Lee Roscoe has recently (© 2005) adapted Sinclair Lewis's novel It Can't Happen Here to the stage. This play is a militant agitprop work and is available to people who want to produce it for an audience in a militant perspective to fight against the present erring developments of Bush's presidency and to advocate the necessity to impeach him and his vice-president as the last defense against their systematic attack on the Constitution, hence the American people and the World's population. This enables us to rediscover the plot imagined by Sinclair Lewis in the mid 30s who was afraid of the possibility for a populist candidate to become President of the US and lead the country to some kind of fascist dictatorship. Apparently this fear is being revived in the world, or rather in some countries by the war on terror launched by President Bush and that has brought some fairly frightening developments against basic civil rights: the possibility for the police to know what you borrow or check in and out in public libraries and the restriction under which the librarian is not to tell you about it; the negation of habeas corpus for a whole set of people who have been imprisoned in Guantanamo for years without any basic constitutional or plainly universally recognized rights like the possibility to communicate with the outside world, the right to have a lawyer, the right to be informed about the charges that are leveled at them, the right to be tried in a normal court in due time and following proper procedures, etc (the procedure is so unbelievably wrong that quite a few of these prisoners have been released without any charges after several years of detention amounting to so many years of suffering, social cultural or professional damage, and even psychological torturing, and no damages, compensation or reparation when released); and of course the normal reaction of some American people who believed what they were told and started leveling harsh words at opponents and even at times taking harsh measures against opponents. The text of this play is being circulated on the Internet. The same mindset is developing in other countries, like for instance in France where some consider that the election of Nicolas Sarkozy for instance is leading to the same kind of mechanism that will necessarily lead to a police state if not fascism.
The process imagined by Sinclair Lewis is simple: a populist elected candidate and the defense of the absolute freedom of all markets to liberate the creative energy of capitalism and get us out of all possible crises. This will lead to work camps for unemployed people; the ruin of all independent newspapers and the hunting down of all alternative expression and media as unpatriotic if not anti-patriotic; the ruin of all businesses that do not support the policy of the President; the creation of some kind of militia to keep an eye on everyone; the increase of the powers of this militia that would have authority over all other police forces and even over justice. Of course one of the first triggering elements this President would need is some menace from a foreign country, hence a war against this menacing country, be it true or imagined, and a designated accomplice inside the country defined as anarchist, communist or terrorist. And the old world is then perverted enough for fascism to be born in the very sanctuary of human rights and civil liberties, and then "M and M" becomes Militia Man.
It is interesting to see this revival. It reveals several elements that we must keep in mind if we want to understand what is happening in the world. People are really afraid of the future in this changing world. People are afraid of change because it precisely is change and comfort means no change.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine & University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne