Literary Envy and the Last Redoubt

Over at Armed and Dangerous, a topic very near and dear to my heart is being debated. The author, Eric Raymond, begins thus:

I’ve been aware for some time of a culture war simmering in the SF world. And trying to ignore it, as I believed it was largely irrelevant to any of my concerns and I have friends on both sides of the divide. Recently, for a number of reasons I may go into in a later post, I’ve been forced to take a closer look at it. And now I’m going to have to weigh in, because it seems to me that the side I might otherwise be most sympathetic to has made a rather basic error in its analysis. That error bears on something I do very much care about, which is the health of the SF genre as a whole.

Both sides in this war believe they’re fighting about politics. I consider this evaluation a serious mistake by at least one of the sides.

He then identifies the two sides

On the one hand, you have a faction that is broadly left-wing in its politics and believes it has a mission to purge SF of authors who are reactionary, racist, sexist et weary cetera. This faction now includes the editors at every major SF publishing imprint except Baen and all of the magazines except Analog and controls the Science Fiction Writers of America (as demonstrated by their recent political purging of Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day). This group is generally frightened of and hostile to indie publishing. Notable figures include Patrick & Theresa Nielsen Hayden and John Scalzi. I’ll call this faction the Rabbits, after Scalzi’s “Gamma Rabbit” T-shirt and Vox Day’s extended metaphor about rabbits and rabbit warrens.

On the other hand, you have a faction that is broadly conservative or libertarian in its politics. Its members deny, mostly truthfully, being the bad things the Rabbits accuse them of. It counteraccuses the Rabbits of being Gramscian-damaged cod-Marxists who are throwing away SF’s future by churning out politically-correct message fiction that, judging by Amazon rankings and other sales measures, fans don’t actually want to read. This group tends to either fort up around Baen Books or be gung-ho for indie- and self-publishing. Notable figures include Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt, Tom Kratman, John C. Wright, and Vox Day. I’ll call this group the Evil League of Evil, because Correia suggested it and other leading figures have adopted the label with snarky glee.

I can speak authoritatively for the United Underworld of the Evil League of Evil, since I (with some help from Batman and Dr Horrible) coined the term. We do not believe we are fighting about politics.

Politics is the least part of the struggle. None of my stories mention it, nor do those of our dishonorable and craven opposition.

We of the United Underworld have said what we are fighting about. Larry Correia wrote our manifesto: We believe story comes before message.

We are entertainers first and crusaders second.

Our opponents are crusaders first, or, to be precise, anticrusaders, because instead of fighting for the holiness and righteousness as the crusaders did of old, these creatures fight against everything holy and right and instead fight for socialism, totalitarianism, feminism, perversions sexual and otherwise, atheism, nihilism, irrationalism, Ismism, and every other ism one can name.

We say you can put a message in your story if you insist, but story comes first. Space Princesses come second, at least for me. I think way cool guns come second for Larry Correia. Message comes third for both of us.

United Underworld02

United Underworld (from Left to Right: Sarah Hoyt, John C. Wright, Larry Correia, Vox Day)

On a more serious note, the United Underworld represents an artistic vision of science fiction that is in keeping with our roots. We write science fiction after the fashion of Jules Verne, John W Campbell Jr, and the Big Three of the 1950s, Heinlein, Asimov and Van Vogt. We write in the footsteps of C.S. Lewis and Arthur C Clarke. We take our inspiration of Milton, Dante, and Homer and other men of vast imagination and startling vision. In our universe, truth is true, reality is real, logic works, fair is fair and foul and foul. We are the men of the mind.

Our dishonorable opponents follow in the footsteps of Michael Moorcock and his New Wave theory that the Academics will like us if only we write incomprehensible trash like Academics claim to like.

I say ‘claim to like’ because Academics read the first and final chapter of a book and pretend to have read the whole book so they can mention it at cocktail parties and impress the people who are not their friends. In their universe, truth is optional, reality is whatever you say it is, logic is oppression, hysteria is your friend, and ugliness and absurdity are paramount.

The writer, Mr Raymond, goes on to say

Alas, I cannot join the Evil League of Evil, for I believe they have made the same mistake as the Rabbits; they have mistaken accident for essence. The problem with the Rabbits is not that left-wing politics is dessicating and poisoning their fiction. … Nor, I think, is the failure of Rabbit fiction to engage most SF fans and potential fans mainly down to its politics; I think the Evil League is prone to overestimate the popular appeal of their particular positions here.

No, I judge that what is dessicating and poisoning the Rabbit version of SF is something distinct from left-wing political slant but co-morbid with it: colonization by English majors and the rise of literary status envy as a significant shaping force in the field.

All I can say is that this is not the stance of the Evil League of Evil, for which I hereby unilaterally declare myself the official spokesvillain.

Our stance is more universal and obvious. We are not talking about politics. We are talking about the universe. We believe in telling stories about the universe, its wonders and horrors, and the Rabbits believe in talking about nothing at all.

The Rabbits are talking about their universe; it is just that, for the Rabbit, their universe IS politics. It is a universe that has already suffered the Big Crunch.

United Underworld

A note on nomenclature: Theirs is a movement which from time to time calls itself Leftist, Liberal, Socialist, Progressive, or Political Correct.

Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) calls them Rabbits. I pay them more respect and call them Morlocks. We both agree they dwell in underground warrens, so for the purpose of this column, here following I will split the difference and call them Troglodytes.

(If you like, you can call them Progressive Troglodytes, or Prog-Trogs for short.)

The movement changes its name each decade or so, since it cannot afford to be associated with its own works and results, so it calls itself names that are more or less the opposite of its actions produce. Whether this is a product of deliberate deception, deliberate self-deception, inattention, ignorance, insanity, worship of the Crawling Chaos Nyarlathotep or well intentioned yet misplaced zeal can be debated endlessly.

Technically speaking, this movement is a heresy, that is, something that breaks away from the Church, while adopting her social teachings, and elevating some minor principle to a supreme principle then used to sweep other principles away.

There are thirteen identifiable markers of the membership of the tribe of Troglodytes:

1. Theologically, they are atheist and agnostic, or at least laiacist.
2. In Metaphysics, they are nihilist. They hold the universe to have no innate meaning.
3. In Epistemology, they are subjectivists and (ironically) empiricists.
4. In Ontology, they are materialists. They believe minds are epiphenomena of matter.
5. In Logic, they are polylogists. They believe each race and both genders possesses unique and exclusive rules of logic.
6. In Aesthetics, they glorify the ugly and destroy beauty.
7. In Ethics, they are Gnostics. Whatever we call good, they call evil, and whatever we call evil, they call good.
8. In Politics, they are statists, and tacitly totalitarian. They want arbitrary power rather than law and order.
9. In Economics, they are socialist. They want the law of supply and demand to vanish softly away.
10. In Semantics, they are nominalists. They hold words to have no innate meaning.
11. In they psychological stance, they are sadists.
12. In their psychopathology, they are suicidal. They don’t want to live, they want you to die.
13. Emotionally, they are infantile. The emotion that governs them is envy.

Now, these are rough generalizations only, and no one member of the movement believes all these points, and, being a strongly anti-intellectual and pro-irrational bent, few of them even know what these big words mean. Some of these points contradict each other. That matters nothing to them. Logic is not their strong suit.

Nonetheless, we call a man a biped even if Captain Ahab has only one leg, and we call dogs quadrupeds even if Triskele has only three. The members of the genus who lack some of these defining characteristics lack them by accident, not essentially.

The essential quality is envy. These are losers who want to punish the winners for winning.

They are stupid people who want to be called smart and want the smart people called stupid. These are morally corrupt and morally retarded brats who want the laurels of saints and the palms of martyrs awarded them without the moral growth into that selflessness which is necessary for sainthood, and certainly without the suffering which is necessary for martyrdom. They just want the credit for being wise and good without actually suffering the trouble and effort of being wise and good.

In politics, they want the poor to eat the rich, and they will laugh, laugh, laugh at the bloodshed.

But politics is the smallest part of their worldview. Their worldview is a cult. It is religion, or, at least, a pseudo-religion. Like a religion, it has its anathemas and heresies and inquisitions to penalize deviations from dogma. Unlike my religion, the dogma of the Troglodytes are neither written down, nor articulated, nor sensible, nor rational, nor happy, nor righteous, nor good.

Next, the writer at Armed and Dangerous makes this alarming comment:

The Rabbits have the best stylists, while the Evil League has the best storytellers.

