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Zerubbabel
09-20-2008, 02:59 PM
It is obvious to me that 1984 describes a future world, the creation of an unrestrained political Right. And that brave New World describes a future world, the creation of an unrestrained political Left.

I would expect the authors to view these dystopias from the opposite perspective. Orwell’s life and subsequent beliefs fits well the narrative of the young Leftist rebel rejecting the Rightist traditions of his time and place. It makes perfect sense what he views to be the worst of all possible worlds.

But Huxley not so much. A Brave new World could have been written by any number of today’s right leaning social commentators or political pundits. Indeed it is occasionally referred to in political discourse to highlight current left-leaning initiatives. But Huxley is not so easily put into such a box.

What were Huxley’s political leanings? On a deeply personal level did he view the Brave New Wold as a dystopia or utopia?

Brave New World Revisited seems to present BNW as dystopia yet the section on drugs is really quite ambivalent sometimes presenting soma as poison to the human soul and then peyote/LSD as enlightenment. He seems to sit the fence and perhaps longing for technology to give us the perfect drug. I wonder what he would think of today’s prevalence of psyche drugs and ritalin in particular. Creating the dystopian soma and then later experimenting with LSD definitely has a cognitive dissonance to it, no?

What is known of his personal thoughts concerning sex? Is sex the physical manifestation of love, the intercourse of souls or simply animalistic pleasure?

The Atheist
09-20-2008, 09:50 PM
I think Huxley was more than a bit of an enignma - he was an atheist, but was a spiritualist and believer in psychics; he despised mind-altering drugs, yet took LSD and peyote.

He's one of those people that you can't just put him into a category and say that's what he really believed.

This probably sums him up best, towards the end of his life, he said: "It is a bit embarrassing to have been concerned with the human problem all one's life and find at the and that one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'Try to be a little kinder'."

Zerubbabel
09-21-2008, 03:40 PM
To my way of thinking; when one writes of a future dystopia they are either writing as an observer/prognosticator fatalistically showing what will come to pass. –Or- They are urging society to go a different direction because this dystopia is what lies ahead on our current path. Nostradamus wasn’t trying to effect social change and fits the former. Orwell nicely fits the later, warning of Capitalism and Communism which will inevitably devolve into tyranny while advocating democratic socialism (as if there were hardly a difference between that and the immediate post-rebellion state of Animal Farm).

Huxley’s BNW appears to warn of dangers up that path yet he never seems to offer another path and he himself continued on that path. Perhaps unwittingly, yet none-the-less he effectively was an inspiration to many Southern Californian hippies advancing the drug culture. In effect Huxley’s life, perhaps separate from his writings, helped society towards that BNW paradigm of Sex, Drugs and Ether-Music.

In BNW Huxley seemed to write against hedonism and advocated some form of search for a higher truth. Yet in life his search for higher truth (Hinduism/mysticism) led him to the hedonism of hallucanagenics.

“…one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'Try to be a little kinder'.” Huxley has no alternative to BNW. And as we fall into the BNW (highlighted by some posts here that basically say; “BNW would be an great place to live”) it seems no one else has one either. Well, except the Islamists think they have one. And the Russians and Chinese haven’t totally given-up on the 1984/Animal Farm alternative.

The Atheist
09-21-2008, 10:45 PM
To my way of thinking; when one writes of a future dystopia they are either writing as an observer/prognosticator fatalistically showing what will come to pass. –Or- They are urging society to go a different direction because this dystopia is what lies ahead on our current path.

I think there are other options, as BNW does - an altrenative which could come to pass. I don't think Huxley ever imagined it would. The premise fits with the state of science at the time and I think he was just showing one outcome of many possible ones.


Nostradamus wasn’t trying to effect social change and fits the former.

I find it hard to agree that Nostradamus was doing anything other than writing gibberish.


Orwell nicely fits the later, warning of Capitalism and Communism which will inevitably devolve into tyranny while advocating democratic socialism (as if there were hardly a difference between that and the immediate post-rebellion state of Animal Farm).

You got that right!


Huxley’s BNW appears to warn of dangers up that path yet he never seems to offer another path and he himself continued on that path. Perhaps unwittingly, yet none-the-less he effectively was an inspiration to many Southern Californian hippies advancing the drug culture. In effect Huxley’s life, perhaps separate from his writings, helped society towards that BNW paradigm of Sex, Drugs and Ether-Music.

I think you've got it back to front. Utopia has to be created first by unnatural selection before the sex, drugs and music came into play. Huxley just wanted to experience alternative realities.


