replete with the demon alcohol rather than "ig #harma approved happy pills and to fiddle about with the genome to produce a race of perfect beings, that I ought to do an article on "rave $ew %orld, &ldous 'u(ley)s *+,-s novel of a technological utopia In common with .rwell)s $ineteen /ighty 0our, forever imprinted on the minds of my generation because of the cover image of a military boot grinding on a human face, "rave $ew %orld was a novel that changed the way we viewed the world we lived in In many ways it inspired aspects of the social revolution of the *+1-s as people shrugged off the social controls that had imposed such restrictive conventions on western society $ow of course the bright young things of the si(ties are 2ust boring old farts and people are tricked into conformity by promises of ever improving material benefits if they will only sustain constant economic growth 3onsumerism has replaced patriotism in binding us into slavery 'aving become famous in the $ineteen 4wenties with his witty and intellectually provocative novels &ldous 'u(ley was still highly rated when his death on $ovember 55 *+1, was somewhat overshadowed by the assassination of #resident 6 0 7ennedy 4he 7ennedy story filled news and comment columns for weeks and 'u(ley8s reputation was denied the boost that would have launched his posthumous career as a writer ranking alongside the giants of twentieth century literature such as Stein beck, 'emingway, 9awrence and .rwell, to name a few In the years 'u(ley was at his peak, the world 8liberal8 had not been hi2acked by politically correct authoritarianism and public debate featured a wide range of opinions 4his worked in 'u(ley8s favour because his novels and stories became conversation pieces due to the challenging nature of the ideas he e(pressed :ost of the characters practised the arts or aspired to do so and while some were standard 9iberals others flirted with fascism and communism .ften several scientists would feature among 'u(ley8s cast, giving the writer opportunity to e(plore the contradictions of science, such as the ethical questions surrounding eugenics (which was not invented by the $a;is, but by well intentioned liberal democrats) 4he interest in science was not surprising, the gulf between the arts and the sciences had not at that time grown so wide and &ldous 'u(ley was the grandson of 4 ' 'u(ley, an evangelist for 3harles <arwin8s theory of evolution and known as <arwin)s bulldog /ven if 'u(ley8s death had not been eclipsed in news coverage, his popularity might not have
survived the social revolution of the nineteen si(ties, we have moved on from the issues that inspired him, his prose can seem wordy and pretentious and his characters twee
How beauteous man !nd !s"
.ne book from his oeuvre has survived as a twentieth century classic 4his is "rave $ew %orld the vision of a dystopian future under a benign but dehumanising oligarchic scientific dictatorship, which 'u(ley regarded as something of a throwaway "rave $ew %orld was written in the space of a month, but is now compared to .rwell)s $ineteen /ighty-0our, the writing of which e(hausted .rwell so much it is said to have led to his early death "oth are visions of a future under totalitarian governments .rwell saw a world dominated by three superstates, engaged in permanent warfare, with populations kept in line by constant surveillance and a brutal secret police, 4he 4hought #olice 'u(ley offered us a world government (4he 3ontrollers) who keep a largely infantilised population in line by supplying all needs plus rations of a happy drug Soma 3ertain territories designated as reservations for =savages> who think, feel and behave like people of the 5-th century, in other words they are still recognisable human beings 4hey quarrel, fight, women menstruate and give birth and they must struggled through life relying on their own devices without the protective embrace of $anny State In 'u(ley8s world the population is divided from before birth (through in - vitro gestation in baby farms where each individual foetus passes along a conveyor belt and in programmed and fed controlled doses of nutrients appropriate to each of the five castes and their sub castes (from &lpha? down to /psilon- semi moron), everything is geared to contentment@ every individual is conditioned
to be satisfied with his or her lot %hile &, " and 3 castes are developed from an individual foetus the lower castes are cloned to produce multiple babies from a single embryo using a fictional technique, 4he "okanovsky #rocess 0amilies ! the breeding grounds of cultural values, love, aspiration, and conflict ! have been abolished Se( is recreational, without emotional commitment (much as 8liberals8 in the education system are now teaching pupils it ought to be) and the people are empty and emotionally disconnected 4he drug "soma" induces a mind-state of empty bliss :odern readers are likely to confused by the prominence 'u(ley gives to the motor manufacturer 'enry 0ord (.ur 0ord, 0ord8s in his flivver and all8s well with the world), the presiding deity of the "rave $ew %orld 0ord was the pioneer of assembly-line manufacture in <etroit, they conveyor belt in the baby factory bears more than a passing resemblance to the lines where 0ords from the :odel 4 to the :ustang and onwards were built 'u(ley was not "anti progress" as many people today are dubbed when challenging the notion that everything new is better than what e(isted before, but he was not alone in being alarmed by the directions in which science and technology were taking humanity@ think of 3haplin)s film :odern 4imes It is no coincidence that what 0ord wrote in his autobiography of "the nature of the conveyor belt labour force" is strikingly coincidental with "rave $ew %orld)s &lpha-/psilon caste system> 'u(ley did not foresee the human feeders of the conveyor belt monster being displaced by robots and becoming a vast unemployed or semi employed underclass "ut when one thinks of the depersonalised nature of call-centre work, those sales bots who all day, every day, answer customer calls by reading out a script from which they may not depart on pin of dismissal, one may be inclined to say, "plus ca