Originally published in December 2009.
“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”Aldous Huxley
Aldous Huxley wrote the dystopian novel Brave New World in 1931 at the inauguration of the last Crisis period in America. Dystopia is the often futuristic vision of a society in which conditions of life are miserable and characterized by poverty, oppression, war, violence, disease, pollution, nuclear fallout and/or the abridgement of human rights, resulting in widespread unhappiness, suffering, and other kinds of pain. The novel was his response to the writings of H.G. Wells (Men Like Gods) and George Bernard Shaw which glorified socialism and a one World State. Orwell’s 1984, written in 1948, is the other famous dystopian novel of the era. Huxley had visited America during the Roaring 20’s and his experience provided the character for the novel. He was outraged by America’s out of control materialistic egocentric society. He witnessed youthful superficiality, commercialization, sexual promiscuity, and a self centered culture. Fellow writer G.K. Chesterton explained his view of Huxley’s novel:
“After the Age of Utopias came what we may call the American Age, lasting as long as the Boom. Men like Ford or Mond seemed to many to have solved the social riddle and made capitalism the common good. But it was not native to us; it went with a buoyant, not to say blatant optimism, which is not our negligent or negative optimism. Much more than Victorian righteousness, or even Victorian self-righteousness, that optimism has driven people into pessimism. For the Slump brought even more disillusionment than the War. A new bitterness, and a new bewilderment, ran through all social life, and was reflected in all literature and art. It was contemptuous, not only of the old Capitalism, but of the old Socialism. Brave New World is more of a revolt against Utopia than against Victoria.”
Using Technology to Control Society
“Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” Aldous Huxley
Science and technology are not inherently good or bad. They can be used or misused. They offer promise or peril. Ultimately, humanity can benefit from science and technology or it can be detrimental to our planet. Huxley envisioned a horrifying future where mankind used science and technology in a self destructive manner. He was disillusioned with the decadence of society and disgusted by the behavior of his class. Huxley’s outlook is a world where the vast majority of the populace is united under one World State. The world is restricted to two billion inhabitants. The inhabitants are strictly divided into five castes. The world is controlled by Alphas and their subordinates, Betas. Below them, in descending order of brainpower and physique, are Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. Each caste is further subdivided into Plus and Minus (save for Epsilons, which are regular or semi-moron). Reproductive technology, referred to as the Bokanovsky Process, is used by the government (Alphas & Betas) to manage the number of human beings and their functions. The process is applied to fertilized human eggs in-vitro, causing them to split into identical genetic copies of the original. The State has eliminated procreation by loving couples. Ovaries are surgically removed from women. The lower caste children are created in hatcheries.
At the very pinnacle of society sit Alpha Double-Pluses, who serve as the future scientists and top administrators of the world. People in different castes are conditioned to be happy in their own way – they do not feel resentment towards other castes, but rather feel a slight contempt for people not members of their own caste. The upper castes are intelligent, and have managerial jobs, where as the lower castes do the manual labor. The Alpha’s have what we would consider the best jobs, and it continues down until the Epsilons, who have the least skilled jobs. The Alphas are tall and fair, while the Epsilons are dark skinned.
The novel takes place in the year 2540 in London. The disturbing aspect is that we are now in the year 2009 and much of Huxley’s vision has come to fruition. At the heart of the World State’s control of its population is its rigid control over sexual mores and reproductive rights. Reproductive rights are controlled through an authoritarian system that sterilizes about two-thirds of women, requires the rest to use contraceptives, and surgically removes ovaries when it needs to produce new humans. The act of sex is controlled by a system of social rewards for promiscuity and lack of commitment. The United States has restricted population growth through a number of methods. Abortion on demand was made the law of the land in 1973. Since that date 50 million abortions have been performed in the U.S. I ask myself how many Martin Luther Kings, Stephen Hawkings, and Ernest Hemingways have been among those aborted before having the chance to positively impact our world.
