Lesson 20- End of Brave New World
As I ended my last program, I was describing how children in Brave New World were taught moral principles to guide their lives and decisions through the mechanism of “sleep teaching” in which slogans were repeated in their ears thousands of times while they were asleep. It is interesting to note that when “sleep teaching” was first discovered they thought that it could be used to transfer information but they soon discovered that it most effective use was in the shaping of attitudes. Huxley wrote: “They thought that sleep-teaching could be used to teach facts, whereas, it was far more effective in moral education which shapes attitudes. Moral education, which ought never, in any circumstance, to be rational, (that is, based on facts rather than feelings.)”
Although, as far as I know, “sleep teaching” has never been demonstrated to really work, the repetition of slogans in the shaping of attitudes is a well known and effective technique. Our advertisers use it all the time, especially on our children who are constantly bombarded with advertising messages and slogans while watching programs designed for their entertainment. And the effectiveness of this method is demonstrated by the “crazes” and “fads” that sweep the nation and the world as the children bombard their parents with requests for the newest “must have” item that the technicians of advertising have planted in their minds. Pokeyman, Cabbage dolls, Harry Potter, etc… just to mention a few.
However, this is not limited just to the very young. Teenagers, too, are constantly manipulated and influenced through similar methods. Recently I heard two teenage girls say on national TV that their parents would probably be shocked and surprised to know that their values were shaped more by MTV than by their families. And it isn’t even necessary for MTV to influence all teenagers because once those who are most visible and out-spoken begin to move in a certain direction, the rest will be drawn to follow. This is what the producers of advertising know as “the bandwagon effect” or the “herd instinct” or what sociologist call “peer pressure.” I often refer to it as the “fish effect” based on an experiment that I once saw.
A group of scientists who were studying fish that traveled in schools want to know how its members knew how to change direction with almost lightning speed. Was there a lead fish who, like a drill sergeant, communicated commands like, “Right flank march… left flank march… to the rear march?” To study the question they took slow motion pictures so that they could more closely observe how changes took place. What they discovered was that, although it looked as though all the fish were traveling in the same direction, in reality, there were minor deviations on the edge of the school where fish would break away from the direction of the school. They soon discovered that this happened whenever the fish took his eyes off of the school or the fish in front of him. If others behind were attracted by him, they began to follow and the larger the group, the greater was the pull on others in the school. However, if no one followed the fish that broke off from the school noticed that he was out there all alone, he became frightened and returned to the school. It was like a mathematical equation but it was happening so fast that it was not discernable to the naked eye.
Anyone who has ever been in a group that was asked to vote on an opinion by raising their hands, know the kind of pull that the group can have on its members. First, a few opinioned hands go up. Then those who see them or are closest to them start to feel a pull to raise their hands. The greater the number of hands are raise, the greater is the pull on those with their hands down. On the other hand, if one person raises his hand and no one else follows, he feels a pressure to lower his hand.
It almost seems to be a natural law since even in physics, the larger a body is the greater is its gravitational pull. My point is that the belief that we always think for ourselves is greatly overrated and parents who minimize the effect of these outside pressures that come from the media , other people, or their peers, on their children’s behavior are out of touch with their own human nature.
People in general, and young people in particular, are very susceptible to group pressure and those who wish to shape the future know that the most effective way is to shape the young and that is why they target the media and educational institutions to propagandize their views. Notice that they are simply using methods directed at our basic human nature. They didn’t invent “the bandwagon effect” or “the herd instinct” or “peer pressure”, they merely observed and named them. These inclinations were put into us by God as necessary for group cohesiveness.
