Lionel Rolfe’s Letter to the World

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July 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary 


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Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria. Photo is by Lionel Rolfe


I am a retired journalist in Los Angeles and book author who wants the world to respond to America under the would-be dictatorship of Donald Trump, a man who is out to destroy this country and the world—all for the sake of Trump’s power and money.

It is important to explain that the sudden appearance of fascism presented by Trump was not unexpected. Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel during the Great Depression about a fascist government in the ‘20s called “It Can Happen Here.” America has always had to deal with a nativist kind of fascism. Its always been a powerful minority and remains so under Trump in this day and age.

Trump is obviously in bed with the Russian Mafia, and Vladimir Putin who heads up the enterprise is an obvious villain.

But a few things must be said.

In 2002, the Guardian ran a piece by Duncan Campbell about me and Aldous and Laura Huxley. The author of “Brave New World” and “Ape & Essence” ended his career with “Island,” Campbell said, “published just before Huxley died in November 1963 on the same day President Kennedy was assassinated.”

“Now Huxley’s days in California are recalled in a new book,” Campbell said. “The book is Literary LA, by Lionel Rolfe, son of the pianist Yalta Menuhin and nephew of Yehudi,” Campbell wrote. “An LA-based journalist and writer, Rolfe has compiled an entertaining collection on writers including Jack London, Theodore Dreiser, Malcolm Lowry, Charles Bukowski and Huxley. Rolfe, author of Fat Man On The Left, raconteur and journalist, met Huxley shortly before the writer’s death and recalls that he had said that he stayed in LA because of ‘inertia and apathy.’ Rolfe wrote, too, about Huxley’s second marriage to Laura Archera, an Italian violinist, film editor and therapist, and how his life with her saw him veer in more and more ‘mystical directions.’”

There is a perplex here in Huxley’s story. He became more of a mystic because of his depression over the atomic bomb which he wrote about in “Ape & Essence.” The scion from a great scientific family was also torn over the threats to his humanism. His embrace of mysticism did not deny his essential humanism.

But Trump is something else again. He’s out to destroy humanism. He is a fascist.

My mother was also a mystic, loving religious impulses of all kinds, but she wanted to teach me Russian in the McCarthy period in America.

That was in the 1950s in Los Angeles and McCarthyism was strong during my years in elementary school. This, like today, was a period of fascism in American history and I resisted my mother’s impulses to culturally identify with Russia simply because I was scared. Republicans always made me feel as if I lived in a land of thugs.

My mother was named after Yaltah in the Crimea, where her mother lived. She loved Russian culture and history, and thought all children should learn it. My mother was named after Yaltah in the Crimea, where her mother lived. My mother obviously believed in humanism and education.

In the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was suggested that portions of Greater Russia should go their own way. It was like European countries telling America that Texas would have a right to become its own country. As much as I’d like Texas to go away politically, that move would piss me off—especially if dictated by other countries.

As horrible as Putin and Trump are, it should also be said that Ukraine was always part of Russia. Russia’s great hero was Alexander Nevsky, the prince of Kiev in the 12th century. I understood the fusillade of events when I photographed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
The most terrifying moment in this historical drama is whatever it was that drove Trump to fascism. His early love of Mussolini doesn’t explain the whole thing. Trump is America’s rabid religious drive seeking to destroy the world that does not live up to its image. Trump may or may not believe that but he is no great intellectual so it probably doesn’t’ matter. But to the rest of us, in America and elsewhere, it is sad throwing away everything good that’s been produced in this country, from science to writing to music.

If you deny the existence of truth like the religious monsters now unfurling themselves on the world, understand that knowledge is real—very real. Even for Huxley.

Can Trump defeat history’s march toward a better world. America has contributed mightily to the progressive forces behind the American story which have contributed to the narrative of the rest of the world—with bad and good things. We are human, of course. To be human, you have to struggle. You especially have to struggle in the face of adversity like that of Trump. It is our only hope—here and in other places in the world.

Lionel Rolfe’s books are available from


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