Source: Alan Guttmacher Institute
Over 12 million women in the U.S. use the pill (available since 1960) on a daily basis in order to avoid pregnancy. The morning after pill was introduced in 1999. Planned Parenthood, created in 1916, has 850 locations in the United States offering easy access to abortions and other forms of contraception. The net result of these government supported efforts has been to cut the birth rate in half in the last century.
“We are living now, not in the delicious intoxication induced by the early success of science, but in a rather grisly morning after, when it has become apparent that what triumphant science has done hitherto is to improve the means for achieving unimportant or actually deteriorated ends.” Aldous Huxley
The upper classes in the U.S. have persuaded the lower classes to restrict their reproduction. They promote non-consequential promiscuity among the other classes while reproducing and raising the new ruling class. American society is also segmented into castes as portrayed by Huxley. The Alpha Double-Pluses are the Harvard MBAs running Goldman Sachs and the other mega-banks. Others in the Alpha caste are the Bushes, Kennedys, Rockefellers, Clintons, Gores, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Paul Krugman. The Betas include Congressmen, bank executives, government bureaucrats, military leaders, and corporate executives. The Gammas and Deltas are the working classes that do the hard work without ever advancing. The Epsilons are the morons produced by the inner city public school system. They fill the non-thinking manual labor jobs of society.
The Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are brought up in conditioning centers. The Alphas and the Betas use technology to mould them into their predetermined roles in society. They use operant conditioning and sleep teaching to modify the behavior of the lower castes. Hatcheries rely on machines to condition bottled embryos to heat, sudden motion, and disease, allowing the embryos to fulfill their predestined jobs in specific climates. The science exists today to produce whatever traits are desired in our children. The procedure is called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and is being practiced in fertility clinics in the U.S.
Those in control of America also use conditioning and teaching to keep the lower classes in their place. The ruling elite send their children to exclusive private schools, grooming them for Harvard, Yale and Stanford. This guarantees they will be given the high level positions in business and government. After decades of pumping billions of tax dollars into public schools while instituting politically correct diversity programs to dumb down the curriculum, the ruling elite have conditioned a vast swath of Americans to care more about Tiger Woods’ driving and night putting skills than about the National Debt or the insidiousness of Federal Reserve induced inflation.
|Total 18 Yrs||No High School||High School||Some||Associates||Bachelors||Advanced|
Source: Census Bureau
Just as in Brave New World, the ruling Alphas are White and the lowest class Epsilons are dark skinned. Blacks and Hispanics represent 50% of all the high school dropouts even though they only make up 25% of the population. This guarantees a life of blue-collar low paying jobs for these people. Whites obtain 78% of the advanced degrees, guaranteeing them the positions of leadership in society. The social welfare state implemented by the ruling elite provides enough sustenance to the lower classes to keep them anesthetized, ignorant and easily manipulated. Whites also obtain 77% of the bachelor’s degrees, assuring that they will fill the Beta administrator positions in society.
Another technological method of keeping the masses tranquilized and distracted in the Brave New World is through high tech sports and entertainment. Sport is a pillar of the World State consisting of various games and activities which use high-tech equipment. Another key aspect of entertainment is the “feelies”. Users rest their hands on metal knobs protruding from the arms of their chair, allowing them to feel the physical sensations of the actors on-screen (usually in sexually-themed films). The mass production of HDTVs, CD players, Laptop computers, Blackberries, iPhones, iPods, luxury automobiles and other electronic toys distributed to the masses through easy credit policies has successfully distracted the populace from the pillaging of the country by the Alphas at Goldman Sachs. The feelies of today are 24 hour cable TV with 600 stations, downloadable movies, an unlimited amount of free porn on the internet, strip joints, and prostitution. Sports addicts can attend baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, wrestling, boxing, auto racing, and Michael Vick sponsored dog fighting events year round, or watch it on TV 24 hours per day. With mindless jobs and unlimited distractions, the preponderance of citizens are as docile as sheep.
