The Dangers of Technology: Technology in the wrong hands can be devastating–the topic of thousands of spy movies of the 20th-century. The worst hands for technology is government. In Huxley’s Brave New World, technology is used to predetermine physical appearance, attitude, and preferences. The individual exists only for the benefit of the state. Although technology is usually controlled for mankind’s benefit, government and those in power tend to abuse it. Something to consider the next time you read about wire-tapping, surveillance capabilities, or stem cell research–perhaps the most applicable of Brave New World technologies.
The Dangers of Big Government: Government that attempts to control all aspects of life and sets itself up as the provider of happiness is a government certain to destroy individual liberties. Should government be involved in business, in industry, in health care? Huxley and history would argue no. The main difference between the government in Brave New World and real governments’ attempts to become the almighty is the former did so efficiently whereas the latter has screwed everything up. Take for example the low standard of living caused by authoritarian Communist and Socialist regimes throughout Asia and Eastern Europe in the 20th-century. A look at the United States government even shows its incompetence in providing solutions on matters it is not meant to solve; hence, the need to rely on the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
The Degradation of Human Sexuality and its Implications: Along with the loss of individuality comes the loss of self worth. Lenina considers herself a commodity to be shared with all. Everybody belongs to everyone is a hypnopaedic preconditioning repeated frequently in the novel. The proliferation of pornography and the increase in infidelity in marriage is one example of modern society mirroring Huxley’s dystopia.
The Disregard for Human Life: Even in death, individuals are viewed as commodities, as a source of phosphorus. The dead are sent to the hospital to die in solitude. Bokanovsky twins swarm throughout the hospital mortality ward as a form of “death conditioning.” Modern readers need look no further than wanton violence and late term abortions to see real examples of the disregard for human life prevalent today.
The Dangers of Consumerism: The need to consume more goods to maintain economic stability is at the heart of preconditioning and genetic tampering. Modern readers do not need to read Brave New World to witness rampant consumerism and materialism and its effects.
The Mind-numbing Effects of Drugs: The distribution of soma keeps citizens under control and helps them forget about their problems. An obvious correlation exists between soma and the use of illegal narcotics and other illegal drugs today; a closer look, however, reveals that soma relates even more closely to the abuse of pain killers and other legal prescription drugs. If you don’t believe drugs are being used at an alarming rate, take a look at the number of pharmacies in your home town.
Can you see some of the warnings from the novel coming true in our own time?
This post is part of the series: Brave New World Study Guide
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