Since I only just joined the Evil League of Evil, I am behind in my reading, and so I cannot speak for anyone else. But let us compare, shall we?

This is from one of their award winning efforts:

If all I needed was something blue, I’d run across the church, heels clicking on the marble, until I reached a vase by the front pew. I’d pull out a hydrangea the shade of the sky and press it against my heart and my heart would beat like a flower. I’d bloom. My happiness would become petals. Green chiffon would turn into leaves. My legs would be pale stems, my hair delicate pistils. From my throat, bees would drink exotic nectars. I would astonish everyone assembled, the biologists and the paleontologists and the geneticists, the reporters and the rubberneckers and the music aficionados, all those people who—deceived by the helix-and-fossil trappings of cloned dinosaurs– believed that they lived in a science fictional world when really they lived in a world of magic where anything was possible.

If we lived in a world of magic where anything was possible, then you would be a dinosaur, my love. You’d be a creature of courage and strength but also gentleness. Your claws and fangs would intimidate your foes effortlessly. Whereas you—fragile, lovely, human you—must rely on wits and charm.

A T-Rex, even a small one, would never have to stand against five blustering men soaked in gin and malice. A T-Rex would bare its fangs and they would cower. They’d hide beneath the tables instead of knocking them over. They’d grasp each other for comfort instead of seizing the pool cues with which they beat you, calling you a fag, a towel-head, a shemale, a sissy, a spic, every epithet they could think of, regardless of whether it had anything to do with you or not, shouting and shouting as you slid to the floor in the slick of your own blood.

If you were a dinosaur, my love, I’d teach you the scents of those men. I’d lead you to them quietly, oh so quietly. Still, they would see you. They’d run. Your nostrils would flare as you inhaled the night and then, with the suddenness of a predator, you’d strike. I’d watch as you decanted their lives—the flood of red; the spill of glistening, coiled things—and I’d laugh, laugh, laugh.

I direct your attention to the stylistic (ahem) accomplishment of copying IF YOU GIVE  A MOUSE A COOKIE, the deliberately childish tone, the blurred lack of detailed description for anything in the mention of the bar fight. The lack of style shows in the utterly generic insults used by the assailants: fag, towelhead, shemale, sissy, spic. If the nameless narrator’s bridegroom is an effete homosexual Arab transsexual from Spain or Mexico, the word choice here makes sense. Otherwise, they are selected without any ear for rhythm or assonance. They are, in fact, merely a grab-bag of the epithets which Leftists want to put into the mouths of civilized men, so that the Leftists can falsely accuse us of homophobia, Islamophobia, heteronormative sexism and racism.

Here is one of ours. I select a passage of similar tone and theme, that of a woman grieving for a loved one:

The monsters still howl for him, months after he fell. In the gloom, I can sometimes see one or the other, sometimes both together, wolfish beasts with leathery hides and dark bristles, and they raise their grinning, shark-like mouths to the black clouds above and utter their cries.

Impossible that such horrors could love a child of man, and be faithful; impossible. Yet they do not molest the body, nor even approach it.

My brother Polynices lies in plain view on the baked black salt of the Night Land. The hollow where he fell has a smoke-hole in it center, some five yards beyond his motionless, outflung hand, and the smolder from the hole casts a light across his form.

He lies many miles below the armored windows of our redoubt, but even so, the spy-glasses and instruments of the Monstruwacans (those scholars whose business it is to watch the horrors of the Night) leaning from the balconies, can pick out minute details.

The fingers of his gauntlet are stretched out, as if he were reaching for the little warmth of the smoke hole as he perished. He lays on a slight incline, for a circle of salty mineral surrounds the smoke hole and slopes toward it. His boots are toward us. The smoke hole is to his left. His helmet fell from his head, and rolled a yard down the salty slope. The little trail the helmet made as it fell is still visible. There has been no wind, no earth tremors, to disturb the salt crystals and erode the trail. The haft and great wheel of his disk-ax weapon lay to his right, and the shadow of his body falls across it, making details difficult to make out, even under the immense magnifications of the Great Spy Glass. The hair I used to tousle has continued to grow as the months have passed, and now falls across the shoulder-plates of his armor and spills onto the salt. I cannot see those wild locks without wishing for my comb of nacre to put the tangles right. He was always careless of his appearance.

Because of the angle of his fall, I cannot make out his face. Did he die calmly? Or is a rictus of hollow terror and despair frozen forever on his features?

His right forearm is hidden under his body, as if his teeth were seeking the lethal capsule buried under the flesh of his forearm when he fell. Did he fall too swiftly to bite the capsule, and slay himself wholesomely, before his soul and spirit were Destroyed?

There is no blood visible. There is no sign of wounds.

Yes, dear reader, I select one of my own works because, frankly, writers suffer from inflated egos. My style is ornate yet clear, and the language is elevated.

As said above, the leitmotif of the Morlocks is envy. It informs their every effort. Naturally, in the arts what the Morlocks do is take something ugly, and claim it is beautiful with a beauty invisible to the uncouth and unwashed masses, and they call the ugliness insight, or daring or stylistic. Usually what they call style is a lack of craftsmanship.

The article goes on to say:

Literary status envy is the condition of people who think that all genre fiction would be improved by adopting the devices and priorities of late 19th- and then 20th-century literary fiction. Such people prize the “novel of character” and stylistic sophistication above all else. They have almost no interest in ideas outside of esthetic theory and a very narrow range of socio-political criticism. They think competent characters and happy endings are jejune, unsophisticated, artistically uninteresting. They love them some angst.

People like this are toxic to SF, because the lit-fic agenda clashes badly with the deep norms of SF.

Amen and Hear, Hear. This is exactly right. If the author at Armed and Dangerous will not join us, let me just say that I would be happy to join him, if he wants to start a literary movement of his own.

The Evil League of Evil is fighting the wrong war in the wrong way. To truly crush the Rabbits, they should be talking less about politics and more about what has been best and most noble in the traditions of the SF genre itself.

Again, I mean no disrespect, but you should read our manifesto before you say what we are saying. We are not talking about politics, we are talking about science fiction stories and how to tell good stories of lasting value (for myself, my ambition is to tell great stories of immortal value) rather than the fashionable feculence of the Morlocks, which are concerned only with quotidian things and antique anxieties that beset the writers of the Victorian Era, like Marx.

The right (counter)revolutionary slogan is therefore not “Drive out the social-justice warriors!”, it’s “Peddle your angsty crap elsewhere, lit-fic wannabes! Let’s put SF back in the gutter where it belongs!”

We are the Last Redoubt of Humanity carrying the light of civilization against a besieging host of benighted barbarians who bow and serve the horrid and abhorrent idols of Political Correctness, vast, dark, unliving, inhuman, creatures of unreason. Despite whatever Mr Raymond says, if he is not against us, he is one of us.

Allow me to end with a quote from one Glen Filthie.

Look guys – I don’t give a chit about your politics. I just want something to read … that will entertain me. I don’t want to be lectured, preached at, scolded, emasculated, or otherwise orated, pontificated and bloviated at. I just want a good story.

I want you to imagine this read aloud by Patrick McGoohan, the actor who played Number Six on the television show THE PRISONER, in the same driving tone and cadence as his famous defiance:

I will not make any deals with you. I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!

.

80 Comments

  1. Comment by dangerdad:

    Don’t know if I’m being whooshed, but the author is Eric Raymond, who wrote “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” and may have coined the phrase “open source”, among other things. He was criticized by lefties for advocating handgun use for self protection, and helped in some tech trying to facilitate the Iranian revolution (the short-lived green revolution a few years back). I believe it was death threats during that experience that led him to get his own concealed-carry permit.

  2. Comment by Danby:

    Eric Raymond, or ESR, as he is known in tech circles, is a giant in the programming and open source communities. Among other projects, he designed and wrote sendmail, the utility that routes about 90% of the email. He’s also a big-time Libertarian, gun-rights activist (which long predates his involvement in the Green Revolution), and leader of the Open Source Makes Better Code wing of the open source software movement.
    The people who know him and who he is respect his opinion, even if they don’t’ agree with him.

    • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

      I’m one of those. I’ve been reading ESR’s blog on a daily basis for several years. He’s an incredibly smart and accomplished guy and his opinions are always worth hearing.

