Brave New World

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

I have just finished re-reading this book, the first time I read it was a long time ago. When I did the 1984 review this book came into my mind, and they are both interesting in dealing with what a future would look like considering they were written in the first half of the last century. A time of two World Wars, the Russian Revolution and a violently changing world. Huxley’s and Orwell’s view are widely differing of what would become of humanity. Both books are about controlling the masses but in completely different ways.

I sort of think of it along the lines of marginal utility, an economic concept. Marginal utility is the added satisfaction that a person gets from having one more unit of a good or service. So if we take this example: Winston likes a cold beer, or more specifically a Kronenbourg 1664. He’s not had one for months, it’s mid-summer and it’s hot. His mate, Bernard invites him over for a BBQ and when he arrives Bernard presents him with an ice cold Kronenbourg, the glass wet with condensation as the beer is so cold. When Winston drinks that beer his marginal utility for that beer is enormous. His second beer also has a huge marginal utility. But his third beer is maybe not on the same scale as the first one. As the evening progresses Bernard keeps the beers flowing. Then late on in the evening Bernard presents Winston with this tenth beer. At this point, or even before, Winston’s marginal utility for that beer will probably be negative, and he thanks his host with slurred words and says he had enough and stumbles home.

I think the difference between the first beer and tenth beer is the difference between how Orwell and Huxley seek to control the masses. In 1984 Big Brother prevents anyone from drinking that first beer through fear and violence. In Brave New World the World Controllers allow everyone to get to beer ten, in fact encourages them, so much excess there is no desire for opposition, or no understanding to be opposed to such a world.

Which is better? None really, hopefully we’ll never get to that sort of choice.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *