It has been less than a month since the new president took over the White House, and in that short time, it's as if the plot to your favorite dystopian novel started playing out on the city streets. Every day that a new headline reveals the administration's repeated efforts to censor the media, to restrict, even completely strip, civil liberties based on religion, race, and gender, and to blatantly lie to the American people, these literary quotes that are horrifyingly relevant to 2017 only become more appropriate. Before you know it, we may actually be living out The Handmaid's Tale, and not just by binge-watching it on Hulu.
When Donald Trump was elected president, people across the country recoiled in shock, disgust, anger, and fear. After months of outlandish unpresidential behavior that included such things as mocking a journalist's disability, bragging about sexually assaulting women, and promising a religiously-based Muslim travel ban, many Americans thought there was no way such a hateful, divisive, and unqualified man could rise to the highest seat of power.
November 8 proved them all wrong, and since then things have only gotten darker and more unbelievable.
If you weren't already under the impression we're living in a dystopian reality, these 17 literary quotes that are horrifyingly relevant to 2017 will convince you.
1“The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them. To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”
― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
2“People shouldn't be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”
― Alan Moore, V for Vendetta
3“If you don't want a man unhappy politically, don't give him two sides to a question to worry him; give him one. Better yet, give him none. Let him forget there is such a thing as war. If the government is inefficient, top-heavy, and tax-mad, better it be all those than that people worry over it. Peace, Montag. Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs or the names of state capitals or how much corn Iowa grew last year. Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so damned full of 'facts' they feel stuffed, but absolutely 'brilliant' with information. Then they'll feel they're thinking, they'll get a sense of motion without moving. And they'll be happy, because facts of that sort don't change.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
4"Our president is a Christian? So was Adolf Hitler. What can be said to our young people, now that psychopathic personalities, which is to say persons without consciences, without senses of pity or shame, have taken all the money in the treasuries of our government and corporations and made it all their own?”
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
5“Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class—whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.”
― Frank Herbert, Children of Dune
6“You never get it right, you people, do you? Either we've got Fudge, pretending everything's lovely while people get murdered right under his nose, or we've got you, chucking the wrong people into jail and trying to pretend you've got 'The Chosen One' working for you!”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
7“The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on [...] There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.”
— Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
8"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from the oligarchies of the past in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just around the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”
― George Orwell, 1984
9“I guess that's how they were able to do it, in the way they did it, all at once, without anyone knowing beforehand. If there had still been portable money, it would have been more difficult. It was after the catastrophe, when they shot the president and machine-gunned the Congress and the army declared a state of emergency. They blamed it on the Islamic fanatics at the time. I was stunned. Everyone was, I know that. It was hard to believe, the entire government gone like that. How did they get in, how did it happen?"
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
10“For if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them.”
— Thomas More, Utopia
11“It's to the Capitol's advantage to have us divided among ourselves. Another tool to cause misery in our district. A way to plant hatred between the starving workers and those who can generally count on supper and thereby ensure we will never trust one another.”
— Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
12“It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But a half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor.”
— Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones
13“When you are writing laws you are testing words to find their utmost power. Like spells, they have to make things happen in the real world, and like spells, they only work if people believe in them.”
— Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
14“It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.”
— Joseph Heller, Catch 22
15“Every faction conditions its members to think and act a certain way. And most people do it. For most people, it's not hard to learn, to find a pattern of thought that works and stay that way. But our minds move in a dozen different directions. We can't be confined to one way of thinking, and that terrifies our leaders. It means we can't be controlled. And it means that no matter what they do, we will always cause trouble for them.”
— Veronica Roth, Divergent
16“It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.”
— Franz Kafka, The Trial
17“But liberty, as we all know, cannot flourish in a country that is permanently on a war footing, or even a near-war footing. Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of the central government.”
— Aldous Huxley, Brave New World