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Part 5. Make America Great Again? Fascism, It Can’t Happen Here. A Warning From The Past – Sinclair Lewis – (Chapters 16-18).

“Despite strikes and riots all over the country, bloodily put down by the Minute Men, Windrip’s power in Washington was maintained.

Never in American history had the adherents of a President been so well satisfied; they were not only appointed to whatever political jobs there were but to ever so many that really were not; and with such annoyances as Congressional Investigations hushed, the official awarders of contracts were on the merriest of terms with all contractors.

Unemployment had, under the benign reign of President Berzelius Windrip, almost disappeared. Almost all workless men were assembled in enormous labor camps, under M.M. officers. Their wives and children accompanied them and took care of the cooking, cleaning, and repair of clothes. The men did not merely work on state projects; they were also hired out at the reasonable rate of one dollar a day to private employers. Of course, so selfish is human nature even in Utopia, this did cause most employers to discharge the men to whom they had been paying more than a dollar a day, but that took care of itself, because these overpaid malcontents in their turn were forced into the labor camps.

And they had the Jews and the Negroes to look down on, more and more. The M.M.’s saw to that. Every man is a king so long as he has someone to look down on.”

It Can’t Happen Here is a semi-satirical 1935 political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis.

Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and “traditional” values.

After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes a pIutocratic/totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS.

The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion.

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“I have no desire to be President. I would much rather do my humble best as a supporter of Bishop Prang, Ted Bilbo, Gene Talmadge or any other broad-gauged but peppy Liberal. My only longing is to Serve.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

Like many bachelors given to vigorous hunting and riding, Buck Titus was a fastidious housekeeper, and his mid-Victorian farmhouse fussily neat. It was also pleasantly bare: the living room a monastic hall of heavy oak chairs, tables free of dainty covers, numerous and rather solemn books of history and exploration, with the conventional “sets,” and a tremendous fireplace of rough stone. And the ash trays were solid pottery and pewter, able to cope with a whole evening of cigarette-smoking. The whisky stood honestly on the oak buffet, with siphons, and with cracked ice always ready in a thermos jug.

It would, however, have been too much to expect Buck Titus not to have red-and-black imitation English hunting-prints.

This hermitage, always grateful to Doremus, was sanctuary now, and only with Buck could he adequately damn Windrip & Co. and people like Francis Tasbrough, who in February was still saying, “Yes, things do look kind of hectic down there in Washington, but that’s just because there’s so many of these bullheaded politicians that still think they can buck Windrip. Besides, anyway, things like that couldn’t ever happen here in New England.”

And, indeed, as Doremus went on his lawful occasions past the red-brick Georgian houses, the slender spires of old white churches facing the Green, as he heard the lazy irony of familiar greetings from his acquaintances, men as enduring as their Vermont hills, it seemed to him that the madness in the capital was as alien and distant and unimportant as an earthquake in Tibet.

Constantly, in the Informer, he criticized the government but not too acidly.

The hysteria can’t last; be patient, and wait and see, he counseled his readers.

It was not that he was afraid of the authorities. He simply did not believe that this comic tyranny could endure. It can ’t happen here, said even Doremus, even now.

The one thing that most perplexed him was that there could be a dictator seemingly so different from the fervent Hitlers and gesticulating Fascists and the Caesars with laurels round bald domes; a dictator with something of the earthy American sense of humor of a Mark Twain, a George Ade, a Will Rogers, an Artemus Ward. Windrip could be ever so funny about solemn jaw-drooping opponents, and about the best method of training what he called “a Siamese flea hound.” Did that, puzzled Doremus, make him less or more dangerous?

Then he remembered the most cruel, mad of all pirates, Sir Henry Morgan, who had thought it ever so funny to sew a victim up in wet rawhide and watch it shrink in the sun.

From the perseverance with which they bickered, you could tell that Buck Titus and Lorinda were much fonder of each other than they would admit. Being a person who read little and therefore took what he did read seriously, Buck was distressed by the normally studious Lorinda’s vacation liking for novels about distressed princesses, and when she airily insisted that they were better guides to conduct than Anthony Trollope or Thomas Hardy, Buck roared at her and, in the feebleness of baited strength, nervously filled pipes and knocked them out against the stone mantel. But he approved of the relationship between Doremus and Lorinda, which only he (and Shad Ledue!) had guessed, and over Doremus, ten years his senior, this shaggy-headed woodsman fussed like a thwarted spinster.

To both Doremus and Lorinda, Buck’s overgrown shack became their refuge. And they needed it, late in February, five weeks or thereabouts after Windrip’s election.

Despite strikes and riots all over the country, bloodily put down by the Minute Men, Windrip’s power in Washington was maintained. The most liberal four members of the Supreme Court resigned and were replaced by surprisingly unknown lawyers who called President Windrip by his first name. A number of Congressmen were still being “protected” in the District of Columbia jail; others had seen the blinding light forever shed by the goddess Reason and happily returned to the Capitol. The Minute Men were increasingly loyal, they were still unpaid volunteers, but provided with “expense accounts” considerably larger than the pay of the regular troops. Never in American history had the adherents of a President been so well satisfied; they were not only appointed to whatever political jobs there were but to ever so many that really were not; and with such annoyances as Congressional Investigations hushed, the official awarders of contracts were on the merriest of terms with all contractors. . . . One veteran lobbyist for steel corporations complained that there was no more sport in his hunting you were not only allowed but expected to shoot all government purchasing agents sitting.

None of the changes was so publicized as the Presidential mandate abruptly ending the separate existence of the different states, and dividing the whole country into eight “provinces”, thus, asserted Windrip, economizing by reducing the number of governors and all other state officers and, asserted Windrip’s enemies, better enabling him to concentrate his private army and hold the country.

The new “Northeastern Province” included all of New York State north of a line through Ossining, and all of New England except a strip of Connecticut shore as far east as New Haven. This was, Doremus admitted, a natural and homogeneous division, and even more natural seemed the urban and industrial “Metropolitan Province,” which included Greater New York, Westchester County up to Ossining, Long Island, the strip of Connecticut dependent on New York City, New Jersey, northern Delaware, and Pennsylvania as far as Reading and Scranton.

Each province was divided into numbered districts, each district into lettered counties, each county into townships and cities, and only in these last did the old names, with their traditional appeal, remain to endanger President Windrip by memories of honorable local history. And it was gossiped that, next, the government would change even the town names, that they were already thinking fondly of calling New York “Berzelian” and San Francisco “San Sarason.” Probably that gossip was false.

The Northeastern Province’s six districts were: 1, Upper New York State west of and including Syracuse; 2, New York east of it; 3, Vermont and New Hampshire; 4, Maine; 5, Massachusetts; 6, Rhode Island and the unraped portion of Connecticut.

District 3, Doremus Jessup’s district, was divided into the four “counties” of southern and northern Vermont, and southern and northern New Hampshire, with Hanover for capital, the District Commissioner merely chased the Dartmouth students out and took over the college buildings for his offices, to the considerable approval of Amherst, Williams, and Yale.

So Doremus was living, now, in Northeastern Province, District 3, County B, township of Beulah, and over him for his admiration and rejoicing were a provincial commissioner, a district commissioner, a county commissioner, an assistant county commissioner in charge of Beulah Township, and all their appertaining M.M. guards and emergency military judges.

Citizens who had lived in any one state for more than ten years seemed to resent more hotly the loss of that state’s identity than they did the castration of the Congress and Supreme Court of the United States, indeed, they resented it almost as much as the fact that, while late January, February, and most of March went by, they still were not receiving their governmental gifts of $5000 (or perhaps it would beautifully be $10,000) apiece; had indeed received nothing more than cheery bulletins from Washington to the effect that the “Capital Levy Board,” or C.L.B. was holding sessions.

Virginians whose grandfathers had fought beside Lee shouted that they’d be damned if they’d give up the hallowed state name and form just one arbitrary section of an administrative unit containing eleven Southern states; San Franciscans who had considered Los Angelinos even worse than denizens of Miami now wailed with agony when California was sundered and the northern portion lumped in with Oregon, Nevada, and others as the “Mountain and Pacific Province,” while southern California was, without her permission, assigned to the Southwestern Province, along with Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Hawaii. As some hint of Buzz Windrip’s vision for the future, it was interesting to read that this Southwestern Province was also to be permitted to claim “all portions of Mexico which the United States may from time to time find it necessary to take over, as a protection against the notorious treachery of Mexico and the Jewish plots there hatched.”

“Lee Sarason is even more generous than Hitler and Alfred Rosenberg in protecting the future of other countries,” sighed Doremus.

As Provincial Commissioner of the Northeastern Province, comprising Upper New York State and New England, was appointed Colonel Dewey Haik, that soldier-lawyer-politician-aviator who was the chilliest-blooded and most arrogant of all the satellites of Windrip yet had so captivated miners and fishermen during the campaign. He was a strong-flying eagle who liked his meat bloody.

As District Commissioner of District 3, Vermont and New Hampshire, appeared, to Doremus’s mingled derision and fury, none other than John Sullivan Reek, that stuffiest of stuffed-shirts, that most gaseous gas bag, that most amenable machine politician of Northern New England; a Republican ex-governor who had, in the alembic of Windrip’s patriotism, rosily turned Leaguer.

No one had ever troubled to be obsequious to the Hon. J. S. Reek, even when he had been Governor. The weediest back-country Representative had called him “Johnny,” in the gubernatorial mansion (twelve rooms and a leaky roof); and the youngest reporter had bawled, “Well, what bull you handing out today, Ex?”

It was this Commissioner Reek who summoned all the editors in his district to meet him at his new viceregal lodge in Dartmouth Library and receive the precious privileged information as to how much President Windrip and his subordinate commissioners admired the gentlemen of the press.

Before he left for the press conference in Hanover, Doremus received from Sissy a “poem”, at least she called it that, which Buck Titus, Lorinda Pike, Julian Falck, and she had painfully composed, late at night, in Buck’s fortified manor house:

Be meek with Reek,

Go fake with Haik.

One rhymes with sneak,

And t’ other with snake.

Haik, with his beak,

Is on the make,

But Sullivan Reek

Oh God!

“Well, anyway, Windrip’s put everybody to work. And he’s driven all these unsightly billboards off the highways, much better for the tourist trade,” said all the old editors, even those who wondered if the President, wasn’t perhaps the least bit arbitrary.

As he drove to Hanover, Doremus saw hundreds of huge billboards by the road. But they bore only Windrip propaganda and underneath, “with the compliments of a loyal firm” and, very large, “Montgomery Cigarettes” or “Jonquil Foot Soap.” On the short walk from a parking-space to the former Dartmouth campus, three several men muttered to him, “Give us a nickel for cuppa coffee, Boss, a Minnie Mouse has got my job and the Mouses won’t take me, they say I’m too old.” But that may have been propaganda from Moscow.

On the long porch of the Hanover Inn, officers of the Minute Men were reclining in deck chairs, their spurred boots (in all the MM. organization there was no cavalry) up on the railing.

Doremus passed a science building in front of which was a pile of broken laboratory glassware, and in one stripped laboratory he could see a small squad of M.M.’s drilling.

District Commissioner John Sullivan Reek affectionately received the editors in a classroom. . . . Old men, used to being revered as prophets, sitting anxiously in trifling chairs, facing a fat man in the uniform of an M.M. commander, who smoked an unmilitary cigar as his pulpy hand waved greeting.

Reek took not more than an hour to relate what would have taken the most intelligent man five or six hours, that is, five minutes of speech and the rest of the five hours to recover from the nausea caused by having to utter such shameless rot. . . .

President Windrip, Secretary of State Sarason, Provincial Commissioner Haik, and himself, John Sullivan Reek, they were all being misrepresented by the Republicans, the Jeffersonians, the Communists, England, the Nazis, and probably the jute and herring industries; and what the government wanted was for any reporter to call on any member of this Administration, and especially on Commissioner Reek, at any time, except perhaps between 3 and 7 A.M., and “get the real low-down.”

Excellency Reek announced, then: “And now, gentlemen, I am giving myself the privilege of introducing you to all four of the County Commissioners, who were just chosen yesterday. Probably each of you will know personally the commissioner from your own county, but I want you to intimately and cooperatively know all four, because, whomever they may be, they join with me in my unquenchable admiration of the press.”

The four County Commissioners, as one by one they shambled into the room and were introduced, seemed to Doremus an oddish lot: A moth-eaten lawyer known more for his quotations from Shakespeare and Robert W. Service than for his shrewdness before a jury. He was luminously bald except for a prickle of faded rusty hair, but you felt that, if he had his rights, he would have the floating locks of a tragedian of 1890.

A battling clergyman famed for raiding roadhouses.

A rather shy workman, an authentic proletarian, who seemed surprised to find himself there. (He was replaced, a month later, by a popular osteopath with an interest in politics and vegetarianism.)

The fourth dignitary to come in and affectionately bow to the editors, a bulky man, formidable-looking in his uniform as a battalion leader of Minute Men, introduced as the Commissioner for northern Vermont, Doremus Jessup’s county, was Mr. Oscar Ledue, formerly known as “Shad.”

Mr. Reek called him “Captain” Ledue. Doremus remembered that Shad’s only military service, prior to Windrip’s election, had been as an A.E.F. private who had never got beyond a training-camp in America and whose fiercest experience in battle had been licking a corporal when in liquor.

“Mr. Jessup,” bubbled the Hon. Mr. Reek, “I imagine you must have met Captain Ledue, comes from your charming city.”

“Uh-uh-ur,” said Doremus.

“Sure,” said Captain Ledue. “I’ve met old Jessup, all right, all right! He don’t know what it’s all about. He don’t know the first thing about the economics of our social Revolution. He’s a Cho-vinis. But he isn’t such a bad old coot, and I’ll let him ride as long as he behaves himself!” “Splendid!” said the Hon. Mr. Reek.

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“Like beefsteak and potatoes stick to your ribs even if you’re working your head off, so the words of the Good Book stick by you in perplexity and tribulation. If I ever held a high position over my people, I hope that my ministers would be quoting, from II Kings, 18; 31 8: 32: ”Come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern, until I come and take you away to a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive oil and honey, that ye may live and not die.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip

Despite the claims of Montpelier, the former capital of Vermont, and of Burlington, largest town in the state, Captain Shad Ledue fixed on Fort Beulah as executive center of County B, which was made out of nine former counties of northern Vermont. Doremus never decided whether this was, as Lorinda Pike asserted, because Shad was in partnership with Banker R. C. Crowley in the profits derived from the purchase of quite useless old dwellings as part of his headquarters, or for the even sounder purpose of showing himself off, in battalion leader’s uniform with the letters “C.C.” beneath the five-pointed star on his collar, to the pals with whom he had once played pool and drunk applejack, and to the “snobs” whose lawns he once had mowed.

Besides the condemned dwellings, Shad took over all of the former Scotland County courthouse and established his private office in the judge’s chambers, merely chucking out the law books and replacing them with piles of magazines devoted to the movies and the detection of crime, hanging up portraits of Windrip, Sarason, Haik, and Reek, installing two deep chairs upholstered in poison-green plush (ordered from the store of the loyal Charley Betts but, to Betts’s fury, charged to the government, to be paid for if and when) and doubling the number of judicial cuspidors.

In the top center drawer of his desk Shad kept a photograph from a nudist camp, a flask of Benedictine, a .44 revolver, and a dog whip.

County commissioners were allowed from one to a dozen assistant commissioners, depending on the population. Doremus Jessup was alarmed when he discovered that Shad had had the shrewdness to choose as assistants men of some education and pretense to manners, with “Professor” Emil Staubmeyer as Assistant County Commissioner in charge of the Township of Beulah, which included the villages of Fort Beulah, West and North Beulah, Beulah Center, Trianon, Hosea, and Keezmet.

As Shad had, without benefit of bayonets, become a captain, so Mr. Staubmeyer (author of Hitler and Other Poems of Passion, unpublished) automatically became a doctor.

Perhaps, thought Doremus, he would understand Windrip & Co. better through seeing them faintly reflected in Shad and Staubmeyer than he would have in the confusing glare of Washington; and understand thus that a Buzz Windrip, a Bismarck, a Caesar, a Pericles was like all the rest of itching, indigesting, aspiring humanity except that each of these heroes had a higher degree of ambition and more willingness to kill.

By June, the enrollment of the Minute Men had increased to 562,000, and the force was now able to accept as new members only such trusty patriots and pugilists as it preferred. The War Department was frankly allowing them not just “expense money” but payment ranging from ten dollars a week for “inspectors” with a few hours of weekly duty in drilling, to $9700 a year for “brigadiers” on full time, and $16,000 for the High Marshal, Lee Sarason . . . fortunately without interfering with the salaries from his other onerous duties.

The M.M. ranks were: inspector, more or less corresponding to private; squad leader, or corporal; cornet, or sergeant; ensign, or lieutenant; battalion leader, a combination of captain, major, and lieutenant colonel; commander, or colonel; brigadier, or general; high marshal, or commanding general. Cynics suggested that these honorable titles derived more from the Salvation Army than the fighting forces, but be that cheap sneer justified or no, the fact remains that an M.M. helot had ever so much more pride in being called an “inspector,” an awing designation in all police circles, than in being a “private.”

Since all members of the National Guard were not only allowed but encouraged to become members of the Minute Men also, since all veterans of the Great War were given special privileges, and since “Colonel” Osceola Luthorne, the Secretary of War, was generous about lending regular army officers to Secretary of State Sarason for use as drill masters in the M.M.’s, there was a surprising proportion of trained men for so newly born an army.

Lee Sarason had proven to President Windrip by statistics from the Great War that college education, and even the study of the horrors of other conflicts, did not weaken the masculinity of the students, but actually made them more patriotic, flag-waving, and skillful in the direction of slaughter than the average youth, and nearly every college in the country was to have, this coming autumn, its own battalion of M.M.’s, with drill counting as credit toward graduation. The collegians were to be schooled as officers. Another splendid source of M.M. officers were the gymnasiums and the classes in Business Administration of the Y.M.C.A.

Most of the rank and file, however, were young farmers, delighted by the chance to go to town and to drive automobiles as fast as they wanted to; young factory employees who preferred uniforms and the authority to kick elderly citizens above overalls and stooping over machines; and rather a large number of former criminals, ex-bootleggers, ex-burglars, ex-labor racketeers, who, for their skill with guns and leather life-preservers, and for their assurances that the majesty of the Five-Pointed Star had completely reformed them, were forgiven their earlier blunders in ethics and were warmly accepted in the MM. Storm Troops. It was said that one of the least of these erring children was the first patriot to name President Windrip “the Chief,” meaning Fiihrer, or Imperial Wizard of the KKK, or II Duce, or Imperial Potentate of the Mystic Shrine, or Commodore, or University Coach, or anything else supremely noble and good-hearted. So, on the glorious anniversary of July 4, 1937, more than five hundred thousand young uniformed vigilantes, scattered in towns from Guam to Bar Harbor, from Point Barrow to Key West, stood at parade rest and sang, like the choiring seraphim:

”Buzz and buzz and hail the Chief,

And his five-pointed sta-ar,

The U.S. ne’er can come to grief

With us prepared for wa-ar.”

Certain critical spirits felt that this version of the chorus of “Buzz and Buzz,” now the official M.M. anthem, showed, in a certain roughness, the lack of Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch’s fastidious hand. But nothing could be done about it. She was said to be in China, organizing chain letters. And even while that uneasiness was over the M.M., upon the very next day came the blow.

Someone on High Marshal Sarason’s staff noticed that the U.S.S.R.’s emblem was not a six-pointed star, but a five-pointed one, even like America’s, so that we were not insulting the Soviets at all.

Consternation was universal. From Sarason’s office came sulphurous rebuke to the unknown idiot who had first made the mistake (generally he was believed to be Lee Sarason) and the command that a new emblem be suggested by every member of the MM. Day and night for three days, M.M. barracks were hectic with telegrams, telephone calls, letters, placards, and thousands of young men sat with pencils and rulers earnestly drawing tens of thousands of substitutes for the five-pointed star: circles in triangles, triangles in circles, pentagons, hexagons, alphas and omegas, eagles, aeroplanes, arrows, bombs bursting in air, bombs bursting in bushes, billy-goats, rhinoceri, and the Yosemite Valley. It was circulated that a young ensign on High Marshal Sarason’s staff had, in agony over the error, committed suicide. Everybody thought that this hara-kiri was a fine idea and showed sensibility on the part of the better M.M.’s; and they went on thinking so even after it proved that the Ensign had merely got drunk at the Buzz Backgammon Club and talked about suicide.

In the end, despite his uncounted competitors, it was the great mystic, Lee Sarason himself, who found the perfect new emblem, a ship’s steering wheel.

It symbolized, he pointed out, not only the Ship of State but also the wheels of American industry, the wheels and the steering wheel of motorcars, the wheel diagram which Father Coughlin had suggested two years before as symbolizing the program of the National Union for Social Justice, and, particularly, the wheel emblem of the Rotary Club.

Sarason’s proclamation also pointed out that it would not be too far-fetched to declare that, with a little drafting treatment, the arms of the Swastika could be seen as unquestionably related to the circle, and how about the KKK. of the Kuklux Klan? Three K’s made a triangle, didn’t they? and everybody knew that a triangle was related to a circle.

So it was that in September, at the demonstrations on Loyalty Day (which replaced Labor Day), the same wideflung seraphim sang:

“Buzz and buzz and hail the Chief,

And th’ mystic steering whee-el,

The U.S. ne’er can come to grief

While we defend its we-ul.”

In mid-August, President Windrip announced that, since all its aims were being accomplished, the League of Forgotten Men (founded by one Rev. Mr. Prang, who was mentioned in the proclamation only as a person in past history) was now terminated. So were all the older parties, Democratic, Republican, Farmer-Labor, or what not. There was to be only one: The American Corporate State and Patriotic Party, no! added the President, with something of his former good humor: “there are two parties, the Corporate and those who don’t belong to any party at all, and so, to use a common phrase, are just out of luck!”

The idea of the Corporate or Corporative State, Secretary Sarason had more or less taken from Italy. All occupations were divided into six classes: agriculture, industry, commerce, transportation and communication, banking and insurance and investment, and a grabbag class including the arts, sciences, and teaching. The American Federation of Labor, the Railway Brotherhoods, and all other labor organizations, along with the Federal Department of Labor, were supplanted by local Syndicates composed of individual workers, above which were Provincial Confederations, all under governmental guidance. Parallel to them in each occupation were Syndicates and Confederations of employers. Finally, the six Confederations of workers and the six Confederations of employers were combined in six joint federal Corporations, which elected the twenty-four members of the National Council of Corporations, which initiated or supervised all legislation relating to labor or business.

There was a permanent chairman of this National Council, with a deciding vote and the power of regulating all debate as he saw fit, but he was not elected, he was appointed by the President; and the first to hold the office (without interfering with his other duties) was Secretary of State Lee Sarason. Just to safeguard the liberties of Labor, this chairman had the right to dismiss any unreasonable member of the National Council.

All strikes and lockouts were forbidden under federal penalties, so that workmen listened to reasonable government representatives and not to unscrupulous agitators.

Windrip’s partisans called themselves the Corporatists, or, familiarly, the “Corpos,” which nickname was generally used.

By ill-natured people the Corpos were called “the Corpses.” But they were not at all corpse-like. That description would more correctly, and increasingly, have applied to their enemies.

Though the Corpos continued to promise a gift of at least $5000 to every family, “as soon as funding of the required bond issue shall be completed,” the actual management of the poor, particularly of the more surly and dissatisfied poor, was undertaken by the Minute Men.

It could now be published to the world, and decidedly it was published, that unemployment had, under the benign reign of President Berzelius Windrip, almost disappeared. Almost all workless men were assembled in enormous labor camps, under M.M. officers. Their wives and children accompanied them and took care of the cooking, cleaning, and repair of clothes. The men did not merely work on state projects; they were also hired out at the reasonable rate of one dollar a day to private employers. Of course, so selfish is human nature even in Utopia, this did cause most employers to discharge the men to whom they had been paying more than a dollar a day, but that took care of itself, because these overpaid malcontents in their turn were forced into the labor camps.

Out of their dollar a day, the workers in the camps had to pay from seventy to ninety cents a day for board and lodging.

There was a certain discontentment among people who had once owned motorcars and bathrooms and eaten meat twice daily, at having to walk ten or twenty miles a day, bathe once a week, along with fifty others, in a long trough, get meat only twice a week, when they got it, and sleep in bunks, a hundred in a room. Yet there was less rebellion than a mere rationalist like Walt Trowbridge, Windrip’s ludicrously defeated rival, would have expected, for every evening the loudspeaker brought to the workers the precious voices of Windrip and Sarason, Vice-President Beecroft, Secretary of War Luthorne, Secretary of Education and Propaganda Macgoblin, General Coon, or some other genius, and these Olympians, talking to the dirtiest and tiredest mudsills as warm friend to friend, told them that they were the honored foundation stones of a New Civilization, the advance guards of the conquest of the whole world.

They took it, too, like Napoleon’s soldiers. And they had the Jews and the Negroes to look down on, more and more. The M.M.’s saw to that. Every man is a king so long as he has someone to look down on.

Each week the government said less about the findings of the board of inquiry which was to decide how the $5000 per person could be wangled. It became easier to answer malcontents with a cuff from a Minute Man than by repetitious statements from Washington.

But most of the planks in Windrip’s platform really were carried out, according to a sane interpretation of them. For example, inflation.

In America of this period, inflation did not even compare with the German inflation of the 1920’s, but it was sufficient. The wage in the labor camps had to be raised from a dollar a day to three, with which the workers were receiving an equivalent of sixty cents a day in 1914 values. Everybody delightfully profited, except the very poor, the common workmen, the skilled workmen, the small business men, the professional men, and old couples living on annuities or their savings, these last did really suffer a little, as their incomes were cut in three. The workers, with apparently tripled wages, saw the cost of everything in the shops much more than triple.

Agriculture, which was most of all to have profited from inflation, on the theory that the mercurial crop-prices would rise faster than anything else, actually suffered the most of all, because, after a first flurry of foreign buying, importers of American products found it impossible to deal in so skittish a market, and American food exports, such of them as were left, ceased completely.

It was Big Business, that ancient dragon which Bishop Prang and Senator Windrip had gone forth to slay, that had the interesting time.

With the value of the dollar changing daily, the elaborate systems of cost-marking and credit of Big Business were so confused that presidents and sales-managers sat in their offices after midnight, with wet towels. But they got some comfort, because with the depreciated dollar they were able to recall all bonded indebtedness and, paying it off at the old face values, get rid of it at thirty cents on the hundred. With this, and the currency so wavering that employees did not know just what they ought to get in wages, and labor unions eliminated, the larger industrialists came through the inflation with perhaps double the wealth, in real values, that they had had in 1936.

And two other planks in Windrip’s encyclical vigorously respected were those eliminating the Negroes and patronizing the Jews.

The former race took it the less agreeably. There were horrible instances in which whole Southern counties with a majority of Negro population were overrun by the blacks and all property seized. True, their leaders alleged that this followed massacres of Negroes by Minute Men. But as Dr. Macgoblin, Secretary of Culture, so well said, this whole subject was unpleasant and therefore not helpful to discuss.

All over the country, the true spirit of Windrip’s Plank Nine, regarding the Jews, was faithfully carried out. It was understood that the Jews were no longer to be barred from fashionable hotels, as in the hideous earlier day of race prejudice, but merely to be charged double rates. It was understood that Jews were never to be discouraged from trading but were merely to pay higher graft to commissioners and inspectors and to accept without debate all regulations, wage rates, and price lists decided upon by the stainless Anglo-Saxons of the various merchants’ associations. And that all Jews of all conditions were frequently to sound their ecstasy in having found in America a sanctuary, after their deplorable experiences among the prejudices of Europe.

In Fort Beulah, Louis Rotenstern, since he had always been the first to stand up for the older official national anthems, “The Star-Spangled Banner” or “Dixie,” and now for “Buzz and Buzz,” since he had of old been considered almost an authentic friend by Francis Tasbrough and R. C. Crowley, and since he had often good-naturedly pressed the unrecognized Shad Ledue’s Sunday pants without charge, was permitted to retain his tailor shop, though it was understood that he was to charge members of the MM. prices that were only nominal, or quarter nominal.

But one Harry Kindermann, a Jew who had profiteered enough as agent for maple-sugar and dairy machinery so that in 1936 he had been paying the last installment on his new bungalow and on his Buick, had always been what Shad Ledue called “a fresh Kike.” He had laughed at the flag, the Church, and even Rotary. Now he found the manufacturers canceling his agencies, without explanation.

By the middle of 1937 he was selling frankfurters by the road, and his wife, who had been so proud of the piano and the old American pine cupboard in their bungalow, was dead, from pneumonia caught in the one-room tarpaper shack into which they had moved.

At the time of Windrip’s election, there had been more than 80,000 relief administrators employed by the federal and local governments in America. With the labor camps absorbing most people on relief, this army of social workers, both amateurs and long-trained professional uplifters, was stranded.

The Minute Men controlling the labor camps were generous: they offered the charitarians the same dollar a day that the proletarians received, with special low rates for board and lodging. But the cleverer social workers received a much better offer: to help list every family and every unmarried person in the country, with his or her finances, professional ability, military training and, most important and most tactfully to be ascertained, his or her secret opinion of the M.M.’s and of the Corpos in general.

A good many of the social workers indignantly said that this was asking them to be spies, stool pigeons for the American Oh Gay Pay Oo. These were, on various unimportant charges, sent to jail or, later, to concentration camps, which were also jails, but the private jails of the M.M.’s, unshackled by any old-fashioned, nonsensical prison regulations.

In the confusion of the summer and early autumn of 1937, local M.M. officers had a splendid time making their own laws, and such congenital traitors and bellyachers as Jewish doctors, Jewish musicians, Negro journalists, socialistic college professors, young men who preferred reading or chemical research to manly service with the M.M.’s, women who complained when their men had been taken away by the M.M.’s and had disappeared, were increasingly beaten in the streets, or arrested on charges that would not have been very familiar to pre-Corpo jurists.

And, increasingly, the bourgeois counter revolutionists began to escape to Canada; just as once, by the “underground railroad” the Negro slaves had escaped into that free Northern air.

In Canada, as well as in Mexico, Bermuda, Jamaica, Cuba, and Europe, these lying Red propagandists began to publish the vilest little magazines, accusing the Corpos of murderous terrorism, allegations that a band of six M.M.’s had beaten an aged rabbi and robbed him; that the editor of a small labor paper in Paterson had been tied to his printing press and left there while the M.M.’s burned the plant; that the pretty daughter of an ex-Farmer-Labor politician in Iowa had been raped by giggling young men in masks.

To end this cowardly flight of the lying counter revolutionists (many of whom, once accepted as reputable preachers and lawyers and doctors and writers and excongressmen and ex-army officers, were able to give a wickedly false impression of Corpoism and the M.M.’s to the world outside America) the government quadrupled the guards who were halting suspects at every harbor and at even the minutest trails crossing the border; and in one quick raid, it poured M.M. storm troopers into all airports, private or public, and all aeroplane factories, and thus, they hoped, closed the air lanes to skulking traitors.

As one of the most poisonous counter revolutionists in the country, Ex-Senator Walt Trowbridge, Windrip’s rival in the election of 1936, was watched night and day by a rotation of twelve M.M. guards. But there seemed to be small danger that this opponent, who, after all, was a crank but not an intransigent maniac, would make himself ridiculous by fighting against the great Power which (per Bishop Prang) Heaven had been pleased to send for the healing of distressed America.

Trowbridge remained prosaically on a ranch he owned in South Dakota, and the government agent commanding the M.M.‘s (a skilled man, trained in breaking strikes) reported that on his tapped telephone wire and in his steamed-open letters, Trowbridge communicated nothing more seditious than reports on growing alfalfa. He had with him no one but ranch hands and, in the house, an innocent aged couple.

Washington hoped that Trowbridge was beginning to see the light. Maybe they would make him Ambassador to Britain, vice Sinclair.

On the Fourth of July, when the M.M’s gave their glorious but unfortunate tribute to the Chief and the Fivepointed Star, Trowbridge gratified his cow-punchers by holding an unusually pyrotechnic celebration. All evening skyrockets flared up, and round the home pasture glowed pots of Roman fire. Far from cold-shouldering the MM. guards, Trowbridge warmly invited them to help set off rockets and join the gang in beer and sausages. The lonely soldier boys off there on the Prairie, they were so happy shooting rockets!

An aeroplane with a Canadian license, a large plane, flying without lights, sped toward the rocket-lighted area and, with engine shut off, so that the guards could not tell whether it had flown on, circled the pasture outlined by the Roman fire and swiftly landed.

The guards had felt sleepy after the last bottle of beer. Three of them were napping on the short, rough grass.

They were rather disconcertingly surrounded by men in masking flying-helmets, men carrying automatic pistols, who handcuffed the guards that were still awake, picked up the others, and stored all twelve of them in the barred baggage compartment of the plane.

The raiders’ leader, a military-looking man, said to Walt Trowbridge, “Ready, sir?”

“Yep. Just take those four boxes, will you, please, Colonel?”

The boxes contained photostats of letters and documents.

Unregally clad in overalls and a huge straw hat, Senator Trowbridge entered the pilots’ compartment. High and swift and alone, the plane flew toward the premature Northern Lights.

Next morning, still in overalls, Trowbridge breakfasted at the Fort Garry Hotel with the Mayor of Winnipeg.

A fortnight later, in Toronto, he began the republication of his weekly, A Lance for Democracy, and on the cover of the first number were reproductions of four letters indicating that before he became President, Berzelius Windrip had profited through personal gifts from financiers to an amount of over $1,000,000. To Doremus Jessup, to some thousands of Doremus Jessups, were smuggled copies of the Lance, though possession of it was punishable (perhaps not legally, but certainly effectively) by death.

But it was not till the winter, so carefully did his secret agents have to work in America, that Trowbridge had in full operation the organization called by its operatives the “New Underground,” the “N.U.,” which aided thousands of counter revolutionists to escape into Canada.

-18-

“In the little towns, ah, there is the abiding peace that I love, and that can never be disturbed by even the noisiest Smart Alecks from these haughty megalopolises like Washington, New York, & etc.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

Doremus’s policy of “wait and see,” like most Fabian policies, had grown shaky. It seemed particularly shaky in June, 1937, when he drove to North Beulah for the fortieth graduation anniversary of his class in Isaiah College.

As the custom was, the returned alumni wore comic costumes. His class had sailor suits, but they walked about, bald-headed and lugubrious, in these well-meant garments of joy, and there was a look of instability even in the eyes of the three members who were ardent Corpos (being local Corpo commissioners).

After the first hour Doremus saw little of his classmates. He had looked up his familiar correspondent, Victor Loveland, teacher in the classical department who, a year ago, had informed him of President Owen J. Peaseley’s ban on criticism of military training.

At its best, Loveland’s jerry-built imitation of an Anne Hathaway cottage had been no Palace, Isaiah assistant professors did not customarily rent palaces. Now, with the pretentiously smart living room heaped with burlapcovered chairs and rolled rugs and boxes of books, it looked like a junkshop. Amid the wreckage sat Loveland, his wife, his three children, and one Dr. Arnold King, experimenter in chemistry.

“What’s all this?” said Doremus.

“I’ve been fired. As too ‘radical,”’ growled Loveland. “Yes! And his most vicious attack has been on Glicknow’s treatment of the use of the aorist in Hesiod!” wailed his wife.

“Well, I deserve it, for not having been vicious about anything since AD. 300! Only thing I’m ashamed of is that they’re not firing me for having taught my students that the Corpos have taken most of their ideas from Tiberius, or maybe for having decently tried to assassinate District Commissioner Reek!” said Loveland.

“Where you going?” inquired Doremus.

“That’s just it! We don’t know! Oh, first to my dad’s house, which is a six-room packing-box in Burlington, Dad’s got diabetes. But teaching, President Peaseley kept putting off signing my new contract and just informed me ten days ago that I’m through, much too late to get a job for next year. Myself, I don’t care a damn! Really I don’t! I’m glad to have been made to admit that as a college prof I haven’t been, as I so liked to convince myself, any Erasmus Junior, inspiring noble young souls to dream of chaste classic beauty, save the mark!, but just a plain hired man, another counter-jumper in the Marked-down Classics Goods Department, with students for bored customers, and as subject to being hired and fired as any janitor. Do you remember that in Imperial Rome, the teachers, even the tutors of the nobility, were slaves, allowed a lot of leeway, I suppose, in their theories about the anthropology of Crete, but just as likely to be strangled as the other slaves! I’m not kicking-”

Dr. King, the chemist, interrupted with a whoop: “Sure you’re kicking! Why the hell not? With three kids? Why not kick! Now me, I’m lucky! I’m half Jew, one of these sneaking, cunning Jews that Buzz Windrip and his boyfriend Hitler tell you about; so cunning I suspected what was going on months ago and so, I’ve also just been fired, Mr. Jessup, I arranged for a job with the Universal Electric Corporation. . . .They don’t mind Jews there, as long as they sing at their work and find boondoggles worth a million a year to the company, at thirty five hundred a year salary! A fond farewell to all my grubby studes! Though-“ and Doremus thought he was, at heart, sadder than Loveland-“I do kind of hate to give up my research. Oh, hell with ‘em!”

The version of Owen J. Peaseley, M.A. (Oberlin), LL.D. (Conn. State), president of Isaiah College, was quite different. “Why no, Mr. Jessup! We believe absolutely in freedom of speech and thought, here at old Isaiah. The fact is that we are letting Loveland go only because the Classics Department is overstaffed, so little demand for Greek and Sanskrit and so on, you know, with all this modern interest in quantitative bio-physics and aeroplane-repairing and so on. But as to Dr. King, um, I’m afraid we did a little feel that he was riding for a fall, boasting about being a Jew and all, you know, and, But can’t we talk of pleasanter subjects? You have probably learned that Secretary of Culture Macgoblin has now completed his plan for the appointment of a director of education in each province and district?, and that Professor Almeric Trout of Aumbry University is slated for Director in our Northeastern Province? Well, I have something very gratifying to add. Dr. Trout, and what a profound scholar, what an eloquent orator he is, did you know that in Teutonic ‘Almeric’ means ‘noble prince’?, and he’s been so kind as to designate me as Director of Education for the Vermont, New Hampshire District! Isn’t that thrilling! I wanted you to be one of the first to hear it, Mr. Jessup, because of course one of the chief jobs of the Director will be to work with and through the newspaper editors in the great task of spreading correct Corporate ideals and combating false theories, yes, oh yes.”

It seemed as though a large number of people were zealous to work with and through the editors these days, thought Doremus.

He noticed that President Peaseley resembled a dummy made of faded gray flannel of a quality intended for petticoats in an orphan asylum.

The Minute Men’s organization was less favored in the staid villages than in the industrial centers, but all through the summer it was known that a company of M.M.’s had been formed in Fort Beulah and were drilling in the Armory under National Guard officers and County Commissioner Ledue, who was seen sitting up nights in his luxurious new room in Mrs. lngot’s boarding-house, reading a manual of arms. But Doremus declined to go look at them, and when his rustic but ambitious reporter, “Doc” (otherwise Otis) Itchitt, came in throbbing about the M.M.’s and wanted to run an illustrated account in the Saturday Informer, Doremus sniffed.

It was not till their first public parade, in August, that Doremus saw them, and not gladly.

The whole countryside had turned out; he could hear them laughing and shuffling beneath his office window; but he stubbornly stuck to editing an article on fertilizers for cherry orchards. (And he loved parades, childishly!) Not even the sound of a band pounding out “Boola, Boola” drew him to the window. Then he was plucked up by Dan Wilgus, the veteran job compositor and head of the Informer chapel, a man tall as a house and possessed of such a sweeping black mustache as had not otherwise been seen since the passing of the oId-time bartender. “You got to take a look, Boss; great show!” implored Dan.

Through the Chester-Arthur, red-brick prissiness of President Street, Doremus saw marching a surprisingly well drilled company of young men in the uniforms of Civil War cavalrymen, and just as they were opposite the Informer office, the town band rollicked into “Marching through Georgia.” The young men smiled, they stepped more quickly, and held up their banner with the steering wheel and MM. upon it.

When he was ten, Doremus had seen in this self-same street a Memorial Day parade of the GAR. The veterans were an average of under fifty then, and some of them only thirty-five; they had swung ahead lightly and gayly, and to the tune of “Marching through Georgia.” So now in 1937 he was looking down again on the veterans of Gettysburg and Missionary Ridge. Oh, he could see them all, Uncle Tom Veeder, who had made him the willow whistles; old Mr. Crowley with his cornflower eyes; Jack Greenhill who played leapfrog with the kids and who was to die in Ethan Creek, they found him with thick hair dripping. Doremus thrilled to the MM. flags, the music, the valiant young men, even while he hated all they marched for, and hated the Shad Ledue whom he incredulously recognized in the brawny horseman at the head of the procession.

He understood now why the young men marched to war. But “Oh yeah, you think so!” he could hear Shad sneering through the music.

The unwieldy humor characteristic of American politicians persisted even through the eruption. Doremus read about and sardonically “played up” in the Informera minstrel show given at the National Convention of Boosters’ Clubs at Atlantic City, late in August. As end-men and interlocutor appeared no less distinguished persons than Secretary of the Treasury Webster R. Skittle, Secretary of War Luthorne, and Secretary of Education and Public Relations, Dr. Macgoblin. It was good, old-time Elks Club humor, uncorroded by any of the notions of dignity and of international obligations which, despite his great services, that queer stick Lee Sarason was suspected of trying to introduce. Why (marveled the Boosters) the Big Boys were so democratic that they even kidded themselves and the Corpos, that’s how unassuming they were!

