In Huxley’s Island there are two major flaws in Palan society that lead to their downfall. Neither of these flaws are inherently within the people of the society, they are more to do with policies (or lack there of). One leads to the practical demise of Pala while the other is a major a factor or eventual factor.
The first flaw is isolationism. Pala seems to have remained mostly isolated (no alliances) for most of its history. The Old Raja died in 1938 (p.40), some time period before that Dr. MacPhail’s father and the Old Raja (or even these councils) should made such progress within Pala, they should have recognized the drawbacks of attempted complete isolationism. Of course, Pala receives what it needs through shipping but they needed to at least deal some oil or spread their ideas, maybe that’s not living in the now as their ideas require but it would be doing something. An example of their policy, in the school, the teacher tells Will, they are just hoping another country takes after their example. (p.260)
The other major flaw is collectively the Rani and Murugan. Murugan is mostly a byproduct of his mother. He has not spent much of his life in Pala. His father was a Raja so he should have some experience with their system. They talk at one point in the school about the success of geniuses, who possess this special ability. Murugan, on the opposite end of that spectrum, is in the 20% of gullible people, just jumping right along with the beliefs of his mother and Colonel Dipa. Add to that this seemingly undiagnosed delinquent Peter Pan attribute, he seems to be the worst candidate as leader of Pala. The Rani grew in Switzerland and is Christian. Then she is the princess of Rendang. The Rani has never subscribed to Palan belief, at all, making it clear she would change much of the island if it were up to her. It is clear that Murugan and the Rani have devious plans for Pala yet their policies do nothing to stop them. The question is how does a society so self acclaimed in their ability to diagnose and fix all problems with humans’ self that they are unable to see that their “matriarch” has not changed at all even though she married a Raja?
Huxley, Aldous. Island. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962. Print.
Frame from Prelude to War documentary film, part of the w:Why We Fight series.