Another Entry For The U. L. S., The Underground Library Society, by Roberta Eaton Cheadle: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Thank you so much to Roberta Eaton Cheadle for creating another entry into the U. L. S., the Underground Library Society! The U. L. S. is an unofficial group of people who are dedicated to the preservation of books and in complete opposition to censorship. The idea is based on the Book People from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

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Copy of Roberta Writes - independent pub 2 theme.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Overview

A colleague of mine who is a philosopher recommended I read Brave New World, a book written in 1931 by English author Aldous Huxley.

I have read several dystopian novels including 1984 by George Orwell, Anthem by Ayn Rand, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, but this one disturbed me the most.

In all other dystopian novels I’ve read, compliance with the despotic authoritarian regimes that demand the surrender of knowledge, creativity, and individuality are enforced by strict control over the behaviour and actions of all people and the maintenance of power through force, intimidation, and torture.

In Brave New World, the freedom of choice of individuals is taken away by the removal of the normal human reproductive system, family units, and relationships. Reproduction is replaced with a state-controlled artificial system whereby babies are grown in test tubes and the developing foetuses are ‘interfered with’ so that the babies are suited to their pre-designated status in life.

Once the babies are decanted, they are conditioned by repetitive mantras during their sleeping hours which condition their behaviour towards each other, the different societal castes, and their leisure and consumption behaviour. Everyone is conditioned to accept everyone else and appreciate their contribution to the smooth functioning of society. They are also conditioned to accept death and to not have any strong emotions or feelings. There are no human attachments through love or a sense of belonging.

In this manner, everyone is happy as their physical human needs are met and even exceeded, as they are kept entertained as well as fed, clothed, and employed. All people are also provided with a soothing happiness-maintaining drug called Soma to take the edge off any mild emotional upsets they might experience.

The society in Brave New World is that of a rigid caste system where status, intelligence and worth, all of which are designated from conception through the method of development of the foetuses, is prescribed equally for males and females from almost all population groups on earth.

The Alphas are the intellectuals of the World State and take all academic jobs such as college professors, scientists, and leadership roles. They wear gray and have a lot more freedom provided the do not stray outside of the societal norms of ‘everyone is for everyone’ and they do not try to push the boundaries of the search for freedom, truth, or science. They do not have relationships but engage in numerous sexual encounters with many different people. The maintenance of their status costs them their individual thoughts and ideas. They are dedicated to maintaining the system and thus the happiness of the masses.

The Betas wear mulberry or maroon and are one level below Alphas. They are more ‘regular’ than Alphas as they don’t have the accelerated intelligence or physiques gifted to Alphas during their foetal development.

The Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are the workers, and their intelligences are artificially impaired. This impairment increases as you go down the castes with Epsilons being mentally incapacitated in their artificial wombs through depriving the developing foetuses of oxygen for limited periods.

The purpose of this intellectual impairment is to ensure the workers are happy in their repetitive and boring jobs and do not become unsettled or dissatisfied due to unfulfilled higher purposes and ambitions by the workers.

The Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons are the majority and wear green, khaki, and black, respectively. Many of the work groups are grown from the same embryos so they share common features and are in effectively all ‘twins’ and related.

Plot

Lenina Crowne, an Alpha female who works in the hatcheries (baby production factories) is a little unsettled when the book starts. She is looking for a mysterious little something more than what she currently has in life. She is interested in an Alpha male called Bernard Marx who has offered to take her with him to a Savage Reservation in New Mexico. Very few Alphas can travel to the Savage Reservation and observe natural-born people who are not part of the new world order and who have relationships, suffer from aging and diseases, and still have their religion. They also have babies.

At the Savage Reservation, the pair meet Linda, a woman originally from the World State, and her natural born son, John. The story moves on from there drawing parallels between the two worlds and the lifestyles, wants, and desires of the inhabitants.

Why is this book important?

Although some aspects of this book are dated due to modern technology, there is much in the concept of the World State that is applicable and quite possible. The technology for genetic engineering and the creation of designer babies already exists, as does the future elimination of diseases and slowing down of the aging process. It seems likely, given our money-orientated society, that those with greater means would have access to these new technologies.

Controlling people through drugs and consumerism is already a known concept and the idea of a world benefits system has already been posed. The impact of over population is making itself felt and the idea of a set number of life years for people as presented in this book, seems possible. 

It seems a valid theory that the removal of human relationships, together with the satisfaction of all physical needs, would drastically reduce conflict situations in the world. Conflict is driven by strong emotions of want, greed, desire, revenge, and others and it is reasonable to think that these emotions would be less likely to present themselves in such a placid and unchallenging environment.

This is a book that needs to be preserved so that we can be reminded that constant happiness comes at a price and would be likely to diminish, or even destroy, creativity, innovation, and further progress, as well as our freedom of choice. The question to ask ourselves whether constant happiness is worth sacrificing our freedom of choice for, especially as that happiness restrains further human development and restricts knowledge and reading.

We also need to ensure that no single world power gains absolute control over all of humanity thereby allowing it to make all decisions, unopposed, about the welfare and future of all people. Keeping people satisfied in their work by reducing or limiting their brain growth sounds so horribly viable in the author’s context of peace and happiness, but is a gross violation of human rights.