“Who was this lady I seen you going down the street with?” demanded the plump Mr. Secretary Skittle (disguised as a colored wench in polka-dotted cotton) of Mr. Secretary Luthorne (in black-face and large red gloves). “That wasn’t no lady, that was Walt Trowbridge’s paper.” “Ah don’t think Ah cognosticates youse, Mist’ Bones.” “Why, you know’ A Nance for Plutocracy.”‘

Clean fun, not too confusingly subtle, drawing the people (several millions listened on the radio to the Boosters’ Club show) closer to their great-hearted masters.

But the high point of the show was Dr. Macgoblin’s daring to tease his own faction by singing:

“Buzz and booze and biz, whatfun! This job gets drearier and dreurier, When I get out of Washington, I’m going to Siberia!”

It seemed to Doremus that he was hearing a great deal about the Secretary of Education. Then, in late September, he heard something not quite pleasant about Dr. Macgoblin. The story, as he got it, ran thus:

Hector Macgoblin, that great surgeon-boxer-poet-sailor, had always contrived to have plenty of enemies, but after the beginning of his investigation of schools, to purge them of any teachers he did not happen to like, he made so unusually many that he was accompanied by bodyguards. At this time in September, he was in New York, finding quantities of “subversive elements” in Columbia University, against the protests of President Nicholas Murray Butler, who insisted that he had already cleaned out all willful and dangerous thinkers, especially the pacifists in the medical school, and Macgoblin’s bodyguards were two former instructors in philosophy who in their respective universities had been admired even by their deans for everything except the fact that they would get drunk and quarrelsome. One of them, in that state, always took off one shoe and hit people over the head with the heel, if they argued in defense of Jung.

With these two in uniforms as MM. battalion leaders, his own was that of a brigadier, after a day usefully spent in kicking out of Columbia all teachers who had voted for Trowbridge, Dr. Macgoblin started off with his brace of bodyguards to try out a wager that he could take a drink at every bar on Fifty-second Street and still not pass out.

He had done well when, at ten-thirty, being then affectionate and philanthropic, he decided that it would be a splendid idea to telephone his revered former teacher in Leland Stanford, the biologist Dr. Willy Schmidt, once of Vienna, now in Rockefeller Institute. Macgoblin was indignant when someone at Dr. Schmidt’s apartment informed him that the doctor was out. Furiously: “Out? Out? What d’you mean he’s out? Old goat like that got no right to be out! At midnight! Where is he? This is the Police Department speaking! Where is he?”

Dr. Schmidt was spending the evening with that gentle scholar, Rabbi Dr. Vincent de Verez.

Macgoblin and his learned gorillas went to call on De Verez. On the way nothing of note happened except that when Macgoblin discussed the fare with the taxidriver, he felt impelled to knock him out. The three, and they were in the happiest, most boyish of spirits, burst joyfully into Dr. de Verez’s primeval house in the Sixties. The entrance hall was shabby enough, with a humble show of the good rabbi’s umbrellas and storm rubbers, and had the invaders seen the bedrooms they would have found them Trappist cells. But the long living room, front and back-parlor thrown together, was half museum, half lounge. Just because he himself liked such things and resented a stranger’s possessing them, Macgoblin looked sniffily at a Beluchi prayer rug, a Jacobean court cupboard, a small case of incunabula and of Arabic manuscripts in silver upon scarlet parchment.

“Swell joint! Hello, Doc! How’s the Dutchman? How’s the antibody research going? These are Doc Nemo and Doc, uh, Doc Whoozis, the famous glue lifters. Great frenzh mine. Introduce us to your Jew friend.”

Now it is more than possible that Rabbi de Verez had never heard of Secretary of Education Macgoblin.

The houseman who had let in the intruders and who nervously hovered at the living-room door, he is the sole authority for most of the story, said that Macgoblin staggered, slid on a rug, almost fell, then giggled foolishly as he sat down, waving his plug-ugly friends to chairs and demanding, “Hey, Rabbi, how about some whisky? Lil Scotch and soda. I know you Geonim never lap up anything but snow-cooled nectar handed out by a maiden with a dulcimer, singing of Mount Abora, or maybe just a little shot of Christian children’s sacrificial blood, ha, ha, just ajoke, Rabbi; I know these ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ are all the bunk, but awful handy in propaganda, just the same and, But I mean, for plain Goyim like us, a little real hootch! Hear me?”

Dr. Schmidt started to protest. The Rabbi, who had been carding his white beard, silenced him and, with a wave of his fragile old hand, signaled the waiting houseman, who reluctantly brought in whisky and siphons.

The three coordinators of culture almost filled their glasses before they poured in the soda.

“Look here, De Verez, why don’t you kikes take a tumble to yourselves and get out, beat it, exeunt bearing corpses, and start a real Zion, say in South America?” The Rabbi looked bewildered at the attack. Dr. Schmidt snorted, “Dr. Macgoblin, once a promising pupil of mine, is Secretary of Education and a lot of tings, I don’t know vot!, at Washington. Corpo!”

“Oh!” The Rabbi sighed. “I have heard of that cult, but my people have learned to ignore persecution. We have been so impudent as to adopt the tactics of your Early Christian Martyrs! Even if we were invited to your Corporate feast, which, I understand, we most warmly are not!, I am afraid we should not be able to attend. You see, we believe in only one Dictator, God, and I am afraid we cannot see Mr. Windrip as a rival to Jehovah!”

“Aah, that’s all baloney!” murmured one of the learned gunmen, and Macgoblin shouted, “Oh, can the two-dollar words! There’s just one thing where we agree with the dirty, Kike-loving Communists, that’s in chucking the whole bunch of divinities, Jehovah and all the rest of ‘em, that’ve been on relief so long!”

The Rabbi was unable even to answer, but little Dr. Schmidt (he had a doughnut mustache, a beer belly, and black button boots with soles haIf-an-inch thick) said, “Macgoblin, I suppose I may talk frank wit’ an old student, there not being any reporters or loutspeakers arount. Do you know why you are drinking like a pig? Because you are ashamt! Ashamt that you, once a promising researcher, should have solt out to freebooters with brains like decayed liver and-”

“That’ll do from you, Prof!”

“Say, we oughtta tie those seditious sons of hounds up and beat the daylight out of ‘em!” whimpered one of the watchdogs.

Macgoblin shrieked, “You highbrows, you stinking intellectuals! You, you Kike, with your lush, luzurious library, while Common People been starving, would be now if the Chief hadn’t saved ‘em! Your c’lection books, stolen from the pennies of your poor, dumb, foot-kissing congregation of pushcart peddlers!”

The Rabbi sat bespelled, fingering his beard, but Dr. Schmidt leaped up, crying, “You three scoundrels were not invited here! You pushed your way in! Get out! Go! Get out!”

One of the accompanying dogs demanded of Macgoblin, “Going to stand for these two Yiddles insulting us, insulting the whole by God Corpo state and the MM. uniform? Kill ‘em!”

Now, to his already abundant priming, Macgoblin had added two huge whiskies since he had come. He yanked out his automatic pistol, fired twice. Dr. Schmidt toppled. Rabbi De Verez slid down in his chair, his temple throbbing out blood. The houseman trembled at the door, and one of the guards shot at him, then chased him down the street, firing, and whooping with the humor of the joke. This learned guard was killed instantly, at a street crossing, by a traffic policeman.

Macgoblin and the other guard were arrested and brought before the Commissioner of the Metropolitan District, the great Corpo Viceroy, whose power was that of three or four state governors put together.

Dr. de Verez, though he was not yet dead, was too sunken to testify. But the Commissioner thought that in a case so closely touching the federal government, it would not be seemly to postpone the trial.

Against the terrified evidence of the Rabbi’s Russian Polish houseman were the earnest (and by now sober) accounts of the federal Secretary of Education, and of his surviving aide, formerly Assistant Professor of Philosophy in Pelouse University. It was proven that not only De Verez but also Dr. Schmidt was a Jew, which, incidentally, he 100 per cent was not. It was almost proven that this sinister pair had been coaxing innocent Corpos into De Verez’s house and performing upon them what a scared little Jewish stool pigeon called “ritual murders.” Macgoblin and friend were acquitted on grounds of selfdefense and handsomely complimented by the Commissioner, and later in telegrams from President Windrip and Secretary of State Sarason, for having defended the Commonwealth against human vampires and one of the most horrifying plots known in history.

The policeman who had shot the other guard wasn’t, so scrupulous was Corpo justice, heavily punished, merely sent out to a dreary beat in the Bronx. So everybody was happy.

But Doremus Jessup, on receiving a letter from a New York reporter who had talked privately with the surviving guard, was not so happy. He was not in a very gracious temper, anyway. County Commissioner Shad Ledue, on grounds of humanitarianism, had made him discharge his delivery boys and employ M.M.’s to distribute (or cheerfully chuck into the river) the Informer.

“Last straw, plenty last,” he raged.

He had read about Rabbi de Verez and seen pictures of him. He had once heard Dr. Willy Schmidt speak, when the State Medical Association had met at Fort Beulah, and afterward had sat near him at dinner. If they were murderous Jews, then he was a murderous Jew too, he swore, and it was time to do something for His Own People.

That evening, it was late in September, 1937, he did not go home to dinner at all but, with a paper container of coffee and a slab of pie untouched before him, he stooped at his desk in the Informer office, writing an editorial which, when he had finished it, he marked: “Must. 12-pt bold face-box top front p.”

The beginning of the editorial, to appear the following morning was:

“Believing that the inefficiency and crimes of the Corpo administration were due to the difficulties attending a new form of government, we have waited patiently for their end. We apologize to our readers for that patience.

It is easy to see now, in the revolting crime of a drunken cabinet member against two innocent and valuable old men like Dr. Schmidt and the Rev. Dr. de Verez, that we may expect nothing but murderous extirpation of all honest opponents of the tyranny of Windrip and his Corpo gang.

Not that all of them are as vicious as Macgoblin. Some are merely incompetent, like our friends Ledue, Reek, and Haik. But their ludicrous incapability permits the homicidal cruelty of their chieftains to go on without check.

Buzzard Windrip, the ”Chief,” and his pirate gang . . .”

A smallish, neat, gray-bearded man, furiously rattling an aged typewriter, typing with his two forefingers.

Dan Wilgus, head of the composing room, looked and barked like an old sergeant and, like an old sergeant, was only theoretically meek to his superior officer. He was shaking when he brought in this copy and, almost rubbing Doremus’s nose in it, protested, “Say, boss, you don’t honest t’ God think we’re going to set this up, do you?”

“I certainly do!”

“Well, I don’t! Rattlesnake poison! It’s all right your getting thrown in the hoosegow and probably shot at dawn, if you like that kind of sport, but we’ve held a meeting of the chapel, and we all say, damned if we’ll risk our necks too!”

“All right, you yellow pup! All right, Dan, I’ll set it myself!”

“Aw, don’t! Gosh, I don’t want to have to go to your funeral after the M.M.’s get through with you, and say, ‘Don’t he look unnatural!’“

“After working for me for twenty years, Dan! Traitor!”

“Look here! I’m no Enoch Arden or, oh, what the hell was his name?, Ethan Frome or Benedict Arnold or whatever it was!, and more ‘n once I’ve licked some galoot that was standing around a saloon telling the world you were the lousiest highbrow editor in Vermont, and at that, I guess maybe he was telling the truth, but same time-“ Dan’s effort to be humorous and coaxing broke, and he wailed, “God, boss, please don’t!”

“I know, Dan. Prob’ly our friend Shad Ledue will be annoyed. But I can’t go on standing things like slaughtering old De Verez any more and, Here! Gimme that copy!”

While compositors, pressmen, and the young devil stood alternately fretting and snickering at his clumsiness, Doremus ranged up before a type case, in his left hand the first composing-stick he had held in ten years, and looked doubtfully at the case. It was like a labyrinth to him. “Forgot how it’s arranged. Can’t find anything except the e-box!” he complained.

“Hell! I’ll do it! All you pussyfooters get the hell out of this! You don’t know one doggone thing about who set this up!” Dan Wilgus roared, and the other printers vanished!, as far as the toilet door.

In the editorial office, Doremus showed proofs of his indiscretion to Doc Itchitt, that enterprising though awkward reporter, and to Julian Falck, who was off now to Amherst but who had been working for the Informer all summer, combining unprintable articles on Adam Smith with extremely printable accounts of golf and dances at the country club.

“Gee, I hope you will have the nerve to go on and print it, and same time, I hope you don’t! They’ll get you!” worried Julian.

“Naw! Gwen and print it! They won’t dare to do a thing! They may get funny in New York and Washington, but you’re too strong in the Beulah Valley for Ledue and Staubmeyer to dare lift a hand!” brayed Doc Itchitt, while Doremus considered, “I wonder if this smart young journalistic Judas wouldn’t like to see me in trouble and get hold of the Informer and turn it Corpo?”

He did not stay at the office till the paper with his editorial had gone to press. He went home early, and showed the proof to Emma and Sissy. While they were reading it, with yelps of disapproval, Julian Falck slipped in.

Emma protested, “Oh, you can’t, you mustn’t do it! What will become of us all? Honestly, Dormouse, I’m not scared for myself, but what would I do if they beat you or put you in prison or something? It would just break my heart to think of you in a cell! And without any clean underclothesl It isn’t too late to stop it, is it?”

“No. As a matter of fact the paper doesn’t go to bed till eleven. . . . Sissy, what do you think?”

“I don’t know what to think! Oh damn!”

“Why Sissy,” from Emma, quite mechanically.

“It used to be, you did what was right and got a nice stick of candy for it,” said Sissy. “Now, it seems as if whatever’s right is wrong. Julian-funny-face-what do you think of Pop’s kicking Shad in his sweet hairy ears?” “Why, Sis-”

Julian blurted, “I think it’d be fierce if somebody didn’t try to stop these fellows. I wish I could do it. But how could I?”

“You’ve probably answered the whole business,” said Doremus. “If a man is going to assume the right to tell several thousand readers what’s what, most agreeable, hitherto, he’s got a kind of you might say priestly obligation to tell the truth. ‘O cursed spite.’ Well! I think I’ll drop into the office again. Home about midnight. Don’t sit up, anybody, and Sissy, and you, Julian, that particularly goes for you two night prowlers! As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, and in Vermont, that means going to bed.”

“And alone!” murmured Sissy.

“ Why Cecilia Jessup! ”

As Doremus trotted out, Foolish, who had sat adoring him, jumped up, hoping for a run.

Somehow, more than all of Emma’s imploring, the dog’s familiar devotion made Doremus feel what it might be to go to prison.

He had lied. He did not return to the office. He drove up the valley to the Tavern and to Lorinda Pike.

But on the way he stopped in at the home of his son-in-law, bustling young Dr. Fowler Greenhill; not to show him the proof but to have, perhaps in prison?, another memory of the domestic life in which he had been rich. He stepped quietly into the front hall of the Greenhill house, a jaunty imitation of Mount Vernon; very prosperous and secure, gay with the brass-knobbed walnut furniture and painted Russian boxes which Mary Greenhill affected. Doremus could hear David (but surely it was past his bedtime?, what time did nine-year-old kids go to bed these degenerate days?) excitedly chattering with his father, and his father’s partner, old Dr. Marcus Olmsted, who was almost retired but who kept up the obstetrics and eye-and-ear work for the firm.

Doremus peeped into the living room, with its bright curtains of yellow linen. David’s mother was writing letters, a crisp, fashionable figure at a maple desk complete with yellow quill pen, engraved notepaper, and silver-backed blotter. Fowler and David were lounging on the two wide arms of Dr. Olmsted’s chair. “So you don’t think you’ll be a doctor, like your dad and me?” Dr. Olmsted was quizzing.

David’s soft hair fluttered as he bobbed his head in the agitation of being taken seriously by grown-ups. “Oh-oh-oh yes, I would like to. Oh, I think it’d be slick to be a doctor. But I want to be a newspaper, like Granddad. That’d be a wow! You said it!”

(“David! Where you ever pick up such language!”)

“You see, Uncle, Doctor, a doctor, oh gee, he has to stay up all night, but an editor, he just sits in his office and takes it easy and never has to worry about nothing!” That moment, Fowler Greenhill saw his father-in-law making monkey faces at him from the door and admonished David, “Now, not always! Editors have to work pretty hard sometimes, just think of when there’s train wrecks and floods and everything! I’ll tell you. Did you know I have magic power?”

“What’s ‘magic power,’ Daddy?”

“I’ll show you. I’ll summon your granddad here from misty deeps-” (“But will he come?” grunted Dr. Olmsted.) “-and have him tell you all the troubles an editor has. Just make him come flying through the air!” “Aw, gee, you couldn’t do that, Dad!” “Oh, can’t I!” Fowler stood solemnly, the overhead lights making soft his harsh red hair, and he windmilled his arms, hooting, “Presto-vesto-adsit-Granddad Jessup-voilél”

And there, coming through the doorway, sure enough was Granddad Jessup!

Doremus remained only ten minutes, saying to himself, “Anyway, nothing bad can happen here, in this solid household.” When Fowler saw him to the door, Doremus sighed to him, “Wish Davy were right, just had to sit in the office and not worry. But I suppose some day I’ll have a run-in with the Corpos.”

“I hope not. Nasty bunch. What do you think, Dad? That swine Shad Ledue told me yesterday they wanted me to join the M.M.’s as medical officer. Fat chance! I told him so.”

“Watch out for Shad, Fowler. He’s vindictive. Made us rewire our whole building.”

“I’m not scared of Captain General Ledue or fifty like him! Hope he calls me in for a bellyache some day! I’ll give him a good sedative, potassium of cyanide. Maybe I’ll some day have the pleasure of seeing that gent in his coffin. That’s the advantage the doctor has, you know! G’-night, Dad! Sleep tight!”

A good many tourists were still coming up from New York to view the colored autumn of Vermont, and when Doremus arrived at the Beulah Valley Tavern he had irritably to wait while Lorinda dug out extra towels and looked up tram schedules and was polite to old ladies who complained that there was too much, or not enough, sound from the Beulah River Falls at night. He could not talk to her apart until after ten. There was, meanwhile, a curious exalted luxury in watching each lost minute threaten him with the approach of the final press time, as he sat in the tea room, imperturbably scratching through the leaves of the latest Fortune.

Lorinda led him, at ten-fifteen, into her little office, just a roll-top desk, a desk chair, one straight chair, and a table piled with heaps of defunct hotel magazines. It was spinsterishly neat yet smelled still of the cigar smoke and old letter files of proprietors long since gone.

“Let’s hurry, Dor. I’m having a little dust-up with that snipe Nipper.” She plumped down at the desk.

“Linda, read this proof. For tomorrow’s paper. . . . No. Wait. Stand up.”

“Eh?”

He himself took the desk chair and pulled her down on his knees. “Oh, you!” she snorted, but she nuzzled her cheek against his shoulder and murmured contentedly. “Read this, Linda. For tomorrow’s paper. I think I’m going to publish it, all right, got to decide finally before eleven, but ought I to? l was sure when I left the office, but Emma was scared-”

“Oh, Emma! Sit still. Let me see it.” She read quickly. She always did. At the end she said emotionlessly, “Yes. You must run it. Doremus! They’ve actually come to us here the Corpos, it’s like reading about typhus in China and suddenly finding it in your own house!”

She rubbed his shoulder with her cheek again, and raged, “Think of it! That Shad Ledue, and I taught him for a year in district school, though I was only two years older than he was, and what a nasty bully he was, too! He came to me a few days ago, and he had the nerve to propose that if I would give lower rates to the M.M.’s, he sort of hinted it would be nice of me to serve M.M. officers free, they would close their eyes to my selling liquor here, without a license or anything! Why, he had the inconceivable nerve to tell me, and condescendingly! my dear, that he and his fine friends would be willing to hang out here a lot! Even Staubmeyer, oh, our ‘professor’ is blossoming out as quite a sporting character! And when I chased Ledue out, with a flea in his ear, well, just this morning I got a notice that I have to appear in the county court tomorrow, some complaint from my endearing partner, Mr. Nipper, seems he isn’t satisfied with the division of our work here, and honestly, my darling, he never does one blame thing but sit around and bore my best customers to death by telling what a swell hotel he used to have in Florida. And Nipper has taken his things out of here and moved into town. I’m afraid I’ll have an unpleasant time, trying to keep from telling him what I think of him, in court.”

“Good Lord! Look, sweet, have you got a lawyer for it?”

“Lawyer? Heavens no! Just a misunderstanding, on little Nipper’s part.”

“You’d better. The Corpos are using the courts for all sorts of graft and for accusations of sedition. Get Mungo Kitterick, my lawyer.”

“He’s dumb. Ice water in his veins.”

“I know, but he’s a tidier-up, like so many lawyers. Likes to see everything all neat in pigeonholes. He may not care a damn for justice, but he’ll be awfully pained by any irregularities. Please get him, Lindy, because they’ve got Effingham Swan presiding at court tomorrow.”

“Who?”

“Swan, the Military Judge for District Three, that’s a new Corpo office. Kind of circuit judge with court-martial powers. This Effingham Swan, I had Doc Itchitt interview him today, when he arrived, he’s the perfect gentleman, Fascist, Oswald Mosley style. Good family, whatever that means. Harvard graduate. Columbia Law School, year at Oxford. But went into finance in Boston. Investment banker. Major or something during the war. Plays polo and sailed in a yacht race to Bermuda. Itchitt says he’s a big brute, with manners smoother than a butterscotch sundae and more language than a bishop.”

“But I’ll be glad to have a gentleman to explain things to, instead of Shad.”

“A gentleman’s blackjack hurts just as much as a mucker’s!”

“Oh, you!” with irritated tenderness, running her forefinger along the line of his jaw.

Outside, a footstep. She sprang up, sat down primly in the straight chair. The footsteps went by. She mused:

“All this trouble and the Corpos, they’re going to do something to you and me. We’ll become so roused up that, either we’ll be desperate and really cling to each other and everybody else in the world can go to the devil or, what I’m afraid is more likely, we’ll get so deep into rebellion against Windrip, we’ll feel so terribly that we’re standing for something, that we’ll want to give up everything else for it, even give up you and me. So that no one can ever find out and criticize. We’ll have to be beyond criticism.”

“No! I won’t listen. We will fight, but how can we ever get so involved, detached people like us.”

“You are going to publish that editorial tomorrow?”

“Yes.”

“It’s not too late to kill it?”

He looked at the clock over her desk,so ludicrously like a grade-school clock that it ought to have been flanked with portraits of George and Martha. “Well, yes, it is too late, almost eleven. Couldn’t get to the office till ‘way past”

“You’re sure you won’t worry about it when you go to bed tonight? Dear, I so don’t want you to worry! You’re sure you don’t want to telephone and kill the editorial?”

“Sure. Absolute!”

“I’m glad! Me, I’d rather be shot than go sneaking around, crippled with fear. Bless you!”

She kissed him and hurried off to another hour or two of work, while he drove home, whistling vaingloriously.

But he did not sleep well, in his big black-walnut bed. He startled to the night noises of an old frame housethe easing walls, the step of bodiless assassins creeping across the wooden floors all night long.

-19-

To follow in part 6

Part 4. Make America Great Again? Fascism, It Can’t Happen Here. A Warning From The Past – Sinclair Lewis – (Chapters 13-15).

“The Horatio Alger tradition, from rags to Rockefellers, was clean gone out of the America it had dominated.”

It Can’t Happen Here is a semi-satirical 1935 political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis.

Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and “traditional” values.

After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes a pIutocratic/totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS.

The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion.

-13-

“And when I get ready to retire I’m going to build me an up-to-date bungalow in some lovely resort, not in Como or any other of the proverbial Grecian isles you may be sure, but in somewheres like Florida, California, Santa Fe, & etc., and devote myself just to reading the classics, like Longfellow, James Whitcomb Riley, Lord Macaulay, Henry Van Dyke, Elbert Hubbard, Plato, Hiawatha: etc. Some of my friends laugh at me for it, but I have always cultivated a taste for the finest in literature. I got it from my Mother as I did everything that some people have been so good as to admire in me. “

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

Certain though Doremus had been of Windrip’s election, the event was like the long dreaded passing of a friend.

“All right. Hell with this country, if it’s like that. All these years I’ve worked, and I never did want to be on all these committees and boards and charity drives!, and don’t they look silly now! What I always wanted to do was to sneak off to an ivory tower, or anyway, celluloid, imitation ivory, and read everything I’ve been too busy to read.”

Thus Doremus, in late November.

And he did actually attempt it, and for a few days reveled in it, avoiding everyone save his family and Lorinda, Buck Titus, and Father Perefixe. Mostly, though, he found that he did not relish the “classics” he had so far missed, but those familiar to his youth: Ivanhoe, Huckleberry Finn, Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, L’Allegro, The Way of All Flesh (not quite so youthful, there), Moby Dick, The Earthly Paradise, St. Agnes’ Eve, The ldylls of the King, most of Swinburne, Pride and Prejudice, Religio Medici, Vanity Fair.

Probably he was not so very different from President Elect Windrip in his rather uncritical reverence toward any book he had heard of before he was thirty. . . . No American whose fathers have lived in the country for over two generations is so utterly different from any other American.

In one thing, Doremus’s literary escapism failed him thoroughly. He tried to relearn Latin, but he could not now, uncajoled by a master, believe that “Mensa, mensae, mensae, mensam, mensa”, all that idiotic A table, of a table, to a table, toward a table, at in by or on a table, could bear him again as once it had to the honeysweet tranquillity of Vergil and the Sabine Farm.

Then he saw that in everything his quest failed him.

The reading was good enough, toothsome, satisfying, except that he felt guilty at having sneaked away to an Ivory Tower at all. Too many years he had made a habit of social duty. He wanted to be “in” things, and he was daily more irritable as Windrip began, even before his inauguration, to dictate to the country.

Buzz’s party, with the desertions to the Jeffersonians, had less than a majority in Congress. “Inside dope” came to Doremus from Washington that Windrip was trying to buy, to flatter, to blackmail opposing Congressmen. A President-Elect has unhallowed power, if he so wishes, and Windrip, no doubt with promises of abnormal favors in the way of patronage, won over a few. Five Jeffersonian Congressmen had their elections challenged. One sensationally disappeared, and smoking after his galloping heels there was a devilish fume of embezzlements. And with each such triumph of Windrip, all the well meaning, cloistered Doremuses of the country were the more anxious.

All through the “Depression,” ever since 1929, Doremus had felt the insecurity, the confusion, the sense of futility in trying to do anything more permanent than shaving or eating breakfast, that was general to the country. He could no longer plan, for himself or for his dependants, as the citizens of this once unsettled country had planned since 1620.

Why, their whole lives had been predicated on the privilege of planning. Depressions had been only cyclic storms, certain to end in sunshine; Capitalism and parliamentary government were eternal, and eternally being improved by the honest votes of Good Citizens.

Doremus’s grandfather, Calvin, Civil War veteran and ill-paid, illiberal Congregational minister, had yet planned, “My son, Loren, shall have a theological education, and I think we shall be able to build a fine new house in fifteen or twenty years.” That had given him a reason for working, and a goal.

His father, Loren, had vowed, “Even if I have to economize on books a little, and perhaps give up this extravagance of eating meat four times a week, very bad for the digestion, anyway, my son, Doremus, shall have a college education, and when, as he desires, he becomes a publicist, I think perhaps I shall be able to help him for a year or two. And then I hope, oh, in a mere five or six years more, to buy that complete Dickens with all the illustrations, oh, an extravagance, but a thing to leave to my grandchildren to treasure forever!”

But Doremus Jessup could not plan, “I’ll have Sissy go to Smith before she studies architecture,” or “If Julian Falck and Sissy get married and stick here in the Fort, I’ll give ‘em the southwest lot and some day, maybe fifteen years from now, the whole place will be filled with nice kids again!” No. Fifteen years from now, he sighed, Sissy might be hustling hash for the sort of workers who called the waiter’s art “hustling hash”; and Julian might be in a concentration camp, Fascist or Communist!

The Horatio Alger tradition, from rags to Rockefellers, was clean gone out of the America it had dominated.

It seemed faintly silly to hope, to try to prophesy, to give up sleep on a good mattress for toil on a typewriter, and as for saving money, idiotic!

And for a newspaper editor, for one who must know, at least as well as the Encyclopaedia, everything about local and foreign history, geography, economics, politics, literature, and methods of playing football, it was maddening that it seemed impossible now to know anything surely.

“He don’t know what it’s all about” had in a year or two changed from a colloquial sneer to a sound general statement regarding almost any economist. Once, modestly enough, Doremus had assumed that he had a decent knowledge of finance, taxation, the gold standard, agricultural exports, and he had smilingly pontificated everywhere that Liberal Capitalism would pastorally lead into State Socialism, with governmental ownership of mines and railroads and water, power so settling all inequalities of income that every lion of a structural steel worker would be willing to lie down with any lamb of a contractor, and all the jails and tuberculosis sanatoria would be clean empty.

Now he knew that he knew nothing fundamental and, like a lone monk stricken with a conviction of sin, he mourned, “If I only knew more! . . . Yes, and if I could only remember statistics!”

The coming and the going of the NRA, the F.E.R.A., the P.W.A., and all the rest, had convinced Doremus that there were four sets of people who did not clearly understand anything whatever about how the government must be conducted: all the authorities in Washington; all of the citizenry who talked or wrote profusely about politics; the bewildered untouchables who said nothing; and Doremus Jessup.

“But,” said he, “now, after Buzz’s inauguration, everything is going to be completely simple and comprehensible again, the country is going to be run as his private domain!”

Julian Falck, now sophomore in Amherst, had come home for Christmas vacation, and he dropped in at the Informer office to beg from Doremus a ride home before dinner.

He called Doremus “sir” and did not seem to think he was a comic fossil. Doremus liked it.

On the way they stopped for gasoline at the garage of John Pollikop, the seething Social Democrat, and were waited upon by Karl Pascal, sometime donkey-engine-man at Tasbrough’s quarry, sometime strike leader, sometime political prisoner in the county jail on a thin charge of inciting to riot, and ever since then, a model of Communistic piety.

Pascal was a thin man, but sinewy; his gaunt and humorous face of a good mechanic was so grease-darkened that the skin above and below his eyes seemed white as a fish-belly, and, in turn, that pallid rim made his eyes, alert dark gipsy eyes, seem the larger. . . . A panther chained to a coal cart.

“Well, what you going to do after this election?” said Doremus. “Oh! That’s a fool question! I guess none of us chronic kickers want to say much about what we plan to do after January, when Buzz gets his hands on us. Lie low, eh?”

“I’m going to lie the lowest lie that I ever did. You bet! But maybe there’ll be a few Communist cells around here now, when Fascism begins to get into people’s hair.

“Never did have much success with my propaganda before, but now, you watch!” exulted Pascal.

“You don’t seem so depressed by the election,” marveled Doremus, while Julian offered, “No, you seem quite cheerful about it!”

“Depressed? Why good Lord, Mr. Jessup, I thought you knew your revolutionary tactics better than that, way you supported us in the quarry strike, even if you are the perfect type of small capitalist bourgeois! Depressed? Why, can’t you see, if the Communists had paid for it they couldn’t have had anything more elegant for our purposes than the election of a pro-plutocrat, itching militarist dictator like Buzz Windrip! Look! He’ll get everybody plenty dissatisfied. But they can’t do anything, barehanded against the armed troops. Then he’ll whoop it up for a war, and so millions of people will have arms and food rations in their hands, all ready for the revolution! Hurray for Buzz and John Prang the Baptist!”

“Karl, it’s funny about you. I honestly believe you believe in Communism!” marveled young Julian. “Don’t you?” “Why don’t you go and ask your friend Father Perefixe if he believes in the Virgin?”

“But you seem to like America, and you don’t seem so fanatical, Karl. I remember when l was a kid of about ten and you, I suppose you were about twenty-five or -six then, you used to slide with us and whoop like hell, and you made me a ski-stick.”

“Sure I like America. Came here when I was two years old, I was born in Germany, my folks weren’t Heinies, though, my dad was French and my mother a Hunkie from Serbia. (Guess that makes me a hundred per cent American, all right!) I think we’ve got the Old Country beat, lots of ways. Why, say, Julian, over there I’d have to call you ‘Mein Herr’ or ‘Your Excellency,’ or some fool thing, and you’d call me, ‘I say-uh, Pascal!’ and Mr. Jessup here, my Lord, he’d be ‘Commendatore’ or ‘Herr Doktor’! No, I like it here. There’s symptoms of possible future democracy. But, but, what burns me up, it isn’t that old soap-boxer’s chestnut about how one tenth of 1 per cent of the population at the top have an aggregate income equal to 42 per cent at the bottom. Figures like that are too astronomical. Don’t mean a thing in the world to a fellow with his eyes and nose down in a transmission box, fellow that doesn’t see the stars except after 9 PM. on odd Wednesdays. But what burns me up is the fact that even before this Depression, in what you folks called prosperous times, 7 per cent of all the families in the country earned $500 a year or less, remember, those weren’t the unemployed, on relief; those were the guys that had the honor of still doing honest labor.

“Five hundred dollars a year is ten dollars a week-and that means one dirty little room for a family of four people! It means $5.00 a week for all their food, eighteen cents per day per person for food, and even the lousiest prisons allow more than that. And the magnificent remainder of $2.50 a week, that means nine cents per day per person for clothes, insurance, carfares, doctors’ bills, dentists’ bills, and for God’s sake, amusements, and all the rest of the nine cents a day they can fritter away on their Fords and autogiros and, when they feel fagged, skipping across the pond on the Normandie! Seven per cent of all the fortunate American families where the old man has got a job!”

Julian was silent; then whispered, “You know, fellow gets discussing economics in college theoretically sympathetic, but to see your own kids living on eighteen cents a day for grub, guess that would make a man pretty extremist!”

Doremus fretted, “But what percentage of forced labor in your Russian lumber camps and Siberian prison mines are getting more than that?”

“Haaa! That’s all baloney! That’s the old standard comeback at every Communist, just like once, twenty years ago, the muttonheads used to think they’d crushed any Socialist when they snickered ‘If all the money was divided up, inside five years the hustlers would have all of it again.’ Prob’ly there’s some standard coup de grace like that in Russia, to crush anybody that defends America. Besides!” Karl Pascal glowed with nationalistic fervor. “We Americans aren’t like those dumb Russki peasants! We’ll do a whole lot better when we get Communism!”

And on that, his employer, the expansive John Pollikop, a woolly Scotch terrier of a man, returned to the garage. John was an excellent friend of Doremus; had, indeed, been his bootlegger all through Prohibition, personally running in his whisky from Canada. He had been known, even in that singularly scrupulous profession, as one of its most trustworthy practitioners. Now he flowered into mid-European dialectics: “Evenin’, Mist’ Jessup, evenin’, Julian! Karl fill up y’ tank for you? You want t’ watch that guy, he’s likely to hold out a gallon on you. He’s one of these crazy dogs of Communists, they all believe in Violence instead of Evolution and Legality. Them, why say, if they hadn’t been so crooked, if they’d joined me and Norman Thomas and the other intelligent Socialists in a United Front with Roosevelt and the Jeffersonians, why say, we’d of licked the pants off Buzzard Windrip! Windrip and his plans!” (“Buzzard” Windrip. That was good, Doremus reflected. He’d be able to use it in the Informer!)

Pascal protested, “Not that Buzzard’s personal plans and ambitions have got much to do with it. Altogether too easy to explain everything just blaming it on Windrip. Why don’t you read your Marx, John, instead of always gassing about him? Why, Windrip’s just something nasty that’s been vomited up. Plenty others still left fermenting in the stomach, quack economists with every sort of economic ptomain! No, Buzz isn’t important, it’s the sickness that made us throw him up that we’ve got to attend to, the sickness of more than 30 per cent permanently unemployed, and growing larger. Got to cure it!”

“Can you crazy Tovarishes cure it?” snapped Pollikop, and, “Do you think Communism will cure it?” skeptically wondered Doremus, and, more politely, “Do you really think Karl Marx had the dope?” worried Julian, all three at once.

“You bet your life we can!” said Pascal vaingloriously.

As Doremus, driving away, looked back at them, Pascal and Pollikop were removing a flat tyre together and quarreling bitterly, quite happily.

Doremus’s attic study had been to him a refuge from the tender solicitudes of Emma and Mrs. Candy and his daughters, and all the impulsive hand-shaking strangers who wanted the local editor to start off their campaigns for the sale of life insurance or gas-saving carburetors, for the Salvation Army or the Red Cross or the Orphans’ Home or the Anti-cancer Crusade, or the assorted magazines which would enable to go through college young men who at all cost should be kept out of college.

It was a refuge now from the considerably less tender solicitudes of supporters of the President-Elect. On the pretense of work, Doremus took to sneaking up there in mid-evening; and he sat not in an easy chair but stiffly, at his desk, making crosses and five-pointed stars and sixpointed stars and fancy delete signs on sheets of yellow copy paper, while he sorely meditated.

Thus, this evening, after the demands of Karl Pascal and John Pollikop:

“‘The Revolt against Civilization!’

“But there’s the worst trouble of this whole cursed business of analysis. When I get to defending Democracy against Communism and Fascism and what-not, I sound just like the Lothrop Stoddard, why, I sound almost like a Hearst editorial on how some college has got to kick out a Dangerous Red instructor in order to preserve our Democracy for the ideals of Jefferson and Washington! Yet somehow, singing the same words, I have a notion my tune is entirely different from Hearst’s. I don’t think we’ve done very well with all the plowland and forest and minerals and husky human stock we’ve had. What makes me sick about Hearst and the BAR. is that if they are against Communism, I have to be for it, and I don’t want to be!

“Wastage of resources, so they’re about gone, that’s been the American share in the revolt against Civilization. “We can go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin! It would just take a few thousand big shells and gas bombs to wipe out all the eager young men, and all the libraries and historical archives and patent offices, all the laboratories and art galleries, all the castles and Periclean temples and Gothic cathedrals, all the cooperative stores and motor factories, every storehouse of learning. No inherent reason why Sissy’s grandchildren, if anybody’s grandchildren will survive at all, shouldn’t be living in caves and heaving rocks at catamounts.

“And what’s the solution of preventing this debacle? Plenty of ‘em! The Communists have a patent Solution they know will work. So have the Fascists, and the rigid American Constitutionalism, who call themselves advocates of Democracy, without any notion what the word ought to mean; and the Monarchists, who are certain that if we could just resurrect the Kaiser and the Czar and King Alfonso, everybody would be loyal and happy again, and the banks would simply force credit on small businessmen at 2 per cent. And all the preachers, they tell you that they alone have the inspired Solution.

“Well, gentlemen, I have listened to all your Solutions, and I now inform you that I, and I alone, except perhaps for Walt Trowbridge and the ghost of Pareto, have the perfect, the inevitable, the only Solution, and that is: There is no Solution! There will never be a state of society anything like perfect!

“There never will be a time when there won’t be a large proportion of people who feel poor no matter how much they have, and envy their neighbors who know how to wear cheap clothes showily, and envy neighbors who can dance or make love or digest better.”

Doremus suspected that, with the most scientific state, it would be impossible for iron deposits always to find themselves at exactly the rate decided upon two years before by the National Technocratic Minerals Commission, no matter how elevated and fraternal and Utopian the principles of the commissioners.

His Solution, Doremus pointed out, was the only one that did not flee before the thought that a thousand years from now human beings would probably continue to die of cancer and earthquake and such clownish mishaps as slipping in bathtubs. It presumed that mankind would continue to be burdened with eyes that grow weak, feet that grow tired, noses that itch, intestines vulnerable to bacilli, and generative organs that are nervous until the age of virtue and senility. It seemed to him unidealistically probable, for all the “contemporary furniture” of the 1930’s, that most people would continue, at least for a few hundred years, to sit in chairs, eat from dishes upon tables, read books, no matter how many cunning phonographic substitutes might be invented, wear shoes or sandals, sleep in beds, write with some sort of pens, and in general spend twenty or twenty-two hours a day much as they had spent them in 1930, in 1630. He suspected that tornadoes, floods, droughts, lightning, and mosquitoes would remain, along with the homicidal tendency known in the best of citizens when their sweethearts go dancing off with other men.

And, most fatally and abysmally, his Solution guessed that men of superior cunning, of slyer foxiness, whether they might be called Comrades, Brethren, Commissars, Kings, Patriots, Little Brothers of the Poor, or any other rosy name, would continue to have more influence than slower-witted men, however worthy.

All the warring Solutions, except his, Doremus chuckled, were ferociously propagated by the Fanatics, the “Nuts.”

He recalled an article in which Neil Carothers asserted that the “rabble-rousers” of America in the mid-‘thirties had a long and dishonorable ancestry of prophets who had felt called upon to stir up the masses to save the world, and save it in the prophets’ own way, and do it right now, and most violently: Peter the Hermit, the ragged, mad, and stinking monk who, to rescue the (unidentified) tomb of the Savior from undefined “outrages by the pagans,” led out on the Crusades some hundreds of thousands of European peasants, to die on the way of starvation, after burning, raping, and murdering fellow peasants in foreign villages all along the road.

There was John Ball who “in 1381 was a share-the-wealth advocate; he preached equality of wealth, the abolition of class distinctions, and what would now be called communism,” and whose follower, Wat Tyler, looted London, with the final gratifying result that afterward Labor was by the frightened government more oppressed than ever. And nearly three hundred years later, Cromwell’s methods of expounding the sweet winsomeness of Purity and Liberty were shooting, slashing, clubbing, starving, and burning people, and after him the workers paid for the spree of bloody righteousness with blood.

Brooding about it, fishing in the muddy slew of recollection which most Americans have in place of a clear pool of history, Doremus was able to add other names of wellmeaning rabel-rousers:

Murat and Danton and Robespierre, who helped shift the control of France from the moldy aristocrats to the stuffy, centime-pinching shopkeepers. Lenin and Trotzky who gave to the illiterate Russian peasants the privileges of punching a time clock and of being as learned, gay, and dignified as the factory hands in Detroit; and Lenin’s man, Borodin, who extended this boon to China. And that William Randolph Hearst who in 1898 was the Lenin of Cuba and switched the mastery of the golden isle from the cruel Spaniards to the peaceful, unarmed, brotherly loving Cuban politicians of today.

