Henry Ford in Brave New World

Instructor: Kaitlin Oglesby
In this lesson, learn about the role that Henry Ford plays in the society of the novel 'Brave New World.' We'll discuss his legacy's religious role, its effects on consumerism, and its influence on the psychological nature of humanity.

Oh My Ford!

In our contemporary world, the traditional date of birth of Jesus Christ split time effectively between AD and BC. Even those who prefer the more politically correct BCE and CE effectively are dating from the same event. Likewise, in the Islamic world, events are referred to as happening before or after the flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina.

However, in the society that Aldous Huxley presents in his 1932 novel, Brave New World, an altogether different personage split time. For the World State (the dictatorship), no one has been as important in transforming the world as Henry Ford. In this dystopian novel, Henry Ford is not merely the man known to have invented the process for building an automobile. He is recognized as a demigod, and held up as a pillar of society in the World State.

In this lesson, we'll see just why Ford is so important to the society of this fictional novel.

Brave New World cover
Brave New World cover

Religious Role

Upon reading the book you may have thought that 'Oh Ford' was a misprint of 'Oh Lord' when you encountered it for the first time. However, you would soon realize it was meant to be spelled that way. In many ways Henry Ford takes over the role of God in casual conversation among this fictional society. Whereas we may say 'Oh my Lord' or something similar, the people of the World State change any reference to God or Lord to Ford.

Transformative Person

The people's reverence of Ford is in no small part due to the completely revolutionary role that he plays in their society. This comes in three parts.

  1. By perfecting mass production, Ford made the world of the World State possible. That sort of society could never work with craftsmen working on each individual project. Now with mass production, everything can be streamlined and made on an assembly line. Even humans are now mass-produced and decanted.
  2. Ford's mass production innovations made for an increase in consumerism. The Model T, the first car made by the Ford Motor Company, was one of the first goods that was really available to everyone. However, it wasn't just the Model T that was transformative. A few years later the Model A was released, which allowed further customization of things like color. Suddenly, consumerism could be combined with mass production.
  3. In the personhood of Henry Ford the founders of the World State found a mind that provided them with plenty of propaganda. Famously, Henry Ford said that 'History is bunk,' which in many ways served as the sort of teaching necessary for the World State's leaders to lead the masses away from questioning their judgment and instead just focusing on their own happiness.

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