Hierarchy of Power in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
In Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the society is controlled by a series of high-class people and that the more knowledge one possess, the more power they control. The civilization is limited, people are restricted to the class system, similar to the one in the Napoleon age. In addition, the government implements many different conservative ways of maintaining utopia. For instance, the government creates a method of getting people to consume something and eventually given permission to continue consuming or to become banned from it. This is an excellent way of dealing with things that are out of the ordinary, things that may threaten the regime would be set as illegal. In fact, limiting what everyone knows is a perfect definition of propaganda, in the novel, it is used so that people do not refer to the past or to bring up the reality. This may destroy the system if it is exposed to a large amount of people. In the book, power and control is gained through the system of hierarchy, consumerism, and the limitations of knowledge.
Firstly, power is controlled through a system of caste. The hierarchy was a common way of taking advantage of the lower classes through forced labor, taxes, land, and status. Similarly, in the book, the privileges and jobs shared by the lower classes are harsher. Although, they had never realized the job they’re doing because of censorship and stupidity. This is apparent in the line, “Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able to read or write.”(24) This quotation portrays that the lower classes were created and conditioned to be treated differently than others. Their freedom are confined and class are predetermined. This makes it so the state could properly maintain social stability and power within the country. Consequently, without hierarchy, everyone would be equivalent and the government wouldn’t have enough power to rule. In this case, it is perfect for ruling because many of the individuals work to preserve the economy, industry, and development of the country. Moreover, the formula of receiving more power equals to more people working for the ministry. The director states that if they could repeat Bokanovsky’s Process indefinitely, the problem of mass production would be solved. (5) Huxley says this to suggest that Bokanovsky’s Process, a procedure to divide into identical twins, are used to solve the problem of declining population and everlasting biology. Speaking of the process, three out of the five castes, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon undergo the dividing process into dozen identical twins. As the ratio of the lower class compared to the higher class increases, Alphas and Betas enjoy much more power by having much more features such as entertainment, higher jobs, privileges, etc. However, as an external power, the state remains the most superior out of all the castes since it oversees and controls everything inside their scope. If anyone seems suspicious as an opposition to the state’s leadership and idealism, they’re sent to Iceland. Therefore, the government are able to regulate the actions and behaviors of its people to sustain power and social stability.
Secondly, the growth of consumerism keeps the state in power. In order for a country to survive and to grow, the economic needs to be preserved. This is important because it relates to the story and how the government uses this for the better. The government makes people purchase everyday items such as clothes and equipment to control economic stability. This is portrayed by “A love of nature keeps no factories busy. It was decided to abolish the love of nature, at any rate among the lower classes; to abolish the love of nature, but not the tendency to consume transport.”(19) This reveals that looking at flowers and nature are not helpful to the industry since they’re not purchasing items. On the contrary, people are electrocuted to ensure that they use transportation. As a result, factories are able to produce more and more consumer goods and transportation. This is significant because it highlights the propaganda the government uses in order to justify the means. Using its own citizens by conveying the misleading information that forced people to dislike something. This aids in the states power in controlling the people; if someone disagrees, they’re dislodged from society. Furthermore, consuming something that alter one’s thinking could drastically lead them to addiction. In this case, it would be a common drug that could accessed anywhere and anytime. For example, “A gramme in time saves nine.”(80) This quote implies that if one is feeling ill or depressed, ingesting a gram of soma, an recreational drug, could recover from unhappiness. In fact, a drug that is purposely made legal and is addictive could increase the consumer rate by a considerable amount. Thus, boosting the economy to recreate more. Most importantly, the drug is what keeps the people sucked in and focused on their own pleasure rather than opposing the government. This would keep the state in power for a long time because of its exceptional strategies that keeps all the information secret. Generally speaking, as people continue buying and concentrating on themselves, the ministry would be able to control them and defend its own power.
Lastly, the government is able to retain power by restricting the knowledge of the people. When the people do not have a clue of what’s going on, that’s where most of the power flow through. This book’s system of caste is based on knowledge, being the highest caste, having the most intellect while the bottom is the complete opposite. The more knowledge one possesses, the more power he/she are able to revolt against the government. Due to how society is set up, truth from the past could ruin everything in the present. But, in this case, the government implements the division process so that people are stupid and couldn’t easily rise up for power. The author 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.’”(13) The Director expresses that whichever caste he determines will have their own happiness. Although this may be false in reality, the director uses this method so that nobody is able to expose him. The idea of not being qualified or to “escape social destiny” to go up a rank makes it so that the classes would never attempt to defy. Moreover, it is crucial that the government does not release anything that would convey the minds of the people. This is apparent in the line, “It was the sort of idea that might easily decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher castes-make them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take to believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere, that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge.(160-161) This quotation demonstrates that if something were to change one’s judgement, they won’t be able to find happiness anymore and that they would gain power. As a result, it would have been challenging the capability of the throne. The whole idea of keeping the secret of the past was to prevent any challengers. It may prove a threat to the autocratic government and could eventually lead to the corruption of social stability. As a final point, power is conserved if the classes were controlled completely and if private information were suppressed.
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