The first five chapters of Brave New World introduces the nature of this strange and cruel future. Both physically and mentally conditioning people from conception at the Incubation Centers to death at the Crematoriums conditioning plants (p.76), it paints a very bleak image of attaining a perfect society; society is perfect when everything is neatly outlined, preordained, and can be repeated ad infinitum, so long as you have the necessary resources/labour to do so…just like a factory.
Which brings me to my main point, do you think that this conditioning is really that strange? Hyperbole, most definitely, but to think that this sort of thing doesn’t even happen in our own society would be a lie to oneself. Sure we don’t “deprive embryos of oxygen” (p. 24), but commercialization in Western society is definitely conditioning people to believe they like the things they like.
“’And that,’ put in the Director sententiously, ‘that is the secret of happiness and virtue – liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.’” (p.26)
So long as the person is happy, what harm is there in influencing a person’s decisions in life…is probably what big businesses use to comfort themselves when they make their advertisements to get people to buy their products.
“’We condition the masses to hate the country,’ concluded the Director. ‘But simultaneously we condition them to love all country sports. At the same time, we see to it that all country sports shall entail the use of elaborate apparatus. So hat they consume manufactured articles as well as transport. Hence those electric shocks.’” (p.31)
[INSERT SPORT HERE] is exactly what I think of when I see this quote. People who are obsessed with football/baseball/basketball/soccer/hockey buy their favourite team’s jersey, caps, the sports equipment to try it themselves, and other team memorabilia. Even more, Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest holiday for commercialism, where most people who attend the broadcast are not there to watch their teams compete but are instead openly admitting that they are watching advertisements out of enjoyment.
Need more examples of the influence marketing has on people? Think about gangster rap music and how it influences minorities to be criminals. Think about product placement that is on television and movies, how it makes people want to look like that and thus have a need to buy it. Think about the mindless consumer who has brand loyalty, whether it’s for iPhone or Android, Playstation or Xbox, Mac or PC. Think about the colour preference in your own caste and how it makes you feel better when you’re part of your own group rather than in the other…oh wait, that’s from the book (p.35)
“Not so much like drops of water, though water, it is true, can wear holes in the hardest of granite…” (p. 36) and so too do the tiny blips of subliminal ideas play a role in shaping a person’s tastes and preferences in our own modern world; drilling their way into one’s subconscious till it becomes not one’s opinion, but fact.
Government and morality prevent the extremity from actually happening, but if corporations were fully in control of society, Ford’s T-Model would surely be a virtue in our gospels today…