Throughout “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, the concepts of consumption and utopia are constantly juxtaposed and compared to determine whether or not they are genuinely compatible. Although one could state that the citizens of this world in “Brave New World” are genuinely happy, this is more a result of ignorance and blindness rather than a truly fulfilling sense of bliss. Because the state in “Brave New World” has meticulously given consumption an almost holy significance, the culture that exists around it must accordingly be conducive to it.
As a result as the constant emphasis on consumption in “Brave New World" the signifiers of identity such as a concept of nature, religion, and self, have been obliterated to foster a powerful and complete reliance on the state. Because of the almost infantile degree of dependence the state has created in “Brave New World” the culture of consumption is able to thrive. It is only through the character of John, who is most allied with our perception of reality, that the reader is able to discern how the ideas of consumption and utopia cannot be compatible. Through his eyes, it is possible to see how instead of creating happiness in “Brave New World” by Huxleythe combination of these two opposing forces breeds dependence and destroys the individual.
The culture of consumption in “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley is the engine driving the success and “happiness" of the state. Although to the masses it may seem as though identity is something secure and comfortable, it is rather based upon identity-obliterating principles of mass-production and consumerism. All traces of human elements of individuality and identity have been replaced by the concept of the common good and even ideas about love, family, and sex have been reduced to the maxim, which is one of the important quotes from “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, “everybody belongs to everyone else" (26). Furthermore, the basis of life in “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley an idea that is sacred and personal in our society, is firmly rooted in Ford’s famous model of production—the assembly line. With the help of science, human beings are created according to a narrow set of specifications (which class they will eventually belong to) and their lives, once no longer useful are considered meaningless, especially since they can be easily replaced.
As Mr. Foster, who presides over the conditioning and “hatching" of the new human lives says in one of many important quotes in “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley “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" (133). Even from the beginning of the text we are forced to question the concept of mass-production and consumption in terms of humanity. We are introduced to the process of (re)production, which describes how, “a bokanovskified egg will bud, will proliferate, will divide. From eight to ninety-six buds, and every bud will grow into a perfectly formed embryo, and every embryo into a full-sized adult" (4). With the aid of technology, identity and the function of nature have been both combined and destroyed simultaneously. After the process of conditioning, the concept of the self will be even further limited to an individual’s participation in the economy and his or her value or obedience as member of a caste. In other words, by obliterating the concept of the individual, all that is left is the state and its capacity to meet the relatively simple supply and demand-based needs of the citizen. This fact in turn makes the individual completely reliant on the state to provide for them and allows this state to completely control all aspects of society, including the individual’s understanding of the natural world, their sense of place within the grand scheme of things, and thus by proxy, the concept of God. At the pinnacle of all concerns—both by the citizens and their state—is an almost holy reverence for consumption.
As this thesis statement for Brave New World by Aldous Huxley states, just as the state has destroyed the meaning and value of the individual in Brave New World so too has it altered the individual’s understanding of the natural world. This seems only just considering that this is a culture driven by the forces of science and technology, but the conditioning against the love of nature has deeper significance for the state. Throughout the text, the state seems keenly aware of the fact that nature and consumption are essentially at odds because, in other words, “A love of nature keeps no factories busy" (19). Here it is directly expressed that the enjoyment of the masses is directed toward what is economically desirable instead of what is personally enjoyable and thus, because of the mass acceptance of such a paradigm, individual fulfillment is inexorably linked to economic stability and consumerism. As the reader is told, conditioning has caused the “masses to hate the country…to love all country sports…and have all country sports entail the use of elaborate apparatus" (23).