Soma is a biological method used by the Alphas to keep the lower castes sedated. It is a drug that provides an easy escape from the hassles of daily life and is employed by the government as a method of control through pleasure. It is ubiquitous and ordinary among the culture of the novel and everyone is shown to use it at some point, in various situations: sex, relaxation, concentration, confidence. It is seemingly a single-chemical combination of many of today’s drugs’ effects, giving its users the full hedonistic spectrum depending on dosage. As a kind of “sacrament,” it also represents the use of religion to control society. Huxley’s description of soma reveals its power:
“And if ever, by some unlucky chance, anything unpleasant should somehow happen, why, there’s always soma to give you a holiday from the facts. And there’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears—that’s what soma is.”
American leaders bluster about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, but their actions speak otherwise. Americans can sedate themselves legally with alcohol, over the counter prescriptions, and tobacco. Almost 10% of the entire U.S. population, or 27 million people, are taking anti-depressant pills. Over 4 million children are being drugged with Ritalin every day to make them malleable. The government looks the other way as the middle class uses marijuana, heroine, and cocaine. The Epsilons (Blacks & Hispanics) on the other hand are prosecuted, with 2.3 million of them occupying cells in the thousands of prisons in the U.S. There are thousands of churches in the U.S. preaching the good word and sedating the masses. As they preach morality and sacrifice, there have been recurring instances of sexual deviation covered up church hierarchy and the bilking of congregations out of millions in contributions for the enrichment of the church leaders.
“Most of one’s life is one prolonged effort to prevent oneself from thinking.People intoxicate themselves with work so they won’t see how they really are.” Aldous Huxley
Huxley formulated his dystopian world after observing the excessiveness of Americans during the Roaring 20’s. If he thought things were decadent and Americans were self consumed in the 1920’s, Huxley’s head would explode at the debauchery, ignorance materialism, and shallowness of Americans today. Our landfills contain more wealth than entire Third World countries. We throw away over 100 billion pounds of edible food per year. In his Brave New World Revisited, written in 1958, Huxley clearly laid out the dangers of consumerism:
“Consumerism requires the services of expert salesmen versed in all the arts (including the more insidious arts) of persuasion. Under a free enterprise system commercial propaganda by any and every means is absolutely indispensable. But the indispensable is not necessarily the desirable. What is demonstrably good in the sphere of economics may be far from good for men and women as voters or even as human beings.”
“Consider a simple example. Most cosmetics are made of lanolin, which is a mixture of purified wool fat and water beaten up into an emulsion. This emulsion has many valuable properties: it penetrates the skin, it does not become rancid, it is mildly antiseptic and so forth. But the commercial propagandists do not speak about the genuine virtues of the emulsion. They give it some picturesquely voluptuous name, talk ecstatically and misleadingly about feminine beauty and show pictures of gorgeous blondes nourishing their tissues with skin food. “The cosmetic manufacturers,” one of their number has written, “are not selling lanolin, they are selling hope.” For this hope, this fraudulent implication of a promise that they will be transfigured, women will pay ten or twenty times the value of the emulsion which the propagandists have so skilfully related, by means of misleading symbols, to a deep-seated and almost universal feminine wish — the wish to be more attractive to members of the opposite sex. The principles underlying this kind of propaganda are extremely simple. Find some common desire, some widespread unconscious fear or anxiety; think out some way to relate this wish or fear to the product you have to sell; then build a bridge of verbal or pictorial symbols over which your customer can pass from fact to compensatory dream, and from the dream to the illusion that your product, when purchased, will make the dream come true.”