The American Moses, Dowie, and his theocracy at Zion City, Illinois, where the only results of the direct leadership of God, as directed and encouraged by Mr. Dowie and by his even more spirited successor, Mr. Volivawere that the holy denizens were deprived of oysters and cigarettes and cursing, and died without the aid of doctors instead of with it, and that the stretch of road through Zion City incessantly caused the breakage of springs on the cars of citizens from Evanston, Wilmette, and Winnetka, which may or not have been a desirable Good Deed.

Cecil Rhodes, his vision of making South Africa a British paradise, and the actuality of making it a graveyard for British soldiers.

All the Utopias, Brook Farm, Robert Owen’s sanctuary of chatter, Upton Sinclair’s Helicon Hall, and their regulation end in scandal, feuds, poverty, griminess, disillusion.

All the leaders of Prohibition, so certain that their cause was world regenerating, that for it they were willing to shoot down violators.

It seemed to Doremus that the only rabble-rouser to build permanently had been Brigham Young, with his bearded Mormon captains, who not only turned the Utah desert into an Eden but made it pay and kept it up.

Pondered Doremus: Blessed be they who are not Patriots and Idealists, and who do not feel they must dash right in and Do Something About It, something so immediately important that all doubters must be liquidated, tortured, slaughtered! Good old murder, that since the slaying of Abel by Cain has always been the new device by which all oligarchies and dictators have, for all future ages to come, removed opposition!

In this acid mood Doremus doubted the efficacy of all revolutions; dared even a little to doubt our two American revolutions, against England in 1776, and the Civil War.

For a New England editor to contemplate even the smallest criticism of these wars was what it would have been for a Southern Baptist fundamentalist preacher to question Immortality, the Inspiration of the Bible, and the ethical value of shouting Hallelujah. Yet had it, Doremus queried nervously, been necessary to have four years of inconceivably murderous Civil War, followed by twenty years of commercial oppression of the South, in order to preserve the Union, free the slaves, and establish the equality of Industry with Agriculture? Had it been just to the Negroes themselves to throw them so suddenly, with so little preparation, into full citizenship, that the Southern states, in what they considered selfdefense, disqualified them at the polls and lynched them and lashed them? Could they not, as Lincoln at first desired and planned, have been freed without the vote, then gradually and competently educated, under federal guardianship, so that by 1890 they might, without too much enmity, have been able to enter fully into all the activities of the land?

A generation and a half (Doremus meditated) of the sturdiest and most gallant killed or crippled in the Civil War or, perhaps worst of all, becoming garrulous professional heroes and satellites of the politicians who in return for their solid vote made all lazy jobs safe for the G.A.R. The most valorous, it was they who suffered the most, for while the John D. Rockefellers, the J. P. Morgans, the Vanderbilts, Astors, Goulds, and all their nimble financial comrades of the South, did not enlist, but stayed in the warm, dry counting-house, drawing the fortune of the country into their webs, it was Jeb Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Nathaniel Lyon, Pat Cleburne, and the knightly James B. McPherson who were killed . . . and with them Abraham Lincoln.

So, with the hundreds of thousands who should have been the progenitors of new American generations drained away, we could show the world, which from 1780 to 1860 had so admired men like Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, the Adamses, Webster, only such salvages as McKinley, Benjamin Harrison, William Jennings Bryan, Harding . . . and Senator Berzelius Windrip and his rivals.

Slavery had been a cancer, and in that day was known no remedy save bloody cutting. There had been no Xrays of wisdom and tolerance. Yet to sentimentalize this cutting, to justify and rejoice in it, was an altogether evil thing, a national superstition that was later to lead to other Unavoidable Wars, wars to free Cubans, to free Filipinos who didn’t want our brand of freedom, to End All Wars.

Let us, thought Doremus, not throb again to the bugles of the Civil War, nor find diverting the gallantry of Sherman’s dashing Yankee boys in burning the houses of lone women, nor particularly admire the calmness of General Lee as he watched thousands writhe in the mud.

He even wondered if, necessarily, it had been such a desirable thing for the Thirteen Colonies to have cut themselves off from Great Britain. Had the United States remained in the British Empire, possibly there would have evolved a confederation that could have enforced World Peace, instead of talking about it. Boys and girls from Western ranches and Southern plantations and Northern maple groves might have added Oxford and York Minster and Devonshire villages to their own domain. Englishmen, and even virtuous Englishwomen, might have learned that persons who lack the accent of a Kentish rectory or of a Yorkshire textile village may yet in many ways be literate; and that astonishing numbers of persons in the world cannot be persuaded that their chief aim in life ought to be to increase British exports on behalf of the stock-holdings of the Better Classes.

It is commonly asserted, Doremus remembered, that without complete political independence the United States could not have developed its own peculiar virtues. Yet it was not apparent to him that America was any more individual than Canada or Australia; that Pittsburgh and Kansas City were to be preferred before Montreal and Melbourne, Sydney and Vancouver.

No questioning of the eventual wisdom of the “radicals” who had first advocated these two American revolutions, Doremus warned himself, should be allowed to give any comfort to that eternal enemy: the conservative manipulators of privilege who damn as “dangerous agitators” any man who menaces their fortunes; who jump in their chairs at the sting of a gnat like Debs, and blandly swallow a camel like Windrip.

Between the rabel-rousers, chiefly to be detected by desire for their own personal power and notoriety, and the un-self-seeking fighters against tyranny, between William Walker or Danton, and John Howard or William Lloyd Garrison, Doremus saw, there was the difference between a noisy gang of thieves and an honest man noisily defending himself against thieves. He had been brought up to revere the Abolitionists: Lovejoy, Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Harriet Beecher Stowe, though his father had considered John Brown insane and a menace, and had thrown sly mud at the marble statues of Henry Ward Beecher, the apostle in the fancy vest. And Doremus could not do otherwise than revere the Abolitionists now, though he wondered a little if Stephen Douglas and Thaddeus Stephens and Lincoln, more cautious and less romantic men, might not have done the job better.

“Is it just possible,” he sighed, “that the most vigorous and boldest idealists have been the worst enemies of human progress instead of its greatest creators? Possible that plain men with the humble trait of minding their own business will rank higher in the heavenly hierarchy than all the plumed souls who have shoved their way in among the masses and insisted on saving them?

-14-

“I joined the Christian, or as some call it, the Campbellite Church as a mere boy, not yet dry behind the ears. But I wished then and I wish now that it were possible for me to belong to the whole glorious brotherhood; to be one in Communion at the same time with the brave Presbyterians that fight the pusillanimous, mendacious, destructive, tom-fool Higher Critics, so-called; and with the Methodists who so strongly oppose war yet in war-time can always be counted upon for Patriotism to the limit; and with the splendidly tolerant Baptists, the earnest Seventh-Day Adventists, and I guess I could even say a kind word for the Unitarians, as that great executive William Howard Taft belonged to them, also his wife.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip

Officially, Doremus belonged to the Universalist Church, his wife and children to the Episcopal, a natural American transition. He had been reared to admire Hosea Ballou, the Universalist St. Augustine who, from his tiny parsonage in Barnard, Vermont, had proclaimed his faith that even the wickedest would have, after earthly death, another chance of salvation. But now, Doremus could scarce enter the Fort Beulah Universalist Church. It had too many memories of his father, the pastor, and it was depressing to see how the old-time congregations, in which two hundred thick beards would wag in the grained pine benches every Sunday morning, and their womenfolks and children line up beside the patriarchs, had dwindled to aged widows and farmers and a few schoolteachers.

But in this time of seeking, Doremus did venture there. The church was a squat and gloomy building of granite, not particularly enlivened by the arches of colored slate above the windows, yet as a boy Doremus had thought it and its sawed-off tower the superior of Chartres. He had loved it as in Isaiah College he had loved the Library which, for all its appearance of being a crouching red brick toad, had meant to him freedom for spiritual discovery, still cavern of a reading room where for hours one could forget the world and never be nagged away to supper.

He found, on his one attendance at the Universalist church, a scattering of thirty disciples, being addressed by a “supply,” a theological student from Boston, monotonously shouting his well-meant, frightened, and slightly plagiaristic eloquence in regard to the sickness of Abijah, the son of Jeroboam. Doremus looked at the church walls, painted a hard and glistening green, unornamented, to avoid all the sinful trappings of papistry, while he listened to the preacher’s hesitant droning: “Now, uh, now what so many of us fail to realize is how, uh, how sin, how any sin that we, uh, we ourselves may commit, any sin reflects not on ourselves but on those that we, uh, that we hold near and dear-”

He would have given anything, Doremus yearned, for a sermon which, however irrational, would passionately lift him to renewed courage, which would bathe him in consolation these beleagured months. But with a shock of anger he saw that that was exactly what he had been condemning just a few days ago: the irrational dramatic power of the crusading leader, clerical or political.

Very well then, sadly. He’d just have to get along without the spiritual consolation of the church that he had known in college days.

No, first he’d try the ritual of his friend Mr. Falck, the Padre, Buck Titus sometimes called him.

In the cozy Anglicanism of St. Crispin’s P. E. Church, with its imitation English memorial brasses and imitation Celtic font and brass-eagle reading desk and dusty smelling maroon carpet, Doremus listened to Mr. Falck: “Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn from his wickedness, and live; and hath given power and commandment to his Ministers, to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the Absoiution and Remission of their sins-”

Doremus glanced at the placidly pious façade of his wife, Emma. The lovely, familiar old ritual seemed meaningless to him now, with no more pertinence to a life menaced by Buzz Windrip and his Minute Men, no more comfort for having lost his old deep pride in being an American, than a stage revival of an equally lovely and familiar Elizabethan play. He looked about nervously. However exalted Mr. Falck himself might be, most of the congregation were Yorkshire pudding. The Anglican Church was, to them, not the aspiring humility of Newman nor the humanity of Bishop Brown (both of whom left it!) but the sign and proof of prosperity, an ecclesiastical version of owning a twelve-cylinder Cadillac, or even more, of knowing that one’s grandfather owned his own surrey and a respectable old family horse.

The whole place smelled to Doremus of stale muffins. Mrs. R. C. Crowley was wearing white gloves and on her bust, for a Mrs. Crowley, even in 1936, did not yet have breasts, was a tight bouquet of tuberoses. Francis Tasbrough had a morning coat and striped trousers and on the lilac colored pew cushion beside him was (unique in Fort Beulah) a silk top-hat. And even the wife of Doremus’s bosom, or at least of his breakfast coffee, the good Emma, had a pedantic expression of superior goodness which irritated him.

“Whole outfit stifles me!” he snapped. “Rather be at a yelling, jumping Holy Roller orgy, no, that’s Buzz Windrip’s kind of jungle hysterics. I want a church, if there can possibly be one, that’s advanced beyond the jungle and beyond the chaplains of King Henry the Eighth. I know why, even though she’s painfully conscientious, Lorinda never goes to church.”

Lorinda Pike, on that sleety December afternoon, was darning a tea cloth in the lounge of her Beulah Valley Tavern, five miles up the river from the Fort. It wasn’t, of course, a tavern: it was a super-boarding-house as regards its twelve guest bedrooms, and a slightly too arty tearoom in its dining facilities. Despite his long affection for Lorinda, Doremus was always annoyed by the Singhalese brass finger bowls, the North Carolina table mats, and the Italian ash trays displayed for sale on wabbly card tables in the dining room. But he had to admit that the tea was excellent, the scones light, the Stilton sound, Lorinda’s private rum punches admirable, and that Lorinda herself was intelligent yet adorable, particularly when, as on this gray afternoon, she was bothered neither by other guests nor by the presence of that worm, her partner, Mr. Nipper, whose pleasing notion it was that because he had invested a few thousand in the Tavern he should have none of the work or responsibility and half the profits.

Doremus thrust his way in, patting off the snow, puffing to recover from the shakiness caused by skidding all the way from Fort Beulah. Lorinda nodded carelessly, dropped another stick on the fireplace, and went back to her darning with nothing more intimate than “Hullo. Nasty out.”

“Yuh-fierce.”

But as they sat on either side the hearth their eyes had no need of smiling for a bridge between them.

Lorinda reflected, “Well, my darling, it’s going to be pretty bad. I guess Windrip & Co. will put the woman’s struggle right back in the sixteen-hundreds, with Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomians.”

“Sure. Back to the kitchen.”

“Even if you haven’t got one!”

“Any worse than us men? Notice that Windrip never mentioned free speech and the freedom of the press in his articles of faith? Oh, he’d ‘ve come out for ‘em strong and hearty if he’d even thought of ‘em!”

“That’s so. Tea, darling?”

“No. Linda, damn it, I feel like taking the family and sneaking off to Canada before I get nabbed, right after Buzz’s inauguration.”

“No. You mustn’t. We’ve got to keep all the newspapermen that’ll go on fighting him, and not go sniffling up to the garbage pail. Besides! What would I do without you?” For the first time Lorinda sounded importunate.

“You’ll be a lot less suspect if I’m not around. But I guess you’re right. I can’t go till they put the skids under me. Then I’ll have to vanish. I’m too old to stand jail.”

“Not too old to make love, I hope! That would be hard on a girl!”

“Nobody ever is, except the kind that used to be too young to make love! Anyway, I’ll stay, for a while.”

He had, suddenly, from Lorinda, the resoluteness he had sought in church. He would go on trying to sweep back the ocean, just for his own satisfaction, it meant, however, that his hermitage in the Ivory Tower was closed with slightly ludicrous speed. But he felt strong again, and happy. His brooding was interrupted by Lorinda’s curt:

“How’s Emma taking the political situation?”

“Doesn’t know there is one! Hears me croaking, and she heard Walt Trowbridge’s warning on the radio, last evening, did you listen in?, and she says, ‘Oh my, how dreadful!’ and then forgets all about it and worries about the saucepan that got burnt! She’s lucky! Oh well, she probably calms me down and keeps me from becoming a complete neurote! Probably that’s why I’m so darned everlastingly fond of her. And yet I’m Chump enough to wish you and I were together, uh, recognizedly together, all the time, and could fight together to keep some little light burning in this coming new glacial epoch. I do. All the time. I think that, at this moment, all things considered, I should like to kiss you.”

“Is that so unusual a celebration?”

“Yes. Always. Always it’s the first time again! Look, Linda, do you ever stop to think how curious it is, that with, everything between us, like that night in the hotel at Montreal, we neither one of us seem to feel any guilt, any embarrassment, can sit and gossip like this?”

“No, dear. . . . Darling! . . . It doesn’t seem a bit curious. It was all so natural. So good!”

“And yet we’re reasonably responsible people-”

“Of course. That’s why nobody suspects us, not even Emma. Thank God she doesn’t, Doremus! I wouldn’t hurt her for anything, not even for your kind-hearted favors!”

“Beast!”

“Oh, you might be suspected, all by yourself. It’s known that you sometimes drink likker and play poker and tell ‘hot ones.’ But who’d ever suspect that the local female crank, the suffragist, the pacifist, the anti-censorshipist, the friend of Jane Addams and Mother Bloor, could be a libertine! Highbrows! Bloodless reformers! Oh, and I’ve known so many women agitators, all dressed in Carrie Nation hatchets and modest sheets of statistics, that have been ten times as passionate, intolerably passionate, as any cream-faced plump little Kept Wife in chiffon step-ins!”

For a moment their embracing eyes were not merely friendly and accustomed and careless.

He fretted, “Oh I think of you all the time and want you and yet I think of Emma too, and I don’t even have the fine novelistic egotism of feeling guilty and intolerably caught in complexities. Yes, it does all seem so natural, Dear Linda!”

He stalked restlessly to the casement window, looking back at her every second step. It was dusk now, and the roads smoking. He stared out in attentively, then very attentively indeed.

“That’s curious. Curiouser and curiouser. Standing back behind that big bush, lilac bush I guess it is, across the road, there’s a fellow watching this place. I can see him in the headlights whenever a car comes along. And I think it’s my hired man, Oscar Ledue-Shad.” He started to draw the cheerful red-and-white curtains.

“No! No! Don’t draw them! He’ll get suspicious.”

“That’s right. Funny, his watching there, if it is him. He’s supposed to be at my house right now, looking after the furnace-winters, he only works for me couple of hours a day, works in the sash factory, rest of the time, but he ought to, a little light blackmail, I suppose. Well, he can publish everything he saw today, wherever he wants to!”

“Only what he saw today?”

“Anything! Any day! I’m awfully proud, old dish rag like me, twenty years older than you, to be your lover!”

And he was proud, yet all the while he was remembering the warning in red chalk that he had found on his front porch after the election. Before he had time to become very complicated about it, the door vociferously banged open, and his daughter, Sissy, sailed in.

“Wot-oh, wot-oh, wot-oh! Toodle-oo! Good-morning, Jeeves! Mawnin’, Miss Lindy. How’s all de folks on de ole plantation everywhere I roam? Hello, Dad. No, it isn’t cocktails, least, just one very small cocktail, it’s youthful spirits! My God, but it’s cold! Tea, Linda, my good woman, tea!”

They had tea. A thoroughly domestic circle. “Race you home, Dad,” said Sissy, when they were ready to go. “Yes-no-wait a second! Lorinda: lend me a flashlight.”

As he marched out of the door, marched belligerently across the road, in Doremus seethed all the agitated anger he had been concealing from Sissy. And part hidden behind bushes, leaning on his motorcycle, he did find Shad Ledue. Shad was startled; for once he looked less contemptuously masterful than a Fifth Avenue traffic policeman, as Doremus snapped, “What you doing there?” and he stumbled in answering: “Oh I just, something happened to my motor-bike.”

“So! You ought to be home tending the furnace, Shad.”

“Well, Iguess I got my machine fixed now. I’ll hike along.”

“No. My daughter is to drive me home, so you can put your motorcycle in the back of my car and drive it back.” (Somehow, he had to talk privately to Sissy, though he was not in the least certain what it was he had to say.)

“Her? Rats! Sissy can’t drive for sour apples! Crazy’s a loon!”

“Ledue! Miss Sissy is a highly competent driver. At least she satisfies me, and if you really feel she doesn’t quite satisfy your standard.” “Her driving don’t make a damn bit of difference to me one way or th’ other! G’-night.”

Recrossing the road, Doremus rebuked himself, “That was childish of me. Trying to talk to him like a gent! But how I would enjoy murdering him!”

He informed Sissy, at the door, “Shad happened to come along, motorcycle in bad shape, let him take my Chrysler, I’ll drive with you.”

“Fine! Only six boys have had their hair turn gray, driving with me, this week.”

“And I, I meant to say, I think I’d better do the driving. It’s pretty slippery tonight.”

“Wouldn’t that destroy you! Why, my dear idiot parent, I’m the best driver in-”

“You can’t drive for sour apples! Crazy, that’s all! Get in! I’m driving, d’you hear? Night, Lorinda.”

“All right, dearest Father,” said Sissy with an impishness which reduced his knees to feebleness.

He assured himself, though, that this flip manner of Sissy, characteristic of even the provincial boys and girls who had been nursed on gasoline, was only an imitation of the nicer New York harlots and would not last more than another year or two. Perhaps this rattle, tongued generation needed a Buzz Windrip Revolution and all its pain.

“Beautiful, I know it’s swell to drive carefully, but do you have to emulate the prudent snail?” said Sissy.

“Snails don’t skid.”

“No, they get run over. Rather skid!”

“So your father’s a fossil!”

“Oh, I wouldn’t-”

“Well, maybe he is, at that. There’s advantages. Anyway: I wonder if there isn’t a lot of bunk about Age being so cautious and conservative, and Youth always being so adventurous and bold and original? Look at the young Nazis and how they enjoy beating up the Communists. Look at almost any college class, the students disapproving of the instructor because he’s iconoclastic and ridicules the sacred home-town ideas. Just this afternoon, I was thinking, driving out here-”

“Listen, Dad, do you go to Lindy’s often?”

“Why, why, not especially. Why?”

“Why don’t you, what are you two so scared of? You two wild-haired reformers, you and Lindy belong together. Why don’t you, you know, kind of be lovers?”

“Good God Almighty! Cecilia! I’ve never heard a decent girl talk that way in all my life!”

“Tst! Tst! Haven’t you? Dear, dear! So sorry!”

“Well, my Lord. At least you’ve got to admit that it’s slightly unusual for an apparently loyal daughter to suggest her father’s deceiving her mother! Especially a fine lovely mother like yours!”

“Is it? Well, maybe. Unusual to suggest it, aloud. But I wonder if lots of young females don’t sometimes kind of think it, just the same, when they see the Venerable Parent going stale!”

“Sissy-”

“Hey, watch that telephone pole!”

“Hang it, I didn’t go anywheres near it! Now you look here, Sissy: you simply must not be so froward, or forward, whichever it is; I always get those two words balled up. This is serious business. I’ve never heard of such a preposterous suggestion as Linda, Lorinda and I being lovers. My dear child, you simply can’t be flip about such final things as that!”

“Oh, can’t I! Oh, sorry, Dad. I just mean, about Mother Emma. Course I wouldn’t have anybody hurt her, not even Lindy and you. But, why, bless you, venerable, she’d never even dream of such a thing. You could have your nice pie and she’d never miss one single slice. Mother’s mental grooves aren’t, uh, well, they aren’t so very sex-conditioned, if that’s how you say it, more sort of along the new-vacuum-cleaner complex, if you know what I mean, page Freud! Oh, she’s swell, but not so analytical and-”

“Are those your ethics, then?”

“Huh? Well for cat’s sake, why not? Have a swell time that’Il get you full of beans again and yet not hurt anybody’s feelings? Why, say, that’s the entire second chapter in my book on ethics!”

“Sissy! Have you, by any chance, any vaguest notion of what you’re talking about, or think you’re talking about? Of course, and perhaps we ought to be ashamed of our cowardly negligence, but I, and I don’t suppose your mother, have taught you so very much about ‘sex’ and-”

“Thank heaven! You spared me the dear little flower and its simply shocking affair with that tough tomcat of a tiger lily in the next bed, excuse me, I mean in the next plot. I’m so glad you did. Pete’s sake! I’d certainly hate to blush every time I looked at a garden!”

“Sissy! Child! Please! You mustn’t be so beastly cute! These are all weighty things-”

Penitently: “I know, Dad. I’m sorry. It’s just, if you only knew how wretched I feel when I see you so wretched and so quiet and everything. This horrible Windrip, League of Forgodsakers business has got you down, hasn’t it! If you’re going to fight ‘em, you’ve got to get some pep back into you, you’ve got to take off the lace mitts and put on the brass knuckles, and I got kind of a hunch Lorinda might do that for you, and only her. Heh! Her pretending to be so high-minded! (Remember that old wheeze Buck Titus used to love so, ‘If you’re saving the fallen women, save me one’? Oh, not so good. I guess we’ll take that line right out of the sketch!) But anyway, our Lindy has a pretty moist and hungry eye-”

“Impossible! Impossible! By the way, Sissy! What do you know about all of this? Are you a virgin?”

“Dad! Is that your idea of a question to, Oh, I guess I was asking for it. And the answer is: Yes. So far. But not promising one single thing about the future. Let me tell you right now, if conditions in this country do get as bad as you’ve been claiming they will, and Julian Falck is threatened with having to go to war or go to prison or some rotten thing like that, I’m most certainly not going to let any maidenly modesty interfere between me and him, and you might just as well be prepared for that!”

“It is Julian then, not Malcolm?”

“Oh, I think so. Malcolm gives me a pain in the neck. He’s getting all ready to take his proper place as a colonel or something with Windrip’s wooden soldiers. And I am so fond of Julian! Even if he is the doggonedest, most impractical soul, like his grandfather, or you! He’s a sweet thing. We sat up purring pretty nothings till about two, last night, I guess.”

“Sissy! But you haven’t, Oh, my little girl! Julian is probably decent enough, not a bad sort, but you, You haven’t let Julian take any familiarities with you?”

“Dear quaint old word! As if anything could be so awfully much more familiar than a good, capable, 10,000 h.p. kiss! But darling, just so you won’t worry, no. The few times, late nights, in our sitting room, when I’ve slept with Julian, well, we’ve slept!”

“I’m glad, but, Your apparent, probably only apparent, information on a variety of delicate subjects slightly embarrasses me.”

“Now you listen to me! And this is something you ought to be telling me, not me you, Mr. Jessup! Looks as if this country, and most of the world, I am being serious, now, Dad; plenty serious, God help us all!, it looks as if we’re headed right back into barbarism. It’s war! There’s not going to be much time for coyness and modesty, any more than there is for a base-hospital nurse when they bring in the wounded. Nice young ladies, they’re out! It’s Lorinda and me that you men are going to want to have around, isn’t it, isn’t it, now isn’t it?”

“Maybe-perhaps,” Doremus sighed, depressed at seeing a little more of his familiar world slide from under his feet as the flood rose.

They were coming into the Jessup driveway. Shad Ledue was just leaving the garage.

“Skip in the house, quick, will you!” said Doremus to his girl.

“Sure. But do be careful, hon!” She no longer sounded like his little daughter, to be protected, adorned with pale blue ribbons, slyly laughed at when she tried to show off in grown-up ways. She was suddenly a dependable comrade, like Lorinda.

Doremus slipped resolutely out of his car and said calmly:

“Shad!”

“Yuh?”

“D’you take the car keys into the kitchen?”

“Huh? No. I guess I left ‘em in the car.”

“I’ve told you a hundred times they belong inside.”

“Yuh? Well, how’d you like Miss Cecilia’s driving? Have a good visit with old Mrs. Pike?”

He was derisive now, beyond concealment.

“Ledue, I rather think you’re fired, right now!”

“Well! Just feature that! O.K., Chief! I was just going to tell you that we’re forming a second chapter of the League of Forgotten Men in the Fort, and I’m to be the secretary. They don’t pay much, only about twice what you pay me, pretty tight-fisted but it’ll mean something in politics. Good-night!”

Afterward, Doremus was sorry to remember that, for all his longshoreman clumsiness, Shad had learned a precise script in his red Vermont schoolhouse, and enough mastery of figures so that probably he would be able to keep this rather bogus secretaryship. Too bad!

When, as League secretary, a fortnight later, Shad wrote to him demanding a donation of two hundred dollars to the League, and Doremus refused, the Informer began to lose circulation within twenty-four hours.

-15-

“Usually I’m pretty mild, in fact many of my friends are kind enough to call it ”Folksy,” when I’m writing or speechifying. My ambition is to ”live by the side of the road and be a friend to man.” But I hope that none of the gentlemen who have honored me with their enmity think for one single moment that when I run into a gross enough public evil or a persistent enough detractor, I can’t get up on my hind legs and make a sound like a two-tailed grizzly in April. So right at the start of this account of my ten-year fight with them, as private citizen, State Senator, and U.S. Senator, let me say that the Sangfrey River Light, Power, and Fuel Corporation ARE, and I invite a suit for libel, the meanest, lowest, cowardliest gang of yellow-livered, back-slapping, hypocritical gun-toters, bombthrowers, ballot-stealers, ledger-fakers, givers of bribes, suborners of perjury, scab-hirers, and general lowdown crooks, liars, and swindlers that ever tried to do an honest servant of the People out of an election, not but what I have always succeeded in licking them, so that my indignation at these homicidal kleptomaniacs is not personal but entirely on behalf of the general public.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip

On Wednesday, January 6, 1937, just a fortnight before his inauguration, President-Elect Windrip announced his appointments of cabinet members and of diplomats.

Secretary of State: his former secretary and pressagent, Lee Sarason, who also took the position of High Marshal, or Commander-in-Chief, of the Minute Men, which organization was to be established permanently, as an innocent marching club.

Secretary of the Treasury: one Webster R. Skittle, president of the prosperous Fur & Hide National Bank of St. Louis, Mr. Skittle had once been indicted on a charge of defrauding the government on his income tax, but he had been acquitted, more or less, and during the campaign, he was said to have taken a convincing way of showing his faith in Buzz Windrip as the Savior of the Forgotten Men.

Secretary of War: Colonel Osceola Luthorne, formerly editor of the Topeka (Kans.) Argus, and the Fancy Goods and Novelties Gazette; more recently high in real estate. His title came from his position on the honorary staff of the Governor of Tennessee. He had long been a friend and fellow campaigner of Windrip.

It was a universal regret that Bishop Paul Peter Prang should have refused the appointment as Secretary of War, with a letter in which he called Windrip “My dear Friend and Collaborator” and asserted that he had actually meant it when he had said he desired no office. Later, it was a similar regret when Father Coughlin refused the Ambassadorship to Mexico, with no letter at all but only a telegram cryptically stating, “Just six months too late.”

A new cabinet position, that of Secretary of Education and Public Relations, was created. Not for months would Congress investigate the legality of such a creation, but meantime the new post was brilliantly held by Hector Macgoblin, MD, Ph.D., Hon. Litt.D.

Senator Porkwood graced the position of Attorney General, and all the other offices were acceptably filled by men who, though they had roundly supported Windrip’s almost socialistic projects for the distribution of excessive fortunes, were yet known to be thoroughly sensible men, and no fanatics.

It was said, though Doremus Jessup could never prove it, that Windrip learned from Lee Sarason the Spanish custom of getting rid of embarrassing friends and enemies by appointing them to posts abroad, preferably quite far abroad. Anyway, as Ambassador to Brazil, Windrip appointed Herbert Hoover, who not very enthusiastically accepted; as Ambassador to Germany, Senator Borah; as Governor of the Philippines, Senator Robert La Follette, who refused; and as Ambassadors to the Court of St. James’s, France, and Russia, none other than Upton Sinclair, Milo Reno, and Senator Bilbo of Mississippi.

These three had a fine time. Mr. Sinclair pleased the British by taking so friendly an interest in their politics that he openly campaigned for the Independent Labor Party and issued a lively brochure called “I, Upton Sinclair, Prove That Prime Minister Walter Elliot, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, and First Lord of the Admiralty Nancy Astor Are All Liars and Have Refused to Accept My Freely Offered Advice.” Mr. Sinclair also aroused considerable interest in British domestic circles by advocating an act of Parliament forbidding the wearing of evening clothes and all hunting of foxes except with shotguns; and on the occasion of his official reception at Buckingham Palace, he warmly invited King George and Queen Mary to come and live in California.

Mr. Milo Reno, insurance salesman and former president of the National Farm Holiday Association, whom all the French royalists compared to his great predecessor, Benjamin Franklin, for forthrightness, became the greatest social favorite in the international circles of Paris, the Basses-Pyrénées, and the Riviera, and was once photographed playing tennis at Antibes with the Due de Tropez, Lord Rothermere, and Dr. Rudolph Hess.

Senator Bilbo had, possibly, the best time of all.

Stalin asked his advice, as based on his ripe experience in the Gleichshaltung of Mississippi, about the cultural organization of the somewhat backward natives of Tadjikistan, and so valuable did it prove that Excellency Bilbo was invited to review the Moscow military celebration, the following November seventh, in the same stand with the very highest class of representatives of the classless state. It was a triumph for His Excellency. Generalissimo Voroshilov fainted after 200,000 Soviet troops, 7000 tanks, and 9000 aeroplanes had passed by; Stalin had to be carried home after reviewing 317,000; but Ambassador Bilbo was there in the stand when the very last of the 626,000 soldiers had gone by, all of them saluting him under the quite erroneous impression that he was the Chinese Ambassador; and he was still tirelessly returning their salutes, fourteen to the minute, and softly singing with them the “International.”

He was less of a hit later, however, when to the unsmiling Anglo-American Association of Exiles to Soviet Russia from Imperialism, he sang to the tune of the “international” what he regarded as amusing private words of his own:

”Arise, ye prisoners of starvation,

From Russia make your getaway.

They all are rich in Bilbo’s nation. God bless the LI. 8. A.!”

Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch, after her spirited campaign for Mr. Windrip, was publicly angry that she was offered no position higher than a post in the customs office in Nome, Alaska, though this was offered to her very urgently indeed. She had demanded that there be created, especially for her, the cabinet position of Secretaryess of Domestic Science, Child Welfare, and AntiVice. She threatened to turn Jeffersonian, Republican, or Communistic, but in April she was heard of in Hollywood, writing the scenario for a giant picture to be called, They Did It in Greece.

As an insult and boy-from-home joke, the President Elect appointed Franklin D. Roosevelt minister to Liberia. Mr. Roosevelt’s opponents laughed very much, and opposition newspapers did cartoons of him sitting unhappily in a grass hut with a sign on which “NRA.” had been crossed out and “USA.” substituted. But Mr. Roosevelt declined with so amiable a smile that the joke seemed rather to have slipped.

The followers of President Windrip trumpeted that it was significant that he should be the first president inaugurated not on March fourth, but on January twentieth, according to the provision of the new Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution. It was a sign straight from Heaven (though, actually, Heaven had not been the author of the amendment, but Senator George W. Norris of Nebraska), and proved that Windrip was starting a new paradise on earth.

The inauguration was turbulent. President Roosevelt declined to be present, he politely suggested that he was about half ill unto death, but that same noon he was seen in a New York shop, buying books on gardening and looking abnormally cheerful.

More than a thousand reporters, photographers, and radio men covered the inauguration. Twenty-seven constituents of Senator Porkwood, of all sexes, had to sleep on the floor of the Senator’s office, and a hall-bedroom in the suburb of Bladensburg rented for thirty dollars for two nights. The presidents of Brazil, the Argentine, and Chile flew to the inauguration in a Pan-American aeroplane, and Japan sent seven hundred students on a special train from Seattle.

A motor company in Detroit had presented to Windrip a limousine with armor plate, bulletproof glass, a hidden nickel-steel safe for papers, a concealed private bar, and upholstery made from the Troissant tapestries of 1670. But Buzz chose to drive from his home to the Capitol in his old Hupmobile sedan, and his driver was a youngster from his home town whose notion of a uniform for state occasions was a blue-serge suit, red tie, and derby hat.

Windrip himself did wear a topper, but he saw to it that Lee Sarason saw to it that the one hundred and thirty million plain citizens learned, by radio, even while the inaugural parade was going on, that he had borrowed the topper for this one sole occasion from a New York Republican Representative who had ancestors.

But following Windrip was an un-Jacksonian escort of soldiers: the American Legion and, immensely grander than the others, the Minute Men, wearing trench helmets of polished silver and led by Colonel Dewey Haik in scarlet tunic and yellow riding-breeches and helmet with golden plumes.

Solemnly, for once looking a little awed, a little like a small-town boy on Broadway, Windrip took the oath, administered by the Chief Justice (who disliked him very much indeed) and, edging even closer to the microphone, squawked, “My fellow citizens, as the President of the United States of America, I want to inform you that the real New Deal has started right this minute, and we’re all going to enjoy the manifold liberties to which our history entitles us, and have a whale of a good time doing it! I thank you!”

That was his first act as President. His second was to take up residence in the White House, where he sat down in the East Room in his stocking feet and shouted at Lee Sarason, “This is what I’ve been planning to do now for six years! I bet this is what Lincoln used to do! Now let ‘em assassinate me!”

His third, in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the Army, was to order that the Minute Men be recognized as an unpaid but official auxiliary of the Regular Army, subject only to their own officers, to Buzz, and to High Marshal Sarason; and that rifles, bayonets, automatic pistols, and machine guns be instantly issued to them by government arsenals. That was at 4 PM. Since 3 PM, all over the country, bands of M.M.’s had been sitting gloating over pistols and guns, twitching with desire to seize them.

Fourth coup was a special message, next morning, to Congress (in session since January fourth, the third having been a Sunday), demanding the instant passage of a bill embodying Point Fifteen of his election platform, that he should have complete control of legislation and execution, and the Supreme Court be rendered incapable of blocking anything that it might amuse him to do.

By Joint Resolution, with less than half an hour of debate, both houses of Congress rejected that demand before 3 PM, on January twenty-first. Before six, the President had proclaimed that a state of martial law existed during the “present crisis,” and more than a hundred Congressmen had been arrested by Minute Men, on direct orders from the President. The Congressmen who were hotheaded enough to resist were cynically charged with “inciting to riot”; they who went quietly were not charged at all. It was blandly explained to the agitated press by Lee Sarason that these latter quiet lads had been so threatened by “irresponsible and seditious elements” that they were merely being safeguarded. Sarason did not use the phrase “protective arrest,” which might have suggested things.

To the veteran reporters it was strange to see the titular Secretary of State, theoretically a person of such dignity and consequence that he could deal with the representatives of foreign powers, acting as press-agent and yes-man for even the President.

There were riots, instantly, all over Washington, all over America.

The recalcitrant Congressmen had been penned in the District Jail. Toward it, in the winter evening, marched a mob that was noisily mutinous toward the Windrip for whom so many of them had voted. Among the mob buzzed hundreds of Negroes, armed with knives and old pistols, for one of the kidnaped Congressmen was a Negro from Georgia, the first colored Georgian to hold high office since carpetbagger days.

Surrounding the jail, behind machine guns, the rebels found a few Regulars, many police, and a horde of Minute Men, but at these last they jeered, calling them “Minnie Mouses” and “tin soldiers” and “mama’s boys.” The M.M.’s looked nervously at their officers and at the Regulars who were making so professional a pretense of not being scared. The mob heaved bottles and dead fish. Half-a-dozen policemen with guns and night sticks, trying to push back the van of the mob, were buried under a human surf and came up grotesquely battered and ununiformed, those who ever did come up again. There were two shots; and one Minute Man slumped to the jail steps, another stood ludicrously holding a wrist that spurted blood.

The Minute Men, why, they said to themselves, they’d never meant to be soldiers anyway, just wanted to have some fun marching! They began to sneak into the edges of the mob, hiding their uniform caps. That instant, from a powerful loudspeaker in a lower window of the jail brayed the voice of President Berzelius Windrip:

“I am addressing my own boys, the Minute Men, everywhere in America! To you and you only I look for help to make America a proud, rich land again. You have been scorned. They thought you were the ‘lower classes.’ They wouldn’t give you jobs. They told you to sneak off like bums and get relief. They ordered you into lousy C.C.C. camps. They said you were no good, because you were poor. I tell you that you are, ever since yesterday noon, the highest lords of the land, the aristocracy, the makers of the new America of freedom and justice. Boys! I need you! Help me, help me to help you! Stand fast! Anybody tries to block you, give the swine the point of your bayonet!”

A machine-gunner M.M., who had listened reverently, let loose. The mob began to drop, and into the backs of the wounded as they went staggering away the MM. infantry, running, poked their bayonets. Such a juicy squash it made, and the fugitives looked so amazed, so funny, as they tumbled in grotesque heaps!

The M.M.’s hadn’t, in dreary hours of bayonet drill, known this would be such sport. They’d have more of it now, and hadn’t the President of the United States himself told each of them, personally, that he needed their aid?

When the remnants of Congress ventured to the Capitol, they found it seeded with M.M.’s, while a regiment of Regulars, under Major General Meinecke, paraded the grounds.

The Speaker of the House, and the Hon. Mr. Perley Beecroft, Vice-President of the United States and Presiding Officer of the Senate, had the power to declare that quorums were present. (If a lot of members chose to dally in the district jail, enjoying themselves instead of attending Congress, whose fault was that?) Both houses passed a resolution declaring Point Fifteen temporarily in effect, during the “crisis”, the legality of the passage was doubtful, but just who was to contest it, even though the members of the Supreme Court had not been placed under protective arrest . . . merely confined each to his own house by a squad of Minute Men!

Bishop Paul Peter Prang had (his friends said afterward) been dismayed by Windrip’s stroke of state. Surely, he complained, Mr. Windrip hadn’t quite remembered to include Christian Amity in the program he had taken from the League of Forgotten Men. Though Mr. Prang had contentedly given up broadcasting ever since the victory of Justice and Fraternity in the person of BerzeIius Windrip, he wanted to caution the public again, but when he telephoned to his familiar station, WLFM in Chicago, the manager informed him that “just temporarily, all access to the air was forbidden,” except as it was especially licensed by the offices of Lee Sarason. (Oh, that was only one of sixteen jobs that Lee and his six hundred new assistants had taken on in the past week.)

Rather timorously, Bishop Prang motored from his home in Persepolis, Indiana, to the Indianapolis airport and took a night plane for Washington, to reprove, perhaps even playfully to spank, his naughty disciple, Buzz.

He had little trouble in being admitted to see the President. In fact, he was, the press feverishly reported, at the White House for six hours, though whether he was with the President all that time they could not discover. At three in the afternoon Prang was seen to leave by a private entrance to the executive offices and take a taxi. They noted that he was pale and staggering.

In front of his hotel he was elbowed by a mob who in curiously unmenacing and mechanical tones yelped, “Lynch um-downutha enemies Windrip!” A dozen M.M.’s pierced the crowd and surrounded the Bishop. The Ensign commanding them bellowed to the crowd, so that all might hear, “You cowards leave the Bishop alone! Bishop, come with us, and we’ll see you’re safe!”

Millions heard on their radios that evening the official announcement that, to ward off mysterious plotters, probably Bolsheviks, Bishop Prang had been safely shielded in the district jail. And with it a personal statement from President Windrip that he was filled with joy at having been able to “rescue from the foul agitators my friend and mentor, Bishop P. P. Prang, than whom there is no man living who I so admire and respect.”

There was, as yet, no absolute censorship of the press; only a confused imprisonment of journalists who offended the government or local officers of the M.M.’s; and the papers chronically opposed to Windrip carried by no means flattering hints that Bishop Prang had rebuked the President and been plain jailed, with no nonsense about a “rescue.” These mutters reached Persepolis.

