Click above, for other articles in
the September 2004 issue.
All the following, are works of fiction, sharing implications and
providing lessons for those of us who are currently experiencing the political
climate in the United States.
Paperback, as well as inexpensive used editions may be readily found at many
The Iron Heel
by: Jack London
Written in 1906, this book was first published in 1908, amid the
struggles of a developing labor movement in America. London's novel
anticipated the political upheavals of the 20th century and predicted the
rise of fascism.
It is written as a diary of the wife of the central character,
Ernest Everhard, from Berkeley California, who is elected to Congress. As a
Congressman he makes the following speech;
"I know nothing that I may influence you, you have no souls to
be influenced. You are spineless, flaccid things.
You pompously call yourselves Republicans and Democrats. There is no
Republican Party. There is no Democratic Party. There are no Republicans
nor Democrats in this House. You are lick-spittlers and panderers, the creatures
of the Plutocracy. You talk verbosely in antiquated terminology of your
love of liberty, and all the while you wear the scarlet livery of the Iron
Struggling against a repressive state, the central characters struggle to
re-establish the founding principles of the United States as declared in the
Declaration of Independence-- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness--but
1984 & Animal
by: George Orwell
Two classic novels by George Orwell, which are well worth reading.
1984 was written in the 1950's and represents
a 'future' society in 1984 London. The central character, Winston, is
a man in grave danger because he still retains a memory and uses his reason to
function in society. He lives in a country ruled by Big Brother and the
Thought Police, a negative utopia, which makes 'eternal war' symbolizing eternal
peace. A country ruled by a Party that maintains total control over every
man's actions and thoughts, by using Newspeak, which decontructs ideas into
their opposites; War is Peace, Freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,
God is Power. On re-reading the novel recently, I was struck by the many
parallels to the current political thinking pervasive in America.
Animal Farm, is a satire of the Russian Revolution and
Communism, but can just as easily reflect any form of
totalitarian government. The plot reflects a struggle between the
farm animals who live on Mr. Jones' farm. They create a democratic society
that establishes a founding principle; that 'all animals are created
equal'. But as things develop, there is a coup d'etat and totalitarian rule is
established. The central belief of the community is altered and instead
becomes; 'but some animals are more equal than others'.
Sound familiar ?
by: Ray Bradbury
This is another novel written in the 1950's which has proven itself a
timeless classic. Bearing similarities to Orwell, the plot reflects a future
society regulated by firemen, where thinking is akin to crime. Books are
banned and if found destroyed by burning. Anyone found in the possession of
books is declared a criminal. The society sees such people as
eccentric, dangerous and threatening the security of the state. The main
character, Guy Montag, slowly awakens to the realization that his society
is 'sick' and begins to question everything. He comes to realize, that
books cry out with ideas of great value, which must be saved at all
by: Todd Strasser
The Wave is based on a true incident that occurred at a high school in
Palo Alto California, in 1969. An high school history teacher attempts to
show his unsuspecting students, through an applied social experiment, how
group peer pressure is instrumental in the development of movements
like Nazism. In order to make his point, he introduces certain new rules to
his students and soon enough witnesses the repercussions throughout
the school. What begins as an innocent lesson in history, leads to a
frightening unfolding of a social movement, that grips the vast majority of the
student body, except for a handful of students who recognize the developing
threat, that is fascism.
by: Jose Saramago
A city is hit by an epidemic of 'white blindness' which spares no one.
Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the
criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food and assaulting
women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven
strangers through barren streets in order to save them. What develops
is an exploration through the human soul exposing the worst and the best in
the human spirit. This allegory like prior Saramago novels expounds the
view that philosophically, the greatest evils are performed by the
supposedly pious and pure, i.e. the members of the Church. The novel was
attributed the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Reviewed by V.S.
Posted September 10, 2004
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