Saturday, February 20, 2016

Science Fiction and Freedom

While in San Francisco for a panel on artificial consciousness, I had an opportunity to stop by the headquarters of the Electronic Frontier Foundation -- dedicated to preserving your freedom online and off.  As part of their 25th year anniversary celebration, EFF released Pwning Tomorrow, an anthology of science fiction stories by Bruce Sterling, Ramaz Naam, Charlie Jane Anders, Cory Doctorow, David Brin, Lauren Beukes, and others. You can download it for a donation to this worthy organization.

== Politics-Economics of Star Wars ==


"Between authority and anarchy lies argument..." Adam Gopnik offers a cogent, if-brief appraisal of the late Antonin Scalia, and the essentially political nature of the Supreme Court ...


... framed with biting reference to the Star Wars Jedi Council! A riff that’s very much in tune with my own critique in Star Wars on Trial.  Well worth your time.

Following up on my blog-essay-review of the latest Star Wars film… Nautilus Magazine interviewed me about Star Wars. I’ve already said that I found the latest version, from J.J. Abrams and Disney to be pleasantly diverting, with very strong characterization, okay dialogue… if unimaginative plotting. It’s greatest virtue is showing almost no sign of the relentlessly awful, anti-enlightenment preaching George Lucas crammed increasingly into his epic saga, over the years. Here is my full review of The Force Awakens… and here is the Nautilus interview, pinning me with followup questions!

See this thorough appraisal of the galactic economics of Star Wars.  The sort of thing that might help to transform a sillier-than-Tolkien fantasy series into actual science fiction.  From "It's a Trap: Emperor Palpatine's Poison Pill" by Zachary Feinstein:

"In this paper we study the financial repercussions of the destruction of two fully armed and operational moon-sized battle stations ("Death Stars") in a 4-year period and the dissolution of the galactic government in Star Wars. The emphasis of this work is to calibrate and simulate a model of the banking and financial systems within the galaxy. Along these lines, we measure the level of systemic risk that may have been generated by the death of Emperor Palpatine and the destruction of the second Death Star. We conclude by finding the economic resources the Rebel Alliance would need to have in reserve in order to prevent a financial crisis from gripping the galaxy through an optimally allocated banking bailout."

Almost perfectly in synchrony and fascinating parallel, this article looks at the reaction in China to release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which has led, as well, to the first real surge of (legal and illegal) viewings of the other six episodes.  I was struck especially by this bit near the end: 

“Some are learning that the saga is as much about politics and individuals fighting against a repressive government as light sabers and spacecraft—but the lesson they’re taking away isn’t what George Lucas may have intended. “A democratic parliament seems to be chaotic while a dictator-run empire seems to be stable. That’s worth our thinking,” one blogger wrote on Douban.”  

A good insight.  Except, of course, that (as I've shown in Star Wars on Trial) contempt toward democracy is exactly the lesson George Lucas intended. He said so openly and publicly. How ironic that that message is ignored in the West, but Chinese viewers notice it, clear as day.  Go figure.

Here’s an interesting article about why politics matters even… perhaps especially… in the Star Wars Universe.Lucas took inspiration both from ancient history and current events, sometimes even using the films as social commentary. If anything, in order to capture the public imagination, the Sequel Trilogy needs more, not less, politics.”

Alas, the author, Dom Nardi, starts with a wrong premise… The Civil War was essentially a debate between North and South about the authority of the federal government.”  

Sorry, but that’s just wrong. Starting in 1852, the southern states, having dominated the US federal government for at least 30 years, used its power - through US Marshals and Supreme Court decisions, to unleash platoons of irregular southern cavalry on rampages across all northern states, grabbing neighbors almost at random and hauling them away to misery. 

When local militias tried to resist the slave-hunter parties, southern presidents called in federal troops to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act. The South was all in favor of a strong federal government and wanted to use it to repress northern abolitionist newspapers, a goal laid down explicitly in the secession declarations. (Actually read them!) They only became anti-federal the instant it appeared the presidency would no longer be their private sinecure.

