Cry Wolf: A Political Fable
By Paul Lake
(Benbella Books, 224 pages, $12.95)
It has been rare in recent years for me to get more than a few pages into a modern novel before abandoning it; rarer still for me to bother finishing it; rarest of all for me to read it in a single sitting. This book, by an American poet and professor of literature (poetry editor of First Things) is in that final and rarest category.
Actually, Cry Wolf is more than a novel, though it has many of the strengths of one. It is a political fable, in the great tradition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. I can only hope that it will be as widely read and will be as powerful an influence as was Orwell’s masterpiece in awakening civilization to its present deadly peril.
I have been watching developments in Britain for some years and it seemed to me much of the book could have been taken from British newspaper-clippings with only the names changed, but obviously this is an American work. It leads one to wonder if the title of Mark Steyn’s brilliant and terrifying America Alone may not actually be over-optimistic.
Like Animal Farm, this is the tale of a farm run by animals. But the story of Cry Wolf begins with a very different situation to that of Orwell’s spiritually corrupt and terror-ruled post-Revolutionary Communist order. This is an American, or at any rate Western, animal farm, Green Pastures, which the animals inherited peacefully when the old human owner died (see Nietzsche). With considerable effort they have established a stable Commonwealth. They are proud that in the early days of running the farm they beat off an attack by a bear, and “No Trespassing” is their watchword (A lost dog has been admitted and has become a useful member of the farm because of his civilized or “tame” heritage).
To keep the farm running has been a difficult achievement and there is some hardship and economic inefficiency, but they have managed. They know that they live far longer and better lives than the wild creatures outside. Although The Wild lurks beyond the farm’s borders, with cougars, foxes, wolves and, worst of all, bears, the farm animals, even defenseless sheep and small birds like ducks and hens, can live in security. The dogs and the large, powerful animals like bulls and stallions guard the borders.
Slowly, and for very good reasons, the rule of keeping out wild animals in modified. As in Animal Farm there is an inevitability about the process and at no single point does it seem reasonable (or, at length, possible) to make a stand against it. A harmless doe is admitted, wounded and desperate after escaping from predators. Then a small raccoon whose hands make him invaluable for picking fruit which would otherwise be lost is allowed to remain after he begs and pleads for a job which will allow him to survive and feed his family.
FROM THERE THINGS become inevitable: more small non-predatory animals from the wild are admitted for very good reasons and form voting blocs in order to, democratically, express their point of view. The traditions, rituals, educational systems, ordinances and spiritual heritage of the farm are progressively modified.
The goose in charge of educating the young is by no means a complete fool. She is subject to uneasiness but cannot think outside the square of established ideas (It is part of the books strength that the characters are rounded, real and credible). Education, she assumes, is a good thing, the question of what is taught not entering into it.
The meek wild creatures who have been admitted on sufferance become less meek. Changes in the education system ensure that there is no melting-pot in which the newcomers might be assimilated and adopt the farm’s values. Laws are interpreted with increasing creativity by far-seeing and progressively-inclined judges. The farm’s mottos and maxims are re-interpreted or abolished. The security and high living standards which the farm animals have achieved are held to be matters of shame and collective guilt and evidence of their tyranny over and exploitation of wild creatures. And the newcomers breed much faster.
The rule of Law which had given the farm security is turned against it. “Rights” are interpreted in a strictly one-way direction, always in favor of the newcomers. Attempts by some of the farm animals to warn against what is happening are first stigmatized as hate-speech and then subjected to criminal punishments as Xenophobia and then Feralphobia.
Foxes and snakes join the smaller and more harmless wild creatures which had been admitted previously and take over buildings for their own where some of the young of the farm-creatures join them. “No-Go” areas spread, where the smaller and the female newcomers themselves live in increasing dread.
THE FIRST MURDER horrifies the farm animals. Then murders multiply as the force of the law is turned against political incorrectness and the use of incorrect words. Words like “prey” come to be used again. The old Green Pastures Farm’s idea of equality for females and an equal voice for large and small animals is repudiated. Finally the wolves and bears come storming back. Prey is prey again. The old bull, who had been complacent in the knowledge of his own strength for so long, girds himself for a last stand…
Immediately after finishing this book I read a quote found by Mark Steyn in the British Church of England Newspaper:
At all levels of national life Islam has gained state funding, protection from any criticism, and the insertion of advisors and experts in government departs national and local. A Muslim Home Office adviser, for example, was responsible for Baroness Scotland’s aborting of the legislation against honour killings, arguing that informal methods would be better. In the police we hear of girls under police protection having the addresses of their safe houses disclosed to their parents by Muslim officers who think they are doing their religious duty.
While men-only gentlemen’s clubs are now being dubbed unlawful, we hear of municipal swimming baths encouraging “Muslim women only” sessions and in Dewsbury Hospitals staff waste time by turning beds to face Mecca five times a day…Islam is being institutionalised, incarnated, into national structures amazingly fast…”
The same day I read that a French judge, in France, had annulled a Muslim marriage on the grounds that the bride had not been a virgin and blood-stained sheets could not be shown to the wedding-guests.
Buy the book.
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