1907, Bramah, E. , What Might Have Been


Ernest Bramah, What Might Have Been, 1907. Abridged and rereleased as The Secret of the League in 1909.

The secret of the league is a dystopian novel written by Ernest Bramah in 1907. It was first published as “What might have been: the story of a social war”, but later was republished in 1909 as “The secret of the league”. The novel is widely credited as having influenced George Orwell for his 1984. In the 1906 General elections, the Labour party arises from nowhere (2 seats) to become a potent force in British politics (29 seats). The surprising result is followed by social unrest and strikes, scaring the middle and upper classes, as the prospect of a Labour government is no longer so far-fetched. [Les editions de LONDRES, https://www.editionsdelondres.com/The-secret-of-the-League ]

The process has been constitutional, but the changes have been revolutionary. The House of Lords has been abolished, the Church’s land has been seized, Ireland has declared independence, and the Empire is largely dismantled: many of the Colonies, have ‘dropped off into the troubled waters of weak independence’, while the others ‘clung on with pathetic loyalty’ despite ‘the disintegration of all mutual interests’. It hardly needs saying of the government that ‘the word “patriotic” had long been expunged from their vocabulary’. The armed forces have been run down because ‘the Labour Party was definitely pledged to the inauguration of universal peace by declining to go to war on any provocation’. Consequently, when there are rumours of a foreign invasion, everyone assumes – ‘in view of the sweeping reductions in the army and navy’ – that such an invasion will be successful. [Lion & Unicorn, Imperial Fiction, https://thelionandunicorn.wordpress.com/2020/08/22/imperial-fiction-the-secret-of-the-league/ ]