Monday, January 23, 2017

SF writers and the authoritarian left

“You have to remember, the SF writing community is mostly a lot of very nice people who have led very sheltered lives. They’re very easily shocked. It’s always amazed me that so many of these people who write all this stuff about strange worlds and fantastic adventures are such conventional, boring types in person. As Ajay Budrys once said to me, ‘They are a cautious and conservative lot, these probers on Man’s ultimate frontier. A trail of sheep shit marks their passing.’” —William Sanders, in an interview in Chronicle

I have been tempted to write more about Sanders' observation for years. This tweet finally inspired me:
It's fascinating for at least two reasons.

The first is that it was tweeted by someone who blocked me. Malicious people love to misrepresent people behind their back. That's especially true of bookish gossips.

The second is that Grumer either can't see that he's defending the tactics of Nazis, Klansmen, and blackshirts, or he is embracing them.

SF writers cover the political spectrum, but most are politically naive, regardless of their orientation. You can see that in the conservatives who don't know Orwell was a democratic socialist and in the neoliberals who talk of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X as antiracists rather than universalist critics of capitalism.

SF writers tend to have privileged backgrounds, regardless of their race or gender.  Many grew up in expensive neighborhoods and went to expensive schools. Privileged conservatives think capitalism's economic pyramid is natural, but privileged leftists are troubled by their suspicion that their privilege is unearned. So they have two choices: work to end the economic pyramid and thereby end their privilege, or work to make the pyramid look fair by focusing on social identity and thereby preserve their privilege. Most choose the latter.

The price is adopting a belief system that is filled with contradictions. It can only be enforced by keeping out dissent. They have no room for free speech. They have to play by mean girl rules, happily claiming their opponents said things they never said and believe things they don't believe, then blocking their opponents so their narrative won't be sullied. Hitler would be proud of them. It doesn't matter whether they believe in the Big Lie or merely play the old game of telephone in their echo chambers until they believe what they claim—someone who is more interested in them than I can try to decide who are the useful idiots and who believes that any lie told for their cause is good.

Ah, well. For the record, I do not defend Nazis. But I don't expect that statement to matter. One of the many things the authoritarian left and right have in common is a belief in alternative facts.

Related:

On responding to speech with violence, or why a coward in a mask is nothing like Captain America

Many of my heroes were killed by people who answered speech with violence