So, it would be foolish to deny their existence or to attempt to eradicate them based on the faulty premise that we are suppose to think for ourselves because in many instances this is not possible or feasible. The world is very complex with so many areas of knowledge that we are forced to subdivide realty into many areas of expertise because no one person could master all of it. Thus, in fields like medicine we have specialists and even sub-specialists. Therefore, whether we like it or not, most of us don’t have the knowledge, time, or skill to master all of it and we are forced to depend on others who are more highly qualified to inform us on how we should think. This is not something for which we should apologize or be ashamed. It is simply part of our reality. Thus much of our life is based on “faith” which was defined by Brother Elyfus Lewis of LaSalleUniversity as “the assent of our mind on the authority of another.”
So the real issue for most of us is “on whom or what do we place our faith?” The idea that we are independent thinkers or are suppose to be independent thinkers is one of the most highly over-rated claim held by human beings. We have all been influenced and are being influenced by others either knowingly or unknowingly.
Atheists like to believe that they are intellectually superior to religious believers because they don’t depend on faith when in reality it requires more faith to be an atheist than to be a theist. I often say that I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist because I would have to believe that this universe, based on mathematical laws, and loaded with signs of rational intent is the total result of accidental forces. I just don’t have enough faith to believe that. Thus, whether we are atheist or theist, in the final analysis, it’s all a matter of faith and the issue eventually becomes what is the quality and consequences of the faith. If I am an atheist, I, like the atheist Jean Paul Sartre, am forced to conclude that the universe is accidental, absurd, and without meaning or purpose and, like Sartre, I might be driven to consider suicide when life becomes difficult. If I am a Christian I believe that a loving God created us and the universe and that he so loved us that He sent His only Son to show us the way to the fullness of life and life eternal by learning to sacrifice ourselves out of love for others. It’s a “no-brainer”. In the Bible, God’s final instructions to Moses was “Tell the people that today I put before them life and death, the blessing and the curse. Tell them to choose life!” Only a fool would choose to believe in a path that was meaningless, purposeless, and lifeless.
So my point is that we are forced by the reality of our conditions to depend on others to inform us about our world and, since the full explanation of the experts is often too complicated or technical for the average person, we either accept their conclusions based on faith or we try to encapsulate it in a simple slogan or saying that seems to summarize the major point. Thus Einstein’s theory of relativity, which even some scientists don’t fully understand, is passed down to us as “It’s all relative” and we begin to misapply it into many areas of life without any further understanding or analysis. This sloganize conclusion then gives birth to another unanalyzed conclusion, “Who’s to say?” which then gives birth to yet another, “Different strokes for different folks!” And the next thing we know, objective truth has been replaced with subjective feelings which many don’t feel any need to analyze or test against reality because the slogan has become an axiomatic fact that needs no further proof. The fact that Einstein, a scientist, believed in an objectively true universe based on mathematics is completely lost to those who misapply his theory. And through their slogans they past on their unexamined conclusions to future generations who also fail to logically examine them. Thus, are the powers of slogans to create mindless acceptance of unexamined statements.
Today we see so-called intelligent people base their conclusions on such slogans as “I don’t believe in abortion. I believe in Choice.” For example, President Obama, who just recently ordered the release of suspected terrorists from Guatanemo Bay, Cuba and the cessation of techniques considered to be torture, on the basis that, no matter what the threat, we should not resort to methods that undermined our basic beliefs in human rights, blindly failed to see that his support and furtherance of abortion in our country and the world was based on the premise of “there are humans and subhumans, and subhumans have no right that humans need to respect”, a premise on which the Dred Scott Decision and the Holocaust was based. In his mind, this premise is totally trumped by the word “Choice!” without any analysis of what is being chosen.
Or what about how catchwords like “equality” that have been subverted and applied in ways that totally undermine “common sense.” According to those who misuse it, any type of discrimination is a violation of “equality.” Thus, according to them, to deny homosexuals the right to marry is discrimination and a violation of “equal rights.” They fail to see that every law discriminates against someone because it denies them the right to do something that they might be inclined to do. Speeding laws discriminate against fast drivers; fraudulent laws discriminate those that falsely represent themselves; laws that set standards of any kind discriminate against those who don’t meet the standards. If my lifelong ambition was to be “Miss Black America” the rules preventing my entrance into the contest discriminate against me on the basis of sex and race, a rightly so.