      He frequently talks about computer technology and the industry, which being my professional field and a significant interest of mine attracted me to his blog in the first place, but his commentary on society, politics (which he doesn’t talk about much these days), and other topics (such as SF) is always insightful, as Danby said, even when I don’t agree with it.

      The comments section is always worth reading, too. There are a lot of smart people commenting there, and very little noise compared to the signal.

      I’m sure ESR would welcome a response from a member of the Evil League, and would appreciate a better understanding of the League’s nefarious goals. In fact, I suspect he would agree with most or all of them, since he is someone who doesn’t suffer fools, and is smart enough to know the difference.

    • Comment by David Lang:

      umm, ESR did not write sendmail, he wrote procmail

  3. Comment by Montague:

    “The essential quality is envy. These are losers who want to punish the winners for winning.”

    Not quite, although that’s true within their own twisted view. They wish to punish *winning behaviors* because those behaviors are in conformity with reality, with the cosmos; their theogony, being gnostic essentially, assigns to God the nature of a demiurge rather than a creator, and thus all of “reality” is considered to be *an imposition of force* on pure spirit (or matter, I suppose, they being materialists – the point being, the shape of things that are they hate unendingly.)

    Hence the envy. They wish to have the power of God, or rather the Morgothian power of domination which they think is God’s, but is rather Crystalman. If the world is to be shaped by commandeering will, they wish to shape it according to their whim, and not God’s. Their yammering curses flung at heaven are to the fiat of Mary as antichrist is to Christ; and they must lie about the world (as their father who lies below in the pits of hell) because they will say is true is their own delusion, deliberately contradicting the actually true.

    …All this being already known to you – I just wanted to be a bit (I presume) more precise with the term “winners.” They think we are playing a different “game” and we actually are “playing,” after all.

    • Comment by Stephen J.:

      JCW: “They are losers who want to punish the winners for winning.” Montague: “They wish to punish *winning behaviors* because… the shape of things that are they hate unendingly…. Hence the envy.”

      I will in turn suggest a “not quite” and note that it isn’t just or always personal envy that drives this response. Many, I venture to suggest even most, of the people who fall into this movement aren’t personally “losers” by a number of criteria — they usually come from the middle class, are in full health, have university educations, reasonably strong social skills and integration, have often never personally been the victim of a genuine crime or injustice, and have no shortage of energy, imagination, idealism or empathy. They don’t resent the “winners” because they are personally not among their number: they resent the winners on behalf of those they see as the losers, because they are furiously indignant that the losers are suffering unnecessarily (though that is a redundancy; in this mindset all suffering is unnecessary), an indignation driven at least in part by genuine pity and compassion. (It may also be driven by sublimated guilt over the fact of their own comparative “winnerness”, and can very easily become driven by not-really-very-sublimated-at-all pride in moral preening — although I have too much of that last log in my own eye to point at others’ splinters in particular.)

      They do wish to shape the world by will, but they sincerely think that their reshaping will genuinely make things better off for everyone — with (it is perhaps mumbled off to one side) the sad but necessary exception of those few eggs who will stubbornly object to being made into the Universally Pleasing Omelette; but really, that’s not that sad given how disproportionately obstreperous they’re being to all the rest of us, right? After all, who could want to stand in the way of ending suffering except those who have a stake in perpetuating that suffering, and how evil is that, right?

      We are all of us sinners and tend to do things at least in part for bad reasons; but we are also all of us potential saints, and many people do have good motives (or as good as they are capable of given their own perspective) as well as bad in their mix.

      • Comment by Mary:

        “Many, I venture to suggest even most, of the people who fall into this movement aren’t personally “losers” by a number of criteria — they usually come from the middle class, are in full health, have university educations, reasonably strong social skills and integration, have often never personally been the victim of a genuine crime or injustice, and have no shortage of energy, imagination, idealism or empathy. ”

        Ah, but they don’t get to control people. They have lost because of that, because that is what they desire. Witness the term “privilege” gets thrown about to silence people, because they feel entitled to control what is said.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          None of those is a criterion by which any Leftist judges success. You mention wealth, health (which means they are not handicapped) and privileges of their position, such as an education. You mention social skills, safety and personal merits.

          They hate all those things.

          They are losers in their own minds, having been fed on a sugary diet of self-help, self-praise, and self-esteem, and being told their whole lives that the pursuit of false pleasures will give their lives joy and triumph, and being addicted to false pleasures is liberation, they are therefore rightly consumed with self loathing.

          The self loathing takes the form of guilt, but their philosophy forces them to mis-name the source of the guilt. They do not feel guilty for their sins, but for their virtues.

          They are whites who are racist bigots that hate white people. They are bigoted and jingoist nationalists who are patriotic to any and every nation except their own. They are zealous religious fanatics filled with the unholy spirit and red-hot to blaspheme the messiah, foes of God and ergo foes of everything that comes from God or is made in His image: beauty, truth, virtue, reason, the soul of Man.

          Hence, they are torn with guilt over being members of an inferior race, Caucasians, or the weaker sex, Male. They are apologetic for having been benefited by a cult of devil-worshiper, Christians, and being protected and uplifted by an unholy and evil empire, the US of A.

          So they write, read, and applaud stories about cripples and idiots and minorities and all the things they admire. Their stories are about self loathing.

          • Comment by Stephen J.:

            But the problem is that logically consistent as this analysis is, it simply doesn’t fit in practice the people I personally know who are sympathetic to this movement, at least insofar as I do know them or insofar as I read them when they are talking in terms of positive goals of their own (rather than negative goals of thwarting or felling opponents).

            They don’t hate “white people”; they hate what they have been taught are the sins of European/American civilizations, and sincerely believe that justice requires recompense for those sins. They don’t hate beauty, or truth, or even virtue as ideas; they hate the fact that people can disagree over the definition of those ideas so forcefully that it can actually lead to conflict and rejection, within generations or between them, and sincerely believe that removing the grounds for conflict — i.e. the possibility of a single objective correct definition — will prevent such rejection. And if you genuinely believed you had benefited all your life by an evil cult and empire at the expense of innocents, why wouldn’t you feel guilty and apologetic? They applaud stories about those who seldom get stories told about them because they genuinely believe that if we looked closer and longer at those whose suffering is disregarded, we might learn a thing or two, and even start working to amend that suffering.

            Even many of those who hate God, I find, don’t in practice hate God; they hate how their parents, teachers, or religious leaders tried to browbeat God’s teachings into them, or hate that those teachings seem to stand in the way of what they have been taught by media osmosis will mean happiness, or (for the larger-scope thinkers among them) simply can’t reconcile a loving God with a world full of misery, and wind up hating the teachers of false hope rather than loving blasphemy for its own sake.

            Logic obliges me to admit here that none of this personal experience means your analysis is incorrect. It is possible for someone to loathe himself for the contradictions of his philosophy without consciously understanding why or seeing those contradictions, and zeal that begins for holy motives can easily culminate in unholy actions, given only enough pride to prevent self-checking for error. But as always, when confronted with the clash between what a philosophy is in principle and what I know in practice of real people who adhere, even in part, to that philosophy, my instinct is to err on the side of kindness to the people if we can.

            (That this tempts me and mushy people like me to forget Truth is one of the reasons I need regular reminders of what Truth is from this blog.)

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              Those are indeed the things they say are their motives. They do indeed say they do not hate whites, and they do indeed say they do not adore ugliness.

              Explain the contents of a museum of modern art to me? Explain why artists express fear of painting something beautiful for fear of being called shallow? No, that is too much. Merely explain the toilet. (http://auralfixations.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/800px-marcel_duchamp_fountain_at_tate_modern_by_david_shankbone.jpg)

              Better yet, explain this:
              https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/rec.arts.sf.written/UwLkBPs9jJA

              There is one mention of the book being discussed, which happens to be my own.

              The second comment remarks disparagingly on the other books bought by readers who bought my book, and the politics of those authors. Larry Correia is referred to as “whining white male.”

              There follows several comments hooing and hawing over my religion, which is Catholicism, any the political opinions of my youth, which were strongly libertarian. Then more hooting and mocking, and then….

              No discussion of the book. Only of the politics and religion of the author by peoples who only source of information was Wikipedia, or other places on the Internet.

              Explain it. Explain this in terms of a sincere belief in the need to recompense for the sins of America in the name of Justice. Perhaps we should free the slaves? We have done so. Perhaps we should force the British Empire to divest herself of her colonies? This has also been done. These things were done before I was born, and I am not a young man.

