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December 1, 2022

 

Can suppressing information and knowledge hinder society in the way it progresses into the future?

     1984 and Brave New World contain key attributes that define the way each society behaves. These attributes manifest throughout the way the government treats its people, and how people treat others with regard to societal standards. Brave New World depicts a society by which readily available information makes the minds of individuals less willing to comprehend emotion and knowledge. 1984 depicts a world and society by which all information is contrived, people are under constant surveillance, and absolute loyalty from citizens resides with Big Brother. Both novels exert ominous traits that describe a future which is inescapable, even if someone is independent with their thought and action from society, therefore, death or zombification results from the desperate clawing for independence.

   In Brave New World, the appearance of a conglomerated society which lives off the values of “Everyone lives for everyone” is made an example of zombification and emptiness that is subservient toward superior power. World Controllers monitor and control this superior power that lies in the blindness which fuels the everyday life of monotonous labor in a seemingly infinite caste system. Most everyone in Brave New World—except one of the main characters, the Savage—is created by science in incubator tubes. Science reached a point of Godlike capacity which made the arts and “Old Knowledge,” like Shakespeare, irrelevant. Without the wonder and inspiration to learn—the bases for combating boredom—people resort to drugs or soma, to keep them happy and ignorant along with the overemphasized permission to result in sexual interactions on a disturbingly frivolous scale. In addition to the drugs and frivolity, death in this story is a concept which correlates in indifference. Since everyone lives for everyone, death is viewed as a discarded importance long forgotten, just as the importance of “Old Knowledge” is discarded. One of the World Controllers sparks a conversation with the savage where he reveals the true nature of how people maintain unanimity in their ideals of life, “They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about … And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma” (Huxley 220). The Savage, under much agony, after witnessing the horror of such an unsettling society, hangs himself. His desperation for an independent life resulted in the destruction of his own; “Only those moments count, when the desire to remain by yourself is so powerful that you’d prefer to blow your brains out than exchange a word with someone” – Emil M. Cioran.

    The unsurpassed claustrophobic world of Oceania in 1984, illustrates a society where information goes beyond the common suppressiveness of voice. Knowledge and ideas are fundamental operations in the human mind that are monitored and suppressed too. The voice of the public is suppressed and altered to a point where news is only complementary to the government and Big Brother. The main character, Winston, works for the government in a position where he rewrites articles and news publications so that the information he changes is in perspective of making his government look good. However, he becomes aware of the dishonest and flawed life he’s been living. He finds a notebook and begins to write in it about his life and his mental processes relating to the world around him. Unfortunately, he is terrified when he writes in this notebook in fear of him being arrested or killed by the Thought Police. The brutal force of the Thought Police is an aspect that defines the might of Big Brother along with the government’s persuasive power. These police will eliminate anyone with independent thought, especially in reaction to a possible threat to Big Brother. Winston becomes a thought criminal and one whose capacity for freedom and truth is hindered forever. He is beaten almost every day as his will and hope break down, his desire to pursue independent thought is diminished. “He seemed to have lost the power of intellectual effort, now that the stimulus of pain had been removed” (Orwell, 275). Winston, in the end, is beaten down to the point where his soul, body, and mind are in submission to the only source of power he has left, Big Brother. “ … everything was alright, the struggle was finished … He loved Big Brother” (Orwell, 298).

   Both Huxley’s novel and Orwell’s novel depict the tragedy and folly of societies that are controlled by those who rule with absolute power. As John F. Kennedy once said, “The men who create power make an indispensable contribution to the Nation’s greatness, but the men who question power make a contribution just as indispensable, especially when that questioning is disinterested, for they determine whether we use power or power uses us”. The contribution to Literature that these works bring contain truth by which power should not be used by those who hinder the independent minds of humankind.   


Are the people in Brave New World polarized like our current society?

Brave New World and 1984 are both dystopian novels written in the early to mid 20th century. These books invoke fear into the audience with a terrifying future and outlook into our society. Although both novels have had lasting impressions on our society, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley has proven more relevant in our contemporary world. On one site a researcher points out this fact bringing up numerous points of evidence in our current society. “What’s more, a number of advancements portrayed in the book, whether they be technological or social, aren’t as scary as they seemed back then.And in fact, they’re increasingly being seen in a positive light.” One of the many reasons for this is how polarization of our society has formed.

In Brave New World, people are grouped into social classes and specific jobs. There are the elites Alphas ranging to the lower class Gammas, however, the people are also grouped into their specific job types. When being taught, each citizen is given only instructions and knowledge that will pertain to their career. This has created a polarized society in which people only interact with those that they share interests, knowledge, and views with.

This polarization in Brave New World has correlated strongly with the political and cultural polarization that we are seeing in our country today. One major issue seen today is how our political spectrum is becoming more extreme as people are fighting over their views rather than discussing and compromising. This is not only in terms of politics, people are moving to communities where they share interests and viewpoints. On this site I was able to find great examples and explanations as to how our society is polarizing. One of the primary reasons was a we can create our own source of information through technology. “The world of communications now contains innumerable information cocoons — comfortable spaces in which people can reinforce their own convictions.” These new communities are becoming culturally isolated as no new outside information that isn’t “accepted” is being brought in. “To a significant extent, people are learning and passing along ‘facts’ from narrow niches of people, most often comprised of like-minded others.” This social polarization isn’t on the same level of Brave New World yet but it could easily reach this level in the future.

 


Lack of interest in history

For the past two generations, American students history grades have been dropping rapidly. http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/07/opinion/callista-gingrich-u-s-history/index.html describes this change as an effect of not being able to captivate the students and that they need to find fun ways to teach these topics. But why do students do well in math, science and English if the same teaching mechanisms are being utilized.

https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/may-2016/the-decline-in-history-majors says that the number of history majors has dropped significantly in the last four years. This fall is likely due to the fact that most graduates are unable to pursue a career relating to their major. History majors are likely to become teachers, and there is a limited amount of jobs in that realm. This discourages our profit driven society to pursue such majors.

Students are realizing that beyond basic history taught in grade school, there isn’t much of a need to continue learning history. Similar to what Aldous Huxley writes in his book, “Brave New World” where citizens are discourage to learn more about the past as it is useless. The charters in the book agree with this statement because they see no need to learn about the mistakes of the past and only venture into the future and live in the present. I think this theme is becoming more and more common among people today, especially among current students who will opt out of history courses and pursue jobs where history is not needed.

https://www.youthvoices.live/tag/brave-new-world/