*First, an announcement Witchfinder is on Sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for 2.99 electronic through noon on Monday. It’s 2.99, so less than a half but a little more than 1/3 the price. Please share the news as much as you can. Much appreciated.*
My Eyes on Twiter TM (he can identify himself if he wants to) informs me that the usual suspects were blathering last week about how it was really bad that we not only wanted to publish to our little niche, but we also wanted to “take over the field.”
So who is “We”? Well, the think it’s the “conservative” writers, and given the brilliant understanding they have of our side this means mostly – they think – killjoys with an agenda of “do not trespass.” This was obvious since the conversation then went on to say that the dangerous ones on our side were people like me and Larry and Ringo who “pretend to be moderates” and therefore might “attract a following.”
First of all on the “pretend” – no, thank you, I’m quite done pretending, and I wasn’t very good at it to begin with.
Second of all on the “moderate” – I am offended. Since when is someone who wants to hang the komissars from lampposts using their own guts as ropes a moderate?
Oh, yeah, sorry, I forgot. I’m a “moderate” because I don’t fit the view of “conservatives” (which for these purposes is everyone not to the left of Lenin) shown on tv, books and movies for the last forty years or so. You know, someone who is a cross between the SNL “church lady” and Sam the Eagle from the Muppets, and who folds like a cheap lawn chair at the first sign of opposition, or even the first cliché thrown at them by a “smart” liberal. You know, things like “War hurts children and other small things” and “We’re all naked under our clothes.”
Once you understand that this is what the left thinks the “opposition” is (poor things, their control of the media and entertainment has done them a very great disservice) is, you start understanding why they’re such hidebound, cliché-ridden fanatics.
You see, they think the choice is between two sets of beliefs, both monolithic, whole and undigested. Part of the reason they believe this, of course, is that the left has always, either by reason of policy or on their own, cracked down pretty hard on “deviationism” and insisted on “party discipline.”
This is something the communists brought with them, and it allowed them to pivot over say the Hitler-Stalin pact. But it also means that for people to consider themselves on the left, they must believe three thousand contradictory things before breakfast and lunch and dinner.
Some of the minor ones include:
The idea that we should be free to do what we want to with our bodies, but that we all “belong” to the government, who can order us to stop eating unhealthy food, or NOT exercising. (Why they don’t realize this will eventually, given enough governmental power, extend to things like abortion or gay sex is beyond me. It not only requires them to believe that government will self-restrain, it also requires them to ignore the history of China and the Soviet Union and Cuba.)
The idea that women are the exact same as men, or perhaps more able, but at the same time they need protection at all times, and men can talk them into anything with their “superior” male minds.
The idea that every culture is the same but ours is uniquely bad.
The only way they can believe this is because they’ve gotten used to the idea that their beliefs come into a block – that if you believe in one part of the agenda you have to believe in all of it.
This is also what keeps them in line and from even considering conservative agendas. For them to accept, say, the idea of fiscal responsibility, they think they’d have to stop talking to all their gay friends, stop making off color jokes, or whatever the hell they think conservatives are.
In that light, of course I’m “pretending” to be a dangerous “moderate” who might seduce people over into accepting my dangerous agenda and believing in the constitution and disbelieving in Marx. According to what these poor bunnies have been taught, this means they’ll need to dress modestly, go to church every Sunday, support racial segregation, etc. etc. – ie. An agenda that no conservative has supported in totality EVER.
So, I’m here to inform them that it’s not like that. They really need to get past their binary view of the world. Most – not all, but most. There are some who are on this side simply as knee jerk rejection of everything the liberals say. Which can get bad because most of what the liberals say is internally contradictory – of us are on this side because we didn’t get our beliefs ready-made off the shelf.
We couldn’t, see, because tv, radio, movies, news, books, didn’t present anything we believe in as a coherent wholesale agenda. Instead they presented us with two alternatives, one pushed as right and the other as wrong, and both internally contradictory, laughably incoherent, and out of touch with reality.
This means when we saw all the cracks in the agenda being shown as “right” (I believe for me that started when I saw how they reported things I’d been present at. And there was no resemblance) we started examining positions and beliefs by themselves, individually, testing them against reality and choosing what to believe in and what not to believe in.
