Brave New World: The Cost of Stability

By Ricky Gehlhaus, Jr., 1998.
This document was originally posted on <>, which is a dead link as of March 2000.

Today there are strong debates and questions about the extraordinary
breakthroughs in science such as cloning, in communications through the
Internet with its never ending pool of knowledge and the never ending
movement to censor it, and the increasing level of immersion in
entertainment. People facing the 21st century are trying to determine
whether these new realities of life will enhance it and bring life as they
know it to a great unprecedented level, or if these new products will
contribute and perhaps even cause the destruction of society and life. To
many cloning, censoring, and total immersion entertainment are new, but to
those who have read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the topics are
reminiscent of the horror that is found in Huxley's fictional utopian world
where the dehumanizing of man is achieved in the interests of "Community,
Identity, Stability," the world state's motto.

The novel Brave New World shows that in order for a utopian society to
achieve a state of stability, a loss of individuality, and the undoing of
Mother Nature must occur. Successfully engineering these conditions produces
a world where people are finally living "happily ever after," but at a great

The time of Brave New World is in the future on the planet earth and it is,
"a pessimistic accounting of the shape a scientifically planned community
would take, of its sterility and human emptiness," (Nicholls 300). Ten
controllers of the world states determine all aspects of society. Children
are born in state hatcheries where according to what social class they will
be, they are given or denied certain elements that are critical to proper
development. The citizens are happy and content with their simple lives as
it is shown in the novel when a character states, "We don't want to change.
Every change is a menace to stability," (Huxley 153). Therein lies the

The key ingredient to stability that the novel implies is that individuality
must be absent. The government in Brave New World understands that fact and
in the worlds of one of the ten controllers of the world states, "[there is]
no civilization without social stability. No social stability without
individual stability" (Huxley 28). The need for stability creates a
government which, "believes that stability can be achieved if people think
and look the same," (Fan 1). Stability, in effect, demands robots, not

The main element of what makes a person human and unique are the emotions
that inhabit their minds, which they can control to some degree. Watts
echoes this as he defines man in his biography, Aldous Huxley, "[as] a
creature marked by confusion, fear, and deathlessly individual awareness"
(79). Emotions are the fuel that drives man to act on a belief or a dream,
to become a better person, to grow and learn and to love. Emotions are such
a personal, intimate feeling of such overwhelming individual influence it is
to no amazement that the government in Brave New World discourages these
intense human characteristics.

Emotions are thus controlled in Brave New World. Control and stability can
best be achieved when everyone is happy. The government does its best to
eliminate any painful emotion, which means every deep feeling, every
passion, is gone. Huxley shows that the government recognizes the dangers of
negative emotions when the controller states, "Actual happiness always looks
pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery" (150).

Once individuality and emotions have been eliminated in Brave New World, the
chain of dehumanization next enters into the field of art and personal
expression. Since no one in Brave New World can create or express emotions,
individual expression is retarded. The lack of a cultural environment adds
to the artistic wasteland and as Watts states "…tragedy does not arise form
man's situation; it once arose from the instability of a particular
situation-one that in the new society [Brave New World] has been erased"
(80). Fan bemoans this loss noting, "Without literature, people will never
think and learn…of course they will live in a stable society where nothing
will ever change, but people pay the price of creativity and the ability to
think" (2). The leaders in Brave New World suggest that "you've got to
choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We've
sacrificed the high art" (150). The citizens of Brave New World see the
purpose of life as just maintenance of well being, not as "some
intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of
knowledge" (119) as Huxley writes.

Religion, a product of an individual's thinking of creation, is gone.
"People," Birnbaum states, "are never taught religion, and are conditioned
so they'll never be alone and think about the possibility of God…" (3). The
creation of a religion is almost akin to an act of artistic expression, as
it requires an enormous amount of emotion and individual belief. With an
idea of a higher being and consequently an idea of a more important aspect
of life than just remaining stable would be detrimental to the utopian
world. Instead of pondering an afterlife, the citizens remain true to their
society which is shown when a character states, "Fine to think we can go on
being socially useful even after we're dead," (49).

The importance of the individual is zero. Thody states that the people of
Brave New World "…are refused any opportunity to plan their own property,
change their role, rank or employment in society. Or even live permanently
with another person of their choice" (49). In the end, the society has
erased the individual and at the same time ceased human growth, even while
they themselves think they are expanding humanity. This display of warped
perspective is illustrated best by Jerome Meckier in his novel Aldous
Huxley: Satire and Structure when he writes, "If they cannot insert a square
peg into a round hole, it will redefine roundness until a perfect fit
results," (182).

With all of the controlling of the citizens in Brave New World, a wide
variety of means are implemented to control individuality and emotion and to
ensure stability.

