Many dystopian novels have acted as warnings for us over the years. Notably, Nineteen Eighty-Four, written in 1949, centers on the consequences of totalitarianism, mass surveillance and mind control.
The latest entry to the genre is The Awakening of Jennifer Van Arsdale: A Political Fable For Our Time, written by George Leef, director of editorial content for the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. While certainly more light-hearted, and in fact entertaining than the typically apocalyptical genre, it certainly gets its ominous message across nevertheless. In fact, while the book is a work of fiction, many passages resemble life as we experience it today.
The book traces Jennifer (Jen) Van Arsdale’s time from her stint as a leftist journalist with The Washington Post to her exit from the mainstream media’s echo chamber. The story takes us in the not-too-distant future and centers around the fact that Jen, an unquestioning progressive, has been selected to write a biography (really a hagiography) of recently termed out Patricia Farnsworth, the first woman elected president of the U.S., and a former California senator.
Farnsworth is an arrogant uber-leftist, who, for example, believes “…socialism would be ideal now, with the government running the enterprises that produce goods and services,” and in fact, accomplished many totalitarian reforms during her reign, and is oh-so-proud of every one of them. Jen is a willing woke acolyte until she undergoes a true “mugged-by-reality” moment and begins to see things as they really are. (No spoiler alert is needed as the title tells us, Jen is awakened and subsequently must face the consequences of her abandonment of totalitarian policies.)
The scary thing about the book, which is written in a very readable, breezy style, is that while many of Farnsworth’s edicts and ways of governing seem almost outlandish at first glance, you quickly realize that her “accomplishments” are policies in the works now or are right around the corner.
To wit, we live in a time where the University of Virginia student newspaper believes that we have too much free speech and that “dangerous rhetoric is not entitled to a platform.” The editors have deemed former Vice-President Mike Pence as a prime example of its policy because he believes in enforcing immigration laws, that biology matters when it comes to gender, and has an issue with the Black Lives Matter agenda.
Also, a school nurse was suspended from Hartford Public Schools after she posted on Facebook that an 11-year-old student at her school was on puberty blockers and that other students were identified as non-binary without their parents being informed. Her comments were labeled “transphobic” after she posted to a local mother’s group when someone asked for school recommendations, saying parents should “investigate the school system curriculum…CT is a very socially liberal, gender confused state.”
The book is quite entertaining and a worthy read for all Americans. But, notably, it would be a perfect present for any parent to give to high school student who is on his way to college, which in most cases these days is nothing more than a leftist indoctrination center. A moral fable, the book will provide welcome dissonance to the woke political and cultural dystopian onslaught that very well may await him.