Humans have always wanted to achieve a utopia, an ideal world where everyone is happy, without any worries or concerns. In Brave New World, Huxley vividly portrays a futuristic society where people are all uniformly “satisfied” with all that they have ever wanted or had. However, their happiness is meaningless since it is conditioned by the powerful absolute rule of the government. Totalitarianism is the ultimate control of an elite group over the masses. Huxley satirizes the idea of authoritative rules, by effectively portraying the evils of totalitarianism, and this can be seen particularly through the World State’s motto: “Community, Identity, Stability”.
Primarily, the government of World State gains control of its citizens through promoting the notion of a “community”. In World State, solidarity is achieved through sports, sex, and other forms of entertainment. Unlike the sports in present day society, sports in this new world are always designed to be simplistic games that do not involve intellectual thinking. The Centrifugal Bumblepuppy is a typical example of the primitive sports played in World State. This game is not any different from nineholes, a game of the past in which marbles are rolled into holes, except that it utilizes much more elaborate apparatus such as the “chrome-steel tower” and a “rapidly revolving disk” (Huxley, 35). Though sports like Centrifugal Bumblepuppy are much more technologically advanced in their appearance, the principals behind these games are still extremely basic. None of the games requires “more apparatus than a ball or a few sticks and perhaps a bit of netting” (Huxley, 35). By getting everyone involved in these artless sports, the State is able to prevent its people from spending time alone. Consequently, they cannot engage in any self-reflection – a dangerous activity considered to lead one to separate him/herself from the community. In addition to sports, promiscuity is also highly promoted for its ability to unite people. Children of World State learn to play rudimentary sexual games at their leisure; adults are expected to practice sex on a regular basis with different people as well. World State demands its people to be bigamous so that personal romances, which can lead to deep passion, will not occur. When Lenina, a Beta woman, confides to her friend, Fanny, that she has been going out with Henry Foster, an Alpha, for four months without dating another man, Fanny warns her to be “a little more promiscuous” as the “D.H.C. objects to anything intense or long drawn” (Huxley, 43). After all, “everyone belongs to everyone else” (Huxley, 47). Other than sports and sex, there are also different types of entertainment available in World State. One of them would be dancing in a cabaret. The people who attend these occasions dance in unison with the synthetic music. Songs played in the cabaret are all a part of the government’s tactics to regulate its people to feel as if they were part of the community. For example, the lyrics of “Bottle of Mine” strongly convey the notion that people are safely inside the comfort of the “bottled” State. Consequently, they should all enjoy being a part of the World State and being a part of the community. Furthermore, World State disapproves of anyone being alone. When Fanny is ill and cannot engage into her “usual routine” with men, she spends her evening playing Musical Bridge (Huxley, 42). Once she knows that she will not have the accompaniment of men, it is almost an impulse for her to find a replacement activity. From this example, one can see that whether it is sports, sex, or other forms of entertainment, people in World State are obligated to occupy themselves with activities to be a part of the community. With this ideal in mind, it is not difficult to see why they can never learn the true meaning of individuality.
Identity is the second cardinal feature in World State’s motto. Its meaning can be ambiguous. While it signifies “absolute sameness”, it can also be interpreted as who somebody or what something is, which, in essence means the characteristics that differentiate one person/object from another. In World State, people are identical because they are all laboratory-grown clones that are bottled and standardized from hatchery. However, the Predestinators, a government bureau, decide a prospective citizen’s role in the hierarchy. Ranging from the most intelligent to the most moronic caste, there are the Alphas, Betas, Gamas, Deltas, and Epsilons. The intelligence of each caste member is predestined by pumping blood surrogate into the embryo bottles in which he/she is concealed. The blood surrogate given at different lengths of interval in the lungs determines the amount of oxygen the embryo receives. The lesser the oxygen, the more moronic the embryo gets, and consequently, the lower its caste in the society (Huxley, 23). When these embryos develop into life form, they are conditioned mainly through hypnopaedia and the Neo-Pavlovian Process. One lesson that is taught by hypnopaedia is Elementary Class Consciousness. Through sleep teaching, Beta children learn to be happy because they don’t have to work as hard as the “frightfully intelligent” Alphas and because they are smarter than the others; Deltas are dull and Epsilons are too ignorant to be happy (Huxley, 33). The State’s suggestions of morals are repeated numerous times in Betas’ sleep until “at last the child’s mind is these suggestions” (Huxley, 34). The second means of conditioning is done using the Neo-Pavlovian Process. From their early childhood, members of the society are trained to like or hate certain aspects of life, nature, and science. Delta babies are given flowers and books, but are then electrically shocked so that they will later develop an “instinctive” hatred of books and flowers. Consequently, they will never risk reading something which might undesirably decondition one of their reflexes and in the meantime, hate nature because it increases transport consumption (Huxley, 29). Through the use of hypnopaedia and the Neo-Pavlovian process, the government succeeds to limit the mental freedom of its people. Citizens of World State are suppressed from choosing what they want or like for themselves and are always bound by the instructions of the State. As a result of conditioning, everyone loses his/her identity and individuality. Nevertheless, there are the exceptions of those who are defective since their decanting. They are represented by Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson. Unlike his associates, Bernard does not enjoy sports, and he prefers to be alone rather than to be in a crowd. Moreover, he questions the conformity of life in World State and the values his society teaches. Consequently, he is deported to Iceland because of his rebellious thinking and lifestyle. Likewise, Helmholtz Watson is also a defective product from the hatchery. He is intellectually, socially, and physically more superior than his fellow Alpha-Pluses. Because of the excessive abilities he possesses, Helmholtz becomes dissatisfied with the uniformity that the State promotes. He believes that there must be more to life than mere physical existence.
