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Brave New World Aldous Huxley, 1932 Revisited, 1958 Our visit, 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Brave New World Aldous Huxley, 1932 Revisited, 1958 Our visit, 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Brave New World Aldous Huxley, 1932 Revisited, 1958 Our visit, 2011

2 Brave New World (1932) Aldous Huxley A satirical piece of fiction, not scientific prophecy. Serves as a symbol for the false promise of universal happiness. How can a future where everyone is happy become a dystopia? Huxley exploits anxieties about both Communism and Fordism. Insipid happiness from Pavlovian-style conditioning and eugenics. Happiness from mass-produced goods, "the feelies", and soma? Soma: an opiate for the masses? Prozac-like psychic tranquillizer? BNW is a benevolent dictatorship: a totalitarian welfare-state. Does a version of BNW lie in our future? Or is it already here?

3 In 1931, when Brave New World was being written, I was convinced that there was still plenty of time. The completely organized society, the scientific caste system, the abolition of free will by methodical conditioning, the servitude made acceptable by regular doses of chemically induced happiness, the orthodoxies drummed in by nightly courses of sleep-teaching -- these things were coming all right, but not in my time, not even in the time of my grandchildren… [perhaps] in the sixth or seventh century A.F. (After Ford). Twenty-seven years later [1958]… I feel a good deal less optimistic than I did when I was writing Brave New World. The prophecies made in 1931 are coming true much sooner than I thought they would. The nightmare of total organization… has emerged from the safe, remote future and is now awaiting us, just around the next corner.

4 In the Brave New World of my fable, the problem of human numbers in their relation to natural resources had been effectively solved.… In the real contemporary world, the population problem has not been solved. On the contrary it is becoming graver and more formidable with every passing year. It is against this grim biological background that all the political, economic, cultural and psychological dramas of our time are being played out…The problem of rapidly increasing numbers in relation to natural resources, to social stability and to the well-being of individuals -- this is now the central problem of [hu]mankind.

5 World Population 250 million – 1 CE 500 million – 1600 CE 2 billion – 1931 2.8 billion – 1958 7 billion -- 2011 “death control is achieved very easily [by disease, famine, war, and lack of sanitation], birth control is achieved with great difficulty [because of fecundity and religious sentiments].

6 “In the Brave New World of my fantasy eugenics and dysgenics were practiced systematically” Betas, Alphas and Alpha Pluses Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons Indoctrination, drugs (soma), and recreational sex Dystopia, trading freedom for control, ture=fvwrel ture=fvwrel The World State, &feature=related &feature=related

7 Brave New World presents a fanciful and somewhat ribald picture of a society, in which the attempt to re­create human beings in the likeness of termites has been pushed almost to the limits of the possible. Relates to actual (scientistic) practices of Eugenics, Social Engineering, and Sociobiology… Huxley, Film, literature, and the new world order

8 1984 by George Orwell (1949) A dystopian novel setting forth Orwell’s fears of an intrusively bureaucratized state of the future. “On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.” "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face--for ever.” Oceania: Inner Party (1%), Outer Party (18%), The Proles Winston Smith works in the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth rewriting and altering records, including newspaper stories. Keeps an illegal diary and opposes the Party, but pointless to resist. "War is Peace", "Ignorance is Strength”, "Freedom is Slavery." Animal Farm (1945), a modern beast-fable attacking Stalinism.

9 George Orwell's 1984 (published in 1949) was a magnified projection into the future of a present that contained Stalinism and an immediate past that had witnessed the flowering of Nazism. The brutal future dictatorship of 1984 depicts a society controlled almost exclusively by punishment and the fear of punishment. “In the imaginary world [of Huxley’s] fable, punishment is infrequent and generally mild. The nearly perfect control exercised by the government is achieved by systematic reinforcement of desirable be­havior, by many kinds of nearly non-violent manipula­tion, both physical and psychological, and by genetic standardization.”

10 Harrison Brown, The Next Hundred Years (1957): “How is [hu]mankind coping with the problem of rapidly increasing numbers? Not very successfully.” Huxley’s 1958 prediction: “It is a pretty safe bet that, twenty years from now [1978], all the world's over-populated and underdeveloped countries will be under some form of totalitarian rule – probably by the Communist party” – NOT Huxley again: “It is in social science, in the realm of politics and economics, that the Will to Order becomes really dangerous when poorly conceived social theories are implemented by the state.”

11 Science and Scientism Science: empirical, quantitative, mechanical, self- correcting, falsifiable. Scientism (or scientolatry) – Science alone gives truth and this truth is absolute – Matter is the primary reality (materialism) – Behavior is determined by impersonal forces – All values are merely social conventions – The coming ideal society is guaranteed – Technocrats rule (either with an iron fist or subtly)

12 Sir Francis Galton, the Nazis, and Eugenics Eugenics Lobotomy,

13 Brave New World of Technology? 2007, 2017 or today? ABC news

14 Mike Wallace 1958 interview with Aldous Huxley 28:43 2iMUR0&feature=related

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