Marriage is a social institution created to regulate and enhance the reproduction, care, and rearing of children and that is why it was directed towards heterosexual couples. It was not created to have the government put its seal of approval and support through marriage on any type of loving relationships that might be formed by its citizens. If that was its purpose, then marriage should be available, and the benefits that go with it, to any loving relationship, such as brother and sister, a sister and a sister, a brother and a brother, a mother and son, a father and daughter etc... and the list goes on and on with any type of loving relationship that the human imagination is capable of creating. To deny any of them would be a form of discrimination and thus a denial of equality to those involved. Such is the logical absurdity of those who argue that marriage should serve a different function than that for which it was really created.
The real objective of those who support homosexual marriage is the normalization of that which is abnormal. It has very little or nothing to do with benefits or any of the other economic perks that accrue to those who are married since homosexuals in general, having no children to support, are financially better off than most married heterosexuals. They are often intelligent and talented people who are well represented in the professions and have little need of the tax benefits or supportive programs offered to heterosexual married couples. And even if they did, there are many single heterosexuals who could claim an equal or greater need.
Thus, the leaders of Brave New World were partly right when they said that moral education should be based on repetition and slogans, never on rational understanding or thought. I said partly right because from the Church’s point of view moral principles based on memorization of answers found in the Catechism was alright when we were children and lacked the knowledge and experience to understand. Thus many of us learned as children to memorize answers like “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.” What most of us didn’t know was that the conclusions were a synopsis of the deep analytical thinking of St. Thomas’s Aquinas’ Summa Theologica.
It was the intent and hope of the Church that the blind faith we had a children would be replaced by rational understanding as adults. Unfortunately for many Catholics it was a hope that never materialized and when they finally reached the age where they were expected to think for themselves, they either rejected the rote answers of childhood as being childish or indefensible or they bought into some other philosophy or church. Like Jesus, and contrary to the leaders of Brave New World, the Church wants us to grow in wisdom and age and knowledge. So let me now conclude my review of Brave New World.
You might wonder how, according to Huxley, Brave New World came about. As the students are finishing their tour of the Hatcheries, where babies are created, it is announced that one of the world Ten Controllers, Mustapha Mond has arrived and he is going to address the students. The book continues:
"His Fordship, Mustapha Mond!" The eyes of the saluting students almost popped out of their heads. Mustapha Mond! The Resident Controller for Western Europe! One of the Ten World Controllers...and he sat down on the bench with the Director, he was going to stay, yes , and actually talk to them... straight from the horse's mouth. Straight from the mouth of Ford, himself.
"You all remember," said the Controller, in his strong deep voice," you all remember, I suppose, that beautiful and inspired saying of Our Ford's:' History is bunk!' That's why you're taught no history. But now the time has come..."
The Director looked at him nervously. There were those strange rumors of old forbidden books hidden in a safe in the Controller's study. Bibles. poetry... Ford knew what.
"It's alright, Director. "Mustapha Mond said, "I won't corrupt them."
Mustapha Mond leaned forward, shook a finger at them. "Just try to realize it, " he said. "Try to realize what it was like to have a natural mother. " That dirty word again. But none of them dreamed this time of smiling.
"Try to imagine what "with one's family' meant. and do you know what home was?" they shook their heads.
"Home, home- a few small rooms, stuffy, overcrowded. No air, a space, and under-sterlized prison; darkness, disease, and smells." His description was so vivid that one of the students got sick.
