Sunday, May 6, 2012

The World We've Inherited: Brave New World & Anti-Civ

"O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
That has such people in't."

    -William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act V, Scene I, II.

"Am I sorry you killed the Kennedys'
And Huxley too?

But I'm sorry Shakespeare was your scapegoat
And your apple sticking into my throat
Sorry your Sunday smiles are rusty nails,
And your crucifixion commercials failed."
    -Marilyn Manson, Target Audience, album Holy Wood.

   It's 11:59pm, 1983, you're waiting for the ball to drop and the boot to come down on the face of humanity. As soon as it hits midnight there's going to be a sudden outbreak of totalitarianism...1984 has come to pass literally, and figuratively, being that the anticipated image of riots in the streets, currently popularized by the Occupy movement, is the un-evolved fascism of pre-democratic, give a dog-a-bone consumerism; now, post-1984, is a future that operates more like the dystopian vision of Huxley's Brave New World. We cannot distinguish democracy from fascism, we willingly participate in our sedation in fear of the littlest inconvenience or displeasure at the cost of freedom within the illusion of free-market capitalism. As an anarchist, I do not distinguish the myth of voting from a literal boot in the face, but two party democracy and intellectual elitism gives people their apples and oranges, or rather GMO and organic options, not realizing Monsanto can fall far from the tree, and we've allowed this - outrage and all. 
    It's remarkable that in 1932 Aldous Huxley was able to foresee the infiltration of technology and how it would alter and control the masses.  Even more remarkable would be the fact that his critique on technology goes as far to say it's not the incorrect use of technology that troubles our future, but civilization itself that is doomed because it is dependent on manipulation of nature, now exaggerated by the aid of modern technology. 

Population Control
      Population control is the backdrop for Brave New World, keeping the population consistently at 2 billion, which is sustained artificially through "decanting bottles" for the Alpha intelligentsia and for the other lower ranks in a single fertilized egg; breeding intelligence and passivity for the government's preordained tasks at various levels and continues on past nature into nurture. This keeps the different groups, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon separated not only through superficial differences but through their analytical capabilities, which also manifest in privileges and jobs they uphold. Sex is seen as a commodity and pastime, encouraged so the population is satiated with pleasure, beyond the point of love so no real bonding can occur.  
    Population has steadily increased since the Industrial Revolution, which began in 18th century Britain, and came into full actualization during the early 19th century, although it wouldn't be until about 100 years later the world would truly experience the impact of modern medicine, food modification, and fossil fueled methods of mass import and export.

    "In only 100 years after the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the world population would grow 100 percent to two billion people in 1927 (about 1.6 billion by 1900)......Since the 250 years from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to today, the world human population has increased by six billion people!"  
-Eric Lamb, The Ecological Impact of the Industrial Revolution, Global Ecology Network       

     Technological development and scientific gains in medicine supports population increase not only in the sense diseases are cured (i.e. when smallpox was eradicated through extensive vaccination, once a serious cause of death), or because life expectancy has drastically increased due to medical research, less child-bearing deaths, etc., but when the general world population has food, shelter and are not fighting to survive, the rate of child births also increases, therefore resources will be depleted rapidly. In Brave New World, once a person hit 60 years of age, they were euthanized to prevent overpopulation. This is not unlike China's forced abortions and one child policy, or China, India, Pakistan, Taiwan and Singapore's (just to name a few) gendercide of small baby girls, because (a) there are too many mouths to feed, (b) boys are seen as more profitable since they are used for physical labor, (c) the parents wouldn't have to pay dowry and, (d) men cannot become pregnant.  Uneven distribution of resources leaves the poorer nations fighting to control population, while the wealthier countries keep using up the resources to sustain their own populations with more advanced technologies.
    In more affluent countries, the manipulation of the birth process has been actualized through fertilization drugs, which is why there has been an increase in twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc., and through artificial insemination, but recently countries have been experimenting with cloning and stem cell research to grow organs in laboratories. These so called "advances" only enhance existing problems such as wars over oil, outsourcing factories for cheap labor which only make countries dependent on the presence of rich corporations, and mass destruction of ecosystems (i.e. the rainforests for some commercial food commodity). The development of genetic mutations, and forced genetic mutations of food, and people to cure diseases, actually creates new, more sufficient illnesses, like cancer, for example, that had not existed before recent times and as of yet, cannot be cured. Civilization cannot exist without manipulation of nature, and nature cannot allow humans to destroy the planet. No matter what measures we take to protect ourselves from the inevitability of death, illness and scarcity, we will experience backlash.
    Countries such as the United States are answering these problems by creating new ones, and out necessity to fill the wallets of corporations without looking at long term effects, we experience, just as in Brave New World, a breeding of levels of intellect according to privilege and class. Separatism is already enforced through capitalism - where minorities are kept poor and unable to receive higher education, unable to verbalize concerns in the preferred jargon of pseudo-intellectuals who run our schools, hospitals, and, who are at the mercy of the corporate hierarchy. Then those who are born into money/privilege are held captive by positions of business executives and lawyers afraid to lose a paycheck. Capitalism keeps neighbor fighting against neighbor, thanks to private ownership, and the poor always dependent - therefore abused by the rich. To further the correlation between Brave New World and modern society, is the superficial way we treat having children, with artificial insemination (which is not dependent on pair bounding or family; family considered "pornographic" in the novel), the lack of natural childbirth, c-sections being treated like an assembly line, and the lack bounding between mother and child (i.e. using cow's milk over breast milk) leaves us to treat sex as a commodity, just a fun past time, that has no real correlation with love or human bonding. 
    The careful calibration to desensitize and rob us of love, family, loyalty, etc. has been made possible through private ownership, consumerism, and technology and is the platform for the blindfolded allowance of social and environmental injustice. Huxley, an academic from the prestigious Eton, had seen the development of modern technology, and its effects so much that he, himself was in awe at the accuracy of his predictions, which inspired Brave New World Revisited.

