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Technology and Progress in Brave New World

In: English and Literature

Submitted By ddemory
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Upon entering the “Squat Grey Building” that is the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre; you will see the motto of the World State: Community, Identity, and Stability. These three words reflect the ultimate goal of the Utopia that is the World State. “Community” means that everyone within the Utopia must work together to maximize happiness for the society as a whole. “Identity” refers to the five classes of hereditary social groups that are created through genetic engineering. Finally, “Stability” refers to the ultimate goal of the Utopia. By creating similar people and censoring and controlling actions, the society looks to minimize conflict, risk, and overall change. The three goals of the World State are completely controlled through the use of science and technology in Brave New World, which thereby stripped its residents of all social aspects and personal freedoms. By creating the Brave New World Huxley shows the importance of technology and progress to society, which makes us stop and consider how our current progress and advancements in technology have affected our society as a whole. Before looking into how people in the World State are restricted from having any free will, it is important to define what it means to be human. In my opinion, all humans are born with free will. I would define free will as the equal and inalienable rights to be an individual who can make their own choices. The ability to act at one’s own discretion without constraint is simply the inherent dignity of all human beings. After defining what it means to be human, it is obvious that the inherent rights of all individuals in the World State are in clear violation. From the very beginning, it was clear that the World State dehumanized all of its residents. Through the use of the Bokanovsky Process, the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre is able to shock an egg such that it divides into ninety-six identical embryos, which then develop into ninety-six identical human beings. The Hatchery then destines each one of these embryos for a particular caste within the World State. These people are completely dehumanized as they unable to escape their social destinies. Through the use of conditioning, individuals created in the World State are incapable of performing any other function other than the ones they are assigned to. According to the Director, “social stability” is the highest social goal of the Utopia. He argues that through the use of genetic engineering and rigorous conditioning, people will accept their roles with society without question. Upon reading the first two chapters of this book, you can see the obvious comparisons between the production of humans in the Centre and the production of consumer goods on an assembly line. We also find that the World State uses a drug known as “soma” to better control the population. This drug sedates and distracts its users from realizing that there is anything wrong with the society that they live in. In chapter three of Brave New World, Mustapha Mond, one of the World Controllers, discusses what life was like before the World State began to tighten control. He believes that stability is the only way that civilization and move forward. Before the World State, instability ultimately lead to war, social unrest, and disease. Without the stability created by the Utopian society, there was untold misery and suffering. The leaders of the World State actually believe that they are creating a better world by dehumanizing the population. In chapter sixteen of this book, Mund states: “Besides, we have our stability to think of. We don’t want change. Every change is a menace to stability. That’s another reason why we are so charity of applying new inventions. Every discovery in pure science is a potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. Yes, even science.” After reading this quote by the World Controller, we can see that the World State tries to avoid and contain any form of progress to achieve a stable society. The World State believes that they have created the perfect society and that things must not change. Even the current levels of progress like Bokanovsky’s process shall be preserved, as any further development could potential destroy the entire system. Understanding what progress means is critical to understanding the suppression of the Utopia created by the World State. In our society today, we think of progress as the ability to improve our current way of doing things. We can achieve progress through the advancement of technology and through the development of new ideas. The only progress in the Brave New World was to develop the genetic engineering to breed the citizens and the conditioning processes to suppress them. Once this was achieved, the society has been kept at a constant level. By doing so, stability in the World State is promised and possible scientific advancements that could endanger the system are avoided entirely. After reading this book, I immediately began to think about the advancements of technology as it pertain to our everyday lives. Many of us see technology and progress as a blessing to society. After all, what we do without internet, smart phones, and Facebook? No one on Earth can deny that the progress of technology has improved our everyday lives. While technology definitely has its benefits, it can also be thought of as a curse. First of all, technology advancements have led to pollution problems, which will affect us for hundreds of years to come. We have also severely depleted various natural resources by our progress. Another negative aspect of technology is when its power can be used for destruction. Some technology, like atomic bombs, have been used a weapons for mass destruction. As we can see, the progress of technology is not always for the better. Huxley warns us of the dangers of giving the state control over new and powerful technology. Although this book was written in the early 1930’s, I believe that it paints a great picture of technology and a possible future that we seem to be heading towards. The Utopian world that was created by the World State seems more and more likely each day as our values become more materialistic and our faith and religious beliefs dwindles. In this futurist world, God has been replaced by technology as the source of life. After completing the book, we can see how the motto of the World State is becoming more and more a reality. There are several aspects of this book that I find to be true with today’s society. With advancements in technology and pharmaceuticals, society is becoming more reliant on drugs, such as antidepressants. These drugs provide users with the ability to feel chemically, “happy,” which is eerily similar to soma. Although we have not deliberately (to my knowledge) created social classes such as Alpha’s and Beta’s, advances in genetic engineering are allowing us to choose some of the characteristics of our children. Even testing genetic engineering methods on other animals seems unethical to me. While there are several similarities, I think that we are nowhere close to the society that Aldous Huxley created in Brave New World. He does present us with an interesting perspective on technology and progress which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Huxley warns us that the advancement of technology could eventually lead to the dehumanizing of society. By genetically creating people to fit a certain need, we are replacing the role of God with technology. This book also makes us stop and think about all of the “progress” that we are making. At what point have we improved our processes and ways enough? When has technology progressed too far? I guess only time will tell.

[ 1 ]. Aldous Huxely, Brave New World (New YorkK Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint Edition), 1.
[ 2 ]. Ibid., 6.
[ 3 ]. Ibid., 23.
[ 4 ]. Ibid., 42.
[ 5 ]. Ibid., 193.
[ 6 ]. Ibid., 198.

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