Jack London speculates in The Iron Heel that the corporate oligarchy would stomp down the revolution by the workers and that it would take 300 years of underground resistance for the powerful 1% to be overthrown, creating a harmonious world free of money and exploitation. Would he be surprised to find out that 100 years after this fictional revolution the oligarchy is firmly in control and the only hint of a resistance is the mutterings of a few who are dismissed as misanthropes? The workers seem to have ignored the dire predictions of this early work of speculative fiction while the oligarchy has taken it as a “how-to” manual in order to peacefully enslave the majority by giving them just enough comforts to mollify any resistance. While the story meanders a bit along the way, the socialistic thoughts and predictions contained in it make it mandatory reading for all of the 99%.
Some great comments below. While reading this, I constantly had to remind myself this was written in 1908, before the Great Depression and the World Wars. On the other hand, it also shows how primitive wage labor still was, a century after the Industrial Revolution.
Also interesting to note the influence on George Orwell, who emphasized the democratic aspect of Socialism more, and who of course had his own dystopia (Nineteen Eighty-Four).
Imagine, calling a novel ONLY visionary which predates the extraordinary plutocratic legislation passed in 1913? Perhaps Jack London's greatest, and least-known, novel. Want the greatest possible education on capitalism, economics and finance? Read The Iron Heal, at the same time you are reading Prof. Michael Perelman's book, The Invention of Capitalism. You will be most pleased. [And don't stop there, be sure to read Jack London's book, How I Became a Socialist.]
Jack London (adventurer, erstwhile oyster pirate, writer, mild racist, socialist) is best known for his wilderness books, so this prophetic book that imagines a future (but it's really today!) in which animosity between labor and capital is full-blown, is something of an outlier. It's polemical and didactic and reads less as a novel than a political tract influenced by H.G. Wells, among others. His extensive use of footnotes beats D.F. Wallace to the punch by nearly a century. Would be a good double feature with Sinclair Lewis's "It Can't Happen Here."
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