*So I lied. I’m not going to write a new post today. The novel is late, and I need to finish that. OTOH I AM going to fiddle with the blog at lunchtime and possibly after work. So if you notice wildly appearing and disappearing features, headers and titles, pretend you can’t see it 😉 It will pass. – SAH*
Immovable A Blast From the Past From June 2013
Recently I posted about the fact that at least the gatekeepers in science fiction are solidly left – and by left I mean they’d shock many people in our college campuses – which leads to the selection of works that enforce (a rather colorless, drab, and frankly unreal) “political correctness.”
I thought there was no disputing this. Look, guys, as the country debated things like government take over of health care, 99% of my colleagues said a resounding “yeah.” Redistribution of wealth? A resounding yeah. Restrictions on doing business – yeah. The science fiction field is full of works with evil military, dastardly corporations and saintly public servants. Woman after woman in the field imagines herself downtrodden and preaches endlessly about evil males and thinks she’s fighting the patriarchy that in her mind existed circa 1950. (And in fact not since the thirties or, for some aspects, never outside Islamic countries.)
In fact, the only place you can find as far left as science fiction is the college campus.
Imagine my surprise when someone – a person I like actually, personally, and outside politics – informed me on my facebook page that I was mistaken and if I thought science fiction was hard left it was because I didn’t know where the center was.
He assured me that science fiction was libertarian. After all, Wikipedia says so. I have by the way had this quoted at me by foreign fans. Which at least makes some sense. They haven’t sat at panels in sf cons and heard writers and editors declare themselves socialists or say that their duty is to “unsettle the bourgeois.” (This due to the fact that these luminaries lack mirrors, I think.) And they might not know that the dreck that wins most of the peer-awards (really, guys, really? The Cultural revolution was nicer than the American suburbia? And you bought that because it was all wrapped in sentimentality or because you secretly agree? I’m not even sure I know which answer I’d prefer from you.) is not in fact the best that’s produced here. It’s like my poor mother not knowing anything about the IRS scandals because the press there won’t report them.
But that a local thought the field was “mostly libertarian” is jaw-droppingly strange.
And then I realized what the heck he was talking about. I’d “misestimated where the center is” because the center, like Pratchett’s turtle, moves. That is, he figures that libertarian is now anyone who isn’t openly a Stalinist and advocating the internment of everyone to right of Lenin.
At least that is the only interpretation that can be put to “don’t know where the center is.”
So… let me explain something – the definitions of left and right are at best flawed. But let’s go with the idea that the left advocates for maximum government control. Despite the flapping about keeping the government out of people’s bodies and private decisions, they do after all advocate for controlling what people can drink, eat, smoke, what kind of health care people can get, and what procedures are approved of (abortion) and which denied (life extending surgery [whether or not] of dubious value.) They in fact think that either the government or a group of enlightened people needs to keep the masses from making “the wrong decisions.”
I’m not saying anything controversial. Person after person at the Democrat convention in 12 said that everyone has to belong to something and we belong to the government.
That’s the left. And frankly, as someone who grew up learning Marxism (in every course in tenth and eleventh grade) and studying (and experiencing) both socialism and communism, those are the foundations of socialism and communism. “The individual counts for nothing, the collective is all. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”
Let’s place that on the left pole, shall we?
By comparison to that, I AM the right. (I get called right but actually the current left/right continuum is on internationalist/nationalist lines, not on the lines of individual freedom — which means libertarians don’t fit anywhere. Since I get called “right” I’ll take that. I’m certainly opposite both communism and fascism, both red and black totalitarianism.) I stand on the opposite side, holding my broomstick like a samurai sword and saying “I don’t care what you need, you don’t have the right to take from anyone against their will.” That is me. Or at least that’s me as I would like things to be. Morally – mentally – I stand solidly anchoring the side of the individual against the state.
Now, I am not stupid, and while in an ideal world, a system of all being extreme individualists would work, in an ideal world so would communism work. (It’s just that in an ideal world for communism, humans would all be termites or carpenter ants or something.)
So while my heart is pure I’m willing to compromise. I’m willing to understand that governments are needed in order to secure the individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I’ve read the constitution and I’ve seen that it’s good. Common defense? Yeah, we need that. After all the foreign nations aren’t all – or any of them – angels. Not letting the states go to war with each other? I’m all for that. Having the president negotiate with foreign powers. Yay. Most of the other stuff left to the states? Okay. It could be inconvenient having to move between states, but after all people do that all the time. So let the states be laboratories of governance. I’ll buy that.
I’ll go that far, but no further. There are evils already inherent in that compromise, like the critters who believe that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness gives them the right to confiscate the results of other people’s labor or that “at some point you’ve made enough money” – because it arrogates to them to decide how much people should make. Like the people who think they should have the right to every email you send, to store somewhere and look over for signs of sedition. Like those who think that the people the country should be defended against are those who believe in the constitution.