change, plus c8est le meme chose," (the more that changes, the more this is the same thing) 'u(ley8s "rave $ew %orld with its compulsory drug doses, genetic engineering to produce social classes from & to / (/psilon semi-moron aka chav) so reminiscent of toady)s &"3* social classifications that have replaced the old aristocracy, and upper and lower middle classes although in depicting the lower classes as brutish and ignorant, 'u(ley makes the same mistake as many social scientists have done in overlooking the rich and varied sub cultures of the working classes Ignore those details and how like the world in this first decade of the twenty first century 'u(ley8s vision sounds with a level of se(ual liberation that deems it bad manners to refuse to have se( with anybody who offers, it)s genetically engineered =pneumatic> women, psychological manipulation, constant pressure to consume and deep suspicion of any sign of individualism /ven in 'u(ley8s dystopian vision the human spirit is indomitable however, there are rebels, bernard :ar( and his friend 'elmholt; %atson who try to avoid the communal activities arranged
by social managers whenever they can, who love literature, philosophy and serious music 4he rebellious spirits of these two inevitably land them in trouble and they face banishment to isolated penal colonies where e(iles are deprived of the comforts of life under the controllers 'u(ley again shows great insight into 'uman nature when he has :ar(, always the one who has been the noisy and attention seeker in his rebellions caving in and begging for a second chance, while %atson, the reflective, intellectual poet welcomes banishment 4his is echoed in the modern radical movement, while the noisy, slogan chanting, dogma loving urban liberals call for others to abandon materialism from the comfort of their air conditioned homes, via the medium of their laptop or tablet computers and smart phones, the true rebels are banishing themselves simply by eschewing debt and choosing to live without the trapping of twenty first century life 4his portrayal of a dystopian technological utopia (to employ an o(ymoron) is accurate down to the fine detail then, I have even read today that scientistis working in human fertility have achieved a breakthrough in nIA0 technology that would enable reproduction without the incolvement of at any level of a male %e do seem to be blundering towards a version of 'u(ley8s "rave $ew %orld society "ut that is made more scary by the knowledge that messing about with nature is never a good idea
O brave new world# that has such $eo$le !n%t"
*ource+ ,ublicity still from .hildren &f The .orn
".h brave new world that has such people in it" and other section headings are lines from Shakespeare)s play 4he 4empest (&ct B Scene *) .ne of Shakespeare8s later plays (probably his last), 4he 4empest is often said to be they te(t in which Shakespeare abandons his gift for writing as he senses his talents will wane, but is also interpreted as an e(tended metaphor for the replacement of the old, easy going, humanistic values of /ngland8s pastoral society by the much more dogmatic attitudes of the protestant reformation (anyone who knows a little about /nglish society before the rise of #uritanism is permitted a wry smile at this notion) /ither interpretation could be correct and probably both are because Shakespeare was nothing if not multi-layered and we can only guess at what was in his mind =4he theme of "$%,> 'u(ley himself wrote in a foreword to the *+C1 edition, "is the advancement of science as it affects human individuals, the application of the results of future research in biology, physiology and psychology " 4his application, he concluded, would lead to "totalitarianismD in which the all-powerful e(ecutive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude" ScaremongeringE 4he idea of a Scientific <ictatorship was not new even then, having
been first suggested by "ritish author ' F %ells in the closing years of the nineteenth century and taken up by others including mathematician and philosopher "ertrand Gussell and businessman Aannevar "ush, social scientists 'erman 7ahn and numerous others Surely this is the stuff on conspiracy 4heorists you might well complain #erhaps "ut then when you think of the rise of 3hinaH 3ommunity, Identity, Stability, $a;i Fermany, eugenics and the creation of the perfect race, 4he Soviet Inion with its 0ive Jear #lans and social engineering pro2ects D 'u(ley also commented that some features of his "happier and more stable world are probably only three or four generations away" and said = nor does the se(ual promiscuity of "$% seem so very far distant &s political and economic freedom diminishes, se(ual freedom tends to increase in proportion > It is perhaps comforting that neither 'u(ley nor .rwell anticipated the irresponsibility of global corporations, the incompetence of the political establishment, the ability of academics and scientists to alienate public opinion or the possibilities for sharing information offered by the internet 4hese things in combination seem poised to derail the process of establishing a global government that .ur 0ord and others set in train <ystopian vision are alarms triggered by current trends 4here is enough truth in 'u(ley)s vision to put us on our guard 3ommunity, Identity and Stability are all words bandied about today as in the centuries &0 (=&fter 0ord>), the drug culture and se(ual licence are rampant &nd yet, in the /nglish speaking world at least, intellectualism is despised It may be fine to describe a fashion designers latest attempt to mock the human for as "ironic and subversive" but people shy way from those who e(press ironic and subversive ideas So 'u(ley)s legacy is more alive than that of the man whose death overshadowed his &rs longa, vita brevis as the saying goes "ut you don8t have to take my word for any of this, read 'u(ley)s novel of benign totalitarianism,the kind that might buy complicity from an increasingly docile population by supplying drugs and material benefits according to status so that to misquote the book, the lower orders came to love their servitude
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