Brave New Whirled

Today marks the triumph of capitalism. Having just finished reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World for the first time since my undergraduate days, I found it strangely appropriate and prescient. Huxley foresaw a bleak future where comfort and convenience outweighed concerns for truth and meaning. As the World Controller of Western Europe reveals to Mr. Savage, it was the Nine Year’s War that made people so docile that they would accept complete government control over their private lives. Read “9-11” for the Nine Year’s War, and he pretty much nailed it. Americans today put up with severely restricted freedoms because only the rich and powerful are truly free. We even have Huxley’s “feelies” – we just call it the TSA checkpoint at the airport.

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.” So says Mr. Savage shortly before his tragic end. The remainder of society – those willing to play along with the game, those willing to be anesthetized with the little perks the government throws their way – are already dead. “Let them eat cake.” We have our hedonistic day of shopping frenzy, looking forward to the soma of Christmas. We will comply despite the dehumanization the unemployed, the unwary traveler, the racially profiled, face every other day. As long as we have our electronic toys and the network into which they may be plugged, guide us o thou great Patriot Act. Freedom is not free. Orwell called it doublethink. Today it is doubleclick.

Novels have the capacity to say what libraries full of dusty dissertations cannot. Perhaps the future has not turned out quite the way Orwell or Huxley or Burgess predicted, but they were not far off. November has become the month of the novel. The Office of Letters and Light hosts National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those in the know) each year to encourage others to find their creative voice. The challenge: write a 50,000-word novel fully in the month of November. I finished mine in just over two weeks. Perhaps someone who has the good fortune to break into the publishing world will once again sound that warning shot before society takes its next Huxleyian turn. But until then, anyone who says they don’t need a gramme or two of soma, well, they’re just plain lying.

4 thoughts on “Brave New Whirled

  1. Yes, we are too comfortable for our own good. Lulled into a false sense of freedom by our comforts and perceptions of affluence. Yet we are scarcely free. We are part of a big machine that keeps running faster and faster. To stop would put us in danger of being chewed up or run over by the very machine we are part of.

    I wonder, is this not a typical cycle of humanity? Do many, if not most, if not all great civilizations cycle this same way? Then reach a point of maximum error and implode?

    I honestly don’t know and am sure someone like yourself more studied in history would be better able to answer.

    It is perhaps timely that an article fed to my FB page this morning by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to the article in our largest national newspaper…

    “Federal bureaucrats charged taxpayers more than $125-million for hospitality expenses, including golf games, spa retreats, and executive-class airline tickets over the past four years, newly released data on the spending of government departments shows.”

    How free can we possibly be that 125 million can be squeezed out of tax revenue for lavish expenditures. Realizing of course that some of these expenses such as airline tickets are likely reasonable, but the vast majority are likely not.

    Leaves me wondering how far off the point of maximum error we really ar?




    • Steve Wiggins

      Thanks, Chaz.

      I also wonder how much people are willing to put up with. Perhaps we are evolved to follow. When I look at most of our “leaders” I think the seeds of our own destruction are planted within. In the meanwhile we do what we can to make this world a better place.


  2. Thank you for your blood-chilling post. I tally the freedoms I’ve lost during my lifetime, and I’m reminded of how you catch wild pigs. First, you put out food. When they are used to coming in to eat it, you build one side of the fence. When they are used to the first side, you build the second side, and so on. When they are used to walking in the pen to eat, you close the gate. Done. I see the gate closing fast, and I don’t know where to run. The saddest part to me is that most of the pigs are perfectly happy in the pen.

    Thirty-somethings think nothing of the ubiquitous cameras and all of their private information on the internet. Their children are now being raised to believe they have no right to boundaries against the government, not even when it comes to their bodies. What will the next generation conceive of as freedom? You have touched on my deepest fears today. All the best.


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