Instead of upholding interests of citizens, governments opportunistically manipulate the truth and restrain civil liberties of its citizens in order to push for their political agenda, hence establishing a situation of inequality between power holders and their citizens. This notion of injustice is demonstrated through both Aldous Huxley’s dystopian science fiction Brave New World(1932) and Martin Luther King’s pacifist speech Silence is Betrayal(1967). Huxley’s satirical representation of the technocratic paradigm of the World State, in conjunction with the passionate spontaneity of John resonates with King’s criticism towards American government’s hypocrisy and racial oppression. Both composers, through expressing similar political ideologies towards radically different situations, illustrate individual’s need to contest existing injustice.
Huxley portrays a totalitarian society where government’s distortion of truth through a caste system, hallucinogenic drugs and ostracising misfits effectively fabricates a false sense of security and inhibits citizens from exercising their free-will. This false sense of security, influenced by Hitler’s regime at the time of Huxley, is achieved through Mustapha mond and the repressive methods of enslaving the minds of the citizens such as the ironic world state motto, “Community. Identity. Stability” in which readers are aware is anything but stable. However, it is the assertive tone which acts as a propaganda fabricating the realities of this world creating feelings of trust eliminating doubt.
Huxley’s emotive metonymy“A dark annihilating stupor droning twilight of the well, the twilight of his own habitual stupor”illustrates the Epsilon elevator guard as a prisoner of his stratified status and the Bokanovsky conditioning feeling a sense of freedom when he reaches the roof everytime. The analogyof the elevator and the Epsilon’s stupor signifies the confinement of his action and thoughts by the false security developed from his pre-destined satisfaction with his daily tedious work. The repetition of the sexual propaganda “Orgy-porgy, Ford and fun, kiss the girls and make them one”further parodies the power of the government to provide an ecstatic escapism from established truth and hence prohibiting genuine emotions. Evidently, the manipulation of truth creates an illusion of security and prohibits citizens from accessing basic human rights.
The industrial revolution of 1760 left its mark in Brave new world as Huxley parodies this shift, hyperbolising the concept of mass production by undermining individualism and reducing the value of humans through allusions to Henry Ford. the utilisation of zoomorphism by Huxley with the Epsilon elevator guard , “oh Roof! a dark annhilating stupor…Roof!” accurately portrays the dehumanisation of the World State citizens with a double entendre on “roof”. The animalistic nature of the indoctrinated world citizens are juxtaposed against Bernard’s distinctive social perspective and John’s idiosyncratic milieu which challenge the technocratic paradigm of the state. Bernard manifests nonconformity through his analogy of people and society as a himan body in “More on my own, not so completely part of something else. Not just a cell in a social body”.
Hereby, Huxley illustrates Bernard’s innermost desire to be independent from the hypnopaedic conformist ideal of “everyone belongs to everyone else”that restrains his freedom of thought. Huxley further heightens individualism through the hyperbole“There was nothing left in the world but that one deep pulse of sound”. The symbolism of the drum sound in the culturally-detached Savage Reservation represents individual’s unique heartbeat and hence highlights the microcosmic world that each person intrinsically belongs to. The ideology of individualism also involves proving the worthiness of oneself, demonstrated by John through his ambitious tone “To show that I can bear pain without crying out. Yes, to show that I’m a man!”For John, his personal desire is to earn more admiration and be recognised as a distinguished individual. Evidently, Huxley explores the idea of individualism through his illustration of both Bernard and John as self-reliant men who value their goals and interests over the collective concern of the society.
In order to achieve totalitarian control, state controllers willingly sacrifice religion – “the fundamental building block of civilisation” – in exchange for political security and achieve the “stability” yearned for in the world motto. Through parodying and alluding to Christian terminologies of “Oh Lord” and “archbishop” with “Oh Ford”and “Arch-community Songster”, Huxley depicts the dominance of technology and stability over religious traditions. Mond further reveals the political intention of control behind the removal of religion through his personification“providence takes its cue from men” in conjunction with the metaphor“Christianity without tears – that’s what soma is”.
Huxley represents religion as a social construction to maintain order, and by replacing religion with soma, the World Controllers can manipulate the society in their favour whilst still providing citizens with the religious benefits of comfort, safety and joy. Exposed to a secular society, King’s speech also conveys the government’s denial towards religious power to retain control. This is suggested through the forceful metaphor“Significant numbers of religious leaders … move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of firm dissent based on the mandates of conscience”. Whereas church officials undertake the moral stance of opposing the war, the American government promotes Vietnam War to protect their power from communism.
In both Huxley and King’s representation, religion is portrayed as impedance to political supremacy because God presents another source of threat to absolute control. Therefore, audience can understand that the impetus of political stability promotes the elimination of religion in order to secure the authority to control. Through a similar ironic criticism towards the corruption of American government, King highlights the struggle between personal integrity and justice, thereby challenging dominant political policies towards Vietnam. Racial oppression is accentuated through the situational irony“We watch them burning the huts of a poor village, but we realise that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago”.American government’s conscription of the Negro people to disturb world peace and the continuation to deprive their civil rights is brutally ironic, demonstrating the malicious hypocrisy of the government.
Injustice is further reflected through the simile“Vietnam continued to draw men and money like some demonic destructive suction tube”where King portrays the devastating effect of war in increasing poverty, therefore confronting the political paradigm against Vietnam. Consequently, King perceives the necessity to uphold personal integrity through challenging the conformist status quo amongst the American citizens. Using the imperative language“but we must move on … we must speak”, King urges the public to push beyond the silent truth and rise against the hypocrisy of the government with respect to Vietnam. Evidently, King’s compelling speech is able to contest his era of politics by exploring the adverse impacts of political manipulation upon the citizens.
Evidently, both Huxley and King’s representations of their respective contextual issues depict the governmental and individual political endeavour of control. The texts show that by using ambiguous political actions, governments can seek control through the methods of restricting truth and individualism and eliminating religion. Consequently, composers are able to powerfully illuminate about how politics finds expression in control.
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