              Explain it. If you believe what the Liberals says of themselves, explain why their words do not match their actions, do not match their results, do not match their means, do not match their ends.

              If you say, “They do not hate whites, they merely reacted with hatred, fear, and loathing at any mention of whites because of past injustices visited upon the Etruscans, Ethiopians, and Erythraeans by Romans, who were dark-haired Mediterraneans.” well, that is two ways of saying the same thing.

              It is no kindness to believe a lie, even a lie a man tells himself to prop up his failing self esteem.

              I believe, by the way, that I can explain it. There is a reason why the most kindhearted Leftist defends Che and Castro and Mao. There is a reason why they would not hurt a butterfly but yawn when hearing about Christians being beheaded in the Middle East. (http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/03/the-unified-field-theory-of-madness/)

              • Comment by Stephen J.:

                “If you believe what the Liberals say of themselves, explain why their words do not match their actions, do not match their results, do not match their means, do not match their ends.”

                Well, the simplest answer is that it may be problematic to take the worst examples of behaviour to those one sees as one’s opponents, in the anonymous, rule-less context of the Internet, as a typical representation of their behaviour overall or their behaviour in person. I would observe that this applies to things like art, too; the ugliness of Duchamp’s sculpture is striking because it is an extreme, not because it is typical — indeed, there is no way now for it to become typical because any similar work will only be called derivative. (This, to me, is one of the biggest weaknesses of the provocation/novelty philosophy of art, not aesthetic but practical: it has a superbly steep curve of diminishing returns.) If the words to which Liberals must live up were selected not from the worst of what they say to us, but from the best of what they say to each other, would that not change the equation?

                Another issue is illuminated by the old political truism of American politics: “Conservatives think liberals are wrong. Liberals think conservatives are evil.” Leftist results will never match leftist intent because they cannot — but before you can correct a mistake you have to be willing to consider that it is a mistake, and one of their mistakes is to distrust anyone who suggests that they may be mistaken, catching them in their own perfect Catch-22 trap. (And the pride involved in refusing to consider possible error is a universal failing.) So I do not have to impute malice of motive to liberals, only a toxic combination of erroneous judgement and indoctrinated stubbornness. As Bishop Sheen said: “There are not a hundred people who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they think the Church to be.”

                But mostly it’s precisely because their behaviour doesn’t match the motives here imputed that I find it hard to impute those motives. For people who supposedly hate everything I stand for, they’re a lot nicer to me in practice than one would expect.

                • Comment by John C Wright:

                  Well, the simplest answer is that it may be problematic to take the worst examples of behaviour to those one sees as one’s opponents, in the anonymous, rule-less context of the Internet, as a typical representation of their behaviour overall or their behaviour in person.

                  With all due respect, this is utter hogwash. I am not talking about anonymous internet trolls, I am talking about Marx and Nietzsche and Sartre, who are philosophers supporting Socialism, Atheism, and Existentialism. I know their names and what they wrote. I am talking about politicians from Mr Obama to Mr Clinton and economists like Keynes. I am talking about FDR and the New Deal and LBJ and the Great Society.

                  In the arts, I am talking about the following works of art in display in Modern Museums: Marcel Duchamp Fountain (1917) is a urinal; Martin Creed Work No. 227, The Lights Going On and Off (2000, Turner Prize Winner) is a light going off and on; Damien Hirst A Thousand Years (1990) is a maggoty cow head; Michael Craig-Martin An Oak Tree (1973) is a glass of water on a shelf; Andres Serrano Piss Christ (1987) is a crucifix dunked in urine; Piero Manzoni Artist’s Shit (1961) is a can of excrement; Tracey Emin My Bed (1998) is an unmade bed.

                  You talk about what is typical as opposed to atypical. You then conclude something like the toilet in the museum will never become typical because everything after will be called derivative, when, in fact, it is NOT called derivative, and art museums is crammed with such works.

                  Neither did you answer my question. I asked you to explain, if the glorification of beauty was the true intent of the Leftist Artist, why he ends up with the result we see around us, which is the glorification of ugliness? Your answer is so nonresponsive that I fear you are under the impression I asked an entirely different question. What question that is, I cannot imagine.

                  Tell me: is support for abortion, which is the murder of unborn human children, typical of the Democrat Party or atypical? When the typical Democrat refers to it, does he say, “I favor the murder of unborn human children” or does he say, “I favor the freedom of women concerning health issues” — and what is the result of this elliptical euphemistic speech, no matter what the intent is?

                  I do not have to impute malice of motive to liberals, only a toxic combination of erroneous judgement and indoctrinated stubbornness.

                  So what? If the toxic combination of erroneous judgment and indoctrinated stubbornness means they hate White Men and hate America and hate Christianity, what does it mean to say this is not malice? You are identifying the CAUSE of their malice.

                  • Comment by Stephen J.:

                    The nonresponsiveness was not intentional, but I apologize nonetheless and will attempt to answer more fairly.

                    “I asked you to explain, if the glorification of beauty was the true intent of the Leftist Artist, why he ends up with the result we see around us, which is the glorification of ugliness?”

                    With respect, what you asked me to explain, I thought, was how they can claim not to hate beauty (which is all I asserted on their behalf) and yet produce ugly art — presumably because it is difficult to square their actions with this attributed opinion. To some extent, this is exactly the same reaction as I had about my friends: it is equally hard for me to square the imputation they hate everything I am and represent with the fact that their behaviour clearly indicates they don’t hate me.

                    In both cases, I suggest that a possible explanation is that while the opinion may be sincere, the context of particular actions may indicate that something else is seen as more important or relevant. A man who hates his friend’s politics may be sincere in that hatred, but nonetheless treasure his friend because he feels personal amity or honour is more important. Similarly, the artists who eschew beauty for ugliness may not hate beauty, but they may think that ugliness or offensiveness is the only way to make a point believed necessary; we may consider their judgement wrong on that point, but that does not mean malice motivated their decision.

                    It seems to me that you are using “malice” to describe the effect of their actions, regardless of intent, whereas I have always understood it to be a description of intent or desire alone (as does Dictionary.com; “Law. evil intent on the part of a person who commits a wrongful act injurious to others”). All I meant by my objection was to clarify that I do not believe such evil intent exists in the people I personally know, and does not show up in much practice even if present. But as that was not the topic of the original post, the accusation of nonresponsiveness must, I concede, remain justified.

                    • Comment by John C Wright:

                      Just today, I saw the news, where Israel was being condemned for bombing a school, but Hamas was not condemned for putting mortar emplacements in the school and opening fire upon Israeli civilians. I heard that the New York Times has not a single photo of any Palestinian soldiers, and has not reported on any Israeli killing of Palestinian soldiers, only of civilians. I heard that the UN is condemning Israel for failing to share their ‘Star Wars’ SDI project, called Iron Dome, with Hamas.

                      Yes, you heard me. The UN condemned Israel for not giving Hamas antimissile missile technology which the Liberals here in America mocked, called impossible, and condemned when Reagan wanted to develop it.

                      At this point, the nuances of detecting the exact degree of sincerity in the hearts of Leftists becomes an academic exercise.

                      I did not introduce the word ‘malice’ into the conversation. I used the word ‘hate’. When the majority leader in the Senate — not some anonymous Internet troll — refers to the Hobby Lobby decision by decrying the ability of ‘five white men’ to determine the laws which control the health issues of women — at what point do you acknowledge that a hatred of white men is present? When the Senate Leader calls a black Justice a white man?

                      Or when the New York Times — not some anonymous Internet troll — refers to the man who shot Treyvon as ‘a white hispanic’ (an ethnic category never heard of before or since) at what point do you acknowledge that a hatred of white men is present?

                      If you cannot reconcile the kindheartedness of Leftists in their private lives with the hatred they routinely and in soft, mild, caring voices express to the world, welcome to the mystery of evil.

                      These people no doubt think they are doing good, doing everyone a favor, and only being fair when they, for example, ask Israel not to defend her children from Hamas terror, or when they hang toilets in art museums, or when they purge SFWA of non-feminists.

                      Or when they support Cuba. Or praise Mao.

                      Or condemn America for overthrowing Saddam. Or condemn the Hiroshima bombing. Or condemn Christianity. Or boycott Chik-fil-A. Or fire Mozilla CEO’s for their private political opinions. Or demonize Orson Scott Card for his rather middle-of-the-road FDR-Democrat style beliefs. Or daydream about assassinating Bush. Or laud musicals blaspheming Christ as a rockstar. Or free dangerous criminals. Or expand the reach of government.

