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Form and Function: Utopian Idealism

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Throughout history the idea of a Utopia persists. The idea, a perfect world where everyone gets what they want and nobody has unmet needs, is an attractive one. Just think of bringing an end to world poverty and famine, or ending the plight of the common people and beginning a new world order under a benevolent government (or lack thereof) which looks only to further the interests of the people in everything it does. Possible, but look how well it turned out for the Soviets... Maybe one’s personal idea of a Utopia would just be a nice house to live in and a car to drive, but this isn’t everyone else’s idea of a Utopia. The problem with creating a Utopia is the idea that it must have universal appeal, as in completely one hundred percent unanimous support; and this simply is not at all possible. The myth of a Utopia and the practical application of one not only are very different, but rather they directly stand opposed to one another because Utopian ideals are unattainable, and in order to overcome this inherent intangibility they push their governments to act in immoral ways, and the immoral acts of the government breed the end to the Utopia, in its purest form.


Throughout history the idea of a Utopia persists. The idea, a perfect world where everyone gets what they want and nobody has unmet needs, is an attractive one. Just think of bringing an end to world poverty and famine, or ending the plight of the common people and beginning a new world order under a benevolent government (or lack thereof) which looks only to further the interests of the people in everything it does. Possible, but look how well it turned out for the Soviets... Maybe one’s personal idea of a Utopia would just be a nice house to live in and a car to drive, but this isn’t everyone else’s idea of a Utopia. The problem with creating a Utopia is the idea that it must have universal appeal, as in completely one hundred percent unanimous support; and this simply is not at all possible. The myth of a Utopia and the practical application of one not only are very different, but rather they directly stand opposed to one another because Utopian ideals are unattainable, and in order to overcome this inherent intangibility they push their governments to act in immoral ways, and the immoral acts of the government breed the end to the Utopia, in its purest form.

Utopian ideals are unattainable because they are naturally so far-fetched. Take, for example, our school’s Honor Code. To create a world where nobody lied, cheated, or stole would be to some Utopian, however, not even on the relatively insignificant scale of one school campus can we produce this. People lie, cheat, and steal things anyway. It is completely ridiculous to believe that none of these crimes would ever be committed, and while the Norfolk Academy does a wonderful job of instilling honor into all of its students, the system is imperfect. In this case, the system is imperfect not based on any wrong doing on the school’s part, but rather that there could never be an entire campus of kids who would never lie, cheat, or steal. This also is shown in Brave New World, when Aldous Huxley writes, “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,” (127). This implies that in order to maintain the order that the World State achieves, their people must know almost nothing about how the government actually does business. This is ridiculous in nature due to the fact that one of the most natural tendencies of humans is to be curious of that which we do not understand (and question it as well). Another example of the World State having impossible goals comes when Huxley states, “Feeling lurks in the interval between desire and its consummation. Shorten that interval, break down all those old unnecessary barriers,” (75). This particular section contains a distinguishably unobtainable goal, in the eradication of all feelings from the young boys. This, along with keeping government work secret from the general public, is simply an immoral technique of dehumanizing, which is the inevitable ultimate goal of a large scale Utopian society. It is impossible to control every citizen of your state by means of sheer desire, as some would want more than others, but it is possible to control their wants and needs much easier if they have no say in the matter.
Utopian worlds are impossible in application due to the fact that they force governments in control to act immorally in order to maintain the façade of accomplishing the inherently impossible. In Brave New World, we find out there isn’t much of anything brave about this new “utopian” world order, the World State. In fact, the World State is quite the opposite, with the single person sacrificing everything that makes them people for the good of the world’s population. Huxley puts it best when he says, “Two, four, eight, the buds in their turn budded; and having budded were dosed almost to death with alcohol,” (14). This is referring to the growth process of embryos in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. In order to form the lower classes, the epsilons, gammas, and deltas are fed alcohol when they are only still in the test tubes, barely with higher comparative status to that of an embryo. This alcohol limits their mental and physical capabilities so that the lower classes are significantly more controllable. Yet another example of this dehumanization, “Or if ever by some unlucky chance such a crevice of time should yawn in the solid substance of their distractions, there is always soma” (110). This is a reference to the drug given to everyone to ensure that they stay docile. The line clearly shows the paranoia on the part of the World State government because they must constantly intoxicate their citizens in order to keep them from thinking too often (or ever) in their free time. This is because, if given the chance to think for a while, someone would inevitably come to the conclusion that they were better off having freedoms and then a new revolution becomes a possibility. This paranoia on the part of the government reveals the frailties of the entire system because if it actually were a Utopia then the government would never have to worry about such things as revolutions, because everyone would genuinely be happy.
In conclusion, the functional Utopia can never happen, because it must be forced. Clearly, even in the World State happiness cannot be created. Happiness is synthesized in that they feed everyone soma pills to make them forget that they are unhappy at their core, but this does not mean they created happiness. It simply means the World State is drawing ever closer to rendering happiness obsolete, because everyone can take a pill to feel better. If nobody has to work for his or her happiness, nobody has to endure the hard times in order to have something to contrast the good ones with, then without happiness it cannot really be a Utopia. The myth of a Utopia, a world where everyone is happy and nobody must go without his or her every need and desire being satisfied, is impossible. The practice of it in Huxley’s Brave New World clearly demonstrates this. The myth stands directly opposed to the reality of a Utopia because of the means used to make everything work perfectly. The government must use hypnosis, drugs, the dehumanization of sex, and even in-utero alcohol in order to suppress the people. The problem is that while everyone “feels” happy, nobody really is. Thus, the World State as an idealistic Utopia comes crashing down because everything about it is faked or forced.



