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Flashcards in Brave New World Deck (1):

Huxley hones his satirical skills by reading Mencken

He went to Eton and got a first in English from Oxford

There can be stability and uniformity through biological mechanisation and social conditioning without dissent

Promiscuity is required. There is no sexual fidelity or loyalty.

The idea of having a mother is an obscenity

He abolishes the 20th century nuclear family

Comatosed happiness

Any form of order is better than chaos?

Written before the 3rd Reich and therefore wasn't aware of how eugenics could meet such fascist ends. Contrasted with 1984 (written after) in Brave New World revisited..

1984 society was based on fear and intrusion whereas Brave New World was about achieving hedonistic pleasure through conditioning and propaganda.

Open to the persuasiveness of demagogues

It was Huxley's genius to present us to ourselves in all our ambiguity. Alone among the animals, we suffer from the future perfect tense. Rover the Dog cannot imagine a future world of dogs in which all fleas will have been eliminated and doghood will finally have achieved its full glorious potential.

A world of genetically modified babies, boundless consumption, casual sex and drugs

In the latter half of the 20th century, two visionary books cast their shadows over our futures. One was George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, with its horrific vision of a brutal, mind-controlling totalitarian state - a book that gave us Big Brother and thoughtcrime and newspeak and the memory hole and the torture palace called the Ministry of Love and the discouraging spectacle of a boot grinding into the human face forever.

The other was Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932), which proposed a different and softer form of totalitarianism - one of conformity achieved through engineered, bottle-grown babies and hypnotic persuasion rather than through brutality, of boundless consumption that keeps the wheels of production turning and of officially enforced promiscuity that does away with sexual frustration, of a pre-ordained caste system ranging from a highly intelligent managerial class to a subgroup of dim-witted serfs programmed to love their menial work, and of soma, a drug that confers instant bliss with no side effects.

Brave New World is either a perfect-world utopia or its nasty opposite, a dystopia, depending on your point of view: its inhabitants are beautiful, secure and free from diseases and worries, though in a way we like to think we would find unacceptable.