                      Do you understand that there comes a point after which their protestations of kindheartness simply do not matter? If a man out of the kindness of his heart locked your daughter in a cell with a rapist cannibal murderer, and he rapes and eats her on camera, and the kindhearted man always, always, always sides with the rapist against her, kindheartedly mocks her memory, and kindheartedly spits on her grave, how kindhearted must he continue to be in all other areas before you discount that kindheartedness as either insincere or insane?

                      Whether he himself believes it does not matter. We are not talking about a crime where mens rea is an issue. We are talking about a result of their behaviors.

                      If a Liberal wants to help the poor, and yet all he ever does is hurt the poor in the hopes of hurting the rich, and EVERYTHING he does has the EXACT OPPOSITE RESULT from the results he CLAIMS TO WANT, at what point do you discount the claim as being either self-imposed ignorant, self-imposed madness, self-imposed self-deception, or merely words disconnected utterly from reality? I am willing to give it one hundred years.

                      From 1867 to 1967, it was feasible to believe that socialism would somehow create wealth by abolishing the institutions and laws that allow for wealth creation, as Mark promised. It is now almost another half a century beyond that.

                      If their beliefs were merely random, they would be right half the time. They might, for example, side with the USSR against the USA but support Israel against Hamas. But instead, no. They always, always, always side with the moral reprobate, the aggressor, the antiamerican, the beast, against the human, against the patriot, against the family, against Christ.

                      Even when they are FOR what seem like good things, such as being against the maltreatment of prisoners of war, the only maltreatment they protest are those allegedly committed by us, by our side. And then they react by wanting to give prisoners of war civilian trials complete with lawyers. This is the current Administration seeking this, not some anonymous Internet troll.

                    • Comment by Montague:

                      (this nitpick is directed at Mr. Wright’s comment below; I just didn’t see the reply button there due to size constraints)

                      Well, Hiroshima was at the very least unfortunate, and possibly unnecessary in the method of execution (although I am by no means an expert on the circumstances of the use of the bomb.) Could there have been a better way to show the force of the bomb without civilian casualty? Here I defer to the war historians.

                      The bombs are for me a bit of a touchy subject, being as I am a citizen of both nations involved (which makes things awkward at museums and the like, to say the least.) I can thank my lucky stars that though my granny lived in Nagasaki during the war, she was not all that close the the city, being poor.

                      On the other hand, my granny and I are routinely ticked off by the lily-livered cries of “peace, peace” when there is no peace; and I have no doubt the progs have something to do with that here as well. In the meanwhile, I hope we regress some samurai spirit back inta’ this place.

                    • Comment by John C Wright:

                      There were only four bombs in existence. One was ignited in the US as a test. The second was dropped on Hiroshima, where the main army defending the home islands was bivouacked, and the main factory in the region making munitions. Warning leaflets were dropped five days prior. Even then, the Japanese were training children wearing backpacks of explosives to throw themselves under the treads of tanks in preparation for resisting the planned invasion. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when the divine Emperor was going to the radio station to announced the surrender, certain of his generals attempted to kidnap him, the god emperor, to prevent the surrender and continue the war.

                      No show of force would have persuaded the Japanese, the boldest and most warlike people God ever created, to surrender. If such a show would have, the bomb on Hiroshima would have. It did not.

                      In any case, the damage was done by an a-bomb, not an h-bomb. The area damaged was less than happened to Dresden which was bombed with conventional explosives.

                    • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

                      In reply to Mr. Wright’s comments about the atomic bombs below, I have to mention a podcast I listened to a while ago by a certain Dan Carlin. He does a fantastic history podcast, and had an episode called Logical Insanity. He posits that the usual questions about this event are completely beside the point, and the real question is When did it become okay to bomb civilian populations?

                      As he describes, compared to the firebombings that preceded it, the atomic bombings weren’t much worse, they were just massively more efficient, one plane each instead of hundreds.

                      Interesting things to contemplate. I highly recommend the podcast in general. He’s currently in the middle of a series about WWI.

                      This is a link to his podcast on that particular issue: http://www.dancarlin.com//disp.php/hharchive/Show-42—(BLITZ)-Logical-Insanity/Second%20World%20War-World%20War%20Two-World%20War%20One

                    • Comment by John C Wright:

                      I have great respect for any man who, consistent with the traditional laws and usages of Napoleonic war between civilized allies, held that it would have been better to allow the Axis Powers to win World War Two rather than resort to aerial bombing. That, at least, would be consistent. Those who condemn Allied use of the Atomic Bomb but permit the firebombing of Dresden are merely being arbitrary, illogical. Those who condemn the Allied bombing of Dresden but do not condemn the burning of Atlanta, again, are being arbitrary.

                      I myself would prefer wars be fought between civilized nations with due military courtesy kept by both sides, and minimal collateral damage. This excludes enemies who attack without declaration of war, as the Japanese did. I do not see the point of objecting to criticizing one side of the war, the side that showed more restraint and civility than her foes, but not to criticize the other. The Japanese behavior at Iwo Jima, including false surrenders and putting grenades under wounded men, and so on, excused the Allies from the more restrictive niceties of civilized warfare. However, the Japanese, to my knowledge, never used nerve gas; nor, to my knowledge, in that war, did we.

                      Part of the hysteria against atomic weapons is deliberate, placed here by communists seeking to sap American will to fight, by telling us our own weapons were too terrible to use. These first ultra primitive a-bombs were not an h-bombs and had a much lower yield, and did comparable damage to a fleet of bombers. The only difference was that it was dropped from a single plane. The damage was severe, but recall that Hiroshima was made of flimsy wooden and paper houses, flammable materials.

                      Again, I would have no argument with a man who claimed that a-bombs and neutron bombs were acceptable tools of war, but h-bombs too dangerous to use.

                      The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, at paragraph 1994 “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.”

                      The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not directed toward that purpose. Had the civilian populations fled the cities, the bombs would nonetheless have been dropped, in order to destroy the armies and armaments gathered there, and the factories which mass produced them.

                    • Comment by David Lang:

                      @zaklog the great re: “when did it become ok to bomb civilian populations”

                      well, a few ways to approach that

                      1. bombing was not precision, to bomb a factory complex you ended up needing to bomb that side of the city

                      2. when the other side started bombing civilians first (and remember the German Zeppelin bombing runs on London in WW1)

                      3. when the enemy’s industry is dispersed among the civilians (very common in both Germany and Japan)

                      4. when you realize that they aren’t just innocent bystanders, they are the people working in the factories/farms/etc to create the weapons of war that are being used to attack you

                      (and relevant to the current situation in the middle-east)

                      5. when the fighters hide among the civilians in such a way that it’s not possible to attack the fighters and their supporters (see #4) without catching others in the crossfire.

                      you could try and argue that using human shields like that is bad, but asking the weaker side to give the stronger side a clear target to take them out is foolish thinking

                    • Comment by J. C. Salomon:

                      David, your #5 scenario is not actually one of “bomb[ing] civilian populations” at all: the civilians are not the targets; they just live atop and between the targets and are unfortunately and (on the Israeli side) unavoidably hit as well.

                    • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

                      @David Lang Yes, Mr. Carlin covers much of that ground in the podcast I linked to. He explains a lot more as well, including eyewitness descriptions of the firebombings. If the topic interests you, you should really listen to it sometime.

                    • Comment by Foxfier:

                      “when did it become ok to bomb civilian populations”

                      There’s a reason that we dropped leaflets warning everyone that we were going to bomb.

                      The Japanese responded by, basically, drafting the entire population on pain of death. You leave the areas that you’d been warned would be bombed, and they’d kill you. And your family.

                    • Comment by Mary:

                      The firebombing of Tokyo killed more civilians than both atom bombs. Having hysterics only about the atom bombs is — silly.

