If I say “I’m not a particularly political person” in front of my husband and kids, they’ll probably laugh so hard that they’ll break something. And yet it’s true.
I’m not a particularly political person, though I am aware of and anxious about politics, because seeing a country slide into ever more leftist and dysfunctional regimes while the media covers up the results and attributes them to “bad luck” is one of those things one only cares to do once per life time. So I have an obsession with the news (and these days blogs) and sometimes I can only work in front of the TV, if things are particularly iffy (the three months after 9/11.)
I’m not a particularly political person because I don’t think there is a one-size fits all political solution for every land. I believe, by and large the United States constitution is the best way ever come up with to organize government and the people, but I’m not saying improvements couldn’t be suggested that would enhance individual liberty and keep government in check. I’m rather enamored of Heinlein’s idea of having a chamber JUST to repeal laws and prune the hydra-like growth of over regulation.
I’m also not going to say that in a different world, with different technology/setup a better system couldn’t be created.
Unlike the collectivists, I don’t have this dream that human nature will suddenly change. So the only things I truly believe in is that individuals know what is better for them better than the government, and that individuals should be allowed to spend their wealth in the way they see fit, which is likely to accrue greater benefit to society than having the government take it and spend it in the way the government sees fit. Studies about the buying of gifts, and studies of how one spends one’s own as opposed to “found” money (like lottery wins) would seem to confirm this in spades.
So in almost all circumstances, I pick the ticket/candidate who will have a possibility of being closer to the founding principles, fully cognizant half the time the choice is between bad and worse, and also fully cognizant of the fact that there are circumstances in which greater individual autonomy has to be sacrificed to third party control, such as during war (but not the “moral equivalent of war” which gets tricky.)
Because I’m not devoted to a universal solution to the human condition, and because furthermore, the idea of being recruited to preside over the implementation of any regime gives me the cold grue (Terry Pratchett about nailed it when he said “it would be like cleaning other people’s rooms for them”. Apparently I’m not normal, or perhaps I’m normal to half the breed but not the other half, because there seems to be a lot of people who would do anything for power. I’ve often wondered what kind of broken is in them that they feel the need to control others as if that were the only way they’d be safe. Marx, btw, who “reads” Asperger’s, completely failed to take that impulse into account.) I feel zero compulsion to write characters that follow this or that ideology, spout this or that solution to mankind’s problems, and/or write about the paradise to come under enlightened rulers.
But Sarah, you’ll say – Darkships! And, possibly more when you read it A Few Good Men!
Well, science fiction, by its nature, pulls into the writers’ understanding of both people’s motives and historical facts. And that means that it will read “political” to many people, though really I’m just world building and playing with my characters’ circumstances.
As Heinlein once said – I think, though this is a wild paraphrase – I’d be very disappointed if any of my readers just reads the book and agrees with everything in it. The goal is always to make you think.
Which is not to say I don’t think individual will is more moral than control by the state, or that the right to own property individually doesn’t, ultimately, redound to greater wealth than all the collectivist dreams – but that’s because I’ve read both history and economics, and I’ve lived through a good chunk of it, in a small country whose revolution was about as well understood by the American media as the current “Arab Spring.” (Sometimes there just isn’t a side to cheer for, something progressives fail to get because they think history is sentient and has favorites.)
Anyway – while you might find politics (MY politics) – in my science fiction, you’d have a really hard time figuring out who I was voting for in almost any election based on that. Because that’s not the point of the books.
And my other books are virtually apolitical. Except, of course, for my understanding of human nature. I realized, for instance, that Tom and Kyrie do fit the model of industrious small businessmen, and do not reach for government handouts which in the era of “you didn’t build that” might strike inquisitors determined to ferret heresy as contentious. However, since my mother built and ran a business while I was growing up, it is just what I saw happening.
So I’ve always stayed away from speaking of politics in this blog – reserving anything I felt a need to say for PJM or Classical Values.
