(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The Iron Heel is supposedly taken from a fragmentary manuscript written in the early twentieth century by Avis Everhard, the militant socialist widow of the socialist leader Ernest Everhard, whose militancy results in his execution by an American fascistic organization called “the Iron Heel,” the militant arm of the great corporate monopolies. The monopolies suppress an uprising of socialist workers who have organized a Chicago commune and rule the United States until 2232, when socialist power eventually triumphs. Avis had hidden her manuscript away in 1932, and it is not found for seven hundred years, when it is discovered by historian Anthony Meredith. He edits the manuscript and supplies the political history of the United States up to his own time. When the story begins, poverty is rife in big cities in the East such as New York City and Boston, where thousands of people live either in cellars or in flimsy, overcrowded tenements. Unemployment is common, with millions of people out of work. Wages are exceedingly low, and woman and child labor are ruthlessly exploited. The “robber barons” of the age keep consolidating their holdings into “trusts,” or virtual monopolies. A small army of the rich exploits the large army of the poor.

When several socialists are elected to Congress, they are not allowed to take office. Fearful of a general strike, the Iron Heel of the oligarchy creates “favored unions”; explodes a bomb in the House...

(The entire section is 545 words.)