For years, being a conservative or — in my case — a libertarian (no step on snek) in the arts, in writing, in publishing, in any cultural enterprise was an exercise in going insane.
You knew what was going on in private, you knew how hard they could hit on what absolutely minor and ridiculous points, but the public in general was not aware of any bias, and if you complained, they thought you were paranoid.
This was particularly the case when you were small potatoes, or when what they were doing was rejecting short stories or asking you to change your books.
Sure, I could sense the principles behind it, and how changing my books would make them say something I didn’t want to, but at the same time there was the weird feeling “um… is this true? Or am I imagining it? I’m a small-time writer, writing in a tiny-small-time field. How could they possibly micromanage it to this extent?”
It was particularly hard for me because I grew up under socialist (national then international) regimes, with occasional outbreaks of outright
Ocasio-Cortez er… I mean Communism. This both allowed me to see the holes in it (no, truly, even at 13 or so, studying Marxism in five high school courses will cause you to see the holes) and, once I’d decided I was against it (I was actually fairly left, in the US meaning until my mid-twenties. Couldn’t help being. Young, stupid, and raised in a soup of leftists “facts”) I started seeing all the little ways the establishment — educational, cultural, arts — pushed people towards the idea of for lack of a better term “the inevitable certainty of Marxist victory.” The inevitability and echo chamber are essential, because Marxism is not particularly convincing if you look at it. If you’re sure it will triumph, though you’ll pick up a vast majority of “the scared” (which are way more than the “convinced”)who want to be eaten last or not at all by adopting the philosophy now and being strident.
So, coming from that background, my “feelers” detected all sorts of things.
In my entire — 34? well, if you count hidden pen names and work for hire more like 40 novels, but never mind — I had very few edits. Mostly the books get copy edited, not edited.
About 3 books were “edited” which amounted to “remove this scene, move that one” “I don’t think this sentence says what you think it does” and “this will heighten tension.” Those were as far as I could tell very innocuous.
Only two books had rewrite requests, and both of those, had I followed through on the rewrite would have changed the books completely, in one case yeah, to fit with feminist and “race” narrative (they wanted the Masai woman from the first book to accompany the two white guys to India on the adventure because “she’s as good as they are” — which no one was disputing, though perhaps less equipped for yet another culture change — and when I objected that if we took her to India we would get into issues of Indian racism, I was told that only whites were racist), and in another case to have my character LEAD rather than oppose the future analog of the French revolution. My refusal to do those re-writes, because then the books would say what I didn’t want them to say severely damaged, if not broke, my relationship with the respective publishing houses. (Yes, and I know some of you will recognize the book and go, “but that was… it can’t be.” What you don’t get is that I don’t have that big a name, and that the house isn’t MAJORITY libertarian/conservative. It just allows it and it depends on who you’re actually dealing with.)
But this was all done covertly, behind the scenes, and of course none of us could talk. First because we’d seem like paranoid loons. I mean, we’re complaining about things no one saw.
Second, because we would never work in that town again.
As this started to change, so did the pressure on writers become more open and more obvious.
This case is… well, let’s say I’ve known more like this than not. Houses are actually willing to lose money as long as they can micro-manage the message.
And boy, do they micro manage. Yep, at that level. None of their “intended” bright future can be questioned, not even the incidental bits, like “a female president wold be the best thing ever.” or “Leftists are always wonderful.”
And no, of course they’re not doing it on purpose, in the sense that they’re not trying to consciously push every little detail of the message. That would be exhausting, and also require them to be super-geniuses (they aren’t.) I’ve known and been friends with a lot of lefties before the current frothing times. Haven’t dropped them, though some of them have dropped me. It’s not that they consciously police every detail. It’s that they are immersed in this “vision” that includes every little detail of the socialist paradise and its coming, and they absorb the latest directive from the echo chamber. So when they see something against that, they flinch and want the painful part removed. Like, in the French Revolution book, I suspect someone looked at how I was denying that equality of outcomes was a good thing, and got very upset “no, no, she’s supposed to be supporting these.” probably even considering what I had done an error, not an intended thing.
But that’s traditional, and look, guys, I have friends in journalism and in education, and I know they get the same exact pressures. “No, no no. You can’t teach that. You must teach this.” “No, you don’t want to report that. Or at least remove this word. Otherwise it gives people the wrong idea.”
Heck, sometimes headlines get changed and strange assemblies to discuss some current events get caught (so much of these when kids were in school.)
So here’s the bad news: our culture has been immersed for almost a 100 years in a cohesive, monolithic narrative. A narrative that moved steadily left, with no relenting. This is why those of us who are older than about 35 grew up in a world where voicing a dissenting — conservative or libertarian — opinion got you labeled “crazy”and “uneducated”. If you were denying what everyone knew, confirmed multiply from unrelated fields like news, research (oh, so easily manipulated, particularly in the soft sciences) and entertainment, then obviously you were either crazy or uneducated or, yah, stupid. This is how leftism became a positional good.
The good news? The barriers are coming down, the doors are blowing open, and now we know we’re not alone, we know we’ve been lied to and manipulated. Sometimes we don’t realize the magnitude of the manipulation which, yeah, can be staggering.
And yeah, I know, some people on the right are convinced indie channels like Amazon are out to get them. We know facebook and twitter and yeah Google are.
I contend Amazon isn’t — yet. None of the cases I’ve seen are convincing. Also, when it comes to indie publishing, they can hit a few, mostly on covers and titles, but they can’t do this kind of micromanagement that trad pub does. Why? Because they can’t. Because they’re not dealing with 10 or even twenty books a quarter. To police every indie novel, every story that goes up? I would take a massive work force, and not the third-world-country-uncertain-in-English one that Amazon hires.
Won’t happen. Not saying that we don’t need alternatives, and yeah, we’re working on that.
But that’s exactly the thing. PRECISELY. In exact detail. There are alternatives. Or there will be, once things become untenable. And as the masks come off, as each corrupt medium and source goes full turnip, people shy away from it. Not just us, mind you, but the Muddled Middle. How many people think CNN is reliable anymore? The crazier they go, the more they make their agenda obvious, the shakier they get.
And when they reach a certain point, alternatives become viable. Even when we think they can’t. Look at journalism, which we thought was immovable. But it’s not.
The USSR had to regulate typewriters, because they were dangerous to its stability of uniform message. So were copiers and mimeographs. Mimeographs, which in the west caused only a ripple of really bad fanfic could bring the ability to control information down. Then fax machines came in and it was goodbye.
The current technology has issues, but one thing it’s doing is making it difficult for the left to maintain the unified narrative and view of the world without which it CANNOT survive.
Sure, I won’t guarantee they won’t win some elections. Given their amazing fraud machine, they might even win most of them. And yes, I know how dangerous that is, because it can take us into actual blood on the streets and much much worse, a reaction-regime which is not America in any recognizable way.
But in the end, regardless of how rocky it gets, we win, they lose. Because they can only survive where every voice repeats the same and logic never intrudes. And that’s not the world our technology is shaping.
Be not afraid!