Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
In the “Brave New World,” religion is derived from a combination of Christianity, cultural beliefs of indigenous Americans, an interest in the desires of the flesh, a union between the spiritual and natural world, and sets of religious rites. A character believes that the spiritual life is made stronger by self-mutilation. Anyway, powerful world leaders think that religion is unnecessary as the modern world is practical; it is a world of machines and science. Comfort comes from a bottle. They believe that morality should be taught in brainwashing sleep-sessions. In their world, God does not exist. The book discusses a religion in which Christianity is satirized. People are encouraged to achieve solidary satisfaction through sex orgies; one is expected to never be alone.
The Main Character of the Novel
The main character of the novel Bernard is used to show the caste system: he is not courageous enough to fight for his individual freedom. He attends a solidarity session that depicts the Fordian religion. Henry Ford is a character used by the author to advance a parody about how Christianity was practiced in England in the early 1990s.
One may ask if there is no religion, then why resort to cults and other forms of worship? How does “Brave New World” bring to perspective those rituals that are regarded as violent reservation? How does it relate to the way solidary service is depicted?
Religion and Society
The society today, according to Aldous Huxley, has not given divine attachment to religion as it did some years ago. Before this nightmare took over, people tried to interpret natural calamities and major world events such as World War I and World War II as detachment from God. Yes, people had property at that time: factories, real estates, successful businesses, and merchandise; but they did not worship them as they do today.
Perhaps this stems from the disillusionments of the devastating effects of the world wars, the subsequent Cold War, and the global economic recess that saw the closure of numerous companies. The idea of religion was overtaken by events. It was a new world order: the rebirth of the economy. People’s lives were affected in all spheres: economic, social, and political. It was no longer a utopian world system. With the collapse of the economy, loss of jobs, and dampened hopes, a new system emerged: the worship of capitalism.
Aldous Huxley depicts a new form of worship witnessed in the churches today. Other institutions of worship are not spared as well. It is a new system. It is not God-worship; in fact, it is a worship of the world. Capitalism is viewed as a sacred thing. We literally worship capitalism. The priests and the clergy is that capitalism brings forth prosperity and wealth, even health to the faithful. Shopping malls are increasingly becoming a favorite destination; and today, one could say without hesitation that they are the new houses and halls of worship.
There is the emergence of the Mega Church in institutions of faith. The term implies the all-under-one-roof nature of some churches today. They are typical of modern malls with retail stores, food courts, boutiques, and coffee shops. What is more, there is the plastic cash. All you need is a visa card that you insert into the card readers of the numerous ATM machines, where people simply state the amounts they want to be dispensed. The world becomes more convenient, almost like a ritual. Billboards and visual advert screens are the icons or the faces of this religion. The modern gospel is not of the biblical context.
We are talking about the “good news” of global capitalism that holds the promise of prosperous life devoid of poverty. In reality, this is a ploy. The new religion is, in fact, leading humanity on the fast lane to moral erosion. Local economies are destroyed as a result. Right from the pulpits of our churches, our possessions, the private property we own, are a gift from God. In other words, we are told that the only way to be prosperous is to support corporations and industries.
That is the religion of capitalism. There is a notion that the worthy members of society give back to society and help the underprivileged. Fine, if the help is philanthropic, it serves its purpose. If, on the other hand, the help is meant to show one’s mightiness in the society and is given on the basis of publicity and assertion of wealth, then, it fails to serve the purpose.
The American Dream
“Brave New World” shows the Western world pursuing “The American dream.” The Media is fueling the belief that real prosperity lies in the property. The growth of popular TV reality shows asserts this. The lotteries are about winning money. The promotions are about winning a dream house. Much importance is attached to a good house, dream job, and career. It is a get-rich-quick society. This idea is new. Biblically, Satan attempted Jesus with worldly possessions in the wilderness. The items of temptation Satan used included money and power.
The fact that all he had to do to get the wealth was to bow down asserts the lure of worldly things. The new world order is a typical “driver of the economy.” The new priests of this capitalism religion are enterprise owners and wealthy businessmen. The industrial revolution has transformed the world. Production, due to technology, has doubled or tripled in the last few years. As a result, the number of cars, radios, telephones, and electronic devices, in general, has skyrocketed. Their prices have massively decreased. The decrease in prices means that people can afford the commodities, further asserting the rush to prosperity. Political, sociological, economic, and cultural uprisings of the early 20th century shaped the modern capitalism religion.
A good starting point is the characters’ obsession with “Fordian religion.” Henry Ford is depicted as an all-powerful world leader who is worshipped and held in reverence. The sports cars are a genius masterpiece of Ford. It is a new religion. It is a cult, a ritual, and a religion. The legion of its followers is mostly the youth-obsessed with technology and performance. The billboards, adverts, and media add to the nightmare with their exaggeration of the Ford products. The C.E.O is held in high esteem. There is no faith in God. Henry Ford is praised instead of God in the novel. There is faith in Ford. Such is the madness that characterizes the new capitalism religion. Fast forward to the 21st century; growth in technology has seen the introduction of third-generation phones such as the I-Mac and I-Phone popular among American youth today.
Sexual promiscuity is another feature of capitalism religion. Sex is no longer a reproduction tool: it is used rather for recreational services. It is a source of fulfillment, a source of fun. It is evident due to various contraceptives in the market, and the zeal with which they are advertised. Sex is no longer used to “make” babies. The youth is engaging in more and more sex today. Have a look around. More emphasis is made on body shape. As a result, youth is hitting the gym in the hope of working out to achieve desirable body physiques. Ladies are spending much money on beauty products. Some of them even go to an extent of having beauty and corrective surgeries in a bid to appeal to members of the opposite sex.
All these developments are evident due to the need to be attractive to the other sexes. The US has witnessed a culture where babies are genetically engineered. The population can be controlled through these processes. Male babies are incubated in controlled processes so that the mothers do not have to worry about the stress associated with pregnancies. They can pursue their careers without the added burden of maternal care.
Aldous Huxley shows a culture where babies are incubated. Natural reproduction is almost obsolete. Sex is idolized to an extent that innovative companies are literally minting money out of the American population in the name of selling sex-enhancement drugs such as Viagra, and sex hormone chewing gums to boost sexual performance.
Aldous Huxley depicts the religion of capitalism apparent in our culture from the property we own to the clothes we wear. The “American dream” bug has bitten us right from the pulpits of the church and other religious institutions, where the pastor preaches about worldly possessions as a sign of prosperity, to the society which has contempt for the poor and the underprivileged. Some of the churches are extravagantly built with their budget running into billions. The Vatican is one of such institutions. Some of the priests have been known to live an extravagant and lavish lifestyle. They drive posh cars, have nice homes, and take expensive trips overseas.
I am not saying that they should not live a decent lifestyle; but should not they be modest? The author brings this out clearly in his book. Today, religion is commercialized and even secularized. The dressing is skimpy. Aldous Huxley bases his stories about England. Some of the churches are equivocal on sensitive issues such as gay rights. Solidarity religious sessions are attended, and individuals engage in sexual orgies
Though, it did not begin with us. Even Jesus was tempted in the wilderness with earthly possessions: money, property, and power.
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