But a government is needed. And if we can keep the intrusions to a minimum, we can take a little poison with our tea, like the nineteenth century people who took a little arsenic every day.
So, is my position center? Good heavens NO. There can be no center between the Stalinists who would enslave, silence and murder all who disagree with them and those who wish to keep a maximum of freedom, responsibility and power in the individual.
The center does not move just because one side gets more and more extreme. And the center holds no special virtue anyway.
Look, if half the people think that you should cut your head off, and half think the head should stay on, do you compromise by cutting off your ears?
Of course you don’t. Cutting your head of is wrong even if half the people believe you should do it. It is wrong even if all the people believe you should do it.
I don’t particularly care how many “experts” tell me a command economy is better – I grew up watching command economies up close and personal. I can also read seven languages and I KNOW the unholy mess Europe is in. I’ve also studied economics, which by the way is a science and not a sort conjuring wand that you can wave around to get the results you want. I know that you can raise the minimum wage till you’re blue in the face but it will not create prosperity. What it will create is the type of market distortion that makes illegal immigration unstoppable and makes the less-educated Americans already here unemployable (and dependent, and suffering from all sorts of pathologies.)
Because the people who believe in the magic wand of minimum wage are more than half the country, does that make the solution sensible? No. Not any more than creating and raising a minimum wage makes it “real”. It just creates distortions and evokes the law of unintended consequences. It’s sort of like making cancer illegal so no one will die of it. All you’re doing is making the MENTION of cancer illegal and ensuring MORE people die of it.
Every time an all-powerful state gets power over individuals, it ends in tears. Sometimes – most of the time – it’s the mass murders, from Hitler (yes, he was left bucko. Kissing cousins to Stalin. They merely disagreed on whether state power should be national or worldwide) Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot. Sometimes it’s the soft glove of lack of innovation and settling for less that has taken over most of Europe (and how many young people who couldn’t find jobs have died of drug abuse or despair? Can you count them? No? Why not? Because you’ve been told it’s unbridled markets that cause the trouble? We haven’t had unbridled markets anywhere for a century.)
And sometimes, when it ALMOST works, when the country is more a tribe than a country, as in most of Scandinavia, it just leaves you open for plundering by foreigners who come in and are unassimilated and unassimilable and hate you because you pay and pay and pay but you can’t MAKE them like you.
Every time the individual is left at least a bit of freedom (we are at best social democrats) unparalleled prosperity and innovation – UNEXPECTEDLY – flows out onto the world. Must be luck!
Is there a center between these two points? A place where only some people are killed? A place where only half of your earnings are plundered? (About where we are, at least if you’re self-employed.) Is that just? Is that fair?
If three wolves and sheep vote on what’s for dinner, is it the center to make the sheep only half-dead?
And if all of science fiction writes about the glorious future when the wolves eat the capitalist sheep does that make the wolves right? Does that mean that’s the center now?
Let’s not kid ourselves – the fans who remain hardcore fans and still attend cons are those who believe the center moves. They have gone along with the stories of all men as villains, humanity as a plague upon the earth, redistribution and glorious statism forever. There are exceptions: some cons in the South East. But by and large the field tilts further left every year.
Is this where the center is? No.
Is this where the rest of the country is?
Snort. If it were the print runs wouldn’t fall every year.
Yes, I know. It’s because those… those… those… rednecks refuse to be enlightened. (Weirdly, Baen doesn’t have that issue. Baen continues to sell. Yeah I know “they sell to those rednecks” because they publish “right wing tripe.” Actually Baen publishes all political opinions and finds readers of every political color. Maybe the other houses should try it? Maybe they should look at how sf from different perspective sells indie to people who in fact haven’t gone along with the ride to the far left? Maybe they should consider that in fact people who disagree with them are not some sort of evil fanatics but simply people who believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)
People who, in fact, know the more you feed the beast the more it will – eventually – eat you. Turns out unbridled unaccountable power is not held by altruistic scientists somewhere, always looking to serve others but by self serving bureaucrats who will torture those who oppose their power – for now psychologically. And that’s wrong. It’s always wrong.
Because the consensus might move and the center mean nothing, but: A government that allows for individual freedom and human dignity? THAT is the ideal and it doesn’t move.
Go on – tell me that because I don’t believe in controlling others, nor do I grant you the right to take from me my freedom, my labor, or my property without my consent, I am a “fascist” and “extreme right.”
I’m only extreme right when opposed to the fanatical devotion to faceless bureaucratic government the left now seems to believe in. And if that’s the left, I’m so far right that by definition everything else is to the left. (Fascist? Good Lord! You mean Hitler didn’t believe in power to the government? Who would have thunk it.)
I am what I’ve always been: a believer not in the masses but in the individual.
The RIGHTS of the individual outweigh the WISHES of the many.