English 4, Period 4
28 April 2013
The Eight-Ninths of Society
Aldous Huxley was a writer, philosopher, and social commentator born in Surrey, England, in 1894. His father was Leonard Huxley, the editor of the prestigious Cornhill magazine, and his mother was Julia Arnold, niece of poet and essayist Matthew Arnold (About the Author 2). He was also the grandson of well-known and respected scientist T.H. Huxley, and his younger brother was the evolutionary biologist Julian Huxley (2). Aldous attended the prestigious Eton College, an all-boys boarding school for secondary education. It was here that he contracted a serious disease that left him blind for two years and his vision impaired for the rest of his life. This crushed his dreams of becoming a doctor and studying science, though his scientific mind still showed in his writing. Being from an intellectually superior family and having an interest in science, Huxley wrote a lot about eugenics, especially around the publication of Brave New World, and publicly supported classism and the sterilization of the intellectually inferior. He was growing more and more fearful of overpopulation and the birth rate of the less educated compared to the cerebrally gifted around the publication of Brave New World (Woaik 2). Evidence of this thinking can be found in essays such as What is Happening to Our Population (1934) and Are We Growing Stupider (1932). Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is a tale of a future society, where everything is tailored and produced for the masses. Because everything is based on Henry Ford’s assembly line style production, every human being is just a piece of the bigger picture. Even the people are mass-produced, sometimes birthed ninety-six at a time in labs. The people’s only ambitions are to satisfy all of their needs, and find happiness in numbing their idle brains with the use of state-distributed drugs and possession-less sex with one another. Where the people do nothing but produce and consume in an endless cycle until they die. Brave New World’s dystopian society is a prophetic example of sociological trends coming to a grim fruition in the distant future. The people of the world-state described in the novel are all members of a certain social class arranged by looks, height, and intelligence. Greek letters designate the castes from more important to less important. There are Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon classes, along with sub-divisions of plus, minus and, double-plus. Born into their social standings, they know only of the lives they were designed to live, and only of the job they were given. The lower castes are given a brain just like every other member of this world, “for of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently – though as little of one, if they are to be good and happy members of society, as possible” (Huxley 4). As simple-minded members of the world, they use all of their half-wit to engage in their perceived notions of happiness. Every function of this brave new world is streamlined and worked down to a science. People are merely placed into a position of repetitive labor, and expected to accomplish their small task over and over again without so much as an idea of discontent. This comes after the model their great predecessor Henry Ford designed for mass production. It is truly a streamlined society; perfectly adept at fulfilling the lowly duties it requires to continue running. It is the beauty of the mass man that allows this idea to flourish; the concept that one can be truly happy with being fed shit and never wonder why. This culture of contentment is absolutely necessary for the continuation of this method (Firchow 3). One has to be happy with laying their humanity down in exchange for never being without comfort. This would cause many sane men to wonder who would choose this life. They wouldn’t, so it must be taught. Because it is so necessary...
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