In Brave New World, are Huxley's predictions valid in today's society?

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bigdreams1's profile pic

bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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We discuss this quite often in my Senior Lit. class. The students themselves concluded that while we are not there yet, that America is definitely moving toward the world Huxley envisioned. Here is their reasoning.

Soma: Pot smoking is the highest its been since the early 80's and is on the increase whereas alcohol is on the decrease among young people. It seems more and more teens want to block out the hard stuff through self medication.

Sex: In our district kids as young as 6th and 7th grade are experimenting with sex. There is little doubt that premarital and extramarital sex is more accepted than just a decade ago, much less a generation ago.

Cloning: We all know about Dolly the sheep. And there is further experimentation along these lines for disease alleviation and such.

Government control: Spurred on by the fear of terrorism, and laziness, our government (more than ever under Obama) is slowly grabbing control of all aspects of our lives from mandatory seat belt and no smoking laws, to socialized medicine.

Those of you in my age group (born in the 60's). Could you even imagine we would be where we are at today?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is prophetic in its concerns that technology might advance faster than humanity.  The dehumanizing of the individual is clearly occurring, although we have not yet created Deltas and Episilons deliberately.  But, genetic engineering is in the making as scientists have been able to isolate certain genes that cause baldness, some disabilities, etc.  Cloning of animals has already occurred, of course.

The concept of "everybody belongs to everybody else" seems to be reaching modern society as gratuitous sex is quite prevalent and   pornography is rampant on the internet.  Another parallel with Huxley's dystopian society is the prevalence in modern society of drugs such as Prozac which relieve people of disturbing thoughts and emotions, not unlike the soma of the New World.

Earlier in this year, a guest was on The Glenn Beck Show and in response to one of Mr. Beck's questions, "Are we like 1984 or have we reached Brave New World?" the guest, who is a writer, replied, "Oh, we are definitely living Brave New World."In addition to this man, there are other of the literati and the world of politicos that feel similarly.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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No, they are not, in my opinion.  I think that we are nowhere near to Huxley's dystopia.

For example, we are not in any way moving towards a caste system.  We don't even have tracking in American schools (where kids who don't want to go to college are put on a different "track" with different classes in high school.  We want everyone to go to college instead of creating some lower class that would be happy doing the menial jobs.

We are certainly not moving towards a world where human relationships are choked off and people are supposed to treat each other like machines.  In other words, we value love and things like that -- not just the random sexual encounters that Huxley portrays.

So I do not think that the major trends that Huxley describes in this book are coming to exist in our present day real world.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This would be an excellent question to post on the discussion board of this group, as I am positive you would get a wide range of responses that would be far better than just one person's thoughts. However, to add my tuppence worth, I think the society that Huxley presents us with in this unforgettable novel is clearly a society that has lurched dramatically towards one end of the spectrum of scientific advancement. Social institutions such as the family, marriage, childbirth and childrearing have been completely dispensed with and genetic engineering has created a strictly stratified world based on the Indian caste system.

While this world is obviously an extreme caricature of what might be possible if scientific advancement carries on as it seems it will, it is clear that there are not so many parallels with our society today. However, one fear is that with genetic engineering we will be able to have an increased amount of "choice" in the characteristics of our children, being able to select gender and so on.

Another fear that can be observed in the novel is the "dumbing down" of culture to the extent that we are not troubled by "serious" fiction such as Shakespeare and live lives that are easily managed and controlled.

Either way, I think this novel does present a terrifying picture of what could be if humanity in the future decides to forfeit personal freedom in its desire to gain political stability. Time will tell if we make this foolhardy and rash choice.

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stlosprev | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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Secondly, I disagree with this point, as well: “We are certainly not moving towards a world where human relationships are choked off and people are supposed to treat each other like machines.”  Indeed, relationships are choked off, as you say, all of the time; relationships at work – especially within large corporations – are generally discouraged.  And these relationships are discouraged because they might cause large corporations to be embarrassed (and lose market share), or they might result in allegations of sexual harassment; both of which cost large corporations money.  When you begin to see that we are not controlled by jack-booted thugs, but rather money then one begins to understand just how correct Huxley actually was.  I say this even though George Orwell was a brighter and far better writer; in fact, he was my favorite.  Nevertheless, Huxley appears to have been very accurate with respect to his predictions.  Contrary to popular belief, Orwell wasn’t making any predictions; he was merely describing – very accurately, mind you – the inner-workings of a totalitarian society.  Where, perhaps, Orwell and Huxley both agree is how we’re controlled through language.  So, I do disagree I think the USA is an extremely classed society, and I think that our sexuality is being controlled – through religion, corporations, government, etc.

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stlosprev | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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No, they are not, in my opinion.  I think that we are nowhere near to Huxley's dystopia.

For example, we are not in any way moving towards a caste system.  We don't even have tracking in American schools (where kids who don't want to go to college are put on a different "track" with different classes in high school.  We want everyone to go to college instead of creating some lower class that would be happy doing the menial jobs.

We are certainly not moving towards a world where human relationships are choked off and people are supposed to treat each other like machines.  In other words, we value love and things like that -- not just the random sexual encounters that Huxley portrays.

So I do not think that the major trends that Huxley describes in this book are coming to exist in our present day real world.

Pohnpei397,

 

On a couple of points, I have to respectfully disagree with you.  Firstly, you stated “[…] we are not in any way moving towards a caste system.”  We are not moving toward a cast system, correct, we are in a caste system.  All one need do is examine people’s socioeconomic class structure in American society and you will see that there is very little – almost none whatsoever – between the classes.  The poor and middle classes remain firmly in place; in fact, the middle class, if anything, move, but it’s generally in a downward direction toward poverty or financial stagnation at best.  The United States is clearly one of the most classed societies on the planet, but ours aren’t determined by government, they are determined by how much money we have.

 

 

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