I’m taking a bioethics class this semester, and I have to say it’s one of the most interesting classes I’ve taken during my four years at college. A few weeks ago, we discussed the repercussions of cloning, whether for medical reasons or for social reasons. One of the philosophers we studied that week (although I can’t recall his name at the moment) continuously drew references to Aldo Huxley’s “Brave New World” which I had never read before. “Brave New World” has always been looked upon unfavorably as an example of what happens when technology goes too far, but after reading the arguments in the course, I wasn’t too sure of this. I decided I should give this oft-cited book a read before deciding what I thought of such a “new world.”

After reading the book, however, I found myself even further drawn into the argument that “Brave New World” is not a dystopian future at all, but instead a perfect world, a perfect place.

Obviously, this isn’t what Aldo views his creation, as he discusses in his commentary in the footnotes in the copy I read. He meant “Brave New World” to be a caution, a warning as to what the most powerful nations in the world might end using as a government. But what is so bad about a society that has ended hunger, poverty, and disease? Why shouldn’t we focuses on a society that has advanced their technology to the point where sadness is a passing phase that never lasts beyond a pill, and happiness is never ending? “But it’s all false!” our society cries out. That may be true – but only when you look at it from our perspective. Imagine that it was how the world actually was, not just a theory. Why would you cry out against the perfect, natural order of things? Our world, with its poverty and sickness and wars, would seem an imbecilic, archaic amusement to be pitied.

What about the lack of true art? The characters in “Brave New World” discuss Shakespeare in comparison with the debased distractions that the citizens enjoy. Of course, we can agree that a world without the beauty of art would be imperfect and bland, correct? But once again, we are looking at their world from our perspective. I look at it like this – every society and person strives for perfection of some kind. Art, music, and theatre all try to explain imperfections, to justify them and search for explanations. But such explanations are no longer needed in a Brave New World. Why do we need to explain love, to agonize over it, when it no longer exists? Why do we need to argue over beauty when appearance is genetically controlled? Our way of doing things becomes prehistoric – their way of doing things just seems like a natural progression. In a perfect world, everything that strives for understanding of “perfection” is no longer relevant, and as the World Controllers understand, would only serve to confuse the citizens.

Love and Sex are fundamental issues in the perfect world. Love, however, is only a part of our society because the problems in our world require it. What with wars, diseases, conflict – we need love because we need the close personal connection to make us happy and comforted even when everything else is wrong. But in their world, nothing is wrong – therefore, love is meaningless, and as the World Controller points out, would only serve to foster jealousy, suspicion, and possession. “Everyone belongs to Everyone else,” the mental conditioning tells the population – and when I thought about it, that seems far more perfect than pairing off into dichotomous relationships that are bound by societal laws. Sex is the easy one, of course – by releasing it from the constrictions of what we understand as “propriety” it becomes merely a pleasurable act that simple biology grants to us. Without the fears and uncertainties of relationships that might leave a man or woman in our age sitting up, sleepless, all night wondering about the future – the citizens of “Brave New World” are able to able to merely exercise a bodily function which is as natural as breathing.

Of course, the most controversial topic of Huxley’s novel is the lower classes – the Deltas, Gammas, etc. We clearly read Huxley’s intentions of depicted them as being discriminated against, subhumans, no more than robots. Once again, our notions of what is “good and bad” rally against the thought of this. “What if that was you, or your child!” they cry out.

“What if”, indeed? You wouldn’t be reading or caring or wondering about it then, would you? The World Controllers sum it up when they say that the lower orders are perfectly happy, because they don’t have the mental capabilities to see anything else as better. They get their food, they get their soma, they get their copulations – what else do they care about? It is impossible for them to feel oppressed, or strive for more, because their not genetically capable of feeling that way. In turn, I’m sure that the mental conditioning caps that off by explaining to them that they wouldn’t even want to be an Alpha or a Beta, because of how much harder they have to work with running everything! So with their physical comforts completely taken care of, and their mental comforts (such as they are) also reassured, we are able to argue that this is not racism or classism. The lower orders in “Brave New World” are not discriminated against because discrimination is something that only exists in our world, not in theirs. If I was a Delta, relegated to working side by side with my Bokanovsky Group making T-shirts, I would not feel discriminated against. I would be happy doing my work and proud for my contribution to society. What would make me angry is outsiders like the savage trying to tell me that I was being persecuted. “Persecution” doesn’t exist in Brave New World, but Huxley does his best to try to get his readers to feel as if that is the forefront of the problem.

In conclusion, we all must remember that “Brave New World” is speculation anyway; the important parts that I can base my argument in favor of it. Our world is not without disease, it is not without poverty, it is not without hunger. But what if it was? That’s a lot of steps towards perfection, in my opinion. But emotion is a problem that has caused many wars and created inequalities for millenia. It seems that removing it and the problems that it causes would be a logical, reasonable progression in searching for a way to make everyone, from the lowest Gamma to the highest Alpha-Double-Plus, happy.

What do you think?