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Brave New World

by: Aldous Huxley

History and Progress

1

“Call it the fault of civilization. God isn't compatible with machinery and scientific medicine and universal happiness. You must make your choice. Our civilization has chosen machinery and medicine and happiness.”

Mustapha tells John this line when he asks why the new civilization has no God. Mustapha explains that because each person's life is predetermined in the lab, down to their social caste, what they wear, and how they will live, there is no room for God or for individual belief in any other power but the power of Ford and Fordist society. In Mustapha’s view, God is incompatible with technology and progress, and unnecessary in a world of what he calls “universal happiness.”

2

“There was something called liberalism…Liberty to be inefficient and miserable. Freedom to be a round peg in a square hole.”

In Chapter 2, Mustapha explains “history” to the students, insisting that prior to Fordism, human society was backwards and terrible. In his view, the freedoms of the past are only obstacles to social stability. To eliminate these freedoms through technology like genetic and social conditioning is the ultimate human progress. His statements are ironic, however, because they go against definitions of progress and the ideals of Western civilization: freedom, individualism, and choice.

3

“We always throw away old clothes. Ending is better than mending.”

This line from the hypnopædia tapes emphasizes the importance of consumption to Fordist society. Instead of fixing clothes or things that are broken, it is better to throw them away and buy something new. Because the social order depends on the continuous buying and selling of new goods, this piece of social conditioning prevents any individual from stepping outside the rules of capitalism and production. Newness is valued over durability or history.

4

“One egg, one embryo, one adult—normality. But a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult. Making ninety-six human beings grow where only one grew before. Progress.”

In Chapter 1, the Director explains Bokanovsky's Process to the students. This is the process by which human beings are genetically engineered through twinning or cloning. From a single embryo, ninety-six genetically identical human beings are formed. According to the Director, this is a technological development that signifies progress. The students write down what the Director says without stopping to question whether or not this kind of “progress” is ethical. When one student asks what the advantage of the process is, the Director replies that the process is “one of the major instruments of social stability.”