Sinclair Lewis ~ It Can’t Happen Here

First edition 1935

It Can’t Happen Here is the only one of Sinclair Lewis’s later novels to match the power of Main Street, Babbitt, and Arrowsmith. A cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, it is an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America.

Written during the Great Depression, when the country was largely oblivious to Hitler’s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press.

Called “a message to thinking Americans” by the Springfield Republican when it was published in 1935, It Can’t Happen Here is a shockingly prescient novel that remains as fresh and contemporary as today’s news.

Chapter  I

THE handsome dining room of the Hotel Wessex, with its gilded plaster shields and the mural depicting the Green Mountains, had been reserved for the Ladies’ Night Dinner of the Fort Beulah Rotary Club.

Here in Vermont the affair was not so picturesque as it might have been on the Western prairies. Oh, it had its points: there was a skit in which Medary Cole (grist mill & feed store) and Louis Rotenstern (custom tailoring—pressing & cleaning) announced that they were those historic Vermonters, Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, and with their jokes about imaginary plural wives they got in ever so many funny digs at the ladies present. But the occasion was essentially serious. All of America was serious now, after the seven years of depression since 1929. It was just long enough after the Great War of 1914-18 for the young people who had been born in 1917 to be ready to go to college… or to another war, almost any old war that might be handy.

The features of this night among the Rotarians were nothing funny, at least not obviously funny, for they were the patriotic addresses of Brigadier General Herbert Y. Edgeways, U.S.A. (ret.), who dealt angrily with the topic “Peace through Defense—Millions for Arms but Not One Cent for Tribute,” and of Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch— she who was no more renowned for her gallant anti-suffrage campaigning way back in 1919 than she was for having, during the Great War, kept the American soldiers entirely out of French cafés by the clever trick of sending them ten thousand sets of dominoes.

Nor could any social-minded patriot sneeze at her recent somewhat unappreciated effort to maintain the purity of the American Home by barring from the motion-picture industry all persons, actors or directors or cameramen, who had: (a) ever been divorced; (b) been born in any foreign country—except Great Britain, since Mrs. Gimmitch thought very highly of Queen Mary, or (c) declined to take an oath to revere the Flag, the Constitution, the Bible, and all other peculiarly American institutions.

The Annual Ladies’ Dinner was a most respectable gathering—the flower of Fort Beulah. Most of the ladies and more than half of the gentlemen wore evening clothes, and it was rumored that before the feast the inner circle had had cocktails, privily served in Room 289 of the hotel. The tables, arranged on three sides of a hollow square, were bright with candles, cut-glass dishes of candy and slightly tough almonds, figurines of Mickey Mouse, brass Rotary wheels, and small silk American flags stuck in gilded hard-boiled eggs. On the wall was a banner lettered “Service Before Self,” and the menu—the celery, cream of tomato soup, broiled haddock, chicken croquettes, peas, and tutti-frutti ice-cream—was up to the highest standards of the Hotel Wessex.

They were all listening, agape. General Edgeways was completing his manly yet mystical rhapsody on nationalism:
“… for these U-nited States, a-lone among the great powers, have no desire for foreign conquest. Our highest ambition is to be darned well let alone! Our only gen-uine relationship to Europe is in our arduous task of having to try and educate the crass and ignorant masses that Europe has wished onto us up to something like a semblance of American culture and good manners. But, as I explained to you, we must be prepared to defend our shores against all the alien gangs of international racketeers that call themselves ‘governments,’ and that with such feverish envy are always eyeing our inexhaustible mines, our towering forests, our titanic and luxurious cities, our fair and far-flung fields.

“For the first time in all history, a great nation must go on arming itself more and more, not for conquest—not for jealousy— not for war—but for peace! Pray God it may never be necessary, but if foreign nations don’t sharply heed our warning, there will, as when the proverbial dragon’s teeth were sowed, spring up an armed and fearless warrior upon every square foot of these United States, so arduously cultivated and defended by our pioneer fathers, whose sword-girded images we must be… or we shall perish!”

The applause was cyclonic. “Professor” Emil Staubmeyer, the superintendent of schools, popped up to scream, “Three cheers for the General—hip, hip, hooray!”

Full text: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301001h.html

Note:

Title: It Can’t Happen Here
Author: Sinclair Lewis

* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 0301001h.html Language: English Date first posted: Jul 2003 Most recent update: Jul 2017
This eBook was produced by Don Lainson and Roy Glashan.

