Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
I think what is most remarkable about this book is that it foreshadows the world we live in today on several levels. From anti-depressants to age-defying creams to manipulating the gender of an unborn baby, Huxley is probably looking down on us saying, "I told you so." But the real question is: Is it really such a bad thing?
I am a proponent of science as a means to improve our physical health, and I support advances in social sciences that encourage peace and harmony. In Brave New World we are shown a society where doctors can make you look young well into your 60s, and newborns are physically bread and mentally conditioned to be unobtrusive, productive, and happy. Happy.
So what is the tradeoff? Perhaps the most obvious "negative" is the loss of freedom, and therefore the loss of meaning in an individual life, but what is freedom and meaning anyway? Philosophers have been debating that question for centuries. If a person is happy in their own mind, was freedom and meaning really all that important?
I wonder if, with the recent pushes around the country to legalize marijuana, we are looking at the very circumstance Huxley describe as having "all the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects"--referring to the use of Soma in his novel.
I challenge anyone who finds Brave New World representative of threats to society to take a serious inner examination and determine if it would really be that bad. Scary? Maybe at first. Bad? I say on many counts, no. Now where's my damn Soma? ;-)
A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.