My last quotes from Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here (from chapter 36):

“More and more, as I think about history,” [Doremus] pondered, “I am convinced that everything that is worth while in the world has been accomplished by the free, inquiring, critical spirit, and that the preservation of this spirit is more important than any social system whatsoever.  But the men of ritual and the men of barbarism are capable of shutting up the men of science and of silencing them forever.”

Eventually, there is a revolt against Windrip’s dictatorship, but it does not get very far:

“…there the revolt halted, because in the American which had so warmly praised itself for its ‘widespread popular free education,’ there had been so very little education; widespread, popular, free, or anything else, that most people did not know what they wanted–indeed knew about so few things to want at all.”

IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE VII–Sinclair Lewis on the press and on fascism

Doremus [and so Sinclair Lewis] on the press (from chapter 20):

“All these years he had heard responsible men who weren’t being quite honest–radio announcers who soft-soaped speakers who were fools and wares that were trash, and who canaryishly chirped, ‘Thank you, Major Blister’ when they would rather have kicked Major Blister, preachers who did not believe the decayed doctrines they dealt out, doctors who did not dare tell lady invalids that they were sex-hungry exhibitionists, merchants who peddled brass for gold–heard all of them complacently excuse themselves by explaining that they were too old to change and that they had a ‘wife and family to support.'”

and Doremus [and so, Sinclair Lewis] on the commonality of fascism and communism (from chapter 36):

“He was afraid that the world struggle today was not of Communism against Fascism, but of tolerance against the bigotry that was preached equally by Communism and Fascism.  But he saw tooth in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word ‘Fascism’ and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty.  For they were thieves not only of wages but of honor.”


Doremus’s realization (chapter 19):

“The tyranny of this dictatorship isn’t primarily the fault of Big Business, nor of the demagogues who do their dirty work.  It’s the fault of Doremus Jessup!  Of all the conscientious, respectable, lazy-minded Doremus Jesups who have let the demagogues wriggle in,without fierce enough protest.”



It Can’t Happen Here quote of the day.  From Chapter 19:

“An honest propagandist for any Cause, that is,one who honestly studies and figures out the most effective way of putting over his Message, will learn fairly early that it is not fair to ordinary folks–it just confuses them–to try to make them swallow all the true facts that would be suitable to a higher class of people.  And one seemingly small but almighty important point he learns, if he does much speechifying, is that you can win over folks to your point of view much better in the evening, when they are tired out from work and not so likely to resist you, than at any other time of day.”
Zero Hour, Berzelius Windrip



The Sinclair Lewis It Can’t Happen Here quote of the day:

In chapter 7, at the political convention at which Windrip is nominated to run for president, one of his cohorts reads out a letter purportedly making Windrip’s platform clear:

“…the letter explained that [Windrip] 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 percent for Labor, but 100 percent 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.”

IT Can’t Happen Here III

In Sinclair Lewis’s novel, It Can’t Happen Here, Doremus’s son, Philip, defends Windrip, who is running for president. (see chapter 5):

“‘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 half 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 Stretcher,” sighed Doremus.”

[Later, once Windrip takes over as president and turns the country into a fascist dictatorship, Philip, a lawyer, goes along, making excuses for the dictators, rationalizing away what they do, and so succeeding within that system–even becoming a judge himself.  His only concern about his father is that his father’s opposition will harm his own prospects.]