In Brave New World, discuss the relationship between science, religion, and political power in the World State.

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Controller has a long talk with Helmholtz in which he explains the rationale of the World State. The Controller explains that the World State's government uses political power to bring "happiness" to the masses. He explains that since the end of the Nine Years' War, people have chosen to accept "anything for a quiet life."

To establish and maintain a quiet life for the people, the Controller says, science, truth, and religion must be subordinated to happiness. As the Controller puts it "truth’s a menace, science is a public danger." He notes that science is carefully limited so that it doesn't disrupt the equilibrium of the World State. He ruminates about a time when science and the quest for knowledge were allowed freedom:

Knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value; all the rest was secondary and subordinate.

Now, however, the supreme value is happiness. The Controller says:

. . . whenever the masses seized political power, then it was happiness rather than truth and beauty that mattered.

Political power involves guiding the masses to maximize their superficial happiness. This also means doing away with traditional religion in favor of a faith that worships technology and orgiastic union with members of the community. Our Lord has been replaced by Our Ford. As the Controller states to John the Savage, the Christian God

. . . manifests himself as an absence; as though he weren’t there at all.

When people never suffer, the Controller says, there's no need for religion as a solace. Science and religion are both sacrificed to happiness. Science and religion, as they used to be understood, are part of the price paid for a world of peace and stability. 



accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is clear that religion in Huxley's dystopian world has changed significantly from what it is today in our world. Christianity has been significanty modified and altered, both spiritually and politically, in order to support the central ethos of the World State which is all about science and technology to create a social order where everybody is happy and coexists peacefully. The purpose of religion in terms of the comfort that is drawn from it is therefore kept, whilst the way that religion sought to produce spiritual enlightenment, which led people to challenge political power, has been erased. For example, note the following description of a religious ceremony. The reference to the "T" comes from the way that the cross has been altered as a symbol, having had its top cut off to form a "T."

The President made another sign of the T and sat down. The service had begun. The dedicated soma tablets were placed in the centre of the table. The loving cup of strawberry ice-cream soma was passed from hand to hand and, with the formula, "I drink to my annihilation," twelve times quaffed. Then to the accompaniment of the synthetic orchestra the First Solidarity Hymn was sung.

Note how soma, which is of course a major way that the World State maintains power and prevents unrest, is incorporated into this parody of a communion service. The scientific developments that allow the creation of people prepared specifically for certain roles in society and drugs that can control them is therefore linked with religion in order to maintain political power in this novel. All work together to ensure that the goal of creating a perfect society is accomplished.

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Brave New World

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