“Can you recommend a book for…?”
“What are you reading right now?”
“What are your favorite books?”
I get asked those types of questions a lot and, as an avid reader and all-around bibliophile, I’m always happy to oblige.
I also like to encourage people to read as much as possible because knowledge benefits you much like compound interest. The more you learn, the more you know; the more you know, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more opportunities you have to succeed.
On the flip side, I also believe there’s little hope for people who aren’t perpetual learners. Life is overwhelmingly complex and chaotic, and it slowly suffocates and devours the lazy and ignorant.
So, if you’re a bookworm on the lookout for good reads, or if you’d like to get into the habit of reading, this book club for you.
The idea here is simple: Every week, I’ll share a book that I’ve particularly liked, why I liked it, and several of my key takeaways from it.
I’ll also keep things short and sweet so you can quickly decide whether the book is likely to be up your alley or not.
If you’ve already read a book that I recommend or have a recommendation of your own to share, don’t be shy! Drop a comment down below and let me–and the rest of us “book clubbers”–know!
Lastly, if you want to be notified when new recommendations go live, hop on my email list and you’ll get each new installment delivered directly to your inbox.
Okay, let’s get to the featured book: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
I realize this is a curious recommendation based on what I normally suggest, but I’m including it in the series because I think it’s an important and timely read.
To understand why, consider the following from a speech the author gave in 1961 (source):
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.”
And then look at the world around you. Here in the West, people . . .
- Watch an average of 38 hours of video content per week.
- Spend an average of 1.5 hours on social media per day.
- Play an average of 6.4 hours of video games per week.
- Spend on average over 90% of their income.
- Are abandoning marriage and religion.
- Collectively watch billions of hours of porn per year.
- Collectively eat over 84 million fast food meals per day.
- Collectively spend over $230 billion on alcoholic beverages per year.
- Collectively spend over $10 billion on marijuana per year.
- Collectively smoke over 250 billion cigarettes per year.
. . . while also spending just 17 minutes reading per day (and mostly fiction and novels), just under 2.5 hours productively working per day, and less than 30 minutes exercising per day.
BUT HEY the optimists say . . . at least infant mortality and carbon monoxide emissions are down, renewable energy consumption is up (a little), the Internet is getting faster, and more people are recycling!
That’s neat. And completely unsatisfying, like a picture of oxygen to someone drowning.
Anyhow, my point is Huxley was remarkably prescient in his predictions (or maybe it wasn’t so remarkable given the circles his brother Julian ran in), and in Brave New World, he paints the whole picture for you.
And it’s unnervingly familiar.
So much so that by my lights, the recipe for the world unfolding before us is something like three parts Brave New World, two parts Atlas Shrugged, and one part 1984, with a dash of, oh, I don’t know, Alice in Wonderland?
In other words, technocratic totalitarianism and transparent topsy-turvydom disguised as enlightenment, enrichment, and empowerment.
Don’t believe me? Read the books and see for yourself. Why bother if we’re doomed anyway? Says who? Humanity has seen much darker days than these and rebounded. We can do it again.
First, however, we need enough people to see the world as it is and not as they wish it were, and that’s why I’m recommending Brave New World.
It represents the logical conclusion of this late stage of our current civilization: the complete and scientific subjugation of the human spirit.
Let’s get to the takeaways.
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My 3 Key Takeaways from Brave New World
“People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma.”
This is why people are willing slaves in Brave New World—in exchange for their individuality they’re given a life of unchallenging work, euphoric drugs (“soma” was a drug that distracts you from unpleasantness with delightful hallucinations and a sense of timelessness), recreational sport, meaningless sex, and stimulating entertainment.
What’s scary about that is there’s a voice in all of us that says that sounds like a pretty good trade because the alternative, it fears, is the freedom to be confused, alone, and miserable . . . which is the moral justification for the dictatorship in the book.
Freedom, it’s argued, to intensify and refine our consciousness, expand our knowledge, and strain our abilities, is a liability that lures us to our dooms, like a mythical siren.
In short, the social controllers explain, the more freedom people have to think and act independently, the more likely they are to simply destroy themselves and society at large, so only by abandoning our obsession with liberty and autonomy can we finally achieve inner and outer harmony and stability.
And in Brave New World, that has been accomplished and to great effect—war, disease, social strife, and even aging have all been eliminated, and there’s a place for everyone and everyone’s in their place.
This is the type of world the elite classes have been dreaming of since the times of Plato, who considered most of his fellow Athenians hopelessly corrupt, irrational, and self-indulgent, and Brave New World portrays the fantasy in a positive, utopian light.
Where do you stand on the matter? Read the book and reflect.
“Adults intellectually and during working hours,” he went on. “Infants where feeling and desire are concerned.”
In Brave New World, men and women are carefully engineered to be perpetual children who have no need for religion, reading, thinking, or evolving because they’ve got youth, entertainment, sensuality, and prosperity right up to the end.
Clown World reality, well, basically the same thing is happening—IQ is dropping, anxiety, depression, and mental illness are rising, fertility rates are plummeting, and more and more young people are postponing marriage and moving back in with mom and dad and relying on them for financial support.
Nowhere is this cultural infantilization more apparent, however, than in the realms of culture and politics, which have degenerated into an ideological food fight fueled by feelings and not facts. Did someone do or say something that made you feel bad? Slam a pie in their fascist face! Honk honk!
“‘Consider the matter dispassionately, Mr. Foster, and you will see that no offence is so heinous as unorthodoxy of behaviour. Murder kills only the individual—and, after all, what is an individual?’ With a sweeping gesture he indicated the rows of microscopes, the test-tubes, the incubators. ‘We can make a new one with the greatest ease—as many as we like. Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes at Society itself.’”
This is yet another striking similarity between Brave New World and our world: thoughts and opinions that don’t conform with those approved by the hivemind are becoming more and more unacceptable.
The message is clear: you can either toe the line or walk the plank.
I suppose this is what happens when you turn over society’s most important and influential institutions—academia, media, art, government, finance—to cadres of its most morally confused and depraved actors and let them run amok for a century or so.
A final note: I hope I’m wrong about all of this. I really do. I hope our kingmakers, lawmakers, and tastemakers aren’t herding us to our collective dooms, but the evidence, which extends far beyond everything I’ve mentioned here, is overwhelming.
These people believe they’re working to save humanity from destroying itself, of course, and I’m not convinced their plan will work but I guess time will tell?
If I’ve piqued your interest and you want to learn more, start by reading The Anglo-American Establishment by Carroll Quigley and then, if you have the fortitude, read his magnum opus, Tragedy & Hope.
By the end of those two books, you’ll view history and the world around you very differently.