History repeats itself, because no one was listening the first time. Yet it is not just history, and the non-fiction books which document it, that should serve as a warning to all of humanity about where we are headed. There is plenty to be learned from classic literature and fiction novels as well, about who we are and where we are headed. And although most fiction is meant to entertain us, there is plenty of literature out there that allegorically shames us for where we have been, or warns us about where we are headed.
My personal favorite example of this type of fiction is the “dystopian future” literature. Not the apocalyptic or zombie variety, but rather the “oppressive all-powerful authoritarian government” kind. Famous works of literature such as Zamyatin’s We, Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984, or Rand’s Anthem were written to serve as blatantly obvious warnings about a very real and possible not-so-distant future, where man is dominated by the state and individuality is destroyed, often in the name of creating a false utopia. The problem is that so many damn people miss this obvious point.
Many of these dystopian books are read and taught in school (or at least they were in my day, God only knows what kind of idiotic dumbed-down crap the modern public schools are “teaching” today). During my high school years I recall reading the books above, and just like millions of other students. They are not obscure. They are in fact well-known and highly regarded works, with a large segment of the population having read at least some of them. They should also be especially well-known and well-read books among the so-called educated, enlightened, and academic pseudo-intellectual progressive crowd.
Hell, even if we dumb it down a notch, we can still look at some of the wildly popular tween book franchises, such as The Hunger Games or Divergent, which share many similar themes with the classics, and also have a widespread young readership. So therefore it is not as if these themes are out in the public mind.
Let’s dumb it down a notch further, to the absolute lowest common denominator, and infer that even if the illiterate dregs of society have not read any of these books at all, than they must have at least seen a movie version of one of these books. Even barring that, let’s assume that they must have at least seen some movie with similar themes or plots during some point in their lives. These themes and warnings to humanity have been dispersed to a wide audience in one form of media or another. Again, the problem is that so many ignorant people out there are completely oblivious to this message, and miss the obvious point entirely.
I suppose that most people out there, assuming that they are even capable of comprehending the themes in these types of stories, see them as nothing more than fiction and entertainment value. They hold the naive assumption that it could never happen here or to them, and that our society could never actually end up that way, all the while mindlessly voting for the very people and policies that are contributing to the erosion of individual liberty and rights while strengthening the central authoritarian power of the state. And it is all in the name and the false promise of creating utopia. The sheer lack of a connection is mind-blowing, but it is not at all surprising.
The other category of people who are utterly oblivious, are so-called intelligent “useful idiots” who actually claim to understand the point of this literature. These so-called enlightened intellectuals will proudly brag about how well read and educated they are, and will proudly admit to reading many of these books, yet they still completely miss the point. Oh they will absolutely acknowledge with a straight face the dangerous themes and warnings within these books, yet they will always point the finger at the “other side.” They will always attribute the road to oppression with the policies of the opposite side, never once looking in the mirror to see that they are cheering for their own demise.
The progressive left will blame those on the conservative right. They will blatantly call them fascists, nationalists, xenophobic racists, and Nazis, who are hell-bent on enacting some kind of corporatist authoritarian police state. They are completely oblivious, unconcerned, or complicit that their own progressive socialist, Marxist, statist, and social justice utopian policies will erode freedom, individualism, and individual rights just the same, all while granting limitless power to the state.
The establishment right will blame the left as well, calling them socialists, communists, and progressives, hell-bent on enacting an all-powerful centrally-planned economy and government. They too are oblivious, unconcerned, or complicit that their own neo-con, corporate welfare, and progressive right policies serve only to empower the state as well.
This is a complete and utter lack of understanding by many, that two roads can very well lead to the same place. There are many roads to hell, all of them paved with good intentions. It is a failure to think critically, and to delve deep into the dangers of one’s own belief system. Just because someone happens to agree with the policies of their own side, doesn’t make them any less potentially dangerous. Utopia means very different things to different people.
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it. Millions of people in this world have been killed in the name of creating utopia. Millions still live under the boot of oppression, whatever the name of that oppression may be. Whether history, non-fiction, or literature, the lessons are clear to those willing to see them.