Part of this was mere prudence. Until recently if Baen dropped me, I’d be in a position of never working again (and now I’m not sure if I’ll be able to live exclusively from indie, but that’s something else. Sometimes you do what you must do.) The other part is that I like people. I like most of my colleagues, respect a good number of them, and only laugh at their politics because crying would make my mascara run.
Most of my colleagues are good people, see, and good people believe what they were told in school, and what they’re told by the “real” media, and… And didn’t have eye-opening experiences like reading Time magazine completely misreport an event they’d been present at to present a “triumphant democracy” slant on something that was a communist takeover.
I can’t fault them for that. I’d give my right arm and all its typing fingers not to have gone through/seen what I did before 18. The desire to believe the mainstream narrative is correct is so great, and the fear I’m crazy for not believing it even though I was there so strong that even now, thirty years later, I’m likely to cry with relief when I come across an American who KNOWS — because he was there, or because he worked in some position that made him have to know – my recollection and not the collective myth is true.
So I understand my colleagues, and still like them despite the fact much of what they favor would destroy the country and my life and the life of those I love. They don’t know that, see – and at heart they’re good people. So, I don’t want to pick fights.
When they post stunningly ignorant, smug little posters with gloating type slogans that they think “prove” everything, I just unsubscribe from their updates. And I go on.
Oh, there is another reason. I don’t care what my favorite writers believe, so long as the story grips me. Pratchett’s ideas on fiat currency make me want to dent a wall with my forehead. It doesn’t mean he isn’t a god among writers or that I don’t love the other parts of the book.
The exception is when I’m reading some book where the author brings the action to a screeching halt and goes into current politics (for when the book was written) by name. I’m likely to feel that way about both sides, mind. I don’t want to be reading a mystery and suddenly fall headlong into a rant about Clinton, any more than I want to fall headlong into a hate screed about Reagan. What makes it worse, though, is that often these go on the “preferred narrative of the left” such as that Reagan was going to bankrupt us AND get us in a war. I’m reading this thirty years later and my ability to believe anything this author tells me, including but not limited to that the sky is blue in her world just went out the window. Which, you see, is a problem.
However I’m aware that a lot of readers – usually hard, loony left – vet on beliefs of the AUTHOR and not the book, and that the hard loony left, with their incessant screeching have a way of cowing the soft left and even a lot of the center into place and convincing them NEVER to read someone because they’re “sexist/racist/homophobic.” I’ve watched them do this to Heinlein, possibly one of the least racist/sexist/homophobic writers of his generation and it wasn’t worth my dime to have them do that to me. I figured they were never going to love me, but they also wouldn’t find enough energy to hate me, provided I didn’t talk about politics openly outside books.
And that’s where we’ve been for the last few years, though I started talking more about my beliefs in the last year, with the possibility of indie.
Except when people like me stay quiet, when for our self-interest and because the loony left are vindictive harpies (particularly the men) as fond of free speech as your average brown shirt, we allow the other side to define us. As we saw in that stunningly clueless comment yesterday, they’ll decide it’s all race, or that we want to control their ladyparts, because that’s the screams from the other side, who would much rather you don’t look at their record, or, OMG Benghazi.
We don’t say “I’m voting for so and so, not because he’s ideal but because our debt is so massive that otherwise we’re going to have a collapsed economy (I probably SHOULD write about living in a collapsed economy. Most of what you guys envision is far direr than what it is – OTOH the fragmentation happens in interesting ways and with a country this much bigger, it could be MORE lethal in spots.) and a health care system that won’t work at all, which kind of affects me/mine and can’t be allowed.”
That means they get to decide we hate gay people, or black people, or that we’re all textual Christian fundamentalists or that…
Among the regular readers of this blog, I know several agnostic, a few atheists, at least one Buddhist (hi sweetie!), an adherent to an offbeat Muslim sect (or perhaps it’s not considered Muslim. The Muslims hate it, at any rate), at least a handful of pagans of various descriptions, and yes, a contingent of Jews and Christians, some of whom even belong to defined sects within their religion (but not all.) Yeah, I also have at least one very devout Christian fundamentalist (hi sweetie!)