In BNW Huxley seemed to write against hedonism and advocated some form of search for a higher truth. Yet in life his search for higher truth (Hinduism/mysticism) led him to the hedonism of hallucanagenics.

Because no such thing exists? That's how it seems to me - that he was ultimately disappointed with the material world.


“…one has no more to offer by way of advice than 'Try to be a little kinder'.” Huxley has no alternative to BNW. And as we fall into the BNW (highlighted by some posts here that basically say; “BNW would be an great place to live”) it seems no one else has one either. Well, except the Islamists think they have one. And the Russians and Chinese haven’t totally given-up on the 1984/Animal Farm alternative.

This assumes that Huxley should posit an alternative to Utopia. I don't see why it's incumbent on him to do so, but I can certainly see the attraction in Utopia!

Bitterfly
09-22-2008, 07:53 AM
Brave New World Revisited seems to present BNW as dystopia yet the section on drugs is really quite ambivalent sometimes presenting soma as poison to the human soul and then peyote/LSD as enlightenment. He seems to sit the fence and perhaps longing for technology to give us the perfect drug.

I think the Doors of Perception is about the use of drugs (mescaline, if I remember well) to reach some sort of enlightenment, isn't it? So he obviously experimented with drugs.

What intrigues me about soma is the etymology of the word, since it means body in Greek. I read BTN a long time ago, so can't come up with an explanation for it.

Zerubbabel
09-22-2008, 09:09 PM
Atheist,

My point is that Nostradamus, author of gibberish or not, was a disinterested observer of mankind. He did not judge the future he foresaw. Huxley and Orwell both were very interested observers of mankind. And both of them made judgements on the attributes of both their current and imagined future societies. The essence of my post is whether Huxley judged BNW as a right/good utopia. or wrong/bad dystopia.

It is expected that should someone judge some entity as wrong/bad that this question will inevitably follow: “If this is so wrong/bad, then tell us what is right/good.” Of course it’s ‘not incumbent on him to posit an alternative to BNW,’ but Huxley the elite intellectual was haunted by that unanswered question hanging over his head. The question was put to him in this manner: In his forward to BNW & BNW Revisited he writes: “I have been told by an eminent academic critic that I am a sad symptom of the failure of an intellectual class in time of crisis.” He went on to answer the critic with a paragraph of hyperbolic umbrage and then wrote: “If I were to rewrite the book, I would offer the savage a third alternative.” He then went on to answer the question that hung over his head for 26 years by describing his vision of a right/good utopia. It was a foreshadow of Island which he had already begun writing.

His book Island was his final vision of Utopia. The differences between Huxley’s utopia Island and BNW which is supposedly a dystopia, are slight and more nuance than radical departure. IOW the difference between Island and BNW is nowhere as marked as the intrinsic differences between the meaning of utopia and dystopia.


Here’s a theory: Huxley was under a certain obligation to a long and strong family tradition of intellectuals and his elite education. In his early career he had not found his individuality. Somewhere between BNW and Island he did. BNW is analogous to the in-the-closet homosexual vigorously denouncing homosexuality. Island is analogous to his coming out of the closet. Attributes that he judged as wrong/bad in BNW he then judged as right/good in Island.

BTW I don’t understand why you insist that the BNW unnatural selection must be the precursor to sex and drugs. The sex and drug paradigm seems to be pretty well set today without it.

BTW#2 I was wrong about Huxley embracing hedonism by taking hallucanagenics. I don’t think he was recreationally tripping. I read somewhere that he tripped maybe a total of a dozen times in ten years. I also don’t think he ever gave-up on seeking a higher truth. You wrote: “No such thing exists?” I didn’t say absolute truth, only higher truth. It is kind of that journey – destination thing.

Zerubbabel
09-22-2008, 09:15 PM
What intrigues me about soma is the etymology of the word, since it means body in Greek.


I think you're mis-intrigued. The etymology isn't Greek. From Brave New World Revisted: "The original Soma, from which I took the name of this hypothetical drug, was an unknown plant (possibly Asclepias acida) used by the ancient Aryan invaders of India in one of the most solemn of their religious rites."

The Atheist
09-23-2008, 12:28 AM
Here’s a theory: Huxley was under a certain obligation to a long and strong family tradition of intellectuals and his elite education. In his early career he had not found his individuality.

No question. His was definitely one of those families with big footsteps to follow in. Makes it hard to find your own, I epxect.


Somewhere between BNW and Island he did. BNW is analogous to the in-the-closet homosexual vigorously denouncing homosexuality. Island is analogous to his coming out of the closet. Attributes that he judged as wrong/bad in BNW he then judged as right/good in Island.