"It was a rabbit hole, reeking with emotion." Our Ford- or Our Freud (this is a take-off on Sigmund Freud whose psychoanalytic theory had the same effect on the theories of human behavior as Henry T. Ford's had on the production of goods and services) as, for some unknown reason, he chose to call himself whenever he spoke of psychoanalytic matters had been the first to reveal the awful dangers of family life (Oedipus Complex). The world was full of fathers- was therefore full of misery; full of mothers- therefore of every kind of perversion from sadism to chastity; full of brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunts- full of madness and suicide. And there was also husbands, wives and lovers. There was monogamy with one husband or wife and romance. Though you probably don't know what those are, "said Mustapha Mond. They shook their heads.
"Family, monogamy, romance. Everywhere exclusiveness, a narrow channeling of energy and impulse. ‘But everyone belongs to everyone else,' he concluded, repeating the '"sleep teaching" proverb. The students nodded, emphatically agreeing with statement that upwards of sixty-two thousand repetitions in the dark had made them accept, not merely as true but as axiomatic, self-evident, utterly indisputable.
"No wonder these poor pre-moderns were mad wicked and miserable. Their world didn't allow them to take thing easily without a struggle ; didn't allow them to be sane, virtuous, happy. What with mothers and lovers, what with the moral laws they were not conditioned to obey; what with the temptation; what with the uncertainties and the poverty-they were forced to feel strongly. And feeling strongly, how could they be stable? Stability, said the Controller, "stability". No civilization without social stability. (Order) No social stability without individual stability. "Fortunate boys!" said the Controller. "No pains have been spared to make your lives emotionally easy (soft slavery?)- to preserve you, so far as possible, from having emotions at all…"
"Consider your own lives, "said Mustpha Mond. "Has any of you ever had any difficult problem?"....
"I once had to wait nearly four weeks before a girl I wanted would let me have her," a young student said...
"And you felt a strong emotion as a result?"...
"Horrible." said the student.
"Horrible! Exactly," said the Controller.
"Our ancestors were so stupid and shortsighted that when the first reformers came along and offered to deliver them from those horrible emotions, they wouldn't have anything to do with them. Take the Hatcheries. Would the government look at it ? No! There was something called Christianity. Women were forced to have their own children. Sleep-teaching was actually forbidden in England. The records survive. Speeches about liberty of the individual. Liberty to be inefficient and miserable. Freedom to be a round peg in a square hole. The resisted the Caste System. Every time it was suggested, it was rejected. There was something called democracy. As though men were more than physico-chemically equal." (Here Huxley is referring to B.F. Skinner’s observations about humans.)
"Then came the Nine years' War, the great Economic Collapse. There was a choice between world control and destruction (Note: Will Durant, the historian, said "When freedom destroyed order the need for order will destroy freedom.") Government's an affair of sitting, not hitting. You rule with the brains and buttock, never with the fists. For example, there was a law requiring consumption (buying goods and services). Every loyal citizen was required to buy as much as he could. There was conscientious objection on a large scale. They did anything not to consume. There was a movement back to Nature. Back to culture. Yes, actually to culture. You can't consume much if you sit still and read."
(In the Nurseries on the floor above them, the Elementary Class Consciousness lesson was over, and the voice of the tape recorder was adapting future demand to industrial supply)
"I do love flying," the tape whispered. "I do love flying, I do love having clothes, I do love clothes. But old clothes are awful," continued the untiring whispered. "We always throw away old clothes. Ending is better than mending; ending is better than mending. The more stitches, the less riches; the more stitches' the less riches. I do love flying...I do love..." The Controller continued:
"Eight hundred Simple Lifers (People wanting to go back to nature) were mowed down by machine guns. Then came the famous British Museum Massacre. Two thousand culture fans gassed with poison gas. In the end," Said Mustapha Mond," the Controllers Realized that force was no good. The slower but surer method of artificial birth, Pavlovian conditioning, and sleep-teaching were introduced. Then there were blowing up of historical monuments and the suppression of all books published before A.F. 150(After Ford). There were books like the Bible and Shakespeare. You've never heard of them of course. Such are the advantages of a really scientific education. Then came the introduction of Our Ford's first T-Model which was chosen as the opening date of the new era. There was a thing, as I've said before called Christianity. It was the ethics and philosophy of under-consumption (e.g. Mother Theresa of Calcutta). It was necessary when there was under-production; but in the age of machines, it was positively a crime against society. All crosses had their tops cut off and became "T's". There was also a thing called God. We have the WorldState now, and Ford's Day celebration,`and Community Sings, and Solidarity Services. There was a thing called a soul and a thing called immortality. But the people used to take morphine, cocaine, and heroin.
