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CLR Book Club – Week 11 March 14, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Any thoughts on how It Can’t Happen Here foreshadows Trump?

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1. shea - March 14, 2017

The way he gets air time for an idea thats not down on paper yet is interesting.

Its important to notice that the northern assembly’s legislative record is fairly shit. I get a lot of people attach symbolic importance to it but still, its not very good. Might need people from the north saying that though. Probably won’t be the provo’s.

Am all for regional goverment in ireland, would even brake it down further. Don’t think crumlin or cabra should have to lobby for years to get the likes of a play ground put in a park. Should have the decision making processes and means to do it themselves. but structures that can’t do anything just create justified cynicism.

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2. Starkadder - March 14, 2017

I finished the book last week. Pretty good.

It does strike me that the way Buzz Windrip is able to make powerful speeches without any practical content (when Jessup attends a Windrip rally, he isn’t able to remember the contents of his speeches afterwards) is very Trump-like.

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WorldbyStorm - March 14, 2017

I’ve been pacing myself, I think you me and YourCousin are the only ones who are reading it or have read it…

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yourcousin - March 15, 2017

Just got my copy this week, am unfortunately running two shifts (6am-2:30pm and 5pm-1:30am) Monday through Thursday so very little reading getting done this week, but I did start it.

How’s that for a run on sentence?

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oconnorlysaght - March 18, 2017

I’ve just finished my first reading. I like to read books twice over before judging them but as it is late I will state my first impressions.
If Wbs, your cousin and me are the only ones to have read the work, the rest of you are depriving yourselves. It is a dam’ good read, in content (an exciting story) and form (easy style).
Politically, as has been mentioned, it is good to see that two of the four developed characters in the work are women (Lorinda and Sissy). They compare favourably to heroines of other dystopian works.
It is also notable that Lewis gets the dynamic of Fascist ideology pat. Its common idea is that it can give a large enough plurality the benefits of socialism/communism on the cheap, that is without disturbing too much the profits of its paymasters. This means depriving the internal others (Jews, African-Americans, and, despite their numbers, women) and, when all else fails, attacking foreign states (in this case, Mexico). it is the ultimate in culturalism.
Negatively, Lewis’ starts the narrative too soon. Perhaps this is because his readers would have known the possibilities of the situation in ’35. At all events, it is not made clear why Roosevelt was practically bound to be defeated in 1936 (in real life, of course, he was returned in a landslide). The fact that many people could see that the New Deal was failing to deliver the goods is mentioned only obliquely.
This is an handicap by Lewis’ class sense. His hero, Doremus, is rather like Joyce’ Gabriel Conroy, although forced into action against his will. Yet his commitment is spurred from what would have been a subsidiary position. Fascism is the bosses’ answer to the major crisis of the system on which they depend. It involves maximising their profits at their workers’ expense (and blaming it on Jews, Communists, et al).Yet the smashing of the workers’ organisations is treated as subsidiary and the benefits to the capitalists are minimised as the gains of the friends of Windrip and the OC. The workers are lumped in as part of the supporting cast to Doremus’ own Odyssey. There is no sense of the class struggles stimulated by the New Deal, inadequate as it was in itself, no mention even in the background of the longshoremen’s strike on the west coast, of the Minneapolis strikes, or of the foundation of the CIO. Worse than this, the most developed working class character (actually, he would seem to be lumpen, but we may doubt whether Lewis could tell the differ) is the abominable Shay Leduc. The sympathetic workers are one-dimensional). The tragic Dan Wilgus is shown only as a truculent militant. Karl Pascal seems to be introduced only as a justifiable example of militant left sectarianism, and even here Lewis gets his facts skewed; in his time frame the CP was abandoning third period sectarianism in favour of the People’s Front. Mrs Candy is a working class heroine only allowed an occasional appearance, but generally overshadowed by the bourgeois Lorinda and Sissy.
All this points to a possible denoument in which the good guys (and dolls) headed by a defeated Republican candidate are likely to defeat the villains, on a vaguely progressive programme (a bit like the first Dail’s Democratic one). However, given the balance of forces, the underlying problems of capitalism will remain. Mind you, this is prophetic on an international scale; the defeat of Fascism was achieved by liberal capitalism. which was able to build on the fascist achievements in disciplining the work force.
So to get to answer the question posed above. There are obvious resemblances between Trump and Windrip, though also differences. I think Trump does have ideas of his own short of outright fascism. He predicates openly the need for the American bosses to increase their profits, but offers trade wars rather than smashing the workers’ unions, and, of course, xenophobia. His first months in power have been more restrained than Windrip’s; no Minute Men have been created. This may reflect the fact that , unlike in ’35, there is no apparent opposition to capitalism for the short run. It would be wrong to assume that this will always be the case.

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WorldbyStorm - March 18, 2017

Fantastic overview OCL, looking forward to your assessment on your second reading. Trump doesn’t go up openly against labour he sort of sneaks around it.

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CL - March 18, 2017
yourcousin - March 19, 2017

I would point out that currently Trump doesn’t need to go against labor. He is able to use it as a rhetorical device to give him populist appeal. And there is little the union movement can do about it representing single digits of the American work force.

That is not even addressing the grovelling done by union “leadership” for jobs building his wall, or to fab the steel for his pipeline.

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