(Both the Pokémon fanfic and the Huxley novel of this title point to this Headscratcher page.)
For The Book:
What's so horrible about this society? It's certainly not perfect, but dystopian? Really? Everyone seems happy, and if you aren't then you get to spend all your time with similar people on an island of your choice.
Oh man, I thought it was just me. I read this and was like "I think I'm doing this wrong, this book has some excellent ideas..." We may be defective going by the rest of these comments.
The idea is that it is horrible because no-one is allowed to be individuals. There is a loss of True Art (and writers hate loss of True Art), and you are unable to feel any trials and thus grow from them. Plus it is kinda implied that those islands are kinda like the 'showers' in those 'camps' if you know what I mean...
People are stuck in predetermined castes, the idea of free thought is pretty much gone, and the idea of morality appears to have kicked the bucket as well. And the worst part? The people did it to themselves.
It's easy to miss, but, according to a line of dialogue in the story, rape is apparently both legal and socially acceptable, as, since "Everyone belongs to everyone else", it means that you are the common sexual property of all society, and have no right to say no (at least for any length of time). If you persist, it's perfectly okay to force you.
I wonder if the society would even understand the concept of rape. If everyone believes that they belong to everyone else, than the idea that you might resist another's advances must be completely alien.
I wondered about this while reading the book too! But at the same time, it certainly seems like people are allowed to reject others without any retribution. (I'd find a quote but I'm too lazy... egh...) They've just been conditioned to be willing to do it. Although I'm personally confused about the scene with Lenina (was she sexually harassing/trying to rape John? Or was John attacking her and calling her a whore and such unjustifiably? Though I'm personally leaning toward the former, I guess...)
People LIKE the society in Brave New World. They like having soma and free love, and there are no real responsibilities.
And so did the people in Airstrip One like the society, and Big Brother, in 1984, or else. Just because a society likes their world doesn't mean it's right. Not to mention, no free will and a caste system.
They like those things because they were programmed to; had everyone not been influenced by hypnopaedic conditioning, they wouldn't be content in the superficial lives they lead. If you are essentially brainwashed into liking something, do you REALLY like it?
Just because you or I wouldn't want to live there and we find their cultural norms disturbing doesn't make it immoral. If the general population is sincerely happy and getting everything they value, than there's no problem. It's up for interpretation, though, whether the people there are truly happy. If they're all walking around smiling with repressed malaise, than the word 'dystopia' becomes more accurate.
I think the key point is not that people are "getting everything they value", but that they value those things because they were trained to do so from early age. And of course, there's that whole part where they actively manipulate fetuses to make them stupider on purpose. Not cool.
And they're only "sincerely happy" because every time something bad happens to them, or they even think about something bad, they mainline Soma.
Yes, just because we may find the society of Brave New World base does not make it so, just as we cannot (rightfully) admonish foreigners for their culture—however strange it may be. But the society of Brave New World is not foreign civilization. It is comprised of our progeny. It is the future of us. And it flies in the face of everything we value. We may be happy as adult infants; when we don't have to think, to feel, to grow up, why wouldn't we be happy? But, as a thinking, feeling, contemplating, maturing human being, do you want this? Do you want this for yourself? for your fellows? Do you want to be forever an infant? Do you want to be forever a slave to instant gratification? to conformity? to your conditioning—to your government? Do you want to live in this brave new world? Brave New World does not have all the trappings of a traditional dystopia. Instead, it has the makings of an undesirable society, of a society that represses human nature, of a society incompatible with our notion of humanity, of a society we are already slipping into. That, my friends, is why it is (classified as) a dystopia.
I've always felt like the book's society isn't so much a dystopia as a deconstruction of utopia as a scientific goal (dystopia is technically a deconstruction, but in most dystopian stories utopia isn't even the goal). It's not describing a world where people are being maliciously crushed or oppressed, but just taking the question "how do you use technology and science to solve society's problems," tempering that question with the harsh assumptions of sociology and materialism as a philosophy, and then running with it. People up until Brave New World had been fond of imagining a future scientific utopia as all Crystal Spires and Togas; Huxley was showing how, if you take what we actually know about science and human nature and apply that to building such a utopia, the result wouldn't be a bunch of neo-philosophers flying around on jetpacks, but a culture we'd find grotesquely alien. But then again, we've been shaped by our society to think of it as normal, so we naturally would be horrified by a culture that so blithely disregards all our ideals and morals. A Viking warrior thrown into the present day might find our society similarly grotesque and lacking in the ideals and morals that he holds as absolute.
If the people in Brave New World don't have age-related frailty and disease, why do they still die when they're old?
To make way for the next generation. They almost certainly have the technology to avert it if the controllers thought that was a good idea, but if they do it goes the same way as labor-saving technology.
They may disagree about whether it's worth it, but all of the characters seem to accept that maintaining a society where people are happy and comfortable requires sacrificing everything else that people might value. Is it so hard to imagine that people could be happy and pursue science, philosophy, and art?
Given individuality is key in pursuing science, philosophy and art... not really. In this utopia, the only kind of science, philosophy and art that can be pursued is the "mass-produced" kind. But it's obvious this sort of philosophy is useless, this kind of art is barely art(more like a craft) and this sort of science (government-funded and focused on goals instead of discovery) would make Carl Sagan cry.
No, people probably could be happy while still pursuing science, philosophy, and art... it's just too risky. Pursuit of science, philosophy, and art ups their chances of not being happy, so they have to go. Mustapha Mond's judgement when he refuses approval for that article's publication seems to be, "Better safe than sorry."
