Manifestation of biopower in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.
In Discipline & Punish (1979), Foucault describes the notion of the 'disciplinary society', one that tries "to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power" (1979: 201). Foucault argues that this new method of governing is systematized in such a way that it monitors every aspect of a citizen's life. This kind of surveillance leads to the term 'docile bodies', that are the result of a disciplinary society. The goal of such a society is to make citizens more profitable and productive, and less individual. Discipline is imposed upon them, both mentally and physically, whereby the "[d]ocile body is a disciplined and practiced human form that serves as the physical expression of subjection and conformity" (Foucault, 1979: 138). Foucault identifies the emergence of such disciplinary power as a gradual process in which the subjected body becomes quite interdependent. In order to turn a human being into a docile body, first, the human mind must be manipulated to believe in the correctness of the functioning of the body. The notion of discipline as a significant part of 'biopower' (literally it means control over human bodies) is Michel Foucault's main concern in Discipline and Punish, in which he explores different approaches to discipline functions in society. He observes that discipline is a force employed to control humans "to produce ... docile bodies" that can be "manipulated, shaped" and "trained" for the benefit of the state (1979: 136-138).
This study utilises Foucault's interpretation of discipline, since it is significant when analyzing the ways in which totalitarian governments attempt to extend and maximize their power over humans' bodies and minds. Discipline is used to control humans' everyday life based on the government's prescription. Thus, in a dystopian society like Brave New World, people have no say in what they want to do, and no control over their own bodies and minds; they are just become "imprisoned" within a disciplinary system developed by the government. In such a case, the mind and body must be controlled simultaneously, since humans' physical performance directly depends on their psychological belief in the righteousness of their actions.
In a dystopian society, bodies are presented as feeble and powerless, reduced to extreme oppression and manipulation by the government, which uses discipline to achieve its devious goals. Foucault sees discipline as an instrument that makes "possible the meticulous control of the operations of the body" (1979: 137). Foucault elaborates on this notion and notes that "discipline increases the forces of the body (in economic terms of utility) and diminishes these same forces (in political terms of obedience)" (1979: 138). In fact, when the body becomes quite disciplined, two things occur: on the one hand, the body develops its potential for productivity and can benefit the government economically; and on the other, it becomes quite submissive to the government (and therefore not productive). The present study examines the ideas of disciplinary society and biopower that turn individuals into docile bodies in the dystopian society of Brave New World.
Biopower in Brave New World:
When the degradation of humanity accompanies an uncritical embracing of science and technology, disaster is imminent. Brave New World (1932), Aldous Huxley's best-known and popular futuristic work of fiction (Meckier, 1996), has become a classic example of the genre of dystopian fiction, representing as it does a society where "the attempt to recreate human beings in the likeness of termites has been pushed almost to the limits of the possible" (Huxley, 1958: 24).
Brave New World describes a world, some 600 years 'After Ford', in which institutionalized eugenic engineering underpins a stratified class society that is governed by World Controllers. Huxley later called this "the completely controlled, collectivised society" (Orwell, 1968:195). Gregory Claeys, in "The Origins of Dystopia: Wells, Huxley, and Orwell", states, "'Fordism represents the subordination of humanity to the machine and to the scientific ideal as such" (2010:115).' But in this study we argue that, in a Fordian society, people are not submissive to the machine, instead they become docile bodies through the disciplinary systems utilised by a totalitarian government. As discussed in this paper, it is a cyborg culture that makes people submissive to machines. A Fordian society is not a cyborg one in which the boundaries between humans and non-human, or humans and machines, become blurred. Instead, it is a society in which new technologies and science are in the hands of the government and are used to control and manipulate its citizens. In a Fordian society there is no need for mass brutality. Science tames society and produces a totalitarian government in which a population of slaves loves its servitude.
