The Prophet of Dystopia At Rest- An Answer to a Question of Integrity


Yvon Grenier- Associate Professor of Political Science at St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, former editor of Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

The Prophet of Dystopia at Rest: Margaret Atwood in Cuba

Atwood allowed herself to become a compliant guest in a country that checks almost all the boxes of totalitarianism, minus extensive terror: a single-party state, no rule of law, arbitrary arrests (2,000 of them during the first eight months of last year), stultifying media (even Raúl Castro says so), and a regime of censorship that allows no freedom of speech, association, and only limited freedom of movement; a country with half-empty bookstores selling the same few official writers and hagiographies of the dear leaders.

I’m going out on a limb here but I am going to assume Yvon writes under the auspices of the Catholic Church, either as a Catholic community member or as an affiliate of the Catholic University he represents.

So if you think my “going out on a limb’ discredits me then please don’t torture yourself any longer by continuing to listen or read. That’s probably what I should have done when I read this article in the Quillette, not being familiar with Canadian conservative intellectual propaganda. This type of “intellectual” arguments are reminiscent of William F. Buckley, who of course, was very intelligent and literate and arrogant, as if speaking from a well- known position of cultural elite superiority and always above the fray emotionally.

The gist of this article is really not about Margaret Atwood’s literary career but more about the jealousy of people who think that a writer who is successful writing, in this case, dystopian novels, should understand like her critic understands, you cannot rest and enjoy Cuba without knowing the horrible conditions underlying there, as represented by said critics noble expertise of Cuba’s totalitarianism.

First of all, let me say that all the apologists for America’s treatment of Cuba, the sanctions, the fostering of plain ol ignorance of Cuba’s past prior to those mean, nasty Castro brothers all relies on those few remaining wealthy, dying refugees from the revolution, much like the English supporters in America before it was America, the ones who didn’t support the American revolution and in the end returned to England  destitute and without rank or power.

In other words, critics of all these changes that take place in former or current American colonies and ghettos must maintain the purity of the American state they live in, or Canadian-American exceptionalism, as in the case of Yvon Grenier.

It is truly ironic that with the uncovering of thousands of Native born children from their unmarked graves recently because of the Catholic Church’s high and mighty supremacy over God’s little children, forced education and pedophilia, not to mention an historical record of sanctioned hysteria throughout it’s genocidal, war inducing, and power seeking in the name of Jesus. What false is buried here in a Canadian conservative criticizing a novelist about visiting a country which even if you count the ones the US and Canada say you can visit ranks no where near the top of the list of failed and failing democracies, if that can be said at all. Does the writer (Yvon Grenier) not want Atwood to write about dictatorships until she understands things the way the writer wants her to? Does he think she’s breaking Canadian law or just want Canada to punish her. Or someone else to punish her for being intellectual dishonest.

It really seems the writer wants us to believe that even her choice of good literature isn’t up to his standards.

My God, can I say that as an atheist, she writes Fiction, doesn’t she? I guess if she were Hannah Arendt, she could argue with Mr Grenier on equal terms, political dystopia in America vs dystopia of the Catholic Church. If there ever was an institution whose dire outlook on the world has brought the world to near moral extinction it is the Catholic Church. And being the atheist/anarchist I am I can say I don’t care that Yvon or the Catholic Church he probably represents exist, I just don’t think people should pay them the regard they believe themselves to deserve.



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