It Can't Happen Here (but it can)

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It Can't Happen Here (but it can)

Post by Ricordanza » Mon Mar 28, 2016 8:04 pm

A retired history professor recommended that I read a book that came out 80 years ago that predicts, in some ways, our current situation. Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here" is the ironically titled novel that describes how a fascist regime comes to power in America. The demagogic candidate, "Buzz" Windrip, captures the nomination of the Democratic Party by advancing a platform that combines promises of economic advancement--with a cash bonus for every family--with nationalistic fervor and denigration of Jews and blacks. He organizes a private army (like the Gestapo), but calls them "marching clubs" and gives them a patriotic name, the Minute Men. After his election, he immobilizes the other branches of government, mercilessly crushes the opposition and establishes a totalitarian dictatorship. These events are seen through the eyes of Doremus Jessup, a small town Vermont newspaper editor, who is transformed from a critic of the regime to rebel leader.

As a work of literature, it is certainly flawed. Characters are, at best, symbolic, and at worst, cartoonish. Doremus and other characters are often vehicles for the author's speeches, rather than realistic dialogue. And the book is seriously dated, especially compared to more artful works of this genre, such as George Orwell's "1984."

But those of us who observe and are deeply concerned about the current Presidential campaign and one candidate in particular can only admire Sinclair Lewis for his prescience. Here's one passage, for example, that depicts a fictional 1936 Democratic Party convention, where Windrip triumphs over two other candidates, Franklin Roosevelt and Frances Perkins:

"....Every delegate knew that Mr. Roosevelt and Miss Perkins were far too lacking in circus tinsel and general clownishness to succeed at this critical hour of the nation's hysteria, when the electorate wanted a ringmaster-revolutionist like Senator Windrip."

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Re: It Can't Happen Here (but it can)

Post by BWV 1080 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:40 pm

another classic along the same lines

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Re: It Can't Happen Here (but it can)

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 9:25 pm

We're not going to get any form of totalitarianism out of this election or ever. What we will get if the Republicans come to full power will be quite bad enough short of that. As for Steve's suggestion of a left-wing alternative way to arrive at a situation which nobody wants, I assume his response is facetious, even though it does bring up various Libertarian or "pure market" You-Tube suggestions, including some involving his favorite economist Hayek.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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