           "There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution." 

    -Aldous Huxley, Tavistock Group, California Medical School, 1961 

    Soma is a fictional drug (although there is a pharmaceutical drug that shares its name) that is used many times a day whenever one of the characters are unhappy or needs an extra boost; the drug is also given in rations. Soma resembles not only our own drug epidemic, but our addictions to sex and consumerism that is used at our will to sedate ourselves, not unlike a self-serve IV pump. With the constant pressures to maintain 40+ hour work weeks, or on the other hand, the stress of making sure you have basic necessities, it becomes mandatory to "groom" civilians with treats (as do pedophiles with young children) for a trust to develop. "Grooming" prevents the questioning of blatant injustices, letting people assume the government has our best interest in mind, while we die with a belly bloated with fast food, as our country kills animals, ecosystems, creates wars, just to have more businesses to kill more people in the name of democracy which is a mockery run by the banks.
    Sex is treated as commonplace, to a point where sexual exploitation of all walks of life, but primarily women, is treated as a game. Degrading each other is treated as humor, when in actuality it desensitizes our scope of empathy, and we continue to look at each other as demographics or an object of sorts. How could we understand the starvation that millions of people go through, when we are more concerned with smart phones or having our gas prices decrease? Sex is not a problem, just the commercialization of sexuality and everything else including music that funds our sedation, to give an illusion of choice or freedom.
    Occupy is a great example of this illusion, most of the people I've met within this movement just want bank loans and would rather have a frappicino than actually understand that convenience comes at a price. More so, it illustrates how even when people sort-of see there's something not right, here comes Ben & Jerry's to make an ice cream flavor called Occu-Pie. 
    Symbolically, consumerism, democracy and sex are soma, but what about the true-to-life drugs like alcohol or prescription pain medication? Alcohol causes liver disease, is linked heavily with cancer, it's a contributor for brain shrinkage, stroke, dementia, causes accidents (31% of all traffic fatalities in 2010) and is associated (obviously) with poor decision making. Although most people know this, almost all social functions center around drinking, for the mere fact that it feels good. Now, alcohol has been around since ancient times, the only reason that makes a fair amount of sense as to why now it's an epidemic, would be modern advances in civilization which creates a need to feel sedated despite its consequences and half-assed attempts with advertisements to warn everyone.  
    More shocking, is the sudden uprising of pain clinics all around the country where almost anyone can have a prescription. There has been a 24 percent rise in prescriptions to opiates, and the abuse among teens has been steadily increasing. Our government has an on-going war against drugs, yet at the same time we feed children adderall, give adults anti-depressants which have been actually linked to increased feelings of suicidal thoughts and behavior, because of certain drugs being pushed by major corporations, this includes opiates. Opiates have increased in distribution to keep heroin off the streets, which most certainly would not profit the Rx companies, yet sedate the masses. This keeps poor folks struggling for a moment of peace, which unfortunately is bought because they are unable to earn it.
     Brave New World is a sterilized society away from nature, afraid of actual child birth and appalled at the "ancient" religion Christianity. Ways of the outsider "savage" Christians are seen as immoral and disgusting. This is a direct correlation to our current attitudes about native rituals and our (dare I say it?) hatred of nature. Modern society is obsessed with anti-bacterial soap to a point where we actually get sick from having 99.9% of bacteria gone, making us much more vulnerable to foreign organisms that otherwise would naturally live on our skin. People are terrified from eating a fruit off a tree because of chemicals, yet we eat food that's been doused chemicals on it all the time...people can't even tolerate a speck of dirt or a harmless insect on them or inside their homes...It's to a point where if I even politely voice my views about green anarchism to a fellow anarchist they assume a necessity in concrete, cars and supermarkets. I assume people are too comfortable in air conditioning to want to even think about living a place made out of sustainable materials or to just farm or something which requires effort.
    These views are ingrained in our behavior because the very fact civilization exists is because of the violence we've put the so-called savages through and their so-called savage land. Just being within a tax bracket is upholding the values of violence. We have not only committed mass genocide but stripped natives of their culture which before Spanish and European settlers, was in accordance with nature. The so-called civilized ways of Christianity pushed out the need for nature, and ever since industrial society has been trying to make everything plastic.
        Not only does Brave New World articulate our blind and willing obedience as the evolution of totalitarianism, but it makes the argument that the entire concept of civilization is doomed due to its defiance of nature. Nature is the first casualty of war and mass agriculture. Earth cannot support endless development of cities and constant multiplying of any creature. It is not beneficial to us either, because if there are not enough resources people will become extinct. Capitalism, or any other form of developing government cannot exist without manipulation and depletion of the land which goes hand in hand with the exploitation of people, their rights and the extinction of their culture (look at China and Tibet).  If Aldous Huxley, who by no means is an anarchist can make that analysis, then why stand around starry eyed wondering why our protests are barely making a dent? 
    At the end of the book the main character decides to live like a "savage". He didn't try to change society; no the soma was too strong, the fear of the people too great...and it was their decision. My only suggestion is for those of us who can see the destruction and how it renders us almost completely powerless, is to resist by living outside the "safety" of industrial civilization as  much as possible. This is not to criminalize the participants of civilization or to suggest that being totally outside civilization is feasible, but to take an action that is more feasible than hoping for 1984.      

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