Power & Market

Brave New World Still Resonates with the Modern Reader

I’m rereading Brave New World as we’re kind of living in it. I loved it at school more and preferred it over 1984 because the characters were better developed, and the plot development more skillful, although each had a profound effect on me that has lasted throughout my life, and I often remember key scenes from each of them.

It’s amazingly perceptive, and replete with subtle meanings that are not explicitly stated. The masses of society participate meaningless activities with outpourings of emotions. One of the characters sees it for what it is and seethes with resentment at people objectifying one another as well as their lack of ability – or willingness – to critically examine the meaningless mantras that they repeat which form the social norms of their society.

However, the fact that he can see through the emptiness of his culture does not make him immune to the excruciating pain of being an outsider with no one to connect with. And it doesn’t stop his natural attraction to women, nor the pain of rejection that comes with it. At one point, feeling inadequate, he wants to assets himself to a friend, and mentions that he has a date with Lenina, a desirable woman. But his friend is tall and important and responds with, “Oh, good for you,” because he’s got girls throwing themselves at him for group sex in the park by virtue of his social status.

Perhaps you see yourself reflected in Brave New World, if you are a critic of the Covid regime, or mainstream politics, or what passes for economics these days. Knowing you have right on your side but feeling the clawing of the outsider.

The novel does not only capture the shallowness of society (“degeneracy” as is commonly now referred online) but how cruel it is to those who see through it, having nowhere to turn. It demonstrates how the carrot of worldly success and verbal rewards for conformity is underwritten by the stick of social rejection - encompassing exclusion from dating - pitting man against himself in an internal battle between the love of the truth as he sees it and the desire to experience communion and be one with his tribe.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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