Human Cloning in Brave New World
Long before human cloning became controversial, Aldous Huxley scrutinized human cloning by writing Brave New World . Huxley portrays a dystopian society where the government mass produces and “conditions” human clones for specific niches. Alphas, the society’s intellectuals, enjoy the most power, while Epsilons who constitute the lowest caste permanently perform hard labor. By using an organized class system consisting of clones, Huxley suggests throughout Brave New World that cloning humans is unethical because a brutal social hierarchy will result.
Huxley sets up the social hierarchy so that Alphas and Betas, the society’s most powerful human clones, always wield power. Human cloning gives clones making up the higher classes immeasurable power over lower class clones (Goodnough 47). Clones constituting the lower classes will oppose the powerful; consequently the powerful will keep the lower classes oppressed. Huxley suggests lower class oppression is unethical by creating a class system where no individual can move up or down, illustrating the unfairness engendered by human cloning. Likewise, Verna Gehring also believes “offering some people—in all probability, members of the upper classes—the opportunity to acquire desired traits through genetic manipulation, genetic engineering could bring about the reinforcement (or accentuation) of existing social divisions” (252). Huxley accentuates social divisions throughout his book by intentionally creating a static social hierarchy, showing how human cloning causes an unfair class system. The accentuation of social divisions is evident throughout Brave New World , specifically when Mr. Foster, a leading scientist from the book, says, “’And now … I’d like to show you some very interesting conditioning for Alpha plus intellectuals’” (Huxley 17). Mr. Foster clearly considers Alphas’ conditioning more interesting and therefore more important. Because Alphas receive special conditioning, lower caste clones will never reach the higher castes’ standards and will therefore always endure oppression. Huxley suggests human cloning creates a class system where people will never acquire the opportunity to move up or down the social ladder, creating a modern-day caste system.
Huxley also suggests the clone hierarchy limits the opportunities lower caste clones have. Throughout Brave New World , Huxley gives certain clones limited opportunities especially evident when small Beta children receive “conditioning” making them believe Alpha children lie above them: “Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta” (27). The social hierarchy deliberately limits Betas’ abilities, and consequently Betas never receive the opportunities that Alphas enjoy, including better working and living conditions. David Goodnough also agrees human cloning will create undue working conditions which lower class clones will endure: “Clones as slaves, clones as robot like servants, clones as uncomplaining laborers in horrifying working conditions … these are just some of the possibilities for the misuse of human cloning” (44). Human cloning creates evils like exploiting the lower classes, creating an unfair society (Reza 62).
Huxley also scrutinizes human cloning because, as Huxley illustrates throughout the novel, cloning limits some individuals’ abilities while heightening other clones’ abilities by granting clones with superior genes cloning preference. John, a main character in the novel, visits a hospital and witnesses how Deltas have limited abilities: “The menial staff… consisted of one hundred and sixty-two Deltas divided into two Bokanovsky Groups” (208). Huxley suggests human cloning is unethical because it can intentionally limit specific clones’ abilities. Deltas for example can only acquire jobs which require low skill. Delta clones therefore do not have the freedom which most humans enjoy today; consequently Deltas cannot pick their own niche. Mustapha Mond, the world controller, tells John that some clones’ have limited abilities: “Expecting Deltas to know what liberty is! And now expecting them to understand Othello” (Huxley 220). Leon Kass agrees human cloning causes the intentional manipulation which heightens some clones’ abilities: “society could replicate the genomes of individuals whom they deem to be superior” (38). Huxley illustrates the unfairness competing with superior clones would cause by giving the upper classes’ clones all the powerful positions. Giving superior clones the powerful positions makes human cloning unethical because giving upper class clones all the power creates unfair competition for lower class clones. Faisal Reza also supports the assertion that human cloning causes the limiting of some individuals abilities throughout “Human Cloning: Science, Ethics, Policy, Society” when she states, “If genetic manipulation can produce individuals of low intelligence, presumably it also could create genetically gifted individuals” (62). Human cloning creates a brutal caste system which oppresses individuals by intentionally generating inequality between social classes.
By creating a modern-day caste system, Aldous Huxley effectively transmits why human cloning is unethical. The social hierarchy lets upper class clones remain almighty. The hierarchy could also potentially limit certain individuals’ opportunities and abilities and intentionally manipulate individuals’ lives giving specific clones all the power. Aldous Huxley creates uneasiness towards human cloning by messing with the rights that humans enjoy from birth.
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