                    • Comment by John C Wright:

                      No, the purpose of having hysterics about atoms bombs is to aid the Soviet Union, which could not overcome the West through direct military means, to overcome the West through moral suasion. So the Leftists, cooperating with unholy enthusiasm with the Soviet Union, helped spread the propaganda at every turn. Leftists are not wise people, even some of them have extensive booklearning, and can pass tests and get degrees which increasingly mean nothing. They are fools who avoid thought and fill their brains with automatic sets of reactions and responses, dogmas. As such they are the most conservative group on the planet, since they never change their minds. Their fears about Victorian-era work conditions and class society in England are still current in the class warfare here in America, the only nation in history never ever to have a class structure. Their fears about the pollution levels of 1950 and 1960 still inform their every decision, and their unearthly and inexplicable gullibility about every ecopanic story to invented by frauds like Rachel Carson that wander down the pike. Their fears about the Spanish Inquisition prompts their hatred of Protestant religions — don’t ask me to explain that one. Their fears about the way women where treated in ancient Greece, as chattel property, explain their ongoing attempts to liberate women from a culture where women are as liberated as it is imaginable to be.

                      And so their fears that America will prevail over their beloved Soviet Union continues to provoke them to dread and loathing about atomic weapons long after the Soviet Union is no more, and despite that the United States has not dropped an atom bomb since then.

                      If you notice, they are not afraid of Pakistani atom bombs, nor North Korean, nor soon-to-be-deployed Islamic Bombs.

                      Only American bombs provoke hysterics.

                      Ask any surviving Japanese airmen if we were justified in dropping the bomb. Ask them if they would have stopped fighting had it not been for that.

                    • Comment by David Lang:

                      @J. C. Salomon

                      I agree with you, but the press doesn’t (they portray anyone being killed while attacking combatants being the equal of intentionally targeting civilians, they vastly overestimate the ability of weapons to only hit their intended targets), so I included it.

                    • Comment by J. C. Salomon:

                      I thank you for the clarification, David, though it was apparent from your words that this was what you meant. My comment was intended to make this explicit, rather than to unnecessarily correct you.

                    • Comment by David Lang:

                      @Zaklog the Great
                      well, if the podcast covered all those reasons, are you concluding that those reasons are not enough and asking for more?

                      Personally, I would consider many of those reasons enough by themselves, and the combination of all of them removes any questions

                      By the way, are you aware that the Japanese attempted to start huge wildfires in the western US, which would have had the potential to be even more devastating than the firebombings of an individual city.

                    • Comment by Zaklog the Great:

                      @David Lang

                      Arrgh! I was not taking a position on the issue. I was not saying anything one way or the other; I was simply pointing out, as Dan Carlin does, that in all the fuss over the use of the atomic bombs, the real question, which was completely neglected, was how it became okay to use such weapons in a way that would destroy large civilian populations.

                      Mr. Carlin looks at the historical and technological factors which set the situation up, and looks at all kinds of moral questions involved. I am not condemning the men who made those decisions as devils. I am not justifying their actions either. I am merely repeating the same point which was his starting point, that for the last 70 years, people have been asking the wrong questions about the events.

                      As I said and a few others here have repeated, the bombs used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not, in their practical effects, much different than the firebombings that were done before.

              • Comment by Stephen J.:

                Time and conscience, however, oblige me to follow up with an acknowledgement that at least part of the reason for this tolerance from my liberal friends may be because I am too cowardly to confront them on our points of disagreement, for fear of provoking exactly the kind of hostility and rejection being here described. So it is not much of a defense if I am not willing to put it to the test personally, and my objections must be acknowledged to be less substantial than I might wish.

            • Comment by Ed Pie:

              “And if you genuinely believed you had benefited all your life by an evil cult and empire at the expense of innocents, why wouldn’t you feel guilty and apologetic?”

              I don’t know the people you know, so I can’t speak to their situation, but the only reason I would feel guilty about having benefited from the ministrations of an evil cult would be if at some point I gained the means and ability to reject the cult’s offerings and live an honest life, but instead chose to remain in comfort and hypocrisy.

            • Comment by Desiderius:

              Stephen J.,

              Have always enjoyed and appreciated your well-thought-out comments in a variety of internet fora.

              I long held the view you espouse here, and spent many years working to, for lack of a better word, appease those concerns you suggest that “they” (curious pronoun, are you changing your own mind as well?) hold.

              I’ve come upon evidence and experience that the current crop of progs are not being honest in characterizing their views and motivations the way you describe. For instance, young atheists who grew up in churches where they were never browbeaten about anything but political incorrectness nonetheless claiming their antipathy to religion grew out of a repressively conservative upbringing.

              The key thing I’ve noticed is that they are not in any way guilty or self-loathing – if anything, the exact opposite. Smug people are many things, but guilty is not one of them. They hate alright, constantly, but not themselves, and the hatred isn’t exactly loathing.

              If I’m not mistaken, it’s the primal hatred of predator for prey. The less fanatic fellow travelers adopt the pre-packaged rationalizations of their forebears (that you describe) to rationalize getting in on the kill. They no longer accurately apply.

            • Comment by Mary:

              “And if you genuinely believed you had benefited all your life by an evil cult and empire at the expense of innocents, why wouldn’t you feel guilty and apologetic?”

              How guilty and apologetic do celiacs feel about having profited from the Nazis’ intentional starvation of Europe? It was when the first imported food was rushed to a hospital with a ward of celiac patients who had been improving on the starvation rations and relapsed on a normal one that allowed them to conclusively narrow it down to gluten.

          • Comment by Montague:

            Or to put it more succinctly, it’s because of their foundational mythology or power theory ontology, which makes 1) reality (that is, God), and 2) anyone else with power an evil oppressor.

            Hatred of good is almost always an acquired taste, drilled into the minds of modern men through this mythology of power.

            I am willing to believe (given requisite evidence) that many a liberal bought this philosophy just as Boromir was enamored of the ring – as a thing of manipulative power which they thought could be used for good (although it cannot be, and ought to be cast into a volcano, for in the end it will turn its bearer into a wraith.)

      • Comment by R.Carter:

        “They do wish to shape the world by will, but they sincerely think that their reshaping will genuinely make things better off for everyone — with (it is perhaps mumbled off to one side) the sad but necessary exception of those few eggs who will stubbornly object to being made into the Universally Pleasing Omelette; but really, that’s not that sad given how disproportionately obstreperous they’re being to all the rest of us, right?”

        Why, you could almost say that the success of their strategy would be a triumph of the will, eh? Eh?

        But I don’t really think most of them actually care about the fate of those who stand in their way. Granted, internet-based interactions must be skewed to the lowest common denominator. The anonymity of the web seems to breed enmity and slander like flies on a corpse, but from what I’ve seen and experienced I suspect that the vast majority of Progressives (even those who would not be considered “True Believers”) would do no more than shrug their shoulders if the government decided tomorrow that people with certain religious, philosophical, and political beliefs should be forced to wear the image of a red elephant or something on all their clothes to identify them. I mean, it would only make sense to identify such people, right? It wouldn’t do to have them stabbing the United States in the back while our Glorious Leaders guide us into the light of a brave new world.

  4. Comment by Mrs. Wright:

    Still laughing about Prog-Trogs. he he he.

    The picture was hilarious…though as your loving and ob’d wife, I prefer you as Doctor Doom to the guy whose only power is to give clues to the enemy about how he is to be defeated.

  5. Comment by Lee A Steven:

    I happened to visit Alan Jacobs blog today as well and he has a post that’s relevant to this topic, only looking at it from a larger, cultural position and citing to another blog post (also worth reading) about the rise of the Pink Police State. Readers of this blog might be interested. See http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2014/07/totem-and-taboo.html

  6. Comment by AstroSorcorer:

    It is good to see that the Evil League of Evil is still alive and well. Emerging from hidden underground bases with high tech shiny glossed black floors reflecting the wall-to-wall screens depicting the world and the countdown timer to activation of the Omega Beam.

  7. Comment by Fail Burton:

    Raymond’s a pretty perceptive guy. He’s the one who invented the term “kafkatrap,” so he clearly understands the modes of attack involved. In this case however he’s missed the boat. His post would have more traction had it been written in 1964 about the New Wave. Raymond understands the thinking involved but never crosses that gap to who it is doing the thinking. “Iain Banks”? Iain Banks has nothing to do with this.

    I’m not really surprised. Although the attackers have been around for decades, since the ’70s at least, they were previously thought so nuts no one really paid much attention to them. It’s a new thing in SFF – with race added – really only dating back to “Racefail” in 2009 – a scant 5 years. It hides under the rubric of “diversity,” and yes, liberalism.

    I am constantly amazed at how often the people in SFF attacking so-called conservatives specifically use the term “intersectional” contrasted with how much the people being attacked never use the term. And when I say never I mean never.

