Progressive Life Imitates Dystopian Art
A few weeks ago, New York legislators passed a new state abortion law essentially declaring open season on all living fetuses up to the moment of birth. (I wrote about it here.) In celebration of this triumph of the religion of death, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, apparently in symbolic honor of the needles used to exterminate life, had the World Trade Center lit up in a shaft of gaudy pink light. (See a picture of it here.)
At the time, I merely found the image a revoltingly clear representation of the hateful, militant, and deliberately abrasive minds that had supported this law.
But then, reviewing Chapter Seven of Brave New World, I came across something quite remarkable. Bernard and Lenina, two denizens of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian World State, where natural childbirth has been eliminated and is now regarded as an obscene whisper from the archaic past, vacation together to a Savage Reservation in New Mexico. While there, to their shock, they encounter a woman from the World State who had been lost and abandoned in the Reservation almost twenty years before. Through an egregious error in her mandatory contraception regimen, the woman had given birth to a son there, the child of the man she had been traveling with at the time she became stranded.
As alarmed to see visitors from her lost home as the young couple are to see her, this mother, now alcoholic and decayed, rants excitedly about her predicament and her happy memories of the progressive World State:
And I was so ashamed. Just think of it: me, a Beta–having a baby: put yourself in my place.” (The mere suggestion made Lenina shudder.) “Though it wasn’t my fault, I swear; because I still don’t know how it happened, seeing that I did all the Malthusian [contraceptive] Drill–you know, by numbers, One, two, three, four, always, I swear it; but all the same it happened, and of course there wasn’t anything like an Abortion Centre here. Is it still down in Chelsea, by the way?” she asked. Lenina nodded. “And still floodlighted on Tuesdays and Fridays?” Lenina nodded again. “That lovely pink glass tower!”
— Huxley, Brave New World, 1932, Chapter 7
Life imitates art yet again — in this case, with both eerie accuracy and perfect irony. Progressivism Present revealed with a wink in the dystopian art of Progressivism Past, almost as though Huxley’s book were a white paper, rather than a dark satire. There can be no doubt that when Andrew Cuomo celebrates mass death without an ounce of circumspection, as a matter of progress and human rights, he fits right in with the tenor of BNW’s totalitarian state.