Not all the Persepolitans ached with love for the Bishop or considered him a modern St. Francis gathering up the little fowls of the fields in his handsome LaSalle car. There were neighbors who hinted that he was a windowpeeping snooper after bootleggers and obliging grass widows. But proud of him, their best advertisement, they certainly were, and the Persepolis Chamber of Commerce had caused to be erected at the Eastern gateway to Main Street the sign: “Home of Bishop Prang, Radio’s Greatest Star.”

So as one man Persepolis telegraphed to Washington, demanding Prang’s release, but a messenger in the Executive Offices who was a Persepolis boy (he was, it is true, a colored man, but suddenly he became a favorite son, lovingly remembered by old schoolmates) tipped off the Mayor that the telegrams were among the hundredweight of messages that were daily hauled away from the White House unanswered.

Then a quarter of the citizenry of Persepolis mounted a special train to “march” on Washington. It was one of those small incidents which the opposition press could use as a bomb under Windrip, and the train was accompanied by a score of high-ranking reporters from Chicago and, later, from Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and New York.

While the train was on its way, and it was curious what delays and sidetrackings it encountered, a company of Minute Men at Logansport, Indiana, rebelled against having to arrest a group of Catholic nuns who were accused of having taught treasonably. High Marshal Sarason felt that there must be a Lesson, early and impressive. A battalion of M.M.’s, sent from Chicago in fast trucks, arrested the mutinous company, and shot every third man.

When the Persepolitans reached Washington, they were tearfully informed, by a brigadier of M.M.’s who met them at the Union Station, that poor Bishop Prang had been so shocked by the treason of his fellow Indianans that he had gone melancholy mad and they had tragically been compelled to shut him up in St. Elizabeth’s government insane asylum.

No one willing to carry news about him ever saw Bishop Prang again.

The Brigadier brought greetings to the Persepolitans from the President himself, and an invitation to stay at the Willard, at government expense. Only a dozen accepted; the rest took the first train back, not amiably; and from then on there was one town in America in which no M.M. ever dared to appear in his ducky forage cap and dark-blue tunic.

The Chief of Staff of the Regular Army had been deposed; in his place was Major General Emmanuel Coon. Doremus and his like were disappointed by General Coon’s acceptance, for they had always been informed, even by the Nation, that Emmanuel Coon, though a professional army officer who did enjoy a fight, preferred that that fight be on the side of the Lord; that he was generous, literate, just, and a man of honor, and honor was the one quality that Buzz Windrip wasn’t even expected to understand. Rumor said that Coon (as “Nordic” a Kentuckian as ever existed, a descendant of men who had fought beside Kit Carson and Commodore Perry) was particularly impatient with the puerility of anti-Semitism, and that nothing so pleased him as, when he heard new acquaintances being superior about the Jews, to snarl, “Did you by any chance happen to notice that my name is Emmanuel Coon and that Coon might be a corruption of some name rather familiar on the East Side of New York?”

“Oh well, I suppose even General Coon feels, ‘Orders are Orders,” sighed Doremus.

President Windrip’s first extended proclamation to the country was a pretty piece of literature and of tenderness. He explained that powerful and secret enemies of American principles, one rather gathered that they were a combination of Wall Street and Soviet Russia, upon discovering, to their fury, that he, Berzelius, was going to be President, had planned their last charge. Everything would be tranquil in a few months, but meantime there was a Crisis, during which the country must “bear with him.”

He recalled the military dictatorship of Lincoln and Stanton during the Civil War, when civilian suspects were arrested without warrant. He hinted how delightful everything was going to be, right away now, just a moment, just a moment’s patience, when he had things in hand; and he wound up with a comparison of the Crisis to the urgency of a fireman rescuing a pretty girl from a “conflagration,” and carrying her down a ladder, for her own sake, whether she liked it or not, and no matter how appealingly she might kick her pretty ankles. The whole country laughed. “Great card, that Buzz, but mighty competent guy,” said the electorate. “I should worry whether Bish Prang or any other nut is in the boobyhatch, long as I get my five thousand bucks a year, like Windrip promised,” said Shad Ledue to Charley Betts, the furniture man.

It had all happened within the eight days following Windrip’s inauguration.

-16-

To follow in part 5

Part 3. Make America Great Again? Fascism, It Can’t Happen Here. A Warning From The Past – Sinclair Lewis – (Chapters 9-12).

“He would whirl arms, bang tables, glare from mad eyes, vomit Biblical wrath from a gaping mouth; but he would also coo like a nursing mother, beseech like an aching lover, and in between tricks would coldly and almost contemptuously jab his crowds with figures and factsfigures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect.”

It Can’t Happen Here is a semi-satirical 1935 political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis.

Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and “traditional” values.

After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes a pIutocratic/totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS.

The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion.

-9-

“Those who have never been on the inside in the Councils of State can never realize that with really high class Statesmen, their chief quality is not political canniness, but a big, rich, overflowing Love for all sorts and conditions of people and for the whole land. That Love and that Patriotism have been my sole guiding principles in Politics. My one ambition is to get all Americans to realize that they are, and must continue to be, the greatest Race on the face of this old Earth, and second, to realize that whatever apparent differences there may be among us, in wealth, knowledge, skill, ancestry or strength, though, of course, all this does not apply to people who are racially different from us, we are all brothers, bound together in the great and wonderful bond of National Unity, for which we should all be very glad. And I think we ought to for this be willing to sacrifice any individual gains at all.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

Berzelius Windrip, of whom in late summer and early autumn of 1936 there were so many published photographs, showing him popping into cars and out of aeroplanes, dedicating bridges, eating corn pone and side, meat with Southerners and clam chowder and bran with Northerners, addressing the American Legion, the Liberty League, the Y.M.H.A., the Young People’s Socialist League, the Elks, the Bartenders’ and Waiters’ Union, the Anti-Saloon League, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Afghanistan, showing him kissing lady centenarians and shaking hands with ladies called Madame, but never the opposite, showing him in Savile Row riding, clothes on Long Island and in overalls and a khaki shirt in the Ozarks, this Buzz Windrip was almost a dwarf, yet with an enormous head, a bloodhound head, of huge ears, pendulous cheeks, mournful eyes. He had a luminous, ungrudging smile which (declared the Washington correspondents) he turned on and off deliberately, like an electric light, but which could make his ugliness more attractive than the simpers of any pretty man.

His hair was so coarse and black and straight, and worn so long in the back, that it hinted of Indian blood. In the Senate he preferred clothes that suggested the competent insurance salesman, but when farmer constituents were in Washington he appeared in an historic ten-gallon hat with a mussy gray “cutaway” which somehow you erroneously remembered as a black “Prince Albert.”

In that costume, he looked like a sawed-off museum model of a medicine-show “doctor,” and indeed it was rumored that during one law-school vacation Buzz Windrip had played the banjo and done card tricks and handed down medicine bottles and managed the shell game for no less scientific an expedition than Old Dr. Alagash’s Traveling Laboratory, which specialized in the Choctaw Cancer Cure, the Chinook Consumption Soother, and the Oriental Remedy for Piles and Rheumatism Prepared from a World-old Secret Formula by the Gipsy Princess, Queen Peshawara. The company, ardently assisted by Buzz, killed off quite a number of persons who, but for their confidence in Dr. Alagash’s bottles of water, coloring matter, tobacco juice, and raw corn whisky, might have gone early enough to doctors. But since then, Windrip had redeemed himself, no doubt, by ascending from the vulgar fraud of selling bogus medicine, standing in front of a megaphone, to the dignity of selling bogus economics, standing on an indoor platform under mercury-vapor lights in front of a microphone.

He was in stature but a small man, yet remember that so were Napoleon, Lord Beaverbrook, Stephen A. Douglas, Frederick the Great, and the Dr. Goebbels who is privily known throughout Germany as “Wotan’s Mickey Mouse.”

Doremus Jessup, so inconspicuous an observer, watching Senator Windrip from so humble a Boeotia, could not explain his power of bewitching large audiences. The Senator was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his “ideas” almost idiotic, while his celebrated piety was that of a traveling salesman for church furniture, and his yet more celebrated humor the sly cynicism of a country store.

Certainly there was nothing exhilarating in the actual words of his speeches, nor anything convincing in his philosophy. His political platforms were only wings of a windmill. Seven years before his present credo, derived from Lee Sarason, Hitler, Gottfried Feder, Rocco, and probably the revue Of Thee I Sing, little Buzz, back home, had advocated nothing more revolutionary than better beef stew in the county poor-farms, and plenty of graft for loyal machine politicians, with jobs for their brothers-in-law, nephews, law partners, and creditors.

Doremus had never heard Windrip during one of his orgasms of oratory, but he had been told by political reporters that under the spell you thought Windrip was Plato, but that on the way home you could not remember anything he had said.

There were two things, they told Doremus, that distinguished this prairie Demosthenes. He was an actor of genius. There was no more overwhelming actor on the stage, in the motion pictures, nor even in the pulpit. He would whirl arms, bang tables, glare from mad eyes, vomit Biblical wrath from a gaping mouth; but he would also coo like a nursing mother, beseech like an aching lover, and in between tricks would coldly and almost contemptuously jab his crowds with figures and factsfigures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect.

But below this surface stagecraft was his uncommon natural ability to be authentically excited by and with his audience, and they by and with him. He could dramatize his assertion that he was neither a Nazi nor a Fascist but a Democrat, a homespun Jeffersonian, Lincolnian, Clevelandian, Wilsonian Democrat, and (sans scenery and costume) make you see him veritably defending the Capitol against barbarian hordes, the while he innocently presented as his own warm-hearted Democratic inventions, every anti-libertarian, anti-Semitic madness of Europe.

Aside from his dramatic glory, Buzz Windrip was a Professional Common Man.

Oh, he was common enough. He had every prejudice and aspiration of every American Common Man. He believed in the desirability and therefore the sanctity of thick buckwheat cakes with adulterated maple syrup, in rubber trays for the ice cubes in his electric refrigerator, in the especial nobility of dogs, all dogs, in the oracles of S. Parkes Cadman, in being chummy with all waitresses at all junction lunch rooms, and in Henry Ford (when he became President, he exulted, maybe he could get Mr. Ford to come to supper at the White House), and the superiority of anyone who possessed a million dollars. He regarded spats, walking sticks, caviar, titles, tea-drinking, poetry not daily syndicated in newspapers and all foreigners, possibly excepting the British, as degenerate.

But he was the Common Man twenty-times-magnified by his oratory, so that while the other Commoners could understand his every purpose, which was exactly the same as their own, they saw him towering among them, and they raised hands to him in worship.

In the greatest of all native American arts (next to the talkies, and those Spirituals in which Negroes express their desire to go to heaven, to St. Louis, or almost any place distant from the romantic old plantations), namely, in the art of Publicity, Lee Sarason was in no way inferior even to such acknowledged masters as Edward Bernays, the late Theodore Roosevelt, Jack Dempsey, and Upton Sinclair.

Sarason had, as it was scientifically called, been “building up” Senator Windrip for seven years before his nomination as President. Where other Senators were encouraged by their secretaries and wives (no potential dictator ought ever to have a visible wife, and none ever has had, except Napoleon) to expand from village backslapping to noble, rotund, Ciceronian gestures, Sarason had encouraged Windrip to keep up in the Great World all of the clownishness which (along with considerable legal shrewdness and the endurance to make ten speeches a day) had endeared him to his simple-hearted constituents in his native state.

Windrip danced a hornpipe before an alarmed academic audience when he got his first honorary degree; he kissed Miss Flandreau at the South Dakota beauty contest; he entertained the Senate, or at least the Senate galleries, with detailed accounts of how to catch catfish, from the bait, digging to the ultimate effects of the jug of corn whisky; he challenged the venerable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to a duel with sling-shots.

Though she was not visible, Windrip did have a wife, Sarason had none, nor was likely to; and Walt Trowbridge was a widower. Buzz’s lady stayed back home, raising spinach and chickens and telling the neighbors that she expected to go to Washington next year, the while Windrip was informing the press that his “Frau” was so edifyingly devoted to their two small children and to Bible study that she simply could not be coaxed to come East.

But when it came to assembling a political machine, Windrip had no need of counsel from Lee Sarason.

Where Buzz was, there were the vultures also. His hotel suite, in the capital city of his home state, in Washington, in New York, or in Kansas City, was like, well, Frank Sullivan once suggested that it resembled the office of a tabloid newspaper upon the impossible occasion of Bishop Cannon’s setting fire to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, kidnaping the Dionne quintuplets, and eloping with Greta Garbo in a stolen tank.

In the “parlor” of any of these suites, Buzz Windrip sat in the middle of the room, a telephone on the floor beside him, and for hours he shrieked at the instrument, “Hello-yuh-speaking,” or at the door, “Come in, come in!” and “Sit down ‘n’ take a load off your feet!” All day, all night till dawn, he would be bellowing, “Tell him he can take his bill and go climb a tree,” or “Why certainly, old man, tickled to death to support it, utility corporations cer’nly been getting a raw deal,” and “You tell the Governor I want Kippy elected sheriff and I want the indictment against him quashed and I want it damn quick!” Usually, squatted there cross legged, he would be wearing a smart belted camel’s-hair coat with an atrocious checked cap.

In a fury, as he was at least every quarter hour, he would leap up, peel off the overcoat (showing either a white boiled shirt and clerical black bow, or a canaryyellow silk shirt with a scarlet tie), fling it on the floor, and put it on again with slow dignity, while he bellowed his anger like Jeremiah cursing Jerusalem, or like a sick cow mourning its kidnaped young.

There came to him stookbrokers, labor leaders, distillers, anti-vivisectionists, vegetarians, disbarred shyster lawyers, missionaries to China, lobbyists for oil and electricity, advocates of war and of war against war. “Gaw! Every guy in the country with a bad case of the gimmes comes to see me!” he growled to Sarason. He promised to further their causes, to get an appointment to West Point for the nephew who had just lost his job in the creamery. He promised fellow politicians to support their bills if they would support his. He gave interviews upon subsistence farming, backless bathing suits, and the secret strategy of the Ethiopian army. He grinned and kneepatted and back-slapped; and few of his visitors, once they had talked with him, failed to look upon him as their Little Father and to support him forever. . . . The few who did fail, most of them newspapermen, disliked the smell of him more than before they had met him. . . . Even they, by the unusual spiritedness and color of their attacks upon him, kept his name alive in every column. . . . By the time he had been a Senator for one year, his machine was as complete and smooth-running, and as hidden away from ordinary passengers, as the engines of a liner.

On the beds in any of his suites there would, at the same time, repose three top-hats, two clerical hats, a green object with a feather, a brown derby, a taxi-driver’s cap, and nine ordinary, Christian brown felts.

Once, within twenty-seven minutes, he talked on the telephone from Chicago to Palo Alto, Washington, Buenos Aires, Wilmette, and Oklahoma City. Once, in half a day, he received sixteen calls from clergymen asking him to condemn the dirty burlesque show, and seven from theatrical promoters and real-estate owners asking him to praise it. He called the clergymen “Doctor” or “Brother” or both; he called the promoters “Buddy” and “Pal”; he gave equally ringing promises to both; and for both he loyally did nothing whatever.

Normally, he would not have thought of cultivating foreign alliances, though he never doubted that some day, as President, he would be leader of the world orchestra. Lee Sarason insisted that Buzz look into a few international fundamentals, such as the relationship of sterling to the lira, the proper way in which to address a baronet, the chances of the Archduke Otto, the London oyster bars and the brothels near the Boulevard de Sebastopol best to recommend to junketing Representatives.

But the actual cultivation of foreign diplomats resident in Washington he left to Sarason, who entertained them on terrapin and canvasback duck with black-currant jelly, in his apartment that was considerably more tapestried than Buzz’s own ostentatiously simple Washington quarters. . . . However, in Sarason’s place, a room with a large silk-hung Empire double bed was reserved for Buzz.

It was Sarason who had persuaded Windrip to let him write Zero Hour, based on Windrip’s own dictated notes, and who had beguiled millions into reading, and even thousands into buying, that Bible of Economic Justice; Sarason who had perceived there was now such a spate of private political weeklies and monthlies that it was a distinction not to publish one; Sarason who had the inspiration for Buzz’s emergency radio address at 3 AM. upon the occasion of the Supreme Court’s throttling the N.R.A., in May, 1935. . . .Though not many adherents, including Buzz himself, were quite certain as to whether he was pleased or disappointed; though not many actually heard the broadcast itself, everyone in the country except sheep-herders and Professor Albert Einstein heard about it and was impressed.

Yet it was Buzz who all by himself thought of first offending the Duke of York by refusing to appear at the Embassy dinner for him in December, 1935, thus gaining, in all farm kitchens and parsonages and barrooms, a splendid reputation for Homespun Democracy; and of later mollifying His Highness by calling on him with a touching little home bouquet of geraniums (from the hothouse of the Japanese ambassador), which endeared him, if not necessarily to Royalty yet certainly to the D.A.R., the English-Speaking Union, and all motherly hearts who thought the pudgy little bunch of geraniums too sweet for anything.

By the newspapermen Buzz was credited with having insisted on the nomination of Perley Beecroft for vicepresident at the Democratic convention, after Doremus Jessup had freneticaiiy ceased listening. Beecroft was a Southern tobacco pianter and storekeeper, an ex-Governor of his state, married to an ex-schoolteacher from Maine who was sufficiently scented with salt spray and potato blossoms to win any Yankee. But it was not his geographical superiority which made Mr. Beecroft the perfect running mate for Buzz Windrip but that he was malaria yellowed and laxly mustached, where Buzz’s horsey face was ruddy and smooth; while Beecroft’s oratory had a vacuity, a profundity of slowly enunciated nonsense, which beguiled such solemn deacons as were irritated by Buzz’s cataract of slang.

Nor could Sarason ever have convinced the wealthy that the more Buzz denounced them and promised to distribute their millions to the poor, the more they could trust his “common sense” and finance his campaign. But with a hint, a grin, a wink, a handshake, Buzz could convince them, and their contributions came in by the hundred thousand, often disguised as assessments on imaginary business partnerships.

It had been the peculiar genius of Berzelius Windrip not to wait until he should be nominated for this office or that to begin shanghaiing his band of buccaneers. He had been coaxing in supporters ever since the day when, at the age of four, he had captivated a neighborhood comrade by giving him an ammonia pistol which later he thriftily stole back from the comrade’s pocket. Buzz might not have learned, perhaps could not have learned, much from sociologists Charles Beard and John Dewey, but they could have learned a great deal from Buzz.

And it was Buzz’s, not Sarason’s, master stroke that, as warmly as he advocated everyone’s getting rich by just voting to be rich, he denounced all “Fascism” and “Naziism,” so that most of the Republicans who were afraid of Democratic Fascism, and all the Democrats who were afraid of Republican Fascism, were ready to vote for him.

-10-

“While I hate befogging my pages with scientific technicalities and even neologies, I feel constrained to say here that the most elementary perusal of the Economy of Abundance would convince any intelligent student that the Cassandras who miscall the much needed increase in the fluidity of our currential circulation ”Inflation,” erroneously basing their parallel upon the inflationary misfortunes of certain European nations in the era 1919-1923, fallaciously and perhaps inexcusably fail to comprehend the different monetary status in America, inherent in our vastly greater reservoir of Natural Resources.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

Most of the mortgaged farmers. Most of the white-collar workers who had been unemployed these three years and four and five.

Most of the people on relief rolls who wanted more relief.

Most of the suburbanites who could not meet the installment payments on the electric washing machine.

Such large sections of the American Legion as believed that only Senator Windrip would secure for them, and perhaps increase, the bonus.

Such popular Myrtle Boulevard or Elm Avenue preachers as, spurred by the examples of Bishop Prang and Father Coughlin, believed they could get useful publicity out of supporting a slightly queer program that promised prosperity without anyone’s having to work for it.

The remnants of the Kuklux Klan, and such leaders of the American Federation of Labor as felt they had been inadequately courted and bepromised by the old-line politicians, and the non-unionized common laborers who felt they had been inadequately courted by the same A.F. of L.

Back-street and over-the-garage lawyers who had never yet wangled governmental jobs.

The Lost Legion of the Anti-Saloon League, since it was known that, though he drank a lot, Senator Windrip also praised teetotalism a lot, while his rival, Walt Trowbridge, though he drank but little, said nothing at all in support of the Messiahs of Prohibition. These messiahs had not found professional morality profitable of late, with the Rockefellers and Wanamakers no longer praying with them nor paying.

Besides these necessitous petitioners, a goodish number of burghers who, while they were millionaires, yet maintained that their prosperity had been sorely checked by the fiendishness of the bankers in limiting their credit.

These were the supporters who looked to Berzelius Windrip to play the divine raven and feed them handsomely when he should become President, and from such came most of the fervid elocutionists who campaigned for him through September and October.

Pushing in among this mob of camp followers who identified political virtue with money for their rent came a flying squad who suffered not from hunger but from congested idealism: Intellectuals and Reformers and even Rugged Individualists, who saw in Windrip, for all his clownish swindlerism, a free vigor which promised a rejuvenation of the crippled and senile capitalistic system.

Upton Sinclair wrote about Buzz and spoke for him just as in 1917, unyielding pacifist though he was, Mr. Sinclair had advocated America’s whole-hearted prosecution of the Great War, foreseeing that it would unquestionably exterminate German militarism and thus forever end all wars. Most of the Morgan partners, though they may have shuddered a little at association with Upton Sinclair, saw that, however much income they themselves might have to sacrifice, only Windrip could start the Business Recovery; while Bishop Manning of New York City pointed out that Windrip always spoke reverently of the church and its shepherds, whereas Walt Trowbridge went horseback riding every Sabbath morning and had never been known to telegraph any female relative on Mother’s Day.

On the other hand, the Saturday Evening Post enraged the small shopkeepers by calling Windrip a demagogue, and the New York Times, once Independent Democrat, was anti-Windrip. But most of the religious periodicals announced that with a saint like Bishop Prang for backer, Windrip must have been called of God.

Even Europe joined in.

With the most modest friendliness, explaining that they wished not to intrude on American domestic politics but only to express personal admiration for that great Western advocate of peace and prosperity, Berzelius Windrip, there came representatives of certain foreign powers, lecturing throughout the land: General Balbo, so popular here because of his leadership of the flight from Italy to Chicago in 1933; a scholar who, though he now lived in Germany and was an inspiration to all patriotic leaders of German Recovery, yet had graduated from Harvard University and had been the most popular piano player in his class-namely, Dr. Ernst (Putzi) Hanfstangl; and Great Britain’s lion of diplomacy, the Gladstone of the 1930’s, the handsome and gracious Lord Lossiemouth who, as Prime Minister, had been known as the Rt. Hon. Ramsay MacDonald, P.C.

All three of them were expensively entertained by the wives of manufacturers, and they persuaded many millionaires who, in the refinement of wealth, had considered Buzz vulgar, that actually he was the world’s one hope of efficient international commerce.

Father Coughlin took one look at all the candidates and indignantly retired to his cell.

Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch, who would surely have written to the friends she had made at the Rotary Club Dinner in Fort Beulah if she could only have remembered the name of the town, was a considerable figure in the campaign. She explained to women voters how kind it was of Senator Windrip to let them go on voting, so far; and she sang “Berzelius Windrip’s gone to Wash.” an average of eleven times a day.

Buzz himself, Bishop Prang, Senator Porkwood (the fearless Liberal and friend of labor and the farmers), and Colonel Osceola Luthorne, the editor, though their prime task was reaching millions by radio, also, in a forty day tram trip, traveled over 27,000 miles, through every state in the Union, on the scarlet-and-silver, ebony-paneled, silk-upholstered, streamlined, Diesel-engined, rubber-padded, air-conditioned, aluminum Forgotten Men Special.

It had a private bar that was forgotten by none save the Bishop.

The train fares were the generous gift of the combined railways.

Over six hundred speeches were discharged, ranging from eight-minute hallos delivered to the crowds gathered at stations, to two-hour fulminations in auditoriums and fairgrounds. Buzz was present at every speech, usually starring, but sometimes so hoarse that he could only wave his hand and croak, “Howdy, folks!” while he was spelled by Prang, Porkwood, Colonel Luthorne, or such volunteers from his regiment of secretaries, doctoral consulting specialists in history and economics, cooks, bartenders, and barbers, as could be lured away from playing craps with the accompanying reporters, photographers, sound-recorders, and broadcasters. Tieffer of the United Press has estimated that Buzz thus appeared personally before more than two million persons.

Meanwhile, almost daily hurtling by aeroplane between Washington and Buzz’s home, Lee Sarason supervised dozens of telephone girls and scores of girl stenographers, who answered thousands of daily telephone calls and letters and telegrams and cables, and boxes containing poisoned candy. . . . Buzz himself had made the rule that all these girls must be pretty, reasonable, thoroughly skilled, and related to people with political influence.

For Sarason it must be said that in this bedlam of “public relations” he never once used contact as a transitive verb.

The Hon. Perley Beecroft, vice-presidential candidate, specialized on the conventions of fraternal orders, religious denominations, insurance agents, and traveling men.

Colonel Dewey Haik, who had nominated Buzz at Cleveland, had an assignment unique in campaigning, one of Sarason’s slickest inventions. Haik spoke for Windrip not in the most frequented, most obvious places, but at places so unusual that his appearance there made news, and Sarason and Haik saw to it that there were nimble chroniclers present to get that news. Flying in his own plane, covering a thousand miles a day, he spoke to nine astonished miners whom he caught in a copper mine a mile below the surface, while thirty-nine photographers snapped the nine; he spoke from a motorboat to a stilled fishing fleet during a fog in Gloucester harbor; he spoke from the steps of the Sub-Treasury at noon on Wall Street; he spoke to the aviators and ground crew at Shushan Airport, New Orleans, and even the flyers were ribald only for the first five minutes, till he had described Buzz Windrip’s gallant but ludicrous efforts to learn to fly; he spoke to state policemen, to stamp-collectors, players of chess in secret clubs, and steeplejacks at work; he spoke in breweries, hospitals, magazine offices, cathedrals, crossroad churches forty-by-thirty, prisons, lunatic asylums, night clubs, till the art editors began to send photographers the memo: “For Pete’s sake, no more fotos Kunnel Haik spieling in sporting houses and hoosegow.”

Yet went on using the pictures.

For Colonel Dewey Haik was a figure as sharp-lighted, almost, as Buzz Windrip himself. Son of a decayed Tennessee family, with one Confederate general grandfather and one a Dewey of Vermont, he had picked cotton, become a youthful telegraph operator, worked his way through the University of Arkansas and the University of Missouri law school, settled as a lawyer in a Wyoming village and then in Oregon, and during the war (he was in 1936 but forty-four years old) served in France as captain of infantry, with credit. Returned to America, he had been elected to Congress, and become a colonel in the militia. He studied military history; he learned to fly, to box, to fence; he was a ramrod-like figure yet had a fairly amiable smile; he was liked equally by disciplinary army officers of high rank, and by such roughnecks as Mr. Shad Ledue, the Caliban of Doremus Jessup.

Haik brought to Buzz’s fold the very picaroons who had most snickered at Bishop Prang’s solemnity.

All this while, Hector Macgoblin, the cultured doctor and burly boxing fan, co-author with Sarason of the campaign anthem, “Bring Out the Old-time Musket,” was specializing in the inspiration of college professors, associations of high-school teachers, professional baseball teams, training-camps of pugilists, medical meetings, summer schools in which we’ll known authors taught the art of writing to earnest aspirants who could never learn to write, golf tournaments, and all such cultural congresses.

But the pugilistic Dr. Macgoblin came nearer to danger than any other campaigner. During a meeting in Alabama, where he had satisfactorily proved that no Negro with less than 25 per cent “white blood” can ever rise to the cultural level of a patent-medicine salesman, the meeting was raided, the costly residence section of the whites was raided, by a band of colored people headed by a Negro who had been a corporal on the Western Front in 1918. Macgoblin and the town were saved by the eloquence of a colored clergyman.

Truly, as Bishop Prang said, the apostles of Senator Windrip were now preaching his Message unto all manner of men, even unto the Heathen.

But what Doremus Jessup said, to Buck Titus and Father Perefixe, was: “This is Revolution in terms of Rotary.”

-11-

“When I was a kid, one time I had an old-maid teacher that used to tell me, ”Buzz, you’re the thickest-headed dunce in school.” But I noticed that she told me this a whole lot oftener than she used to tell the other kids how smart they were, and I came to be the most talked-about scholar in the whole township. The United States Senate isn’t so different, and I want to thank a lot of stuffed shirts for their remarks about Yours Truly.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

But there were certain of the Heathen who did not heed those heralds, Prang and Windrip and Haik and Dr. Macgoblin.

Walt Trowbridge conducted his campaign as placidly as though he were certain to win. He did not spare himself, but he did not moan over the Forgotten Men (he’d been one himself, as a youngster, and didn’t think it was so bad!) nor become hysterical at a private bar in a scarlet-and-silver special tram. Quietly, steadfastly, speaking on the radio and in a few great halls, he explained that he did advocate an enormously improved distribution of wealth, but that it must be achieved by steady digging and not by dynamite that would destroy more than it excavated. He wasn’t particularly thrilling. Economics rarely are, except when they have been dramatized by a Bishop, staged and lighted by a Sarason, and passionately played by a Buzz Windrip with rapier and blue satin tights.

For the campaign the Communists had brightly brought out their sacrificial candidates, in fact, all seven of the current Communist parties had. Since, if they all stuck together, they might entice 900,000 votes, they had avoided such bourgeois grossness by enthusiastic schisms, and their creeds now included: The Party, the Majority Party, the Leftist Party, the Trotzky Party, the Christian Communist Party, the Workers’ Party, and, less baldly named, something called the American Nationalist Patriotic Cooperative Fabian Post-Marxian Communist Party, it sounded like the names of royalty but was otherwise dissimilar.

But these radical excursions were not very significant compared with the new Jeffersonian Party, suddenly fathered by Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Forty-eight hours after the nomination of Windrip at Cleveland, President Roosevelt had issued his defiance.

Senator Windrip, he asserted, had been chosen “not by the brains and hearts of genuine Democrats but by their temporarily crazed emotions.” He would no more support Windrip because he claimed to be a Democrat than he would support Jimmy Walker.

Yet, he said, he could not vote for the Republican Party, the “party of intrenched special privilege,” however much, in the past three years, he had appreciated the loyalty, the honesty, the intelligence of Senator Walt Trowbridge.

Roosevelt made it clear that his Jeffersonian or True Democratic faction was not a “third party” in the sense that it was to be permanent. It was to vanish as soon as honest and coolly thinking men got control again of the old organization. Buzz Windrip aroused mirth by dubbing it the “Bull Mouse Party,” but President Roosevelt was joined by almost all the liberal members of Congress, Democratic or Republican, who had not followed Walt Trowbridge; by Norman Thomas and the Socialists who had not turned Communist; by Governors Floyd Olson and Olin Johnston; and by Mayor La Guardia.

The conspicuous fault of the Jeffersonian Party, like the personal fault of Senator Trowbridge, was that it represented integrity and reason, in a year when the electorate hungered for frisky emotions, for the peppery sensations associated, usually, not with monetary systems and taxation rates but with baptism by immersion in the creek, young love under the elms, straight whisky, angelic orchestras heard soaring down from the full moon, fear of death when an automobile teeters above a canyon, thirst in a desert and quenching it with spring water, all the primitive sensations which they thought they found in the screaming of Buzz Windrip.

Far from the hot-lighted ballrooms where all these crimson-tuniced bandmasters shrillsquabbled as to which should lead for the moment the tremendous spiritual jazz, far off in the cool hills a little man named Doremus Jessup, who wasn’t even a bass drummer but only a citizen editor, wondered in confusion what he should do to be saved.

He wanted to follow Roosevelt and the Jeffersonian Party, partly for admiration of the man; partly for the pleasure of shocking the ingrown Republicanism of Vermont. But he could not believe that the Jeffersonians would have a chance; he did believe that, for all the mothball odor of many of his associates, Walt Trowbridge was a valiant and competent man; and night and day Doremus bounced up and down Beulah Valley campaigning for Trowbridge.

Out of his very confusion there came into his writing a desperate sureness which surprised accustomed readers of the Informer. For once he was not amused and tolerant. Though he never said anything worse of the Jeffersonian Party than that it was ahead of its times, in both editorials and news stories he went after Buzz Windrip and his gang with whips, turpentine, and scandal.

In person, he was into and out of shops and houses all morning long, arguing with voters, getting miniature interviews.

He had expected that traditionally Republican Vermont would give him too drearily easy a task in preaching Trowbridge. What he found was a dismaying preference for the theoretically Democratic Buzz Windrip. And that preference, Doremus perceived, wasn’t even a pathetic trust in Windrip’s promises of Utopian bliss for everyone in general. It was a trust in increased cash for the voter himself, and for his family, very much in particular.

Most of them had, among all the factors in the campaign, noticed only what they regarded as Windrip’s humor, and three planks in his platform: Five, which promised to increase taxes on the rich; Ten, which condemned the Negro’s, since nothing so elevates a dispossessed farmer or a factory worker on relief as to have some race, any race, on which he can look down; and, especially, Eleven, which announced, or seemed to announce, that the average toiler would immediately receive $5000 a year. (And ever-so-many railway-station debaters explained that it would really be $10,000. Why, they were going to have every cent offered by Dr. Townsend, plus everything planned by the late Huey Long, Upton Sinclair, and the Utopians, all put together!)

So beatifically did hundreds of old people in Beulah Valley believe this that they smilingly trotted into Raymond Pridewell’s hardware store, to order new kitchen stoves and aluminum sauce pans and complete bathroom furnishings, to be paid for on the day after inauguration. Mr. Pridewell, a cobwebbed old Henry Cabot Lodge Republican, lost half his trade by chasing out these happy heirs to fabulous estates, but they went on dreaming, and Doremus, nagging at them, discovered that mere figures are defenseless against a dream . . . even a dream of new Plymouths and unlimited cans of sausages and motion-picture cameras and the prospect of never having to arise till 7:30 AM.

Thus answered Alfred Tizra, “Snake” Tizra, friend to Doremus’s handyman, Shad Ledue. Snake was a steeltough truck-driver and taxi-owner who had served sentences for assault and for transporting bootleg liquor. He had once made a living catching rattlesnakes and copperheads in southern New England. Under President Windrip, Snake jeeringly assured Doremus, he would have enough money to start a chain of roadhouses in all the dry communities in Vermont.

Ed Howland, one of the lesser Fort Beulah grocers, and Charley Betts, furniture and undertaking, while they were dead against anyone getting groceries, furniture, or even undertaking on Windrip credit, were all for the population’s having credit on other wares.

Aras Dilley, a squatter dairy farmer living with a toothless wife and seven slattern children in a tilted and unscrubbed cabin way up on Mount Terror, snarled at Doremus, who had often taken food baskets and boxes of shotgun shells and masses of cigarettes to Aras -“Well, want to tell you, when Mr. Windrip gets in, we farmers are going to fix our own prices on our crops, and not you smart city fellows!”

Doremus could not blame him. While Buck Titus, at fifty, looked thirty-odd, Aras, at thirty-four, looked fifty.

Lorinda Pike’s singularly unpleasant partner in the Beulah Valley Tavern, one Mr. Nipper, whom she hoped soon to lose, combined boasting how rich he was with gloating how much more he was going to get under Windrip. “Professor” Staubmeyer quoted nice things Windrip had said about higher pay for teachers. Louis Rotenstern, to prove that his heart, at least, was not Jewish, became more lyric than any of them. And even Frank Tasbrough of the quarries, Medary Cole of the grist mill and realestate holdings, R. C. Crowley of the bank, who presumably were not tickled by projects of higher income taxes, smiled pussy-cattishly and hinted that Windrip was a “lot sounder fellow” than people knew.

But no one in Fort Beulah was a more active crusader for Buzz Windrip than Shad Ledue.

Doremus had known that Shad possessed talent for argument and for display; that he had once persuaded old Mr. Pridewell to trust him for a .22 rifle, value twenty three dollars; that, removed from the sphere of coal bins and grass-stained overalls, he had once sung “Rollicky Bill the Sailor” at a smoker of the Ancient and Independent Order of Rams; and that he had enough memory to be able to quote, as his own profound opinions, the editorials in the Hearst newspapers. Yet even knowing all this equipment for a political career, an equipment not much short of Buzz Windrip’s, Doremus was surprised to find Shad soap-boxing for Windrip among the quarryworkers, then actually as chairman of a rally in Oddfellows’ Hall. Shad spoke little, but with brutal taunting of the believers in Trowbridge and Roosevelt.

At meetings where he did not speak, Shad was an incomparable bouncer, and in that valued capacity he was summoned to Windrip rallies as far away as Burlington. It was he who, in a militia uniform, handsomely riding a large white plow-horse, led the final Windrip parade in Rutland . . . and substantial men of affairs, even drygoods jobbers, fondly called him “Shad.”

Doremus was amazed, felt a little apologetic over his failure to have appreciated this new-found paragon, as he sat in American Legion Hall and heard Shad bellowing: “I don’t pretend to be anything but a plain working stiff, but there’s forty million workers like me, and we know that Senator Windrip is the first statesman in years that thinks of what guys like us need before he thinks one doggone thing about politics. Come on, you bozos! The swell folks tell you to not be selfish! Walt Trowbridge tells you to not be selfish! Well, be selfish, and vote for the one man that’s willing to give you something, give you something, and not just grab off every cent and every hour of work that he can get!”

Doremus groaned inwardly, “Oh, my Shad! And you’re doing most of this on my time!” Sissy Jessup sat on the running board of her coupe (hers by squatter’s right), with Julian Falok, up from Amherst for the weekend, and Malcolm Tasbrough wedged in on either side of her. “Oh nuts, let’s quit talking politics. Windrip’s going to be elected, so why waste time yodeling when we could drive down to the river and have a swim,” complained Malcolm. “He’s not going to win without our putting up a tough scrap against him. I’m going to talk to the high-school alumni this evening, about how they got to tell their parents to vote for either Trowbridge or Roosevelt,” snapped Julian Falck. “Haa, haa, haa! And of course the parents will be tickled to death to do whatever you tell ‘em, Yulian! You college men certainly are the goods! Besides, want to be serious about this fool business?” Malcolm had the insolent seIf-assurance of beef, slick black hair, and a large car of his own; he was the perfect leader of Black Shirts, and he looked contemptuously on Julian who, though a year older, was pale and thinnish. “Matter of fact, it’ll be a good thing to have Buzz. He’ll put a damn quick stop to all this radicalism, all this free speech and libel of our most fundamental institutions-”

“Boston American; last Tuesday; page eight,” murmured Sissy.

“-and no wonder you’re scared of him, Yulian! He sure will drag some of your favorite Amherst anarchist profs off to the hoosegow, and maybe you too, Comrade!” The two young men looked at each other with slow fury. Sissy quieted them by raging, “Freavensake! Will you two heels quit scrapping? . . . Oh, my clears, this beastly election! Beastly! Seems as if it’s breaking up every town, every home. . . . My poor Dad! Doremus is just about all in!”

-12-

“I shall not be content till this country can produce every single thing we need, even coffee, cocoa, and rubber, and so keep all our dollars at home. If we can do this and at the same time work up tourist traffic so that foreigners will come from every part of the world to see such remarkable wonders as the Grand Canyon, Glacier and Yellowstone etc. parks, the fine hotels of Chicago, & etc., thus leaving their money here, we shall have such a balance of trade as will go far to carry out my often, criticized yet completely sound idea of from $3000 to $5000 per year for every single family, that is, I mean every real American family. Such an aspiring vision is what we want, and not all this nonsense of wasting our time at Geneva and talky-talk at Lugano, wherever that is.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

Election day would fall on Tuesday, November third, and on Sunday evening of the first, Senator Windrip played the finale of his campaign at a mass meeting in Madison Square Garden, in New York. The Garden would hold, with seats and standing room, about 19,000, and a week before the meeting every ticket had been sold, at from fifty cents to five dollars, and then by speculators resold and resold, at from one dollar to twenty.

Doremus had been able to get one single ticket from an acquaintance on one of the Hearst dailies, which, alone among the New York papers, were supporting Windrip, and on the afternoon of November first he traveled the three hundred miles to New York for his first visit in three years.

It had been cold in Vermont, with early snow, but the white drifts lay to the earth so quietly, in unstained air, that the world seemed a silver painted carnival, left to silence. Even on a moonless night, a pale radiance came from the snow, from the earth itself, and the stars were drops of quicksilver.

But, following the redcap carrying his shabby Gladstone bag, Doremus came out of the Grand Central, at six o’clock, into a gray trickle of cold dishwater from heaven’s kitchen sink. The renowned towers which he expected to see on Forty-second Street were dead in their mummy cloths of ragged fog. And as to the mob that, with cruel disinterest, galloped past him, a new and heedless smear of faces every second, the man from Fort Beulah could think only that New York must be holding its county fair in this clammy drizzle, or else that there was a big fire somewhere.

He had sensibly planned to save money by using the subway, the substantial village burgher is so poor in the city of the Babylonian Gardens, and he even remembered that there were still to be found in Manhattan five cent trolley cars, in which a rustic might divert himself by looking at sailors and poets and shawled women from the steppes of Kazakstan. To the redcap he had piped with what he conceived to be traveled urbanity, “Guess ‘ll take a trolley, jus’ few blocks.” But deafened and dizzied and elbow-jabbed by the crowd, soaked and depressed, he took refuge in a taxi, then wished he hadn’t, as he saw the slippery rubber-colored pavement, and as his taxi got wedged among other cars stinking of carbonmonoxide and frenziedly tooting for release from the jam, a huddle of robot sheep bleating their terror with mechanical lungs of a hundred horsepower.

He painfully hesitated before going out again from his small hotel in the West Forties, and when he did, when he muddily crept among the shrill shopgirls, the weary chorus girls, the hard cigar-clamping gamblers, and the pretty young men on Broadway, he felt himself, with the rubbers and umbrella which Emma had forced upon him, a very Caspar Milquetoast.