Brave New World warns us about becoming docile bodies through new technologies used by the government to control humanity. Huxley refers to a "nine years' war", in which "Liberalism, of course, was dead of anthrax" (1932:76). After liberalism has perished, a subtler form of totalitarian government assisted by technology emerges. Huxley depicts a society in which individuals are granted physical comfort and sexual satisfaction through technology, but at the same time their free will and critical thinking are suppressed by a totalitarian government. In this analysis, we will consider domination of the people by a government making use of technology. This analysis seeks to answer questions of why and how technological advances are employed to create happy, docile inhabitants in the society of Brave New World with reference to Foucault's ideas of biopower and disciplinary systems. We analyze how technological inventions, such as bioengineering, conditioning, hypnopaedia, the feelies and soma, enslave humans and turn them into docile bodies in Brave New World.
In his 1946 foreword to Brave New World, Huxley remarks that the "theme of Brave New World is not the advancement of science as such; it is the advancement of science as it affects human individuals" (cited in Hitchens, 2005). According to Christopher Hitchens, Huxley's Brave New World shows that "a really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude" (2005:11). Their bodies become "docile" and "subjected" from the moment they are born, without questioning the system that predetermines their fate. The government not only controls people's bodies, but also manipulates their minds via disciplinary systems.
Brave New World is a world seemingly formed and based on Foucault's disciplinary society and a "wholly secular culture, dominated by economics, supported by technology, and dedicated to the--within carefully set limits--Freudian pleasure principle with its emphasis on libidinal appetite" (Baker, 1982: 97). The disciplinary society of Brave New World tries "to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power" (Foucault, 1979: 201). Huxley shows how power becomes "more effective when it is hidden from view". He reveals that, "although knowledge and technologies are being used to control and regulate individuals and populations, the official version of things is that they are working" in the people's interest, taking care of individuals and are for the people's own good. (Danaher, Schirato, Webb 2000: 68).
Although Foucault's Discipline and Punish emerged about forty years after Huxley's Brave New World, the theory of 'docile body' is prevalent in this novel as Huxley depicts the conflict between individuality and a disciplinary system that generaties 'docile bodies' that are controlled by World Controllers who extend their power through genetic engineering, a conditioning system, feelies, hedonism and hypnopaedia. In Brave New World, a World State produces conditioned and manipulated bodies that mirror the discourse desired by the government. The bodies are produced according to Foucault's genealogy, that "carefully exposes the tiny influences on bodies that, over time, produce subjects defined by what they take to be knowledge about themselves and their world" (Prado, 2000: 36). By such 'tiny influences' on the body, human subjectivity is assembled; it means the subject is produced. The World State in Brave New World forms the subjectivity of the citizens and gives submissive bodies a kind of feeling that they think they are substantial and significant for the government. In other words, they have an illusory feeling of dignity. According to Prado, "genealogy exposes how ... subjects come under the illusion that they are individually substantial, autonomous unities" (2000: 36). Genealogy traces the event of emergence, that considers "initial appearance and achieved dominance" (Prado, 2000: 36). Genealogy leads to the emergence of biopower and this is quite prevalent in Brave New World. Foucault suggests that biopower originates from institutions seeking authority over the object of knowledge in order to maintain the existence of its institutions.
Brave New World considers the pervasive theme of biopower to investigate the threat of disciplinary systems on inhabitants who are conditioned to appreciate hedonism and immediate comfort over human dignity and individuality. Biopower is instrumental in the sense that it has become a means to achieve non-political goals of biological life, such as survival, pleasure and happiness. To show the power relation, Huxley portrays a Fordian society that has "dead and frozen light, corpse-coloured workers each performing his part to bring into the world new life which, if all goes well, will be spiritually dead, or at least debased" (May, 1972: 105), and the Savage Reservation, a society far from civilization. He ironically calls it "Malpais", which means "evil country" or "bad place" in Spanish (Sisk, 1999: 125). With "its ceremonies, superstitions, diseases, the repellent features of its aged folk, the smells, lice, dead dogs, snakes, the lastingness of the brightly-colored but often filthy clothes, the murderous sexual possessiveness" (May, 1972: 110), the Savage Reservation is not attractive to a Fordian culture in which people are manipulated by disciplinary systems. The story opens at the Central London Hatchery, which plays a key role in the artificial procreation and social conditioning of its inhabitants:
A SQUAT grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTER, and, in a shield, the world State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY. (1932: 1)
