I’ve just finished reading Brave New World (when I say “reading’, I really mean listening to on Audible). Written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley, Brave New World was one of the first dystopian novels, a genre that has gain much popularity in the 21st century, and for good reason.
Originally meant to be a parody of utopian novels by H.G. Wells, the novel took on a life of its own and received much praise when it was published. It frequently makes lists of the top 100 most important books of the 20th century.
Utopian novels were popular in the early 20th century, the age when Progressivism, Communism, and Socialism were gaining acceptance. These were the movements that would perfect society and individuals. People saw mankind’s rapid advance toward perfection and imagined the fantastic society that would be come. Huxley’s novel follows the trendy movements to their natural conclusion-to a drug addled, hedonistic society that had lost its soul.
Ironically, Huxley was inspired to create his dystopia after a visit to the United States. He was not impressed by the sexual promiscuity and inward-looking nature of Americans. Brave New World is set in London, but when its characters come to New Mexico on holiday, it is to see the savages.
Dystopian novels are meant to shock and to warn us. After more than 80 years, Brave New World is just as relevant, if not more so. We still suffer from the meddlers and tinkerers who continue to try to tweak society towards what they view as Utopia, where everyone is equal, happy, and wants for nothing. Today’s college campuses would fit right in with Huxley’s Brave New World, where heretical diversity of thought is banished to far off places. Our politicians focus on ways to make everyone equal. I imagine that they would prefer if everyone were average, educated at a liberal arts college, and drank only Fair Trade coffee out of reusable cups. Blandness is the Progressive’s Utopia.
Try as they might though, people don’t seem to be following their plan. They continue to find ways to express their individuality. The old behemoths of industry and commerce are destroyed by innovative upstarts working in their parent’s basements. They don’t vote the way that they are expected to by the elite and the media. They won’t believe the latest scaremongering expert telling them to change their ways or die!
“How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in’t.” Keep living your beauteous lives in ways that give little regard to the opinions of meddling experts. If we are to move toward a Utopia, it won’t be because of a government program or an inspiring leader or an academic theory of society. It will be because you moved us closer. Individuals and families living in community, working hard, enjoying life. That gives me reason to exclaim “O wonder!”
Worcester Tea Party