by George Orwell 1984 enjoys status in our culture as the dystopian novel. The term Orwellian is often used whenever there is talk of censorship or misinformation, especially when it comes to social media. As relevant as Orwell’s book is, its implications are limited to the sphere of discourse. For gaining a more complete and unsettling view of our dystopian present and future, no book is better than The best of worlds by Aldous Huxley.
1984 presents a world where the government rules through oppression and fear, but what if a government rules by giving the people whatever they want? This is the future that Huxley envisions. In The best of worlds, the government does not need to have an elaborate system of censorship and surveillance like 1984‘s Big Brother because people don’t care about the truth. Society has become a slave to its pleasures, indulging in orgiastic celebrations and spending all its time under the influence of soma, essentially happy pills. All that matters is maximizing social happiness, abandoning all the noble arts, culture, and traditional features of civilization in favor of more utilitarian practices.
The book begins in a baby factory. That is, a laboratory where they grow up and raise children. Sex has been totally separated from reproduction; children are produced by the state and then brought up with strict respect for their future employment in society. The idea of being a parent is totally rejected; the lab director resigns after it is publicly revealed that he is the father of one of the novel’s main characters, John. Sexual morality is reversed. Promiscuity is encouraged, pregnancy is virtually non-existent, and family is viewed with contempt.
This aspect of the book aligns with the views of modern society to an alarming degree. There has never been a time in history when the essential relationship between men and women has been so seriously disordered. Divorce rates are astronomical, most women use birth control, hookup culture prevails, and abortion is generally unrestricted. The birth rate in virtually all developed countries is below replacement, with the average woman giving birth to fewer than two children. There will be an unprecedented number of women who will never have children – and no one seems to care.
Why does nobody care The best of worlds Is? For one, everyone in the book is jumped on soma. This drug flushes out the intrusive emotions that might awaken people from their stupor, allowing them to recognize the emptiness in their own lives and do something about it. In our society, drug use continues to grow, both recreational and prescribed. An alarming number of people are on antidepressants. Unfortunately for us, there is no medicine as effective as soma. Suicide rates continue to rise.
Huxley rightly suggests a link between sex without a procreative purpose and deep dissatisfaction with life. A society so confused about how human beings should live, not only in practice but also in fundamental attitudes, it becomes necessary to find coping mechanisms just to get by.
What to do then? The answer is simple, but difficult: get married, stay married and have children.
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