This chapter also introduces Mustapha Mond — Resident Controller for Western Europe and one of the Ten World Controllers. Mond figures in the novel as a kind of enlightened dictator (“his Fordship”), who understands this brave new world, as well as the old world before Ford.
As the chapter dissolves into a verbal montage, Mond lectures on history — and its suppression — beginning appropriately with Henry Ford’s adage: “History is bunk!” Mond recalls a world ravaged by anthrax bombs and poison gases in the Nine Years’ War, followed by the great Economic Collapse, and finally the “choice between World Control and destruction.” As Mond notes, soma, the ubiquitous drug of choice in this brave new world, brought an end to worry, while “stability” proved to be the keystone to social control — the “primal and ultimate need.”
The montage becomes more surrealistic as the chapter draws to a close, jumbling mottoes of the World State with snatches of dialogue. For example, it fuses Ford and Freud (in psychological matters), listens in on Lenina chatting with her friend Fanny, and introduces Bernard Marx, who will emerge in subsequent chapters as a major character.
In this chapter, Huxley introduces the historical forces that led to the creation of the dystopia. The analysis, delivered by World Controller Mustapha Mond, seems to contradict Ford’s own statement, quoted by Mond, “History is bunk.” With the appearance of the unconventional, powerful Mond, Huxley offers a deeper, grittier vision of the dystopia than the sanitized explanations of Henry Foster and the D.H.C.
Mond, the only character who knows both the pre-Fordian and Fordian worlds, lectures with passion and detail on the self-destruction of the previous order (the world of the reader) and the building of the World State, the only alternative to chaos. In a series of gory and terrifying images — some, like the booted leg, inspired by the violence of the First World War — Huxley paints the agonized death of the familiar world of democracy and individual freedom. From these ashes, the survivors brought forth what they believed to be the only truly successful framework for living developed in the modern age — Ford’s assembly line, with its concept of interchangeable parts, making possible almost limitless production and consumption.
In Fordian times, Mond’s lecture makes clear, consumption and the enjoyment of consumption is the primary human activity. The “viviparous” life — the ordinary family — no longer exists, banished by the World State in favor of Conditioning Centres, where decanted children grow up in an environment designed to ensure their loyalty to the social order and (much the same thing) train them to consume appropriately. Here, Mond reminds the students, all their needs are met, all obstacles to happiness removed.
Again, in this chapter, Huxley brings forward the theme of choice and pain as essential parts of human life. If all obstacles are removed, as Mond says, if no one feels passion or pain, what kind of human life is possible? At this point in the novel, Mond presents the life of uninterrupted happiness as the ideal. Later (in Chapters 16-17), Huxley reveals another, more complicated side to the World Controller, when Mond debates on the subject of civilization and its price.
Even now, Huxley dramatizes the emptiness of a life controlled by the consumption of goods and recreational sex. In a surrealistic series of jump-cuts from Mond to the people leaving work, Huxley underlines the purposelessness of the “progress” evident in the dystopia. Violent passion is avoided, but people still need a chemical “Violent Passion Surrogate” once a month. Most women are sterile or practice contraception, yet they must submit to a chemically induced fake pregnancy to maintain their physical and psychological health. Human nature has not changed, obviously; the World State has simply redefined it and compensated for the difference with chemicals.
The most important chemical of all is soma, the drug sponsored by the state to reduce or eliminate feelings of unhappiness. Non-toxic, with no after-effects, soma is the perfect drug for dulling the senses against any perception of the emptiness of life. Soma is, therefore, a powerful, essential tool for social control in the dystopia because it prevents the dissatisfaction and rage that might result in revolution.
Bernard spurns soma in disgust, preferring, he explains, to feel his own emotional state, however miserable. In refusing soma — the conventional means of remaining perpetually happy — Bernard believes himself to be a rebellious, authentic human being. As the novel progresses, however, Bernard’s desire to feel emotion freely will seem less heroic and more adolescent.
surreptitious secret, stealthy.
Our Freud Huxley’s phrase. A pious reference to Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), Austrian physician and neurologist: father of psychoanalysis.
flivver a small, cheap automobile, especially an old one. Here, used respectfully to refer to Ford’s Model T.
anthrax an infectious disease of wild and domesticated animals, especially cattle and sheep, which is caused by a bacillus and can be transmitted to people.
ectogenesis the growth process of embryonic tissue placed in an artificial environment, as a test tube. Here, the conventional process of birth.
soma an intoxicating plant juice referred to in Indian religious writings. Here, Huxley’s term for a powerful calming and hallucinogenic drug without any serious side effects.
boskage a natural growth of trees or shrubs.
pneumatic inflated. Here, Huxley’s word describing a woman with a full, shapely figure.
Malthusian drill Huxley’s phrase for practicing contraception. From the word “Malthusian,” referring to the theory developed by English economist Thomas Malthus (1766-1834), that the world population tends to increase faster than the food supply with inevitable disastrous results unless natural restrictions, such as war, famine, and disease, reduce the population or the increase is checked by moral restraint.