You could be right, but it's neither a great step, nor a meaningful philosophy. It smacks of someone who mucked around with metaphysics and existentialism and found it too hard.


BTW I don’t understand why you insist that the BNW unnatural selection must be the precursor to sex and drugs. The sex and drug paradigm seems to be pretty well set today without it.

That would reinforce what I said. We're at that stage of sexual and drug-enhanced freedom yet BNW is no closer than it was in the 1930s - and probably further away, even though scientifically, it's closer.


I also don’t think he ever gave-up on seeking a higher truth. You wrote: “No such thing exists?” I didn’t say absolute truth, only higher truth. It is kind of that journey – destination thing.

That's just me - I only have one level of true & false.

Zerubbabel
09-24-2008, 01:43 AM
Atheist,

I also would like to have one level of true and false, or in this case one level of Left and Right. It would be much easier for my case if Huxley leaned as far Right as Orwell leaned Left.

>>>BNW is no closer than it was in the 1930s - and probably further away<<<

IMO some of the more salient features of BNW have found a beachhead in the West: A general air of hedonism engulfs us. To a great extent happiness is something that one can buy. Individuality is often a matter of purchasing decisions, the sum of which creates our uniqueness in the world; He’s a beer drinking, steak eating, Ford pick-up driving, jeans wearing, Microsoft computing, camping vacationer, contractor. She’s a Chardonnay drinking, organic vegetarian, Volvo driving, ???? (my ignorance shows) wearing, Apple computing, eco-tourist executive. Two totally unique individuals based on their consumption of consumer goods produced in the millions. We often select pre-packaged ideologies, theologies and political persuasions. Basically we enter the marketplace in order to select or unique individual identities.

Abortion, more than any other phenomenon, signals the path towards BNW. Primarily abortion facilitates the consequence-less-ness of recreational sex. It also reflects, or perhaps amplifies, society’s, or certain segments of society’s, distaste for motherhood. It is in it’s way a form of eugenics. Planned Parenthood’s slogan is: “every child a wanted child.” It is tied to the belief among social engineers that unwanted children develop many issues that are not in the best interest of social stability. (How the inverse escapes their notice is a mystery to me, but obviously ‘every unwanted child a dead child’ is also their goal. Framed with-in BNW it would have meant the non-existence of John should he have had the good graces to be (not) born in civilization.) Additionally Planned Parenthood always has a strong presence in America’s inner city poor neighborhoods, trying to rid society of excess non-eu types in their promotion of tacit eugenics.

Mankind has always used drugs to suppress the stress of reality. BNW takes drugs to the new purpose of suppressing individualism. Ritalin and other psyche drugs serve the same purpose. Of course recreational drugs are ubiquitous but we still await better drugs without the negative side effects.

More and more we are beginning to live entirely with-in the human artifice.

In our desire for a better hedonistic lifestyle combined with the increased valuing of career over motherhood, we have come to rely more and more on daycare and the state raising our children. We are also beginning to introduce sexualit6y to our children at a younger age.

Emotionless acceptance of death is reflected in our move towards euthanasia.

Admiration of youth has become normative while the traditional respect for elder wisdom is long gone.

Cradle to grave socialism is becoming more of a reality. It allows us to focus, not on survival, but our pleasure. Starvation is not our problem, obesity is. Things today don’t “cost” (to use John’s observation) as much as they used to.

Political correctness is our version of self-censorship. It is not 1984 style. Today and in BNW one can say whatever they want and only risk ostracization not Orwellian vaporization.

These are a few things. Perhaps I could think of more, but I’m already too verbose. There are a few things that have definitely not happened. There is no open acceptance of race and class distinctions. That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist but they are never openly expressed (it’s that political correctness thing again). Conflict still exists today in war as well as ideological conflict. (Remember my premise that BNW is the product of an unrestrained Left. The Left can tolerate anything except intolerance, implicating the intolerant Right. When the Right is eliminated then the Left may indeed exist in a conflict-free BNW.)

These are many of the elements of BNW that exist today. The West is steadily moving to the Left and bringing us closer to BNW. I agree with you that we probably won’t ever get there because it does not fit my requirement of being “unrestrained.” As the West moves Left the East is moving to the Right. In spite of all the Left leaning advances of the West’s sexual revolution, the future might still see fornicators publicly flogged, and homosexuals hung on the streets of Londonstan.

Zerubbabel
09-26-2008, 06:18 PM
Reality is harsh.

muazjalil
09-28-2008, 06:28 AM
although i do not agree with you completely but good post nonetheless Zerubbabel! The materialism and over obsession with career is indeed worrying. I am trying to be an economist and so i can understand what you mean when you say we are define by the commodities we consume. Consumption has become synonymous with happiness, at least in the mind of the general mass.