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To Be Effective, Socialism Must Adapt To 21st Century Needs

Vijay Prashad

IS socialism making a comeback? If so, what exactly is socialism, why did it lose steam toward the latter part of the 20th century, and how do we distinguish democratic socialism, currently in an upward trend in the U.S., from social democracy, which has all but collapsed? Vijay Prashad, executive director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and a leading scholar in socialist studies and the politics of the global South, offers answers to these questions.

C.J. Polychroniou: Socialism represented a powerful and viable alternative to capitalism from the mid-1800s all the way up to the third quarter of the 20th century, but entered a period of crisis soon thereafter for reasons that continue to be debated today. In your view, what are some of the main political, economic and ideological factors that help explain socialism’s setback in the contemporary era?

Vijay Prashad: The first thing to acknowledge is that “socialism” is not merely a set of ideas or a policy framework or anything like that. Socialism is a political movement, a general way of referring to a situation where the workers gain the upper hand in the class struggle and put in place institutions, policies and social networks that advantage the workers. When the political movement is weak and the workers are on the weaker side of the class struggle, it is impossible to speak confidently of “socialism.” So, we need to study carefully how and why workers — the immense majority of humanity — began to see the reservoirs of their strength get depleted. To my mind, the core issue here is globalization — a set of structural and subjective developments that weakened worker power. Let’s take the developments in turn.

There were three structural developments that are essential. First, major technological changes in the world of communications, database management and transportation that allowed firms to have a global reach. The global commodity chain of this period enabled firms to disarticulate production — break up factories into their constituent units and place them around the world. Second, the third world debt crisis debilitated the power of national liberation states and states that — even weakly — had tried to create development pathways for their populations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The debt crisis led to [International Monetary Fund] IMF-driven structural adjustment programs that released hundreds of millions of workers to international capital and for the workforce of the new global commodity chain. Third, the collapse of the USSR and the Eastern bloc, as well as the changes in China provided international capital with hundreds of millions of more workers. What we saw is in this period of globalization was the break-up of the factory form, which weakened trade unions; the impossibility of nationalization of firms, which weakened national liberation states; and the use of the concept of arbitrage to force a race to the bottom for workers. These structural developments, from which workers have not recovered, deeply weakened the workers’ movement. Read more

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Sarah Repucci ~ Freedom And The Media: A Downward Spiral

Key Findings:
Freedom of the media has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade.
In some of the most influential democracies in the world, populist leaders have overseen concerted attempts to throttle the independence of the media sector.
While the threats to global media freedom are real and concerning in their own right, their impact on the state of democracy is what makes them truly dangerous.
Experience has shown, however, that press freedom can rebound from even lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity. The basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact-based journalism, can never be extinguished.

The fundamental right to seek and disseminate information through an independent press is under attack, and part of the assault has come from an unexpected source. Elected leaders in many democracies, who should be press freedom’s staunchest defenders, have made explicit attempts to silence critical media voices and strengthen outlets that serve up favorable coverage. The trend is linked to a global decline in democracy itself: The erosion of press freedom is both a symptom of and a contributor to the breakdown of other democratic institutions and principles, a fact that makes it especially alarming.

According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World data, media freedom has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade, with new forms of repression taking hold in open societies and authoritarian states alike. The trend is most acute in Europe, previously a bastion of well-established freedoms, and in Eurasia and the Middle East, where many of the world’s worst dictatorships are concentrated. If democratic powers cease to support media independence at home and impose no consequences for its restriction abroad, the free press corps could be in danger of virtual extinction.

Experience has shown, however, that press freedom can rebound from even lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity. The basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact-based journalism, can never be extinguished, and it is never too late to renew the demand that these rights be granted in full.

Read more: https://freedomhouse.org/freedom-media-2019

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The Embassy Of Good Science

The goal of The Embassy of Good Science is to promote research integrity among all those involved in research. The platform is open to anyone willing to learn or support others in fostering understanding and awareness around Good Science.

The Embassy aims to become a unique ‘go to’ place, a public square where the community of researchers can gather to discuss ‘hot topics’, share knowledge, and find guidance and support to perform science responsibly and with integrity.

We want to focus on researchers’ daily practice. Our ambition is to collaboratively map the laws, policies and guidelines informing good practices and highlight relevant cases, experiences, educational materials and good practice examples. We will also support educators to develop training on research integrity and ethics.

Let our community take over
The Embassy of Good Science is developed by and for researchers, who are willing to gather and join forces to preserve and safeguard good science. No embassy can function without its ambassadors. And that’s where you come in.