In the Island experiment, everyone was an Alpha citzen and all the islanders considered themselves above tasks for the lower classes, and things went downhill … and fast. However, wasn't that experiment already doomed to fail even before it began? I kept thinking: all Alpha citizens are conditioned since birth to behave like exactly like that, relishing their inteligence while priding themselves as above those of the lower classes, even if those jobs needed to be done.
Pretty much. Mond had mentioned that there was a huge archive of labor-saving devices not in use because it would render a good bulk of the population effectively unemployed, right? They should have started with their standard ratio of classes on Cyprus and then experimented with adding those inventions to the society and determining what the new optimum ratio would be, with the eventual goal of applying it to the world at large.
Bear in mind that some (not all) of those setting up the "experiment" would have been ...keen to see it fail.
Why is this book often compared to 1984? It's disproportionate: Brave New World is a Utopian wet dream compared to that.
It also makes for a handy alpha and omega with the political themes of 1984. Oceania's ruling party, as represented by O'Brien, is motivated by petty sadism and controls its people through fear. The controllers of Brave New World, as represented by Mustapha Mond, are motivated by genuinely good intentions and control their people through happiness. Put together, they show how two entirely opposite philosophies and goals can each give rise to its own brand of dystopia.
Also observe their attitudes toward sex. One form of tyranny (demonstrated in 1984 and The Giver) attempts to suppress human sexuality entirely, to destroy the concept of a biological family and/or a loving marriage, replacing it with a fidelity only to the collective. The other form of tyranny, demonstrated in Brave New World, attempts to control the people by rendering sexuality frivolous. People numb their emotions because they are emotionally stunted, and they can never form a real connection with their lovers. Each man and woman is interchangeable in their minds. In both cases, the two most powerful drives, religion and sexuality, are either co-opted into the tyrant's agenda or destroyed. The tyrant doesn't want any motivations competing with serving the tyranny.
George Orwell (then Eric Blair) was once Huxley's student and didn't like Brave New World very much (at least not as much as We) because he thought a society that revolves around happiness and luxury would not be sustainable. Huxley, alternatively, while he liked 1984, thought the Bread and Circuses approach would actually be a more efficient way to keep citizens in line rather than the Big Brother Is Watching approach. How can fans of either (or both) resist joining in?
Why do World State inhabitants have last names? Those seem to be a relic from the past that there's no reason for the World State to preserve, considering its offensive connotation of the family institution.
Ah, that's a very good question, but my belief is that it's to differentiate people who have the same first name. That was actually the original purpose of surnames.
The surnames in the book are mostly from 18th-20th century history. Possibly the World State was attempting to commemorate certain approved historical figures (and perhaps also converting them to icons having little connection to historical reality, much as they did with "Our Ford").
The Epsilons, who are at the bottom of the gene pool, are called 'semi-morons'. What are full morons then?
Full morons are literally too retarded to be of any value- even Epsilons need to be able to understand orders. Moron in this case referred to a real kind of mental disability, rather than just the insult now, which is from that anyway (imbecile and idiot were also medical terms once before they became used simply as insults).
So, the Epsilons are supposedly needed because someone has to do the dirty work and labor-saving gadgets are supposedly not implemented because then the Epsilons get bored. Why wouldn't they just implement the labor-saving gadgets and make fewer Epsilons?
More gadgets and devices and dropping out Epsilons might also affect other people in various ways in a socioeconomic chain-reaction. This culture wants consumerism. More mouths wanting more food needing more employed food makers needing more employed advertisers triggering desire for more food, etc. They don't feel the need to stop people from being engaged in labor, so they don't need many labor-saving devices.
Epsilons also create a bigger population that Alphas and Betas can feel superior to, which means more effective marketing (helping drive the above point) and helping them fit into their own niches better.
Basically, anyone above Epsilons can feel better knowing that at least s/he isn't Epsilon and there for has better job and life. Epsilons, on the other hand, are "semi-morons" and do not realize that they are basically genetically engineered Butt Monkeys for everyone else. This helps to keep everyone else happy. Epsilons can be made to do everything nasty nobody else wants and they feel better since they don't have to do it, there is someone lower that has to do it and since they are too stupid to realize they can say no (whatever reaction this could cause is a different matter) they will do it. In the book, there's a mention of an experiment on Cyprus about a fully-automated society composed of all-Alphas. It collapsed.
The Alpha society wasn't fully automated, though.
And Epsilons are engineered to take pride in the fact that without them, the society would collapse in very short order.
The people in this world are conditioned before birth to be content with pointless happiness and sex. So what would happen if the society that maintained all this suddenly collapse?
Bad things probably. But then collapsing societies are no picnic for anyone.
While the society portrayed is pretty recognisable, it's hinted several times that their actual level of background technology is way more advanced than what you can see on the surface. It's almost certainly been designed with hundreds of tiers of automated safeties, redundant backups, global monitoring systems, etc. For all we know the planet has automatic asteroid defences and Mond can control tectonic drift from his office.
The society maintains itself, with intervention from the ingenious Alpha-Pluses who 'graduate' to the point that they have to choose, essentially, to disappear or become Controllers. Alphas are the world leaders, Epsilons are the manual laborers, and the others fill the gaps. Every single job can be met, because they're predestined to have their job. They like the job because they were conditioned to like it. The happiness with those things are to distract them between workdays. People are constantly being grown. These people are conditioned to love their jobs, love who they are, and love everyone else. They're all conditioned to consume a large, consistent amount, so no industries are growing or shrinking. Community, Identity, Stability.
Okay I get how they condition and engineer the lower castes, and I guess betas are just people of regular intelligence by today's standards, but how are alphas created?
Its possible most of them are not actually super-intelligent, they just believe they are.