The First World War
When the First World War broke out in 1914, Europe was drawn into four long years of horror and loss. The broad masses of the people could be reached through the newly created mass media, such as newspapers and cinemas. Smart and targeted nationalist propaganda fueled citizens’ enthusiasm for war. Thousands of people volunteered for military service and were then were sent straight to the front lines to fight.
Life in the long trenches with death as a constant companion shaped the everyday existence of the soldiers. They died in great numbers in the massive defensive fire of the machine guns. The use of chlorine and mustard gas from 1915 onwards led to an unimaginable number of victims. Around 17 million people died. In 1918 England was at the end of its powers. The resources were exhausted, and the survivors faced severe hardship. Many soldiers who returned from the war injured or crippled fell into poverty.
Aldous Huxley, who witnessed the massive dying and suffering in the front lines and at home, creates in his Brave New World a state in which people no longer have to fear war or poverty. Illnesses and problems no longer exist. Also, everyone should be happy. Citizens in his imaginary “civilized society’ do not know feelings such as sadness or grief.
In 1932 many people hoped that there would not be a war again. The pessimistic tone of Huxley's dystopia suggests something else: an overpowering state and the citizens’ lack of freedom. The described brave new world in the distant future is already characterized by certain weaknesses: the “suggestions of the state” dictate how people should behave, and those who do not want to follow the rules are banished to distant islands. Drugs are given to people every day to make them happy and “soma-gas” is used to calm down those who are fighting back.
Black Friday and the rise of totalitarian regimes
On Thursday, October 24, 1929, stock prices on the New York Stock Exchange began to fall dramatically. The speculative bubble, uncontrolled borrowing, the fall in agricultural prices, years of overinvestment in i...