This is the part of According To Hoyt in which you get reading assignments. I want you — yes, even you in the back who don’t read science fiction to find and read two books.
No, you don’t actually need to read them to get this post, but you might want to read them, if you haven’t, after you read this post.
I was kind of surprised about 20 years ago when even Heinlein aficionados started running down Puppet Masters. It was just a “Hackneyed space invasion” and it was just “to capitalize off the red scare” and it was “just.”
What it was just, as I had long ago figured out was a perfect analogy of a society whose top levels and communication means had been taken over by enemies.
Was it “hackneyed space invasion” or “capitalizing off the red scare.” I don’t know. Dear Lord, people, you could give me letters from Heinlein saying it was so and I’d still not know. Writers, particularly writers working for traditional publishing often presented the books they were working on as “this or that” because it’s what the publisher wanted to hear. (For a prime example of this, find some of my interviews on why I wrote the Shakespeare trilogy, or my favorite reading, at that time. Look, I wrote it because it sold on a one-page pitch. Did I always love Shakespeare and Shakespearean biography? Sure. My library records going back to my exchange student year, let alone my purchases prove that. But did I always want to write literary fantasy. AHAHAHAHAH. I like space opera and mystery. That’s what I always wanted to write, though some crazy fantasies also come through. Literary? Not so much.)
The thing is, the way Heinlein’s mind worked, you could give him a hackneyed and stupid prompt and he ran with it making it as plausible as possible. (We have proof of that in Sixth Column) which meant that along the way he created a pretty good thought experiment for “if this were really happening, what would it look like?”
Which is what he did with Puppet Masters. (We’ll get to They Walked Like Men towards the end.)
And the world we lived in, with mass media controlling what we saw and did and what “everybody knew” was as close to the world of the Puppet Masters under the “masquerade” as anything could come that wasn’t actual brain parasites from space. And anyone — this persists in the areas taken over by the left both virtual and physical — telling the truth came/comes across as a complete loony.
Except the Masquerade is breaking.
There is a terrifying scene in Puppet Masters, where the parasites are exposed, and the entire office that is working perfectly normally and looking completely humdrum breaks. The scene shatters, and these very ordinary secretaries and stenographers go for the characters with bare nails and teeth.
There are other places where the masquerade shatters in the book, until finally when the brain parasites realize humanity knows of them, the masquerade breaks completely and the aliens start living the way they really want to, and it’s horrific.
Right now we’re somewhere in between. With COVIDiocy and the stolen election, there are parts of society that are just going “Fine, we stole it, you’ll never have a say again” (This is particularly in your face in blue cities and states that vote by mail fraud) and letting it all hangout. (Same in Canada, with little Castreau.) They’re dancing in the streets, metaphorically, screaming “you’ll eat the bugs and DIE and DIE DIE DIE.” And it’s such a horrific display that the person in the street is providing cover for it by refusing to believe this can EVEN be happening.
And the other parts, the parts like the federal government and the incredibly corrupt agencies, are those secretaries. They’ve realized that we can see them, we know what they are, and they’ve lost all pretense of sanity. They’re just attacking, hands and claws, and biting teeth, raiding private homes, stealing cell phones, and being completely crazy, because they realized they’re EXPOSED and they can’t be exposed and survive.
The point, and the analogy though, is that they were there a long time before. They’ve been there at least 20 years, and in many places, let’s be fair, over 50. They kept up a pretense of legitimacy and process and law. Until we saw them. And then all hell broke lose.
Where do we go from here?
I don’t know. We don’t have a magical martian disease to get rid of them, so I don’t know how many of them are salvageable. Those of us who believe can pray for them. It might do no good, but it will do no harm.
And the thing is, we don’t need the martian disease, because these are humans, just humans. They’re corrupt and crazy, and we’ve thrown off other corrupt and crazy aristocracies before. Which they know. And why they’re going crazy and wounded-animal, in their attempt to survive.
The other side of this is They Walked Like Men. Clifford Simak was, I have it on Jerry Pournelle’s authority, a conventional liberal of his time, which is to say far left than us.
But in this book, he captured perfectly what happens when a force that doesn’t understand symbology and confuses the symbol for the thing uses the symbols to take over society.
The fundamentals, underneath, are fine. It’s just the symbolic structure that’s borked.
Now, in this case the symbolic structure of power, unlike the mere money of the novel (and seirously, if no one else thinks of BlackRock I’ll be sad. Also, what kind of idiots named their company after the meteor of Islam, again?) is also the various institutions that symbolically run the economy and the society.
Well, yes. You don’t actually need a doctor to have the seal of the AMA to have a good doctor. You don’t need a lawyer to have the stamp of approval of the board to have a good lawyer, and when you get down from there, there are people walking around who know more about any given subject than those holding the credentials from an accredited university. (I swear we’re a country of weaponized autists. I probably know more about Shakespeare than people who teach Shakespearean biography. And may plumber ten years ago was the world’s foremost expert on Civil War weapons, if you could get him talking. And any number of the rest of us, in the middle of our humdrum lives get a question about our passion, and the eyes light up, and we start talking, and the problem is for the casual bystander to avoid getting graduate level education on whatever it is, from ladies underwear in the 14th century to the specific composition of Martian sands.)
The accreditation, the power, the structure is symbolic. And that’s what the left has seized, thereby claiming you can’t be a whatever without drinking deep of their poison. Which they then use to claim “all smart people are with us.”
But that is breaking too. I read an article recently saying we’re doing a disservice to conservative kids by telling them to stay out of colleges.
But are we? Are we really?
It’s not that we fear they’ll be contaminated. If you raised them right, they won’t. They might get angry. But that’s about it.
It’s that colleges each year become more of a scam to make you waste time while paying Beardo the Weirdo a comfortable retirement stipend and building really massive buildings around campuses.
Yeah, indoctrination too, but they’re in it for the money.
I’ve seen this kind of sclerosis, of institutions eaten from inside and forgetting what they’re meant to do. Yes, traditional publishing toddles on. But notice that’s because German companies (and Europe hasn’t jumped on the ebook revolution, just like they didn’t jump on political blogging, which only proves we are, yes, different.) But it is not what it was. It no longer holds the stamp of approval of the culture. And it sells less and less every year. Meanwhile, it is entirely possible to become a mega-bestseller and influential as a pure indie. It’s not guaranteed, but it never was. But it is possible.
When institutions are seen to be eaten out; when the throne is revealed to be thin sheet gold over rotted wood, it doesn’t last.
I don’t know when the flip will come, but it feels like it’s really close, when the “official credentials” will mean nothing, and employers will be scouring high and low for those who know and can do.
Because we’re in the middle of the masquerade falling apart.
And that’s both terrifying and disgusting, but it’s also, objectively, the end of what the masquerade preserved: The steady erosion of all structures, under cover of normalcy.
Thing is, once you see the enemy, you know where it is and what it is. And you see, in full display, its grotesque vileness.
And it doesn’t stand a chance.