The Embassy of Good Science
Your platform for research integrity and ethics
Our declaration describes the Embassy’s principles in strong, affirmative language. It forms a clear reference for all involved, including you.

Go to: https://www.embassy.science/

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Anna Eijsbouts ~ Voting In The EU

A short film explaining democracy in the EU and the European Parliament and how your vote moves it.
Written by European Constitutional Law Professor Tom Eijsbouts, animated & directed by Anna Eijsbouts.

This film has been made out of necessity and has been funded via Kickstarter.
Credits:
Voice – Gabriella Schmidt
Sound Design – Rik Kooijman
Additional Post Production – Kasper Werther
Thanks to Lot Rossmark, Marlyn Spaaij, Dorien Suntjens, Amber Verstegen, Tünde Vollenbroek, Jamie K. Bolio
Executive Producers – Jan Eijsbouts, Dolf Huijgers, Pieter Jan Kuiper, Laurence Chazournes de Boisson, Kris Spinhoven

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Laat terroristen niet bepalen wie onze helden zijn

Bart Top

Bomaanslagen op moskeeën in Nieuw Zeeland worden beantwoord met zelfdodingsmissies in Sri Lanka en aanslagen op een synagoge in de Verenigde Staten. Extremisten richten zich op religieuze symbolen van de veronderstelde vijand. In 2015 waarschuwde Bart Top dat ‘cartoonwedstrijden’ in diezelfde richting gaan. Reden om een geactualiseerde versie van het essay nogmaals uit te brengen.

Wie weet nog dat er een tijd was dat de VVD zich hard maakte voor de emancipatie van de islam in Europa, een tijd waarin uitgerekend Frits Bolkestein zich profileerde met zijn rol in het comité van aanbeveling bij een leerstoel ‘liberale islam’ voor de Parijse hoogleraar Islamitische Filosofie Mohammed Arkoun, zoals Bolkestein ook het boek Moslims in de polder publiceerde waarin hij in gesprek ging met een range aan moslims en dat volgens de VVD-leider een ‘boeiend perspectief’ bood ‘op de positie van de islam in de polder die Nederland heet’. Na 9/11, Fortuyn, Verdonk wil niemand er meer van weten. Zich inlaten met de islam, dat past niet meer bij het beeld dat de VVD nu neerzet.

De verschuiving binnen de VVD is ook bij links te zien. De agenda van partijen als PvdA en Groenlinks bestond vanaf de jaren negentig tot 2008 zo ongeveer uit het zo ongemerkt mogelijk opschuiven naar de rechts-liberale agenda, pas onlangs is daarin een kentering gaande. Van de vrijheid, gelijkheid en broederschap bleef twee decennia lang alleen de vrijheid op het banier staan. Dertig jaar nadat in Frankrijk de bekende leuze Touche pas á mon pote opkwam, kleurt de leus Je suis Charlie het (virtuele) landschap. Waar de jongerenbeweging toen schreeuwde om integratie en het aanpakken van de banlieues sluiten de rijen zich nu om de vrijheid van meningsuiting. Waar toen het accent lag op gelijkheid en het tegengaan van discriminatie is nu bij sterk toegenomen maatschappelijke ongelijkheid vrijheid het parool.

Vrijheid van meningsuiting en persvrijheid zijn op zich uiteraard geen rechtse onderwerpen. Integendeel. Het zijn moeizaam door burgers op overheden bevochten rechten voor wie misstanden aan de kaak wil stellen. Zij worden pas ‘rechts’ als het concept vrijheid in een dominante verhouding gebruikt wordt om de vrijheid van anderen te beperken. Is dat nu het geval? Op voorhand is vast te stellen dat de discussie over de vrijheid van meningsuiting op dit moment geen vrijblijvende, filosofische kwestie is. Zij spitst zich in een heel specifieke context toe op het recht het afbeeldingstaboe in de islam te schenden. Het schijnt op dit moment de ultieme en enige lakmoesproef om die vrijheid van meningsuiting te toetsen.

Dit discours over de islam, de vrijheid van meningsuiting en het recht op kwetsen begon voor ons in Nederland met de zogenaamde Rushie-affaire, die geruime tijd na het publiceren van de Duivelsverzen losbarstte. Rushdie zelf benadrukte altijd dat hij nooit de intentie had om moslims te kwetsen en distantieerde zich niet van de islam. Rushdie was en is eerder een multiculturalist die werelden confronteert zonder ze boven elkaar te stellen.
Read more

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