British author Aldous Huxley is best known for his 1932 book ‘Brave New World’ which became a model for much dystopian science fiction that followed. Brave New World was written between World War I and World War II, the height of an era of technological optimism in the West. Huxley picked up on such optimism and created the dystopian world of his novel so as to criticise it, Britannica notes.
But what exactly were Aldous Huxley’s views? Did he in fact believe in the need for a scientific dictatorship? A scientific caste system? Was he actually warning the people that such a dystopia would occur if we did not correct our course or was it all part of a mass psychological conditioning for what was regarded as inevitable and that Huxley’s role was rather to “soften the transition” as much as possible towards a “dictatorship without tears”?
Cynthia Chung explored the true story behind Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in a paper published as a series of four articles. Below is an extract from Part 2 which consists of three sections: the war on science; modern science begets modern religion begets a modern utopia; and, the 20th-century descent of man.
Before we go on to speak about Aldous’ brother Julian Huxley, I will say just a few words about his father Leonard.
In 1926, Leonard Huxley published his “Progress and the Unfit,” which was subsequently used to promote the eugenics movement, to which H.G. Wells and Leonard’s son Julian were outspoken avid supporters. Leonard also wrote favourably of his father T.H. Huxley’s views and that of Charles Darwin.
In his book, Leonard discusses how modern-day science is only to look at the interdependence of body and mind, that the existence of the soul has been discredited by modern science, and thus that conditions for improvement of the human condition must solely rely upon the social and biological.
He goes on to state that modern society has too long tolerated the proliferation of the feeble-minded and so creates an ever-lasting burden for itself. He claims that mental defectiveness – which ranged from criminal behaviour, insanity, physical deformities and forms of mental retardation to addictions such as alcoholism and gambling, homelessness, owing massive debt etc. etc. – were all to be considered heritable qualities.
Thus, those in possession of such unwanted qualities should be segregated from society or sterilised. He acknowledges that such measures may appear immoral, but that it is only immoral when coercion is used against persons of “normal intelligence,” for those who are deemed abnormal, unable to use reason, such standards of morality do not apply. This also appertained to what were considered to be the “lower” races, to which, T.H. Huxley was outspoken in his view that the “white race” was indeed the most superior race of all and that the “black race” was amongst the most inferior.
With “modern science,” what stood in the way of the “mechanics of enforced good breeding” if humankind were to be regarded as no different from other beasts? And if we were judged to have no soul, the application of so-called “morality” was up for interpretation if not deemed entirely irrelevant.