In 1931, Aldous Huxley wrote his magnum opus ‘Brave New World’ – a prescient masterpiece dealing with what the author termed as ‘a fable dealing with de-humanization employing techniques of over organisation’. This prophetic anti-utopian novel ranks alongside George Orwell’s ‘1984’ as one of the most influential books penned on the swift and forced erosion of independent thought and freedom of choice. Using a combination of centralised control of reproduction and neo natal programming, a dictatorial regime in ‘Brave New World’ deprived an entire subservient mass of human beings of their free will and usurped their freedom of choice, thereby gaining their unquestioned loyalty and devotion to the workings of the regime.
Twenty eight years after the publication of ‘Brave New World’, Huxley undertook a searing examination of the world affairs to identify glimmers (if any) of the disquieting phenomena which he has predicted would be the woes of the world in the distant future; a future he termed 7A.F (7th century After Ford). To his astonishment and chagrin, Huxley realised that the age of mental coercion and dangerous proselytization was already upon our age much faster than the rate at which Huxley had predicted it to happen. In this lucidly thought out review Huxley leads us through a range of options employed by many dictators such as Hitler and Stalin to win over the minds of vulnerable people with the sole aim of furthering discord and disharmony. Taking advantage of economically weak factors such as an uncontrolled growth of population and acute food shortages, many regimes exploited a depraved populace to channel their angst and anger towards violent acts and attitudes.
Huxley also introduces us to the methods prescribed by various Communist regimes to brainwash Luddites and break their mental reserve before finally succeeding in making them succumb to the tenets of the Communist Manifesto and Marxist ideologies. This objective was achieved without having a need to take recourse to physically assailing or torturing the unfortunate victims. Indoctrination through spiritual subjugation and mental humiliation were the chosen weapons of conversion. Novel methods such as Chemical persuasion (making available the use of certain drugs that act on the chemical properties of the brain, akin to the famous drug ‘Soma’ of ‘Brave New World’) and sub conscious persuasion such as influencing the sub conscious of the target by continuously emitting a drone of propaganda just before she dozes off into a state of deep sleep are also discussed by Huxely in startlingly clear fashion to demonstrate the plethora of tools that are available in the arsenal of a dictator to wield with wanton indiscretion and frequency.
The beauty of this book lies in its understated practicality. Huxley with a calmness that is terrifying and with a clarity that is frightening, lays out the irreversible perils that imperil mankind as the a rampant progress of technology, engulfing all that appear in its wake, threatens to make mere automatons of mankind and in the process, bestowing a portentous opportunity to aggressive political aspirants for assuming unopposed control over a weak and intoxicated mass of citizens. Huxley also frequently draws parallel to George Orwell’s ‘1984’ to point out the direction in which the world is heading and concludes that the more rigorous and uncompromising methods adopted by Orwell’s ubiquitous ‘Big Brother’ would not even be needed in an age where the ends may be accomplished by resorting to more sophisticated and ingenious means. Huxley concludes by arguing that the only means to nip this insidious trend in its bud would be through an education that lays emphasis on furthering one’s free will. The concluding passage in the book strikes a dire note of warning as Huxley encouragingly exhorts us to believe that all is not lost – yet!
He says “Meanwhile there is still freedom left in the world…..But some of us still believe that without freedom human beings cannot become fully human and that therefore freedom is supremely valuable. Perhaps the forces that now menace freedom are too strong to be resisted for very long. It is still our duty to do whatever we can to resist them”.
United States of America and Mr. Donald Trump, are you listening?
If ‘Brave New World’ was one for the ages, ‘Brave New World Revisited’ goes even beyond!