Loss of identity is in large part the result of genetic engineering.
Tampering with Mother Nature and the miracle of life ensures that early off
in life there are few, if any emotional ties. The people of Brave New World
are not born to a mother or father. Instead a single fertilized egg is
cloned repeatedly until ninety-six separate embryos are present. From the
cloning process the identical embryos are put in tubes and then grow until
they are ready to be born. The implications of this engineering are
tremendous. Everyone in the Brave New World is essentially parentless and as
Thody states, "…the words 'mother' and 'father' have become the ultimate in
unmentionable obscenity" (49), as though those words were a link to the past
in which society is very different from its current form. With the
destruction of the family, the government has single handedly prevented the
largest source of human emotion: family love. There are no mothers, fathers,
brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, or grandparents. Everyone
seemingly melts into a giant generic mass, all in the name of stability and

To further stabilize the society, "sexual freedom is legalized…" (Huxley
33). Free sexual relations are encouraged for all, especially for the young,
to discourage any sense of love. With sexual relations starting so early,
the citizens can never fully appreciate the act of love and the feelings
that go with it. Neil Postman says in his essay Amusing Ourselves to Death:
Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, "Although everyone can have
sexual relationships with just about everyone else, no emotional feelings
can be involved" (3). This emotional engineering shows the clever ways in
which the reigning government body can sugar coat a loss of basic human
feelings. In this Utopia, what would be considered true love for one person
in today's world would lead to neurotic passions and the establishment of
family life, both of which would interfere with the community and stability.

Fan states that, "In Brave New World people embrace their oppression
willingly…" (1). This is due to the teaching of the young. Controlling birth
and numbing emotion while experimenting with sex at young ages, the new
"person" is educated. The teaching the inhabitants of Brave New World
receive is more of a method of programming than a process of learning,
thinking and discovery. This in turn produces a society that, "adore[s] the
technologies that undo their capacities to think," (Postman 1). Every human
being in Brave New World is conditioned to fit society's needs, to like the
work he will have to do. The government uses hypnopaedia, or sleep teaching,
and also shock therapy as the main means of education for they see that,
"…the vulnerability of the human mind can be put to some practical purpose,"
(Thody 50). Huxley shows an example early in Brave New World of the method
of education as a Director of a Hatchery explains to a group of students:

Books and loud noises, flowers and
electric shocks-already in the
infant mind these couples were
compromisingly liked; and after two
hundred repetitions of the same or a
similar lesson would be wedded
indissoluble. What man has joined,
nature is powerless to put asunder

Huxley then reiterates the power of this technique in his essay Brave New
World Revisited in which he states, "Children, as might be expected are
highly susceptible to propaganda" (67). The government takes advantage of
the innocence of children and uses it to further fuel their carefully
tweaked machine that they call society.

Entertainment in the society is no more than blinds created by the
government to hide the cultural and emotional emptiness. Huxley explains
this phenomenon in Brave New World Revisited:

Non-stop distraction of the most
fascinating nature… are deliberately
used as instruments of policy, for
the purpose of preventing people
from paying too much attention to
the realities of the social and
political situation (45).

In addition to the entertainment created by the government, there is a
powerful drug called soma. Soma use is encouraged by the government to be
consumed by the citizens. The main reason for this is that soma puts the
person into a deep numbness, void of all feeling. In the novel, a character
that is feeling too emotional takes a dose of soma to rid herself of those
odd sensations. Huxley shows that when the citizens were either alone or had
a moment of free time, creative forces tended to creep out. This is when it
was most opportune to take soma tablets, when the individual is conscience
of being an individual.

For a book that was published way back in 1932, Brave New World has
remarkable meaning in today's world. The sudden appearance of viable ways to
clone humans has astonished and frightened millions of people. Is this the
beginning of mass production of identical drone humans, even if just for the
role of medical use? One can already see the loss of the individual.

The incredible wealth of knowledge available on the Internet is astounding.
But for all of the valuable information there is an equal amount of
disturbing smut or other questionable items. Should one censor this
information or allow sex to imbed itself into the young and desensitizes
their developing feelings? Already one sees the crumbling of the individual.

As entertainment becomes more and more extreme and cutting edge, one wonders
if virtual reality will take the audience on a soma-like trip into its deep
unconscious? Can a new medium with even more bells and whistles than
television waste even more of an individual's time? One can already see the
wasting of the individual.

The society in Brave New World does have a good side: there is no war or
suffering, little disease or social conflict. But for those few highlights,
the society pays a very high price. There is no love, family, science, art,
religion, and history. Nicolas Berdiaeff best states the final thought on
the utopia:

Utopias appear to be much easier to
realize than one formerly believed.
We currently face a question that
would otherwise fill us with
anguish: How to avoid their becoming
definitively real (inside cover
Brave New World)?

Works Cited (these were available on the author's website)

Aldous Huxley links (these were available on the author's website)

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