Brave New World Revisited


9/10 As crazy as it sounds, I am giving this book two more points than the actual Brave New World (BNW) which I rated at 7/10. Although it was written 56 years ago, in 1958, this book is a little volume of political essays that are insanely relevant to the world we live in in 2024. If we ignore the fact that there are no computers and smartphones mentioned, the book describes all the deceptive influences that plague our present society. Endless entertainment, food addiction driven by high amounts of sugar and saturated fat, reductionism of individuals to their economic function, manipulative advertising practices and a lack of proper education that would allow individuals to spot all these dangers and act before they consume them.

In a nutshell, Huxley describes all the ways in which the reality is moving closer to the dystopian reality of BNW. He discusses the ways in which the new tools of technological and scientific progress could theoretically be exploited by a dictator in order to gather power and trick the masses into thinking that they are living their best lives. He cautions that we are much more vulnerable to this possibility than we might think. What’s worse, Huxley says that the new kind of dictatorship would on the surface look very much like the current democracy, but in reality it would be a top-down system with a powerful elite and powerless masses. Rings the bell?

I think Huxley was a true visionary who saw the direction the Western world was going in much sooner than most of us can even accept possible. Although in the first few chapters his ideas border on eugenics, racial cleansing and elitism - he talks about how most people are dumb and this pollutes the gene pool, the chapters after discuss all of the problems of our society mentioned above in great detail and with unprecedented relevance even 60 years after it was written. My takeaways, which are mostly ideas I have been thinking about for a while but they now got an extra reassurance from Huxley who has been thinking about them 35 years before I was even on the plan, are as follows:

  • big cities are terrible for one’s mental health and sense of community, move to a smaller town
  • use social media only to stay in touch with your friends and family or to directly search for content you are looking for; don’t engage with any kind of feed or recommendation engine or you’ll be entertained to death
  • don’t let work define you, don’t let yourself be reduced to your economic function; have hobbies, go for hikes, watch the stars, swim in a lake and take your dog for a long walks in the forest, simply live outside of what makes you money and don’t let yourself be sucked into the status game of being too busy for that kind of thing
  • celebrate your individualism but don’t be a dick; also don’t extract your persona from things you buy, extract it from things you create or take care of
  • sit with yourself without direct, sought input more often, learn to be un-distractable and entertainable by your own thoughts alone


A book in which Aldous Huxley goes over all the forces in the modern world that are pushing us closer to the dystopia of his 1932 classic, Brave New World.


  • (p.28) ‘[Many people are] normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society… These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted, still cherish the illusion of individuality, but in fact they have been to a great extent de-individualized. Their conformity is developing into something like uniformity. But uniformity and freedom are incompatible. Uniformity and mental health are incompatible too… Man is not made to be an automaton, and if he becomes one, the basis for mental health is destroyed.’
  • (p.31) ‘People are related to each other, not as total personalities, but as the embodiments of economic functions or, when they are not at work, as irresponsible seekers of entertainment.’
    • fuck this hits hard! This is the world we live in, especially in big cities. Anonymity to the greatest degree except for coworkers at work or when drunk in a club
  • (p.63) ‘The survival of democracy depends on the ability of large number of people to make realistic choices in the light of adequate information.’
    • people don’t know how to do this! They are not taught to do this, unless they are university educated, and even then they must be a type of individual who critically looks at the world around them instead of conforming to social norms. No wonder then that the democracy in the west is eroding at ever greater rates
  • (p.64) ‘capitalism is dead, consumerism is king’
    • in 1958?! Seriously?! What would Huxley think of today’s world…
  • (p.64) ‘What is demonstrably good in the sphere of economics may be far from good for men and women as voters or even as human beings.’
    • junk food, recommendation engines, advertisement-driven revenue model, populist political agenda, etc…
  • (p.67) ‘Find some common desire, some widespread unconscious fear or anxiety; think about some way to relate this wish or fear to the product you have to sell; then build a bridge of verbal or pictorial symbols over which your customer can pass from fact to compensatory dream, and from the dream to the illusion that your product, when purchased, will make the dream come true. We no longer buy oranges, we buy vitality. We do not buy just a car, we buy prestige.’
    • if you realize this, you’ll hopefully never fall for deceptive advertising again
  • (p.70) ‘Orpheus has entered into an alliance with Pavlov - the power of sound with the conditioned reflex.’
    • this was a comment on how jingles became a new powerful mode of advertising. It’s so beautifully put since Orpheus was a Greek mythological musician and Pavlov was an experimental psychologist famous for his experiments on classical conditioning of dogs.
  • (p. 70) ‘Nonsense which it would be shameful for a reasonable being to write, speak or hear spoken, can be sung or listened to by that same rational being with pleasure and even with kind of intellectual conviction.’
    • another point on the power of advertising jingles due to our human susceptibility to catchy music
  • (p.74) ‘Inured to television and radio, that audience is accustomed to being distracted and does not like to be asked to concentrate or make a prolonged intellectual effort’
    • how sad and how much worse is it today than it was in 1958
  • (p.128) ‘Science - that wonderfully convenient personification of the opinions, at a given date, of Professors X, Y and Z’
    • I find this funny and often perfectly accurate. It also makes me cautious to appeal to science as such in my arguments
  • (p. 134) ‘But human beings are not completely social; they are only moderately gregarious. Their societies are not organisms, like the hive or the anthill; they are organizations, in other words ad hoc machines for collective living.’
    • My bias is being reinforced here because very often I do not feel like a ‘completely social being’ but at the same time I feel like the society wants to convince me that something’s wrong with me and I should feel like that. So I am happy to hear that maybe I am completely okay and I should stand more behind my conviction.
  • (p. 152) ‘Free as a bird, we say, and envy the winged creatures for their power of unrestricted movement in all the three dimensions. But, alas, we forget the dodo. Any bird that has learned how to grub up a good living without being compelled to use its wings will soon renounce the privilege of flight and remain forever grounded. Something analogous is true of human beings. If the bread is supplied regularly and copiously three times a day, many of them will be perfectly content to live by bread alone - or at least by bread and circus alone.’
  • (p. 153) ‘Give me television and hamburgers, but don’t bother me with the responsibility of liberty’
    • how an average person lives nowadays… entertained to death, blind to their true state of being