Noh Music for the Masses
We appeal, not to those who reject today in the name of a return to yesterday, not to those who are hopelessly deafened by today; we appeal to those who see the distant tomorrow—and judge today in the name of tomorrow, in the name of man. Zamyatin, Tomorrow
In the 2002 novel, Snowball’s Chance author John Reed posits a tantalizing prospect. What if, by quirk of fate, Snowball in George Orwell’s famous novel Animal Farm had somehow managed to elude his captors? And it had returned triumphant to the Farm? And successfully ousted Napoleon’s regime? Tantalizing of course, since before long, Snowball reacquaints the Animals with capitalist principles of production and competition. And while the profits swell, there’s a nasty ending with Beaver’s destroying the Farm’s twin silos.
Speculative fiction molded on satire from a generation prior. The conventional wisdom of course, for those readers who prefer to name names, casts Snowball most likely as Trotsky. Forced to flee the encroaching Stalinist regime, Trotsky was fairly certainly subject to a purge, outside the borders of the USSR. But what if (and Reed’s novel is entirely about speculation) Snowball represented an entirely different class of citizen; the artists who found themselves subject to Stalinist purges.
Among those artists who died in ignominy outside the borders of their homeland, Yevgeny Zamyatin stands out. His novella Tomorrow sounds a warning bell against mistaking the recent October Revolution for any kind of victory. Far from it, Zamyatin’s warnings were of an inherent ideological collapse he foresaw in Communism itself.