From the very beginning, this Fordian society states its goal of the creation of an ideal society in which all inhabitants have to follow the orders of ten "World Controllers" who manifest what June Deery sees in "Technology and Gender in Aldous Huxley's Alternative (?) Worlds": "the Procrustean determination to fit the individual into the State's requirements" (1996: 104). In this Fordian society, citizens lack individuality. Individuality comes with personality and emotions. The people of the Fordian society have had their emotions suppressed, and with that a large part of their personality. The government eliminates all emotions to sustain the stability of its state. The inhabitants are left only with empty happiness, accompanied by physical satisfaction. With promiscuity accepted as a value, love no longer touches the core of human hearts. The concept of family arouses laughter instead of warm feelings. Mustapha Mond, one of the World Controllers, explains why feelings are unnecessary and even threatening:
Mother, monogamy, romance [...] No wonder those poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable [...] they were forced to feel strongly. And feeling strongly (and strongly, what was more, in solitude, in hopelessly individual isolation), how could they be stable? (1932: 66)
Mustapha Mond's words echo the motto of a Fordian society in the opening passage, stressing the notion that collectivity and stability are valued over individuality and humanity. In a Fordian world, disciplinary systems condition humans so that they do what they are told. Nothing is more stable than a world full of docile inhabitants. If one asks the question: What is the difference between human and animal in a Fordian society?, the answer could be that the humans are well trained by technology. While technologically advanced, the Fordian society watches strictly over scientific discoveries and discourages scientific research that might threaten the stability of society; Mustapha Mond discloses the conflict between science and a Fordian society:
Every change is a menace to stability. That is another reason why we're so chary of applying new inventions. Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy. Yes, even science. (1932: 356)
Mustapha Mond was a scientist before serving as a world controller. Although Mond is among the highest rank of society, in a sense he has been victimized: "One can't have something for nothing," says Mond, "[...] I paid too [...] By choosing to serve happiness. Other people's- not mine" (1932:363). Mond has been assimilated into the social system. Although he is in power, this power is confined by the motto of the society. This is very different from a totalitarian government, like that of the Nazis, in which power was direct and absolute. In a Fordian society, abstract ideas and technology, here biopower, dictate the way in which inhabitants must think and live. A Fordian society uses regulatory tools to control individuals and achieve stability. Johanna Oksala claims that:
Biopower is not political power in the traditional sense because it is not reducible to the power of a democratically elected sovereign body, whether individual or collective. It penetrates such political power, but is essentially the power of life's experts, interpreters and administrators. The key problem with biopower is thus not the foundational violence of the sovereign, but the depoliticized violence of expert knowledge. (2010: 16)
Power becomes decentralized, and flows in different directions. It is no longer manifested in the act of killing, but in the act of preserving life. Foucault, in The History of Sexuality, explains that a normalizing society
is "the historical outcome of a technology of power centered on life" (1990:144). The world state aims to maintain individuals' contentment. In this Fordian society people become normalized in order to maintain the stability of the state. Foucault observes the normalization of a population through disciplinary systems, in the construction of education, hygiene and sexuality. In a Fordian society, discipline functions automatically and expects its rules to be accepted by all inhabitants:
Till at last the child's mind is these suggestions, and then sum of the suggestions is the child's mind. And not the child's mind only. The adult's mind too - all his life long. The mind that judges and desires and decides - made up of these suggestions. But all these suggestions are our suggestions! ... Suggestions from the State. (1932: 45)
A Fordian state tries to encourage its people to live happily. The whole society of the World State revolves around the economy and amusement. People work all day with Ford-like production processes and in the evenings they go to the 'feelies', play electromagnetic golf or have recreational sex. People have superficial friendships, while love relationships, let alone family relationships, are absent. The main activities, besides labouring, are consuming and having fun. People do not go through the process of ageing, instead they remain in perfect health until they reach their sixties and then die in a special Hospital for the Dying, in soma-induced ecstasy. Their remains are processed into useful materials like phosphor. Community, identity and stability are considered to be the main values in this Fordian society and the regime has succeeded very well in realizing them. Mustapha Mond, a World Controller, describes its achievements thus:
The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get. 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 they feel strongly
about; they're so conditioned that they practically can't help behaving as they ought to behave. (1932: 348)
Conditioning, caste division, sexual freedom and mind-control conditioning are the disciplines employed by the government to turn people into docile bodies. Thus, when people are controlled, free will is erased, and the government manipulates the fate of its inhabitants, and their bodies and minds, easily.
