Take Sham Truth and Conditioning into the Vibro-Vacuum Machine?
The root of the behaviour so alien to John (and to a lesser extent Bernard and Helmholtz) is the relentless conditioning. Indeed, John is unhappy in the World State because he has not had the 'benefit' of the conditioning.
Conditioning takes place in two stages: Neo-Pavlovian conditioning teaches a basic love or hatred of that which the State sees as desirable: "Primroses and landscapes... are gratuitous. A love of nature keeps no factories busy. It was decided to abolish the love of nature, at any rate among the lower classes." After this, 'hypnopaedia' or sleep teaching, takes over. Brave New World relates a case recounted by George Bernard Shaw ("one of the very few whose works have been permitted to come down to us" - an allusion to Shaw's more radical views) of a child who accidentally learned facts through sleep-teaching. It has been found, however, that it is an extremely unsatisfactory way for inculcating knowledge, as it bypasses the rational thought processes. "Whereas, if they'd only started on moral education... Moral education which ought never, in any circumstances, to be rational."
Thus the children of the World State are drilled in "Elementary Sex", "Elementary Class Consciousness", "future demand to future industry demand" and so on, and learn wisdom such as "All men are physico- chemically equal", "When the individual feels, the community reels", "Never put off till tomorrow the fun you can have today," and "Progress is lovely, isn't it." Until, "at last the child's mind is these suggestions, and the sum of the suggestions is the child's mind. And not the child's mind only. The adult's mind too - all his life long. The mind that judges and desires and decides - made up of these suggestions. But all these suggestions are our suggestions!"
It would appear at first that Huxley is subscribing to a tabula rasa ('blank slate') view of humanity, so fervently propagated by many anthropologists throughout the Twentieth Century. Their argument is essentially that there is no such thing as human nature, only that which society imposes upon individuals. Intensely impressed on the inhabitants of the World State is the practise of sexual promiscuity, and monogamy is deeply frowned upon, and indeed is thought distinctly 'unnatural.' Monogamy would mean families, which would detract from the overall communal identity, and threaten stability: "Our Ford - or Our Freud as, for some inscrutable reason, he chose to call himself whenever he spoke of psychological matters - Our Freud had been the first to reveal the appalling dangers of family life. 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, aunts - full of madness and suicide... And yet, among the savages of Samoa, in certain islands off the coast of New Guinea...".
There it tails off, but Huxley is referring to the work done by anthropologist Margaret Mead in the 1920s (a student of Franz Boas, who had reacted against the emphasis on Eugenics in his native Germany). The twenty-three year old Mead went to Samoa in 1925 with her teacher's dictum that all behaviour is formed by culture and culture alone. She returned five months later with tales of a natural paradise free of the sins of the Western world, in which young men and women lived easy, promiscuous lives largely free of the want, jealousy and violence that corrupted Western adolescence. And the World State, it seems, has created just this - a sexual Utopia free of marriage, neurosis, and love (in anything other than the sexual sense.). Huxley is echoing the great prototype of all utopias, Plato's Republic, in which children are raised communally and away from their parents to prevent family bonds from forming. Human love and attachment is to be discouraged because it distracts from the good of the World State, just as familiar bonds were discouraged by Plato because they diverted from the good of the Republic. By AF 632, normal familiar relations have become so aberrant that the word 'mother' - one of the very first that a baby would normally use - has become an obscenity, and the word 'father' simply a joke.
It seems, however, that Mead got her facts wrong: it was revealed many years after her study that she had actually been the victim of her own preconceptions and hoax testimonies from her young subjects. In reality, Samoan society was every bit as troubled as our own - rife with sexual jealousy, violence, and had one of the highest rates of rape in the world. The Samoans were as much subject to human nature as the rest of us: it seemed, as has become more and more apparent in recent years, that the tabula never was rasa after all. (See Further Reading). And Huxley is aware of this, in that he shows
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