Brave New World
Back to straight up, state control dystopia.
People USED to imagine that knowledge was the highest good, truth the supreme value. ...People still went on talking about truth and beauty as though they were sovereign goods. Right up to the time of the Nine Years' War. That made them change their tune all right. What's the point of truth or beauty or knowledge when the anthrax bombs are popping all around you? That was when science first began to be controlled -- after the Nine Years' War. People were ready to have even their appetites controlled then. Anything for a quiet life. We've gone on controlling ever since. It hasn't been very good for truth, of course. But it's been very good for happiness.
Anthrax bombs as an excuse for state control. You know, what makes classic dystopian fiction powerful is the ability to apply it to any generation's reality and still come up worried.
I'd honestly never read Brave New World before now. It's one of those classics I just never got around to. I read it right after First Men in the Moon by, more or less, accident, but it worked out well. Both concern societies in which the citizens are made, body and mind, for their alloted tasks in life. This prevents the longing and hustling that creates societal tension and individual angst. Of course, it also robs us of free will, creates a slave class, and prevents the striving and work that can carry us to the loftier heights.
You know, I'm going to look around for written defenses of the World State as outlined in BNW. It's no good for me simply to say, "This is obviously a horrible and frightening vision of the future," with no one offering any of the other side's arguments. I suspect such defense will just make me either disgusted or angry, but at least it would help solidify why it's such a disturbing image of society to me.
final thoughts: Beats the hell out of Rand any day.