Are we living in the World State?
This ‘travail de candidature’ discusses Aldous Huxley’s landmark novel Brave New World, written in 1931. Huxley presents the vision of a seemingly ideal society, the World State, in which nobody suffers from hunger, war or even rejection, but where everyone is living a carefree life. This first impression is, however, shattered when Bernard Marx, one of the protagonists, is introduced. Unlike the other World Staters, Bernard is cynical and bitter; and one of the few who can see behind the veil of joy and laughter. Through his eyes, and those of the other protagonists, we perceive a world where people are bred and conditioned by the state to live shallow lives without friends or family, moving from one flighty affair to the next. Moreover, as we delve deeper and deeper into this World State, it becomes more and more obvious that it is not so different from our society of today, 2011.
The discussion is therefore split into two parts that are juxtaposed. On the one hand, I endeavour to highlight the principal aspects of the World State. These aspects are illustrated with selected extracts from the novel, as well as secondary literature discussing the novel. Having examined them in the context of the novel, I will then take those aspects and see in how far they can be applied to today’s society in Europe and North America, again supporting my arguments with extracts taken from a wide range of authors, ranging from Plato and Hobbes to Wallerstein and Chomsky. The final part of each chapter is dedicated to an exploration of the chosen topic in other works of science-fiction, be they short stories, novels, TV shows or films.
The final result of the juxtaposition is that Huxley’s vision is indeed coming true, at least to some extent, and that there are even some areas where the timeline set by Huxley has been proved to be too conservative and that the pace at which we move towards the World State is far faster than he expected.