LANTERN TIMEGLASS JOURNAL
by Jim Lantern
2:00 p.m. CT Friday 30 October 2015
IF THIS GOES ON—
Excerpts from Wikipedia article…
- “If This Goes On—” is a science fiction short novel by Robert A. Heinlein, first serialized in 1940 in Astounding Science-Fiction and revised and expanded for inclusion in the 1953 collection Revolt in 2100. The novel shows what might happen to Christianity in the United States given mass communications, applied psychology, and a hysterical populace. The novel is part of Heinlein’s Future History series.
- The story is set in a future theocratic American society, ruled by the latest in a series of fundamentalist Christian “Prophets.” The First Prophet was Nehemiah Scudder, a backwoods preacher turned President (elected in 2012), then dictator (no elections were held in 2016 or later).
The following paragraphs have been excerpted from the 1986 Baen Book printing of Robert A. Heinlein’s novel titled “Revolt in 2100” –from the story titled “If This Goes On—”:
Successful revolution is big business – make no mistake about that. In a modern, complex, and highly industrialized state, revolution is not accomplished by a handful of conspirators whispering around a guttering candle in a deserted ruin. It requires countless personnel, supplies, modern machinery and modern weapons. And to handle these factors successfully there must be loyalty, secrecy, and superlative organization.
I was kept busy but my work was fill-in work, since I was awaiting assignment. I had time to dig into the library and I looked up Tom Paine, which led me to Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson and others – a whole new world was opened up to me. I had trouble at first in admitting the possibility of what I read; I think perhaps of all things a police state can do to its citizens, distorting history is possibly the most pernicious. For example, I learned for the first time that the United States had not been ruled by a bloodthirsty emissary of Satan before the First Prophet arose in his wrath and cast him out – but had been a community of free men deciding their own affairs by peaceful consent. I don’t mean that the first republic had been a scriptural paradise, but it hadn’t been anything like what I had learned in school.
For the first time in my life I was reading things which had not been approved by the Prophet’s censors, and the impact on my mind was devastating. Sometimes I would glance over my shoulder to see who was watching me, frightened in spit of myself. I began to sense faintly that secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy . . . censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, “This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know,” the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything—you can’t conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.
My thoughts did not then fall into syllogisms; my head was filled with an inchoate spate of new ideas, each more exciting than the last. I discovered that travel between the planets, almost a myth in my world, had not stopped because the First Prophet had forbidden it as a sin against the omnipotence of God; it had ceased because it had gone into the red financially and the Prophet’s government would not subsidize it. There was even an implied statement that the “infidels” (I still used that word in my mind) still sent out an occasional research ship and that there were human beings even now on Mars and Venus.
…Maybe someday the United States would have space ships again…
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