Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Big Mother

In vast state incubators, rows upon rows of gravid bottles will supply the world with the population it requires. The family system will disappear; society, sapped at its very base, will have to find new foundations; and Eros, beautifully and irresponsibly free, will flit like a gay butterfly from flower to flower through a sunlit world.

George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World present two models of tyranny. While they have much in common, there are key differences. Both models of tyranny are omniscient. They both supplant God and represent the state as the sanctified body politic. They both prohibit subversive contact with others, because exclusive, binary relationships are “undemocratic.” But the means by which they control the people are dramatically different.

1984’s Big Brother implies a fraternal order to the regime. The state is constantly at war with foreign enemies, requiring absolute allegiance from the people. Children are told to inform on their parents. People’s activities are closely monitored. They do what they are told but inwardly they question and scoff. They’ll say two and two is whatever the state says it is, but they know it’s four. Their bodies and their tongues belong to Big Brother, but their minds remain their own.

Brave New World’s Big Mother, on the other hand, infantilizes its subjects. Rather than making the people’s obedience a punishable requirement, it molds people into believe that obedience is the only rational choice. Defying natural and moral instincts is easy and liberating. Since reproduction and childrearing are out of the hands of moms and dads, children are raised collectively in daycare centers and boarding schools by professional nannies. Equality is pushed in all areas of life, lest inequality give rise to envy and anger, thus stifling cooperation. Religions are abolished, their differences ironed out by worship of individual man in all his “perfection.” Sexual hedonism and polymorphism is celebrated.

Within the next generation I believe that the world’s leaders will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience.

The superiority of Huxley’s model is self-evident. Rather than exhaust resources on the police state, Big Mother uses beefed-up instruments of cultural assimilation to nudge the people into line. The worst part of it is people submit freely, like a nursing infant whose mother refuses to wean her child. Many who have never tasted freedom fear its burdens and responsibilities. Enslavement is not so difficult a choice for them.

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