A trip to the moon? Done. Next up: sending people to Mars. Flying from Europe to San Francisco in just 45 minutes. People living in clean and safe neighbourhoods. This is 1962, after all. But: people who disagree with conventional wisdom run the risk of “going up in smoke”, and, oh yeah … Adolf Hitler is in charge.
Welcome to the alternate reality or parallel universe created in The Man In The High Castle. From opening the first page of the book, or watching the opening credits of the TV series, one is gripped by horror and shock, with ice-cold shivers running down one’s spine.
What might have been, what could be … we all ask ourselves these types of questions, which is probably why popular fiction featuring parallel universes and time travel holds such a tremendous fascination for us.
This current 2016/2017 television season, for example, boasts more shows than ever about time travel and similar themes. This seems an apt response to people’s longing for, or terror at, all manner of utopia or dystopia these days.
The world of 2017 is no longer the kind of world it was, say, just twelve months ago, let alone three or five years ago. A lot has changed, and with it our beliefs as well as economic, social and political constellations.
A mere year ago, who would have thought it possible to see a U.S. president who would condemn political correctness and speak from the gut? To see the European Union collapsing under its own shortsightedness and Big Brother approach?
Having a book, or TV series, like The Man In The High Castle around can be quite therapeutic, and eye-opening. Too many people have forgotten the lessons of history, and are therefore doomed to repeat them. The horrors of Nazi Germany might as well have taken place five hundred years ago, so it helps to move them up in time a bit, even though 1962 is as foreign and remote to millennials as 1933.
Still, millennials love to download shows online, so chances are they will see the show, at least long enough to get a sense of its terrifying scenario.
But will they be able to connect the dots and draw the proper links to the present day?
While the events of World War II are so distant for millennials, and many others too, that they don’t seem real at all, the term “Nazi” is thrown around quite frequently – most recently, to describe the aforementioned U.S. president.
True enough, said president does exhibit a lot of characteristics typical of a tyrant – he is, at the very least, a narcissist, something even his most fervent supporters cannot possibly deny – but he is still a far cry from Adolf Hitler and similar fascists and National Socialists.
For actual, contemporary signs of fascism and Nazism (i.e., socialism) – the kind that, like in Hitler’s Germany, loves to control what people think and punish those who fail to follow the groupthink – we need look no further than the masked “protesters” who show up with disquieting regularity, or the large number of college and university students today who are “triggered” even by the most innocuous statements made by teachers or fellow students, which literally causes them physical (psychosomatic) harm (because, let us be honest, they are mental basket cases), or the so-called elites in politics and the media who keep preaching to us, telling us what we must think and who, if they had their way, would gladly make dissenters and the disobedient “go up in smoke” (that is, send them off to be gassed).
Whether it be social issues, immigration, “man-made” climate change (a natural and cyclical phenomenon, not man-made), taxes, health care or public transit – on almost every topic nowadays, one will face insults, even physical attacks and death threats if one speaks out of turn and fails to parrot the opinions imposed from high up above – by the Führer, i.e., the (self-anointed) elites.
In so many aspects, actually too many aspects, we already inhabit a world not quite unlike the one depicted in The Man In The High Castle. The horror is not as real (yet), and dissenters are not (yet) sent to death chambers, but we, in Western civilization, what is left of it, have embarked on a direct course towards such a dystopian world – and most people have not even come to this realization yet and keep pointing their accusing fingers mostly at wrong targets and false culprits.