He most noticed a number of stray imitation soldiers, without side-arms or rifles, but in a uniform like that of an American cavalryman in 1870: slant-topped blue forage caps, dark blue tunics, light blue trousers, with yellow stripes at the seam, tucked into leggings of black rubberoid for what appeared to be the privates, and boots of sleek black leather for officers. Each of them had on the right side of his collar the letters “MM.” and on the left, a five-pointed star. There were so many of them; they swaggered so brazenly, shouldering civilians out of the way; and upon insignificances like Doremus they looked with frigid insolence.

He suddenly understood.

These young condottieri were the “Minute Men”: the private troops of Berzelius Windrip, about which Doremus had been publishing uneasy news reports. He was thrilled and a little dismayed to see them now, the printed words made brutal flesh.

Three weeks ago Windrip had announced that Colonel Dewey Haik had founded, just for the campaign, a nationwide league of Windrip marching clubs, to be called the Minute Men. It was probable that they had been in formation for months, since already they had three or four hundred thousand members. Doremus was afraid the M.M.’s might become a permanent organization, more menacing than the Kuklux Klan.

Their uniform suggested the pioneer America of Cold Harbor and of the Indian fighters under Miles and Custer. Their emblem, their swastika (here Doremus saw the cunning and mysticism of Lee Sarason), was a fivepointed star, because the star on the American flag was five-pointed, whereas the stars of both the Soviet banner and the Jews-the seal of Solomon-were six-pointed.

The fact that the Soviet star, actually, was also fivepointed, no one noticed, during these excited days of regeneration. Anyway, it was a nice idea to have this star simultaneously challenge the Jews and the Bolsheviks, the M.M.’s had good intentions, even if their symbolism did slip a little.

Yet the craftiest thing about the M.M.’s was that they wore no colored shirts, but only plain white when on parade, and light khaki when on outpost duty, so that Buzz Windrip could thunder, and frequently, “Black shirts? Brown shirts? Red shirts? Yes, and maybe cowbrindle shirts! All these degenerate European uniforms of tyranny! No sir! The Minute Men are not Fascist or Communist or anything at all but plain Democratic-the knight-champions of the rights of the Forgotten Men, the shock troops of Freedom!”

Doremus dined on Chinese food, his invariable self-indulgence when he was in a large city without Emma, who stated that chow mein was nothing but fried excelsior with flour-paste gravy. He forgot the leering M.M. troopers a little; he was happy in glancing at the gilded woodcarvings, at the octagonal lanterns painted with doll-like Chinese peasants crossing arched bridges, at a quartette of guests, two male and two female, who looked like Public Enemies and who all through dinner quarreled with restrained viciousness.

When he headed toward Madison Square Garden and the culminating Windrip rally, he was plunged into a maelstrom. A whole nation seemed querulously to be headed the same way. He could not get a taxicab, and walking through the dreary storm some fourteen blocks to Madison Square Garden he was aware of the murderous temper of the crowd.

Eighth Avenue, lined with cheapjack shops, was packed with drab, discouraged people who yet, tonight, were tipsy with the hashish of hope. They filled the side walks, nearly filled the pavement, while irritable motors squeezed tediously through them, and angry policemen were pushed and whirled about and, if they tried to be haughty, got jeered at by lively shopgirls.

Through the welter, before Doremus’s eyes, jabbed a flying wedge of Minute Men, led by what he was later to recognize as a comet of M.M.’s. They were not on duty, and they were not belligerent; they were cheering, and singing “Berzelius Windrip went to Wash.,” reminding Doremus of a slightly drunken knot of students from an inferior college after a football victory. He was to remember them so afterward, months afterward, when the enemies of the M.M.’s all through the country derisively called them “Mickey Mouses” and “Minnies.”

An old man, shabbily neat, stood blocking them and yelled, “To hell with Buzz! Three cheers for F.D.R.!”

The M.M.’s burst into hoodlum wrath. The comet in command, a bruiser uglier even than Shad Ledue, hit the old man on the jaw, and he sloped down, sickeningly. Then, from nowhere, facing the comet, there was a chief petty officer of the navy, big, smiling, reckless. The C.P.O. bellowed, in a voice tuned to hurricanes, “Swell bunch 0’ tin soldiers! Nine 0’ yuh to one grandpappy! Just about even.”

The cornet socked him; he laid out the comet with one foul to the belly; instantly the other eight M.M.’s were on the C.P.O., like sparrows after a hawk, and he crashed, his face, suddenly veal-white, laced with rivulets of blood. The eight kicked him in the head with their thick marching,shoes. They were still kicking him when Doremus wriggled away, very sick, altogether helpless.

He had not turned away quickly enough to avoid seeing an M.M. trooper, girlish-faced, crimson-lipped, fawneyed, throw himself on the fallen cornet and, whimpering, stroke that roustabout’s roast-beef cheeks with shy gardenia-petal fingers.

There were many arguments, a few private fist fights, and one more battle, before Doremus reached the auditorium.

A block from it some thirty M.M.’s, headed by a battalion leader, something between a captain and a major, started raiding a street meeting of Communists. A Jewish girl in khaki, her bare head soaked with rain, was beseeching from the elevation of a wheelbarrow, “Fellow travelers! Don’t just chew the rag and ‘sympathize’! Join us! Now! It’s life and death!” Twenty feet from the Communists, a middle-aged man who looked like a social worker was explaining the Jeffersonian Party, recalling the record of President Roosevelt, and reviling the Communists next door as word-drunk un-American cranks. Half his audience were people who might be competent voters; half of them, like half of any group on this evening of tragic fiesta, were cigarette sniping boys in hand-me-downs.

The thirty M.M.’s cheerfully smashed into the Communists. The battalion leader reached up, slapped the girl speaker, dragged her down from the wheelbarrow. His followers casually waded in with fists and blackjacks. Doremus, more nauseated, feeling more helpless than ever, heard the smack of a blackjack on the temple of a scrawny Jewish intellectual.

Amazingly, then, the voice of the rival Jeffersonian leader spiraled up into a scream: “Come on, you! Going to let those hellhounds attack our Communist friend now, by God!” With which the mild bookworm leaped into the air, came down squarely upon a fat Mickey Mouse, capsized him, seized his blackjack, took time to kick another M.M.’s shins before arising from the wreck, sprang up, and waded into the raiders as, Doremus guessed, he would have waded into a table of statistics on the proportion of butter fat in loose milk in 97.7 per cent of shops on Avenue B.

Till then, only haIf-a-dozen Communist Party members had been facing the M.M.’s, their backs to a garage wall. Fifty of their own, fifty Jeffersonians besides, now joined them, and with bricks and umbrellas and deadly volumes of sociology they drove off the enraged M.M.’s, partisans of Bela Kun side by side with the partisans of Professor John Dewey, until a riot squad of policemen battered their way in to protect the M.M.’s by arresting the girl Communist speaker and the Jeffersonian.

Doremus had often “headed up” sports stories about “Madison Square Garden Prize Fights,” but he did know that the place had nothing to do with Madison Square, from which it was a day’s journey by bus, that it was decidedly not a garden, that the fighters there did not fight for “prizes” but for fixed partnership shares in the business, and that a good many of them did not fight at all.

The mammoth building, as in exhaustion Doremus crawled up to it, was entirely ringed with M.M.’s, elbow to elbow, all carrying heavy canes, and at every entrance, along every aisle, the M.M.’s were rigidly in line, with their officers galloping about, whispering orders, and bearing uneasy rumors like scared calves in a dipping-pen.

These past weeks hungry miners, dispossessed farmers, Carolina mill hands had greeted Senator Windrip with a flutter of worn hands beneath gasoline torches. Now he was to face, not the unemployed, for they could not afford fifty-cent tickets, but the small, scared sidestreet traders of New York, who considered themselves altogether superior to clodhoppers and mine-creepers, yet were as desperate as they. The swelling mass that Doremus saw, proud in seats or standing chin-to-nape in the aisles, in a reek of dampened clothes, was not romantic; they were people concerned with the tailor’s goose, the tray of potato salad, the card of hooks-and-eyes, the leech like mortgage on the owner-driven taxi, with, at home, the baby’s diapers, the dull safety-razor blade, the awful rise in the cost of rump steak and kosher chicken. And a few, and very proud, civiI-service clerks and letter carriers and superintendents of small apartment houses, curiously fashionable in seventeen-dollar ready-made suits and feebly stitched foulard ties, who boasted, “I don’t know why all these bums go on relief. I may not be such a wiz, but let me tell you, even since 1929, I’ve never made less than two thousand dollars a year!”

Manhattan peasants. Kind people, industrious people, generous to their aged, eager to find any desperate cure for the sickness of worry over losing the job.

Most facile material for any rabel-rouser.

The historic rally opened with extreme dullness. A regimental band played the Tales from Hoffman barcarole with no apparent significance and not much more liveliness. The Reverend Dr. Hendrik Van Lollop of St. Apologue’s Lutheran Church offered prayer, but one felt that probably it had not been accepted. Senator Porkwood provided a dissertation on Senator Windrip which was composed in equal parts of apostolic adoration of Buzz and of the uh-uh-uh’s with which Hon. Porkwood always interspersed his words.

And Windrip wasn’t yet even in sight.

Colonel Dewey Haik, nominator of Buzz at the Cleveland convention, was considerably better. He told three jokes, and an anecdote about a faithful carrier pigeon in the Great War which had seemed to understand, really better than many of the human soldiers, just why it was that the Americans were over there fighting for France against Germany. The connection of this ornithological hero with the virtues of Senator Windrip did not seem evident, but, after having sat under Senator Porkwood, the audience enjoyed the note of military gallantry.

Doremus felt that Colonel Haik was not merely rambling but pounding on toward something definite. His voice became more insistent. He began to talk about Windrip: “my friend, the one man who dares beard the monetary lion, the man who in his great and simple heart cherishes the woe of every common man as once did the brooding tenderness of Abraham Lincoln.” Then, wildly waving toward a side entrance, he shrieked, “And here he comes! My friends, Buzz Windrip!”

The band hammered out “The Campbells Are Coming.” A squadron of Minute Men, smart as Horse Guards, carrying long lances with starred pennants, clicked into the gigantic bowl of the auditorium, and after them, shabby in an old blue-serge suit, nervously twisting a sweatstained slouch hat, stooped and tired, limped Berzelius Windrip. The audience leaped up, thrusting one another aside to have a look at the deliverer, cheering like artillery at dawn.

Windrip started prosaically enough. You felt rather sorry for him, so awkwardly did he lumber up the steps to the platform, across to the center of the stage. He stopped; stared owlishly. Then he quacked monotonously:

“The first time I ever came to New York I was a greenhorn, no, don’t laugh, mebbe I still am! But I had already been elected a United States Senator, and back home, the way they’d serenaded me, I thought I was some punkins. I thought my name was just about as familiar to everybody as Al Capone’s or Camel Cigarettes or Castoria, Babies Cry For It. But I come to New York on my way to Washington, and say, I sat in my hotel lobby here for three days, and the only fellow ever spoke to me was the hotel detective! And when he did come up and address me, I was tickled to death, I thought he was going to tell me the whole burg was pleased by my condescending to visit ‘em. But all he wanted to know was, was I a guest of the hotel and did I have any right to be holding down a lobby chair permanently that way! And tonight, friends, I’m pretty near as scared of Old Gotham as I was then!”

The laughter, the hand-clapping, were fair enough, but the proud electors were disappointed by his drawl, his weary humility.

Doremus quivered hopefully, “Maybe he isn’t going to get elected!”

Windrip outlined his too-familiar platform, Doremus was interested only in observing that Windrip misquoted his own figures regarding the limitation of fortunes, in Point Five.

He slid into a rhapsody of general ideas, a mishmash of polite regards to Justice, Freedom, Equality, Order, Prosperity, Patriotism, and any number of other noble but slippery abstractions.

Doremus thought he was being bored, until he discovered that, at some moment which he had not noticed, he had become absorbed and excited.

Something in the intensity with which Windrip looked at his audience, looked at all of them, his glance slowly taking them in from the highest-perched seat to the nearest, convinced them that he was talking to each individual, directly and solely; that he wanted to take each of them into his heart; that he was telling them the truths, the imperious and dangerous facts, that had been hidden from them.

“They say I want money, power! Say, I’ve turned down offers from law firms right here in New York of three times the money I’ll get as President! And power, why, the President is the servant of every citizen in the country, and not just of the considerate folks, but also of every crank that comes pestering him by telegram and phone and letter. And yet, it’s true, it’s absolutely true I do want power, great, big, imperial power, but not for myself, no, for you, the power of your permission to smash the Jew financiers who’ve enslaved you, who’re working you to death to pay the interest on their bonds; the grasping bankers, and not all of ‘em Jews by a darn sight!, the crooked labor-leaders just as much as the crooked bosses, and, most of all, the sneaking spies of Moscow that want you to lick the boots of their self-appointed tyrants that rule not by love and loyalty, like I want to, but by the horrible power of the whip, the dark cell, the automatic pistol!”

He pictured, then, a paradise of democracy in which, with the old political machines destroyed, every humblest worker would be king and ruler, dominating representatives elected from among his own kind of people, and these representatives not growing indifferent, as hitherto they had done, once they were far off in Washington, but kept alert to the public interest by the supervision of a strengthened Executive.

It sounded almost reasonable, for a while.

The supreme actor, Buzz Windrip, was passionate yet never grotesquely wild. He did not gesture too extravagantly; only, like Gene Debs of old, he reached out a bony forefinger which seemed to jab into each of them and hook out each heart. It was his mad eyes, big staring tragic eyes, that startled them, and his voice, now thundering, now humbly pleading, that soothed them.

He was so obviously an honest and merciful leader; a man of sorrows and acquaint with woe.

Doremus marveled, “I’ll be hanged! Why, he’s a darn good sort when you come to meet him! And warmhearted. He makes me feel as if I’d been having a good evening with Buck and Steve Perefixe. What if Buzz is right? What if, in spite of all the demagogic pap that, I suppose, he has got to feed out to the boobs, he’s right in claiming that it’s only he, and not Trowbridge or Roosevelt, that can break the hold of the absentee owners? And these Minute Men, his followers, oh, they were pretty nasty, what I saw out on the street, but still, most of ‘em are mighty nice, clean-cut young fellows. Seeing Buzz and then listening to what he actually says does kind of surprise you, kind of make you think!”

But what Mr. Windrip actually had said, Doremus could not remember an hour later, when he had come out of the trance.

He was so convinced then that Windrip would win that, on Tuesday evening, he did not remain at the Informer office until the returns were all in. But if he did not stay for the evidences of the election, they came to him. Past his house, after midnight, through muddy snow tramped a triumphant and reasonably drunken parade, carrying torches and bellowing to the air of “Yankee Doodle” new words revealed just that week by Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch:

“The snakes disloyul to our Buzz We’re riding on a rail,

They’ll wish to God they never was, When we get them in jail!

Chorus:

“Buzz and buzz and keep it up To victory he’s floated. You were a most ungrateful pup, Unless for Buzz you voted.

”Every M.M. gets a whip To use upon some traitor, And every Antibuzz we skip Today, we’ll tend to later.”

”Antibuzz,” a word credited to Mrs. Gimmitch but more probably invented by Dr. Hector Macgoblin, was to be extensively used by lady patriots as a term expressing such vicious disloyalty to the State as might call for the firing squad. Yet, like Mrs. Gimmitch’s splendid synthesis “Unkies,” for soldiers of the A.E.F., it never really caught on. Among the winter-coated paraders Doremus and Sissy thought they could make out Shad Ledue, Aras Dilley, that philoprogenitive squatter from Mount Terror, Charley Betts, the furniture dealer, and Tony Mogliani, the fruit-seller, most ardent expounder of Italian Fascism in central Vermont.

And, though he could not be sure of it in the dimness behind the torches, Doremus rather thought that the lone large motorcar following the procession was that of his neighbor, Francis Tasbrough.

Next morning, at the Informer office, Doremus did not learn of so very much damage wrought by the triumphant Nordics, they had merely upset a couple of privies, torn down and burned the tailor-shop sign of Louis Rotenstern, and somewhat badly beaten Clifford Little, the jeweler, a slight, curly-headed young man whom Shad Ledue despised because he organized theatricals and played the organ in Mr. Falck’s church.

That night Doremus found, on his front porch, a notice in red chalk upon butcher’s paper:

You will get yrs Dorey sweethart unles you get rite down on yr belly and crawl in front of the MM and the League and the Chief and I

A friend

It was the first time that Doremus had heard of “the Chief,” a sound American variant of “the Leader” or “the Head of the Government,” as a popular title for Mr. Windrip. It was soon to be made official.

Doremus burned the red warning without telling his family. But he often woke to remember it, not very laughingly.

-13-

To follow in part 4

Part 2. Make America Great Again? Fascism, It Can’t Happen Here. A Warning From The Past – Sinclair Lewis – (Chapters 5-8).

“You young paranoiac, you’re monomaniacs! Dictatorship? Better come into the office and let me examine your heads! Why, America’s the only free nation on earth. Besides! Country’s too big for a revolution. No, no! Couldn’t happen here!”

It Can’t Happen Here is a semi-satirical 1935 political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis.

Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and “traditional” values.

After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes a pIutocratic/totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS.

The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion.

-5-

I know the Press only too well. Almost all editors hide away in spider-dens, men without thought of Family or Public Interest or the humble delights of jaunts out-of-doors, plotting how they can put over their lies, and advance their own positions and fill their greedy pocketbooks by calumniating Statesmen who have given their all for the common good and who are vulnerable because they stand out in the fierce Light that beats around the Throne.

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

The June morning shone, the last petals of the wildcherry blossoms lay dew-covered on the grass, robins were about their brisk business on the lawn. Doremus, by nature a late-lier and pilferer of naps after he had been called at eight, was stirred to spring up and stretch his arms out fully five or six times in Swedish exercises, in front of his window, looking out across the Beulah River Valley to dark masses of pine on the mountain slopes three miles away.

Doremus and Emma had had each their own bedroom, these fifteen years, not altogether to her pleasure. He asserted that he couldn’t share a bedroom with any person living, because he was a night-mutterer, and liked to make a really good, uprearing, pillow-slapping job of turning over in bed without feeling that he was disturbing someone.

It was Saturday, the day of the Prang revelation, but on this crystal morning, after days of rain, he did not think of Prang at all, but of the fact that Philip, his son, with wife, had popped up from Worcester for the weekend, and that the whole crew of them, along with Lorinda Pike and Buck Titus, were going to have a “real, old-fashioned, family picnic.”

They had all demanded it, even the fashionable Sissy, a woman who, at eighteen, had much concern with tennis-teas, golf, and mysterious, appallingly rapid motor trips with Malcolm Tasbrough (just graduating from high school), or with the Episcopal parson’s grandson, Julian Falck (freshman in Amherst). Doremus had scolded that he couldn’t go to any blame picnic; it was his job, as editor, to stay home and listen to Bishop Prang’s broadcast at two; but they had laughed at him and rumpled his hair and miscalled him until he had promised. . . .They didn’t know it, but he had slyly borrowed a portable radio from his friend, the local R. C. priest, Father Stephen Perefixe, and he was going to hear Prang whether or no.

He was glad they were going to have Lorinda Pike, he was fond of that sardonic Saint, and Buck Titus, who was perhaps his closest intimate.

James Buck Titus, who was fifty but looked thirtyeight, straight, broad-shouldered, slim-waisted, longmustached, swarthy, Buck was the Dan’l Boone type of Old American, or, perhaps, an Indian-fighting cavalry captain, out of Charles King. He had graduated from Williams, with ten weeks in England and ten years in Montana, divided between cattIe-raising, prospecting, and a horse-breeding ranch. His father, a richish railroad contractor, had left him the great farm near West Beulah, and Buck had come back home to grow apples, to breed Morgan stallions, and to read Voltaire, Anatole France, Nietzsche, and Dostoyefsky. He served in the war, as a private; detested his officers, refused a commission, and liked the Germans at Cologne. He was a useful polo player, but regarded riding to the hounds as childish. In politics, he did not so much yearn over the wrongs of Labor as feel scornful of the tight-fisted exploiters who denned in office and stinking factory. He was as near to the English country squire as one may find in America. He was a bachelor, with a big mid-Victorian house, well kept by a friendly Negro couple; a tidy place in which he sometimes entertained ladies who were not quite so tidy. He called himself an “agnostic” instead of an “atheist” only because he detested the street-bawling, tract-peddling evangelicism of the professional atheists. He was cynical, he rarely smiled, and he was unwaveringly loyal to all the Jessups. His coming to the picnic made Doremus as blithe as his grandson David.

“Perhaps, even under Fascism, the ‘Church clock will stand at ten to three, and there will be honey still for tea,’” Doremus hoped, as he put on his rather dandified country tweeds.

The only stain on the preparations for the picnic was the grouchiness of the hired man, Shad Ledue. When he was asked to turn the ice-cream freezer he growled, “Why the heck don’t you folks get an electric freezer? He grumbled, most audibly, at the weight of the picnic baskets, and when he was asked to clean up the basement during their absence, he retorted only with a glare of silent fury. “You ought to get rid of that fellow, Ledue,” urged Doremus’s son Philip, the lawyer.

“Oh, I don’t know,” considered Doremus. “Probably just shiftlessness on my part. But I tell myself I’m doing a social experiment, trying to train him to be as gracious as the average Neanderthal man. Or perhaps I’m scared of him, he’s the kind of vindictive peasant that sets fire to barns. . . . Did you know that he actually reads, Phil?”

“No!”

“Yep. Mostly movie magazines, with nekked ladies and Wild Western stories, but he also reads the papers. Told me he greatly admired Buzz Windrip; says Windrip will certainly be President, and then everybody, by which, I’m afraid, Shad means only himself, will have five thousand a year. Buzz certainly has a bunch of philanthropists for followers.”

“Now listen, Dad. You don’t understand Senator Windrip. Oh, he’s something of a demagogue, he shoots off his mouth a lot about how he’ll jack up the income tax and grab the banks, but he won’t, that’s just molasses for the cockroaches. What he will do, and maybe only he can do it, is to protect us from the murdering, thieving, lying Bolsheviks that would, why, they’d like to stick all of us that are going on this picnic, all the decent clean people that are accustomed to privacy, into hall bedrooms, and make us cook our cabbage soup on a Primus stuck on a bed! Yes, or maybe ‘liquidate’ us entirely! No sir, Berzelius Windrip is the fellow to balk the dirty sneaking Jew spies that pose as American Liberals!”

“The face is the face of my reasonably competent son, Philip, but the voice is the voice of the Jew-baiter, Julius Streicher,” sighed Doremus.

The picnic ground was among a Stonehenge of gray and lichen-painted rocks, fronting a birch grove high up on Mount Terror, on the upland farm of Doremus’s cousin, Henry Veeder, a solid, reticent Vermonter of the old days. They looked through a distant mountain gap to the faint mercury of Lake Champlain and, across it, the bulwark of the Adirondacks.

Davy Greenhill and his hero, Buck Titus, wrestled in the hardy pasture grass. Philip and Dr. Fowler Greenhill, Doremus’s son-in-law (Phil plump and half bald at thirty-two; Fowler belligerently red-headed and red-mustached) argued about the merits of the autogiro. Doremus lay with his head against a rock, his cap over his eyes, gazing down into the paradise of Beulah Valley, he could not have sworn to it, but he rather thought he saw an angel floating in the radiant upper air above the valley. The women, Emma and Mary Greenhill, Sissy and Philip’s wife and Lorinda Pike, were setting out the picnic lunch, a pot of beans with crisp salt pork, fried chicken, potatoes warmed-over with croutons, tea biscuits, crabapple jelly, salad, raisin pie, on a red-and-white tablecloth spread on a flat rock.

But for the parked motorcars, the scene might have been New England in 1885, and you could see the women in chip hats and tight-bodiced, high-necked frocks with bustles; the men in straw boaters with dangling ribbons and adorned with side-whiskers, Doremus’s beard not clipped, but flowing like a bridal veil. When Dr. Greenhill fetched down Cousin Henry Veeder, a bulky yet shy enough pre-Ford farmer in clean, faded overalls, then was Time again unbought, secure, serene.

And the conversation had a comfortable triviality, an affectionate Victorian dullness. However Doremus might fret about “conditions,” however skittishly Sissy might long for the presence of her beaux, Julian Falck and Malcolm Tasbrough, there was nothing modern and neurotic, nothing savoring of Freud, Adler, Marx, Bertrand Russell, or any other divinity of the 1930’s, when Mother Emma chattered to Mary and Merilla about her rose bushes that had “winter-killed,” and the new young maples that the field mice had gnawed, and the difficulty of getting Shad Ledue to bring in enough fireplace wood, and how Shad gorged pork chops and fried potatoes and pie at lunch, which he ate at the Jessups’.

And the View. The women talked about the View as honeymooners once talked at Niagara Falls.

David and Buck Titus were playing ship, now, on a rearing rock, it was the bridge, and David was Captain Popeye, with Buck his bosun; and even Dr. Greenhill, that impetuous crusader who was constantly infuriating the county board of health by reporting the slovenly state of the poor farm and the stench in the county jail, was lazy in the sun and with the greatest of concentration kept an unfortunate little ant running back and forth on a twig. His wife Mary, the golfer, the runner-up in state tennis tournaments, the giver of smart but not too bibulous cocktail parties at the country club, the wearer of smart brown tweeds with a green scarf, seemed to have dropped gracefully back into the domesticity of her mother, and to consider as a very weighty thing a recipe for celery-and-roquefort sandwiches on toasted soda crackers. She was the handsome Older Jessup Girl again, back in the white house with the mansard roof.

And Foolish, lying on his back with his four paws idiotically flopping, was the most pastorally old-fashioned of them all.

The only serious flare of conversation was when Buck Titus snarled to Doremus: “Certainly a lot of Messiahs pottin’ at you from the bushes these days, Buzz Windrip and Bishop Prang and Father Coughlin and Dr. Townsend (though he seems to have gone back to Nazareth) and Upton Sinclair and Rev. Frank Buchman and Bernarr Macfadden and Willum Randolph Hearst and Governor Talmadge and Floyd Olson and, Say, I swear the best Messiah in the whole show is this darky, Father Divine. He doesn’t just promise he’s going to feed the Under-privileged ten years from now, he hands out the fried drumsticks and gizzard right along with the Salvation. How about him for President?”

Out of nowhere appeared Julian Falck.

This young man, freshman in Amherst the past year, grandson of the Episcopal rector and living with the old man because his parents were dead, was in the eyes of Doremus the most nearly tolerable of Sissy’s suitors. He was Swede-blond and wiry, with a neat, small face and canny eyes. He called Doremus “sir,” and he had, unlike most of the radio-and-motor-hypnotized eighteen year olds in the Fort, read a book, and voluntarily read Thomas Wolfe and William Rollins, John Strachey and Stuart Chase and Ortega. Whether Sissy preferred him to Malcolm Tasbrough, her father did not know. Malcolm was taller and thicker than Julian, and he drove his own streamline De Soto, while Julian could only borrow his grandfather’s shocking old flivver.

Sissy and Julian bickered amiably about Alice Aylot’s skill in backgammon, and Foolish scratched himself in the sun.

But Doremus was not being pastoral. He was being anxious and scientific. While the others jeered, “When does Dad take his audition?” and “What’s he learning to be, a crooner or a hockey announcer?”, Doremus was adjusting the doubtful portable radio. Once he thought he was going to be with them in the Home Sweet Home atmosphere, for he tuned in on a program of old songs, and all of them, including Cousin Henry Veeder, who had a hidden passion for fiddlers and barn dances and parlor organs, hummed “Gaily the Troubadour” and “Maid of Athens” and “Darling Nelly Gray.” But when the announcer informed them that these ditties were being sponsored by Toily Oily, the Natural Home Cathartic, and that they were being rendered by a sextette of young males horribly called “The Smoothies,” Doremus abruptly shut them off.

“Why, what’s the matter, Dad?” cried Sissy. “‘Smoothies’! God! This country deserves what it’s going to get!” snapped Doremus. “Maybe we need a Buzz Windrip!”

The moment, then, it should have been announced by cathedral chimes, of the weekly address of Bishop Paul Peter Prang.

Coming from an airless closet, smelling of sacerdotal wollen union suits, in Persepolis, Indiana, it leapt to the farthest stars; it circled the world at 186,000 miles a second, a million miles while you stopped to scratch. It crashed into the cabin of a whaler on a dark polar sea; into an office, paneled with linen-fold oak looted from a Nottinghamshire castle, on the sixty-seventh story of a building on Wall Street; into the foreign office in Tokio; into the rocky hollow below the shining birches upon Mount Terror, in Vermont.

Bishop Prang spoke, as he usually did, with a grave kindliness, a virile resonance, which made his self, magically coming to them on the unseen aerial pathway, at once dominating and touched with charm; and whatever his purposes might be, his words were on the side of the Angels:

“Oh ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves together to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem. . . . Prepare ye war . . . arise and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out. Arise, and let us go by night and let us destroy her palaces. . . . I am full of the fury of the Lord; I am weary with holding it in; I will pour it out upon the children abroad, and upon the assembly of young men together; for even the husband with the wife shall be taken, the aged with him that is full of days. . . . I will stretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of this land, saith the Lord. For from the least of them even unto the greatest, every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest, every one dealeth falsely . . . saying Peace, Peace, when there is no Peace!’

So spake the Book, of old. . . . But it was spoken also to America, of 1936!

There is no Peace! For more than a year now, the League of Forgotten Men has warned the politicians, the whole government, that we are sick unto death of being the Dispossessed, and that, at last, we are more than fifty million strong; no whimpering horde, but with the will, the voices, the votes to enforce our sovereignty! We have in no uncertain way informed every politician that we demand, that we demand, certain measures, and that we will brook no delay. Again and again we have demanded that both the control of credit and the power to issue money be unqualifiedly taken away from the private banks; that the soldiers not only receive the bonus they with their blood and anguish so richly earned in ‘17 and ‘18, but that the amount agreed upon be now doubled; that all swollen incomes be severely limited and inheritances cut to such small sums as may support the heirs only in youth and in old age; that labor and farmers’ unions be not merely recognized as instruments for joint bargaining but be made, like the syndicates in Italy, official parts of the government, representing the toilers; and that International Jewish Finance and, equally, International Jewish Communism and Anarchism and Atheism be, with all the stern solemnity and rigid inflexibility this great nation can show, barred from all activity.

Those of you who have listened to me before will understand that I, or rather that the League of Forgotten Men, has no quarrel with individual Jews; that we are proud to have Rabbis among our directors; but those subversive international organizations which, unfortunately, are so largely Jewish, must be driven with whips and scorpions from off the face of the earth.

These demands we have made, and how long now, 0 Lord, how long, have the politicians and the smirking representatives of Big Business pretended to listen, to obey? ‘Yes, yes my masters of the League of Forgotten Men, yes, we understand, just give us time!’ “There is no more time! Their time is over and all their unholy power!

The conservative Senators, the United States Chamber of Commerce, the giant bankers, the monarchs of steel and motors and electricity and coal, the brokers and the holding companies, they are all of them like the Bourbon kings, of whom it was said that ‘they forgot nothing and they learned nothing.’

But they died upon the guillotine!

Perhaps we can be more merciful to our Bourbons. Perhaps, perhaps we can save them from the guillotine, the gallows, the swift firing-squad. Perhaps we shall, in our new régime, under our new Constitution, with our ‘New Deal’ that really will be a New Deal and not an arrogant experiment, perhaps we shall merely make these big bugs of finance and politics sit on hard chairs, in dingy offices, toiling unending hours with pen and typewriter as so many white-collar slaves for so many years have toiled for them!

“It is, as Senator Berzelius Windrip puts it, ‘the zero hour,’ now, this second. We have stopped bombarding the heedless ears of these false masters. We’re ‘going over the top.’ At last, after months and months of taking counsel together, the directors of the League of Forgotten Men, and I myself, announce that in the coming Democratic national convention we shall, without one smallest reservation-”

“Listen! Listen! History being made!” Doremus cried at his heedless family.

“-use the tremendous strength of the millions of League members to secure the Democratic presidential nomination for Senator Berzelius Windrip, which means, flatly, that he will be elected, and that we of the League shall elect him, as President of these United States! “His program and that of the League do not in all details agree. But he has implicitly pledged himself to take our advice, and, at least until election, we shall back him, absolute, with our money, with our loyalty, with our votes . . . with our prayers. And may the Lord guide him and us across the desert of iniquitous politics and swinishly grasping finance into the golden glory of the Promised Land! God bless you!

Mrs. Jessup said cheerily, “Why, Dormouse, that bishop isn’t a Fascist at all, he’s a regular Red Radical. But does this announcement of his mean anything, really?”

Oh, well, Doremus reflected, he had lived with Emma for thirty-four years, and not oftener than once or twice a year had he wanted to murder her. Blandly he said, “Why, nothing much except that in a couple of years now, on the ground of protecting us, the Buzz Windrip dictatorship will be regimenting everything, from where we may pray to what detective stories we may read.”

“Sure he will! Sometimes I’m tempted to turn Communist! Funny-me with my fat-headed old Hudson-RiverValley Dutch ancestors!” marveled Julian Falck.

“Fine idea! Out of the frying pan of Windrip and Hitler into the fire of the New York Daily Worker and Stalin and automatics! And the Five Year Plan, I suppose they’d tell me that it’s been decided by the Commissar that each of my mares is to bear six colts a year now!” snorted Buck Titus; while Dr. Fowler Greenhill jeered:

“Aw, shoot, Dad and you too, Julian, you young paranoiac, you’re monomaniacs! Dictatorship? Better come into the office and let me examine your heads! Why, America’s the only free nation on earth. Besides! Country’s too big for a revolution. No, no! Couldn’t happen here!”

-6-

“I’d rather follow a wild-eyed anarchist like Em Goldman, if they’d bring more johnnycake and beans and spuds into the humble cabin of the Common Man, than a twenty-four-carat, college-graduate, excabinet-member statesman that was just interested in our turning out more limousines. Call me a socialist or any blame thing you want to, as long as you grab hold of the other end of the crosscut saw with me and help slash the big logs of Poverty and Intolerance to pieces.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

His family, at least his wife and the cook, Mrs. Candy, and Sissy and Mary, Mrs. Fowler Greenhill, believed that Doremus was of fickle health; that any cold would surely turn into pneumonia; that he must wear his rubbers, and eat his porridge, and smoke fewer cigarettes, and never “overdo.” He raged at them; he knew that though he did get staggeringly tired after a crisis in the office, a night’s sleep made him a little dynamo again, and he could “turn out copy” faster than his spryest young reporter.

He concealed his dissipations from them like any small boy from his elders; lied unscrupulously about how many cigarettes he smoked; kept concealed a flask of Bourbon from which he regularly had one nip, only one, before he padded to bed; and when he had promised to go to sleep early, he turned off his light till he was sure that Emma was slumbering, then turned it on and happily read till two, curled under the well loved hand-woven blankets from a loom up on Mount Terror; his legs twitching like a dreaming setter’s what time the Chief Inspector of the C.I.D., alone and unarmed, walked into the counterfeiters’ hideout. And once a month or so he sneaked down to the kitchen at three in the morning and made himself coffee and washed up everything so that Emma and Mrs. Candy would never know. . . . He thought they never knew!

These small deceptions gave him the ripest satisfaction in a life otherwise devoted to public service, to trying to make Shad Ledue edge-up the flower beds, to feverishly writing editorials that would excite 3 per cent of his readers from breakfast time till noon and by 6 PM. be eternally forgotten.

Sometimes when Emma came to loaf beside him in bed on a Sunday morning and put her comfortable arm about his thin shoulder-blades, she was sick with the realization that he was growing older and more frail. His shoulders, she thought, were pathetic as those of an anemic baby. . . . That sadness of hers Doremus never guessed.

Even just before the paper went to press, even when Shad Ledue took off two hours and charged an item of two dollars to have the lawnmower sharpened, instead of filing it himself, even when Sissy and her gang played the piano downstairs till two on nights when he did not want to lie awake, Doremus was never irritable-except, usually, between arising and the first life-saving cup of coffee.

The wise Emma was happy when he was snappish before breakfast. It meant that he was energetic and popping with satisfactory ideas.

After Bishop Prang had presented the crown to Senator Windrip, as the summer hobbled nervously toward the national political conventions, Emma was disturbed. For Doremus was silent before breakfast, and he had rheumy eyes, as though he was worried, as though he had slept badly. Never was he cranky. She missed hearing him croaking, “Isn’t that confounded idiot, Mrs. Candy, ever going to bring in the coffee? I suppose she’s sitting there reading her Testament! And will you be so kind as to tell me, my good woman, why Sissy never gets up for breakfast, even after the rare nights when she goes to bed at 1 A.M.? And-and will you look out at that walk! Covered with dead blossoms. That swine Shad hasn’t swept it for a week. I swear, I am going to fire him, and right away, this morning!”

Emma would have been happy to hear these familiar animal sounds, and to cluck in answer, “Oh, why, that’s terrible! I’ll go tell Mrs. Candy to hustle in the coffee right away!”

But he sat unspeaking, pale, opening his Daily Informer as though he were afraid to see what news had come in since he had left the office at ten.

When Doremus, back in the 1920’s, had advocated the recognition of Russia, Fort Beulah had fretted that he was turning out-and-out Communist.

He, who understood himself abnormally well, knew that far from being a left-wing radical, he was at most a mild, rather indolent and somewhat sentimental Liberal, who disliked pomposity, the heavy humor of public men, and the itch for notoriety which made popular preachers and eloquent educators and amateur play-producers and rich lady reformers and rich lady sportswomen and almost every brand of rich lady come preeningly in to see newspaper editors, with photographs under their arms, and on their faces the simper of fake humility. But for all cruelty and intolerance, and for the contempt of the fortunate for the unfortunate, he had not mere dislike but testy hatred.

He had alarmed all his fellow editors in northern New England by asserting the innocence of Tom Mooney, questioning the guilt of Sacco and Vanzetti, condemning our intrusion in Haiti and Nicaragua, advocating an increased income tax, writing, in the 1932 campaign, a friendly account of the Socialist candidate, Norman Thomas (and afterwards, to tell the truth, voting for Franklin Roosevelt), and stirring up a little local and ineffective hell regarding the serfdom of the Southern sharecroppers and the California fruit-pickers. He even suggested editorially that when Russia had her factories and railroads and giant farms really going, say, in 1945, she might conceivably be the pleasantest country in the world for the (mythical!) Average Man. When he wrote that editorial, after a lunch at which he had been irritated by the smug croaking of Frank Tasbrough and R. C. Crowley, he really did get into trouble. He got named Bolshevik, and in two days his paper lost a hundred and fifty out of its five thousand circulation.

Yet he was as little of a Bolshevik as Herbert Hoover.

He was, and he knew it, a small-town bourgeois Intellectual. Russia forbade everything that made his toil worth enduring: privacy, the right to think and to criticize as he freakishly pleased. To have his mind policed by peasants in uniform, rather than that he would live in an Alaska cabin, with beans and a hundred books and a new pair of pants every three years.

Once, on a motor trip with Emma, he stopped in at a summer camp of Communists. Most of them were City College Jews or neat Bronx dentists, spectacled, and smooth-shaven except for foppish small mustaches. They were hot to welcome these New England peasants and to explain the Marxian gospel (on which, however, they furiously differed). Over macaroni and cheese in an unpainted dining shack, they longed for the black bread of Moscow. Later, Doremus chuckled to find how much they resembled the Y.M.C.A. campers twenty miles down the highway-equally Puritanical, hortatory, and futile, and equally given to silly games with rubber balls.

Once only had he been dangerously active. He had supported the strike for union recognition against the quarry company of Francis Tasbrough. Men whom Doremus had known for years, solid cits like Superintendent of Schools Emil Staubmeyer, and Charley Betts of the furniture store, had muttered about “riding him out of town on a rail.” Tasbrough reviled him, even now, eight years later. After all this, the strike had been lost, and the strike leader, an avowed Communist named Karl Pascal, had gone to prison for “inciting to violence.” When Pascal, best of mechanics, came out, he went to work in a littered little Fort Beulah garage owned by a friendly, loquacious, belligerent Polish Socialist named John Pollikop.

All day long Pascal and Pollikop yelpingly raided each other’s trenches in the battle between Social Democracy and Communism, and Doremus often dropped in to stir them up. That was hard for Tasbrough, Staubmeyer, Banker Crowley, and Lawyer Kitterick to bear.

If Doremus had not come from three generations of debt-paying Vermonters, he would by now have been a penniless wandering printer . . . and possibly less detached about the Sorrows of the Dispossessed.

The conservative Emma complained: “How you can tease people this way, pretending you really like greasy mechanics like this Pascal (and I suspect you even have a sneaking fondness for Shad Ledue!) when you could just associate with decent, prosperous people like Frank, it’s beyond me! What they must think of you, sometimes! They don’t understand that you’re really not a Socialist one bit, but really a nice, kind hearted, responsible man. Oh, I ought to smack you, Dormouse!”

Not that he liked being called “Dormouse.” But then, no one did so except Emma and, in rare slips of the tongue, Buck Titus. So it was endurable.

-7-

“When I am protestingly dragged from my study and the family hearthside into the public meetings that I so much detest, I try to make my speech as simple and direct as those of the Child Jesus talking to the Doctors in the Temple.”

Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

Thunder in the mountains, clouds marching down the Beulah Valley, unnatural darkness covering the world like black fog, and lightning that picked out ugly scarps of the hills as though they were rocks thrown up in an explosion.

To such fury of the enraged heavens, Doremus awakened on that morning of late July.

As abruptly as one who, in the death cell, startles out of sleep to the realization, “Today they’ll hang me!” he sat up, bewildered, as he reflected that today Senator Berzelius Windrip would probably be nominated for President.

