Jack London & The Iron Heel

Glen Ellen, Ca. Jack London State Park.This past weekend, Elizabeth and I stopped by Glen Ellen, California, a lovely small town north of the city of Sonoma, and the location of the Jack London State Historic Park.

Jack London was one of the most prolific and successful writers of the early 1900′s – author of “Call of the Wild”, “White Fang”, “The Sea Wolf”, and other novels and short stories.

By 1913, London and his wife Charmian had acquired 1400 acres of land near Glen Ellen and turned them into a working ranch.  In 1910 construction was begun on a 15,000 square foot lodge, with 26 rooms and 9 fireplaces, called Wolf House, that was to be the Londons’ dream home.   In 1913, just a few days before they were planning to move in, a fire broke out, completely gutting the interior of the home, leaving only the massive masonry walls standing.   Three years later, at age 40, London died.

Jack LondonMuch of his work is imbued with a sense of the awesome power of nature and the struggle and survival of the fittest that characterized all of life.

This was reflected in his grasp of the titanic social forces that were playing out during that era.

London himself experienced firsthand the grueling working conditions of the time, and it turned him into a passionate advocate of socialism and workers’ rights.

In his book, “The Iron Heel”, published in 1908, he predicted the rise in the United States of an oligarchy, or small group of corrupt and selfish people, who would seize control of the government and economic power, destroy the middle class, and maintain power by oppressing the people.  George Orwell, author of “1984″, the great portrait of a future totalitarian state, was influenced by “The Iron Heel”, and saw London’s book as “a very remarkable prophecy of the rise of Fascism”.

The themes of “The Iron Heel” seem eerily familiar today – the gathering of economic and political power into the hands of a very small group of people, the destruction of the middle class, the rise of a government increasingly amoral and more concerned with the centralization and co-opting of power and money than for the needs and welfare of the people.

Whither go we?


A New Myth for America BuddhismJames Hilgendorf is a filmmaker, speaker, poet, and the author of ten non-fiction books that are opening the way to a new vision of ourselves, a new dream of America, a new religion for the world.  This year and next, he is traveling to towns and cities all across America, meeting people and giving talks, under the banner of “Traveling to a New America“.

Follow the journey on Facebook.

To arrange talks, contact the author.

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