What great insight Jack London had. Even though the book is in essence nonfiction (for most) it still applies to todays Oligarcs, goverments and whole justice system including ones such as the police, military and more. The electorail system is one which can be rigged even more than the paper ballots, many of which were destroyed.
Some great comments below. While reading this, I constantly had to remind myself this was written in 1908, before the Great Depression and the World Wars. On the other hand, it also shows how primitive wage labor still was, a century after the Industrial Revolution.
Also interesting to note the influence on George Orwell, who emphasized the democratic aspect of Socialism more, and who of course had his own dystopia (Nineteen Eighty-Four).
Imagine, calling a novel ONLY visionary which predates the extraordinary plutocratic legislation passed in 1913? Perhaps Jack London's greatest, and least-known, novel. Want the greatest possible education on capitalism, economics and finance? Read The Iron Heal, at the same time you are reading Prof. Michael Perelman's book, The Invention of Capitalism. You will be most pleased. [And don't stop there, be sure to read Jack London's book, How I Became a Socialist.]
Jack London (adventurer, erstwhile oyster pirate, writer, mild racist, socialist) is best known for his wilderness books, so this prophetic book that imagines a future (but it's really today!) in which animosity between labor and capital is full-blown, is something of an outlier. It's polemical and didactic and reads less as a novel than a political tract influenced by H.G. Wells, among others. His extensive use of footnotes beats D.F. Wallace to the punch by nearly a century. Would be a good double feature with Sinclair Lewis's "It Can't Happen Here."
Brian Wilson, a Vietnam vet who became active in the Central American movement, mentioned in an interview on Democracy Now! that everywhere he went, people asked if he'd read this book. What's surprising is how relevant the writing remains more than 100 years after it was published. The Iron Heel is a secret collective of plutocrats who will stop at nothing to maintain their power. In the turn-of-the-century America described by London, most people live in grinding poverty and work in dangerous factories. The few who could be considered middle-class must side with the rich or be ostracized from society. The newspapers serve the wealthy publishers and print nothing that might upset those in power. The book, portrayed as a manuscript found some 700 years in the future, after socialism finally has triumphed, relates the tale of the revolutionary worker, Ernest Everhard, as seen through the eyes of his wife, Avis. Ernest Everhard's critique of capitalism may offer the clearest explanation of Marxism ever put to paper. Yes, there are moments when the book lapses into hyperbole, but Everhard's incisive insights into the problems created by unfettered capitalism are just as true today as they were in 1908.
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