Friday, July 28, 2017

Agenda 21, by Glenn Beck and Harriet Parke

The first thing to say about Glenn Beck's dystopian novel Agenda 21 is that Agenda 21 is a real thing.  Signed in 1993, Agenda 21 is a non-binding U.N. action plan designed to address environmental issues, poverty, and inequality.  Beck had spoken against it--vehemently--on his radio show, and a listener, Harriet Parke, started writing a story based on her perceived outcome of the agenda.  Parke and Beck ended up collaborating on this novel.

Agenda 21 takes the implications of the Agenda 21 plan to the extreme but logical conclusions, setting the story in what used to be the United States before the U.N. established the Republic, controlled by the Authorities.  It's a total control society, where every citizen has a role to play, producing energy by walking on the treadmill, and carefully following all the rules.  Children are raised in central nursery and education centers.  Food is delivered every day in the form of nutrition cubes.  Clothing and shelter are uniform, provided by the authority.  It's an authoritarian, dystopian nightmare, familiar to readers of dystopian fiction (and maybe to citizens of Soviet Russia or North Korea).

While most people conform, a few remember the time before.  Emmeline is one of the last "home-raised" children.  When her mother is taken away and Emmeline has a child of her own, who is immediately taken to live in the children's center, she begins to see that she can't live in this system any longer.  The more she learns about history and about her own family's past, the more inspired she becomes to rebel against the system.

With the young woman protagonist and the cardboard cutout oppressors, Agenda 21 fits nicely in the recent spate of the YA dystopian novels.  If you have read some of them, or seen some of the movies, Agenda 21will feel very familiar, even cliched.  But it's a fun read, with more emphasis on action and relationships than on politics.  The political emphasis is inevitably there, as is the question, "Could this happen in the U.S."  As I said, Beck and Parke go to extremes, but the point is made.  The more freedoms we give up, the more central control is implemented, the closer we inch toward this future.

No comments:

Post a Comment