I come from a Least Develop country and you would assume that such thing dont exist here, you cannot comprehend how further away from truth you would be if you were to think like that. The only difference is that it is prevalent among a minority group, who are opulent. But the tragedy is that the general mass are not devoid of such hedonistic beliefs, rather they are constrained by their income and hence cannot indulge themselves.

The Atheist
09-30-2008, 11:32 PM
I come from a Least Develop country and you would assume that such thing dont exist here, you cannot comprehend how further away from truth you would be if you were to think like that.

Hi & welcome along!

I'll certainly believe it.

One thing which really took the eye during the first ICC (Cricket) one-day knockout trophy in Bangladesh some years back was the ostentatious wealth of some people, dripping with gold jewellery, while only a few streets away beggars were wasting away.

The Atheist
10-01-2008, 12:12 AM
IMO some of the more salient features of BNW have found a beachhead in the West: A general air of hedonism engulfs us. To a great extent happiness is something that one can buy. Individuality is often a matter of purchasing decisions, the sum of which creates our uniqueness in the world; He’s a beer drinking, steak eating, Ford pick-up driving, jeans wearing, Microsoft computing, camping vacationer, contractor. She’s a Chardonnay drinking, organic vegetarian, Volvo driving, ???? (my ignorance shows) wearing, Apple computing, eco-tourist executive. Two totally unique individuals based on their consumption of consumer goods produced in the millions. We often select pre-packaged ideologies, theologies and political persuasions. Basically we enter the marketplace in order to select or unique individual identities.

Yes, but hedonism isn't exactly new. Humans are just behaving as they always have - the few have plenty and the plenty have hardly anything. There's just more choice of what to spend it on now.


Abortion, more than any other phenomenon, signals the path towards BNW. Primarily abortion facilitates the consequence-less-ness of recreational sex.

That's a broad generalisation that I'm not sure I go along with. Anecdotally, most of the cases of abortion I know of have resulted from contraception failure rather than being used as an alternative to contraception. Add to that, a large study was completed in NZ a couple of years back and only one group of women treated abortion as a means of conception - young Chinese women. It isn't something most women undertake lightly, as evinced by the counselling and support services which surround abortion.


It also reflects, or perhaps amplifies, society’s, or certain segments of society’s, distaste for motherhood. It is in it’s way a form of eugenics. Planned Parenthood’s slogan is: “every child a wanted child.”.

I think you might be looking at it a little back-to-front here. PP aren't trying to stop different races breeding, they're trying to stop them breeding in their teens and even pre-teens.


Mankind has always used drugs to suppress the stress of reality. BNW takes drugs to the new purpose of suppressing individualism. Ritalin and other psyche drugs serve the same purpose. Of course recreational drugs are ubiquitous but we still await better drugs without the negative side effects.

Again, I think you're basing your case on a very small sample. While lots of kids take ritalin, the percentage is tiny. Same with mind-bending drugs - only a very small number of people use recretaional drugs and it isn't exactly socially-acceptable outside of drug culture. I don't imagine there are many public places anywhere in the world where lighting up a fat spliff in the street won't draw considerable attention.


In our desire for a better hedonistic lifestyle combined with the increased valuing of career over motherhood, we have come to rely more and more on daycare and the state raising our children.

Interesting here, you're partly right and partly wrong. Daycare is hugely involved in raising kids, but it isn't actually a hedonistic desire driving it, but commercial reality. You could class a desire to have a nice house and send one's kids to a good school as hedonism, but I can't, and that scenario accounts for the vast majority of children in daycare. Again, this is what's shown by studies of who gets sent to daycare and why. The real consumers - those ones with the BMW-driving, Lear Jet-setting people don't send their kids to daycare - they have nannies, just as they always have.

Maybe, in forcing daycare through economic necessity, we will arrive at your scenario anyway.


We are also beginning to introduce sexualit6y to our children at a younger age.

True.

I think that's a good thing, myself. Most of our past societies were sexually repressed to some degree.


Emotionless acceptance of death is reflected in our move towards euthanasia.

I'd like to think the move to euthanasia is driven by compassion. I don't think acceptance of death even comes into it. As to moving towards it, it's a long time coming.


Admiration of youth has become normative while the traditional respect for elder wisdom is long gone.

You say this while a 70+ year old man campaigns to secure the White House? While a 44-year old senator is derided for lacking experience? New York with a 70+ mayor who they'd like to re-appoint for a third term? You seem to be confusing marketing culture with reality.


