By Chet Yarbrough
By Aldous Huxley
Narrated by Michael York
“Brave New World”, by Aldous Huxley, is a dystopian view of the world that describes the potential consequence of idolatry, media conditioning, and drug dependence.
Huxley’s atheism peeks through the pages of “Brave New World”. His main character, the Savage, is raised in an Indian culture that venerates a god that stipulates what is good and evil. The Savage leaves this Indian culture to live in a “Brave New World” that believes in another god named “Ford”.
The Savage’s Indian upbringing is a raw introduction to a life with no technology. Living is a matter of relationship with community and god. His mother is a bridge to the world of technology because she violated the rules of the “Brave New World”. She is exiled from the world of “Ford” to live in a primitive foreign culture. She has no idea of what it means to be a mother because the land of “Ford” is populated by test-tube babies raised in laboratories.
Though the Indian culture is primitive, the tenets of life are versions of what it is like in the “Brave New World”. Rather than an Indian god, there is Ford. Rather than Indian peyote, there is “…New World” “soma”. Rather than primitive moral guilt, there is “…New World” normlessness. Both societies condition free will. Both societies are dictatorships.
Gods of the Indian reservation and the brave new world are dictators of life; they use the psychology of being to manipulate human existence. The Savage is ridden with guilt by his Indian cultural belief in god. But, he is equally burdened with guilt by temptation created through “…New World” belief in Ford who is also manipulating human existence. Guilt and temptation ends Huxley’s story with the Savage turning north, south, east, and west; knowing-not, what he should do. He is immobilized by an Indian god’s imbued guilt and Ford’s implied temptation.
Amazingly, “Brave New World” is published in 1932. It presages World War II, the television revolution of the 1940s, and the drug culture of the 1960s. Aldous Huxley, at age 38, writes a novel, coincident with B. F. Skinner’s early studies of Behaviorism, that grew out of Ivan Pavlov’s theory of behavioral conditioning. In 1937, B. F. Skinner experimented with the idea of modifying human behavior through what he called “operant conditioning”.
The logical extension of Huxley’s primitive world is no better than a “Brave New World”. Dictatorship, the opiate of media entertainment and a drug culture are evident in both worlds.
Huxley was one of those extraordinary human beings that have what Abraham Maslow called a “superior perception of reality”.