The Republican convention was over, with Walt Trowbridge as presidential candidate. The Democratic convention, meeting in Cleveland, with a good deal of gin, strawberry soda, and sweat, had finished the committee reports, the kind words said for the Flag, the assurances to the ghost of Jefferson that he would be delighted by what, if Chairman Jim Farley consented, would be done here this week. They had come to the nominations, Senator Windrip had been nominated by Colonel Dewey Haik, Congressman, and power in the American Legion. Gratifying applause and hasty elimination had greeted such Favorite Sons of the several states as Al Smith, Carter Glass, William McAdoo, and Cordell Hull. Now, on the twelfth ballot, there were four contestants left, and they, in order of votes, were Senator Windrip, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Senator Robinson of Arkansas, and Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins.

Great and dramatic shenanigans had happened, and Doremus Jessup’s imagination had seen them all clearly as they were reported by the hysterical radio and by bulletins from the AP. that fell redhot and smoking upon his desk at the Informer office.

In honor of Senator Robinson, the University of Arkansas brass band marched in behind a leader riding in an old horse-drawn buggy which was plastered with great placards proclaiming “Save the Constitution” and “Robinson for Sanity.” The name of Miss Perkins had been cheered for two hours, while the delegates marched with their state banners, and President Roosevelt’s name had been cheered for three, cheered affectionately and quite homicidally, since every delegate knew that Mr. Roosevelt and Miss Perkins were far too lacking in circus tinsel and general clownishness to succeed at this critical hour of the nation’s hysteria, when the electorate wanted a ringmaster revolutionist like Senator Windrip.

Windrip’s own demonstration, scientifically worked up beforehand by his secretary-press-agent-private philosopher, Lee Sarason, yielded nothing to others’. For Sarason had read his Chesterton well enough to know that there is only one thing bigger than a very big thing, and that is a thing so very small that it can be seen and understood.

When Colonel Dewey Haik put Buzz’s name in nomination, the Colonel wound up by shouting, “One thing more! Listen! It is the special request of Senator Windrip that you do not waste the time of this history making assembly by any cheering of his name, any cheering whatever. We of the League of Forgotten Men (yes and Women!) don’t want empty acclaim, but a solemn consideration of the desperate and immediate needs of 60 per cent of the population of the United States. No cheers, but may Providence guide us in the most solemn thinking we have ever done!”

As he finished, down the center aisle came a private procession. But this was no parade of thousands. There were only thirty one persons in it, and the only banners were three flags and two large placards.

Leading it, in old blue uniforms, were two G.A.R. veterans, and between, arm-in-arm with them, a Confederate in gray. They were such very little old men, all over ninety, leaning one on another and glancing timidly about in the hope that no one would laugh at them.

The Confederate carried a Virginia regimental banner, torn as by shrapnel; and one of the Union veterans lifted high a slashed flag of the First Minnesota.

The dutiful applause which the convention had given to the demonstrations of other candidates had been but rain-patter compared with the tempest which greeted the three shaky, shuffling old men. On the platform the band played, inaudibly, “Dixie,” then “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again,” and, standing on his chair midway of the auditorium, as a plain member of his state delegation, Buzz Windrip bowed-bowed-bowed and tried to smile, while tears started from his eyes and he sobbed helplessly, and the audience began to sob with him.

Following the old men were twelve Legionnaires, wounded in 1918, stumbling on wooden legs, dragging themselves between crutches; one in a wheel chair, yet so young looking and gay; and one with a black mask before what should have been a face. Of these, one carried an enormous flag, and another a placard demanding: “Our Starving Families Must Have the Bonus, We Want Only Justice, We Want Buzz for President.”

And leading them, not wounded, but upright and strong and resolute, was Major General Hermann Meinecke, United States Army. Not in all the memory of the older reporters had a soldier on active service ever appeared as a public political agitator. The press whispered one to another, “That general’ll get canned, unless Buzz is elected, then he’d probably be made Duke of Hoboken.”

Following the soldiers were ten men and women, their toes through their shoes, and wearing rags that were the more pitiful because they had been washed and rewashed till they had lost all color. With them tottered four pallid children, their teeth rotted out, between them just managing to hold up a placard declaring, “We Are on Relief. We Want to Become Human Beings Again. We Want Buzz!”

Twenty feet behind came one lone tall man. The delegates had been craning around to see what would follow the relief victims. When they did see, they rose, they bellowed, they clapped. For the lone man, few of the crowd had seen him in the flesh; all of them had seen him a hundred times in press pictures, photographed among litters of books in his study, photographed in conference with President Roosevelt and Secretary Ickes, photographed shaking hands with Senator Windrip, photographed before a microphone, his shrieking mouth a dark open trap and his lean right arm thrown up in hysterical emphasis; all of them had heard his voice on the radio till they knew it as they knew the voices of their own brothers; all of them recognized, coming through the wide main entrance, at the end of the Windrip parade, the apostle of the Forgotten Men, Bishop Paul Peter Prang.

Then the convention cheered Buzz Windrip for four unbroken hours.

In the detailed descriptions of the convention which the news bureaus sent following the feverish first bulletins, one energetic Birmingham reporter pretty well proved that the Southern battle flag carried by the Confederate veteran had been lent by the museum in Richmond and the Northern flag by a distinguished meat-packer of Chicago who was the grandson of a Civil War general.

Lee Sarason never told anyone save Buzz Windrip that both flags had been manufactured on Hester Street, New York, in 1929, for the patriotic drama, Morgan’s Riding, and that both came from a theatrical warehouse.

Before the cheering, as the Windrip parade neared the platform, they were greeted by Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch, the celebrated author, lecturer, and composer, who, suddenly conjured onto the platform as if whisked out of the air, sang to the tune of “Yankee Doodle” words which she herself had written:

Berzelius Windrip went to Wash., A riding on a hobby, To throw Big Business out, by Gosh, And be the People’s Lobby! Chorus:

Buzz and buzz and keep it up,

Our cares and needs he’s toting,

You are a most ungrateful pup,

Unless for Buzz you’re voting!

The League of the Forgotten Men Don’t like to be forgotten,

They went to Washington and then They sang, ”There’s something rotten!”

That joyous battle song was sung on the radio by nineteen different prima donnas before midnight, by some sixteen million less vocal Americans within forty-eight hours, and by at least ninety million friends and scoffers in the struggle that was to come. All through the campaign, Buzz Windrip was able to get lots of jolly humor out of puns on going to Wash., and to wash. Walt Trowbridge, he jeered, wasn’t going to either of them!

Yet Lee Sarason knew that in addition to this comic masterpiece, the cause of Windrip required an anthem more elevated in thought and spirit, befitting the seriousness of crusading Americans.

Long after the convention’s cheering for Windrip had ended and the delegates were again at their proper business of saving the nation and cutting one another’s throats, Sarason had Mrs. Gimmitch sing a more inspirational hymn, with words by Sarason himself, in collaboration with a quite remarkable surgeon, one Dr. Hector Macgoblin.

This Dr. Macgoblin, soon to become a national monument, was as accomplished in syndicated medical journalism, in the reviewing of books about education and psychoanalysis, in preparing glosses upon the philosophies of Hegel, Professor Guenther, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, and Lothrop Stoddard, in the rendition of Mozart on the violin, in semi-professional boxing, and in the composition of epic poetry, as he was in the practice of medicine.

Dr. Macgoblin! What a man!

The Sarason-Macgoblin ode, entitled “Bring Out the Old-time Musket,” became to Buzz Windrip’s band of liberators what “Giovanezza” was to the Italians, “The Horst Wessel Song” to the Nazis, “The International” to all Marxians. Along with the convention, the radio millions heard Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch’s contralto, rich as peat, chanting:

BRING OUT THE OLD-TIME MUSKET Dear Lord, we have sinned, we have slumbered, And our flag lies stained in the dust, And the souls of the Past are calling, culling, ”Arise from your sloth-you must!” Lead us, O soul of Lincoln, Inspire us, spirit of Lee, To rule all the world for righteousness, To fight for the right, To awe with our might, As we did in ’sixty-three. Chorus See, youth with desire hot glowing, See, maiden, with fearless eye, Leading our ranks Thunder the tanks, Aeroplanes cloud the sky. Bring out the old-time musket, Rouse up the old-time fire! See, all the world is crumbling, Dreadful and dark and dire. America! Rise and conquer The world to our heart’s desire!

”Great Showmanship. P. T. Barnum or Flo Ziegfeld never put on a better,” mused Doremus, as he studied the AP. flimsies, as he listened to the radio he had had temporarily installed in his office. And, much later: “When Buzz gets in, he won’t be having any parade of wounded soldiers. That’ll be bad Fascist psychology. All those poor devils he’ll hide away in institutions, and just bring out the lively young human slaughter cattle in uniforms. Hm.”

The thunderstorm, which had mercifully lulled, burst again in wrathful menace.

All afternoon the convention balloted, over and over, with no change in the order of votes for the presidential candidate. Toward six, Miss Perkins’s manager threw her votes to Roosevelt, who gained then on Senator Windrip. They seemed to have settled down to an all night struggle, and at ten in the evening Doremus wearily left the office. He did not, tonight, want the sympathetic and extremely feminized atmosphere of his home, and he dropped in at the rectory of his friend Father Perefixe. There he found a satisfyingly unfeminized, untalcumized group. The Reverend Mr. Falck was there. Swart, sturdy young Perefixe and silvery old Falck often worked together, were fond of each other, and agreed upon the advantages of clerical celibacy and almost every other doctrine except the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome. With them were Buck Titus, Louis Rotenstern, Dr. Fowler Greenhill, and Banker Crowley, a financier who liked to cultivate an appearance of free intellectual discussion, though only after the hours devoted to refusing credit to desperate farmers and storekeepers.

And not to be forgotten was Foolish the dog, who that thunderous morning had suspected his master’s worry, followed him to the office, and all day long had growled at Haik and Sarason and Mrs. Gimmitch on the radio and showed an earnest conviction that he ought to chew up all flimsies reporting the convention.

Better than his own glacial white-paneled drawing room with its portraits of dead Vermont worthies, Doremus liked Father Perefixe’s little study, and its combination of churchliness, of freedom from Commerce (at least ordinary Commerce), as displayed in a crucifix and a plaster statuette of the Virgin and a shrieking red-and-green Italian picture of the Pope, with practical affairs, as shown in the oak roll-top desk and steel filing-cabinet and wellworn portable typewriter. It was a pious hermit’s cave with the advantages of leather chairs and excellent rye highballs.

The night passed as the eight of them (for Foolish too had his tipple of milk) all sipped and listened; the night passed as the convention balloted, furiously, unavailingly . . . that congress six hundred miles away, six hundred miles of befogged night, yet with every speech, every derisive yelp, coming into the priest’s cabinet in the same second in which they were heard in the hall at Cleveland.

Father Perefixe’s housekeeper (who was sixty-five years old to his thirty-nine, to the disappointment of all the scandal-loving local Protestants) came in with scrambled eggs, cold beer.

“When my dear wife was still among us, she used to send me to bed at midnight,” sighed Dr. Falck.

“My wife does now!” said Doremus.

“So does mine, and her a New York girl!” said Louis Rotenstern.

“Father Steve, here, and I are the only guys with a sensible way of living,” crowed Buck Titus. “Celibates. We can go to bed with our pants on, or not go to bed at all,” and Father Perefixe murmured, “But it’s curious, Buck, what people find to boast of, you that you’re free of God’s tyranny and also that you can go to bed in your pants, Mr. Falck and Dr. Greenhill and I that God is so lenient with us that some nights He lets us off from sick-calls and we can go to bed with ‘em off! And Louis because… Listen! Listen! Sounds like business!”

Colonel Dewey Haik, Buzz’s proposer, was announcing that Senator Windrip felt it would be only modest of him to go to his hotel now, but he had left a letter which he, Haik, would read. And he did read it, inexorably.

Windrip stated that, just in case anyone did not completely understand his platform, he wanted to make it all ringingly clear.

Summarized, the letter explained that he was all against the banks but all for the bankers, except the Jewish bankers, who were to be driven out of finance entirely; that he had thoroughly tested (but unspecified) plans to make all wages very high and the prices of everything produced by these same highly paid workers very low; that he was 100 per cent for Labor, but 100 per cent against all strikes; and that he was in favor of the United States so arming itself, so preparing to produce its own coffee, sugar, perfumes, tweeds, and nickel instead of importing them, that it could defy the World . . . and maybe, if that World was so impertinent as to defy America in turn, Buzz hinted, he might have to take it over and run it properly.

Each moment the brassy importunities of the radio seemed to Doremus the more offensive, while the hillside slept in the heavy summer night, and he thought about the mazurka of the fireflies, the rhythm of crickets like the rhythm of the revolving earth itself, the voluptuous breezes that bore away the stink of cigars and sweat and whisky breaths and mint chewing-gum that seemed to come to them from the convention over the sound waves, along with the oratory.

It was after dawn, and Father Perefixe (unclerically stripped to shirt-sleeves and slippers) had just brought them in a grateful tray of onion soup, with a gob of Hamburg steak for Foolish, when the opposition to Buzz collapsed and hastily, on the next ballot, Senator Berzelius Windrip was nominated as Democratic Candidate for President of the United States.

Doremus, Buck Titus, Perefixe, and Falck were for a time too gloomy for speech, so possibly was the dog Foolish, as well, for at the turning off of the radio he tailthumped in only the most tentative way.

R. C. Crowley gloated, “Well, all my life I’ve voted Republican, but here’s a man that, well, I’m going to vote for Windrip!”

Father Perefixe said tartly, “And I’ve voted Democratic ever since I came from Canada and got naturalized, but this time I’m going to vote Republican. What about you fellows?”

Rotenstern was silent. He did not like Windrip’s reference to Jews. The ones he knew best, no, they were Americans! Lincoln was his tribal god too, he vowed.

“Me? I’ll vote for Walt Trowbridge, of course,” growled Buck.

“So will I,” said Doremus. “No! I won’t either! Trowbridge won’t have a chance. I think I’ll indulge in the luxury of being independent, for once, and vote Prohibition or the Battle-Creek bran-and-spinach ticket, or anything that makes some sense!”

It was after seven that morning when Doremus came home, and, remarkably enough, Shad Ledue, who was supposed to go to work at seven, was at work at seven. Normally he never left his bachelor shack in Lower Town till ten to eight, but this morning he was on the job, chopping kindling. (Oh yes, reflected Doremus-that probably explained it. Kindling-chopping, if practised early enough, would wake up everyone in the house.) Shad was tall and hulking; his shirt was sweat-stained; and as usual he needed a shave. Foolish growled at him. Doremus suspected that at some time he had been kicking Foolish. He wanted to honor Shad for the sweaty shirt, the honest toil, and all the rugged virtues, but even as a Liberal American Humanitarian, Doremus found it hard always to keep up the Longfellow’s-Village-Blacksmith-cum-Marx attitude consistently and not sometimes backslide into a belief that there must be some crooks and swine among the toilers as, notoriously, there were so shockingly many among persons with more than $3500 a year.

“WelI-been sitting up listening to the radio,” purred Doremus. “Did you know the Democrats have nominated Senator Windrip?”

“That so?” Shad growled.

“Yes. Just now. How you planning to vote?”

“Well now, I’ll tell you, Mr. Jessup.” Shad struck an attitude, leaning on his ax. Sometimes he could be quite pleasant and condescending, even to this little man who was so ignorant about coon hunting and the games of craps and poker.

“I’m going to vote for Buzz Windrip. He’s going to fix it so everybody will get four thousand bucks, immediate, and I’m going to start a chicken farm. I can make a bunch of money out of chickens! I’ll show some of these guys that think they’re so rich!”

“But, Shad, you didn’t have so much luck with chickens when you tried to raise ‘em in the shed back there. You, uh, I’m afraid you sort of let their water freeze up on ‘em in winter, and they all died, you remember.”

“Oh, them? So what! Heck! There was too few of ‘em. I’m not going to waste my time foolin’ with just a couple dozen chickens! When I get five-six thousand of ‘em to make it worth my while, then I’ll show you! You bet.” And, most patronizingly: “Buzz Windrip is OK.”

“I’m glad he has your imprimatur.”

“Huh?” said Shad, and scowled.

But as Doremus plodded up on the back porch he heard from Shad a faint derisive:

“O.K., Chief!”

-8-

“I don’t pretend to be a very educated man, except maybe educated in the heart, and in being able to feel for the sorrows and fear of every ornery fellow human being. Still and all, I’ve read the Bible through, from kiver to kiver, like my wife’s folks say down in Arkansas, some eleven times; I’ve read all the law books they’ve printed; and as to contemporaries, I don’t guess I’ve missed much of all the grand literature produced by Bruce Barton, Edgar Guest, Arthur Brisbane, Elizabeth Dilling, Walter Pitkin, and William Dudley Pelley.

This last gentleman I honor not only for his rattling good yarns, and his serious work in investigating life beyond the grave and absolutely proving that only a blind fool could fail to believe in Personal Immortality, but, finally, for his public-spirited and selfsacrificing work in founding the Silver Shirts. These true knights, even if they did not attain quite all the success they deserved, were one of our most noble and Galahad-like attempts to combat the sneaking, snaky, sinister, surreptitious, seditious plots of the Red Radicals and other sour brands of Bolsheviks that incessantly threaten the American standards of Liberty, High Wages, and Universal Security.

These fellows have Messages, and we haven’t got time for anything in literature except a straight, hard-hitting, heart-throbbing Message!”

-Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip.

During the very first week of his campaign, Senator Windrip clarified his philosophy by issuing his distinguished proclamation: “The Fifteen Points of Victory for the Forgotten Men.” The fifteen planks, in his own words (or maybe in Lee Sarason’s words, or Dewey Haik’s words), were these:

(1) All finance in the country, including banking, insurance, stocks and bonds and mortgages, shall be under the absolute control of a Federal Central Bank, owned by the government and conducted by a Board appointed by the President, which Board shall, without need of recourse to Congress for legislative authorization, be empowered to make all regulations governing finance. Thereafter, as soon as may be practicable, this said Board shall consider the nationalization and government ownership, for the Profit of the Whole People, of all mines, oilfields, water power, public utilities, transportation, and communication.

(2) The President shall appoint a commission, equally divided between manual workers, employers, and representatives of the Public, to determine which Labor Unions are qualified to represent the Workers; and report to the Executive, for legal action, all pretended labor organizations, whether “Company Unions,” or “Red Unions,” controlled by Communists and the socalled “Third International.” The duly recognized Unions shall be constituted Bureaus of the Government, with power of decision in all labor disputes. Later, the same investigation and official recognition shall be extended to farm organizations. In this elevation of the position of the Worker, it shall be emphasized that the League of Forgotten Men is the chief bulwark against the menace of destructive and un-American Radicalism.

(3) In contradistinction to the doctrines of Red Radicals, with their felonious expropriation of the arduously acquired possessions which insure to aged persons their security, this League and Party will guarantee Private Initiative and the Right to Private Property for all time.

(4) Believing that only under God Almighty, to Whom we render all homage, do we Americans hold our vast Power, we shall guarantee to all persons absolute freedom of religious worship, provided, however, that no atheist, agnostic, believer in Black Magic, nor any Jew who shall refuse to swear allegiance to the New Testament, nor any person of any faith who refuses to take the Pledge to the Flag, shall be permitted to hold any public office or to practice as a teacher, professor, lawyer, judge, or as a physician, except in the category of Obstetrics.

(5) Annual net income per person shall be limited to $500,000. No accumulated fortune may at any one time exceed $3,000,000 per person. No one person shall, during his entire lifetime, be permitted to retain an inheritance or various inheritances in total exceeding $2,000,000. All incomes or estates in excess of the sums named shall be seized by the Federal Government for use in Relief and in Administrative expenses.

(6) Profit shall be taken out of War by seizing all dividends over and above 6 per cent that shall be received from the manufacture, distribution, or sale, during wartime, of all arms, munitions, aircraft, ships, tanks, and all other things directly applicable to warfare, as well as from food, textiles, and all other supplies furnished to the American or to any allied army.

(7) Our armaments and the size of our military and naval establishments shall be consistently enlarged until they shall equal, but, since this country has no desire for foreign conquest of any kind, not surpass, in every branch of the forces of defense, the martial strength of any other single country or empire in the world. Upon inauguration, this League and Party shall make this its first obligation, together with the issuance of a firm proclamation to all nations of the world that our armed forces are to be maintained solely for the purpose of insuring world peace and amity.

(8) Congress shall have the sole right to issue money and immediately upon our inauguration it shall at least double the present supply of money, in order to facilitate the fluidity of credit.

(9) We cannot too strongly condemn the un-Christian attitude of certain otherwise progressive nations in their discriminations against the Jews, who have been among the strongest supporters of the League, and who will continue to prosper and to be recognized as fully Americanized, though only so long as they continue to support our ideals.

(10) All Negroes shall be prohibited from voting, holding public office, practicing law, medicine, or teaching in any class above the grade of grammar school, and they shall be taxed 100 per cent of all sums in excess of $10,000 per family per year which they may earn or in any other manner receive. In order, however, to give the most sympathetic aid possible to all Negroes who comprehend their proper and valuable place in society, all such colored persons, male or female, as can prove that they have devoted not less than forty-five years to such suitable tasks as domestic service, agricultural labor, and common labor in industries, shall at the age of sixty-five be permitted to appear before a special Board, composed entirely of white persons, and upon proof that while employed they have never been idle except through sickness, they shall be recommended for pensions not to exceed the sum of $500.00 per person per year, nor to exceed $700.00 per family. Negroes shall, by definition, be persons with at least one sixteenth colored blood.

(11) Far from opposing such high-minded and economically sound methods of the relief of poverty, unemployment, and old age as the EPIC plan of the Hon. Upton Sinclair, the “Share the Wealth” and “Every Man a King” proposals of the late Hon. Huey Long to assure every family $5000 a year, the Townsend plan, the Utopian plan, Technocracy, and all competent schemes of unemployment insurance, a Commission shall immediately be appointed by the New Administration to study, reconcile, and recommend for immediate adoption the best features in these several plans for Social Security, and the Hon. Messrs. Sinclair, Townsend, Eugene Reed, and Howard Scott are herewith invited to in every way advise and collaborate with that Commission.

(12) All women now employed shall, as rapidly as possible, except in such peculiarly feminine spheres of activity as nursing and beauty parlors, be assisted to return to their incomparably sacred duties as home-makers and as mothers of strong, honorable future Citizens of the Commonwealth.

(13) Any person advocating Communism, Socialism, or Anarchism, advocating refusal to enlist in case of war, or advocating alliance with Russia in any war whatsoever, shall be subject to trial for high treason, with a minimum penalty of twenty years at hard labor in prison, and a maximum of death on the gallows, or other form of execution which the judges may find convenient.

(14) All bonuses promised to former soldiers of any war in which America has ever engaged shall be immediately paid in full, in cash, and in all cases of veterans with incomes of less than $5,000.00 a year, the formerly promised sums shall be doubled.

(15) Congress shall, immediately upon our inauguration, initiate amendments to the Constitution providing (a), that the President shall have the authority to institute and execute all necessary measures for the conduct of the government during this critical epoch; (b), that Congress shall serve only in an advisory capacity, calling to the attention of the President and his aides and Cabinet any needed legislation, but not acting upon same until authorized by the President so to act; and (c), that the Supreme Court shall immediately have removed from its jurisdiction the power to negate, by ruling them to be unconstitutional or by any other judicial action, any or all acts of the President, his duly appointed aides, or Congress.

Addendum: It shall be strictly understood that, as the League of Forgotten Men and the Democratic Party, as now constituted, have no purpose nor desire to carry out any measure that shall not unqualifiedly meet with the desire of the majority of voters in these United States, the League and Party regard none of the above fifteen points as obligatory and unmodifiable except No. 15, and upon the others they will act or refrain from acting in accordance with the general desire of the Public, who shall under the new régime be again granted an individual freedom of which they have been deprived by the harsh and restrictive economic measures of former administrations, both Republican and Democratic.

“But what does it mean?” marveled Mrs. Jessup, when her husband had read the platform to her. “It’s so inconsistent. Sounds like a combination of Norman Thomas and Calvin Coolidge. I don’t seem to understand it. I wonder if Mr. Windrip understands it himself?”

“Sure. You bet he does. It mustn’t be supposed that because Windrip gets that intellectual dressmaker Sarason to prettify his ideas up for him he doesn’t recognize ‘em and clasp ‘em to his bosom when they’re dolled up in two-dollar words. I’ll tell you just what it all means: Articles One and Five mean that if the financiers and transportation kings and so on don’t come through heavily with support for Buzz they may be threatened with bigger income taxes and some control of their businesses. But they are coming through, I hear, handsomely -they’re paying for Buzz’s radio and his parades. Two, that by controlling their unions directly, Buzz’s gang can kidnap all Labor into slavery. Three backs up the security for Big Capital and Four brings the preachers into line as scared and unpaid press-agents for Buzz.

Six doesn’t mean anything at all, munition firms with vertical trusts will be able to wangle one 6 per cent on manufacture, one on transportation, and one on sales at least. Seven means we’ll get ready to follow all the European nations in trying to hog the whole world. Eight means that by inflation, big industrial companies will be able to buy their outstanding bonds back at a cent on the dollar, and Nine that all Jews who don’t cough up plenty of money for the robber baron will be punished, even including the Jews who haven’t much to cough up. Ten, that all well paying jobs and businesses held by Negroes will be grabbed by the Poor White Trash among Buzz’s worshipers, and that instead of being denounced they’ll be universally praised as patriotic protectors of Racial Purity. Eleven, that Buzz’ll be able to pass the buck for not creating any real relief for poverty. Twelve, that women will later lose the vote and the right to higher education and be foxed out of all decent jobs and urged to rear soldiers to be killed in foreign wars. Thirteen, that anybody who opposes Buzz in any way at all can be called a Communist and scragged for it. Why, under this clause, Hoover and Al Smith and Ogden Mills, yes, and you and me, will all be Communists.

Fourteen, that Buzz thinks enough of the support of the veterans’ vote to be willing to pay high for it, in other people’s money. And Fifteen, well, that’s the one lone clause that really does mean something; and it means that Windrip and Lee Sarason and Bishop Prang and I guess maybe this Colonel Dewey Haik and this Dr. Hector Macgoblin, you know, this doctor that helps write the high-minded hymns for Buzz, they’ve realized that this country has gone so flabby that any gang daring enough and unscrupulous enough, and smart enough not to seem illegal, can grab hold of the entire government and have all the power and applause and salutes, all the money and palaces and willin’ women they want.

They’re only a handful, but just think how small Lenin’s gang was at first, and Mussolini’s, and Hitler’s, and Kemal Pasha’s, and Napoleon’s! You’ll see all the liberal preachers and modernist educators and discontented newspapermen and farm agitators, maybe they’ll worry at first, but they’ll get caught up in the web of propaganda, like we all were in the Great War, and they’ll all be convinced that, even if our Buzzy maybe has got a few faults, he’s on the side of the plain people, and against all the tight old political machines, and they’ll rouse the country for him as the Great Liberator (and meanwhile Big Business will just wink and sit tight!) and then, by God, this crook, oh, I don’t know whether he’s more of a crook or an hysterical religious fanatic, along with Sarason and Haik and Prang and Macgoblin, these five men will be able to set up a regime that’ll remind you of Henry Morgan the pirate capturing a merchant ship.”

“But will Americans stand for it long?” whimpered Emma. “Oh, no, not people like us, the descendants of the pioneers!”

“Dunno. I’m going to try help see that they don’t. . . . Of course you understand that you and I and Sissy and Fowler and Mary will probably be shot if I do try to do anything. . . . Hm! I sound brave enough now, but probably I’ll be scared to death when I hear Buzz’s private troops go marching by!”

“Oh, you will be careful, won’t you?” begged Emma. “Oh. Before I forget it. How many times must I tell you, Dormouse, not to give Foolish chicken bones, they’ll stick in his poor throat and choke him to death. And you just never remember to take the keys out of the car when you put it in the garage at night! I’m perfectly sure Shad Ledue or somebody will steal it one of these nights!”

Father Stephen Perefixe, when he read the Fifteen Points, was considerably angrier than Doremus.

He snorted, “What? Negroes, Jews, women, they all banned and they leave us Catholics out, this time? Hitler didn’t neglect us. He’s persecuted us. Must be that Charley Coughlin. He’s made us too respectable!”

Sissy, who was eager to go to a school of architecture and become a creator of new styles in houses of glass and steel; Lorinda Pike, who had plans for a Carlsbad Vichy-Saratoga in Vermont; Mrs. Candy, who aspired to a home bakery of her own when she should be too old for domestic labor, they were all of them angrier than either Doremus or Father Perefixe.

Sissy sounded not like a flirtatious girl but like a battling woman as she snarled, “So the League of Forgotten Men is going to make us a League of Forgotten Women! Send us back to washing diapers and leaching out ashes for soap! Let us read Louisa May Alcott and Barnes, except on the Sabbath, of course! Let us sleep in humble gratitude with men-”

“Sissy!” wailed her mother.

“-like Shad Ledue! Well, Dad, you can sit right down and write Busy Berzelius for me that I’m going to England on the next boat!”

Mrs. Candy stopped drying the water glasses (with the soft dishtowels which she scrupulously washed out daily) long enough to croak, “What nasty men! I do hope they get shot soon,” which for Mrs. Candy was a startlingly long and humanitarian statement.

“Yes. Nasty enough. But what I’ve got to keep remembering is that Windrip is only the lightest cork on the whirlpool. He didn’t plot all this thing. With all the justified discontent there is against the smart politicians and the Plush Horses of Plutocracy, oh, if it hadn’t been one Windrip, it’d been another. . . . We had it coming, we Respectables. . . . But that isn’t going to make us like it!” thought Doremus.

-9-

To follow in part 3

Part 1. Make America Great Again? Fascism, It Can’t Happen Here. A Warning From The Past – Sinclair Lewis – (Chapters 1-4).

“All of America is serious now, after seven years of depression since 1929. People will think they’re electing him to create more economic security. Then watch the Terror! God knows there’s been enough indication that we can have tyranny in America.”

It Can’t Happen Here is a semi-satirical 1935 political novel by American author Sinclair Lewis.

Published during the rise of fascism in Europe, the novel describes the rise of Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, a demagogue who is elected President of the United States, after fomenting fear and promising drastic economic and social reforms while promoting a return to patriotism and “traditional” values.

After his election, Windrip takes complete control of the government and imposes a pIutocratic/totalitarian rule with the help of a ruthless paramilitary force, in the manner of Adolf Hitler and the SS.

The novel’s plot centers on journalist Doremus Jessup’s opposition to the new regime and his subsequent struggle against it as part of a liberal rebellion.

-1-

The handsome dining room of the Hotel Wessex, with its gilded plaster shields and the mural depicting the Green Mountains, had been reserved for the Ladies’ Night Dinner of the Fort Beulah Rotary Club.

Here in Vermont the affair was not so picturesque as it might have been on the Western prairies. Oh, it had its points: there was a skit in which Medary Cole (grist mill & feed store) and Louis Rotenstern (custom tailoring, pressing & cleaning) announced that they were those historic Vermonters, Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, and with their jokes about imaginary plural wives they got in ever so many funny digs at the ladies present. But the occasion was essentially serious. All of America was serious now, after the seven years of depression since 1929. It was just long enough after the Great War of 1914-18 for the young people who had been born in 1917 to be ready to go to college . . . or to another war, almost any old war that might be handy.

The features of this night among the Rotarians were nothing funny, at least not obviously funny, for they were the patriotic addresses of Brigadier General Herbert Y. Edgeways, U.S.A. (ret.), who dealt angrily with the topic “Peace through Defense, Millions for Arms but Not One Cent for Tribute,” and of Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch, she who was no more renowned for her gallant antisuffrage campaigning way back in 1919 than she was for having, during the Great War, kept the American soldiers entirely out of French cafés by the clever trick of sending them ten thousand sets of dominoes.

Nor could any social-minded patriot sneeze at her recent somewhat unappreciated effort to maintain the purity of the American Home by barring from the motion picture industry all persons, actors or directors or cameramen, who had: (a) ever been divorced; (b) been born in any foreign country, except Great Britain, since Mrs. Gimmitch thought very highly of Queen Mary, or (c) declined to take an oath to revere the Flag, the Constitution, the Bible, and all other peculiarly American institutions.

The Annual Ladies’ Dinner was a most respectable gathering, the flower of Fort Beulah. Most of the ladies and more than half of the gentlemen wore evening clothes, and it was rumored that before the feast the inner circle had had cocktails, privily served in Room 289 of the hotel. The tables, arranged on three sides of a hollow square, were bright with candles, cut-glass dishes of candy and slightly tough almonds, figurines of Mickey Mouse, brass Rotary wheels, and small silk American flags stuck in gilded hard-boiled eggs. On the wall was a banner lettered “Service Before Self,” and the menu, the celery, cream of tomato soup, broiled haddock, chicken croquettes, peas, and tutti-frutti ice-cream, was up to the highest standards of the Hotel Wessex.

They were all listening, agape. General Edgeways was completing his manly yet mystical rhapsody on nationalism:

“. . . for these United States, alone among the great powers, have no desire for foreign conquest. Our highest ambition is to be darned well let alone! Our only genuine relationship to Europe is in our arduous task of having to try and educate the crass and ignorant masses that Europe has wished onto us up to something like a semblance of American culture and good manners. But, as I explained to you, we must be prepared to defend our shores against all the alien gangs of international racketeers that call themselves ‘governments,’ and that with such feverish envy are always eyeing our inexhaustible mines, our towering forests, our titanic and luxurious cities, our fair and far-flung fields.

For the first time in all history, a great nation must go on arming itself more and more, not for conquest, not for jealousy, not for war, but for peace! Pray God it may never be necessary, but if foreign nations don’t sharply heed our warning, there will, as when the proverbial dragon’s teeth were sowed, spring up an armed and fearless warrior upon every square foot of these United States, so arduously cultivated and defended by our pioneer fathers, whose sword-girded images we must be . . . or we shall perish!”

The applause was cyclonic. “Professor” Emil Staubmeyer, the superintendent of schools, popped up to scream, “Three cheers for the General-hip, hip, hooray!”

All the audience made their faces to shine upon the General and Mr. Staub Meyer, all save a couple of crank pacifist women, and one Doremus Jessup, editor of the Fort Beulah Daily Informer, locally considered “a pretty smart fella but kind of a cynic,” who whispered to his friend the Reverend Mr. Falck, “Our pioneer fathers did rather of a skimpy job in arduously cultivating some of the square feet in Arizona!”

The culminating glory of the dinner was the address of Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch, known throughout the country as “the Unkies’ Girl,” because during the Great War she had advocated calling our boys in the A.E.F. “the Unkies.” She hadn’t merely given them dominoes; indeed her first notion had been far more imaginative. She wanted to send to every soldier at the Front a canary in a cage. Think what it would have meant to them in the way of companionship and inducing memories of home and mother! A dear little canary! And who knows maybe you could train ‘em to hunt cooties!

Seething with the notion, she got herself clear into the office of the Quartermaster General, but that stuffy machine-minded official refused her (or, really, refused the poor lads, so lonely there in the mud), muttering in a cowardly way some foolishness about lack of transport for canaries. It is said that her eyes flashed real fire, and that she faced the Jack-in-office like Joan of Arc with eyeglasses while she “gave him a piece of her mind that he never forgot!”

In those good days women really had a chance. They were encouraged to send their menfolks, or anybody else’s menfolks, off to war. Mrs. Gimmitch addressed every soldier she met, and she saw to it that she met any of them who ventured within two blocks of her, as “My own dear boy.” It is fabled that she thus saluted a colonel of marines who had come up from the ranks and who answered, “We own dear boys are certainly getting a lot of mothers these days. Personally, I’d rather have a few more mistresses.” And the fable continues that she did not stop her remarks on the occasion, except to cough, for one hour and seventeen minutes, by the Colonel’s wrist watch.

But her social services were not all confined to prehistoric eras. It was as recently as 1935 that she had taken up purifying the films, and before that she had first advocated and then fought Prohibition. She had also (since the vote had been forced on her) been a Republican Committee woman. in 1932, and sent to President Hoover daily a lengthy telegram of advice.

And, though herself unfortunately childless, she was esteemed as a lecturer and writer about Child Culture, and she was the author of a volume of nursery lyrics, including the immortal couplet:

“All of the Roundics are resting in rows, With roundy-roundies around their toes.”

But always, 1917 or 1936, she was a raging member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The D.A.R. (reflected the cynic, Doremus Jessup, that evening) is a somewhat confusing organization, as confusing as Theosophy, Relativity, or the Hindu Vanishing Boy Trick, all three of which it resembles. It is composed of females who spend one half their waking hours boasting of being descended from the seditious American colonists of 1776, and the other and more ardent half in attacking all contemporaries who believe in precisely the principles for which those ancestors struggled.

The D.A.R. (reflected Doremus) has become as sacrosanct, as beyond criticism, as even the Catholic Church or the Salvation Army. And there is this to be said: it has provided hearty and innocent laughter for the judicious, since it has contrived to be just as ridiculous as the unhappily defunct Kuklux Klan, without any need of wearing, like the KKK, high dunces’ caps and public nightshirts.

So, whether Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch was called in to inspire military morale, or to persuade Lithuanian choral societies to begin their program with “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean,” always she was a D.A.R., and you could tell it as you listened to her with the Fort Beulah Rotarians on this happy May evening.

She was short, plump, and pert of nose. Her luxuriant gray hair (she was sixty now, just the age of the sarcastic editor, Doremus Jessup) could be seen below her youthful, floppy Leghorn hat; she wore a silk print dress with an enormous string of crystal beads, and pinned above her ripe bosom was an orchid among lilies of the valley. She was full of friendliness toward all the men present: she wriggled at them, she cuddled at them, as in a voice full of flute sounds and chocolate sauce she poured out her oration on “How You Boys Can Help Us Girls.”

Women, she pointed out, had done nothing with the vote. If the United States had only listened to her back in 1919 she could have saved them all this trouble. No. Certainly not. No votes. In fact, Woman must resume her place in the Home and: “As that great author and scientist, Mr. Arthur Brisbane, has pointed out, what every woman ought to do is to have six children.”

At this second there was a shocking, an appalling interruption.

One Lorinda Pike, widow of a notorious Unitarian preacher, was the manager of a country super-boarding house that called itself “The Beulah Valley Tavern.” She was a deceptively Madonna-like, youngish woman, with calm eyes, smooth chestnut hair parted in the middle, and a soft voice often colored with laughter. But on a public platform her voice became brassy, her eyes filled with embarrassing fury. She was the village scold, the village crank. She was constantly poking into things that were none of her business, and at town meetings she criticized every substantial interest in the whole county: the electric company’s rates, the salaries of the schoolteachers, the Ministerial Association’s high-minded censorship of books for the public library. Now, at this moment when everything should have been all Service and Sunshine, Mrs. Lorinda Pike cracked the spell by jeering: “Three cheers for Brisbane! But what if a poor gal can’t hook a man? Have her six kids out of wedlock?”

Then the good old war horse, Gimmitch, veteran of a hundred campaigns against subversive Reds, trained to ridicule out of existence the cant of Socialist hecklers and turn the laugh against them, swung into gallant action:

“My dear good woman, if a gal, as you call it, has any real charm and womanliness, she won’t have to ‘hook’ a man, she’ll find ‘em lined up ten deep on her doorstep!” (Laughter and applause.)

The lady hoodlum had merely stirred Mrs. Gimmitch into noble passion. She did not cuddle at them now. She tore into it:

“I tell you, my friends, the trouble with this whole country is that so many are selfish! Here’s a hundred and twenty million people, with ninety-five per cent of ‘em only thinking of self, instead of turning to and helping the responsible business men to bring back prosperity! All these corrupt and self-seeking labor unions! Money grubbers! Thinking only of how much wages they can extort out of their unfortunate employer, with all the responsibilities he has to bear!

“What this country needs is Discipline! Peace is a great dream, but maybe sometimes it’s only a pipe dream! I’m not so sure, now this will shock you, but I want you to listen to one woman who will tell you the unadulterated hard truth instead of a lot of sentimental taffy, and I’m not sure but that we need to be in a real war again, in order to learn Discipline! We don’t want all this highbrow intellectuality, all this book-learning. That’s good enough in its way, but isn’t it, after all, just a nice toy for grownups? No, what we all of us must have, if this great land is going to go on maintaining its high position among the Congress of Nations, is Discipline, Will Power, Character!” She turned prettily then toward General Edgeways and laughed:

“You’ve been telling us about how to secure peace, but come on, now, General, just among us Rotarians and Rotary Ann’s, ‘fess up! With your great experience, don’t you honest, cross-your-heart, think that perhaps, just maybe, when a country has gone money-mad, like all our labor unions and workmen, with their propaganda to hoist income taxes, so that the thrifty and industrious have to pay for the shiftless ne’er-do-weels, then maybe, to save their lazy souls and get some iron into them, a war might be a good thing? Come on, now, tell your real middle name, Mong General!”

Dramatically she sat down, and the sound of clapping filled the room like a cloud of downy feathers. The crowd bellowed, “Come on, General! Stand up!” and “She’s called your bluff, what you got?” or just a tolerant, “Attaboy, Gen!”

The General was short and globular, and his red face was smooth as a baby’s bottom and adorned with white gold framed spectacles. But he had the military snort and a virile chuckle.

“Well, sir!” he guffawed, on his feet, shaking a chummy forefinger at Mrs. Gimmitch, “since you folks are bound and determined to drag the secrets out of a poor soldier, I better confess that while I do abhor war, yet there are worse things. Ah, my friends, far worse! A state of socalled peace, in which labor organizations are riddled, as by plague germs, with insane notions out of anarchistic Red Russia! A state in which college professors, newspapermen, and notorious authors are secretly promulgating these same seditious attacks on the grand old Constitution! A state in which, as a result of being fed with these mental drugs, the People are flabby, cowardly, grasping, and lacking in the fierce pride of the warrior! No, such a state is far worse than war at its most monstrous!

