More on that conservative SF post

The more I think of it, the more I think that the premise of that post is based on the way we’ve stupidly defined politics in the US.  We have just the two buckets labeled “left” and “right” and every single political term or concept goes in one bucket or the other and thus essentially becomes synonymous with every other word/concept/idea in the bucket, so right=conservative=libertarian=Republican=fascist and left=liberal=socialist=Democrat=communist…  The concept is pervasive and insidious, so much so that our political discourse is reduced to seeing what kind of unpleasantness can we shove in the other guy’s bucket.

It’s a crock through and through.

Something as simple as the Nolan Chart starts to give a example of how much more complicated political ideology actually is.  And even that is an oversimplification.  There are way too many different axes of political thought to be confined in even two dimensions; and given the nature of SF, authors are often wont to play with these sliders in worldbuilding, often in combinations that are counter-intuitive.  Here’s a couple of those axes:

conservative <—-> radical

libertarian <—-> collectivist

anarchist <—-> statist

anti-authoritarian <—–> authoritarian

No these are not synonymous.   Top down: first is the attitude toward tradition and social change in general, second is the primacy placed on individual rights in society, third is the role of government in society, and last is the level of trust placed in the elite powers controlling that society.

Is SF becoming more conservative?

That’s the question asked here.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed more and more that science fiction has taken a bit of a turn to the right. I’ve also seen more than a few reviews lambasting those authors for their views — which seems to matter not a whit to their sales.

So I emailed four of them — two relative newcomers and two legends — and asked why.

The legends, Dr. Jerry Pournelle and Orson Scott Card, need no introduction. But it bears mention that Ender’s Game, Card’s best-known work, is on the Commandant of the Marine Corps recommended reading list as a treatise on what it means to be a leader. The newcomers, Lt. Col Tom Kratman (Ret.) and Larry Correia, both write for Baen.

I think its interesting, though I think the post is conflating the ideas of conservatism and the ideas of libertarianism which are not the same thing despite the occasionally overlapping Venn diagram.  I also think there’s really no “trend” insofar that there’s always been a really strong libertarian streak in SF.

However Mr.Card (hailing from the far conservative side of that Venn diagram) does give a quip worthy of William F. Buckley Jr.

“Back when I cared,” he continued, “most of the writers of my generation were so extremely leftist in their formal opinions, and so extremely elitist in their practices, that it would be difficult to discern where they actually stood on anything. It’s as if the entire Tsarist aristocracy fervently preached Bolshevism even as they oppressed their peasants. But that view is based on observations back in the mid-1980s. Since then, my only exposure to their views has been the general boycott of mine. In short,” he said, “I’m their Devil, but I have no idea who their God is anymore.”

UPDATE: Eric S. Raymond in the comments says exactly my point:

SF is not a conservative literature at all, but it gets mistaken for one because libertarianism is wired deep into its DNA. In fact, it is structurally *impossible* for SF to be conservative! I have explained this in depth, with references, in my essay A Political History of SF.

The “rightward drift” is SF’s fundamental libertarianism asserting itself as left-wing gatekeepers in the establishment media become less able to suppress it. People who mistake this as a reassertion of conservatism are revealing their own confusion about the ways conservatism and libertarianism are mixed in their thinking.

Why I filter my comments. . .

I had really nice comment today on my latest blog post:

“With your ability, certainly you have learned praises before but I just want to involve to the many who have thanked you for what you’ve attained. Your work are one of a kind and show great insight. Thanks for your contributions!”

I almost approved it, since I rarely get spam on new posts. Then I look a little closer and note the slightly broken English. Then I note that while the comment might reflect the post I made on Book Chick City, it didn’t actually mention the post, or writing, or anything else concrete. It could be about anything. Then I look at the URL the poster used: a link trolling site.

Akismet Y U No catch this spam?

Where Stories Are Made, and Bonus Glass Block

Over at Book Chick City I’m being featured in their series “Where Stories Are Made,” where authors get to do a mini photo-essay about the environment where they actually do their writing.  So you all can get to see the (clean parts of the) office at home and at the day job.  Unfortunately, she didn’t use one of my pictures, showing the view from my office at work.  So I include it here:

I admit, it was probably the right decision.

Exhibit #235 why Libertarians are the new hippies. . .

Progressives really get steamed when people point to the Tea Party and/or Libertarians as the spiritual successors to the last great anti-establishment mass movements of the 60s and 70s. To them I provide the following interview with Starchild, a San Francisco erotic services provider and Libertarian candidate for school board (h/t):

I might also note that chief among my libertarian friends are a pagan SF author and a long-haired dude who makes guitars for rock bands, while every single progressive I know is pretty much part of the establishment.