Brave New World
July 11th, 2006
I bluntly replied : "What culture ?"
Huxley's 'Brave New World' depicts a fictional dystopian society where everyone is happy. This happiness is not a result of personal milestones or successes but stems from the complete removal of every social aspect which might some day become a reason of unrest in the society. In this society, individuals are 'created' artificially based upon the demands of 'economic consumption' and 'labour'. Every individual, from birth, is conditioned to do a particular type of work and has the sole purpose of serving as yet another consuming unit. 'Distractions' like love, art, solitude, literature etc. have been conveniently removed from the system so that every individual may serve its purpose of consumption without any undue interruptions. 'Everyone is meant to be for everyone else' so that the pain associated with love and refusals is uprooted from the society. In short, everyone is happy.
While reading the book, I could not help but compare the nightmarish scenario depicted in the book with the present American society in general and the modern Indian society in particular. Having taken the blue pill of mindless capitalism, the dwellers of these societies have now been reduced to mere consuming units. Their lives are dictated by those idiotic TV commercials. Their needs, magnified by the giant corporations which try to sell them everything from nutritious and great tasting 'dog food' to credit cards to cars and what not. The notion that all these material amenities are necessary for emotional fulfillment and happiness is darkly etched in the collective psyche of these societies. Love in these societies, is conveniently compartmentalized into manageable, separate 'relationship' slots so that every 'break up' has the silver lining of being an indication of a new 'relationship'. Sitcoms like 'Sex and the city' expect us to identify with the emotions of the protagonist as she tries to overcome her 50th break-up. What crap!. In such societies, art, literature and happiness which results from solitude and silent contemplation die a cruel death as no one has time for such things. And this behaviour is entirely in accordance with the capitalist views. Its sad that in a place where events like valentine's day, mother's day, father's day and a zillion other days are marked by 10 advanced days of special advertisements of sales and discounts, a 4th of July passes off without even a single mention on the T.V. Sure, it is accompanied by fireworks but they are the prerogative of the Government not the people. Sure, it is accompanied by a host of parties, but I feel that people out here just need an excuse for getting wasted. This is not the sad part. The sad part is that the modern Indian society is frighteningly similar to its American counterpart.