“I guess maybe some of the things I said in my former speech were kind of a little bit obvious and what we used to call ‘old hat’ when my brigade was quartered in England. About the United States only wanting peace, and freedom from all foreign entanglements. No! What I’d really like us to do would be to come out and tell the whole world: ‘Now you boys never mind about the moral side of this. We have power, and power is its own excuse!’

“I don’t altogether admire everything Germany and Italy have done, but you’ve got to hand it to ‘em, they’ve been honest enough and realistic enough to say to the other nations, ‘Just tend to your own business, will you? We’ve got strength and will, and for whomever has those divine qualities it’s not only a right, it’s a duty, to use ‘em!’ Nobody in God’s world ever loved a weakling including that weakling himself!

“And I’ve got good news for you! This gospel of clean and aggressive strength is spreading everywhere in this country among the finest type of youth. Why today, in 1936, there’s less than 7 per cent of collegiate institutions that do not have military training units under discipline as rigorous as the Nazis, and where once it was forced upon them by the authorities, now it is the strong young men and women who themselves demand the right to be trained in warlike virtues and skill, for, mark you, the girls, with their instruction in nursing and the manufacture of gas masks and the like, are becoming every whit as zealous as their brothers. And all the really thinking type of professors are right with ‘em!

“Why, here, as recently as three years ago, a sickeningly big percentage of students were blatant pacifists, wanting to knife their own native land in the dark. But now, when the shameless fools and the advocates of Communism try to hold pacifist meetings, why, my friends, in the past five months, since January first, no less than seventy-six such exhibitionistic orgies have been raided by their fellow students, and no less than fifty-nine disloyal Red students have received their just deserts by being beaten up so severely that never again will they raise in this free country the bloodstained banner of anarchism! That, my friends, is NEWS!”

As the General sat down, amid ecstasies of applause, the village trouble maker, Mrs. Lorinda Pike, leaped up and again interrupted the love feast:

“Look here, Mr. Edgeways, if you think you can get away with this sadistic nonsense without …”

She got no farther. Francis Tasbrough, the quarry owner, the most substantial industrialist in Fort Beulah, stood grandly up, quieted Lorinda with an outstretched arm, and rumbled in his Jerusalem-the-Golden basso, “A moment please, my dear lady! All of us here locally have got used to your political principles. But as chairman, it is my unfortunate duty to remind you that General Edgeways and Mrs. Gimmitch have been invited by the club to address us, whereas you, if you will excuse my saying so, are not even related to any Rotarian but merely here as the guest of the Reverend Falck, than whom there is no one whom we more honor. So, if you will be so good, Ah, I thank you, madame!”

Lorinda Pike had slumped into her chair with her fuse still burning. Mr. Francis Tasbrough (it rhymed with “low”) did not slump; he sat like the Archbishop of Canterbury on the archiepiscopal throne.

And Doremus Jessup popped up to soothe them all, being an intimate of Lorinda, and having, since milkiest boyhood, chummed with and detested Francis Tasbrough.

This Doremus Jessup, publisher of the Daily Informer, for all that he was a competent business man and a writer of editorials not without wit and good New England earthiness, was yet considered the prime eccentric of Fort Beulah. He was on the school board, the library board, and he introduced people like Oswald Garrison Villard, Norman Thomas, and Admiral Byrd when they came to town lecturing.

Jessup was a littlish man, skinny, smiling, well tanned, with a small gray mustache, a small and well-trimmed gray beard, in a community where to sport a beard was to confess one’s self a farmer, a Civil War veteran, or a Seventh Day Adventist. Doremus’s detractors said that he maintained the beard just to be “highbrow” and “different,” to try to appear “artistic.” Possibly they were right. Anyway, he skipped up now and murmured:

“Well, all the birdies in their nest agree. My friend, Mrs. Pike, ought to know that freedom of speech becomes mere license when it goes so far as to criticize the Army, differ with the D.A.R., and advocate the rights of the Mob. So, Lorinda, I think you ought to apologize to the General, to whom we should be grateful for explaining to us what the ruling classes of the country really want. Come on now, my friend-jump up and make your excuses.”

He was looking down on Lorinda with sternness, yet Medary Cole, president of Rotary, wondered if Doremus wasn’t “kidding” them. He had been known to. Yes-no -he must be wrong, for Mrs. Lorinda Pike was (without rising) caroling, “Oh yes! I do apologize, General! Thank you for your revelatory speech!”

The General raised his plump hand (with a Masonic ring as well as a West Point ring on the sausage-shaped fingers); he bowed like Galahad or a head-waiter; he shouted with parade-ground maleness: “Not at all, not at all, madame! We old campaigners never mind a healthy scrap. Glad when anybody’s enough interested in our fool ideas to go and get sore at us, huh, huh, huh!”

And everybody laughed and sweetness reigned. The program wound up with Louis Rotenstern’s singing of a group of patriotic ditties: “Marching through Georgia” and “Tenting on the Old Campground” and “Dixie” and “Old Black Joe” and “I’m Only a Poor Cowboy and I Know I Done Wrong.”

Louis Rotenstern was by all of Fort Beulah classed as a “good fellow,” a caste just below that of “real, oldfashioned gentleman.” Doremus Jessup liked to go fishing with him, and partridge hunting; and he considered that no Fifth Avenue tailor could do anything tastier in the way of a seersucker outfit. But Louis was a jingo. He explained, and rather often, that it was not he nor his father who had been born in the ghetto in Prussian Poland, but his grandfather (whose name, Doremus suspected, had been something less stylish and Nordic than Rotenstern). Louis’s pocket heroes were Calvin Coolidge, Leonard Wood, Dwight L. Moody, and Admiral Dewey (and Dewey was a born Vermonter, rejoiced Louis, who himself had been born in Flatbush, Long island).

He was not only 100 per cent American; he exacted 40 per cent of chauvinistic interest on top of the principal. He was on every occasion heard to say, “We ought to keep all these foreigners out of the country, and what I mean, the Kikes just as much as the Wops and Hunkies and Chinks.” Louis was altogether convinced that if the ignorant politicians would keep their dirty hands off banking and the stock exchange and hours of labor for salesmen in department stores, then everyone in the country would profit, as beneficiaries of increased business, and all of them (including the retail clerks) be rich as Aga Khan.

So Louis put into his melodies not only his burning voice of a Bydgoszcz cantor but all his nationalistic fervor, so that every one joined in the choruses, particularly Mrs. Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch, with her celebrated traincalIer’s contralto. The dinner broke up in cataract-like sounds of happy adieux, and Doremus Jessup muttered to his good wife Emma, a solid, kindly, worried soul, who liked knitting, solitaire, and the novels of Kathleen Norris: “Was I terrible, butting in that way?” “Oh, no, Dormouse, you did just right. I am fond of Lorinda Pike, but why does she have to show off and parade all her silly Socialist ideas?” “You old Tory!” said Doremus. “Don’t you want to invite the Siamese elephant, the Gimmitch, to drop in and have a drink?” “I do not!” said Emma Jessup.

And in the end, as the Rotarians shuffled and dealt themselves and their innumerable motorcars, it was Frank Tasbrough who invited the choicer males, including Doremus, home for an after-party.

-2-

As he took his wife home and drove up Pleasant Hill to Tasbrough’s, Doremus Jessup meditated upon the epidemic patriotism of General Edgeways. But he broke it off to let himself be absorbed in the hills, as it had been his habit for the fifty-three years, out of his sixty years of life, that he had spent in Fort Beulah, Vermont.

Legally a city, Fort Beulah was a comfortable village of old red brick, old granite workshops, and houses of white clapboards or gray shingles, with a few smug little modern bungalows, yellow or seal brown. There was but little manufacturing: a small woolen mill, a sash-and-door factory, a pump works. The granite which was its chief produce came from quarries four miles away; in Fort Beulah itself were only the offices . . . all the money . . . the meager shacks of most of the quarry workers. It was a town of perhaps ten thousand souls, inhabiting about twenty thousand bodies, the proportion of souI-possession may be too high.

There was but one (comparative) skyscraper in town: the six-story Tasbrough Building, with the offices of the Tasbrough & Scarlett Granite Quarries; the offices of Doremus’s son-in-law, Fowler Greenhill, M.D., and his partner, old Dr. Olmsted, of Lawyer Mungo Kitterick, of Harry Kindermann, agent for maple syrup and dairying supplies, and of thirty or forty other village samurai.

It was a downy town, a drowsy town, a town of security and tradition, which still believed in Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, and to which May Day was not an occasion for labor parades but for distributing small baskets of flowers.

It was a May night, late in May of 1936, with a threequarter moon. Doremus’s house was a mile from the business-center of Fort Beulah, on Pleasant Hill, which was a spur thrust like a reaching hand out from the dark rearing mass of Mount Terror. Upland meadows, moon-glistening, he could see, among the wildernesses of spruce and maple and poplar on the ridges far above him; and below, as his car climbed, was Ethan Creek flowing through the meadows. Deep woods, rearing mountain bulwarks the air like spring water, serene clapboarded houses that remembered the War of 1812 and the boyhoods of those errant Vermonters, Stephen A. Douglas, the “Little Giant,” and Hiram Powers and Thaddeus Stevens and Brigham Young and President Chester Alan Arthur.

“No, Powers and Arthur, they were weak sisters,” pondered Doremus. “But Douglas and Thad Stevens and Brigham, the old stallion, I wonder if we’re breeding up any paladins like those stout, grouchy old devils? If we’re producing ‘em anywhere in New England? Anywhere in America? Anywhere in the world? They had guts. Independence. Did what they wanted to and thought what they liked, and everybody could go to hell. The youngsters today, Oh, the aviators have plenty of nerve. The physicists, these twenty-five-year-old Ph. D.’s that violate the inviolable atom, they’re pioneers. But most of the wishy-washy young people today, going seventy miles an hour but not going anywhere, not enough imagination to want to go anywhere! Getting their music by turning a dial. Getting their phrases from the comic strips instead of from Shakespeare and the Bible and Veblen and Old Bill Sumner. Pap-fed flabs! Like this smug pup Malcolm Tasbrough, hanging around Sissy! Aah!

“Wouldn’t it be he” if that stuffed shirt, Edgeways, and that political Mae West, Gimmitch, were right, and we need all these military monkeyshines and maybe a fool war (to conquer some sticky-hot country we don’t want on a bet!) to put some starch and git into these marionettes we call our children? Aah!

“But rats, These hills! Castle walls. And this air. They can keep their Cotswolds and Harz Mountains and Rockies! D. Jessup, topographical patriot. And I am a “Doremus, would you mind driving on the right-hand side of the road, on curves, anyway?” said his wife peaceably.

An upland hollow and mist beneath the moon, a veil of mist over apple blossoms and the heavy bloom of an ancient lilac bush beside the ruin of a farmhouse burned these sixty years and more.

Mr. Francis Tasbrough was the president, general manager, and chief owner of the Tasbrough & Scarlett Granite Quarries, at West Beulah, four miles from “the Fort.” He was rich, persuasive, and he had constant labor troubles. He lived in a new Georgian brick house on Pleasant Hill, a little beyond Doremus Jessup’s, and in that house he maintained a private barroom luxurious as that of a motor company’s advertising manager at Grosse Point. It was no more the traditional New England than was the Catholic part of Boston; and Frank himself boasted that, though his family had for six generations lived in New England, he was no tight Yankee but in his Efficiency, his Salesmanship, the complete Pan-American Business Executive.

He was a tall man, Tasbrough, with a yellow mustache and a monotonously emphatic voice. He was fifty-four, six years younger than Doremus Jessup, and when he had been four, Doremus had protected him from the results of his singularly unpopular habit of hitting the other small boys over the head with things, all kinds of things, sticks and toy wagons and lunch boxes and dry cow flops.

Assembled in his private barroom tonight, after the Rotarian Dinner, were Frank himself, Doremus Jessup, Medary Cole, the miller, Superintendent of Schools Emil Staubmeyer, R. C. Crowley (Roscoe Conkling Crowley, the weightiest banker in Fort Beulah) and, rather surprisingly, Tasbrough’s pastor, the Episcopal minister, the Rev. Mr. Falck, his old hands as delicate as porcelain, his wilderness of hair silk-soft and white, his unfleshly face betokening the Good Life. Mr. Falck came from a solid Knickerbocker family, and he had studied in Edinburgh and Oxford along with the General Theological Seminary of New York; and in all of the Beulah Valley there was, aside from Doremus, no one who more contentedly hid away in the shelter of the hills.

The barroom had been professionally interior-decorated by a young New York gentleman with the habit of standing with the back of his right hand against his hip. It had a stainless-steel bar, framed illustrations from La Vie Parisienne, silvered metal tables, and chromium-plated aluminum chairs with scarlet leather cushions.

All of them except Tasbrough, Medary Cole (a social climber to whom the favors of Frank Tasbrough were as honey and fresh ripened figs), and “Professor” Emil Staubmeyer were uncomfortable in this parrot-cage elegance, but none of them, including Mr. Falck, seemed to dislike Frank’s soda and excellent Scotch or the sardine sandwiches.

“And I wonder if Thad Stevens would of liked this, either?” considered Doremus. “He’d of snarled. Old cornered catamount. But probably not at the whisky!”

“Doremus,” demanded Tasbrough, “why don’t you take a tumble to yourself? All these years you’ve had a lot of fun criticizing, always being agin the government, kidding everybody, posing as such a Liberal that you’ll stand for all these subversive elements. Time for you to quit playing tag with crazy ideas and come in and join the family. These are serious times, maybe twenty eight million on relief, and beginning to get ugly, thinking they’ve got a vested right now to be supported.

And the Jew Communists and Jew financiers plotting together to control the country. I can understand how, as a younger fellow, you could pump up a little sympathy for the unions and even for the Jews, though, as you know, I’ll never get over being sore at you for taking the side of the strikers when those thugs were trying to ruin my whole business, burn down my polishing and cutting shops, why, you were even friendly with that alien murderer Karl Pascal, who started the whole strike, maybe I didn’t enjoy firing him when it was all over!

But anyway, these labor racketeers are getting together now, with Communist leaders, and determined to run the country, to tell men like me how to run our business!, and just like General Edgeways said, they’ll refuse to serve their country if we should happen to get dragged into some war. Yessir, a mighty serious hour, and it’s time for you to cut the cackle and join the really responsible citizens.”

Said Doremus, “Hm. Yes, I agree it’s a serious time. With all the discontent there is in the country to wash him into office, Senator Windrip has got an excellent chance to be elected President, next November, and if he is, probably his gang of buzzards will get us into some war, just to grease their insane vanity and show the world that we’re the huskiest nation going. And then I, the Liberal, and you, the Plutocrat, the bogus Tory, will be led out and shot at 3 AM. Serious? Huh!”

“Rats! You’re exaggerating!” said R. C. Crowley.

Doremus went on: “If Bishop Prang, our Savonarola in a Cadillac 16, swings his radio audience and his League of Forgotten Men to Buzz Windrip, Buzz will win. People will think they’re electing him to create more economic security. Then watch the Terror! God knows there’s been enough indication that we can have tyranny in America, the fix of the Southern share-croppers, the working conditions of the miners and garment-makers, and our keeping Mooney in prison so many years. But wait till Windrip shows us how to say it with machine guns! Democracy, here and in Britain and France, it hasn’t been so universal a sniveling slavery as Naziism in Germany, such an imagination-hating, pharisaic materialism as Russia, even if it has produced industrialists like you, Frank, and bankers like you, R. C., and given you altogether too much power and money. On the whole, with scandalous exceptions, Democracy’s given the ordinary worker more dignity than he ever had. That may be menaced now by Windrip, all the Windrips. All right! Maybe we’ll have to fight paternal dictatorship with a little sound patricide, fight machine guns with machine guns. Wait till Buzz takes charge of us. A real Fascist dictatorship!”

“Nonsense! Nonsense!” snorted Tasbrough. “That couldn’t happen here in America, not possibly! We’re a country of freemen.”

“The answer to that,” suggested Doremus Jessup, “if Mr. Falck will forgive me, is ‘the hell it can’t!’ Why, there’s no country in the world that can get more hysterical, yes, or more obsequious!, than America. Look how Huey Long became absolute monarch over Louisiana, and how the Right Honorable Mr. Senator Berzelius Windrip owns his State. Listen to Bishop Prang and Father Coughlin on the radio, divine oracles, to millions. Remember how casually most Americans have accepted Tammany grafting and Chicago gangs and the crookedness of so many of President Harding’s appointees? Could Hitler’s bunch, or Windrip’s, be worse? Remember the Kuklux Klan? Remember our war hysteria, when we called sauerkraut ‘Liberty cabbage’ and somebody actually proposed calling German measles ‘Liberty measles’? And wartime censorship of honest papers? Bad as Russia! Remember our kissing the-well, the feet of Billy Sunday, the million dollar evangelist, and of Aimée McPherson, who swam from the Pacific Ocean clear into the Arizona desert and got away with it? Remember Voliva and Mother Eddy? . . . Remember our Red scares and our Catholic scares, when all well informed people knew that the O.G.P.U. were hiding out in Oskaloosa, and the Republicans campaigning against Al Smith told the Carolina mountaineers that if Al won the Pope would illegitimatize their children? Remember Tom Heflin and Tom Dixon? Remember when the hick legislators in certain states, in obedience to William Jennings Bryan, who learned his biology from his pious old grandma, set up shop as scientific experts and made the whole world laugh itself sick by forbidding the teaching of evolution? . . . Remember the Kentucky night-riders? Remember how trainloads of people have gone to enjoy lynchings?

Not happen here? Prohibition, shooting down people just because they might be transporting liquor, no, that couldn’t happen in America! Why, where in all history has there ever been a people so ripe for a dictatorship as ours! We’re ready to start on a Children’s Crusade, only of adults, right now, and the Right Reverend Abbots Windrip and Prang are all ready to lead it!”

“Well, what if they are?” protested R. C. Crowley. “It might not be so bad. I don’t like all these irresponsible attacks on us bankers all the time. Of course, Senator Windrip has to pretend publicly to bawl the banks out, but once he gets into power he’ll give the banks their proper influence in the administration and take our expert financial advice. Yes. Why are you so afraid of the word ‘Fascism,’ Doremus? Just a word, just a word! And might not be so bad, with all the lazy bums we got panhandling relief nowadays, and living on my income tax and yours, not so worse to have a real Strong Man, like Hitler or Mussolini, like Napoleon or Bismarck in the good old days, and have ‘em really run the country and make it efficient and prosperous again. ‘Nother words, have a doctor who won’t take any back-chat, but really boss the patient and make him get well whether he likes it or not!”

“Yes!” said Emil Staubmeyer. “Didn’t Hitler save Germany from the Red Plague of Marxism? I got cousins there. I know!”

“Hm,” said Doremus, as often Doremus did say it. “Cure the evils of Democracy by the evils of Fascism! Funny therapeutics. I’ve heard of their curing syphilis by giving the patient malaria, but I’ve never heard of their curing malaria by giving the patient syphilis!”

“Think that’s nice language to use in the presence of the Reverend Falck?” raged Tasbrough. Mr. Falck piped up, “I think it’s quite nice language, and an interesting suggestion, Brother Jessup!”

“Besides,” said Tasbrough, “this chewing the rag is all nonsense, anyway. As Crowley says, might be a good thing to have a strong man in the saddle, but, it just can’t happen here in America.”

And it seemed to Doremus that the softly moving lips of the Reverend Mr. Falck were framing, “The hell it can’t!”

-3-

Doremus Jessup, editor and proprietor of the Daily Informer, the Bible of the conservative Vermont farmers up and down the Beulah Valley, was born in Fort Beulah in 1876, only son of an impecunious Universalist pastor, the Reverend Loren Jessup. His mother was no less than a Bass, of Massachusetts. The Reverend Loren, a bookish man and fond of flowers, merry but not noticeably witty, used to chant “Alas, alas, that a Bass of Mass should marry a minister prone to gas,” and he would insist that she was all wrong ichthyologically, she should have been a cod, not a bass.

There was in the parsonage little meat but plenty of books, not all theological by any means, so that before he was twelve Doremus knew the profane writings of Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, Jane Austen, Tennyson, Byron, Keats, Shelley, Tolstoy, Balzac. He graduated from Isaiah College, once a bold Unitarian venture but by 1894 an inter-denominational outfit with nebulous trinitarian yearnings, a small and rustic stable of learning, in North Beulah, thirteen miles from “the Fort.”

But Isaiah College has come up in the world today, excepting educationally, for in 1931 it held the Dartmouth football team down to 64 to 6.

During college, Doremus wrote a great deal of bad poetry and became an incurable book addict, but he was a fair track athlete. Naturally, he corresponded for papers in Boston and Springfield, and after graduation he was a reporter in Rutland and Worcester, with one glorious year in Boston, whose grimy beauty and shards of the past were to him what London would be to a young Yorkshireman. He was excited by concerts, art galleries, and bookshops; thrice a week he had a twenty-five-cent seat, in the upper balcony of some theater; and for two months he roomed with a fellow reporter who had actually had a short story in The Century and who could talk about authors and technique like the very dickens. But Doremus was not particularly beefy or enduring, and the noise, the traffic, the bustle of assignments, exhausted him, and in 1901, three years after his graduation from college, when his widowed father died and left him $2980.00 and his library, Doremus went home to Fort Beulah and bought a quarter interest in the Informer, then a weekly.

By 1936 it was a daily, and he owned all of it . . . with a perceptible mortgage.

He was an equable and sympathetic boss; an imaginative news detective; he was, even in this ironbound Republican state, independent in politics; and in his editorials against graft and injustice, though they were not fanatically chronic, he could slash like a dog whip.

He was a third cousin of Calvin Coolidge, who had considered him sound domestically but loose politically. Doremus considered himself just the opposite.

He had married his wife, Emma, out of Fort Beulah. She was the daughter of a wagon manufacturer, a placid, prettyish, broad-shouldered girl with whom he had gone to high school.

Now, in 1936, of their three children, Philip (Dartmouth, and Harvard Law School) was married and ambitiously practicing law in Worcester; Mary was the wife of Fowler Greenhill, M.D., of Fort Beulah, a gay and hustling medico, a choleric and red-headed young man, who was a wonder-worker in typhoid, acute appendicitis, obstetrics, compound fractures, and diets for anemic children. Fowler and Mary had one son, Doremus’s only grandchild, the bonny David, who at eight was a timid, inventive, affectionate child with such mourning hound dog eyes and such red-gold hair that his picture might well have been hung at a National Academy show or even been reproduced on the cover of a Women’s Magazine with 2,500,000 circulation. The Greenhills’ neighbors inevitably said of the boy, “My, Davy’s got such an imagination, hasn’t he! I guess he’ll be a writer, just like his Grampa!”

Third of Doremus’s children was the gay, the pert, the dancing Cecilia, known as “Sissy,” aged eighteen, where her brother Philip was thirty-two and Mary, Mrs. Greenhill, turned thirty. She rejoiced the heart of Doremus by consenting to stay home while she was finishing high school, though she talked vigorously of going off to study architecture and “simply make millions, my dear,” by planning and erecting miraculous small homes.

Mrs. Jessup was lavishly (and quite erroneously) certain that her Philip was the spit and image of the Prince of Wales; Philip’s wife, Merilla (the fair daughter of Worcester, Massachusetts), curiously like the Princess Marina; that Mary would by any stranger be taken for Katharine Hepburn; that Sissy was a dryad and David a medieval page; and that Doremus (though she knew him better than she did those changelings, her children) amazingly resembled that naval hero, Winfield Scott Schley, as he looked in 1898.

She was a loyal woman, Emma Jessup, warmly generous, a cordon bleu at making lemon-meringue pie, a parochial Tory, an orthodox Episcopalian, and completely innocent of any humor. Doremus was perpetually tickled by her kind solemnity, and it was to be chalked down to him as a singular act of grace that he refrained from pretending that he had become a working Communist and was thinking of leaving for Moscow immediately.

Doremus looked depressed, looked old, when he lifted himself, as from an invalid’s chair, out of the Chrysler, in his hideous garage of cement and galvanized iron. (But it was a proud two-car garage; besides the four-year-old Chrysler, they had a new Ford convertible coupe, which Doremus hoped to drive some day when Sissy wasn’t using it.)

He cursed competently as, on the cement walk from the garage to the kitchen, he barked his shins on the lawnmower, left there by his hired man, one Oscar Ledue, known always as “Shad,” a large and red-faced, a sulky and surly Irish-Canuck peasant. Shad always did things like leaving lawnmowers about to snap at the shins of decent people. He was entirely incompetent and vicious. He never edged-up the flower beds, he kept his stinking old cap on his head when he brought in logs for the fireplace, he did not scythe the dandelions in the meadow till they had gone to seed, he delighted in failing to tell cook that the peas were now ripe, and he was given to shooting cats, stray dogs, chipmunks, and honey-voiced blackbirds. At least twice a day, Doremus resolved to fire him, but, perhaps he was telling himself the truth when he insisted that it was amusing to try to civilize this prize bull.

Doremus trotted into the kitchen, decided that he did not want some cold chicken and a glass of milk from the ice-box, nor even a wedge of the celebrated cocoanut layer cake made by their cook-general, Mrs. Candy, and mounted to his “study,” on the third, the attic floor.

His house was an ample, white, clapboarded structure of the vintage of 1880, a square bulk with a mansard roof and, in front, a long porch with insignificant square white pillars. Doremus declared that the house was ugly, “but ugly in a nice way.”

His study, up there, was his one perfect refuge from annoyances and bustle. It was the only room in the house that Mrs. Candy (quiet, grimly competent, thoroughly literate, once a Vermont country schoolteacher) was never allowed to clean. It was an endearing mess of novels, copies of the Congressional Record, of the New Yorker, Time, Nation, New Republic, New Masses, and Speculum (cloistral organ of the Medieval Society), treatises on taxation and monetary systems, road maps, volumes on exploration in Abyssinia and the Antarctic, chewed stubs of pencils, a shaky portable typewriter, fishing tackle, rumpled carbon paper, two comfortable old leather chairs, a Windsor chair at his desk, the complete works of Thomas Jefferson, his chief hero, a microscope and a collection of Vermont butterflies, Indian arrowheads, exiguous volumes of Vermont village poetry printed in local newspaper offices, the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, Science and Health, Selections from the Mahabharata, the poetry of Sandburg, Frost, Masters, Jeffers, Ogden Nash, Edgar Guest, Omar Khayyam, and Milton, a shotgun and a .22 repeating rifle, an Isaiah College banner, faded, the complete Oxford Dictionary, five fountain pens of which two would work, a vase from Crete dating from 327 B.C., very ugly, the World Almanac for year before last, with the cover suggesting that it had been chewed by a dog, odd pairs of horn-rimmed spectacles and of rimless eyeglasses, none of which now suited his eyes, a fine, reputedly Tudor oak cabinet from Devonshire, portraits of Ethan Allen and Thaddeus Stevens, rubber wading-boots, senile red morocco slippers, a poster issued by the Vermont Mercury at Woodstock, on September 2, 1840, announcing a glorious Whig victory, twenty-four boxes of safety matches one by one stolen from the kitchen, assorted yellow scratch pads, seven books on Russia and Bolshevism, extraordinarily pro or extraordinarily con, a signed photograph of Theodore Roosevelt, six cigarette cartons, all half empty (according to the tradition of journalistic eccentrics, Doremus should have smoked a Good Old Pipe, but he detested the slimy ooze of nicotine-soaked spittle), a rag carpet on the floor, a withered sprig of holly with a silver Christmas ribbon, a case of seven unused genuine Sheffield razors, dictionaries in French, German, Italian and Spanish, the first of which languages he really could read, a canary in a Bavarian gilded wicker cage, a worn linen-bound copy of Old Hearthside Songs for Home and Picnic whose selections he was wont to croon, holding the book on his knee, and an old cast-iron Franklin stove. Everything, indeed, that was proper for a hermit and improper for impious domestic hands.

Before switching on the light he squinted through a dormer window at the bulk of mountains cutting the welter of stars. In the center were the last lights of Fort Beulah, far below, and on the left, unseen, the soft meadows, the old farmhouses, the great dairy barns of the Ethan Mowing. It was a kind country, cool and clear as a shaft of light and, he meditated, he loved it more every quiet year of his freedom from city towers and city clamor.

One of the few times when Mrs. Candy, their housekeeper, was permitted to enter his hermit’s cell was to leave there, on the long table, his mail. He picked it up and started to read briskly, standing by the table. (Time to go to bed! Too much chatter and bellyaching, this evening! Good Lord! Past midnight!) He sighed then, and sat in his Windsor chair, leaning his elbows on the table and studiously reading the first letter over again.

It was from Victor Loveland, one of the younger, more international-minded teachers in Doremus’s old school, Isaiah College.

DEAR DR. JESSUP:

(”Hm. ’Dr. Jessup.’ Not me, m’ lad. The only honorary degree I’ll ever get’ll be Master in Veterinary Surgery or Laureate in Embalming.”)

A very dangerous situation has arisen here at Isaiah and those of us who are trying to advocate something like integrity and modernity are seriously worried not, probably, that we need to be long, as we shall probably all get fired. Where two years ago most of our students just laughed at any idea of military drilling, they have gone warlike in a big way, with undergrads drilling with rifles, machine guns, and cute little blueprints of tanks and planes all over the place. Two of them, voluntarily, are going down to Rutland every week to take training in flying, avowedly to get ready for wartime aviation. When I cautiously ask them what the dickens war they are preparing for they just scratch and indicate they don’t care much, so long as they can get a chance to show what virile proud gents they are.

Well, we’ve got used to that. But just this afternoon, the newspapers haven’t got this yet, the Board of Trustees, including Mr. Francis Tasbrough and our president, Dr. Owen Peaseley, met and voted a resolution that, now listen to this, will you, Dr. Jessup, “Any member of the faculty or student body of Isaiah who shall in any way, publicly or privately, in print, writing, or by the spoken word, adversely criticize military training at or by Isaiah College, or in any other institution of learning in the United States, or by the state militias, federal forces, or other officially recognized military organizations in this country, shall be liable to immediate dismissal from this college, and any student who shall, with full and proper proof, bring to the attention of the President or any Trustee of the college such malign criticism by any person whatever connected in any way with the institution shall receive extra credits in his course in military training, such credits to apply to the number of credits necessary for graduation.”

What can we do with such fast exploding Fascism?

VICTOR LOVELAND.

And Loveland, teacher of Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit (two lone students) had never till now meddled in any politics of more recent date than AD. 180.

“So Frank was there at Trustees’ meeting, and didn’t dare tell me,” Doremus sighed. “Encouraging them to become spies. Gestapo. Oh, my dear Frank, this a serious time! You, my good bonehead, for once you said it! President Owen J. Peaseley, the bagged-faced, pious, racketeering, damned hedge-schoolmaster! But what can I do? Oh, write another editorial viewing, with alarm, I suppose!”

He plumped into a deep chair and sat fidgeting, like a bright-eyed, apprehensive little bird.

On the door was a tearing sound, imperious, demanding.

He opened to admit Foolish, the family dog. Foolish was a reliable combination of English setter, Airedale, cocker spaniel, wistful doe, and rearing hyena. He gave one abrupt snort of welcome and nuzzled his brown satin head against Doremus’s knee. His bark awakened the canary, under the absurd old blue sweater that covered its cage, and it automatically caroled that it was noon, summer noon, among the pear trees in the green Harz hills, none of which was true. But the bird’s trilling, the dependable presence of Foolish, comforted Doremus, made military drill and belching politicians seem unimportant, and in security he dropped asleep in the worn brown leather chair.

-4-

All this June week, Doremus was waiting for 2 PM. on Saturday, the divinely appointed hour of the weekly prophetic broadcast by Bishop Paul Peter Prang.

Now, six weeks before the 1936 national conventions, it was probable that neither Franklin Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Senator Vandenberg, Ogden Mills, General Hugh Johnson, Colonel Frank Knox, nor Senator Borah would be nominated for President by either party, and that the Republican standard-bearer, meaning the one man who never has to lug a large, bothersome, and somewhat ridiculous standard, would be that loyal yet strangely honest old-line Senator, Walt Trowbridge, a man with a touch of Lincoln in him, dashes of Will Rogers and George W. Norris, a suspected trace of Jim Farley, but all the rest plain, bulky, pIacidly defiant Walt Trowbridge.

Few men doubted that the Democratic candidate would be that sky-rocket, Senator Berzelius Windrip, that is to say, Windrip as the mask and bellowing voice, with his satanic secretary, Lee Sarason, as the brain behind.

Senator Windrip’s father was a small-town Western druggist, equally ambitious and unsuccessful, and had named him Berzelius after the Swedish chemist. Usually he was known as “Buzz.” He had worked his way through a Southern Baptist college, of approximately the same academic standing as a Jersey City business college, and through a Chicago law school, and settled down to practice in his native state and to enliven local politics. He was a tireless traveler, a boisterous and humorous speaker, an inspired guesser at what political doctrines the people would like, a warm handshaker, and willing to lend money. He drank Coca-Cola with the Methodists, beer with the Lutherans, California white wine with the Jewish village merchants, and, when they were safe from observation, white-mule corn whisky with all of them.

Within twenty years he was as absolute a ruler of his state as ever a sultan was of Turkey.

He was never governor; he had shrewdly seen that his reputation for research among planters, punch recipes, varieties of poker, and the psychology of girl stenographers might cause his defeat by the church people, so he had contented himself with coaxing to the gubernatorial shearing a trained baa-lamb of a country schoolmaster whom he had gayly led on a wide blue ribbon. The state was certain that he had “given it a good administration,” and they knew that it was Buzz Windrip who was responsible, not the Governor.

Windrip caused the building of impressive highroads and of consolidated country schools; he made the state buy tractors and combines and lend them to the farmers at cost. He was certain that some day America would have vast business dealings with the Russians and, though he detested all Slavs, he made the State University put in the first course in the Russian language that had been known in all that part of the West. His most original invention was quadrupling the state militia and rewarding the best soldiers in it with training in agriculture, aviation, and radio and automobile engineering.

The militiamen considered him their general and their god, and when the state attorney general announced that he was going to have Windrip indicted for having grafted $200,000 of tax money, the militia rose to Buzz Windrip’s orders as though they were his private army and, occupying the legislative chambers and all the state offices, and covering the streets leading to the Capitol with machine guns, they herded Buzz’s enemies out of town.

He took the United States Senatorship as though it were his manorial right, and for six years, his only rival as the most bouncing and feverish man in the Senate had been the late Huey Long of Louisiana.

He preached the comforting gospel of so redistributing wealth that every person in the country would have several thousand dollars a year (monthly Buzz changed his prediction as to how many thousand), while all the rich men were nevertheless to be allowed enough to get along, on a maximum of $500,000 a year. So everybody was happy in the prospect of Windrip’s becoming president.

The Reverend Dr. Egerton Schlemil, dean of St. Agnes Cathedral, San Antonio, Texas, stated (once in a sermon, once in the slightly variant mimeographed press handout on the sermon, and seven times in interviews) that Buzz’s coming into power would be “like the Heaven-blest fall of revivifying rain upon a parched and thirsty land.” Dr. Schlemil did not say anything about what happened when the blest rain came and kept falling steadily for four years.

No one, even among the Washington correspondents, seemed to know precisely how much of a part in Senator Windrip’s career was taken by his secretary, Lee Sarason. When Windrip had first seized power in his state, Sarason had been managing editor of the most widely circulated paper in all that part of the country. Sarason’s genesis was and remained a mystery.

It was said that he had been born in Georgia, in Minnesota, on the East Side of New York, in Syria; that he was pure Yankee, Jewish, Charleston Huguenot. It was known that he had been a singularly reckless lieutenant of machine-gunners as a youngster during the Great War, and that he had stayed over, ambling about Europe, for three or four years; that he had worked on the Paris edition of the New York Herald; nibbled at painting and at Black Magic in Florence and Munich; had a few sociological months at the London School of Economics; associated with decidedly curious people in arty Berlin night restaurants. Returned home, Sarason had become decidedly the “hard-boiled reporter” of the shirt-sleeved tradition, who asserted that he would rather be called a prostitute than anything so sissified as “journalist.” But it was suspected that nevertheless he still retained the ability to read.

He had been variously a Socialist and an anarchist. Even in 1936 there were rich people who asserted that Sarason was “too radical,” but actually he had lost his trust (if any) in the masses during the hoggish nationalism after the war; and he believed now only in resolute control by a small oligarchy. In this he was a Hitler, a Mussolini.

Sarason was lanky and drooping, with thin flaxen hair, and thick lips in a bony face. His eyes were sparks at the bottoms of two dark wells. In his long hands there was bloodless strength. He used to surprise persons who were about to shake hands with him by suddenly bending their fingers back till they almost broke. Most people didn’t much like it. As a newspaperman he was an expert of the highest grade. He could smell out a husband murder, the grafting of a politician, that is to say, of a politician belonging to a gang opposed by his paper, the torture of animals or children, and this last sort of story he liked to write himself, rather than hand it to a reporter, and when he did write it, you saw the moldy cellar, heard the whip, felt the slimy blood.

Compared with Lee Sarason as a newspaperman, little Doremus Jessup of Fort Beulah was like a village parson compared with the twenty-thousand-dollar minister of a twenty-story New York institutional tabernacle with radio affiliations.

Senator Windrip had made Sarason, officially, his secretary, but he was known to be much more, bodyguard, ghost-writer, press-agent, economic adviser; and in Washington, Lee Sarason became the man most consulted and least liked by newspaper correspondents in the whole Senate Office Building.

Windrip was a young forty-eight in 1936; Sarason an aged and sagging-cheeked forty-one.

Though he probably based it on notes dictated by Windrip, himself no fool in the matter of fictional imagination, Sarason had certainly done the actual writing of Windrip’s lone book, the Bible of his followers, part biography, part economic program, and part plain exhibitionistic boasting, called Zero Hour, Over the Top.

It was a salty book and contained more suggestions for remolding the world than the three volumes of Karl Marx and all the novels of H. G. Wells put together.

Perhaps the most familiar, most quoted paragraph of Zero Hour, beloved by the provincial press because of its simple earthiness (as written by an initiate in Rosicrucian lore, named Sarason) was:

“When I was a little shaver back in the corn fields, we kids used to just wear one-strap suspenders on our pants, and we called them the Galluses on our Britches, but they held them up and saved our modesty just as much as if we had put on a high-toned Limey accent and talked about Braces and Trousers. That’s how the whole world of what they call ‘scientific economics’ is like. The Marxians think that by writing of Galluses as Braces, they’ve got something that knocks the stuffings out of the old-fashioned ideas of Washington and Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Well and all, I sure believe in using every new economic discovery, like they have been worked out in the so-called Fascist countries, like Italy and Germany and Hungary and Poland-yes, by thunder, and even in Japan, we probably will have to lick those Little Yellow Men some day, to keep them from pinching our vested and rightful interests in China, but don’t let that keep us from grabbing off any smart ideas that those cute little beggars have worked out!

I want to stand up on my hind legs and not just admit but frankly holler right out that we’ve got to change our system a lot, maybe even change the whole Constitution (but change it legally, and not by violence) to bring it up from the horseback-and-corduroy-road epoch to the automobile-and-cement-highway period of today. The Executive has got to have a freer hand and be able to move quick in an emergency, and not be tied down by a lot of dumb shyster-lawyer congressmen taking months to shoot off their mouths in debates. BUT, and it’s a But as big as Deacon Checkerboard’s hay-barn back home, these new economic changes are only a means to an End, and that End is and must be, fundamentally, the same principles of Liberty, Equality, and Justice that were advocated by the Founding Fathers of this great land back in 1776!”

The most confusing thing about the whole campaign of 1936 was the relationship of the two leading parties. Old Guard Republicans complained that their proud party was begging for office, hat in hand; veteran Democrats that their traditional Covered Wagons were jammed with college professors, city slickers, and yachtsmen.

The rival to Senator Windrip in public reverence was a political titan who seemed to have no itch for office, the Reverend Paul Peter Prang, of Persepolis, Indiana, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, a man perhaps ten years older than Windrip. His weekly radio address, at 2 PM. every Saturday, was to millions the very oracle of God. So supernatural was this voice from the air that for it men delayed their golf, and women even postponed their Saturday afternoon contract bridge.

It was Father Charles Coughlin, of Detroit, who had first thought out the device of freeing himself from any censorship of his political sermons on the Mount by “buying his own time on the air”, it being only in the twentieth century that mankind has been able to buy Time as it buys soap and gasoline. This invention was almost equal, in its effect on all American life and thought, to Henry Ford’s early conception of selling cars cheap to millions of people, instead of selling a few as luxuries.

But to the pioneer Father Coughlin, Bishop Paul Peter Prang was as the Ford V-8 to the Model A.

Prang was more sentimental than Coughlin; he shouted more; he agonized more; he reviled more enemies by name, and rather scandalously; he told more funny stories, and ever so many more tragic stories about the repentant deathbeds of bankers, atheists, and Communists. His voice was more nasally native, and he was pure Middle West, with a New England Protestant Scotch English ancestry, where Coughlin was always a little suspect, in the Sears-Roebuck regions, as a Roman Catholic with an agreeable Irish accent.

No man in history has ever had such an audience as Bishop Prang, nor so much apparent power. When he demanded that his auditors telegraph their congressmen to vote on a bill as he, Prang, ex cathedra and alone, without any college of cardinals, had been inspired to believe they ought to vote, then fifty thousand people would telephone, or drive through back-hill mud, to the nearest telegraph office and in His name give their commands to the government. Thus, by the magic of electricity, Prang made the position of any king in history look a little absurd and tinseled.

To millions of League members he sent mimeographed letters with facsimile signature, and with the salutation so craftily typed in that they rejoiced in a personal greeting from the Founder.

