From the invention of the spear, wheel and fire, technology has altered the idea of self reliance and introspection. The very idea of society is or isn’t can be directly defined by the technology that each has at their disposal. Whether through the use of soma or the mood organ, the world is defined by the privileged few and structured in a way that only the strong, rich, and the masses of people who follow blindly will continue to exist. In Brave New World and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, free thinkers like John, Bernard and Helmholtz who think outside the box become pariahs or liabilities that needs to be eliminated or removed as to not endanger the illusion of power that has been created. Technology has and will continue to increase this illusion and make the world a less than desirable place to live by depriving us of the one thing that has set humans apart.
The world is reliant upon all the values that are set forth by the technology that is used and or abused to further what is the social norm of the time. Iran wants to be depressed to the point of being suicidal, that is what she dials in as a six-hour self accusatory depression. Fanny is always saying that “a gramme in time saves nine”, or “a gramme is better than a damn”. Community or perhaps more precisely communal (socialism) means that all persons must work together to get the maximum happiness for society as a whole even if it occurs through the artificially implanted past memories that each person has. In each realm there are different social factions amongst them; you may have immigrated to a distant land, or you have been left behind or in the rare case a “chicken-head”, or the lowest of lows in this post-apocalyptic world is to be a Nexus-6 (android), some are alphas, betas, gammas, and then within each faction there are pluses and minuses. However, each person is supposed to be happy with their own identity even if they have 11,000,000 people that look just like you and only ten surnames. The pragmatic ideal is that happiness can be maintained and all unpleasant feelings and emotions eradicated through this form of stability.
The Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, which creates and conditions new human life, is all about timing from the very start; from the time that the eggs are fertilized to how the competition of how many bottles are filled from a single ovary. This timing is just the start of all that is perceived in the world.
“Give them a few figures, Mr. Foster,” said the Director, Mr. Foster was only to happy to give them a few figures.
Two hundred and twenty metres long, two hundred wide and ten high.
Three tiers of racks ground floor, first gallery, and second gallery.
Each bottle placed on one of fifteen racks, each rack on a conveyor traveling at the rate of thirty-three and a third centimetres an hour. Two hundred and sixty-seven days at eight metres a day. Two thousand one hundred and thirty six metres in all. On the two hundredth sixty seventh morning — Decanting or Independent existence (birth).
At each stage along the way from fertilization through the slow meticulous speed that the conveyor moves; to decanting; through adult-hood to a predetermined death at age sixty. There is some method of genetic engineering or continuous programming going on. Each step is precise and measured in a less than subtle fashion. On the complete opposite side the Andy’s are built quickly and efficiently. There is a built in fallacy for the androids however; their batteries only last for about four year’s so they can’t take over the world with their supreme intelligence.
The very idea that any person; woman or man not wanting to engage in the free sex and orgies, or stand in line to get your ration of a mind altering drug for fun and acceptance or as to not be chastised or ostracized.
“And what’s more,” Fanny went on, pointing and accusing finger, “there’s been nobody else except Henry all that time. “Has there?”
“But seriously,” she said, “I think you ought to be careful. It’s such horribly bad from to go on like that with one man.”
“The Director would be furious.”
This occurs as some form of ritualistic evidence to maintain your citizenship into the accepted world. This is programmed from the age of toddlerhood by sex games in the courtyard. All for one and one for all is more than a saying it is considered the way of life. To step outside this realm is commit heresy or treason; that will cause you to become an outcast. In another world where people marry for a partner and friend, a connection to the real world as they know it; being able to dial up your mood for the day is a reflection of the same dystopia. Using the twin handled empathy box to connect to the state sponsored religion (Mercerism) that everyone knows is sham but, to devote to the systemic lie to call the bluff. To move to Mars or Proximia, have a free android given to you; just to be part of the privileged masses. The people who choose to stay or are forced to stay behind; in these few are an even smaller number of free thinkers or pariahs. Some who will not commit to using a mood organ or socialized religion as an escape from the dull reality that life is nothing more than a pile of kipple. This creates some form of social connection; people who like Decker are just trying to get by in a fashion of everyday life; that is somehow different than yesterday and perhaps better than tomorrow. Both Bernard and Helmholtz are to be shipped off to distant islands to be with people who are more like them, where there is little risk of them contaminating the status quo.
Humanity must exist in some fashion to survive. The droids that are escaping back to earth to try and enjoy a life that they think they should be entitled to. Rick Deckard seems to start to realize this when he hears Luba Luft for the first time. He thinks to himself that she is every bit as good as any of the old recordings he has at home. Is this empathy or sympathy? An example is when he and Phil Resch are walking to the opera house to kill Luba when he asks Phil.
“How’ll you kill yourself without it?” Rick asked. “If you fail the test?”
“I’ll hold my breath.”
“There’s no automatic cut-in of the vagus nerve in an android” Phil said
“But to die that way,” Rick protested.
“There’s no pain. What’s the matter with it?”
“It’s—“He gestured not able to find the right words.
He knows and tells himself that he would rather be anywhere else but in what is left of San Francisco. After these last retirements he decides to quit, empathy has now become sympathy towards these droids and their plight even going as far to consider if he may be an android with false memories and doesn’t know it.
John on the other hand was cut off from children his own age because he wasn’t like them. When he comes to the World State, he is again shunned as an outsider that everyone wants to see like an animal in a cage. He has learned pain and suffering: being poor, mal-nourished, watching his mother using mescal to dull the pain or regain the soma state by self medicating to the point of sickness.
“She’s my mother,” he said in a scarcely addible voice.
The nurse glanced at him with startled, horrified eyes; then looked quickly away.
“What are these filthy little brats doing here at all? It’s disgraceful.”
“Disgraceful? But what do you mean? They’re being death-conditioned. And I tell you,” she warned him truculently, “if I have any more of your interference with their conditioning, I’ll sent for the porters to have you thrown out.”
John has learned empathy the hard way, and has no understanding as to the lack of feeling or emotions from the group of kids who are climbing all over his dying mother. Losing his mother causes him grief and he falls to his knees at her bedside; this is taken as a (scandalous exhibition), and the outrage that is provoked by the indifference of the nurse to his mothers dying as she is more worried about the de-conditioning of the children.
The privileged few that make up the upper crust of these new found societies would consider the work as divine providence or utopia. The great distinction comes in the masses; for them the world isn’t so great. Amongst the masses there are subvergent’s that will never allow labels or constraints; who will never be able to conform to any subtle or outright dictatorship that place chains upon them. In this they create a dystopian atmosphere where if you happen to disagree with the ways set out before you; you are no better than the savages who are relegated to a vast reservation in the New Mexico wilderness surrounded by an electric fence or the androids that escape back to earth, hunted and retired. A place where there a higher value placed on owning an animal whether they are alive and breathing or real life battery powered fakes, that it is hard to distinguish them from the real thing; than most human life.
A Brave New World and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? create a world that is designed for the select few who have lost the one thing that separates us as humans from all other creatures, Empathy. The leaders of these worlds rule administrate or govern through the abuse of technology. Whether the use of the mood organ, or soma to alter people’s perception and reality to keep them in line and control the masses. In both books human life is of little consequence: in one you die at a predetermined age and they just make another one thousand or one hundred thousand of you; the other places animals that have become scarce or extinct above human life. If you have reason to become disillusioned with the way things are; if you’re not executed, you are simply reassigned, replaced or moved to a distant island with other subvergent’s like you.