Brave New World. By Aldous Huxley. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1932. (Harper Perennial 2005 ed.). Pp. xxi, 340.
Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is a prescient portrayal of a future dystopia, offering insight into the inherent trade-offs societies make when striving to attain stability and security. We see elements of a similar struggle in present-day society. Politicians routinely invoke traumatic terrorist attacks, including those of September 11th, in an effort to justify ever-larger incursions on our fundamental freedoms. Wholesale changes in our public policy-from the USA PATRIOT Act to our use of torture-have been implemented with little justification beyond fear. Facing an economic crisis, we are told that the government must play a role in its recovery. We blindly pursue economic stability, ignoring the costs-financial or otherwise-and the perverse systems of incentives the expansion creates. Huxley warns that this pursuit of security and stability inevitably causes us to forgo the things that ultimately define mankind: freedom and the pursuit of the unknown.