I have no idea what shades y’all are, but when I was growing up and spent a lot of time outside, and when afro perms were in fashion, shop keepers in Portugal – much more so than here – called me “the young lady of color.” My older son looks like a younger Marco Rubio. My younger son, OTOH could blend into any IDF unit unremarked, save perhaps for being a bit darker than any of them. (Right now he’s growing a beard and a ridiculous moustache, and could also blend into any foreign legion posts as a French assassin – ah, mon dieu.) I’m going to assume the rest of you are just as varied. If you aren’t it doesn’t matter either. Who the heck cares what something that’s literally skin deep does when we’re all related several ways. (We’ve reasons to believe that at various times the human population was reduced to a few thousand, if not a few hundred. So you and you and you and you are all my cousins, whatever color you are.)
Because I’m not a joiner, and because I know devotees of small government and individual rights come in all sizes, genders and shapes, it never occurred to me that fear of us would be enough to stampede people to vote for the most stunningly incompetent administration this country has ever known, one that, furthermore, displays open contempt for the people they are supposed to lead and which, in the end, believes the lie that if only America is made small the rest of the world will get better. (I wish the people who believe this lie got the panicked phone calls I got from people all over the world who know better.)
Because I wanted people to not be able to demonize me and my books, I didn’t talk about how much these ideas are wrong – historically – and how demonizing “old white males” is exactly the same as demonizing anyone else. I didn’t – not on this blog – point out that the people who think state power is always a good and the instrument of all improvement and who, themselves, crave power over others, have found it effective to paint anyone who opposes them into this dreaded, stereotypical “Other.” Or how this was a total misrepresentation of our ragtag and diverse band of freedom-lovers. I didn’t denounce it as the only, last thing they had.
Would my having done all that stuff do any good? I don’t know. It is possible the indoctrination has been so successful their ears and eyes shut down and, like the creature yesterday, they actually assume I’m an old white male (!) Would I get more by simply embedding my beliefs in my books? I don’t know. I’ve found these people also not only do not read the “banned” books, but they don’t read outside the “approved” list that they’ve been told are so “good.” So I don’t think I can reach most of them anyway. I might have been able to reach the mushy left or the middle. Maybe. If there were time.
I don’t think there is time. Because they believed the “othering” of conservatives (and calling us conservatives is hilarious, since most of us are so far out of power it’s not even funny, and want to change society as it is now completely – and before the ladyparts kick in – towards greater freedom of individual action) they voted for the hardest financial landing a country ever had. This would be true even if the administration weren’t doubling down on stupid with things like carbon taxes (an unproven solution to a nebulous problem, but guaranteed to destroy whatever industry remains in the continental US, at this time.) On top of that, while I’ve lived through a slo-mo financial collapse before, it was in a country that was getting so much money from the IMF we could all have landed on it from the top of mount Everest and survived. There is no cushion for the US. We ARE the cushion.
But people voted for this because they didn’t want to align themselves with racist/sexist/homophobes, like all my gay conservative friends, like the black family who was working phones for Romney alongside the rest of us, like the Philippine lady at the Romney rally crying hysterically and saying that the other guy couldn’t win, because he’s going to destroy us all. Like ALL the women who gave their all to prevent this, because they don’t want their children and grandchildren to live in indentured servitude to the government. (No? What do you call it when someone is forced to perform actions/provide services because the government tells them to, and won’t let them leave? Do you even know that under this administration, if you have unpaid student loans you can’t leave the country? No, not even if that’s your only chance to find a job and pay the loans. What would you call that? You’ve become a serf, attached to the land. You didn’t know? Why not?)
And so, whatever it costs my career, it’s time to come out. I think it’s time for all of you to come out too, wherever you are, though honestly, I wouldn’t presume to judge your circumstances better than you. Like my gay friends who never judge someone who chooses to continue closeted, I don’t presume to know what’s best for you.
