We live in a Brave New World

Our Brave New World

Last year, I think more precisely around 10 months ago, I read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I had purchased a copy instead of checking it out from the library because of waitlists. This copy I got came with a Brave New World Revisited, also written by Huxley almost some 30 years after Brave New World was written. I really liked Brave New World, so I tried to read Brave New World Revisited. After a while I gave up. It was both depressing, and kind of funny. In it, Huxley says he believes we are moving closer to Brave New World faster than he foresaw. He also mentions DDT A LOT, which I find pretty comedic, knowing how that pans out.

Brave New World

In this part, I will describe Brave New World in case you haven't read it. If you have, this is extraneous.

Most people have heard of 1984, thus it should be a fine comparison to say that Brave New World is 1984, but control is through pleasure, as opposed to power. Whereas 1984 ban a book, in Brave New World nobody wants to read a book. In 1984 they would imprison and brainwash someone who dissents, in Brave New World they would drug that person so they don't want to dissent.

A great example of this is when there is a riot in Brave New World, and it is dispersed by masked policemen gassing everyone with Soma, an ecstasy causing drug that ends the riot, as people are too happy in their ecstatic state to continue to riot.

In Brave New World, people are conditioned from birth via being told simple slogans in their sleep (so called hypnop├Ždia) while they are infants. They are told a bunch of different slogans which are explored throughout the book, but one that really struck me, as I've heard stuff similar to it being used now is "A gram is better than a damn", referring to the aforementioned drug Soma, and is implying that taking a gram of Soma is better than giving a damn. Pleasure is more important than caring.

In Brave New World, there is a very clear caste system, wherein people are grown in vats from eggs, and than conditioned as babies, such as through putting alcohol in and heating/cooling baby vats before decanting the newborn. This sorts people into classes such as Alpha and Gamma, with Alphas being "better", more well off, more able to do things, etc, and Gammas being worse off, being shorter than Alphas (they are the height of someone with Dwarfism) and doing menial, thoughtless tasks. For example, at one point a Gamma is controlling an elevator, being the guy who pushes the buttons at the request of Alphas riding it, and while at the top, starting to go down from the roof, says "Going down?", confused about what he is currently doing. Additionally, most people (if I remember correctly it may just be women) are unable to create children, and childrearing is HEAVILY controlled thing, while sex and promiscuity is a very common act, as most people are physically unable to have children.

Everything in Brave New World is based on the principles of Fordism, and Ford is worshipped like a God by the common people. And by Ford, I am talking about Henry Ford. Everything is streamlined, and human life, from birth to death, is one assembly line. And in it, Gammas are the cogs, and boring, controlled, sterile lives are the product.

When people aren't working according to Fords principles, having their dedicated daily Soma time, or fucking, they spend time at social gatherings, which is the only real thing they do, but they also spend a decent chunk of their time at the "feelies", like movies but you are in the mind of one of the characters. If you've read The Sprawl Trilogy by Gibson, it's like stims.

If you want to know more about it, which I encourage you to do, then I highly recommend reading https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brave_New_World#Plot, which doesn't cover this stuff, but instead covers the plot, which gives a VERY good psychological profile of the main people in the story, and society as a whole.

How we live in a Brave New World

The first thing I want to address is conditioning. I live in a major, diverse, city. As such, I believe I have a very good vantage point to discuss modern day conditioning. And may I say, it is VERY clearly something happening. I've noticed that the poorer the person is, bottoming out and inversing the more below the poverty line someone is (I imagine what I am discussing forms a bell curve, with the poverty line being the peak), the earlier they get some sort of electronic device with a modem (i.e. an iPhone or something similar). Rich parents believe against it, but poorer parents, who tend to not have the time to spend to help their child with anything, give them one in the hopes that they'll leave them alone. This functions as conditioning, as younger and younger children are conditioned to use their addictive phone more and more as a crutch.

The second way in which conditioning is happening in our society is through schools. And no, I'm not about to rail on the whole pledge of allegiance thing, as I don't think it really does anything. Mass education simply doesn't work to create anything but cookie cutters. It is a factory, Fordist in its nature, for it was created during Industrialization to create people to help with industrialization. And people are conditioned through this for several things. The first is through most public schools, they are conditioned to get ready to do meaningless work forever, in the hopes that they'll get a reward for it. Most people end up caring not for quality. And in private schools, people are less conditioned, but more helped and aided to think more for themselves, but not too much mind you. I would like to say the main difference, and possibly only difference between public and private schools is in the people you meet and the culture. In public school, you'll meet wild people, but are still kinda down to earth. In private school, it is filled with people suffering from affluenza (notice no "i" in affluenza), but also they meet people and network in school, which helps them later in life become equivalent to an Alpha in Brave New World. I would also just like to add that, I personally think, to my knowledge, that the current schooling system is the only real way to make sure everyone gets an education, which is a good thing. But it can be improved a LOT. I also would like to note that Ancient Athens and Sparta both had things similar to modern day education, but slightly different in ways that I believe would improve modern education.

A main focus of Brave New World is on Soma. And that, I believe can easily be shown to permeate society. The first way is by taking it literally. Drugs. There is a large, and growing, movement to decriminalize and normalize drug use, which I personally disagree with (sorta), due to Soma. I forsee, if drugs are decriminalized, much more use of them. Currently, they're only really used at parties or by junkies. And it should stay that way. If they become legalized, more and more people will become junkies. I've seen this with stoners where I live, where, once weed was legalized, more and more people have been smoking all the time. I now struggle to find a place where I can just go and relax, without the constant stench of someone toking. And you can't criticize of course, because weed is amazing. Because pleasure is amazing.

Now, in a less literal sense, Soma permeates society even worse. And that is through phones. While I have seen https://xkcd.com/1601/ (Isolation by xkcd), I disagree with its message. That phones, and hence their distractions are normal. That is not true. All the things mentioned in this comic, whether a book, or cable tv, or the walkman, or anything that was said by this comic are incomparable to phones. This is because the phone, and especially social media, can induce, and I've repeatedly seen induce, people into a sort of tired stupor, their mental faculties cut off by this avalanche of information, which is not seen with any other medium. While that stupor has been, even to me, induced by television, a phone can be taken everywhere, and always evokes this. And, due to its portability, and the want for this stupor, this high, comparable to that of drugs, the phone becomes something that people grow a reliance on. I've seen many a person, in the middle of a conversation, as I'm saying something, pull out a phone, hop on TikTok for a couple seconds, normally around 45, and then put it away and go back as if nothing happened. People are high on phones. This is undeniable.

What do I forsee

Now to get to what I forsee. What I think will happen. How our society will evolve. Which I believe is, not for good. I believe, with evidence to back me up, that tech companies are handicapping our current children in order to control them, and will continue to do so. Additionally, society is so divided. Except on one thing: Social media is bad. But they still use it. I forsee a society, ruled by corporations. By Amazon and Apple most notably. And they will become a metastate. They will become more powerful than many nations, and control more vast than America currently. They will rise, and people will follow. They will promise deals and more media. More content. Exacerbated by AI. And people will follow. And we will end up living, in a Brave New World moreso than we do now (even though we still do now).

We live in a Brave New World

This post is part of the Agora Road Travelogue
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