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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Haydar Husayn

Brave New World

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If anyone hasn't read this book, by Aldous Huxley, then I would strongly recommend it (along with 1984 by George Orwell). People have been pointing out how these books seem to have served as a blueprint for Western society for a while now, but it's really starting to get scary now. Here is a summary of the dystopian state in Brave New World (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_New_World#The_World_State):

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The World State is a benevolent dictatorship headed by ten World Controllers. In this respect it is similar to the societies imagined by Huxley's near-contemporaries H. G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon. The World State has established a stable global society where the population is permanently limited. The basis of that stability is the conditioning of citizens to accept their station in life. This is achieved by:

Abolition of natural reproduction. Human embryos are raised artificially in "hatcheries and conditioning centres". The breeding and development of children predestine them to fit into one of five ranked castes with Greek letter names, from Alpha (the highest) to Epsilon (the lowest) which fulfill different economic roles. Alpha and Beta foetuses are allowed to develop relatively naturally, but Gamma, Delta and Epsilon foetuses are subjected to chemical interference to stunt their intelligence and physical growth. Members of lower castes (but not Alphas and Betas) are created using 'Bokanovsky's Process' which allows up to 96 clones to be produced from one fertilized ovum.

One of the few features that I don't think has an obvious parallel is the allocate caste aspect of all this. I'm sure some people would argue that this is the case, but currently I don't think think that this is something that can be proven.

The abolition of natural reproduction on the other hand does seem to be on the agenda.

In 20 to 40 years, most Americans won’t have sex to reproduce. Get ready.

 

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Educating children by the hypnopaedic process, which provides each with appropriate subconscious messages to mould the child's self-image appropriate to their caste.
Discouragement of critical thinking. The lower castes are bred for low intelligence and conditioned not to think; in the upper castes, this is achieved by conditioning and social taboos. "High" culture has ceased to exist; serious literature is banned as subversive, as is scientific thinking and experimentation. The only cultural element mentioned, movies with added tactile sensations, deal in pure sensation.

While none of this is officially done, it is pretty clear that critical thinking is on the decline in society these days. It is not something encouraged in schools, or in society. Instead of being taught how to think, people are taught what to think. And this is often done through using social taboos. Subconscious messages are used through advertising and the media . High culture is certainly nearly dead. Instead, we have this low-brow rubbish full of violence, nutidity, sex, foul language, and bad humour. Scientific thinking is still done however.

 

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Discouragement of individual action and initiative. Spending time alone is considered abnormal and even reprehensible, and well-adjusted citizens spend their leisure in communal activities requiring no thought.

Paradoxically, although people do technically spend more time alone these days, in a wider sense, through the spread of social media, people do spend most of their time communicating with others. The activities on social media do also generally require little to no thought.

 

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This leads to a lifestyle which readers may see as shallow and hedonistic. It is promoted by the ready availability and universally-endorsed consumption of the hallucinogenic drug soma (an allusion to a ritualistic drink of the same name consumed by ancient Indo-Aryans), and by the promotion of recreational sex, often as a group activity. Emotional, romantic relationships are obsolete; chastity and fidelity are causes for disapproval or mockery; and marriage, natural birth, parenthood, and pregnancy are considered too vulgar to be mentioned in polite conversation. Spiritual needs are met by mock religious services in which twelve people consume soma and sing hymns. The ritual progresses through group hypnosis and climaxes in a sex orgy.

I don't think I even need to comment on how prescient this was. In terms of the drug, think of cannabis, or anti-depressants.

 

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An abundance of material goods. However (presumably because of advanced technology) conditions of work are not onerous, in contrast to the contemporary Metropolis in which the workers are forced to arduous exertions. To maintain the World State's command economy, citizens are conditioned to promote consumption (and hence production) with platitudes such as "ending is better than mending".

Again, this should be pretty obvious to most thinking people. Our economy is entirely dependent on needless consumption. If people stopped buying things they didn't need, then the economy would crash.

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People enjoy perfect health and youthfulness until death at age 60.[17] Death is not feared; the population is confident that everyone is happy, and since there are no families, there are no strong ties to mourn.

The advance of medicine and the promotion of euthanasia could very well eventually lead to this type of situation.

 

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The vast majority of the world population lives under the World State. In geographic areas not conducive to its system, "savages" are left to their own devices. These "savage reservations" are similar to reservations established for the Native American population during the colonization of North America.

Those Muslims who refuse to bow to the ideology of the modern world will eventually be seen (if they aren't already) as 'savages', and may have to live separate to everyone else.

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I remembered Brave New World yestersay after watching an interesting TED speech about how media provides us with information. One of the great points dealth with is the excess of information that reach people, and how it ends up not only desensitizing us but also alienating us from what happens in the rest of the world.

We indeed live in a dystopia already anyway, and it's just getting worse. If any, hard work both externally and internally may help us and our close surroundings to keep close to the truth and at the same time progress in life. May Allah grant us patience and guidance.

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For once I will let baradar jackson get away with his ill-informed gibes against Orwell.

I'm still waiting for the apology the last time he called him something of an imperialistic handmaid when a basic acquaintance with Orwell's oeuvre would dissuade even a seventh-grader from making such wild claims. 

Anyway, I second the recommendation for Brave New World. Huxley together with Orwell represent two intersecting Totalitarianisms of our times. I rate Huxley's higher even though Orwell's is more popular. The latter is more easily understood because it captures the lived experience of millions in a potent symbol whilst the former is more philosophically grounded and demands greater mental space to sink in. 

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