Monday, April 6, 2015

When Politics Comes to SFF

The science-fiction/fantasy genre is reckoned a small pond. It's not, after all, an important "literary" genre where the good people go. Important or not, the SFF publishers and editors have tended to be conventional liberals. They have had a tendency to whisper that so-and-so was a conservative, darling.

That meant that the libertarian Sarah Hoyt used to live in fear that she'd say something wrong somehow and it would wreck her career. Hey, join the club! Who doesn't worry that stepping out of the liberal line at work could cost them?

Because SFF was a cozy little liberal club, the editors and publishers tended to favor their favorites at award time. And then, being liberals, they decided that SFF ought to show a bit of leg in the diversity department. Perfectly harmless, if you're a liberal.

Now my #2 dictum -- right after #1 "government is force" -- is "politics is division." Humans are naturally social animals, but if you start getting political, then you are setting yourself up to divide your community in two.

In other words, if you and your liberal pals in SFF decide that such-and-such a writer is, eeuw, conservative, and that it is time to give women and people of color a chance, it may all sound perfectly harmless to you, but it might strike terror into the heart of a Sarah Hoyt and rage into the heart of a Vox Day.

In recent years a couple of conservative SF writers, Brad Torgerson and Larry Correia, decided to develop a slate of non-liberal nominees for the SFF Hugo awards. Last week their slate, "Sad Puppies," swept the Hugo nominations. Not surprisingly the liberal SFF rump isn't too pleased. At io9, Charlie Jane Anders wrote:
Last August, the Hugo Awards for science fiction and fantasy were swept by a younger group of women and people of color. At the time, we said "This was really a year that underscored that a younger generation of diverse writers are becoming central to the genre." So maybe it's not surprising that there was an organized backlash.
Note the innocent use of the passive voice. If you read the other side, they say that it has been people like Anders that have been pushing women and people of color on SFF, whether the SFF fans liked it or not, and that conservative voices were being shut out.

Anders' piece is titled: "The Hugo Awards Were Always Political. But Now They're Only Political." Well, yes, honey. But see my dictum #2 above: politics is division. Once you start down the slippery slope of politics, even for the obviously sensible reason, with which all evolved people agree, that women and people of color have been marginalized in government/office/boardroom/university/SFF or whatever, then sooner or later you are going to inspire a movement of rejection against your noble and ethical attempt to level the playing field.

Convinced of their own benignity, liberals have come to think of government and politics steered by liberals as a similarly benign influence on the modern world. All they are doing is trying to reduce violence and inequality and neo-colonialism and marginalization: what could be wrong with that?

But everyone thinks that their own ideas and proposals are benign and beneficial. It's the other guys that are cruel and unjust. The question that the really evolved person asks is: what does this benign proposal we are advancing look like to the "other" guys? Does it gore their oxen?

Usually, when any government program or political proposal is advanced, the answer to the question "does it gore the other guys' oxen?" is "Yes."

Why? Because government is force. Any government program is going to forcibly take money from someone through taxes and give it to someone else. The guy whose money is being forcibly taken isn't going to like it. And politics is division; it's about saying that our guys are deserving and their guys are undeserving. Having divided up the world, you are now morally and ethically justified in handing out loot to your deserving supporters and taking it away from the undeserving non-supporters.

Why are you then shocked, shocked when the un-deserving object?

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