Brave New World, a pinnacle in English Literature that critiques the many and all fine points of globalization and its issues between 1900 and the date of publication in 1932. The early 1900s were home to the many changes that are still prevalent in today’s lifestyles. The Great Depression and the push away from the gold standard to revolutionize modern economies and revitalize capitalism which can be seen in the written works of Huxley. Other identities are pertinent; feminism, postmodernist ideals, and contemporary politics worked as the catalyst for the novel. Like chemistry, catalysts have inverse effects on the reaction and are still identified and traced within the product. The change of state of Western Civilization through the means of economic and societal sublimation acted upon and built the notoriable work of literature’s theme, characters, and motifs.
Aldous Huxley’s writing had allusions to philosophical ideals that challenged many societal and cultural norms. With postmodernism sparking in the 20th century and Brave New World possessing a motif of challenging the modern-era values it was a society that mirrored culture that wouldn’t spar for another 30 years. Booker makes the connection that it became a mantra of the counterculture: “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” (216). Citizens are encouraged to engage in complete sexual promiscuity, pursuing superficial, recreational sex with anyone and everyone who is interested in joining them, no emotional commitments required. All while the populace is encompassed by the drug soma. Huxley explains, “Christianity without tears—that’s what soma is” (238). Illustrating that soma is the artificial fuel for living, replacing what had been Christianity.
The World-State abandoned the classical arts of Shakespeare and many other high arts in his dystopia. In the novel, Mond bans them altogether because they might tend to trigger strong emotions; the citizens of this society are instead bombarded with a constant barrage of mindless, thoroughly commodified works of popular culture, even in their sleep. To subsidize for their lack of higher arts, they citizens are exposed to a multitude of forms of media: radio, television, and future multimedia presentations, such as “feelies” that add other types of senses. Similar to which, citizens of the New-World are developed through ample conditioning to inhabit how they think and act. “Their education does not teach them to think critically, instead at instead blindly drifting through their lives as consuming machines, meanwhile working jobs they have literally been designed and manufactured to perform” (Anderson 224). These manufactured infants are produced like branded products, given Greek-letter labels to indicate the level of the role they are intended to play in society, from the Alpha + individuals, who are intended to be the society’s movers and shakers, to the lowly Epsilons, who are intended to be its lowliest manual laborers.
With the widespread ideals of communism, Huxley was one not to ignore the kindling fire in his writing. Huxley alluded to the socioeconomic structure by creating a dystopified version of it. All beginning within the first chapter where everyone was made for the benefit of the state.
Everybody may “belong to everyone else,” but clearly, some people belong more than others. Indeed, via the zygote-splitting Bokanovsky process, new citizens can be produced in large batches of absolutely identical infants, but Alphas, produced in lower quantities, stand starkly apart from the mass produced lower rankings (Huxley 29). The hypnopaedic platitude ‘Every one belongs to every one else’ is a great example of the sort of confinement seen in Brave New World. No one can be free because everyone is subject to the desires and urges of every other person. How can you have freedom when you’re considered property? The fact that everyone is both master and slave is one of the horrifying, cyclical traps that Huxley criticizes.
In order to understand Huxley’s stance on the sociopolitical events that developed the novel it is apposite to know the events that had taken place. In 1932, the year Brave New World appeared, Hitler had not yet come to power, though Mussolini had been Prime Minister of Italy for ten years and “Huxley followed Oswald Mosley’s early reform proposals with interest” (Gregory 93). Stalin had begun widespread collectivization and the implementation of the Five-Year Plan command economy in 1928 and was clearly master of the Soviet Union.