Some interesting quotes

“Social stability. Standard men and women, all exactly the same. The staff for the whole of a small factory from one single bokanovskified egg.” Relates to the mass production of identical twins who all look the same and who all have an artificially generated low IQ.

“Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks; already in the minds of the babies these pairs of things were connected, and repeated lessons would make the connection permanent.” Relates to conditioning during baby and toddlerhood.

“”I want to know what passion is,” he said. “I want to feel something strongly. “We are all grown-up intellectually and during working hours,” he went on, but we are infants where feeling and desire are concerned.” Relates to the removal of emotional stimulus.

robbie

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Please be sure to visit Robbie at her wonderful blogs:

Robbie Cheadle Books/Poems/Reviews

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Thank you again to Robbie Cheadle for this post!

A New U.L.S. member, and a post on 1984 by George Orwell

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Underground Library Society

Thank you to Robbie Cheadle for her post on 1984 by George Orwell. With this entry, Robbie has joined the U. L. s., the Underground Library Society, dedicated to opposing book censorship and book banning. Please visit her blog Robbie’s inspiration .

If a society similar to that depicted in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury were to somehow come into existence and all books were banned, I would want to be part of any group involved in preserving books. If that meant learning a book off by heart, I would be prepared to do that. The big question for me would be what book to choose.

Out of all the wonderful and amazing books out there, my choice is 1984 by George Orwell. My over view of this book and my reasons as to why I believe it is still relevant to us are as follows:

1984 is a dystopian novel that was written years ago to portray a possible future for mankind as envisaged by the author in 1949. Why would anyone want to read this book now? 1984 passed more than thirty years ago so why would this book still be a worthwhile read today? The answer is that the content and ideas presented in this book are still relevant and it portrays a future that is still a possible outcome for humanity if the threats to our existing lifestyles and our planet are not resolved and harsh totalitarian measures need to be introduced as a last desperate measure to save our world. The threat of world destruction using nuclear weapons is much less likely now than in 1949, but modern people merely face new threats and obstacles which are also of our own   creation.

1984 is set in a world where the inhabited landmasses are divided into three significant superpowers, all of which are ruled by political parties where the systems of government are centralized and dictatorial and require complete subservience to the state by their citizens. The three superpowers are continuously at war and their populations live in a state of perpetual deprivation and fear of being bombed. The reason for this state of affairs becomes clear to the reader at a later stage in the book.

Winston Smith, the hero of the story, is a member of the Party and this requires him to believe in their political mandate completely and entirely. No questioning of Party doctrine is tolerated in any form and the party has methods of policing every aspect of their members’ lives including their thoughts and dreams. Every party member has an invasive screen, in the manner of a modern television, which the party can access to spy on the activities of its members. Party members are encouraged to suppress any sexual feelings other than the need to reproduce and children belong to clubs and groups where they are effectively turned against their parents and encouraged to spy on them for the state. In this way, the Party has broken down all the natural human bonds and relationships and turned people into lonely individuals with no way of forming into dissenting groups.

Winston is a thoughtful man with a high intellect whose job involves changing previously printed news articles and books to recreate the past in the manner dictated by the current wants of the Party. Nothing is safe from intervention by the Party, which is represented by a giant picture of “Big Brother”. Even the dictionary is continuously being re-written to delete unnecessary words and party members are encourage to use a reduced version of language know as New Speak.

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
― George Orwell, 1984

He questions the society he lives in with its continuous deprivation and lack of emotions and relationships. He thinks that things must have been better in the past. Winston believes that there is a brotherhood of dissenters who are working to overthrow the party. He believes one of its member’s is an inner party member whom he has interacted with by the name of O’Brien.

Winston decides to start recording his thoughts and ideas in a blank book, an action that is against Party rules, in case he ever gets the opportunity to share them with O’Brien and join the brotherhood.

Winston meets a young woman called, Julia, who is also a dissenter in her own young and uncomplicated way. Julia does not share Winston’s belief that the Party could be overthrown and a better life for people re-created. Julia’s approach is to breach Party rules and take the freedoms she desires in a non-confrontational way. Despite their significant differences in age and attitudes, Julia and Winston become physically involved and fall in love. This is against Party doctrine where the marriage of couples has to be approved and would not be if the couple were strongly attracted to each other.

Winston and Julia both know that they are risking their lives with their affair and other behaviours and, despite knowing the harsh consequences, are prepared to take the chance.

 

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever.”

― George Orwell, 1984

The reason I believe this book is still so relevant is because we are living in a world on the brink of massive climate crisis and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Drastic action by the governments of the world will be required in the foreseeable future to remedy these massive issues. How will governments do this without taking decisive steps to control population growth and consumerism? If you think about these problems, the world of Winston Smith doesn’t seem so impossible.

To take this thought process one step further, we may already been on the slippery slope towards a totalitarian government. Our current environment of increasing nationalism, nativism and opposition to immigration, indicate that many people of moving away from the inclusive new world order that world leaderships worked towards in the aftermath of World War II. Have we forgotten the horrors of this war and the devastation and inhuman activities that took place? I think this book may be more valid now than ever before.

“Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

George Orwell, 1984

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Once again, thank you to Robbie Cheadle!