The Iron Republic (1902 serial novella)

From Kook Science

The Iron Republic
Author Richard Jameson Morgan
Publisher Florida Magazine (Jacksonville, Fla.: G.D. Ackerly)
Pub. date Feb. to Nov. 1902
Country United States
Language English
Subject Utopian political fiction

The Iron Republic is a flat-earth political fiction novella by Richard Jameson Morgan, first published as a serial in Florida Magazine from February 1902 (4.2) through November 1902 (5.5). The story is a narrative recounting of the Antarctic expedition of the Wanderer, a ship owned by the narrator, J. Edward "Ned" Barrington, disgraced American lawyer and politician, which is commanded by one Captain Brent with a crew of eight Americans, who discover a passage through the polar ice and thence a new civilisation beyond the south polar regions, this being the titular Iron Republic, a utopian colony established by a group of European settlers who had sought the New World but accidentally passed through Antarctica in 1698 that has since progressed into communism with some flourishes of high technology.


A brief, summary introduction to the story from the Florida Magazine (Mar. 1902):

"Mr. J. E. Barrington, a brilliant and wealthy young lawyer and politician of one of the great middle western states is duped and sold out by the professional politicians in his campaign for congress, and chagrined and embittered against his country and the entire human race he converts all of his property into gold and going to New York purchases a vessel with which he sails down into the Antarctic regions with the intention of devoting his life and means to polar explorations or finding some isolated country beyond the pale of civilization and out of the track of sea travel where he will be lost to the world."

The Iron Republic itself is what must be seen to be a communist utopia with multi-tiered bullet trains, personal flying machines, silent motor carriages, and enough paper napkins for all. Most of the novella turns on its protracted description of the Republic's central economy, controlled by employing high taxes and fixed price controls, disallowing debt and interest, disavowal of the gold standard, &c., &c., all under a system of governance that is essentially despotism of the proletariat ("Vox despoto, vox populi!"). There are strong shadings of Karl Marx and Henry George throughout.

In one clever aside, Barrington meets a religious crank called Moses on a train, who loudly protests the government conspiracy against his Zionist movement, and subsequently denies that anything outside of the Iron Republic exists, stating the Bible can only be seen as Divine Allegory with no real world basis, as such places as Egypt and Israel cannot be found within the ice walls.