I know a few people who read the books and are big fans of the show
Anyone watching the handmaids tail?
Ok, I’ll put it on my list.
It is of course correct that The Handmaid's Tale (THT) was published in 1985 and therefore could not possibly be about Trump. I did not say that or even mean to imply it. In my previous post I was not specifically referring to any particular administration, but rather an ideological worldview that actually goes back decades. Sorry that I wasn't more clear.
Margaret Atwood, the author of THT, has spoken and written at length about her motivations for much of her writing, THT included. Interestingly, she was living in West Berlin when she began writing the book in 1983. This was when it was still encircled by the Berlin Wall.
In The Handmaid's Tale, Atwood writes in the well-established tradition of using her art form, fictional literature, to advance her ideals of social awareness and change. She used a variety of historical scenarios --- from the Puritans of New England to the religious theocracies of Afghanistan -- to provide the backdrop, possible means and motivations for her story.
For example, she has stated that, all of “the scenarios offered in The Handmaid's Tale have actually occurred in real life,” adding that “I didn't put in anything that we [humans] haven't already done, we're not already doing, we're seriously trying to do, coupled with trends that are already in progress... So all of those things are real, and therefore the amount of pure invention is close to nil" (Gruss, 2004).
Expanding on this notion, Atwood stated in a recent essay that "One of my rules was that I would not put any events into the book that had not already happened in what James Joyce called the 'nightmare' of history, nor any technology not already available."
Atwood has explained that The Handmaid's Tale is a response to those who claim the oppressive, totalitarian, and religious governments that have taken hold in other countries throughout the years "can't happen here"—but in this work, she has tried to show how such a takeover might play out (Rothstein, 1986).
Atwood has speculated that a coup such as the one depicted in THT would misuse religion in order to achieve its own ends, positing the question, “if you wanted to seize power in the US, abolish liberal democracy and set up a dictatorship, how would you go about it?” (Atwood, 2012). Handmaid's Tale is her literary answer to that question.
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Atwood, Margaret (20 January 2012). "Haunted by the Handmaid's Tale". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
Gruss, Susanne (2004). ""People confuse interpersonal relations with legal structures." An Interview with Margaret Atwood". Gender Forum. Archived from the original on 27 April 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
Rothstein, Mervyn (17 February 1986). "No Balm in Gilead for Margaret Atwood". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
Of course anything could happen, but how likely is it really? even in the US? c'mon, there are not that many religious people and the ones who are so die-hard to want that sort of world are really tiny and would really have to go some to get mass support for the level required.
The biggest threat of mass control of the population is socialism. That is the fire the US is now playing with and has a much higher likelihood of coming true that the handmaids tale. Part of any socialist coup is to convince people that they should want it because there is some other bigger threat they face instead and / or that economic principles can be abandoned and stuff can be made free or wealth shared without consequence.
Have you read Oryx & Craik? Another great Atwood dystopia, although I've not read the rest of the Madaddam trilogy as it gave me repeated Armageddon dreams (hadn't long exited). I've just read Hag-Seed which is completely different and reminded me of that other great Canadian author Robertson Davies.
Hi Scotsman, No I have not read Oryx and Crake. I'll have to add it to my wish list on our recommendation!
The totalitarian dystopia part of HM is plausible the puritanical part - eh, not so much.
The complete dumbing down of the general population and a commercialized dystopia on the other hand like in Idiocracy - very plausible.
The totalitarian, dystopia part of HM is plausible -- the puritanical part - eh, not so much.
Writes a former member of a puritanical cult -- one of 8 million people that bought into just such a whacked belief system!
What the ... ???
A while back, I gave a presentation at an International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) conference in Europe. My particular topic was recovery after leaving a cult. The audience consisted mostly of mental health professionals and cultic studies researchers from all over the world, but there were also a few former cult members and family members trying to figure out how to have an intervention on behalf of their loved ones. At any rate, most members weren't too familiar with JWs or their beliefs.
Midway through the presentation, one participant in the workshop asked if I thought JWs were capable of being radicalized (the presentation before mine was about how many, many teenagers in Spain were being recruited by extremist Islamic groups). I responded by saying that at present JWs were instructed to be non-political, however it was (and remains) my opinion that if the JW leadership ever directed their membership to carryout any kind of terrorist attacks that at least 1% of JWs worldwide would be totally and completely committed to doing whatever they were told. Blind, unquestioning obedience is a potentially scary thing - (see “Seven Shepherds, Eight Dukes—What They Mean for Us Today,” Watchtower, November 2013, paragraph 17).
I then continued, explaining that there are about 8 million JWs worldwide. Do the math. That means that about 80,000 individuals could and would be ready to do whatever they were told by WT leaders. Imagine: 80,000 coordinated acts of terrorism and or violence! (You may or many not agree, but the potential is certainly there.)
At this point in the presentation a young man in the audience raised his hand. (He was not the person that asked the initial question that got this part of the discussion going.)
When I called on him, he said boldly, "You're wrong!"
Taken somewhat aback, I said, "Okay. This is just my opinion, but tell me why you say that."
He replied, "I am very well acquainted with the beliefs and actions of Jehovah's Witnesses and I just think you're wrong. It wouldn't be 1% ... it would be much, much higher. Probably 10 - 20% or possibly even more!"
I found out later he had been a Bethelite for several years in Selters, Germany.
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Returning to the OP. I would think that we, as former cult members, would be the first to acknowledge how easily people can be manipulated and controlled into believing and then doing crazy, even horrible, things.
The Handmaid's Tale is clearly fiction. It is one woman's idea of how a dystopian, totalitarian society could possibly reform out of a post-enlightenment democratic one.
Clearly the story is compelling as evidenced by the lasting popularity of the book, the critical acclaim of the recent television adaptation and the fact that we are discussing it here.
Will it happen here? Probably not; I certainly hope not.
Could it happen here? Absolutely.
Therein lies the cautionary aspect of the tale.
Of course anything could happen, but how likely is it really?
The sum of all fears: