Aldous Huxley: a Man’s Concern for the Future
Aldous Huxley: A Man’s Concern for the Future Aldous Huxley saw life around him as mechanical machines and human incubators. Huxley grew up in the early twentieth century when England, like the rest of the world, was experiencing innovation, crime, and terror due to the Industrial Revolution, World War One, and the Great Depression.
Aldous Huxley portrays oppression in his own world in his novel, Brave New World through his descriptions of a society based on the process of mass production, exploitation of sexual affection, and the consumption of drugs which produce emotionless lives. In Brave New World, the process of human production through mechanical incubators is normal. Throughout the novel, mass production comes conjointly with mass manipulation. These events of manipulating masses turn people into apathetic animals who eventually lose their sense of individuality.
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Bernfried Nugel compares the process of manipulation in Brave New World to that of communists Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin: “[They have] one decisive feature in common—all of them… have created methods and systems of manipulating individuals or the masses, thus making it possible to trans a great many single ‘egos’ into a compact impersonal herd” (Nugel 146). While Huxley was writing Brave New World, Marx and Lenin were influential in political idealism of Marxism and communism.
Similar to masses being forced into communism and uniformity by Lenin and Marx, the citizens of Brave New World were created by the masses: “‘Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines! ’ The voice was almost tremulous with enthusiasm… ‘If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved’” (Huxley 7). The communist leaders of the twentieth century attempt to control their citizens through a common theme of social equality as the World Controllers control theirs masses as identical robotic humans.
Huxley also compares influential mass producer Henry Ford and his right-hand man Albert Mond to that of Mustapha Mond. The cars mass produced by Ford relate to human production by Mustapha Mond: “[Huxley] portrays the factory production of humans along eugenic lines in an Americanized social order where Henry Ford is the presiding deity and the thinly disguised industrialist Albert Mond governs the world” (Luckhurst 59). Here, Luckhurst compares the American leader of car manufacturing, Henry Ford and he industrialist Albert Mond, to the masters of mass production and the World Controllers in Brave New World. The advances in science such as cloning can lead to the misuse of important scientific discoveries in order to mass-produce and profit. Through the misuse of science shown in Brave New World, Huxley is broadcasting his concern of this abuse: “Potential exploitation of technological advances by a society given over to rampant consumerism, governed by massive centralized bureaucracy, and submissive to the ministration of the expert or specialist” (Baker 8).
As seen in Brave New World, the use and abuse of production is a scheme used by World Controllers to keep their lasting reign on the mindless people, and Baker presents Huxley’s concern that the same abuse is beginning to occur in his own time. Physiological disorder and the exploitation of sexual affection are major themes in both Brave New World and Huxley’s view of England’s society in the early twentieth century. The Freudian theory, a concept frequently used in Huxley’s novel, explains that people can be fully satisfied by sexual urges.
Freud believed, “The way to happiness lies in the satisfaction of those primitive, instinctual, sexual drives which previous societies have been compelled to inhibit” (Bloom 210). In Brave New World, mere toddlers are encouraged to act on their sexual urges, which are supported by the World Controllers. Mustapha Mond explains life before “Our Ford”: “A look of astonished incredulity appeared on the face of his listeners. Poor little kids not allowed to amuse themselves? They could hardly believe it” (Huxley 32).
Huxley warns, through his description of a society revolving around sexual play, of the implication of the Freudian theory. It will destroy present and future possibilities of culture and civility if it is pursued. Huxley saw, during his early life in England and eventually in America, people were becoming viler and more sexually influenced. He observed that American people think they can be fulfilled by only drinking and sex, and thought the rest of the world would go along: “‘Given food, drink, the company of their fellows, sexual enjoyment, and plenty of noisy distractions from without, they are happy’” (Roster 82).
The people in Brave New World, similar to the emotionless Americans at that time, constantly have meaningless sex because they have learnt to do so, according to Huxley. Huxley does not only refer to Henry Ford as Brave New World’s World Controller. Sigmund Freud is also represented as “Our (obsessive) Ford” forcing excessive sex in daily life. As Freud began to propose new ideas of psychosexual development and personality, all views of traditional family life began to disappear. Huxley saw the behavioral change in the society around him: “The antiquated concepts of motherhood, family living and monogamy were abandoned” (Roster 64).
Both Brave New World and the real world of the 1930s showed that motherhood, family life, and marriage were disappearing due to Freud’s hypotheses that sexual habits would take over familial life. The whole concept of family would soon be lost, ““The thought of ‘Home Sweet Home,’ in fact had become repugnant to Huxley’s society” (Roster 64). As the absence of family and excessive involvement in sex became more common in the 1930s, Huxley used these themes in his novel to point out the potential issues his society could face, an emotionless and sex-filled world.
The use of drugs was not a major crime before the twentieth century. As people became more and more stressed, drug gave a sense of release. Huxley never encouraged drug abuse for merely the release of stress. Huxley used drugs for expanding the mind, whereas citizens of Brave New World use it to escape their minds. Lenina Crowne, the affectionate lover of Bernard Marx, exemplifies the abusive drug use of Brave New World: “Lenina felt herself entitled, after this day of queerness and horror, to a complete and absolute holiday… It would be eighteen hours at the least before she was in time again” (Huxley 154).
In order to forget the gory truth, Lenina uses an excessive amount of tablets, which in the real world would lead to death. Unlike Lenina, Huxley valued the mind and the ability to expand it, even if that meant the use of drugs, “Huxley valued mind altering drugs not for recreational use, but as a serious attempt to expand meditative and mystical states of mind” (Huxley 154). While shocked Lenina witnesses the customs of the natives and instinctively uses soma in order to forget the disturbing event, Huxley uses drugs for spiritual enhancement during the creation of this novel.
Lenina does not only use drugs to forget about horrid discoveries, she uses them to attain phony contentment. Huxley’s descriptions of Brave New World’s society portray the use of soma in order to obtain false happiness: Now—such is progress—the old men work, the old men copulate, the old men have no time, no leisure from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think—or if ever by some unlucky change such a crevice of time should yawn in the solid ubstance of their distraction, there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon; returning whence they find themselves on the other side of crevice, safe on the solid ground of daily labour and distraction, scampering from feely to feely, from girl to pneumatic girl… Huxley 55-56) Huxley’s characters in Brave New World were taught to use drugs religiously in order to escape from realities of life. Huxley’s own motives were for a purpose, expanding his personal knowledge: “the ways native religions had originally used then” (Roster 21). Instead of using drugs nonchalantly, Huxley used drugs for experiment and learning; illustrating ways other than controlling people. The inhabitants living in Huxley’s futuristic world have no capability of making their own decisions.
They do not know why they take soma as often as they do (at least two times daily). They are raised to do so, and this is the case that Huxley is arguing. The people of today must take responsibility of their own actions or else the world will eventually be governed and dictated by those who are more powerful and who are capable of corruption. Huxley lived in a world that was transforming from wooden wagons to steel cars, but his mind was even more advanced than his society.
He imagined a future with leaders who use human-producing incubators and machines to manipulate the masses. However, Huxley did not create these gruesome ideas with his imagination alone; the events that occurred during the twentieth century shaped Huxley’s views and thoughts. Huxley saw the human race as changing personalities, perceptions, and extrapolated a future world that showed drastic consequences to the progress of his day in Brave New World.