Doremus Jessup, up in the provincial hills, could never quite figure out just what political gospel it was that Bishop Prang thundered from his Sinai which, with its microphone and typed revelations timed to the split-second, was so much more snappy and efficient than the original Sinai. In detail, he preached nationalization of the banks, mines, waterpower, and transportation; limitation of incomes; increased wages, strengthening of the labor unions, more fluid distribution of consumer goods. But everybody was nibbling at those noble doctrines now, from Virginia Senators to Minnesota Farmer-Laborites, with no one being so credulous as to expect any of them to be carried out.

There was a theory around some place that Prang was only the humble voice of his vast organization, “The League of Forgotten Men.” It was universally believed to have (though no firm of chartered accountants had yet examined its rolls) twenty-seven million members, along with proper assortments of national officers and state officers, and town officers and hordes of committees with stately names like “National Committee on the Compilation of Statistics on Unemployment and Normal Employability in the Soy-Bean Industry.” Hither and yon, Bishop Prang, not as the still small voice of God but in lofty person, addressed audiences of twenty thousand persons at a time, in the larger cities all over the country, speaking in huge halls meant for prize-fighting, in cinema palaces, in armories, in baseball parks, in circus tents, while after the meetings his brisk assistants accepted membership applications and dues for the League of Forgotten Men. When his timid detractors hinted that this was all very romantic, very jolly and picturesque, but not particularly dignified, and Bishop Prang answered, “My Master delighted to speak in whatever vulgar assembly would listen to Him,” no one dared answer him, “But you aren’t your Master, not yet.”

With all the flourish of the League and its mass meetings, there had never been a pretense that any tenet of the League, any pressure on Congress and the President to pass any particular bill, originated with anybody save Prang himself, with no collaboration from the committees or officers of the League. All that the Prang who so often crooned about the Humility and Modesty of the Saviour wanted was for one hundred and thirty million people to obey him, their Priest-King, implicitly in everything concerning their private morals, their public asseverations, how they might earn their livings, and what relationships they might have to other wage-earners.

“And that,” Doremus Jessup grumbled, relishing the shocked piety of his wife Emma, “makes Brother Prang a worse tyrant than Caligula, a worse Fascist than Napoleon. Mind you, I don’t really believe all these rumors about Prang’s grafting on membership dues and the sale of pamphlets and donations to pay for the radio. It’s much worse than that. I’m afraid he’s an honest fanatic! That’s why he’s such a real Fascist menace, he’s so confoundedly humanitarian, in fact so Noble, that a majority of people are willing to let him boss everything, and with a country this size, that’s quite a job-quite a job, my beloved-even for a Methodist Bishop who gets enough gifts so that he can actually ‘buy Time’!”

All the while, Walt Trowbridge, possible Republican candidate for President, suffering from the deficiency of being honest and disinclined to promise that he could work miracles, was insisting that we live in the United States of America and not on a golden highway to Utopia.

There was nothing exhilarating in such realism, so all this rainy week in June, with the apple blossoms and the lilacs fading, Doremus Jessup was awaiting the next encyclical of Pope Paul Peter Prang.

-5-

To follow in part 2

My family has a Nazi past. I see that ideology returning across Europe – Geraldine Schwarz.

In Germany and elsewhere, younger generations are becoming indifferent to the history of fascism. This is how the far right thrives, “Empathy is a weakness”.

It is no coincidence that these are countries where patterns of extremism we’d thought long gone have returned.

In Aistersheim, a Village in north-west Austria, a pale yellow castle towers over a frozen lake, as if out of a fairy tale. It looks like it might be awaiting royal guests. But the sign at the entrance reads: “Congress of the defenders of Europe.” I had signed up under a false name, because only the “well-wishing” press was allowed to attend this gathering in March of far-right activists, mostly from Germany and Austria.

Under the ribbed vaults of a large hall, I join an audience of 300. The first speaker is the deputy mayor of Graz, Mario Eustacchio, from Austria’s far-right Freedom party. He lashes out against what he calls modern obsessions with “human rights”, which he says have produced a “catastrophic situation in Europe”.

Next is Andre Poggenburg, the regional head of the German far-right Alternative fiir Deutschland party in Saxony Anhalt. He calls for Grexit, Germany’s departure from the EU. He wants a “fortress Europe” that will ally with Putin’s Russia, a regime clearly admired in these circles. A blonde woman wearing a satin dress stands up to sing German and Russian patriotic songs. Another AfD member follows. He uses the word Mitteldeutschland (central Germany) in reference to former East Germany as if more German territories lie beyond the Oder-Neisse line which has marked the border with Poland since the second world war.

After that, an Austrian publisher complains about “censorship” of the word Neger (negro).

Later, there are speeches by self-styled “alternative media” representatives, who explain that infiltrating social networks helps “influence public opinion”, for example by posting insults on Angela Merkel’s Facebook page. And to top it all off, a youthful, elected politician from Italy’s South Tyrol calls, hand on chest, for his region to be annexed by Austria.

Stepping out for some fresh air, I stroll around some stalls showcasing various publications, including those of Les Identitaires, a racist French group calling for a “white Europe”. Other books carry titles such as Race, Evolution and Behaviour, or The Young Hitler, A Corrected Biography. I pick up a copy of The Brainwashing of Germans and its Lasting Consequences. It is the opposite of the message I wrote in a book (Les Amnésiques) about Germany’s postwar transformation and its efforts to deal with its Nazi past, through the story of my own family.

I am the granddaughter of a German member of the Nazi party and of a French gendarme who served under the Vichy regime, which collaborated with the Nazis. My German grandfather was not an ideological National Socialist, he joined out of opportunism and for convenience. He took advantage of Nazi “Aryanisation” policies to buy a Jewish family business at a low price. My grandmother was not a card carrying Nazi, but was fascinated by the Führer. Between them, they were typical of the Mitlaüfer (followers): those masses of people who, through blinkered vision and small acts of cowardice, helped create the conditions for the Third Reich to perpetrate its crimes.

After 1945, Germany’s trickiest task was not setting up new institutions or prosecuting highproflle criminals, it was transforming the mindset of an entire population whose moral standing had been reversed by Nazism in ways that made crime appear not only legal but heroic. My grandparents never acknowledged their responsibilities as Mitlaüfer. But their son, my father, became part of a generation that confronted its parents and forced Germans to ask themselves: What did I do? What could I have done? How do I act now?

One of the greatest achievements of the memorial work Germany has undertaken since the 1960s has been to infuse many of its citizens with a historical conscience and a sense of duty towards democracy, as well as a critical attitude towards populism and extremism both left and right. In France, the taboo long attached to how people behaved under Vichy made such teachings more difficult. In Italy, Austria and eastern Europe, efforts to reckon with their past as allies of the Nazis were even weaker.

It is no coincidence that these are countries where patterns of extremism we’d thought long gone have returned.

But now, Germany in turn is affected. Last September, 12,6% of voters cast a ballot for the MD, allowing a far-right party to secure a strong position in parliament for the first time since the second world war. The arrival of more than a million refugees seems to have broken down the safeguards. In former East Germany where no true reckoning of the past was possible under communism because state propaganda held West Germans solely responsible for Nazism the AfD’s popularity was twice as high as in western parts of the country.

What worries me most is that younger generations in Germany and elsewhere feel less and less concerned with the history of fascism, and hence risk becoming indifferent to the new threats. That’s precisely what the MD strives for when it says it wants a “ISO-degree turn” from the tradition of atoning for Nazism, and suggests the Holocaust memorial in Berlin should be closed down, and Wehrmacht soldiers rehabilitated. It’s also what the Austrian FPO has in mind when its MPs refuse to applaud a speech commemorating the 1938 Kristallnacht massacre.

Today’s far-right parties want to downplay Nazi crimes as a first step towards reawakening ideas from that era: the notion that a hierarchy can be drawn among humans according to their race or their religion, the acceptance of violence and hatred, mendacious propaganda and devotion to a strong leader.

“Empathy is a weakness” was the motto of the SS.

We have to give young people a knowledge of the past, and a pride in belonging to a continent where two totalitarian systems were ultimately defeated. Democracy in Europe was built through blood, sweat and tears the dignity of citizens was eventually restored. Now is the time to remember.

*

Geraldine Schwarz is a Berlin based German/French journalist and author of Les Amnesiques

The Left’s Long History of Militant Resistance to Fascism  – Sarah Jaffe.

Riots between anti-Fascists and Blackshirts (British Fascists) when Oswald Mosley’s supporters were gathering in Great Mint Street for a march through the East End of London in what is now called the Battle of Cable Street. In this image, anti-Fascists are pushed back by police on October 4, 1936.

A conversation with historian Mark Bray about the origins of modern anti-fascist movements.

Antifa is an abbreviation for anti-fascist or anti-fascism. Anti-fascism is a movement that goes back a hundred years. But when we talk about antifa today, we are talking about modern militant anti-fascism, which predominantly grew out of movements in Great Britain and Germany in the 1970s and 1980s.

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These were movements of leftist immigrants, punks and all sorts of people who were targeted by a neo-Nazi backlash, a xenophobic wave that spread over these countries and others. It is essentially a pan-socialist radical politic of collective self-defense against the far right.

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Going back to the beginning, we can certainly look to the Arditi del Popolo, The People’s Daring Ones, which was an anti-fascist militia formed by various different kinds of leftists in Italy in 1921 to fight back against Mussolini’s Blackshirts. These were anarchists, socialists and communists who took up rifles and defended small villages and towns from fascist attack. It was too late by the time they were formed, because much of the left movement had already been destroyed by that point. Then, the Socialist Party and then the Communist Party pulled out of it. So, it ended up being mostly anarchists and rank-and-file leftists. It wasn’t up to the task of stopping Mussolini.

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In the 1920s and 1930s, there were several different left formations in Germany. The Red Front Fighters’ League is one of the more important ones. The Iron Front, formed by the socialists, and Anti-Fascist Action, formed by the communists, were more oriented towards electoral work than anti-fascist confrontation, though the popular impression of them was that they were a paramilitary formation. There was a wave of conflict between Nazis and left forces across the spectrum in Germany in the 1920s and into the 1930s. Many were killed on all sides of this.

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But the Socialist and Communist Party leadership didn’t really take Hitler especially seriously, or at least not as seriously as they wish they had in retrospect. This is evident in the Communist Party slogan “First Hitler, Then Us,” whereby they believed that Hitler would get into power, do such a poor job that he would be out quickly, and then they would take over government. Of course, that never happened.

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The first moment of conflict when the European Left realized that they were facing an existential threat in the fascist menace was 1934 in Vienna, when socialists rose up against the right-wing government. From that point onward, the anti-fascist struggle in Europe was seen as not just street fighting, but a war for survival for the Left.

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That fed into the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939. The International Brigades are perhaps the most iconic anti-fascist image in history. The Spanish Republic did fall. Then, you have World War II. In the book, I focus on anti-fascism when fascist regimes are not already in power. There is plenty to be said about Italian and Yugoslav partisans and all sorts of resistance in France and the Netherlands throughout World War II. Certainly, there was armed resistance to Franco in Spain.

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But as far as a militant antifa model in the post-war period, maybe the prototypical example was the 43 Group in London, that organized commando units to shut down fascist speakers and meetings on street corners around London in the 1940s. Perhaps the next biggest moment is the Battle of Lewisham in 1977, when the National Front organized an anti-mugging march in an immigrant neighborhood. All sorts of immigrant groups, left groups and feminist groups showed up to block their path and successfully shut it down, preventing the National Front from intimidating the community. Some of the participants of that action likened it to the earlier Battle of Cable Street.

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Other examples include the Battle of Waterloo in 1992, when Anti-Fascist Action in Britain confronted some skinhead groups and essentially had a battle in a train station. Then, you can also look at the blockades of different white supremacist marches.

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continued at In These Times.com

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The Choice – What You Put in Your Mind – Dr Edith Eger. 

At the end of the meal, my father circles the table, kissing each of us on the head. He’s crying. Why is this night different from all other nights? Before dawn breaks, we’ll know.

*

They come in the dark. They pound on the door, they yell. Does my father let them in, or do they force their way into our apartment? Are they German soldiers, or nyilas? I can’t make sense out of the noises that startle me from sleep.

*

How will I know when it’s time to be really afraid?

*

I want her to drop the dishes, the survival tools, and come back to the bedroom to help me dress. Or at least I want her to call to me. To tell me what to wear. To tell me not to worry. To tell me all is well

*

I picture Eric and his family also dressing and scrambling in the dark. I can feel him thinking of me. A current of energy shoots down from my ears to my toes. I close my eyes and cup my elbows with my hands, allowing the afterglow of that flash of love and hope to keep me warm.

*

The soldier shoves her out of his way. He holds a gun. What other proof of his dominance does he need? This is when I start to see that it can always be so much worse. That every moment harbors a potential for violence. We never know when or how we will break. Doing what you’re told might not save you.

*

“Go ahead,” he says, “take a last look. Feast your eyes.”

I’m caught between the urge to protect my parents and the sorrow that they can no longer protect me. Eric, I pray, wherever we are going, help me find you. Don’t forget our future. Don’t forget our love. Magda doesn’t say a word as we sit side by side on the bare board seats. In my catalog of regrets, this one shines bright: that I didn’t reach for my sister’s hand.

*

I don’t find my grandparents. I don’t find Eric. And then one afternoon when the water carts arrive and the crowds rush to scoop a little pail of it, he spies me sitting alone, guarding my family’s coats. He kisses my forehead, my cheeks, my lips. I touch the suede belt of my silk dress, praising it for its good luck.

*

The places that do exist, that await our coming trains, are beyond imagining.

*

Just before the truck pulls away, I hear my name. It’s Eric. He’s calling through the slats of the truck. I shove my way toward his voice. “I’m here!” I call as the engine starts. The slats are too narrow for me to see him or touch him. “I’ll never forget your eyes,” he says. “I’ll never forget your hands.”

*

If I survive today, then I can show him my eyes, I can show him my hands. I breathe to the rhythm of this chant. If I survive today … If I survive today, tomorrow I’ll be free.

There is one loaf of bread for eight people to share. One bucket of water. One bucket for our bodily waste. It smells of sweat and excrement. People die on the way. We all sleep upright, leaning against our family members, shouldering aside the dead.

*

My mother doesn’t say much. But she doesn’t moan either. She doesn’t wish to be dead. She simply goes inside herself. “Dicuka,” she says into the dark one night, “listen. We don’t know where we’re going. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Just remember, no one can take away from you what you’ve put in your mind.”

*

I see the crowded dark of winter coats amassed on a narrow stretch of dirt. I see the flash of white in someone’s scarf or cloth bundle of belongings, the yellow of the mandatory stars. I see the sign: arbeit macht frei. Music plays. My father is suddenly cheerful. “You see,” he says, “it can’t be a terrible place.” He looks as though he would dance if the platform weren’t so crowded. “We’ll only work a little, till the war’s over.”

*

We inch forward. We approach the man who with a conductor’s wave of a finger will deliver us to our fates. I do not yet know that this man is Dr. Josef Mengele, the infamous Angel of Death.

*

It’s our turn now. Dr. Mengele conducts. He points my mother to the left. I start to follow her. He grabs my shoulder. “You’re going to see your mother very soon,” he says. “She’s just going to take a shower.” He pushes Magda and me to the right.

*

Fear circulates among us, but curiosity too.

“When will I see my mother?” I ask her. “I was told I’d see her soon.” She gives me a cold, sharp stare. There is no empathy in her eyes. There is nothing but rage. She points to the smoke rising up from one of the chimneys in the distance. “Your mother is burning in there,” she says. “You better start talking about her in the past tense.”

***

The Choice

by Dr Edith Eger.

get it at Amazon.com

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The 1930s were humanity’s darkest, bloodiest hour. Are you paying attention? – Jonathan Freedland. 

Even to mention the 1930s is to evoke the period when human civilisation entered its darkest, bloodiest chapter. No case needs to be argued; just to name the decade is enough. It is a byword for mass poverty, violent extremism and the gathering storm of world war. “The 1930s” is not so much a label for a period of time than it is rhetorical shorthand – a two-word warning from history.

Witness the impact of an otherwise boilerplate broadcast by the Prince of Wales last December that made headlines. “Prince Charles warns of return to the ‘dark days of the 1930s’ in Thought for the Day message.” Or consider the reflex response to reports that Donald Trump was to maintain his own private security force even once he had reached the White House. The Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman’s tweet was typical: “That 1930s show returns.”

Because that decade was scarred by multiple evils, the phrase can be used to conjure up serial spectres. It has an international meaning, with a vocabulary that centres on Hitler and Nazism and the failure to resist them: from brownshirts and Goebbels to appeasement, Munich and Chamberlain. And it has a domestic meaning, with a lexicon and imagery that refers to the Great Depression: the dust bowl, soup kitchens, the dole queue and Jarrow. It was this second association that gave such power to a statement from the usually dry Office for Budget Responsibility, following then-chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement in 2014. The OBR warned that public spending would be at its lowest level since the 1930s; the political damage was enormous and instant.

In recent months, the 1930s have been invoked more than ever, not to describe some faraway menace but to warn of shifts under way in both Europe and the United States. The surge of populist, nationalist movements in Europe, and their apparent counterpart in the US, has stirred unhappy memories and has, perhaps inevitably, had commentators and others reaching for the historical yardstick to see if today measures up to 80 years ago.

Why is it the 1930s to which we return, again and again? For some sceptics, the answer is obvious: it’s the only history anybody knows. According to this jaundiced view of the British school curriculum, Hitler and Nazis long ago displaced Tudors and Stuarts as the core, compulsory subjects of the past. When we fumble in the dark for a historical precedent, our hands keep reaching for the 30s because they at least come with a little light.

The more generous explanation centres on the fact that that period, taken together with the first half of the 1940s, represents a kind of nadir in human affairs. The Depression was, as Larry Elliott wrote last week, “the biggest setback to the global economy since the dawn of the modern industrial age”, leaving 34 million Americans with no income. The hyperinflation experienced in Germany – when a thief would steal a laundry-basket full of cash, chucking away the money in order to keep the more valuable basket – is the stuff of legend. And the Depression paved the way for history’s bloodiest conflict, the second world war which left, by some estimates, a mind-numbing 60 million people dead. At its centre was the Holocaust, the industrialised slaughter of 6 million Jews by the Nazis: an attempt at the annihilation of an entire people.

In these multiple ways, then, the 1930s function as a historical rock bottom, a demonstration of how low humanity can descend. The decade’s illustrative power as a moral ultimate accounts for why it is deployed so fervently and so often.

Less abstractly, if we keep returning to that period, it’s partly because it can justifiably claim to be the foundation stone of our modern world. The international and economic architecture that still stands today – even if it currently looks shaky and threatened – was built in reaction to the havoc wreaked in the 30s and immediately afterwards. The United Nations, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, Bretton Woods: these were all born of a resolve not to repeat the mistakes of the 30s, whether those mistakes be rampant nationalism or beggar-my-neighbour protectionism. The world of 2017 is shaped by the trauma of the 1930s.

The international and economic architecture that still stands today was built in reaction to the havoc of the 1930s

One telling, human illustration came in recent global polling for the Journal of Democracy, which showed an alarming decline in the number of people who believed it was “essential” to live in a democracy. From Sweden to the US, from Britain to Australia, only one in four of those born in the 1980s regarded democracy as essential. Among those born in the 1930s, the figure was at or above 75%. Put another way, those who were born into the hurricane have no desire to feel its wrath again.

Most of these dynamics are long established, but now there is another element at work. As the 30s move from living memory into history, as the hurricane moves further away, so what had once seemed solid and fixed – specifically, the view that that was an era of great suffering and pain, whose enduring value is as an eternal warning – becomes contested, even upended.

Witness the remarks of Steve Bannon, chief strategist in Donald Trump’s White House and the former chairman of the far-right Breitbart website. In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Bannon promised that the Trump era would be “as exciting as the 1930s”. (In the same interview, he said “Darkness is good” – citing Satan, Darth Vader and Dick Cheney as examples.)

“Exciting” is not how the 1930s are usually remembered, but Bannon did not choose his words by accident. He is widely credited with the authorship of Trump’s inaugural address, which twice used the slogan “America first”. That phrase has long been off-limits in US discourse, because it was the name of the movement – packed with nativists and antisemites, and personified by the celebrity aviator Charles Lindbergh – that sought to keep the US out of the war against Nazi Germany and to make an accommodation with Hitler. Bannon, who considers himself a student of history, will be fully aware of that 1930s association – but embraced it anyway.

That makes him an outlier in the US, but one with powerful allies beyond America’s shores. Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale and the author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, notes that European nationalists are also keen to overturn the previously consensual view of the 30s as a period of shame, never to be repeated. Snyder mentions Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, who avowedly seeks the creation of an “illiberal” state, and who, says Snyder, “looks fondly on that period as one of healthy national consciousness”.

The more arresting example is, perhaps inevitably, Vladimir Putin. Snyder notes Putin’s energetic rehabilitation of Ivan Ilyin, a philosopher of Russian fascism influential eight decades ago. Putin has exhumed Ilyin both metaphorically and literally, digging up and moving his remains from Switzerland to Russia.

Among other things, Ilyin wrote that individuality was evil; that the “variety of human beings” represented a failure of God to complete creation; that what mattered was not individual people but the “living totality” of the nation; that Hitler and Mussolini were exemplary leaders who were saving Europe by dissolving democracy; and that fascist holy Russia ought to be governed by a “national dictator”. Ilyin spent the 30s exiled from the Soviet Union, but Putin has brought him back, quoting him in his speeches and laying flowers on his grave.

European nationalists are keen to overturn the view of the 1930s as a period of shame, never to be repeated.

Still, Putin, Orbán and Bannon apart, when most people compare the current situation to that of the 1930s, they don’t mean it as a compliment. And the parallel has felt irresistible, so that when Trump first imposed his travel ban, for example, the instant comparison was with the door being closed to refugees from Nazi Germany in the 30s. (Theresa May was on the receiving end of the same comparison when she quietly closed off the Dubs route to child refugees from Syria.)

When Trump attacked the media as purveyors of “fake news”, the ready parallel was Hitler’s slamming of the newspapers as the Lügenpresse, the lying press (a term used by today’s German far right). When the Daily Mail branded a panel of high court judges “enemies of the people”, for their ruling that parliament needed to be consulted on Brexit, those who were outraged by the phrase turned to their collected works of European history, looking for the chapters on the 1930s.

The Great Depression

So the reflex is well-honed. But is it sound? Does any comparison of today and the 1930s hold up?

The starting point is surely economic, not least because the one thing everyone knows about the 30s – and which is common to both the US and European experiences of that decade – is the Great Depression. The current convulsions can be traced back to the crash of 2008, but the impact of that event and the shock that defined the 30s are not an even match. When discussing our own time, Krugman speaks instead of the Great Recession: a huge and shaping event, but one whose impact – measured, for example, in terms of mass unemployment – is not on the same scale. US joblessness reached 25% in the 1930s; even in the depths of 2009 it never broke the 10% barrier.

The political sphere reveals another mismatch between then and now. The 30s were characterised by ultra-nationalist and fascist movements seizing power in leading nations: Germany, Italy and Spain most obviously. The world is waiting nervously for the result of France’s presidential election in May: victory for Marine Le Pen would be seized on as the clearest proof yet that the spirit of the 30s is resurgent.

There is similar apprehension that Geert Wilders, who speaks of ridding the country of ‘Moroccan scum”, has led the polls ahead of Holland’s general election on Wednesday. And plenty of liberals will be perfectly content for the Christian Democrat Angela Merkel to prevail over her Social Democratic rival, Martin Schulz, just so long as the far-right Alternative Fur Deutschland makes no ground. Still, so far and as things stand, in Europe only Hungary and Poland have governments that seem doctrinally akin to those that flourished in the 30s.

That leaves the US, which dodged the bullet of fascistic rule in the 30s – although at times the success of the America First movement which at its peak could count on more than 800,000 paid-up members, suggested such an outcome was far from impossible. (Hence the intended irony in the title of Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here.)

Donald Trump has certainly had Americans reaching for their history textbooks, fearful that his admiration for strongmen, his contempt for restraints on executive authority, and his demonisation of minorities and foreigners means he marches in step with the demagogues of the 30s.

But even those most anxious about Trump still focus on the form the new presidency could take rather than the one it is already taking. David From, a speechwriter to George W. Bush, wrote a much-noticed essay for the Atlantic titled, “How to build an autocracy”. It was billed as setting out “the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path towards illiberalism”. He was not arguing that Trump had already embarked on that route, just that he could (so long as the media came to heel and the public grew weary and worn down, shrugging in the face of obvious lies and persuaded that greater security was worth the price of lost freedoms).

Similarly, Trump has unloaded rhetorically on the free press – castigating them, Mail-style, as “enemies of the people” – but he has not closed down any newspapers. He meted out the same treatment via Twitter to a court that blocked his travel ban, rounding on the “so-called judge” – but he did eventually succumb to the courts’ verdict and withdrew his original executive order. He did not have the dissenting judges sacked or imprisoned; he has not moved to register or intern every Muslim citizen in the US; he has not suggested they wear identifying symbols.

These are crumbs of comfort; they are not intended to minimise the real danger Trump represents to the fundamental norms that underpin liberal democracy. Rather, the point is that we have not reached the 1930s yet. Those sounding the alarm are suggesting only that we may be travelling in that direction – which is bad enough.

Two further contrasts between now and the 1930s, one from each end of the sociological spectrum, are instructive. First, and particularly relevant to the US, is to ask: who is on the streets? In the 30s, much of the conflict was played out at ground level, with marchers and quasi-military forces duelling for control. The clashes of the Brownshirts with communists and socialists played a crucial part in the rise of the Nazis. (A turning point in the defeat of Oswald Mosley, Britain’s own little Hitler, came with his humbling in London’s East End, at the 1936 battle of Cable Street.)

But those taking to the streets today – so far – have tended to be opponents of the lurch towards extreme nationalism. In the US, anti-Trump movements – styling themselves, in a conscious nod to the 1930s, as “the resistance” – have filled city squares and plazas. The Women’s March led the way on the first day of the Trump presidency; then those protesters and others flocked to airports in huge numbers a week later, to obstruct the refugee ban. Those demonstrations have continued, and they supply an important contrast with 80 years ago. Back then, it was the fascists who were out first – and in force.

Snyder notes another key difference. “In the 1930s, all the stylish people were fascists: the film critics, the poets and so on.” He is speaking chiefly about Germany and Italy, and doubtless exaggerates to make his point, but he is right that today “most cultural figures tend to be against”. There are exceptions – Le Pen has her celebrity admirers, but Snyder speaks accurately when he says that now, in contrast with the 30s, there are “few who see fascism as a creative cultural force”.

Fear and loathing

So much for where the lines between then and now diverge. Where do they run in parallel?

The exercise is made complicated by the fact that ultra-nationalists are, so far, largely out of power where they ruled in the 30s – namely, Europe – and in power in the place where they were shut out in that decade, namely the US. It means that Trump has to be compared either to US movements that were strong but ultimately defeated, such as the America First Committee, or to those US figures who never governed on the national stage.

In that category stands Huey Long, the Louisiana strongman, who ruled that state as a personal fiefdom (and who was widely seen as the inspiration for the White House dictator at the heart of the Lewis novel).

“He was immensely popular,” says Tony Badger, former professor of American history at the University of Cambridge. Long would engage in the personal abuse of his opponents, often deploying colourful language aimed at mocking their physical characteristics. The judges were a frequent Long target, to the extent that he hounded one out of office – with fateful consequences.

Long went over the heads of the hated press, communicating directly with the voters via a medium he could control completely. In Trump’s day, that is Twitter, but for Long it was the establishment of his own newspaper, the Louisiana Progress (later the American Progress) – which Long had delivered via the state’s highway patrol and which he commanded be printed on rough paper, so that, says Badger, “his constituents could use it in the toilet”.

All this was tolerated by Long’s devotees because they lapped up his message of economic populism, captured by the slogan: “Share Our Wealth”. Tellingly, that resonated not with the very poorest – who tended to vote for Roosevelt, just as those earning below $50,000 voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 – but with “the men who had jobs or had just lost them, whose wages had eroded and who felt they had lost out and been left behind”. That description of Badger’s could apply just as well to the demographic that today sees Trump as its champion.

Long never made it to the White House. In 1935, one month after announcing his bid for the presidency, he was assassinated, shot by the son-in-law of the judge Long had sought to remove from the bench. It’s a useful reminder that, no matter how hate-filled and divided we consider US politics now, the 30s were full of their own fear and loathing.

“I welcome their hatred,” Roosevelt would say of his opponents on the right. Nativist xenophobia was intense, even if most immigration had come to a halt with legislation passed in the previous decade. Catholics from eastern Europe were the target of much of that suspicion, while Lindbergh and the America Firsters played on enduring antisemitism.

This, remember, was in the midst of the Great Depression, when one in four US workers was out of a job. And surely this is the crucial distinction between then and now, between the Long phenomenon and Trump. As Badger summarises: “There was a real crisis then, whereas Trump’s is manufactured.”

And yet, scholars of the period are still hearing the insistent beep of their early warning systems. An immediate point of connection is globalisation, which is less novel than we might think. For Snyder, the 30s marked the collapse of the first globalisation, defined as an era in which a nation’s wealth becomes ever more dependent on exports. That pattern had been growing steadily more entrenched since the 1870s (just as the second globalisation took wing in the 1970s). Then, as now, it had spawned a corresponding ideology – a faith in liberal free trade as a global panacea – with, perhaps, the English philosopher Herbert Spencer in the role of the End of History essayist Francis Fukuyama. By the 1930s, and thanks to the Depression, that faith in globalisation’s ability to spread the wealth evenly had shattered. This time around, disillusionment has come a decade or so ahead of schedule.

The second loud alarm is clearly heard in the hostility to those deemed outsiders. Of course, the designated alien changes from generation to generation, but the impulse is the same: to see the family next door not as neighbours but as agents of some heinous worldwide scheme, designed to deprive you of peace, prosperity or what is rightfully yours. In 30s Europe, that was Jews. In 30s America, it was eastern Europeans and Jews. In today’s Europe, it’s Muslims. In America, it’s Muslims and Mexicans (with a nod from the so-called alt-right towards Jews). Then and now, the pattern is the same: an attempt to refashion the pain inflicted by globalisation and its discontents as the wilful act of a hated group of individuals. No need to grasp difficult, abstract questions of economic policy. We just need to banish that lot, over there.

The third warning sign, and it’s a necessary companion of the second, is a growing impatience with the rule of law and with democracy. “In the 1930s, many, perhaps even most, educated people had reached the conclusion that democracy was a spent force,” says Snyder. There were plenty of socialist intellectuals ready to profess their admiration for the efficiency of Soviet industrialisation under Stalin, just as rightwing thinkers were impressed by Hitler’s capacity for state action. In our own time, that generational plunge in the numbers regarding democracy as “essential” suggests a troubling echo.

Today’s European nationalists exhibit a similar impatience, especially with the rule of law: think of the Brexiters’ insistence that nothing can be allowed to impede “the will of the people”. As for Trump, it’s striking how very rarely he mentions democracy, still less praises it. “I alone can fix it” is his doctrine – the creed of the autocrat.

The geopolitical equivalent is a departure from, or even contempt for, the international rules-based system that has held since 1945 – in which trade, borders and the seas are loosely and imperfectly policed by multilateral institutions such as the UN, the EU and the World Trade Organisation. Admittedly, the international system was weaker to start with in the 30s, but it lay in pieces by the decade’s end: both Hitler and Stalin decided that the global rules no longer applied to them, that they could break them with impunity and get on with the business of empire-building.

If there’s a common thread linking 21st-century European nationalists to each other and to Trump, it is a similar, shared contempt for the structures that have bound together, and restrained, the principal world powers since the last war. Naturally, Le Pen and Wilders want to follow the Brexit lead and leave, or else break up, the EU. And, no less naturally, Trump supports them – as well as regarding Nato as “obsolete” and the UN as an encumbrance to US power (even if his subordinates rush to foreign capitals to say the opposite).

For historians of the period, the 1930s are always worthy of study because the decade proves that systems – including democratic republics – which had seemed solid and robust can collapse. That fate is possible, even in advanced, sophisticated societies. The warning never gets old.

But when we contemplate our forebears from eight decades ago, we should recall one crucial advantage we have over them. We have what they lacked. We have the memory of the 1930s. We can learn the period’s lessons and avoid its mistakes. Of course, cheap comparisons coarsen our collective conversation. But having a keen ear tuned to the echoes of a past that brought such horror? That is not just our right. It is surely our duty.

The Guardian

My Family’s Secret Refugee Past – Aram Sinnreich. 

A descendent of Ukrainian refugees and World War II camp liberators sees in his family’s history an answer to rising anti-immigrant sentiment.

I woke up last night, as I have so often in recent months, in a state of panic. My heart was racing and my muscles tensed, as if my body was already braced for violence. My mind was racing, too, not with the remembered snippets of some fleeting nightmare, but rather with the full knowledge of yesterday’s news, and anticipation of today’s and tomorrow’s.

I know I’m not alone. Many friends have reported similar problems, and there is certainly no lack of real-time camaraderie on Facebook and Twitter at any time of night, though it’s always accompanied by fresh provocations, revelations and inducements to rage. Indeed, it seems that the entire nation’s mood — from left to right, from top to bottom — has gotten stuck in permanent fight-or-flight mode, like a laboratory animal with post-traumatic stress disorder. Even several committed pacifists I know have begun to talk openly about investing in personal firearms and to debate the morality of political assassination. While I don’t condone this widespread turn toward violence, I certainly do understand it; what else are we to do with all the fear and anger in our collective bloodstream? If we don’t flee, we have to fight.

For me, the only path through this predicament has been to remind myself, constantly, that there is a third way, an option beyond our baser instincts. Fortunately, I have a powerful example from my own family history to draw upon: If it weren’t for a simple act of mercy shown by a soldier in the midst of war a century ago, I wouldn’t be here to tell the story today.

My grandfather was born in 1914 on the outskirts of Stanislau, Galicia, a town and country that no longer exist (it is the current site of Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine). His family, one of the few Jewish ones in the midst of a devout Catholic community, ran a small grocery store, behind which was a two-room home with no electricity and only a bread oven for heat. In 1913, some locals raided the store, leaving my great-grandparents utterly destitute. My great-grandfather decided to leave for America, where he hoped to make some money, then return and rebuild. He was only supposed to be gone for a few months, but unfortunately, fate intervened: While he was away, World War I erupted, rendering him unable to return to his wife Rifka, who had six young children and yet another (my grandfather) on the way.

By the time my grandfather was an infant, World War I was unfolding on his doorstep. The family dog was felled by a soldier’s pistol; other bullets struck my great-grandmother’s home and narrowly missed killing her in the street. During the day, soldiers would come looking for food and supplies, taking whatever they could, sometimes at gunpoint. Once, a Cossack strode into the house, speared a loaf of bread off the table with his sword, and left with promises to return soon for more, leaving the family alive, though shaken and hungry. At night, Rifka and her seven children slept huddled on the hard-packed dirt floor, worrying that bullets or worse would come through the blacked-out windows and barricaded doors.

Without either goods in the store or money from my great-grandfather (or, indeed, any word from him), my great-grandmother was left to fend for her family in any way she could. Mostly, this meant smuggling. The German soldiers to the west of the line had material goods but little food; the Russians on the other side had food but no cloth to mend their ragged clothes. So Rifka would wrap her entire body with bolts of cloth and yarn, then don her clothes, and walk across the front line from west to east. Once she was there, she would exchange the smuggled textiles for food (mostly potatoes), stow it away, and walk back across the line, where she would sell or exchange it to the German soldiers.

This went on for months. Every day, my great-grandmother was in danger for her life, and not just from the bombs and bullets of warfare. The penalty for smuggling was execution on the spot, so if she was caught even once with her contraband, it would spell the end for her, and most likely, for her children as well.

One night, Rifka did get caught. Some soldiers patrolling the west side of the line captured her as she was returning from the east with her smuggled vegetables. They brought her to their commanding officer, a German lieutenant. My great-grandmother fell to the floor, prostrating herself before the officer and begging for mercy — not for her own sake, but for the children’s, who would be left alone in the middle of a war zone if she were executed. Luckily, the German lieutenant took pity on Rifka and spared her life and, by extension, those of her children.

Not long after this incident, the whole family became refugees, relocating to Romania for two years. Eventually, when the war ended, they returned briefly to what was left of Stanislau, and then all eight of them emigrated to America to rejoin my great-grandfather, sailing from Amsterdam to Philadelphia, and settling in Hartford, Connecticut. My grandfather Simon was six when he met his father for the first time, safely reunited on American soil.

Simon loved America, and never stopped being grateful for the opportunities this country gave him — not only to live, but to thrive. He was accepted to Harvard University (very rare for a Jew at the time, though his older brother had gone there), yet he opted instead to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, and to pursue a career as a U.S. Army officer.

By 1945, my grandfather was a Lieutenant Colonel, stationed in Germany. One day, he and his men liberated a Nazi work camp, filled with corpses and the barely living. The abject brutality of the scene was overwhelming; it was a memory Simon would carry to his grave. Some of the enlisted men captured a German officer, and pushed him up against the wall of a barracks, planning to execute him on the spot for his war crimes. At this point, my grandfather did something extraordinary — something I’m not sure I’d have the strength to do. He intervened, saving the Nazi officer’s life. To him, it was a simple moral calculus: to kill a Nazi summarily, without a fair trial, when he posed no immediate threat, was itself an act of evil, on par with the crimes of the Nazis themselves. To kill them was to become them.

I’ve known this story for decades; my grandfather told it to me when I was a teenager, during the last years of his life. But when I asked my father about it a few days ago, I was shocked to discover he’d never heard it. My grandfather never talked about the war, he says; it was too horrible. I called my aunt for corroboration. No dice. I called my father’s cousin. Same thing. None of them knew about this remarkable act of mercy, either. Apparently, Simon never told anyone else this story, only me.

When I’ve thought about Simon’s act of mercy over the years, I always considered it to be a parable about morality, and about the value of keeping a cool head and an open heart in the face of overwhelming fear and anger. It certainly is that, but it’s also more than that.

I only learned about Rifka’s struggles, her World War I smuggling operation, and her brush with summary execution a few months ago, when I read a memoir by one of her older sons, my great uncle Joe. As soon as I learned this new piece of family history, Simon’s story suddenly clicked into place. It wasn’t merely an act of moral rectitude, or adherence to some abstract higher principles. Simon himself must have been well aware of the act of mercy by which that German officer had saved his own life a generation earlier — and his intervention to save the Nazi’s life can therefore only be understood as a cosmic act of payback. A chance to keep the karmic wheel in spin, to “pay it forward,” in the parlance of our times.

Why did Simon choose to tell me this story, when he apparently kept it secret from his own siblings and children? I can’t be sure, but I think he just wanted it stowed away somewhere in safe keeping, so that it could be told when the time was right. That time, sadly, is now. When the entire world seems to be succumbing to the same kind of insanity that brought us those two World Wars, when the horrors of the Holocaust seem increasingly likely to be revisited, and augmented, by today’s heirs apparents to the Nazi legacy. When a sociopathic charlatan like Donald Trump can plunge our democracy — our sanctuary — into chaos in a matter of days.

I’m angry as hell. I cry every day now, and not because I’m a fragile “snowflake,” but because I can barely contain the murderous rage that seethes through every vein in my body when I see the desecration of Simon’s memory and the scale of cruelty and injustice being perpetrated on the vulnerable of the world in my own name. Nearly everyone I know feels the same. I can no longer imagine a path forward for us as a nation, or as a species, that doesn’t involve hideous bloodshed, and the splintering of every peaceful bastion of civil society. I am, sadly, prepared to fight — to kill, to die, to play my assigned role in this farce, because what else can I do?

Yet, I am also committed to doing more than just that. Because of the unlikely mercy of a nameless German officer a century ago, my children and I are free to live, and to love. We owe every second of our lives to that man. And, because my grandfather repaid that karmic debt a generation later, saving the life of his bitterest enemy, who knows how many German children have been born, lived, and loved in the years since then?

So, yes, I’m prepared to fight, to protect the lives of those I love, and even to protect the institutions and abstract principles of the democracy that gave my family a home when we needed one so many years ago. But, if we’re ever going to emerge from the other side of this impending shitstorm with a shred of our humanity intact, it’s not going to be as a result of how many bullets we’ve fired, or had fired at us. It’s going to be because of the times we chose not to fight and kill, the moments we were able to transcend our rage and fear, and to see one another, just for a moment, as the delicate and precious links in the improbable story of the survival of human species that each of us truly represents. If we do ultimately survive this madness, we will do so one small act of mercy at a time.

The Daily Beast

Donald Trump, Putin, Duterte: Dangerous, populist leaders a ‘threat’ to world – NZ Herald. 

Campaigns such as Brexit and the rise of populist leaders including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Rodrigo Duterte have fuelled new levels of hate, intolerance and bigotry.

But the world will pay a heavy price for playing the politics of fear in 2017, a new report has warned.

The election of US President-elect Donald Trump after a “campaign fermenting hatred and intolerance” and the rising influence of political parties in Western Europe that reject universal rights pose a bigger risk to the world than ever before.

The Human Rights Watch 2017 World Reportreleased released today warns the politics of fear has allowed dangerous and popular leaders to flourish at the expense of the very people who elected them.

In the 687 page report’s introduction, HRW executive Director Kenneth Roth warns of “a new generation of authoritarian populists seeks to overturn the concept of human rights protections, treating rights not as an essential check on official power but as an impediment to the majority will.”

NZ Herald

High Hitler: The Fuhrer was an absolute junkie with ruined veins by the time he retreated to the last of his bunkers.

How Nazi drug abuse steered the course of history. The Guardian