Lack of Individuality

Everybody belongs to everybody.
When the individual feels community reels.

Phrases such as this are a common occurrence Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel, Brave New World. Often believed to be a prophetic piece of work, the book attempts to illustrate the vulgarities of a conformist totalitarian society based on scientific principles. This Huxley does through the character of the civilians of his New World and the price they had to pay. Their collective happiness comes at the cost of their freedom to feel, freedom of identity, freedom to know and create. The world that Huxley has fashioned is one of castes, ubiquitous sexuality, mindless drug use, and conditioning. Individualism, which is the very breath of life, is repressed in this world.

As man has progressed through the ages, there has been, essentially, one purpose. That purpose is to arrive at a Utopian society, where disease is nonexistent, and strife, anger, or sadness is unheard of. Only happiness exists. But when confronted with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, this purpose is questioned as this novel succeeds in describing how a Utopian society can be horrific.

One egg, one embryo, one adult-normality. Nothing else speaks about the lack of identity in Brave New World more than this, the Bokanovsky process. If individuals have identical genes and are raised in the same environment  then there’s not really anything to distinguish one from another.

However, at the same time, the story makes the reader sit up and wonder if the people in the New World were no more forced than people are “forced” in our society. Yes there is childhood conditioning, but how is this different from schools, being raised by parents, television… everything is conditioning. Given that we are going to be conditioned no matter what, isn’t it better to be conditioned so that you’ll be happy? People took soma, and did what they did because they wished to feel good. They weren’t being forced. They did not want anything they could not have. They could have everything they wanted. I believe what this novel reveals is that humans are either conditioned, or genetically predisposed, to valuing their pain and suffering.

The story of Brave New World did not seem so much like fiction as it did a window to the future. “Men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” It is precisely because of this willingness of man to make the same mistake more than once, that the idea in this novel does not seem that far off base.

-Malvika Verma

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