And eventually we arrived to a set of beliefs we’re okay with. Some we might not be as attached to as others. And some are not for public consumption. Oh, and our politics and religion might not have anything to do with one another, except in the sense that sincerely held religious beliefs will influence politics, but that doesn’t mean even that is taken wholesale. Look, I’m sincerely religious, and I hold myself to a set of beliefs and behaviors that I believe move me towards salvation. This doesn’t mean that I believe everyone should be forced to do the same. I know this is hard to believe, but my Mormon friends don’t think coffee should be outlawed (which is why they’re still my friends.) And my gay (conservative) friends don’t believe churches should be forced to marry them. (Most of them would prefer to get government out of marriage, too, but that’s something else.)
It is possible to be pro-freedom and not religious at all, in fact. Or to be religious but to be rigorous with oneself but not with others. For instance, my religious beliefs are very much anti-group-relationships but I don’t think people should be punished for this (they might be their own punishment!) and in fact I’m reliably informed that some of my friends are in those. They’re still my friends. (And not to the left of Lenin.)
It is this flexibility that allowed us for years to read what the publishers put out, despite the fact that most of it was not only steeped in the vilest Marxism, but also spent quite a bit of time denigrating things we believed in, like fiscal responsibility or gun ownership. We even enjoyed some of it. You see, I can say that Terry Pratchett was one of the best writers (in any field) ever, while thinking his views on guns and monetary policy – were it not for the fact they are standard European views and therefore part of his environment – are crazy enough that people proclaiming them should have to wear tinfoil on their heads as a warning.
They can’t. Because their beliefs are a monolith of fail that they can’t examine without falling apart, they can’t even read Heinlein. In the middle of the free love and group marriage, they might come across a paragraph about fiscal responsibility or lack of respect for government, and then their brittle façade would crack.
This is why one of the usual suspects was giving thanks on Twitter for the fact that her bookstore refused to stock “right wing” science fiction, so she was never exposed to “fascist” ideas. (Yes, this is the East German, who manages to be completely oblivious to what “fascist” really means, and thinks libertarian fits there. Because, you know, “Achtung, vi vill take over the vorld and leave you RUTHLESSLY alone.” [Cackles at the thought of the screams of outrage at fake German accent.]) Because you see, ideas are a sort of contamination. If you read the wrong ideas, you might find yourself agreeing with some of them, and then, no matter how minor your agreement, you are forever corrupted. You are no longer “one of the good people.” The thought crime no matter how momentary will cast you into outer darkness.
Is it any wonder that under them most of science fiction has become about as daring as the Baptist Single Woman’s Social? (Probably less. Some of my friends are Baptist.) Is it any wonder to be accepted as a “progressive writer of science fiction” you have to “speak truth to power” (circa the imaginary fifties that live only in progressives’ heads) in exactly the same way everyone else does, and be forever afraid of putting a foot wrong or having a wrong thought, lest you’re thrown out?
To the scaredy ( and conformist) cats on the other side of the political fence, I bring good news and bad news.
The good news is that most of us do not want to “take over” the field. You see, most of us – not being a monolithic block – would have trouble organizing our way out of a paper bag. A lot of us still read people well to the left of us. Heck, to a lot of the right in sf/f, I am well to the left. To others I’m unimaginably right. Oh, and sometimes I’m both to the same person.
Not having a rigid set of beliefs, if we tried to take over, the Federalists would get in a fight with the Nationalists, the Nationalists would beat the One-Worlder-Libertarians over the head, and the anarchists would denounce all of us.
So, no, we’re not stealing your trick of proclaiming a platform and demanding everyone follow it.
The bad news is that we don’t need to take over the field. We’re already here. Science fiction has always attracted people who like to turn ideas over in their minds, think on them, sometimes try their flavor. Sometimes these ideas are dangerous enough that the rest of society thinks we’re nuts. Sometimes we are nuts.
You – the academic Marxists, the rigid thinkers – have managed to run most of the Odds – in the sense of people that don’t fit on either dies from official fandom, and from publishing houses, and from official publishing circles, mostly by pointing your finger and screaming about thought-crimes.
But with indie, that tactic won’t work. We’ll still get out there. We’ll still publish. And yep, we’ll still “contaminate” new generations with dangerous thoughts and ways of looking at life. Ways that shatter your conformist, block-think.
Dangerous visions, you could call it.
We’re here, we’re diverse in thought. And we ain’t going anywhere. Get used to it.