Our economic advancement has been marketed to Americans as “true happiness from consumption”. Every need can be realized through material gain. Success as a society is measured by GDP growth and the facade of prosperity. In Brave New World children are conditioned from birth to value consumption with such platitudes as “ending is better than mending,” which means buy a new one instead of fixing the old one. America has become the definitive throwaway society. Product waste has grown from 92 pounds per person per year in 1905 to 1,242 pounds per person per year in 2005. American human beings are lumped into the category of consumers by the mainstream media. Consumerism and consumer debt have been the contaminated lifeblood of the United States for the last three decades. Government actively promotes gambling by the poor, offering them false hope for riches. Americans squander $160 billion per year on lotteries and in casinos. Our society has become even more extreme than the Brave New World as we have outsourced our production to foreign countries, thereby gutting our economy. Even at the dawn of television Huxley realized the immense power for propagandists:
“Thanks to compulsory education and the rotary press, the propagandist has been able, for many years past, to convey his messages to virtually every adult in every civilized country. Today, thanks to radio and television, he is in the happy position of being able to communicate even with unschooled adults and not yet literate children.”
United States advertising expenditures, 1920–2007 in constant 2007 dollars (billions)*
The mass media is owned and controlled by mega-corporations run by the Alphas of our society. Colleges graduate thousands of people with the skills to manipulate the uninformed masses through advertising and propaganda. What passes for news organizations are just propaganda machines for a particular point of view. The public is distracted by the seemingly major differences between the two main political parties. The reality is that both parties are controlled by banking and corporate interests who pay for the laws that benefit their interests. Huxley’s description of political candidates in 1958 is even truer today:
“The methods now being used to merchandise the political candidate as though he were a deodorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.”
News people must be beautiful and entertainment is indispensable. They provide the people what they want – 24 hour coverage of Tiger Woods’ sex life, weeks of reporting about Michael Jackson’s death, and 10 seconds about the $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities we are leaving future generations. Truth is an inconvenience in the consumer society.
Incompatibility of Happiness & Truth
“Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects… totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.” Aldous Huxley
Mustapha Mond, World State Controller, believes that the population is better off with happiness than truth. In the Brave New World happiness is represented by immediate gratification of every citizen’s desire for food, sex, drugs, nice clothes, and other consumer trinkets. If the proletariats think they are happy, they won’t need to think or question reality. The World State cannot allow individuality to blossom. Free thinking individuals seek the truth. Spending time alone is considered an outrageous waste of time and money. Confession to a craving for individuality is shocking, horrifying, and embarrassing. John, the savage, grew up outside the World State and has studied Shakespeare. Everything that Shakespeare stood for: passion, love, intensity, seeking truth, relationships, and tragic endings, are at odds with the World State foundation. They cannot allow truth and true human happiness to exist in society or the Alphas will lose control.
The United States is the richest most powerful country in the history of the world. Our poorest live better than the aristocracy lived 100 years ago. We have indoor plumbing, air conditioning, heaters, clean water, automobiles, trains, jet airplanes, televisions, CD players, portable gadgets galore, free public education, fast food, gyms to work off the fast food, movies, the internet, restaurants, bars, concerts, sporting events, casinos, home improvement stores, grocery stores, discount stores, Wal-Mart, clothes stores, jewelry stores, dollar stores, churches, Disney World, Las Vegas, and Graceland. These are the “things” that are supposed to make Americans happy. Going into the woods alone, like Thoreau, to think is frowned upon. The propagandists sell the American public happiness in the form of material goods and services. If you don’t feel happy, take a pill. If you aren’t happy with your appearance have plastic surgery. If your spouse isn’t making you happy, cheat or get a divorce and try again. If your neighbor outdoes you by getting a $20,000 kitchen remodel, get yourself a $40,000 kitchen remodel. Happiness is a 6,000 sq ft McMansion with 5 bathrooms, a pool, game room, and Jacuzzi for your family of three. Having your neighbors see you driving a BMW 750Li will surely make you happy. Wearing a Rolex will definitely make you happy. If you die with the most toys, you’re still dead. Until reading a book to your three year old at bedtime is valued more than staying at the office until 10:00 pm to complete an investment offering, our society is destined for decline. Ours is not to reason why, but simply to do and die with a bare minimum of fuss.
