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Book Review: THE IRON HEEL (1908) by Jack London

"The Iron Heel" (1908) was author Jack London's (White Fang, Call of the Wild) socialist manifesto set in a futuristic dystopia. It is widely credited as being THE FIRST "dystopoian novel"...influencing George Orwell (Animal Farm & 1984), Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) and Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged).

Given the work-place horrors of the 2nd Industrial Revolution (1880s-1920s), it is easy to understand the Labor-centric ideals of writers from this era. London, a San Francisco-based thinker, hung out with lots of socialists. They sure had a bone to pick with industry back then. But today's liberals (during the era of OSHA, for Pete's sake) are still swimming in the same vat of hate and willful ignorance.

The supreme irony here is that most of London's predictions of the fall of capitalism (by the 1930s) never materialized and (since he died in 1916) he never even saw how U.S. industry won 2 world wars.

But one prophecy that DID materialize (sort of) was the rise of a fascist oligarchy that would rule and oppress labor (industrial and agrarian) and the middle class. I say "sort of" b/c he did not think that the oligarchs would emerge from his own, beloved socialist left!

Also, he predicted that the oligarchs would build a magnificent city called Asgard where the wealthy class could live in splendor while the proletariat would live in poverty. Sounds a lot like today's San Francisco.

-Nick P

Categories: Book Review

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