Utopian ideals are unattainable because they are naturally so far-fetched. Take, for example, our school’s Honor Code. To create a world where nobody lied, cheated, or stole would be to some Utopian, however, not even on the relatively insignificant scale of one school campus can we produce this. People lie, cheat, and steal things anyway. It is completely ridiculous to believe that none of these crimes would ever be committed, and while the Norfolk Academy does a wonderful job of instilling honor into all of its students, the system is imperfect. In this case, the system is imperfect not based on any wrong doing on the school’s part, but rather that there could never be an entire campus of kids who would never lie, cheat, or steal. This also is shown in Brave New World, when Aldous Huxley writes, “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,” (127). This implies that in order to maintain the order that the World State achieves, their people must know almost nothing about how the government actually does business. This is ridiculous in nature due to the fact that one of the most natural tendencies of humans is to be curious of that which we do not understand (and question it as well). Another example of the World State having impossible goals comes when Huxley states, “Feeling lurks in the interval between desire and its consummation. Shorten that interval, break down all those old unnecessary barriers,” (75). This particular section contains a distinguishably unobtainable goal, in the eradication of all feelings from the young boys. This, along with keeping government work secret from the general public, is simply an immoral technique of dehumanizing, which is the inevitable ultimate goal of a large scale Utopian society. It is impossible to control every citizen of your state by means of sheer desire, as some would want more than others, but it is possible to control their wants and needs much easier if they have no say in the matter.




Utopian worlds are impossible in application due to the fact that they force governments in control to act immorally in order to maintain the façade of accomplishing the inherently impossible. In Brave New World, we find out there isn’t much of anything brave about this new “utopian” world order, the World State. In fact, the World State is quite the opposite, with the single person sacrificing everything that makes them people for the good of the world’s population. Huxley puts it best when he says, “Two, four, eight, the buds in their turn budded; and having budded were dosed almost to death with alcohol,” (14). This is referring to the growth process of embryos in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. In order to form the lower classes, the epsilons, gammas, and deltas are fed alcohol when they are only still in the test tubes, barely with higher comparative status to that of an embryo. This alcohol limits their mental and physical capabilities so that the lower classes are significantly more controllable. Yet another example of this dehumanization, “Or if ever by some unlucky chance such a crevice of time should yawn in the solid substance of their distractions, there is always soma” (110). This is a reference to the drug given to everyone to ensure that they stay docile. The line clearly shows the paranoia on the part of the World State government because they must constantly intoxicate their citizens in order to keep them from thinking too often (or ever) in their free time. This is because, if given the chance to think for a while, someone would inevitably come to the conclusion that they were better off having freedoms and then a new revolution becomes a possibility. This paranoia on the part of the government reveals the frailties of the entire system because if it actually were a Utopia then the government would never have to worry about such things as revolutions, because everyone would genuinely be happy.



In conclusion, the functional Utopia can never happen, because it must be forced. Clearly, even in the World State happiness cannot be created. Happiness is synthesized in that they feed everyone soma pills to make them forget that they are unhappy at their core, but this does not mean they created happiness. It simply means the World State is drawing ever closer to rendering happiness obsolete, because everyone can take a pill to feel better. If nobody has to work for his or her happiness, nobody has to endure the hard times in order to have something to contrast the good ones with, then without happiness it cannot really be a Utopia. The myth of a Utopia, a world where everyone is happy and nobody must go without his or her every need and desire being satisfied, is impossible. The practice of it in Huxley’s Brave New World clearly demonstrates this. The myth stands directly opposed to the reality of a Utopia because of the means used to make everything work perfectly. The government must use hypnosis, drugs, the dehumanization of sex, and even in-utero alcohol in order to suppress the people. The problem is that while everyone “feels” happy, nobody really is. Thus, the World State as an idealistic Utopia comes crashing down because everything about it is faked or forced.



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