Huxley uses this dystopian World State to convey to the reader the impact of regulatory institutional power on normalized people. The people of the World State have lost their individuality because of their conforming to the State. The citizens feel "mindlessly content" and submit to the State's regulations (Posner, 2004:10). In the following we discuss the disciplinary ways the government employs to turn its inhabitants into docile bodies.
Conditioning through Caste Division:
The key method for controlling the inhabitants of the Fordian society is through social conditioning. Its people face an "inescapable social destiny" (1932:12) that occurs within a "Caste System", they are ranked from intelligent "Alpha Pluses" to "Proletarian Epsilons." This kind of "distribution according to ranks or grade has a double role: firstly it marks the gaps, hierarchies, qualities, skills and aptitudes" (Foucault, 1979:181), and secondly people are conditioned and trained to hate those from other classes, lose their human connections, abstain from threats of social unrest and follow "the world State's motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY". According to Kathrin Braun: "Administration and managing this resource [the population] was dependent on knowledge and gave rise to population statistics, population science, hygiene, public health, or eugenics"; this is based on "a logic of classifying, qualifying, categorizing, and ranking" (2007:7). This Fordian society divides its citizens into different castes to control them both physically and mentally. The castes are predestined through a conditioning system: "We also predestine and condition. We decant our babies as socialized human beings, as Alphas or Epsilons, as future sewage workers or future World Controllers" (1932: 21). They also create predetermined roles in the system:
...the highest castes, "Alpha" and "Beta" are the elite, and the lower castes, "Gamma", "Delta" and "Epsilon" are in physical work and manual labor. Mr. Foster says, "The lower the caste, the shorter the oxygen." The first organ affected was the Brain. After that the skeleton. At seventy per cent of normal oxygen you got dwarfs. At less than seventy eyeless monsters. "Who are no use at all," states Mr. Foster. (1932: 22)
Thus, from birth, embryos are allocated to the socio-economic class and occupation that they should adopt when they become adults and are conditioned to behave in machine-like fashion from childhood. In fact, disciplinary systems turn them into machinery. Foucault says that "continuous regulatory and corrective mechanisms" are essential for power that attempts to control human lives. According to Foucault, "Such a power has to qualify, measure, appraise, and hierarchize, rather than display itself in its murderous splendor; it does not have to draw the line that separates the enemies of the sovereign from his obedient subjects; it effects distributions around the norm" (1990: 114).
Interestingly, "Alpha" and "Beta" are the results of fertilized eggs that create one embryo with a certain identity. In contrast, members of the lower castes are produced through the "Bokanovsky process" in which an egg is divided multiple times and produces up to ninety-six children that look identical. This emphasizes the government's fervent tendency in relation to the body: people that are produced do not need to look different or
to have different identities because they are not appreciated for their uniqueness. It is a collective form of control. Foucault observes that a disciplinary society attempts to make sense of collectivity rather than individuality. Foucault states that, in a disciplinary system:
Governments perceived that they were not dealing simply with subjects, or even with a 'people', but a 'population', with its specific phenomena and its peculiar variables: birth and death rates, life expectancy, fertility, state of health, frequency of illness, patterns of diet and habitation. (1990: 25)
Foucault observes that a society obsessed by security is the result of a goal to protect the collective interest rather than that of the individual. The inhabitants of a Fordian society are just instrumental bodies, "major instruments of social stability" for doing physical labour and bringing benefits to the state (1932:10).
