If you define realistic as representing what really exists now, then it would probably fail the realism test. But that doesn't mean that what it's written about isn't real. Many of the things that Huxley foresaw in 1932 are realities in 2009, although not always in the form that he predicted. For example, hypnopedia does not exist in our world, but we have television and advertising which do similar, if less effective (at least according to the novel) things. A large number of people in our world seek escape through drugs, again not as harmless or effective as soma, but similar nonetheless.
This novel always struck me as a kind of romance similar to the way Hawthorne treated realities in his works. Although the settings and actions of some of his works were "fantastic," and they fail the "realism" test of our world, the underlying realities of these stories are true in the same sense that BNW is "real."
I believe that this question could be argued both ways.
In Huxley's time, I would say that the world this book offers would not have been possible simply because of the technology involved, though, once it's conceived, it just takes someone figuring out the details to get it in the works. Today, these types of things are absolutely possible technologically. The question is whether or not society will ever let it happen.
A world like this certainly couldn't come into existence overnight; there would be too much opposition. However, if, ever-so-gradually, the foundations of this world were introduced, then it would indeed be possible to make something like this happen. People can be easily manipulated when the right psychologists and propagandists get involved. Look how easily the masses can be swayed now with tv, music, celebrity news, fashion, etc. It wouldn't be as difficult as one might think (or hope) to get the beginnings of this type of a society in the works. And then, once that happens, it's just a matter of dealing with those of us left who care about the fact this is happening. Eventually, the old way of life would die out, though, and it would be completely replaced with the brave new world Huxley describes.
I would hope that we'd always have enough people who want to be individuals that this would never come about, but with the right people spearheading the project, it could be implemented if given time to flourish and take root. It's scary to think about, really.
On a recent broadcast of Glenn Beck on CNN, the host asked a guest writer, "Are we still in 1984 or is it now Brave New World?' The writer responded, "Oh, we are definitely in Brave New World.
Written in the foreword is Huxley's theme:
The theme of "Brave New World" is not the advancement of science as such; it is the advancement of science as it affects human individuals.
Another germane passage comments,
This really revolutionary revolution is to be achieved, not in the external world, but in the souls and flesh of human beings....The people who govern the Brave New World may not be sane (in what may be callled the absolute sense of the word); but they are not madmen, and their aim is not anarchy but social stability. It is in order to achieve stability that they carry out, by scientific means, the ultimate, personal, really revolutionary revolution.... the love of servitude cannot be established except as the result of a deep, personal revolution in human minds and bodies.
In order to bring about the "love of servitude," an improved technique of suggestion is used. This technique includes conditioning in the early years and later, with the aid of drugs, the conditioning is continued. Huxley felt that the characteristic feature of the "happier" and more stable world was not more than three or four generations away from him in the 1960s. He remarked, "As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensatingly to increase...[and] in conjunction with the freedom to daydream under the influence of dope and movies and television, it will help to reconcile his subjects to the servitude which is their fate."
These words are frighteningly prophetic. Certainly the allusion to sexual freedome being compensatory rings true. Nowadays children and teens travel to places or go outside where they cannot have the availabiltiy of electricity. People swallow what the media teaches them. Our last presidential election stands as proof of the persuasive power of the media; even Time magazine admitted to its articles, covers, etc. that were favorable to one particular candidate. In a news broadcast last month, reporters mentioned that there is a movement now by the medical world to effect a measure in which all teens must be tested for depression and then treated. Parents, too, are often concerned that there children "are not happy."
If people are content in their environments, there will be no dissension, no revolution of thought or act. All great changes in history have been the result of thoughts and acts that were anti-establishment. Even in one's personal life, no great changes or improvements come about if one is not disastified.
With the advancement of technology, people have become dehumanized, foregoing physical and verbal contact with other people by using technical devices that are more expeditious. Independent thought is discouraged through politically correct conditioning, select textbooks, required training by businesses in many areas of thought. Diagnosed with clinical depression, people take anti-depressents, but a renowned psychologist declared on national television that anyone who is realistic that seeks psychological counseling WILL be diagnosed as "clinically depressed" and proscribed drugs.
Is "Brave New World" realistic? Absolutely.
I believe this book was never meant to be realistic. After all it is a work of science fiction. Yet the book was meant to drive home some stark realities of industrial and economic progress that could undermine some basic human values and happiness of mankind.
The fact the many of the developments that have taken place in the world are not exactly in line with the predictions of Huxley, does not change the fact that Huxley has highlighted some real problems very well. It is quite possible that this book has actuallyy helped in finding solutions to those problems, and in this way, contributed to its failure to predict the future correctly.