    Even with the bald-face evidence plainly in front of them, those under assault still don’t realize who and what is attacking them or why. The idea this is liberal vs. conservative carries no weight. If you thought of it more as “conservatives” (intersectionalspeak for white straight male) being an obsessive focus in the same way Jews and black folks are with the American Nazi Party, you’d be right on the money. This is about race and gender and supremacy, not politics. It has nothing to do with politics, nor literary jealousies and “status envy.” It’s all about identity – one’s race and gender – and what that gives and takes away. They’re only screaming it on Twitter and blogs every single day.

    This is about a cadre of racists and bigoted sexists leading naive morons who see themselves as analogues to superheroes, the criminal justice system and law enforcement, the so-called “social justice warrior.” It’s about sheer hatred mainstreamed into reasonability, even nobility. Jim Hines and his inquisitions are the literal embodiment of the useful idiot baring his throat.

    When the former president of the SFWA John Scalzi is literally asking you to “bone up” on intersectionalism and Damien Walters is leading a witchhunt against Larry Correia with the later admonition to “Google ‘intersectional’,” and the main leader N.K. Jemisin is quoting Flavia Dzoden “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullsh-t,” it’s not exactly a murder mystery. More than anyone else Scalzi opened the door to this racist cult, gave it credibility, wrote about “white privilege.”

    With cannon pointing towards the sea that cannot be turned around, expect a lot of splashing with little result. In 106 comments at ESR’s blog the word “intersectional” is not used once, and I have no idea what those commenters are even thinking about.

    The people opposing you don’t hate Golden Age SF because of what was in it, since they routinely lie about what’s in it, and in fact don’t even know. They hate it because heterosexual ethnic European men wrote it. And that’s it in a nutshell – game, set and match. Straight white male equal homophobia, racism and sexism in the same way supremacists believe Jew equals greed and blacks crime. This is very, very simple and very, very fundamental.

  8. Comment by Patrick:

    “Yes, dear reader, I select one of my own works because, frankly, writers suffer from inflated egos. My style is ornate yet clear, and the language is elevated.”

    Normally, I would think this egotism a bit declasse, but your choice of texts makes for an amazing comparison.

    Everybody, meditate over the two very different types of horror on display here. On the one hand, we have a terribly typical lady, preoccupied with power and weakness, wallowing out her angst in a kind of panicked, perambulating scribble. The text is the palliative cant of the jejune egotist, distancing herself from some awkwardly excrusted drama with with more and less urgent metaphors. You’ll find these themes – preoccupations, really – vergent in the college journals of any number of bored, insecure, low-status women since The Sorrows of Young Werther who date similar kinds of men.

    Some people might call this a revenge fantasy, but it’s as John says – a homily in praise of envy. And the style is, as he says, bad because while grotesque, IT ISN’T ENTERTAINING. The effect of the story is to overawe the reader with a sense of nausea – to force him, as an exercise of revelation, to intuit from his pressing discomfort a sense of our universal subhumanity, by leaving him all himself to contemplate violence and helplessness and ressentiment. The process, as he points out, involves no style. This carefully arranged viscera isn’t really meant to be entertaining.

    On the other hand, John’s excerpt, is, and I say this almost in spite of myself, great, and terrifying. Every sentence divulges a plot point, a character, or a detail meant to create wonder: the point is to show the reader his humanity in opposition an impossible thing. The Night Land is almost cheating though – it is simply the slow disclosure of the scariest, most awe-ful possibility conceivable – the worst of all possible worlds, an insuperable gloom, a literal Voice in the East, laughing at our philosophy until the last one of us is dead or Destroyed. And yet, it’s a great story, and setting Antigone in hell is a tremendous tribute to the original concept. It demonstrates that -we- at least, while we remain what we are, are not subhuman. And the proper way to tell a story to a decent human being is to entertain them in the telling.

    • Comment by Foxfier:

      On the other hand, John’s excerpt, is, and I say this almost in spite of myself, great, and terrifying.

      I am– sorry, Sir Host!– not a fan of his fiction, but kept flashing back to the impact of Antigone on my teenage mind. Shook me to my roots. Makes me believe that I really need to try reading his stuff when I’m not looking for comfort and escape from current issues…
      which…
      on consideration…
      maybe that’s what the Other Fans get from it?

      I know that I read stuff to feel better– Hello, Mrs. Wrede!– when things are tough, and challenging stuff when I need more of a challenge (hello, high school)… maybe folks feel attacked and that’s why they go for obviously horrible stuff that supports their world-view? At one point I was devouring really bad fan fiction until I was more emotionally secure, and had worked through the “hungers” that the bad-fic was filling. If you identify the wrong thing as “filling” for your hunger, it’ll build a circle of demand.

      • Comment by Patrick:

        “maybe that’s what the Other Fans get from it?”

        I wouldn’t know; I’ve only read his Night Land stuff and that great story he did for Lent a few years ago. I personally didn’t sleep well for a week after reading the original The Night Land, and lost a bunch more sleep after Awake in the Night.

    • Comment by Montague:

      Egads! Sorrows of Young Werther?

      Before Twilight disgraced the shelves of schoolgirls and maenads, in the dismal mists in the age of reason’s perversion and the great wreck of cathedrals (and who hath not heard the madmen whisper in the ruins of Tintern abbey, where greed and schism and sin defaced what now the weather worries) – in that age flaring with lurid nightmare lanterns and the unease of kings, there spawned to terrible portents… THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER.

      Seriously though – terrible book, 0/5 would not recommend to impressionable German audiences, or anyone else really.

      • Comment by Patrick:

        Anybody in doubt about this, wit ye well, I am not loath to defy thee and all thy fellowship. Just read these quotes!

        http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/746264-die-leiden-des-jungen-werther

        My thesis is that envy-as-book – i.e. vague, undulating, miserific prosody – is, since at least 1776, a genre of its own, which encourages timid young people, on the cusp of taking their first unaided bite from life, to purse their lips and shut their eyes and try to become lampreys instead, and learn to glom emotionally onto anyone who seems stronger or more ‘real’ somehow – to see less, feel less, and suck more intensely than we ever thought possible.

        Most of us exposed to this genre – who survive it, anyways – realize in time that this ‘adaptation’ is unwise, and do catch up with our peers eventually.

        But in the heat of youthful envy? Oh, Werthers, oh sad, false vixens, tell us what it’s like:

        “I wish someone would dare reproach me about the whole thing so that I could run a dagger through his heart. If only I could see blood. I know I would feel better. Oh, I have picked up a knife a hundred times with the intention of plunging it into my own heart! I have heard tell of a noble breed of stallions who when they are overheated and run wild, instinctively bite open one of their veins to relieve themselves. I feel like that often. I would like to open the vein that would give me eternal freedom.”

    • Comment by ConceptJunkie:

      I was also going to give our esteemed host a little ribbing about this as well, but as is typical in such a situation, he beat us all to the punch. Whatever other ego-maniacal tendencies he may suffer from in his grandiose quest to conquer the world for the Evil League of Evil, it is always a sign of intellectual honesty and a proper sense of perspective when one can poke fun at himself. But, of course, what do I know? I’m just a big, doughy, middle-aged nerd whose biggest literary accomplishment is that a member of the Evil League of Evil has quoted him in his blog. ;-)

      Nevertheless, the quote was indeed perfect for the situation. Weeks later, I’m still amazed at how much richness Mr. Wright exposed in the world of Mr. Hodgson, and I say exposed rather than added because it feels like it was there all along, just waiting to be revealed, and how well he captured the feel and mood of the world of the Night Land.

  9. Comment by WillShetterly:

    As for calling them Morlocks, none of them are working class, nor do any of them have any particular concern with the working class. They’re Eloi, and they’re concern is that female and dark-skinned Eloi should be served as well as male and light-skinned Eloi.

  10. Comment by simplemind:

    HA HA – great point never thought of the riddler that way.

    The Mr. has his work cut out for him with you doesn’t he.

  11. Comment by simplemind:

    Seriously, though, do evil bullies who gang up five against one to beat some to death drink GIN!! For goodness sake I laughed out loud. So far out of touch I doubt the author has been in social company in a real honest to goodness bar.

  12. Comment by simplemind:

    So Gene Wolfe quit teaching writer’s workshops some years back because of a social justice warrior rebellion among his students. He’s written about it or was interviewed about it. I can’t recall where I read it now. Gist of it was they didn’t like his criticism because he was calling them on stuff that was ridiculously leftist nonsense wish fulfillment rather than real imagination, characterization, plotting etc. Sad thing was he was trying to help them and they attacked him for it.

