Sinclair Lewis published It Can’t Happen Here in 1936. Think 9/11. Think Patriot Act. Think Afghanistan, Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly and mandatory health insurance. Is corporatocracy fascism? Think Orwell. Think RFID chips embedded in consumer goods and suspension of habeus corpus. Think surveillance cameras bristling from every solid surface in sight. Do you feel safer? Do you believe what you’re told? Or do you believe your lying eyes?
Page numbers reference the first edition …
“This country has gone so flabby that any gang daring enough not to seem illegal can grab hold of the entire government and have all the power and applause and salutes, all the money and palaces and willin’ women they want.” (p. 81)
“The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin! No inherent reason why anybody’s grandchildren shouldn’t be living in caves and heaving rocks at catamounts.” (p. 134)
“Blessed be they who are not Patriots and Idealists, and who do not feel they must dash right in and Do Something About It, something so immediately important that all doubters must be liquidated.” (p. 138)
“Is it just possible that the most vigorous and boldest idealists have been the worst enemies of human progress instead of its greatest creators, that plain men with the humble trait of minding their own business will rank higher in the heavenly hierarchy than all the plumed souls who have shoved their way in among the masses and insisted on saving them?” (p. 141)
“It isn’t what you earn but how you spend it that fixes your class.” (p. 247)
“A dozen yes-men buzzed about him, their hats in their hands, their smiles on their faces, their souls wriggling with gratitude to him for permitting them to exist.” (p. 399)
Now consider this, dear readers … The Cybersecurity Act of 2009: Senate bill S.773, introduced by John Rockefeller (D-WV) on April Fool’s Day (no kiddin’). The summary of the bill explains that it “would establish a new Cybersecurity Advisory Panel within the White House (and call) on the Department of Commerce to establish and maintain a clearinghouse on information related to cybsecurity threat and vulnerability information to public and private infrastructure deemed ‘critical’ by the President. The Secretary of Commerce would be given access to this information ‘without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.’ The bill would also give the President new authority to ‘declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.'”
Translation: Sen. Rockefeller’s bill seeks to give the Executive branch of government unrestricted authority to excavate, truncate or completely shut down any portion of the Internet wherein it deems a “threat” to be “critical.” The digital equivalent of martial law. A similar measure, dubbed the “Digital Economy Bill,” is being debated in the UK.
Now please turn to page 304 and read along with me: “Doremus discovered that neither he nor any other small citizen had been hearing one hundredth of what was going on in America, that a modern state can dominate the complex contemporary population better than had ever been done in medieval days.”
Amen to that, Brother Lewis. Step away from the keyboard with your hands in the air.