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Consumerism in our "Brave New World"
Transcript of Consumerism in our "Brave New World"
How the concept of consumerism in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World can be related to our society today
In case you haven't read this novel, here's a quick recap of the basic plot
"A gramme in time saves nine"
CONSUMERISM IN OUR
"BRAVE NEW WORLD"
What is Consumerism?
Huxley wrote Brave New World as a warning to what could happen to our society if things went completely wrong. The behaviors and habits of the citizens might seem insane to us, although there are many points in the novel that tell us the society he writes about is actually a dramatized version of our own. The State believes that satisfying needs when it comes to consumption will provide individual fulfillment and ensure economic growth. The question we ask ourselves is, is the increasing consumption of goods economically desirable in our own society?
Consumerism is a main thing the World State depends on to create the ideal, stable population. The citizens do not think anything of it, although it is actually ruining the society. By programming people to serve the economy, consumption becomes the means to life and without it, it is believed that chaos will occur. Although the state of our society is not as drastic, there are definitely parallels that can be drawn between both.
It is defined as the concept that an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy
In Brave New World, the society is specifically constructed to turn people into consumers which isn't that
from ours. With constant
propaganda and products that lead us to artificial happiness, we live in a world where we are prone to take advantage of the things at our disposal.
Contributing to the Economy
"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 that they consume manufactured articles as well as transport. Hence those electric shocks." (Huxley 33)
Sports with minimal apparatus such as soccer have been eliminated in their society to increase the consumption of manufactured goods. The State conditions people who believe that if you are not contributing to the economy, you have no purpose.
In our Western society, we indulge in over consumption as we use available resources even when not needed. By constantly purchasing, we feel as though we are stimulating the economy and satisfying our needs when in reality, we are victims of the negative effects of consumerism.
is another way the State controls its citizens, as it is a drug that relieves any stress from everyday life. It acts as a temporary state of bliss by inducing a feeling of relaxation. By distributing it at the end of every work day it becomes a consumer commodity, and is another thing that is encouraged to distract from true moralities.
"Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears, that’s what soma is." (Huxley 217)
"Its dystopian face shines right through the surface of utopian happiness." (Schermer)
...In Our World
Controlled by the State
The Effect of Advertisements
is better than
Obviously it is possible to relate the two by saying that we have drug use in our society as well. Although soma and our drugs such as marijuana can both be used to escape the stress of "everyday life", soma belongs to everyone and is encouraged by the government. The drugs in our world can also be used freely, yes, some are illegal although there is still the freedom of purchasing them. The State uses soma as another way to control the citizens, as they enjoy the feeling it induces but have no clue that it is being used to further de-humanize the society.
The World State keeps the citizens in need of unnecessary material items by teaching them the concept of consumerism at a very young age
Because of the huge emphasis on consumption, aspects of individuality are obliterated and the people are completely reliant on the State
As a result, all the State has to do is to meet the basic needs of the citizens (which is relatively easy considering the fact that they have been programmed to need what they will be provided with)
“Murder kills only the individual and, after all what is an individual? …We can make a new one with the greatest ease—as many as we like” (Huxley 133)
To relate this to our own society, the advertisements we see all around us definitely act as a sort of control over our consumerism. We are always being told to buy the newest product which results in over-consumption. Just as the State eliminates sports with little apparatus to increase their consumption of goods, advertisements tell us to go for the "2 for 1" option rather than a single purchase.
"But why is it prohibited?" asked the Savage. In the excitement of meeting a man who had read Shakespeare he had momentarily forgotten everything else.
The Controller shrugged his shoulders. "Because it's old; that's the chief reason."
"The more stitches the less riches..."
In Brave New World, this phrase is taught to everyone at a young age through hypnopaedia, basically meaning that the more you repair, the less you will buy, resulting in less money for the economic system
Everyone who is under control of the State is taught to believe that when something gets old, it is better to throw it away and buy something new. This motto that degrades old products applies to everything old in their society. Things such as Shakespeare and religion do not exist because they are history. The State wants everyone to believe that personal fulfillment can be achieved by consuming rather than things such as God.
How does this relate to us?
I already talked about advertisements which are created to persuade consumers to purchase new things. Although advertisers are successful, the disadvantage of our consumerism is that it has an environmental impact. If our society was exactly like the one in Brave New World, we would accumulate huge amounts of waste. Obviously we all shop as it is a normal thing to do, the question is why do we shop for new things when we could be re-using? Huxley depicts a world where you do not have a choice.
Along with the dependance on consumerism in the novel, there are the steps taken to reach this dependance which involve a loss of individuality and interconnectedness in the society
The citizens are stripped of any real emotions as they are manufactured to become slaves of consumerism. The State is the ultimate provider and distributor of anything that is needed
Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998. Print.
Schermer, M. H. N. "Abstract." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S.
National Library of Medicine, 08 May 2007. Web. 15 July 2013.
Images were all taken from Google Images
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