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Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
E.F. Schumacher

Brave New World

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley It's been years but if memory serves me right don't expect Brave New World to be one of the best pieces of literature you will ever read.

You don't have to read (or watch) every dystopia ever conceived because most of them aren't really worth your time. But BNW should be a mandatory reading for all because too many folks already choose to live the kind of life that BNW warns about. I for one do not want a society where people are no longer capable of independent thinking and where they think that anything goes (just remember to smile!). You should at least check to see if you are one of them.

There are books you never want to end but BNW is not one of them. If one would argue that a dystopia worth describing is a dystopia you never want to relive - even in fiction - then BNW probably fills that bill. It's a moody kinda **cker but what can you do? Good dystopias aren't particularly enjoyable. It will never grow on you, but there's a good chance that it will haunt you for some days, maybe longer.

Reading BNW will probably feel a bit like a chore. At times Huxley is rambling, other times his prose is simply dull, and since the plot is pretty much inconsequential the story itself comes out as largely forgettable. I suppose all that is very fitting to the themes in the book, so mayhaps it was a deliberate choice.

Maybe Aldous thought such a literary device would be kinda cool to use and even something that had not been used before (in sci-fi at least). Props to him if he indeed was such a pioneer. Most would see some merit in that alone.

Then again, maybe writing novels was in a way forced upon him. For all we know he might have abhorred the very notion of being "an author" (of fiction). For any man can present interesting theories and ideas - and I'm glad they they do - but being any man rather than a specific man (an academic researcher for example) still matters an awful lot to an awful lot of people (if not even more so than in Huxley's days).

As a prolific writer in short form Huxley must have at some point realized that if he truly wanted to "educate" the masses, he needed to put out a proper novel for them. Alas, there just aren't that many folks who read essays (or pamphlets, short stories, novellas, and so on) no matter how well written. This could in part explain his less than stellar capabilities as a dedicated (science) fiction writer. With Huxley's unfortunate reputation as a druggie and a certified hippie, I'm guessing few dare venture further into Aldous' brain (please, do point me to correct direction if you feel I really ought to read the man more). Tisk, tisk.

Be that as it may, as long as people still pick up BNW and appreciate the relevancy of it, Huxley didn't write it in vain. To me the book's merits lie more in the ideas it conveys, not in they way it's written.

Others have tried, of course, but in my opinion Huxley has (probably) best captured the essence what the future will hold for us. Though it's quite possible that human life has pretty much always been that way: endless, pointless drudgery in an environment that is ultimately discouraging, if not categorically hostile, to any and all attempts that try to challenge the status quo.

Though we might not manage as a species to succumb to such a degree of totalitarian (self-)control that Huxley portrays in BNW, I fear that the the fundamental theme about alienation, the loss of meaningfulness in life in general, is not only already well on its way but actually something that will prevail whether we'll stick with capitalism or socialism (since the premise in both systems is the same: that everyone must do something for living even if and when technology could take care of our everyday needs).

The technological advances have and always will make yet another forms of human labor (drudgery, in my opinion) obsolete until there is none to eradicate.

That is, if we only let it.

We'd be much better off if we'd already start teaching people how to lead a meaningful life and not feel worthless just because some machine can do your job better and faster than you ever possibly could. Without a mental change most people will not be able to handle life where one's work input will not only no longer be required but actually denied (out of valid fear of human error and correct assumption of human inefficiency when compared to a machine).

This is what Aristotle (Politics) dreamed about some 2000 years ago. Their technology obviously wasn't up to the task, so they had to resort to slavery - to manual labor. We have long since ran out of excuses, but as we all know, running out of excuses has always meant precious little if anything at all. I'm pretty sure Aristotle would shake his head in disbelief at our own stupidity were he alive today.

I anticipate that the masses will either simply refuse to give up their precious jobs, or demand that faux-jobs be created to replace them and stipulate that everyone else must work too and just as hard as they do. Despite there being absolutely no need for anyone to waste the bulk of their life stuck in a cubicle somewhere pretending to do something worthwhile for some absurd made-up reason.

We don't want anyone to question our good taste, our intelligence, our desires. Our way of living, the very logic of our existence, depends on the absolute need for you to get in line and stay in line - with us, for us. Anything non-conforming will be seen as a threat and dealt as such. We simply won't allow it. We won't allow a change to happen. Ever.

In an all too uninspiring and humorless world one really must numb herself sooner or later just to be able to go with the flow if she wants to coexist with fellow humans at all. And this my friends is the greatest tragedy any man will ever face: being forced to live the life of others' choosing - and expected to enjoy it, too.

Alcohol?
Sure.

New tits?
Why not.

Entertainment, arts and news that never matter?
Wouldn't have it any other way, sir.

Shopping?
Yes, please.

Food for consolation?
Goes without saying.

Soma?
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!