Do We Live in a Brave New World? – Aldous Huxley’s Warning to the World

From Academy of IdeasIn his 1958 book Brave New World RevisedAldous Huxley wrote the following: ‘If the first half of the twentieth century was the era of the technical engineers, the second half may well be the era of the social engineers — and the twenty-first century, I suppose, will be the era of World Controllers, the scientific caste system and Brave New World.’

Thirty years prior to penning these words, Huxley wrote his classic work of fiction, Brave New World. Set in the distant future, this book depicts a scientifically-managed dystopian society.

In Brave New Worldthe ruling authorities attain mass-compliance not through force, but by supplying the masses with endless streams of distracting entertainment and manipulating them with drugs and other technological methods.

Huxley wrote Brave New World as a warning; Advancements in science and technology, he believed, were paving the way for the type of society depicted in his book. And he cautioned that if a Brave New World-type of order solidifies, it could be the ‘final’ or ‘ultimate’ revolution; the people will have their liberties taken from them, but they will enjoy their servitude and so never question it, let alone rebel.

In a 1962 interview at Berkeley University, Huxley explained: ‘It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: that we are in the process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy. . . to get people to love their servitude.’

According to Huxley this Brave New World totalitarianism was most likely to solidify in the 21st century, and so in this video we are going to examine whether Huxley’s predictions are coming true: Do we live in a Brave New World?

In brave New World Revisited, Huxley wrote the following: ‘In 1931, when Brave New World was being written, I was convinced that there was still plenty of time. The completely organized society, the scientific caste system, the abolition of free will by methodical conditioning, the servitude made acceptable by regular doses of chemically induced happiness…these were coming all right, but not in my time, not even in the time of my grandchildren…Twenty-seven years later…I feel a good deal less optimistic than I did when I was writing Brave New World. The prophecies made in 1931 are coming true much sooner than I thought they would…The nightmare of total organization…has emerged from the safe, remote future and is now awaiting us, just around the next corner.’

In Brave New WorldAdvances in psychology made it possible for the ruling authorities to use mind control to condition citizens from an early age to think and behave in ways that were submissive and conformist. Nearly 100 years after Huxley wrote his dystopian novel, has this type of conditioning left the realm of fiction and entered reality?

Today the art of mind-control is in the process of becoming a science. The practitioners of this science know what they are doing and why. They are guided in their work by theories and hypotheses solidly established on a massive foundation of experimental evidence.’ Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revised

While the idea of ​​mind-control may sound like science-fiction, in the mid-to-late-20th century many prominent philosophers, psychologists and scientists joined Huxley in sounding the alarm bell that research into the fundamentals of this phenomenon were well underway. In 1953, the distinguished British philosopher Bertrand Russell explained: ‘It is to be expected that advances in physiology and psychology will give governments much more control over individual mentality than they now have even in totalitarian countries.’ Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society

The renowned 20th century American clinical psychologist Carl Rogers warned that the rapid development of the Behavioral Sciences, which is a ‘a cluster of scientific disciplines…including psychology, psychiatry, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and biology…economic and political science…mathematics’ and statistics’ (Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person), was in the process of becoming what he called an ‘if-then science.’ By this he meant that scientists and social engineers were discovering that if carefully constructed conditions are implemented in a society, then there is a high probability that the majority of citizens will respond to these conditions in predictable, and hence, controllable, ways.

Or as he wrote in 1954: ‘I believe that too few people are aware of the extent, the breadth, and the depth of the advances which have been made in recent decades in the behavioral sciences…the increasing power for control which it gives will be held by some one or some group; such an individual or group will surely choose the purposes or goals to be achieved; and most of us will then be increasingly controlled by means so subtle we will not even be aware of them as controls…it appears that some form of completely controlled society…is coming.’”

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