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The Nature of Society and Brave New World

Whenever Brave New World is read, taught, or brought up in discussion, the
general consensus always seems to reveal one distinct thing: that the society depicted
is undoubtedly dystopian. This classification of utopia or dystopia is something that most
do not seem to give much thought too, rather focusing on why the society is a dystopia.
Personally, I do not think that the classification should be completed so swiftly and
surely. The nature of Brave New World’s society is much more complex than that, and
although I do not believe that it qualifies to be considered a utopia, I think that in many
ways it equals or trumps the one we live in today.
Although many may think the idea that that society outdoes our own is ridiculous,
it is at the very least incredibly interesting and thought-provoking. Of course, many may
bring up the downfalls of the society that are clear and common throughout the book.
These include lack of choice, brainwashing, social inequality, censorship, and high
prevalence of drugs, all of which are clearly negative for a society. Another common
qualm many have with this society is the fact that true love does not exist or is severely
repressed, and that the idea of a family is considered outrageous. When these are not
prevalent in a society, it is obvious that people will not be as happy as they could be
otherwise.
However, we must weigh these clear downfalls against the not-so-obvious
benefits of this society. The main one is stability, an incredibly broad term that is used
here to signify the fact that this society does not have hunger, famine, persecution (in
large amounts), or war. These concepts may seem relatively unimportant to us, but that
is because we, as the well-off in America (or other developed nations), rarely, if ever,
have to experience any of them. Yet we tend to forget the fact that millions upon millions
of people across our planet suffer from starvation, in every country in the world. Many
people in North Korea, Sudan, China, Ukraine, Brazil, and the United States experience
hunger constantly throughout their lives, with unbelievable amounts dying every day.
We tend to forget the fact that countless groups containing millions of people are
persecuted because of what color their skin is, where they were born, what religion they
are, or what ideologies they support. People are constantly being persecuted, from
various religions and groups in the Middle East, to people of certain ethnicities in
Uganda, to supporters of gay rights in the West. People lose status, social inclusion, or
even their lives simply because of who they are or what they support. We tend to forget
the fact that right now, across the planet, millions are affected by war, being pushed out
of their homes, or sent into battle, or killed as “collateral damage”, with millions more on
the brink of being affected. The Middle East is a hotbed of violence of course, but even
in places like Crimea some people have had their lives damaged by war, many to the
point of irreparability, and many more will undoubtedly be affected as well.
It is these things that we tend to forget, not realizing the extent to which so many
people suffer in our world today. This is in stark contrast to Brave New World, where
nobody suffers from famine, or persecution, or war. No one dies because of hunger. No
one is persecuted for their beliefs. No one dies in battle or because of war. In my
opinion, that fact outweighs the downfalls of the society. Even though there isn’t free
choice, or equality, or freedom of speech, the fact that not a single person dies because
of famine or war in particular is more important. In many ways, and though it may sound
insensitive, the downfalls of the society are “first world problems” that frankly aren’t as
important as famine or war, simply because they don’t threaten your life. This all stems
back to the nature of suffering and happiness, meaning that it is hard to feel happy with
free choice or freedom of speech when you are constantly hungry, or worrying about if
you will live another day because of the soldiers threatening to destroy your town.
Without basic needs such as food, water, and shelter, or with outside forces threatening
your life, it is frankly hard to care about fulfillment of happiness, because all you want is
for the suffering to stop. It can be hard for us to think about this, mainly because it is so
alien to what we have experienced. However, understanding and caring about the
perspectives of other people is key if you are to understand and improve society; that
even though I do not suffer greatly, I understand how a child in Africa does, and thus I
care about helping this person out. This all stems back to the golden rule; treat others
as you would want to be treated. By realizing that I would want to be helped out if I was
that small African child, I know that I must make it my first priority to help him or her,
even at the cost of my own happiness. This sacrifice is made because I have made it
more important than anything else to help others, no matter what it takes. This relates to
the societal analysis because in Brave New World’s society, the end of suffering for the
lowly is made by the sacrifice of the high. By placing my own personal happiness under
the well-being of others, it can be realized how Brave New World’s society actually may
be better than our own. Relating to the idea of communism, it means that the well-off
must sacrifice some of their happiness for the sake of those who do not have any
semblance of happiness in their lives. The Alphas must go about life with the knowledge
of how things could be better for them in order for the Deltas and Epsilons to have a
good life, without hunger or war. This sacrifice is absolutely necessary, unfortunately for
the Alphas. Relating back to our own lives, it means that if we want our society to
improve, which it clearly must, we as the well-off must give up some of what we call
happiness in order for the less fortunate to have a better life. It may be in the form of a
lack of free speech or in the form of a lack of iPhones, but no matter what, we ought to
help others, in this case through personal sacrifice. It is clear that Brave New World’s
society is far from perfect, but in that case the foundation is laid for societal
improvement, because they have created a true stability from which progress can be
made. Once stability is achieved, it is possible to create a happiness for all people from
this, and not the other way around, which is what our society has done. We have tried to
give a total happiness to people before establishing stability, and ultimately it means the
mindsets of the people are not prone to change. People will not want to give up their
happiness for stability to be achieved, even though they may get it back later on. This
means that we as a society may not ever be able to truly achieve stability, which means
suffering may never end, and happiness for all may never be accomplished. We can still
change, though, and all it would take is the cooperation of all people. If everyone put the
needs of others above themselves, and spared no sacrifice towards the goal of stability,
then it would not be hard to achieve. All it takes is cooperation among all, and yet if we
do not fight towards the goal then we may be dooming ourselves for forever.