Therefore, he too is banished from the State. Through the cases of Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson, readers can see that people who claim individuality and identity are mistreated. Because they violate the principles of technology and artificial personalities, they must be sent away so that they will not contaminate or disrupt other healthy members of the society. Obviously, what World State promotes is “absolute sameness” in order to maintain social stability; thus, it eliminates those who strive for individual identities.
Lastly, social stability is the product of community and identity. It is what leads to happiness. In order to attain social stability, scientific progress is frozen. The State does not “allow [science] to deal with any but the most immediate problems of the moment” because truth and beauty cannot “keep the wheels steadily turning” (Huxley, 183). As well, subversive works of literature are also banned for the sake of stability. A typical example of brilliant creativity and inventions that are being censored in Brave New World can be found when Mustapha Mond, the World Controller of Western Europe, comes across a paper called “A New Theory of Biology”. Though he finds “the author’s mathematical treatment of the conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but [it is] heretical, and so far as the present social order is concerned, dangerous and potentially subversive”; therefore, it must be banished (Huxley, 143). The writer of this paper will also have to be placed under careful supervision in order to ensure that he/she will not become a part of the subversive force of World State. Free flowing of ideas and criticisms, in the form of scientific truth and artistic beauty, is constrained; hence, freedom of thought and speech is also eliminated. “Ford” takes the place of “Lord” in the New World, for God now “manifests himself as an absence” (Huxley, 214). There is no need for spiritual meditation anymore because when people feel depressed or unhappy, they can consume a hallucinogenic drug called soma. As Mustapha Mond describes, soma is “Christianity without tears” (Huxley, 190). It makes people content without causing the sadness and guilt of Christianity. Though citizens of World State rely heavily on the consumption of soma to “calm [their] anger, to reconcile [themselves] to [their] enemies, to make [them] patient and long-suffering”, it dulls their senses and destroys their sense of urgency and desire for action. People like Linda, who intake large amounts of soma, shorten their lives as a result of it. Soma is a false form of happiness produced by the State. It provides a means of vacuous escapism that makes people comfortable with their lack of freedom in the society. Thus, they conform to the absolute ruling of the totalitarian State. While Linda is a representative of a successful product of World State’s manipulation, John the Savage, symbolizes innocence and purity of life. His highly Christian beliefs about God and what is right and wrong contrast sharply with the values of the citizens of the New World: “God isn’t compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness” (Huxley, 188). Knowledge and wisdom, represented by truth and faith in God, are powerful qualities; yet, they are restricted to the minimum, for men are only valued for their physical existence. Knowing that the State gets rid of “everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it”, John exclaims his need for God, poetry, real danger, freedom, goodness, and sin (Huxley, 192). In the end, he becomes the ultimate victim of powerful totalitarian state. Mustapha Mond does not let John join his friends, Bernard Marx and Helmholtz Watson in exile, and thereby, retrieves his freedom. John’s guilt toward “his own murderous unkindness to [Linda]” causes him to whip himself as a form of his grief and repentance (Huxley, 197). Finally, with Lenina’s arrival and the crowd’s roar for a whipping, John turns his hatred toward the people of the new world inward upon himself, and ends his life by suicide. John’s faith in believing purity and individuality make him susceptible in the impersonal new world. His tragic end frightfully illustrates the victory of temporary happiness and comfort over personal values and liberty. Freedom no longer holds any significance in striving for stability. Thus, people in World State are forever enslaved in the realm of controlled community and lost identities.
World State’s motto, “Community, Identity, Stability” clearly displays the evils of totalitarianism. Readers are shocked to discover that such a seemingly perfect world has turned out to be a nightmare. Although Brave New World is only a fictional novel written more than half a century ago, it is frightening to see that, one by one, Huxley’s horrific predictions are becoming acceptable realities. This novel was written with the intention of giving readers a glimpse of a possible outcome for the future of humanity. According to Ford, “History is bunk”; meaning that it is futile to review events that have already taken place; instead, Ford encourages citizens to press on without looking back (Arid, 51). By creating the totalitarian “utopia”, Huxley is not only warning readers about potential errors that can be made in the future, but also of those errors that were made in the past.