Cradle to grave socialism is becoming more of a reality. It allows us to focus, not on survival, but our pleasure. Starvation is not our problem, obesity is. Things today don’t “cost” (to use John’s observation) as much as they used to.

Sure, but what's the alternative? Do we want to return to poor-houses?


As the West moves Left the East is moving to the Right. In spite of all the Left leaning advances of the West’s sexual revolution, the future might still see fornicators publicly flogged, and homosexuals hung on the streets of Londonstan.

:lol::lol::lol::lol:

More likely to be Paristan than Londonstan, but you're right on it - the future direction of the world is entirely open to where it heads from here on.

muazjalil
10-01-2008, 12:19 AM
Ah so you watch cricket. Yeah what you say is true. But the problem is even with general increase in economic prosperity, the thought process still remains the same. More people will equate consumerism with happiness and spend more on buying consumer goods rather than provide more or even accurate tax so that govt can spend on public goods like health and edu.

I can expect the logic that in LDC people have less faith in Govt and hence do not believe in giving taxes (may be an excuse but defensible). But then why in USA people are so against even a slight increase in Tax

Zerubbabel
10-05-2008, 03:53 PM
I come from a Least Develop country ...


Thanks Muaz.

The West created the consumer lifestyle and has been living it for 60 years. Without some paradigm shift the world will follow right behind us. All that any developing country needs to do is accept the ideology. The poorest nations have a great asset: Incredibly cheap labor. Make the country safe and be hospital to capitalist investors and they will move entire factories in and put the poor to work. Money will come, slowly at first, but faster with time. And then the nation will swap one asset for another; the advantage of cheap labor goes away but then the nation becomes a nation of consumers. “Behold, the man is become as one of us …”

Zerubbabel
10-05-2008, 04:06 PM
Atheist

By necessity, when speaking of society in the aggregate it will inevitably be generalized. Generalities have this ability to annoy and irritate us, especially if a generality is used to buttress an opinion contrary to our own. Every generality will have exceptions that the annoyed hearer will very quickly produce. But to focus on exceptions in order to invalidate a generality does not help our understanding. What it does, is imprison one in the details never to see the big picture, never to see the full panoramic landscape of human affairs. That picture is painted in the watercolors of generalities, not in the fine black ink of details.

The notion that ours is not a culture of youth can only be seen should one focus on the exception, in this case the created public imagery of presidential candidates (2 out of a land of 300,000,000), and the confusion of experience with age. I’m incredibly inexperienced at studying literature, yet I have not a few years behind me. Am I to be disrespected for my age or my lack of experience?

Abortion has always been as it was in BNW; a safety net in case of failure of the “Malthusian Drill.” A safety net creates the consequence-less-ness that empowers both the high-wire performer and the recreational fornicator.

>>> lots of kids take ritalin, the percentage is tiny.<<<
“This year some six million children in the U.S.--one in eight-- will take Ritalin. With 5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. consumes 85 percent of this drug. Have we considered the consequences?” http://www.worldandi.com/public/2000/November/sax.html

Daycare, the state, public education, society in general are nurturing our children while mother’s work. Because after-all: “In these economic times a family NEEDS two incomes.” And we also NEED two SUV’s and a 4000 sq ft home and a room full of electronics and a myriad of other perceived NEEDS which science and technology are continually adding to. The State has the children while the parents pursue hedonism.

That you advocate the removal of sexual taboos and increased sexual indoctrination of the young and that you in someway represent a portion of people in the West; highlights our approach towards BNW.

The etymology of “hospice movement” was first attested to in 1979. A linguistic indicator of movement towards euthanasia and the normalizing of death which we have now institutionalized in specialized branches of the medical industry. BTW I’m not judging euthanasia or any of the other issues, just observing the trends.


This exchange has been rewarding. I now believe that my original premise was daft. BNW is not, nor ever was a dystopia. It is a view of an unrestrained Leftist utopia. 1984 is not a dystopia nor a Rightist utopia. 1984 is a parody of Orwell’s day, created of extant elements of that day. It is a parody of the Soviet totalitarianism and the complicit nature of the seemingly endless cold war. It was political commentary. And neither view was a view from the Right.

I’m going to go bark up another tree now. Thanks.

Priestess
02-16-2009, 07:18 AM
Sorry, but this whole discussion is utterly ridiculous. Really, there can't be a discussion about whether BNW is dystopian or utopian. Just read the genre description for an utiopian text. (Did you read Thomas More's Utopia?)
A dystopian novel/text/whatever is characterised by the supression of individualism, by pure state control, the fight of one individual against the system...all those matters are clearly prominent in BNW.

If you really are interested in Huxley's political attitude, then you can always read his essays (which are all available on the internet)...