Mother, monogamy, romance. High spurts the fountain; fierce and foamy the wild jet. The urge has but a single outlet. My love, my baby. No wonder those poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable. Their world didn’t allow them to take things easily, didn’t allow them to be sane, virtuous, happy. What with mothers and lovers, what with the prohibitions they were not conditioned to obey, what with the temptations and the lonely remorses, what with all the diseases and the endless isolating pain, what with the uncertainties and the poverty—they were forced to feel strongly. And feeling strongly (and strongly, what was more, in solitude, in hopelessly individual isolation), how could they be stable?
This passage comes from Chapter 3, when Mustapha Mond is explaining the history of the World State to the group of boys touring the Hatchery. “Mother, monogamy, romance” can be seen as a concise summary of exactly the issues with which John will be most concerned. And “feeling strongly” is what John values most highly, and also what leads to his eventual self-flagellation, insanity, and suicide. Mustapha is saying that by doing away with these things, the World State has finally brought stability and peace to humanity. John’s critique of this position is that stability and peace are not worth throwing away everything that is worthwhile about life—“mother, monogamy, romance” included. Another facet of World State philosophy that is encapsulated in this quote is the idea of constructing a world in which human beings have only one way of behaving. The World State is an enormous system of production and consumption in which humans are turned into machines for further production and consumption. The world “allows” them to be happy by creating a system in which not being happy—by choosing truth over soma—is forbidden.