Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Iron Heel

“A truer prophecy of the future than either Brave New World or the Shape of Things to come”- George Orwell.

As a brief look at my favourite books section in my profile will make clear, I really love Dystopia's, really when I read Nineteen Eighty Four I can actually see myself living in Airstrip One, or when I watch Brazil I fantastic comedy not only do I find the confused and embarrassed meandering of Sam very enjoyable but also love the little and more subtle digs at the society that he inhabits. (I especially liked the advert at the beginning for the option for customers to personalise there ducts with a range of colours, because the customer has to be satisfied personally). But there obviously as the name implies quite bleak especially toward the end.

The Iron Heel
By Jack London who also wrote the people of the abyss is a bit of an exception as its presented as an historical peace about the 1920's/30's by an historian in the far of perfect future were the Brotherhood Of Man (BOM) have united the world and solved all of societies ills.

The actual "tale" of the book tells the life story of a Petit-bourgeoisie father and daughter John and Avis Cunningham respectively and there association with proletarian hero and ardent Socialist Ernest Everhard, yes that is seriously his name,now I know language and words change with the passage of time gay being perhaps the most obvious example as is the word ejaculate (or at least I hope its meaning has actually changed) but Its implied that the name is fitting, or to quote Jonathan Auerbach who wrote the foreword to my edition "He is, after all, Ernest Everhard- no Viagra needed". Thankfully they mostly refer to him by his first name so it isn't to bad.

Anyway the actual story can be broken up into three parts, the first part is mostly about Ernests interaction with the Cunningham's and how he converts them to Socialism using logic and case studies. The second part is about Ernest and the Socialists electoral struggles in the US Senate and how the Capitalist class seriously threatened for the first time become increasingly Authoritarian and brutal culminating in the "Iron Heel" of the title. "This then is our answer. We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In the roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine guns will our answer be couched. We will grind you Revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces".

The third and final part tells the tale of the Revolt itself against the "Oligarchy" as the Capitalist class have now become known. In the end aside from the overly optimistic timeline (the workers in Germany and the US are able to prevent a WW1 style conflict through strikes, as opposed to what really happened were pretty much all Socialists opposed it till it was officially declared then became enthusiastic supporters of it) The Iron Heel is actually a fascinating read and impressed not only Orwell but Leon Trotsky as well.

Unfortunatley some feminist might not find the depiction of the only Female character of note Avis too flattering. She is essentially a Daddies girl and even though she becomes an enthusiastic supporter of the Revolution she is kind of at the mercy of the men in her life, though to be fair this was written in June 1914 so there weren't a lot of examples of proactive female politicians so its probably just a product of Jacks times. Also some of the Syndicalist persuasion are not going to be to happy about one of the Oligarchies means of maintain power, to cut off the Socialist's from the Proletariat they privilege certain Labour Unions to the point that they create Labour caste's to maintain a steady supply of troops for there counter Revolution.

Another more disturbing phenomena is that the book has become something of a must read for the American white supremacist movement as well apparently because mr London was "anti government" this just goes to show the stupidity of white power groups "Get Ready for the rebirth of Western culture!...classic story of Revolutionary struggle...despite the commies who tried to paint London as one of there own since he opposed Capitalism" just to reiterate this "Revolutionary classic" has the revolt spurred on by a man who is actually a Card carrying Socialist, the Revolt itself is international and global and has its stated aim as the creation of a global Commonwealth of man. Mr London couldn't have been more like a "Commie" if he underwent plastic surgery to look like Karl Marx and then grew the matching beard.

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