Wednesday, 9 December 2015

"The Old And Protean Enemy"

The title character of Poul Anderson's "The Sensitive Man," reflecting on "political gangsterism," thinks:

"The old enemy - the old and protean enemy, who had been fought down as Fascist, Nazi, Shintoist, Communist, Atomist, Americanist, and God knew what else for a bloody century - had grown craftier with time."
-Poul Anderson, The Psychotechnic League (New York, 1981), p. 138.

He is a very protean enemy if he can take all those forms! The first three are World War II. The fourth is the Cold War and maybe World War III. The fifth and sixth must be post-WWIII? In their real meanings, "Communist" and "Nazi" do not belong on the same list but, of course, Dalgetty is thinking of the meanings that those words came to have. Stalin's Communism was not international socialism but "socialism in one country." Sounds familiar? Should: Naziism is National Socialism.

Somewhere between the ages of seven and eleven, I read a Classics Illustrated comic book adaptation of The Time Machine. This authentic adaptation accurately reproduced short sections of the text. The Time Traveler, observing that the Eloi lived communally in large, palatial buildings, made two comments that I did not understand. First, that the private house had disappeared. I (mis)understood this literally. Thus, I thought that the Time Traveler had seen a single building, although I had not, and that that building had then vanished or become invisible. This was not only puzzling but also quite disturbing. Secondly, he remarked, "Communism." (Chapter 6, "The Sunset of Mankind.") I did not understand this because I did not yet know that the original meaning of the word was simply common ownership.

Anderson continues Wells' serious speculation about the future of society.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I have to disagree with your comment "In their real meanings "Communist" and "Nazi" do not belong on the same list.." Jonah Goldberg, in his book LIBERAL FASCISM convinced me, from the words and writings of Mussolini and Hitler, of how MUCH Italian Fascism and German National Socialism has in common with Communism. That all three were left wing movements sharing common ideas and origins.