Oct 01, 08
all who are not afraid to look ahead
Read in January, 2005, read count: three times
A far-too-real parody of contemporary life, where no one really thinks, but acts in response to slogans drilled by repetition, throughout sleep, in childhood.
"Everybody's happy now" is a main slogan; people have been conditioned to want what they get, and never to want what they can't get. That makes for happiness. And for freedom: no one has any permanent bonds. So, "Everyone belongs to everyone else" is another fundamental principle; tied-down relationships make for unhappiness. Again: 'Mother' has become an obscene words: so intimate a bonding is beyond all decency.
Mustapha Mond, the World Controller, explains to his students how things were in the old unenlightened times: 'Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. But there were also husbands, wives, lovers... Family, monogamy, romance. Everywhere exclusiveness, everywhere a focussing of interest, a narrow channelling of impulse and energy'... 'But everyone belongs to everyone else,' he concluded, citing the hypnopaedic proverb.... 'Stability,' said the Controller, 'stability. No civilization without social stability. No social stability without individual stability.' His voice was a trumpet. Listening, they felt larger, warmer.
Then appears 'Mr. Savage', brought in from the unconditioned wilds. He tries to reason with the World Controller. Broaden people's minds; for instance, why not let them see Othello? The Controller's answer is simple: 'they couldn't understand it.'... 'Why not?', asks Mr. Savage. - 'Because our world is not the same as Othello's world. You can't make flivvers without steel - and you can't make tragedies without social instability. The world's stable now. People are happy; They're well off; they're safe; they're never ill; ... they're plagued with no mothers or fathers; they've got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they're so conditioned that they practically can't help behaving as they ought to behave'.
The Savage shook his head. 'It all seems to me quite horrible.' - 'Of course it does. Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery. And, of course, stability isn't nearly so spectacular as instability. And being contented has none of the glamour of a good fight against misfortune, none of the picturesqueness of a struggle with temptation, or a fatal overthrow by passion or doubt. Happiness is never grand'.
'I suppose not', said the Savage after a silence. "But God's the reason for everything noble and fine and heroic. If you had a God ...' - "My dear young friend,' said Mustapha Mond, "civilization has absolutely no need of nobility or heroism. These things are symptoms of political inefficiency. In a properly organized society like ours, nobody has any opportunities for being noble or heroic. 'But all the same insisted the Savage, 'it is natural to believe in God when you're alone - quite alone, in the night, thinking about death' -'But people are never alone now,' said Mustapha Mond. 'We make them hate solitude; and we arrange their lives so that it's almost impossible for them ever to have it.' The Savage nodded gloomily.
... Then you think there is no God?' - 'No, I think there quite probably is one.' Then why... ?' Mustapha Mond checked him. 'But he manifests himself in different ways to different men. In pre-modern times he manifested himself as the being that's described in these books. Now ...' 'How does he manifest himself now?' asked the Savage. - 'Well, he manifests himself as an absence; as though he weren't there at all.' That's your fault'. - 'Call it the fault of civilization.
"What you need,' the Savage went on, "is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here. Quite apart from God - though of course God would be a reason for it. Isn't there something in living dangerously?' - 'There's a great deal in it,' the Controller replied. ... [though it has so many inconveniences] "But I like the inconveniences', said the Savage. "We don't,' said the Controller. 'We prefer to do things comfortably.' "But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin. - "In fact,' said Mustapha Mond, 'you're claiming the right to be unhappy.'
'All right, then,' said the Savage defiantly, 'I'm claiming the right to be unhappy.' - 'Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow...' There was a long silence. 'I claim them all,' said the Savage at last. Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders. 'You're welcome,' he said.
Mr. Savage ends as Huxley thought befitted such a situation.