In a disciplined dystopian society, children's bodies and minds are regarded as the property of the government. In a Fordian Society, children do not have parents, as the fertilized eggs are separated from the mother and placed in a controlled environment under the strict supervision of the Director of the Hatchery and Controlling Center. According to Walsh, in From Utopia to Nightmare, "conventional motherhood, with its haphazard results, is now obsolete", and now the hatcheries practice full manipulation over human births (1962:92). Children's actions and thoughts are predetermined in State Conditioning Centers so that they become docile bodies and serve the state without knowing the meaning of a mother's love. When a group of students asks the Director of a Conditioning Center about "parents", he replies that humans used to be "viviparous" (1932:9). He explains that, in the past, all babies were raised by parents instead of Conditioning Centers, until hypnopaedia was discovered which removed the need for parents and their care. When children are strictly controlled and regulated by the state, why should adults spend their time raising children when they can work for the benefit of the state? Thus, while children's bodies and minds are trained to be "docile" through conditioning and manipulation, their parents' docile bodies are exploited for the state's goals. The children are also trained to be sexual tools. They have classes like "Elementary Sex". Older children can experience sexual relations in the bushes or even in public:
In a little grassy bay between tall clumps of Mediterranean heather, two children, a little boy of about seven and a little girl who might have been year older, were playing, very gravely and with all the focused attention of scientists intent on a labor of discover, a rudimentary sexual game.
"Charming, charming!" the D.H.C. repeated sentimentally. (1932: 48)
These children are trained to engage freely in sexual relations, and if they do not take part in sexual affairs, they will be considered ill:
"[T]his little boy seems rather reluctant to join in the ordinary erotic play. I'd noticed it once or twice before. And now again to-day. He started yelling just now... " [...] "And so, " she went on, turning back to the Director, "I'm taking him in to see the Assistant Superintendent of Psychology. Just to see if anything's at all abnormal." (1932: 49-50)
Many Betas may come from the same woman, but they do not know whom their mother is. This means that many citizens are related to each other. This also relates to their lack of identity, since it is important for a person's identity to know their ancestry. No one in this Fordian society has this knowledge and everyone is conditioned not to think about it.
Genetic Engineering and Sexual Conditioning:
To perceive the threat of technology to humanity, we should investigate how certain technological inventions dominate humans. Of course, the first invention to be examined is biotechnological preconditioning; as the opening of the novel suggests, this is the technology that influences individuals the most in this Fordian society where individuality is suppressed and the Hatchery's capability is developed to produce the greatest number of identical human beings. Thus, Brave New World can be read as Huxley's answer to the question: What do humans become through technology?
Genetic engineering turns the inhabitants of this Fordian society into human chimera. Foucault (1980) observes that human chimera would not permit the individual to have a choice of sex. He argues that human chimeras are unable to understand the meaning of having real sex, due to the reduction of social sex to biological sex. Here, truth reaches its biological peak by blending both sexes into one, a couple is manifested as one genetic unit. In becoming transgenic, human beings lose their sense of choice and subjectivity; instead, technology and science will determine the viability of a body. By allocating our bodies to transgenesis, Foucault asks: "Do we really need real sex?" (Foucault  1994: IV, 116). But when we become chimera and transgenic we are not intelligent enough to decide our own life and to understand the meaning of having real sex. In Brave New World, the inhabitants become chimera or transgenic, and conditioned to have no sense of choice. Indeed, Foucault's observation may be true for the State's chimera inhabitants who are quite submissive to the technology imposed upon them. These chimera bodies have no chance of sexual reproduction that has been replaced by the Bokanovsky process:
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. (1932: 3-4)
Genetic engineering develops to a level at which the government utilizes a minimum input of one egg to generate ninety-six people. The Bokanovsky process, which stops normal human progress while enhancing the production of identical eggs, systematically deprives humans of their subjectivity and turns them into chimera. Through the Bokanovsky process and conditioning systems, the World State attempts to maintain its domination: "The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get" (1932: 193).
In this Fordian society, sex becomes another instrument of biopower. The chimera inhabitants of the society are motivated to have as many partners as possible. In fact, the people are not able to make decisions about their habits sexual habits. Also, they do not have a true understanding of sexual relationships. Staying four months with one partner is regarded as "intense or long-drawn out", which makes the Director angry (1932:64). The Director encourages the inhabitants to have uncontrolled sexual relationships in order to forget ideas of marriage, family or love that are threatening "to the stability of the community" (Latham, 2004: 137). Engaging in particular kinds of sexual habits in this society serves as a disciplinary system for an "authority who requires the confession, prescribes and appreciates it, and intervenes in order to judge, punish, forgive, console, and reconcile" (Foucault, 1990: 217).
