It seems to me that I’ve been seeing lots and lots of social media posts which assert that [artist | intellectual] predicted [dystopian future that looks just like one aspect of today’s world] and did it [years ago]. I have to wonder what that’s in aid of. I mean, the second half of the 20th century was all about living with the constant threat of nuclear annihilation or environmental collapse, to say nothing of national existential threats (as the US and the USSR engaged in worldwide political destabilization and regime change) and obvious corporate misandry. The stories of my youth in the 70s and 80s were all dystopian nightmares of one kind or another, each one based on the reductio ad absurdum of some then-current phenomenon.
But come on, there’s nothing new about this. For so long as humans have been telling stories, they’ve been telling stories about how things going on today could go horribly wrong. And to the extent that one may detect a parallel between a work of literature or of social criticism and events taking place years after that work was created, one should get, I dunno, a gold star? Congratulations, you have figured out how to draw parallels! In and of itself, however, that is an uninteresting feat. And as many before me have observed, if you throw enough shit at a wall, some of it is bound to stick. So far as I know, nobody has gotten it all right.
So, I’m not gonna go all fanboi because you’ve managed to find a newspaper article from the 1930s that says some things about Hitler that news articles today are saying about Trump. More interesting are the lessons and calls to action that arise from the parallels we find. Don’t be all, “Man, people in the 40s were writing about the perils of authoritarianism. It’s like nobody has paid attention.” Be more like, “The way to respond to authoritarianism is with resistance. Hold firmly to your moral compass and do what’s right.” The former is just self-congratulatory pity wanking, and I don’t need to know about that part of your life.