Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Brave New World: Utopia?

I've just finished reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. It's a really interesting book, and I would say "ahead of it's time" (written in 1931), but being a sci-fi it shouldn't be a surprise. This isn't a book review. For a plot summary (with massive spoilers) you can read this post. My post will be a comment on the worlds that Huxley creates.

Brave New World takes place in a future 'utopia'. There is total social stability, there is almost no disease, very low crime, high rates of happiness and acceptance of death. However, in order to achieve this the "World Controllers" have engineered a system where humans are bred in bottles, conditioned from embryos to fulfil a predestined place in society, and kept content with doses of drugs and recreational sex.

Within this new world there is, however, "The Reservation" - a small restricted area where human civilisation continues as it did hundreds of years ago; with gods, rituals, rites of passage, solitude, conflict and squalor. John, a central character, leaves the Reservation to visit the outside world, and we see what happens when his archaic worldview clashes with this modern civilisation.

The two worlds are almost opposite, and they are both (to quote the author) insane. The choice is between happiness and freedom.

In one society there is no end to the pleasure, no uncurable strife, as long as you conform to the life laid out for you.

In the other there is pain, life is beset with troubles, but there is also freedom to be an individual.

Which would you choose?

It's hard to read this book without wondering whether the real world is heading in its direction. Is it possible to achieve happiness, contentment and peace without sacrificing freedom?

Only through Jesus.

God knew that in giving humans the gift of freedom, he was giving us the option of messing up. We are not limited to an easy life, but opened up to a life of struggles and conflict. But we have a hope! If, out of our freedom we choose Jesus, then we can have happiness, contentment, peace and freedom! And even though the pain is still here for now, it won't last forever, even death will be forgotten. The hope of spending eternity with God is better than 'utopia', because it actually exists.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for linking to my blog review brother.

Wish you best!

Anonymous said...

"freedom to an individual"? You want freedom, great! But try telling that to an impoverished family in Sri Lanka. Over 50% of the world lives below 2 dollars a day, you think they want free will, or food and security?

Isnt a belief in a first century Jew who proclaims himself to be divine the same as taking soma? One effectively sedates oneself with temporary comfort.

Andy said...

Hi Anonymous.

I take your point that someone living in poverty won't be concerned with abstract issues like their freedom to be an individual so much as their immediate needs. The question raised by the book is whether such a person would choose to live in Huxley's 'new world' rather than their impoverished reality. Are you suggesting that they would?

Belief in Jesus might be like soma to some, but to those who take Him seriously it's the exact opposite. Jesus talks about "taking up your cross" - he called his followers to live an uncomfortable life of service, suffering and ultimately martyrdom for many. That's hardly being sedated with temporary comfort.

Sadly, many Christians in the West do not take Jesus seriously, but I am trying to.


Anonymous said...

I think Brave new world was same kind description from Henry Fords ideal world (what he tried in Amazon) that 1984 was from communism.

What I understood, reservations are stripped from technology by society and not allowed to use it. All the technology is controlled and creating new is hold in isolated islands.