In this Fordian society, it does not matter to the people whom they sleep with exactly. There is little difference between the men whom Lenina, a Beta, sleeps with except for their class and sexual mentality. Lenina's co-worker Fanny says this about Henry Foster, one of Lenina's lovers, having sexual affairs with more than one woman:
"Trust Henry Foster to be the perfect gentleman - always correct. And then there's the Director to think of. You know what a stickler... ."
Nodding, "He patted me on the behind this afternoon," said Lenina.
"There, you see!" Fanny was triumphant. "That shows what he stands for. The strictest conventionality." (1932: 66)
It is not important for Lenina what type of men she attracts. The only important thing for her is their class and appearance. Bernard Marx, an Alpha, is a somehow dubious man in this Fordian society as something went wrong when he was an embryo. However, it is not important for Lenina because she finds Bernard attractive, and that is enough for her to consider a trip with him to the Savage Reservation. Also, Henry Foster encourages Bernard to have sex with Lenina. Both Henry and Lenina become docile bodies in this relationship. They accept that they themselves are sexual instruments. Henry even encourages possible new lovers for Lenina. This reveals that he has no sense of belonging or even possessiveness with respect to Lenina. Another man's dignity might be hurt if his woman slept with another man, but Henry, and presumably most men in this Fordian society, does not have such a feeling since he, and they, is manipulated both mentally and physically.
Conditioning through Education:
Education is another disciplinary system that turns the inhabitants of this Fordian society into docile bodies. From birth the children are taught the basic principles of their society through regular lessons, hypnopaedia and even Pavlovian shock conditioning. The government even attempts to condition children to like particular things. The Director states, "that is the secret of happiness and virtue - liking what you've got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny" (1932: 25). Due to their lack of identity, the citizens of this Fordian society accept this brutal conditioning. Huxley describes a scene in which babies are conditioned according to Pavlovian rules. They are put in a room with books and flowers. When the babies move toward them and take the books and flowers there is a tremendously loud noise. Then the floor is electrified:
"Offer them the flowers and the books again." The nurses obeyed; but at the approach of the roses, at the mere sight of those gaily-coloured images of pussy and cock-a-doodle-doo and baa-baa black sheep, the infants shrank away in horror, the volume of their howling suddenly increased. [...] "They'll grow up with what the psychologists used to call an 'instinctive' hatred of books and flowers. Reflexes unalterably conditioned. They'll be safe from books and botany all their lives." (1932: 33-34)
This form of conditioning seems to be impossible to escape from. Children's behaviour is conditioned by fear stimulus. In fact, fear acts as a very powerful controller.
Conditioning through Hypnopaedia and Soma:
Hypnopaedia, or sleep-teaching, is the "greatest moralizing and socializing force of all time" (1932: 23). Hypnotic messages, repeated several times, penetrate children's sub-consciousness and become common sense. Thus, when they become adults, they not only perform their social function efficiently, but they are also never
dissatisfied with their lives and accept their occupations easily: they are either intellectual Alphas or hardworking Epsilons. This new invention affects the mind, as the Director of Hatcheries states:
Till at last the child's mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child's mind. And not the child's mind only. The adult's mind too--all his life long. The mind that judges and desires and decides-- made up of these suggestions. But all these suggestions are our suggestions! (1932: 28-29).
Thus, in order to be obedient citizens, the inhabitants of a dystopian society have to adopt the ideals of the government, dictated to them from birth, thus making them industrious and submissive workers. Hypnopaedia as a form of disciplinary power controls the inhabitants' minds and prevents them thinking about themselves or their individuality.
Huxley also introduces soma as a drug which the citizens consume, "half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon" (1932: 85). Soma suppresses feelings such as depression, anxiety, and anger that have the potential to challenge the authority of the State. In Brave New World, Huxley paints a dark picture of the technology via which the inhabitants of the World State are controlled. He describes "a race which loves its servitude, a race of standardized machine-minders for standardized machines who will never challenge their authority. The ... thinking and spiritual man has been sacrificed in his entirety" (Bowering, 1969: 99).