However, everyone sending me “kind” missives on how they’re going to never read me again, because they always suspected I’m racist/sexist/homophobic but now that I’ve said it I’m despicable, and I’ve hurt them, can stop. What you’re experiencing is neither hurt nor my despicableness. It’s the cognitive dissonance of KNOWING I’m neither racist/sexist/homophobic nor – amazingly – a Marxist. You can’t reconcile those two, and so you want me to make it go away and shut up. That’s understandable, but no. As a country we have (economically) come to the end of cake and as a person I have come to the end of patience with those who would enslave others and ruin the last, best thing on Earth to make themselves feel good.
If that means I lose readers, so be it. And you can’t cow me into shutting up by telling me I’m losing readers – guys, we’ve gone well beyond that point. When a mad woman is running around soaking the bridges with gasoline before setting them on fire, she’s just going to laugh at you when you tell her she’ll now have to swim across. She knows. She thinks it’s more important to keep the armies of ruin, starvation and statism from marching in and despoiling her home.
And this is me laughing at you. And your pious little missives (only one of you, btw, is a recognized reader/fan) only make me angrier, and you won’t like me when I’m angry. Chiding me on not understanding the current trend won’t save you either – I’ve seen this before. THESE EXACT POLICIES. (Okay, so they haven’t sent our Port Wine to Russia. That’s because we don’t have Port Wine – no, California doesn’t qualify – and Russia probably wouldn’t want it) and I know for a fact where they lead. Except here we seem to be trying them harder and faster and whatever your college professor told you, it wasn’t a matter of implementation and it won’t be different this time.
Does this mean this blog will now be forever and all the time politics? Partisan politics yet?
Most of the time it won’t be partisan politics at all. Usually I don’t even vote for any party, but against the other side. But sometimes I might feel the need to remind people who think they’re “on the side of history” that history has ONLY one side and what she whispers is always “die.” Most people of historical significance are dead. That’s it. History is not sentient and did not anoint your side, and those who believe in that have fallen for a dead economist’s understanding of history as a machine and of economics as a set of gears. Marx is dead. His ideas will never be sufficiently so.
However, I’m not a politician. I’m a writer. I’m also an historian, a reader and a mother. More often my blogs will revolve around those, particularly the writing because it’s an all-consuming passion, but sometimes about some fun discovery and occasionally about a good book or something the kids have done.
If you’re okay with that, stick around. If you’re not – that’s fine. But you don’t get to go all concerney and tell me to fall in line.
I know where you’re coming from. If you weren’t trying to impose your wrongheaded delusions on me, I’d even sympathize. But if you think you explain me away by projecting on me all those things they told you “conservatives” are, you have no idea who I am or where I’m coming from.
If you’re a thinking human being, you’ll stick around and try to figure it out. Or you can run away, with your hands over your ears, back to your safe corner, away from the cognitive dissonance.
Your choice and frankly right now I don’t care which you choose. What I care about is figuring a way to keep me and mine safe through that big crash to come – mine being defined as those who will listen.
You see, individual rights was NEVER about not caring for the weaker. It is the weaker who are going to be hit bad in this. They’re probably going to go hungry, cold, and ill. BUT worse than that and even if they escape that, their children are not going to be able to start life in any way that leads to independence and prosperity.
I care about finding a way to avoid one or two lost generations. I care about avoiding the world of Friday where the only safe place is in an enclave. I care about my fellow man. Far more than any pretty theories.
And if no one buys my books anymore because of this, fine. There’s underpasses and free wifi at the library.
So when I need to speak out, I shall do so. You don’t like it? There’s your hands over your ears and your comfy corner. You should be okay there.
Until the precipice.
And my friend Larry Correia is experiencing similar concern. Isn’t it precious?
Setting bridges on fire, now a family affair.
WELCOME INSTAPUNDIT READERS and thank you to Glenn Reynolds for the link.