Sinclair Lewis: An American Oracle

Ruchira Paul at (the new and improved!) Accidental Blogger:

Screenhunter_11_apr_17_2022So what is it about [It Can’t Happen Here]’s message that makes it chillingly prescient and as fresh as our currrent headlines? Consider, compare and contrast the following scenarios in the fictional reign of Berzelius (Buzz) Windrip (1934 – 1938) and that of the real George W. (Dubya) Bush (2000 to present). (Buzz was shadowed by a Rovian figure who groomed him for years to one day launch him on the national / international stage!)

  • A populist leader (a Democrat in the book) is elected on a simplistic platform of petty nationalism, military jingoism, wearing religiosity on one’s sleeve and not so veiled anti-intellectualism. ( Buzz (like Bush) even pronounced the United States of America as the U-nited States of America! )
  • Government was not to function just as an institution of public service but an efficient corporation as well. Buzz’s administration was proudly named the “Corporate- Government” or “Corpo” for short.  Its most trusted ally and beneficiary was big business, not the common man who brought it to power.
  • The freedom of the judiciary was severely curtailed in order to strengthen presidential powers. Suspension of the habeas corpus, use of secret military tribunals, arrests on suspicion alone (while going from home to the hardware store) and concentration camps were the order of the day.  It was all made possible by invoking threats to national security.
  • Dangers to peace, prosperity and national security were blamed on certain groups of “un-American” people who could be then be persecuted and their loyalties questioned. In Buzz’s case, they were communists, Jews, Negroes and atheists. The logic was that as long people can look down upon someone else, they feel good about themselves, no matter how miserable they actually are.
  • Citizens and public officials  were encouraged to spy and tattle on their friends, neighbors and employees. (See Joe’s post on Michelle Malkin)
  • Big city clergy of affluent churches enthusiastically supported the government’s efforts at curtailing freedoms and promoting war efforts when promised a bigger role for religion (Christianity) in public affairs.
  • Drumming up public support for the invasion and occupation of other nations who didn’t play by our democratic rules and Christian values – all for the good of their savage souls.
  • An actual pre-emptive invasion of Mexico on the flimsy and concocted grounds that Mexico was planning an attack on El Paso, San Antonio, Laredo and other US border towns.
  • Newspapers and radio were mostly cowed down into compliance or enthusiastically on board with the government’s vision of America and the world. Public protest to the “Corpo” appeared in the form of anonymous underground pamphleteering. (Blogs?)

And there is more.  ICHH is often compared to George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. But there is a crucial difference between it and its British counterparts. Orwell and Huxley described totalitarian regimes already in place where the subjects see the light from within an oppressive system.  Lewis warns about the danger of an open society sliding into a fascist mode using the very processes of democracy which we take for granted as “abuse proof.”

More here.