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.
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Modern Science begets Modern Religion begets a Modern Utopia, by Cynthia Chung
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.
Julian Huxley (1887-1975), the older brother of Aldous, after serving in WWI became a Fellow at New College Oxford, serving as Senior Demonstrator in the University Department of Zoology. In 1925 he moved to King’s College London to work as a Professor of Zoology. However, after only two years he resigned his chair to work full-time for H.G. Wells and his son G.P. Wells on ‘The Science of Life’.
For those who are not too familiar with the views of H.G. Wells, I think it apt to share a quote, from part of his “new Bible” trilogy, ‘Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress upon Human Life and Thought’ published in 1901:
“It has become apparent that whole masses of human population are, as a whole, inferior in their claim upon the future, to other masses, that they cannot be given opportunities or trusted with power as the superior peoples are trusted, that their characteristic weaknesses are contagious and detrimental to the civilizing fabric, and that their range of incapacity tempts and demoralizes the strong. To give them equality is to sink to their level, to protect and cherish them is to be swamped in their fecundity.”
I assure you, there is plenty more where that came from.
‘The Science of Life’, which was also a part of Wells’ “new Bible” trilogy, was to give a popular account of all major aspects of biology as known in the 1920s. It is credited with introducing modern ecological concepts and emphasised the importance of behaviourism and Jungian psychology.
At the very end of the 900-page volume, it is written:
“To have a world encumbered for a time with an excess of sterile jazz dancers and joy riders may be a pleasanter way to elimination than hardship and death. Pleasure may achieve what force and sword have failed to do. The world can afford it; it is not a thing to fret about. It is only a passing fashion on a grand scale this phase of sterilised “enjoyment.” The great thing is that it should be able and willing to sterilise itself…The types that have a care for their posterity and the outlook of the race will naturally be the types which will possess the future.”
This, believe it or not, is H.G. Wells at his best behaviour, amply toned down so to speak. To Wells this is a rather humane proposition since those who are considered of defective biological stock are simply to be sterilised but are otherwise free to mingle within society, free to live out a comfortable life of pleasures in all their degeneracies with no threat that such contaminants will continue in the future breeds of humankind.
Thus, the age of pleasure will be more effective than the age of the sword – such as WWI – at diminishing the lower castes into a more “manageable” number. Within a generation, the human stock will be purified and a “Modern Utopia,” another book of H.G. Wells, can finally begin. Earth will become a paradise full of plenty, largely made up of a higher caste of reasonable, intelligent, healthy and attractive individuals and we will finally obtain world peace and harmony, until perhaps the next purge….
Besides Julian Huxley acting as Vice-President from 1937-1944 and President from 1959-1962 of the British Eugenics Society, he was also the first director-general of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1946, to which he wrote its mandate ‘UNESCO: Its Purpose and Its Philosophy’ that same year.
In it, Julian lays out the need for a world government as the only means of avoiding war, and that the full sovereignty of separate nation-states should be transferred over to this world government accordingly, under one political unity to which he expands upon, writing:
“At the moment, it is probable that the indirect effect of civilisation is dysgenic instead of eugenic, and in any case, it seems likely that the dead weight of genetic stupidity, physical weakness, mental instability and disease proneness, which already exist in the human species will prove too great a burden for real progress to be achieved. Thus even though it is quite true that any radical eugenic policy will be for many years politically and psychologically impossible, it will be important for UNESCO to see that the eugenic problem is examined with the greatest care and that the public mind is informed of the issues at stake so that much that is now unthinkable may at least become thinkable.” (For more on this refer HERE.)
In 1928, H.G. Wells publishes his ‘The Open Conspiracy: Blue Prints for a World Revolution’, where he calls for the reform of religion into a “modern religion,” which was only fitting now that science had become a “modern science.” In his concept of modern religion, he states that it will be necessary to strip religion down to its raw elements of service and subordination. Wells also wrote “The New World Order” in 1940, and no doubt, was a guiding influence on Julian’s outlook when he wrote the manifesto for UNESCO.
The reader should also know that T.H. Huxley was the mentor of H.G. Wells and introduced him to the writings of Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin. Read Part 1 of Chung’s series for an in-depth discussion on how H.G. Wells influenced the works of Aldous Huxley.
About the Author
In the last quarter of 2021, Chung published a four-part series on Aldous Huxley. You can find links to all four articles HERE.
Part 1 discussed Huxley’s real intention in writing the Brave New World. Part 2 discussed Huxley’s views on science and overpopulation. Part 3 discussed how Huxley’s form of ideological spirituality went on to shape the drug-counter-culture movement. And Part 4 discussed Huxley’s ultimate revolution – the battle for your mind.
Our article above is an extract from Part 2, ‘The War on Science and the 20th Century Descent of Man’.
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