In the Brave New World the policies of the State dehumanize the population. Stability and artificially induced happiness are more imperative than humanity and truth. Mustapha Mond explains to John that social stability has required the sacrifice of art, science, and religion. John protests that, without these things, human life is not worth living. After John eventually succumbs to the lure of the World State version of happiness, he hangs himself. An ending truly worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy. The pillars of our society are based upon the acquisition of material possessions using debt. Our society glorifies steroid taking athletes, sex crazed sports icons, drugged out entertainment personalities, vacuous TV housewives, and moronic cosmetically enhanced movie stars. Those who seek truth through questioning the status quo or digging for answers to questions the State doesn’t want asked, risk alienation and scorn. The Alphas (bankers) of our society issue the debt and convince the masses that accumulating more stuff will make them happy. The Alphas (media titans) use their mass media to persuade, manipulate, and sell their message of material happiness to the masses. The Alphas (politicians) use the taxes collected from the masses and the dollars printed by the bankers to distribute social welfare benefits to the lower classes, keeping them sedated and under control. Seeking the truth through the study of literature, the questioning of authority, and pondering of our existence on this earth are rare. Those who question and doubt the propaganda put out by those in authority are shunned and denigrated as being unpatriotic.
“Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.” Aldous Huxley
Dangers of an All-Powerful State
“Freedom is therefore a great good, tolerance a great virtue and regimentation a great misfortune. Meanwhile there is still some freedom left in the world. Many young people, it is true, do not seem to value freedom. But some of us still believe that, without freedom, human beings cannot become fully human and that freedom is therefore supremely valuable. Perhaps the forces that now menace freedom are too strong to be resisted for very long. It is still our duty to do whatever we can to resist them.” Aldous Huxley
The all powerful State in Brave New World uses technology and mind control starting before birth until death to instruct people what they want. Power over the citizens is maintained by lulling them into a false sense of happiness and contentment to the point where personal freedom and thinking are unnecessary. Superficiality is encouraged by the World Controllers. The consequences of citizens rolling over to the rulers are a loss of dignity, morals, values, and emotions—in short, a loss of humanity. Amazingly, this book was written in 1931. Huxley’s vision, which seemed so outrageous in 1931, has come to fruition in less than 70 years, versus the 600 years in the novel. Huxley realized that technological advances which are almost universally hailed as progress are fraught with danger. Man has built higher than he can climb; man has unleashed power he is unable to control. Brave New World is Huxley’s warning to make man realize that since knowledge is power, he who manages and exploits knowledge exerts the authority. Science and technology should be the servants of man – man should not be adapted and enslaved to them.
In the novel the “Nine Years’ War” broke out in 2049 AD. It can be deduced that the conflict broke out in Europe, affected most of the planet, and caused enormous physical damage. It is repeatedly stated that chemical and biological weapons were broadly used during the war, particularly in mass air-raids against cities. Following the war the global economy collapsed and created an unprecedented worldwide economic crisis. Realizing that they could not force people to adopt the new lifestyle, the World Controllers instead united the planet into the One World State and began a nonviolent movement of change. This campaign included the closing of museums, the suppression of almost all literature published before 2059 AD, and the destruction of the few historical world monuments that had survived the Nine Years’ War. The type of war described in the novel is a very feasible scenario in our current environment. It is interesting that a worldwide economic crisis was the trigger for a One World Government. Our current worldwide economic crisis has resulted in our Federal Reserve propping up European banks with U.S. taxpayer funds and unprecedented coordination between worldwide fiscal policies.
Huxley wrote his novel in 1931 at the outset of the Great Depression. His vision did not take long to crystallize. FDR initiated social programs on a vast scale to satiate the masses with manual labor government created jobs and social services that encouraged reliance upon the state at the expense of freedom and liberty. His nightmare world became more of a reality after World War II as progressives were successful in creating the United Nations, NATO, World Bank, IMF, Bretton Woods system, and GATT. These organizations reduced the freedom of individual countries to the benefit of worldwide bureaucracies. These organizations have gained power over time, but their total incompetence and ineffectiveness has kept them from gaining total control over world populations.
