"Dr. Halliday Sutherland is a born writer, especially a born story-teller. Dr. Sutherland, who is distinguished in medicine, is an amateur in the sense that he only writes when he has nothing better to do. But when he does, it could hardly be done better” – G.K. Chesterton
In it, Sutherland wrote a short-story in which he imagined a dystopian Britain of the future. Christianity and the monarch – George XX – have been exiled to Ireland for reasons which are not divulged. All aspects of life in Britain are controlled by a socialistic state.
The story starts with Mr Smith receiving a letter from Ministry of Eugenics. There is a problem: his son has been talking with the girl in the next street without permission. The son’s excuse was that he “wanted to know how they managed in ancient days when a Unit chose his own comrade – sweethearts I think they called them”. The ensuing argument leads to a visit from the Inspector of Cheerfulness and to Smith’s demise or salvation, depending on your viewpoint. You can read the full story from page 236 onwards.
Chapter XIV opens with a political comment which today reminds us of the bleak outlook for those who lived in those times. Dr Sutherland wrote:
“In the heart of man is a desire to possess property and freedom; and to enjoy the one he must have the other. Of all philosophies and religions that endanger the soul, the most monstrous is that which advocates as a means to happiness the abolition of property and freedom. To-day, there are thousands of unhappy people who lack these essentials of well-being; and much of our social reform is immoral, not because it interferes with individual liberty, but because it distracts attention from the true roots of those evils against which it is directed.
“For example, it is wrong to remove a feeble-minded child to an institution and to leave untouched the ghastly social system that makes children feeble-minded. It were better to leave that child in its home, as there the sight might soften the heart of Dives, or rouse a people to action.
“Our present condition is indeed pitiable. On the one hand are Communists and Socialists who would abolish all right of ownership to private property; and, on the other, the servile State, wherein is loud talk of control, of segregation, and of eliminating the unfit. Meanwhile the Praetorian guard maintains order in the streets. And yet, unless the hearts of men are changed and they return to the faith that is Europe, out of this State made servile by atheism there may yet be born a pagan commune, ‘Dark with the dismal anarchy of dreams, where everything is false, and therefore free.’ “