"Two thousand pharmacists were paid by the government in A.F. 178 to find a perfect drug. Six years later it was being produced commercially. All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of the defects. Take a holiday from reality whenever you like, and come back without so much as a headache."
It only remained to conquer old age. Today at sixty our powers and tastes are what they were at seventeen. Old men in the bad old days used to retire, take to religion; spend their time reading, thinking, thinking. (Note: the word amusement means “without thought and Gehenna, the Old Testament’s word for hell means “empty thought”) Now- such is progress - that the old work; the old men have sex; the old men have no time. No rest from pleasure, not a moment to sit down and think. And if by some chance they should find time to think and worry (face an antithesis?), there is always "soma pills" (happiness pills)- "a gram is better than a damn!” he said, repeating the sleep-teaching slogan that had been programmed into their heads with over two thousand repetitions. “A gram for a weekend, two grams for a longer trip.”
"Go away, little girl!" shouted the Director angrily. "Go away, little boy! Can't you see His Fordship is busy? Go and do your erotic (sexual) play somewhere else."
"Suffer the little children to come unto me." said the Controller. (This is a takeoff on a scene in the New Testament of the Bible where Jesus' Apostles are shooing children away and he reprimands them with the same words.)
As I said, Huxley meant Brave New World to be an example of an Anti-Christ society based on the concept of “soft slavery”. Most of us, whenever we thought about an Anti-Christ world dictatorship probably thought of whips, chains, imprisonment, and death. Thus, we get blind-sided by the more insidious “soft slavery” because it, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, seems so gentle and appealing. And that is why it is more dangerous.
The problem may be that we don’t understand why Jesus came or what salvation is. Let me suggest that the reason goes way beyond just satisfying the justice demands of an offended God. The natural man, as part of the animal kingdom, is born in Mental Darkness where he, like them, is ruled by blinds passions, drives, and instincts. His rational nature, which makes him in God’s image, is a potential more than an actuality. He lives in Gehenna, the place of “empty thought” which is the Old Testaments word for hell. As such, he can never please God, even when he does the right thing, because he is ruled by hedonistic principle based on “pleasure and pain”, “reward and punishment.” He doesn’t love goodness, or God, for its own sake but rather for the reward he might receive or the punishment he might avoid. In order to be acceptable to God, he must be “born again” from the natural to the supernatural level where knowledge and understanding replace feelings, passions, drives, and instincts. To do this he must be willing to follow Wisdom or Truth out of Gehenna, the Kingdom of Darkness, into the Kingdom of Mental Light or Understanding. But he can’t to this until he willingly chooses to deny his lower, animal nature and follow his higher rational one. Thus, Jesus, the Wisdom, Logos, and Truth of God, came to show us the way to eternal life through his life, death, and resurrection by rejecting the terror in his flesh experienced in the Garden of Gethsemene and choosing to follow his Father’s will. By carrying his cross, dying, and rising from the dead to a higher level, he assured us that his Father’s plan for us is that after every crucifixion there will come a resurrection that will take us one step closer to the “fullness of life.”
As a result Western Christian society has expressed this vision through its arts, especially its music. Songs like Climb Every Mountain, The Impossible Dream, The Wind Beneath My Wings, are some of the examples of this theme that runs through our culture as a result of our Christian heritage. So I would like to end my program today with another song, You Raised Me Up by Josh Grobin.