“All of us sit here at this conference and feel secure in our belief that we live in an era beyond this kind of…authoritarian regime change; but what sort of political climate do you think could potentially break apart our current stasis and deliver us back in time, so to speak?

Thank you, I am gratified there has been so much interest in our little project. Gilead Studies languished for many years, I suppose those who had lived through those times did not want them resurrected for various reasons including what might have been done to them and what they themselves might have done. But at this distance, we can allow ourselves some perspective. It’s fortunate that is the last question as my voice is giving out. As to your question, in times of peace and plenty, it is hard to remember the conditions that have led to authoritarian regime changes in the past. And it is even harder to suppose that we ourselves would ever make such choices or allow them to be made. But when there is a perfect storm and collapse of the established order is in the works precipitated by environmental stresses that lead to food shortages, economic factors such as unrest due to unemployment, a social structure that is top heavy with too much wealth being concentrated among too few, then scapegoats are sought and blamed, fear is rampant, and there is pressure to trade what we think of as liberty for what we think of as safety. And, when the birth rate of any society is low enough to create an aging shrinking population, then commercial and military authorities will become alarmed. Their customer base and their recruitment base will be in jeopardy and there will be extreme pressure on women of childbearing age to make up the population deficit, thus our handmaid and her tale.”


Margret Atwood
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