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Why is the Cyprus experiment important?

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fattal2 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 8, 2010 at 12:28 PM via web

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Why is the Cyprus experiment important?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 8, 2010 at 12:31 PM (Answer #1)

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This experiment was important because it proved that you could not have a society made up only of Alphas.  This had not been clear before.

In this society, they can have whatever kind of people they want.  All they have to do is handle them a bit differently when they are in the bottles, or clone them more times through the Bokanovsky Process.  So they had to decide what sort of a mix of people they wanted.

The Cyprus experiment told them that you need lower caste people to do the lower caste jobs or else you get serious trouble.

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 8, 2010 at 11:31 PM (Answer #2)

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In Chapter 16 of Brave New World, Mustapha Mond tells of a colony entirely of Alphas which obviously juxtaposes the Savage Reservation (made up of outcasts entirely).  His conclusion is that the mini-utopia of Cyprus failed because of unequal distribution of leaders to workers: none of the Alphas wanted to work.  He says the perfect society is based on the iceberg: one-ninth above (Alphas) with nine-tenths below (Betas, Gammas, Deltas, Epsilons) as support.

Curiously, there are two allusions to be gleaned from this failed experiment.  First, Cyprus was the island where Othello went wild with jealousy.  This too is the failings of an all-Alpha society: they become jealous of each other.  Just as Othello would rather kill Desdemona than share her with others, so too do the Alphas strike and fight civil war than share leadership positions.

Next, the iceberg analogy is used by Freud.  He says that we only reveal about one-ninth of ourselves in the form of Ego.  We bury the other nine-tenths between Superego and Id (with the Id being the bottom-most).  So, the Utopia of the Brave New World is regulated the same way, by having the masses support the few, and by only showing one segment of itself while the other segments go unnoticed.  The population below are happier because they do not ever need think:

"The optimum population," said Mustapha Mond, "is modelled on the iceberg–eight-ninths below the water line, one-ninth above."
"And they're happy below the water line?"
"Happier than above it. Happier than your friend here, for example." He pointed.
"In spite of that awful work?"
"Awful? They don't find it so. On the contrary, they like it. It's light, it's childishly simple. No strain on the mind or the muscles. Seven and a half hours of mild, unexhausting labour, and then the soma ration and games and unrestricted copulation and the feelies. What more can they ask for?

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