I’m sorry this is late. My body seems to have decided this is a particularly good time to come down with something involving throat pain and low grade fever. Given the timing (I don’t question it) I sort of presume it’s a plane-acquired bug.
The downside of this is that it’s delaying my work on Guardian, but fear not, first draft will be to Larry by end of next week or bust. (Not that type of bust. You’re a bad person.)
I find myself wondering just how minority the vocal minority is, recently and more or less assuming “very minority.”
The vocal minority I’m talking about here are my colleagues who, uniformly and en mass, give the impression that every creative person exists in a spectrum between Lenin and Stalin.
Anyone, including myself back when I was just a reader or a beginning writer with not many contacts, would be excused for thinking that somehow being lefter than left and thinking that communism was a cute and unexplored idea correlated highly with wanting to write fiction, particularly science fiction and mystery. Part of my decision to stay quiet early on was because I was sure this was so and that I was a very odd duck who had somehow made it through with the contradictory characteristics of not being a lefty and wanting to write.
More or less daily I heard people, some of them the few non-left who’d slipped in talk about how the left was related to creativity, mostly because the left required original, contercultural thought, which in turn of course was creative and related to creativity.
I’ll be honest, since I am by nature a trouble maker and — as my mom said, only half complaining — prone to scratching up every newly painted wall to say what’s underneath, that’s when alarm bells started ringing in my head.
Yeah, I know, it is part of the mythos of the left that they’re countercultural, boldly opposing centuries or millennia of oppressive politics, etc. It’s a cute self concept, and it allows largely conventional, privileged, often rich people to think of themselves as the oppressed hordes or at least the defenders of those.
But let’s be blunt, because honestly, I’m in no mood to cater to their delusions, this hasn’t been a fact since I was born, and probably long before.
If you’re a reader of early twentieth century fiction, say Agatha Christie, you’ll find that even back then the communists were treated as rather cute pets, or something like “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” Further, they were often from the rich and privileged classes.
In fact, growing up in Europe, I can tell you that contrary to just about every movie and tv series and book NOW published, communists were not the struggling under class (they were sometimes their over-educated young, though) but more often were the sons and daughters of the nobility or the upper class.
Dave Freer might have a point when he says the “aristos” instinctively sensed a system (top down planning) that, in the name of the downtrodden, would undo the revolutions that stripped their kind of power over the last centuries. He might be right, particularly because that top-down alliance, i.e. the king or upper nobility doing things in the name of the poorest people to keep down the bourgeoisie was routinely played in Europe from about the 12th century onward. Heck, you could say the French revolution was the result of Louis XVI trying to play the game, being singularly inept at it and getting burned. (Beheaded. Same difference.)
Anyway, for as long as I’ve been alive, in all Western countries, the way to be respected or promoted or advanced in any artistic, news or otherwise intellectual field was to convincingly mouth the platitudes of leftism in its Marxist incarnation. If you could add a genuine touch of Stalinist psychopathy, then you’d be considered genuinely righteous and advanced faster.
So that was my first alarm on the idea of “but leftists are more naturally creative because they have to challenge the existing system.” How did that work, when they were the existing system?
Then came experiences, like speaking out, getting publicly told I was crazy (at the time speaking out more or less in private, in private lists and about minor issues, like telling one of the luminaries of the field that no, George W. Bush (!) didn’t raise the postage rate to bankrupt her PERSONALLY as it made her efforts to sell her used books harder.) The thing was that everyone would pile on in public, and then the avalanche of “I don’t dare speak because I want to work/have children/etc” “but I agree with you” started, a lot of it from people my age or younger than I, i.e. in my sclerotic field, what passes for “youth.”
And I started wondering “How small is the vocal minority?”
I’ve since come to the conclusion they are very small and very scared. To put things bluntly, again, a triumphant, confident cultural movement feels no need to shut down those who dissent. They might argue with them, but they don’t shut them down. They know they are most in accord with reality, most people agree with them, and eventually will come to their side.
Confident cultural movements don’t try to shut down dissenters and don’t deploy antifa to tar anyone who doesn’t agree with them with the brush of extreme right wing.
It’s only movements who are afraid the opposition has a point and has more adherents than they do that feel the need to be that violent.
Meanwhile in the creative fields of today (and even in the news fields and intellectual professions), the order of the day is the screaming down, shutting down, soft banning of all dissent. We are treated to people acting as though soft-right speakers were an armed invasion of our universities. Friends who aren’t even right wing enough to be considered non-left are enduring soft black listing from their publishers.
Well, you see, the left isn’t the creative side of this equation. This is not because leftists are inherently less creative. That would be stupid, and only stupid people would maintain that creativity somehow relates to a political side.
It’s more because leftism is the establishment right now. Which means they attract a whole lot of good boys and girls who want to be in the artistic/intellectual professions but who have never had an original thought in their lives. If they’d lived in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century, they’d spout blood-and-soil and genetic superiority nonsense because that was what would get them advanced.
There are still creative leftists (for the definition of left being socialism and communism) but they are usually pariahs along with me and everyone else to the right of Lenin. That’s because then tend to defend their beliefs in non-standard ways and to find the good boys and girls of the establishment as awful as I find them.
Now, I think these people are wrong, and I often think they are morally bankrupt, but a lot of them are also extraordinary artists.
The good boys and girls of the establishment… aren’t. They really can’t be.
Those of us who arrived at our political beliefs in defiance and iconoclasm, and who had to — back then — filter every item of news to find the truth beyond the narrative are creative by default. You see, we had to reject so much of the entertainment fed to us, that we had to grind out own out of what was available.
So, as the establishment — LEFT establishment — clamps down ever harder on any dissenting thought, what they’re actually doing is destroying those few elements among them still capable of original creation.
This more than anything explains the slump in Hollywood earnings this year. For how many years have they been milking the re-runs and remakes.
The publishing houses who demand a unified political narrative, put limits on imagination with cries of “cultural appropriation” and hire not by ability but by DNA are experiencing the same issues. They might think it’s indie eating their lunch, and it is, but it’s only because they no longer have teeth to chew that lunch. They abandoned their reading public DECADES before indie found it. And they’re willing to go down with the ship rather than relinquish their political death grip on the product (again, not the sign of a confident cultural movement.)
As for academia… Good Lord. Why do you think that liberal arts requirements keep getting added to STEM degrees? What parent or even student would willingly pay for a field where Western history is banned because it’s “oppressive.”
The left, left to their own devices, would entirely dismantle Western civilization. It’s always been their intent, partly because the USSR always considered itself “Eastern” and in communist propaganda, the perfect state was always an appendage of Russia.
But there are very few of them, and they’re stunningly non-creative.
The problem is that they have a grip on every accrediting authority, almost every publishing house, every museum, every cultural institution. They acquired this by the long march and then refusing to hire/contract anyone not their comrades.
You must have a heart of stone not laugh like an hyena at the thought of a hundred years of long and slow march, and then indie, and blogs, and…
Are we at the tipping point, yet? Not quite. And make no mistake, we need as many hands as possible to the cultural war. If you can you must write, or create art, or whatever. It won’t bring you the same rewards, even now, as if you were a darling of the establishment, but the thing is…
The worm is turning. The times they are achanging. We’ll have some losses (how not) but in the end, the cultural tide is with us. The more the establishment clamps down, the more scared it looks, the more adherents it loses.
And their product is just bad. In books, it’s becoming well nigh unreadable. There’s only so long you can wear the skin of a gutted institution while demanding respect, before the putrefaction is clear and people turn away in disgust.
In the end we win, they lose. Be not afraid.