Comparing Two Utopias: Jim Jones' Utopia and Aldous Huxley's Utopia

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In our attempt to achieve the "perfect society" in which everyone is happy we have failed to realize that happiness means something different for everyone, and that severe contradictions will destroy a so called "perfect society". Webster's dictionary defines a Utopia as, "An ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects" (696). A Utopia symbolizes a society perfect in every way for everyone. In the real world we must endure many hardships: disease, poverty, violence, natural disasters, and so on. In an effort to put an end to all of these detriments to existence people strive to create Utopias. Novelist Aldous Huxley, in his novel Brave New World, describes a fictional utopia. Huxley's utopia has many problems that are realized by some of the characters in the book. For these characters the morally deprived world of conditioned people in which they live is revealed to be in fact a dystopia or an anti-utopia. In reality as well as fiction utopias are often attempted. However, as is true in the utopia described by Aldous Huxley, real-life utopias often fail as well. Jim Jones, the leader of the People's Temple, endeavored to create a utopia during the 1960's and 70's based on equality and social justice. The People's Temple met it's ultimate demise when, under the orders of Jim Jones himself, the mass suicide/murder of all the members of Jones' Guyana Community occured. Jim Jones's and Aldous Huxley's societies represent two dystopias with both similarities and differences.

The novel Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, describes a Utopia created through the intense conditioning of its citizens. The people's minds in this world are molded to accept certain beliefs and values that are assumed good, while any history of their previous world is eliminated. In this story, a young man who was raised in a world where people are not conditioned, is introduced to this world of "…endlessly repeated face(s)" (Huxley 221). Through the young man's thoughts and actions the reader fully realizes that a lack of individual nature amongst millions of people can never exist in a true utopia. The society in Brave New World is a dystopia. In this society the class structure is strictly regimented. Alphas represent the highest caste of this society. Alphas hold the highest most important positions in society. Gammas and ...

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...ere under constant attack from the outside world. This paranoia finally led to the aforementioned mass murder/suicide.

The major differences between the two failed utopias were philosophical in nature. In Brave New World the people lived in a constant state of happiness essentially. While in the Guyana Community the people lived in a constant state of fear and paranoia. The most similar item between the two dystopias was that the people living in each society were governed under stringent control. Such oppressive control forces people to lose their individuality. Therefore, both of these societies represent dystopias in that they are both failed attempts at perfect societies. Realizing that so many people have written about utopias in books and that so many people have tried to build them in real life and have failed, one might suspect that utopias are impossible to achieve. "Humans, by nature, are individualistic" (Hall 332). The differences among people are what make the world a more satisfying and diverse place to live in. Any attempt to tie together the various strings of religions, cultures, beliefs, and ideas to create a single fabric will surely unravel.

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