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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Dueling Dystopias: A Brave New World Draws First Blood

Dystopia


A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

When I finished reading Huxley in 1986, twice because once wasn't enough, I began to wonder which dystopia would be proven more accurate when I reached manhood.

George Orwell's 1984, though brilliant, particularly Orwell's treatment of vocabulary as a means of control, is not as relevant today as A Brave New World.

Community, Identity, and Stability - The World State's Motto in A Brave New World

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN (excerpt)

"If you allowed yourselves to think of God, you wouldn't allow yourselves to be degraded by pleasant vices. You'd have a reason for bearing things patiently, for doing things with courage. I've seen it with the Indians."

"l'm sure you have," said Mustapha Mond. "But then we aren't Indians. There isn't any need for a civilized man to bear anything that's seriously unpleasant. And as for doing things--Ford forbid that he should get the idea into his head. It would upset the whole social order if men started doing things on their own."

"What about self-denial, then? If you had a God, you'd have a reason for self-denial."

"But industrial civilization is only possible when there's no self-denial. Self-indulgence up to the very limits imposed by hygiene and economics. Otherwise the wheels stop turning."

"You'd have a reason for chastity!" said the Savage, blushing a little as he spoke the words.

"But chastity means passion, chastity means neurasthenia. And passion and neurasthenia mean instability. And instability means the end of civilization. You can't have a lasting civilization without plenty of pleasant vices."

"But God's the reason for everything noble and fine and heroic. If you had a God ..."

"My dear young friend," said Mustapha Mond, "civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of political inefficiency. In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic. Conditions have got to be thoroughly unstable before the occasion can arise. Where there are wars, where there are divided allegiances, where there are temptations to be resisted, objects of love to be fought for or defended--there, obviously, nobility and heroism have some sense. But there aren't any wars nowadays. The greatest care is taken to prevent you from loving any one too much. There's no such thing as a divided allegiance; you're so conditioned that you can't help doing what you ought to do. And what you ought to do is on the whole so pleasant, so many of the natural impulses are allowed free play, that there really aren't any temptations to resist. 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 mortality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears--that's what soma is."


In the constant struggle to avoid tears, difficulty, effort, in our world, not brave, not as new as we think, the consequence is often a long trail of tears, over centuries.

In conclusion, Orwell must get his due.

"You want a vision of the future? Imagine a boot stomping on a human face, Forever."

Perhaps the UN and EU could get some tee shirts made up? Legacy media could use the advertising dollars.

A "discourse of cultures" is much simpler if one civilization lies prostrate under foot and only listens.

1 comment:

dilys said...

Have to confess, I came here because you boasted you can afford a harem. Don't be so sure. LOL. (not that I'm looking). Then I discovered you're a lawyer (et moi) in my home town, which I haven't seen for a couple of decades. Then I found the one of the best arguments for the Old Order--chastity entails passion. Wiser than Tom Wolfe's entire last novel.

That settles it. You've been bookmarked.