We are now at a crucial juncture as the worldwide financial crisis and the sham global warming crisis are being used by the New World Order crowd to confiscate more of our freedoms and liberties. Socialist minded world leaders Gordon Brown and Barack Obama, along with the revered Henry Kissinger have referenced a New World Order while offering their Keynesian spending solutions to the worldwide financial crisis. A number of Obama advisors have written they support a one world government. The Copenhagen Conference on Global Warming has drawn thousands of one world government apostles. They want to use the scientifically unproven environmental crisis as a way to impose worldwide taxes on sovereign nations and to compel the citizens of the world to honor their green agenda. The use of propaganda in our school systems to scare children by telling them that polar bears are all dying, is part of their plan. Again, the subtle use of media and propaganda to influence the thinking of the willfully ignorant public has worked.
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Aldous Huxley
When I started this article I was unsure whether Huxley’s nightmare would resonate in our current reality. Sadly, much of his novel applies to our society. Even sadder, our society now resembles an amalgamation of the two most famous dystopian novels in history: 1984 and Brave New World. Social critic Neil Postman contrasted the two views of the future:
“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no-one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.”
Our civilization has fused the worst of both novels. Many people in our country aren’t capable of reading a book. Supposedly educated people have no interest in reading a book. The government withholds or manipulates information that is spoon fed to the public. Trivial meaningless information floods the airwaves, keeping the public continuously diverted from seeking truth. The truth is lost in shades of grey and purposeful misinformation. Supposed differences between the ruling parties distract the public from realizing they are being fleeced by those in power. Government has used fear to create agencies and departments that have taken away our liberties and freedoms through Orwellian surveillance techniques. Our dumbed down culture of hero worship, material pleasures, and ego enhancement is the representation of triviality. The Alphas have used our fears and desires to distract us from their plans to dominate and control every aspect of our lives. Their success is all but assured at this point.
I’m not optimistic that there are enough Americans who value freedom over presumed safety, security, and social welfare benefits. The public has been duped into believing thrilling falsehoods rather than unexciting truths. Huxley explains how the propagandists have stolen our freedom:
“In their anti-rational propaganda the enemies of freedom systematically pervert the resources of language in order to wheedle or stampede their victims into thinking, feeling and acting as they, the mind-manipulators, want them to think, feel and act. An education for freedom (and for the love and intelligence which are at once the conditions and the results of freedom) must be, among other things, an education in the proper uses of language.”
I do not pretend to have the answers. Intellectual curiosity, a skeptical nature, and not buying into our shallow culture are the best chance for change. Reading or re-reading Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited will open your eyes to our plight. The current Fourth Turning will end in glory or tragedy. The choices we make as a society in the next 10 to 15 years will ultimately decide our fate. Huxley’s advice in Brave New World Revisited is wise, pertinent, and implementable today:
- As recent history has repeatedly shown, the right to vote, by itself, is no guarantee of liberty. Therefore, if you wish to avoid dictatorship by referendum, break up modern society’s merely functional collectives into self-governing, voluntarily cooperating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government.
- If you wish to avoid the spiritual impoverishment of individuals and whole societies, leave the metropolis and revive the small country community, or alternately humanize the metropolis by creating within its network of mechanical organization the urban equivalents of small country communities, in which individuals can meet and cooperate as complete persons, not as the mere embodiments of specialized functions.
As citizens of the American Republic we must answer the question posed by Huxley:
“Do we really wish to act upon our knowledge? Does a majority of the population think it worthwhile to take a good deal of trouble, in order to halt and, if possible, reverse the current drift toward totalitarian control of everything?”
“There is no darkness but ignorance. The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” William Shakespeare