Soma induces pleasant feelings and stimulates social contact. The inhabitants of this Fordian society consume soma as a kind of 'holiday' from everyday life, a trip to a temporary state of bliss. It makes them happy, relaxed. Soma creates a superficial hedonism and causes alienation from the kind of 'real human life' that we know. Furthermore, Soma is used to keep the social order as it is. It is used as a kind of substitute for religious feelings in Community Sings and Solidarity Services, where the values of the World State are celebrated and enforced. It is quite literally opium for the people. Apart from its use in semi-religious gatherings, soma is also used to keep the Delta workforce content, being given to them as free provisions after work. Soma is used to keep the society stable, to keep everyone content with their fate and to turn all the inhabitants of this Fordian society into "shiny happy people".
Hypnopaedia and soma are disciplinary ways changing the state of mind and making the citizens unable to think about their own humanity, individuality or freedom. Huxley illustrates the difficulty in resisting such a carefree state, since the people are conditioned to believe in the system. This kind of satisfaction is a main instrument of disciplinary power, it serves to create motivation and desire (Foucault, 1979). In a Fordian society, the inhabitants are convinced into thinking that the existing system of things is normal and is there for their own welfare. The people are convinced that the amount of knowledge they receive is for their own good. For instance, Henry and Lenina as two Epsilons - the lowest cast in society - tell each other that "they don't really mind being Epsilons", since, "They don't know what it's like being anything else" (1932: 64). Seemingly, they are comfortable and satisfied in their apparently utopian world and pursue the standards of their world happily but thoughtlessly.
Huxley depicts a society based on indirect observation and shows how technology, conditioning systems and systematic control of thought and manner create a state of content that is far from military observations. Huxley himself states: "My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and that these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World" (1969: 604). Brave New World, then, takes a chilling look into a world in which technology is used by a totalitarian government to monitor the masses and turn them into thoughtless automatons. In fact, the state turns individuals into objects of technique. Huxley depicts a scenario that aims to eliminate humanity through disciplinary systems.
Non-autonomous and Pre-determined Life:
Having autonomy is an essential right of every human being. It is very important for a person to be able to make his or her own life choices. The people in a Fordian society cannot decide about their life, job or marriage, or about having children. Although it seems that the citizens have a free life, they are actually limited in a small society, and their lives are predetermined. They can go freely to the feelies, but for something like a trip to the Savage Reservation they have to get permission from the World Controller's Office, a World Controller and the Director:
"A permit for you to initial, Director," [Bernard] said as airily as possible, and laid the paper on the writingtable.
The Director glanced at him sourly. But the stamp of the World Controller's Office was at the head of the paper and the signature of Mustapha Mond, bold and black, across the bottom. Everything was perfectly in order. The director had no choice. He pencilled his initials--two small pale letters abject at the feet of Mustapha Mond--and was about to return the paper without a world of comment or genial Ford-speed, when his eye was caught by something written in the body of the permit. (1932: 145)
Even the Director, like the citizens, does not have the autonomy to go on a trip without formal permission. Huxley says nothing of what will happen if the Director attempts to break the rules in his favour, but the reader can imagine that it would be humiliating for a person in such a high position. The people have to try to behave the same as other men or women. Actually, the greatest fear of a citizen in this Fordian society is to be considered strange. Lenina, Bernard, Helmholtz and John are people who have one thing in common: they are different from the others. Bernard is different from his birth and knows that he is not normal. Bernard is physically abnormal, melancholy and unhappy with life in London. Instead of taking soma and getting involved in state-supervised entertainments, he complains about London's lack of individuality and feels like an outsider in a society that purports to abolish self-consciousness. He is responsible for bringing John and Linda to London from the Savage Reservation, and is eventually exiled as a result of his tendency to criticise society. Lenina is predisposed to monogamy, a fact that disturbs her, even though she does not recognize it as such. At the outset of the novel, Lenina says that she has been seeing Henry Foster for only four months, to which her friend Fanny replies:
"Only four months! I like that. And what's more," Fanny went on, pointing an accusing finger, "there's been nobody else except Henry all that time. Has there?"
