Why does the novel Brave New World still have relevance in modern-day society?
Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World was published in 1932 and it is one of the most fascinating and interesting dystopian novels the world has ever seen. In his novel, the author criticizes the abuse of human values and challenges the readership to reflect on the ideas dealt with in the novel. Why do the themes covered still have so much relevance today?
To begin with, progress due to advanced technology is a big parallel between both worlds. In the Brave New World, embryos are produced in laboratories, citizens travel by helicopter and they use all kinds of high-tech gadgets for sport activities like Cyber Golf. In our modern world, technology has also brought lots of advantages: people can use internet all over the world, special virtual reality games have been produced and the invention of electronic cars is a crucial step towards saving our planet. What’s more, embryo implantation has become a means to overcome infertility. Thus, technology plays an important role in both worlds.
Huxley also warns the reader about the dangers of overpopulation. In the dystopia, the world population is kept stable thanks to birth control. Huxley believes that overpopulation is the central problem of mankind and that it leads to economic insecurity and social unrest. Nowadays overcrowding in relation to available resources is a serious problem as more and more people suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
Furthermore, in Brave New World, people are subjected to highly effective conditioning through propaganda. This is also the case in Communist China and the Soviet Union. Besides, during World War II, Hitler knew how to manipulate the emotions and thoughts of the masses. Opponents were assassinated and liquidated.
Besides, in Brave New World, there are no individuals and everyone is the same. As soon as somebody seems to be too individualistic, he is sent away to an island by the World Controller. This is what happens to the two Alpha-men Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson. These two men could represent a potential danger to the stability of Brave New World because of their intelligence and critical way of thinking. Today, politicians also misuse their power: in Turkey, Erdogan rids himself of political foes and cracks down on opposition media.
Moreover, Brave New World is a dictatorship. Nobody has his own opinion and there is no such thing as freedom of speech in the fictional world. In some parts of our world, this political system is still upheld. In North Korea for example, the dictator Kim Jong Un severely punishes dissidents.
Another parallel is the misuse of drugs. In Brave New World, everyone takes soma to be happy and thanks to soma, society is kept stable. People are the government’s puppets, their behaviour is ruled by soma and their critical thoughts are suppressed. In modern-day society, drug abuse is a big issue, too. Many people who are dissatisfied with their lives also take drugs to forget their problems. People are happy, but only for a short while. They get addicted and are forced to consume more and more. They get caught in a vicious circle which often leads to disaster or social isolation.
Next, loyalty is non-existent in Brave New World and it is becoming a thing of the past in our world, too. In fact, Brave New Worlders are supposed to have sex with as many partners as possible. People living in today’s world start to behave in a similar way. Promiscuity seems to be the latest trend: most people don’t seem to be interested in long-lasting relationships anymore. The rising number of divorces also seems to confirm this trend.
Additionally, the high-class games of Brave New World, for which the citizens have to buy loads of gadgets to be properly equipped, mirror the games we play in our modern society. For example, it is almost impossible to buy software without regularly having to pay for updates, upgrades or downloadable content.
What’s more, the absence of privacy in Brave New World is gradually becoming a fact in our society, too. Not only do institutions like the NSA constantly know what we are doing, lots of citizens also voluntarily publish every detail of their private life on social media platforms.
Finally, the society in Brave New World is a consumerist society. People are conditioned to consume as much as possible. They must throw away broken things and must not try to repair them. This attitude is taught through hypnopaedic slogans like ‘Ending is better than mending’ or ‘The more stitches, the less riches.’ Our modern-day society is also a consumerist society. Supermarkets offer a huge choice of products and advertisements tempt customers to spend money on the latest products or gadgets.
In conclusion, although almost 80 years have passed since the publication of Brave New World, we can still relate to the book and it is somewhat eerie to see how many issues dealt with in the novel still have great relevance today. As some aspects of the novel have already become reality, reading the book should serve as a warning and could help us prevent our society from steering towards a society like the one portrayed in Brave New World.
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