How does the society described in Brave New World compare with today's society?
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There are many interesting comparisons, but I think the most telling is the use of the media to do what hypnopedia did in BNW. We are bombarded with information, mostly on television, and very few of us take the time to filter out what is fact, what is opinion, and what is just nonsense. If you want to think of Orwell's 1984 to further illustrate this idea, he understood some of the power of television, but had no idea what it would become in the future. He could not have seen it become our major source of information (a lot more people get their news from TV (or the Internet), than from written sources), which is not bad in itself since written sources are also edited and come with a "point of view." The Internet just complicates the problem; there is SO MUCH information that it becomes virtually impossible to know what to believe ... so perhaps we are more easily "controlled" now.
The drug issue makes me think of what we are doing to our children ... instead of working through some of the difficulties of growing up, they are drugged through them.
The separation of sex and love is yet another thing that seems more prevelant today. What does it mean when everyone is for everyone else? Is that all we should mean to/for each other?
There are other things, but only so many words are allowed. I'm sure that not everyone will agree with this list, either.
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In addition to the commonplace nature of sexual partnering, sexual "freedom" does seem to have become compensation for loss of personal freedoms in our society just as it is in Brave New World.
Also, in Brave New World the people are repulsed by Linda's age when she returns. Likewise, there is such an obsession nowadays with looking young; very few of the Hollywood stars seem to have aged, for example.
Still another parallel: The children are death-conditioned so the loss of someone is meaningless to them. Have so many nowadays not become inured to murder/death?
Society in Brave New World (BNW) is depiction of what a society can become if some of the trends of changes observed at the time of writing of the book - that is 1920's - were projected forward to extreme levels. These negative trends of society include:
- Existence of different economic classes with widening gap in their economic conditions and social gaps.
- Deskilling of majority of labour force because of mechanization, particularly the assembly like technique, where each workman performed a very limited part of the assembly operation, which was easy to learn and required very little mental abilities or efforts.
- Development of big organization that attempted to train and develop their employees to fit into some limited stereotype images. The concept of cloning in BNW is a grossly exaggerated version of such practices.
- Trend towards materialistic pleasure, particularly more liberal approach towards sex, at the cost of other values such as love and family relationships.
- Development of totalitarian states like that attempted to control whole countries centrally, resulting in marginalization of individuals. Such governments followed philosophies like those of Nazi's and communists that tended to treat individuals as mere cells in a complex organism like a whole society.
- Increasing use of drugs to as an alternative to facing and dealing with harsh realities of the world.
- Impact of culture in shaping the likes and beliefs of individual members of a society. The concept of hypnopaedia presented in BNW is an exaggerated version of conditioning individuals to accept and adopt the common values and belief prevalent in a society.
The society presented in BNW is similar to the present one only in a limited sense. All the characteristics of the society described above are present in modern day to some extent, bot nowhere near the levels envisaged in BNW. Also in many areas there is clear indication that mankind has been able to reverse the trend of changes in society in many respects, and currently we are moving away from the picture presented in BNW rather than closer to it.
Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Modern society serves as direct proof to Huxley's theory. One example of this is the Internet, or World Wide Web. Information runs ramped through modems and megabytes twenty-four hours a day. Knowledge is easily accessible and constantly changing. Encyclopedia Britannica updates its Online Encyclopedia several time a day to accommodate changing information. Orwell's theory of deprived information is definitely the opposite of what is occurring today.
Huxley also feared we would become a trivial culture. Once again, Huxley's prediction was on target. There is no person or leadership that holds modern society captive. People are free to make their own choices. Life, in some ways, has become trivial. Things that used to be important no longer hold the same position. Today's society is more concerned with the latest fashion than what is going on with politics. People would rather talk about where the best restaurant is than how to solve the problem of starving children in third world countries. This loss of values has added to the deterioration of modern society. Huxley correctly predicted that this triviality would be the downfall.
Huxley's book did not have the idea of a lurking tyrannical leader over society. Huxley made accurate predictions for the future because he was not influenced by recent history. His novel attempts to foresee the future by the behaviors of humans.
Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. Modern society has passed 1984, but is on its way to becoming a Brave New World.
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