Lenina blushed scarlet; but her eyes, the tone of her voice remained defiant. "No, there hasn't been any one else," she answered almost truculently. "And I jolly well don't see why there should have been." (1932: 64)
Both women attempt to make the situation more humorous, but Fanny asks Lenina to have another, as "it's such bad form to go on and on like this with one man" (1932:64). The inhabitants have to experience the life path that has been pre-determined for them. An Epsilon-Minus Semi-Moron is very content to be ordered around and to do the simple, repetitive work that he has been conditioned for. However, a citizen like Helmholtz Watson is more aware than an Epsilon-Minus. Helmholtz is an engineer and writes feelies and hypnopsdic rhymes for the radio. He feels like an outsider in the Fordian society. He feels something is missing from his life. However, he has no choice. Like Bernard, he is finally exiled by Mond to the Falkland Islands where he poses no threat to the stability of society; unlike Bernard, he anticipates his exile as a chance to escape the limited society of London and looks forward to having the freedom to explore in his writing.
Also, John, who is the son of Linda and the Director, was born on the Savage Reservation. He has a unique problem as he is the son of a conditioned woman who attempts to condition him as best she can away from the technology of London, but he is raised in an unconditioned world. The result is John's inability to identify with or fit into either world.
Elimination of Individuals:
This system of domination and control eliminates and sends in to exile everyone who is dissatisfied; the Director threatens Bernard, an unhappy and dissatisfied Alpha, to be banished to Iceland: "If ever I hear again of any lapse from a proper stand of infantile decorum, I shall ask for your transference to a Sub-Center - preferably to Iceland" (1932: 150). Every opponent who tries to resist the system is eliminated by the government. According to the Director, Bernard puts "The security and stability of society in danger ... by his heretical views on sport and soma, by the scandalous unorthodoxy of his sex-life, by his refusal to obey the teachings of Our Ford and behave out of office hours", and, "he has proved himself an enemy of society ... a conspirator against civilization itself. For this reason I suppose to dismiss him" (1932: 233). In this society, individuals are both objects and instruments to exercise power (Foucault, 1979: 170), they are "enslaved by conditioning" (1932:138), by a system that influences the inhabitants' individuality to an extreme degree, not only physically but also mentally, and turns them into devices and commodities. Although "Huxley [feels] that the totalitarian societies like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union or Communist China were in the past", he argues that, "the more recently available techniques of influence and thought control are more securely based on scientific fact, more potent, and more subtle and continue to be quite successful in their thought-control programs" (Schein, 1959: 433).
Brave New World is a dystopia where systematic control of thought and behaviour are conducted through genetic engineering, biological conditioning, sexuality, educational programmes and opiate drugs to keep the citizens contented in a totalitarian society. Brave New World warns of dehumanization through the disciplinary systems used to diminish the scope of human nature, instead of to enhance it. A disciplinary government turns people into docile bodies that are enslaved, both mentally and physically, with lives predetermined according to a template endorsed by the authoritative body. Through Brave New World, Huxley attempts to make us think about our future world and he asks the reader to speculate about the conditions, in every era, that they live in. Huxley suggests that the end of the story is not as significant as the struggle for change. It is the function of dystopian literature to persuade us to think about our condition. Huxley challenges his readers and asks them to think about where society should go, and at what cost. The novel thus serves more as a spark for thought and discussion than as a prediction of a future world, and Huxley asks us to decide what must be changed and what is worth seeing and maintaining within our own society. But in his novel we see a society in which new technologies and science are in the hands of a government seeking to control and manipulate its citizens. In this
Fordian society there is no need for mass brutality. Science tames society and results in a totalitarian government in which a population of slaves love their servitude.
Received 15 November 2013
Received in revised form 25 December 2013
Accepted 31 December 2013
Available online 15 February 2014
1 Fordism - a philosophy named after the first automobile manufacturer, Henry Ford.
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(1) Ruzbeh Babaee, (2) Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya, (3) Shivani Sivagurunathan
(1) Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, University Putra Malaysia (2) Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, University Putra Malaysia (3) Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, University Putra Malaysia
Corresponding Author: Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya, Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, University Putra Malaysia
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|Author:||Babaee, Ruzbeh; Yahya, Wan Roselezam Wan; Sivagurunathan, Shivani|
|Publication:||Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2013|
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