    I can’t write but for a while I thought I’d like to take a course just for an opportunity to talk to Wolfe about writing and life etc. There’s a book published that is a collection of interviews he’s given and I think it might be in there. I have to go re read it to be sure.

  13. Comment by Cambias:

    A scientific acquaintance noticed that of all scientists, paleontologists are the least likely to get beat up by drunks in a bar. These are people who spend a third of the year moving rocks.

    • Comment by DGDDavidson:

      I work as an archaeologist, and the kind of guys I work with are also not the type to get beat up in a bar; those that would probably wouldn’t be in that bar in the first place.

      When I first looked at this story, I noticed immediately how trite and nonsensical its scenario was. If he was the kind of guy who’s likely to have this happen to him in such an establishment, he probably wouldn’t have been in there in the first place. The epithets hurled at him looked like a random selection, unconnected to each other. No mention of police. No mention of anyone trying to intervene. The author plainly put no thought into this.

      • Comment by Suburbanbanshee:

        Also, if anybody was overheard in a bar talking about dinosaurs… well, a lot of “redneck” people love dinosaurs! Who do they think went to see Jurassic Park? You might run into somebody who was a creationist, I suppose, but creationists also love dinosaurs; they’d just be trying to get the guy to admit that dinosaurs and humans could have co-existed. And that kind of discussion is usually more a case of Fanatically Annoying Mundanefannish Person Won’t Go Away than beating people up and insulting them.

        There are a lot of country people around here who love, love knowing that one of the world’s biggest experts on ancient sharks lives and excavates up in God’s Country in Ohio. Because giant sharks are cool, and it’s cool to see Ohio in Shark Week programming. (And come to think of it, that prof is portly but doesn’t seem like he’d be easily beaten to death by even a mob.)

        • Comment by AstroSorcorer:

          Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Of course they are cool!
          I think that is part of what is so stunning about that story: she actually managed to make a story about an artificially created intelligent dinosaur that was not only bad, but… boring.
          How? How can any story with a dinosaur on a rampage be boring? She has talent…

    • Comment by Mary:

      Little things like that do not get in the way of wish-fulfillment fantasies.

  14. Comment by idontknowbut@gmail.com:

    I keep coming back to Miller’s take on modern life:

    From A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller (1959):

    … children of Merlin, chasing a gleam. Children, too, of Eve, forever building Edens–and kicking them apart in berserk fury because somehow it isn’t the same.

    The closer men came to perfecting themselves a paradise, the more impatient they seemed to become with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew in richness and power and beauty; for then, perhaps, it was easier for them to see that something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow. When the world was in darkness and wretchedness, it could believe in perfection and yearn for it. But when the world became bright with reason and riches, it began to sense the narrowness of the needle’s eye, and that rankled for a world no longer willing to believe or yearn.

    • Comment by Montague:

      An excellent book, delightful and instructing :)

      Speaking of which, I wonder if someone’s complied a list of books like that on a previous post – books from the last century or so that describe both generally, and presently, the weed that grows in the harvest-field?

      If we were to start the list now, I would nominate, in addition to Canticle:
      1) Lewis’ Abolition of Man/That Hideous Strength
      2) Tolkien’s LOTR
      3) Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos (I’ve not read his other works though so I might be missing a good novel here)

      I think there has got to be a secret guild of Christian dystopia writers (of which no doubt our host is a member – observe the Escaton timeline!) My thesis has all the marks of a good conspiracy theory, because there’s no secret knowledge – the philosophical position of the writers is very clear – and there’s no secret guild, but rather members of the public (visible) body of Christ.

      • Comment by M. L. Martin:

        For my money, the “Akallabeth” is the most prophetic of Tolkien’s works.

        • Comment by Montague:

          I think the style of the Lord of the Rings (being from hobbit-height and seeing the thing happen in the Shire) depicts the same thing, but in a more immediate and experiential fashion, as opposed to the straightforward and heroic language that the Akallabeth uses to describe corruption. I would argue both are best as two angles of the same (since Saruman imitates Sauron); and I needn’t argue that both are excellent, since that is a known factor.

          In other words, I think you may be right; but I would force people to read more Tolkien anyhow, just like I would have people read Strength and Abolition by Lewis.

  15. Comment by Sean Michael:

    Mr. Wright listed Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and A.E. van Vogt as the Big Three of science fiction writers in the 1950s. My view is that it should be the Big FOUR instead: including Poul Anderson. He was at least as good a writer as the others, and unlike Heinlein and Asimov, never declined as a writer.

    Poul Anderson would certainly agree with Mr. Wright and the Evil League of Evil that the true job of an SF writer is to tell entertaining stories that pleases readers. Because he told me so himself in one of the letters he wrote to me.

    Sean M. Brooks

  16. Comment by Stephen J.:

    Some prayer has illumined the unworthier aspects of my motivation for arguing here, for which I must apologize: namely some desire to morally preen myself by defending those not present to defend themselves, when I doubt in practice they would care much either way. I ask to be excused for appearing to defend unacceptable ideas, and plead only to be believed that at least some of my upset on behalf of people I like and care about was genuine, albeit it was my error to take condemnation of ideas as condemnation of them on their behalf.

  17. Comment by Walt Guyll:

    I wanted to see how I rate on the Troglodyte scale:
    1. Theologically, they are atheist and agnostic, or at least laiacist.
    That’s me! Although to a deist they may look alike, atheists and agnostics are different creatures.

    2. In Metaphysics, they are nihilist. They hold the universe to have no innate meaning.
    Me. Meaning is arbitrary.

    3. In Epistemology, they are subjectivists and (ironically) empiricists.
    No to Subjectivism; mental activity is only part of it. Yes to empiricism.

    4. In Ontology, they are materialists. They believe minds are epiphenomena of matter.
    Yes, until we straighten out dark matter there only seems to be matter and energy.

    5. In Logic, they are polylogists. They believe each race and both genders possesses unique and exclusive rules of logic.
    Ehh. Doesn’t ring true for me.

    6. In Aesthetics, they glorify the ugly and destroy beauty.
    Does not hold for me or for anyone I know.

    7. In Ethics, they are Gnostics. Whatever we call good, they call evil, and whatever we call evil, they call good.
    Gnosticism seems at odds with non-belief.

    8. In Politics, they are statists, and tacitly totalitarian. They want arbitrary power rather than law and order.
    Personally I’m libertarian.

    9. In Economics, they are socialist. They want the law of supply and demand to vanish softly away.
    See Above.

    10. In Semantics, they are nominalists. They hold words to have no innate meaning.
    Me! Words evolve and change.

    11. In they psychological stance, they are sadists.
    Certainly does not describe me or most lefty wingy writers.

    12. In their psychopathology, they are suicidal. They don’t want to live, they want you to die.
    Certainly does not describe me or most lefty wingy writers.

    13. Emotionally, they are infantile. The emotion that governs them is envy.
    Okay, I do have some neotenous tendencies…

    There may have been some inbreeding between Troglodytes and Neanderthals.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      ‘Gnosticism’ here does not mean literal Gnosticism, but only as applied to ethics. Things that are no brainers for normal people, such as baby-killing or sodomy, to them are either difficult ethic conundrums with no right answer, or they come down solidly and forcefully on the side of evil.

      I have always wondered and still do, what goes on in the mind of a Trog when they say things like “meaning is arbitrary”. If the statement “meaning is arbitrary” is itself arbitrary, it confesses itself to be meaningless. It is as much a paradox as saying, “All statements (including this one) are false.”

      What happens in your brain when you say such things? Are you unaware that the statements are paradoxes? Do you simply not care that you are not making sense? Is it some sort of act of defiance against rationality? What is the point?

  18. Comment by Walt Guyll:

    Let me state that I’m against baby killing (I don’t even like veal) but am fine with oral sex. Oral sex is evil, right?

    As to “meaning is arbitrary,” meaning implies intent and I see little evidence that the universe has intent and therefore no meaning. Of course, if we find that this is all a simulation then meaning is worth talking about.

    Statements have intent. A rock following a trajectory does not.

  19. Ping from Lightning Round – 2014/08/06 | Free Northerner:

    […] On literary envy in SF. Related: Literary envy and the last redoubt. […]

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