By Carlisle Shelson
In case you missed it, Donald Trump is now our president. Don’t hold your breath—the United States has entered into a new status quo. The Trump administration has already started to veer toward illiberal policymaking, pushing for total censorship of our scientific agencies, a ban on all refugees and immigrants from Middle Eastern countries in which the president does not have business interests, and a push to dismantle all progressive institutions that have been established in the twentieth century. Worst of all, Trump and his administration have ushered in a new age of “alternative facts,” where the White House is the emblem of truth and the “mainstream media” are lying to the people to advance an agenda.
It seems to this observer that Trump et al. have avidly read dystopian novels and like the politically repressed settings. The worlds within dystopian novels feature totalitarianism, fascism, censorship, a suppression of individualism, a push for homogeneity, and a nightmarish penchant for isolated nationalism. And it’s pretty obvious to the literate of America—Amazon recently had a run on copies of George Orwell’s 1984, Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism.
It’s a safe bet that at least one of these books appeared on your high school English syllabi, and like all high school English students, you skimmed your required reading to get back to Harry Potter.
However, these novels invoke a chilly post-apocalyptic world, where power is highly centralized and designed to maintain total loyalty and absolute control. Truth is relative; individuality is non-existent. The rise in popularity of these novels concurrent with the stream of executive orders (of questionable legality) is not coincidental: it’s a statement, a call-to-arms to be attentive and alert.
This is your survival syllabus. Reading is resistance.