Brave New World
Brave New World Power Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Just to give you a general idea," he would explain to them. For of course some sort of general idea they must have, if they were to do their work intelligently – though as little of one, if they were to be good and happy members of society, as possible. For particulars, as every one knows, make for virtue and happiness; generalities are intellectually necessary evils. Not philosophers but fret-sawyers and stamp collectors compose the backbone of society. (1.5)
Much of the power the World State has over its citizens has to do with intellectual control. The Director's inclination that people should know only a little about the "general idea" is similar to Mustapha's later claim that thinking about purpose is a danger to society. Big thoughts lead to thoughts of God, to philosophy, to questioning, to curiosity – all incompatible with blissful ignorance.
"My good boy!" The Director wheeled sharply round on him. "Can't you see? Can't you see?" He raised a hand; his expression was solemn. "Bokanovsky's Process is one of the major instruments of social stability!" […] "Community, Identity, Stability." Grand words. "If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved." (1.18-21)
Science is used only insofar as it is a tool for control.
"For of course," said Mr. Foster, "in the vast majority of cases, fertility is merely a nuisance. One fertile ovary in twelve hundred – that would really be quite sufficient for our purposes. But we want to have a good choice. And of course one must always have an enormous margin of safety. So we allow as many as thirty per cent of the female embryos to develop normally. The others get a dose of male sex-hormone every twenty-four metres for the rest of the course. Result: they're decanted as freemartins – structurally quite normal (except," he had to admit, "that they do have the slightest tendency to grow beards), but sterile. Guaranteed sterile. Which brings us at last," continued Mr. Foster, "out of the realm of mere slavish imitation of nature into the much more interesting world of human invention." (1.65)
The World State controls its citizens by controlling their fertility – but this makes it clear that to have this kind of power over an individual is to strip that individual of her humanity. Having children, after all, is one of the most fundamentally natural processes of a human life.