Exactly, by the way, their reaction when President Obama was elected.

But that is an aside about a pet peeve.  My real complaint here is that Dom Nardi doesn’t note the fundamental political fact of the Star Wars series, which is contempt for democracy — even the remote possibility that something like the Republic can function.  The secretive and extra-judicial Jedi order may - at the command of Yoda alone - withhold crucial information (a withholding that in fact leads to disaster.) Only the Empire is shown as efficient and capable of getting things done.

== More Science Fiction ==


Speaking of the recurring American fever.... What would happen if the U.S. split apart into warring states -- set off by a far-reaching conspiracy?  I've read (in manuscript) a new novel by Sean T. Smith about a near future hot American civil war. Washington and San Francisco get nuked pretty early. TEARS OF ABRAHAM is a page-turner filled with vivid, believable action and characters you care about, along with sober, thoughtful insights into what it may mean - when the chips are down - to be an American. The book will be released (pre-order now) March 22. 

The same day, my new short story collection, Insistence of Vision, will be released.. with some of my best recent stories.

Oh, SFWA has established a new Speaker's Bureau -- with links to authors willing to make public appearances, and speak about the literature of the future. I've striven for 15 years to see this happen.  It is still primitive.  But yay to Cat Rambo and the other SFWA volunteer organizers!


138 comments:

Jumper said...

I have been reading this, interspersed with a few other web surfing activities and just finished the best summation of several on William O. Douglas' Supreme Court career. Emanations and penumbra and all.
http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3163&context=dlj
Very thought provoking at this juncture.

donzelion said...

"Oh, SFWA has established a new Speaker's Bureau -- with links to authors willing to make public appearances, and speak about the literature of the future."

Bravo. I can think of at least one writer with some interesting things to say.

donzelion said...

"The South was all in favor of a strong federal government and wanted to use it to repress northern abolitionist newspapers, a goal laid down explicitly in the secession declarations."

Actually, from Jefferson on, there was ambivalence: they didn't want a "strong" fedrral government, but merely, a "strong enough" government to enforce property rights.

Property rights certainly fixated on slaves (and to a lesser extent, railroads), but also land (esp. appropriated from Native Americans/Mexicans, converted to plantations, and worked by slave hands).

A strong federal government might intrude on their slave holding fiefdoms. That was always their fear - and animated conversations about the 'many' using government to oppress the slave holding 'minority' - but usually with reference to theft of property without specifying what property they fretted about).

A 'strong enough' government could enforce fugitive slave laws, but little more. It could dispossessed native tribes, but little more. Fugitive slave laws made it cheaper to operate slave catching than a private market.

Interestingly, many modern libertarians citing Milton Friedman updated the original libertarian premise (a government that protects property rights and nothing more) to its 20th century variation (a government that protects contract rights, and nothing more). I do not think they've thought through the racial pedigree underlying the mode of thinking.

(As a SciFi fan, I do think the 21st century version will be 'a government that protects identity rights - and nothing more) - but as with property rights in the 19th century (the 'freedom' to enslave others), the term 'identity rights' will not mean what we think it means.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "A democratic parliament seems to be chaotic while a dictator-run empire seems to be stable"

And that's true! Despotates always seem stable, since internal dissent is completely stifled... Which allows corruption and parasitic behavior to spread among the elites, rendering the state increasingly less efficient, injustice increasingly more frequent, and the security apparatus tasked with keeping the plebs compliant increasingly more inept, until the popular anger boiling under the rusting lid of the regime's praetorian guard explode.

The Chinese, of all people, should know this: after all, Qin Shi Huang's regime seemed to epitomize stability and invulnerability one year prior to his death... Which didn't stop Xiang Yu from plundering and slaughtering the Guanzhong plains (then China's economic and demographic center) less than five years later.

And speaking of Star Wars, the Galactic Republic functioned for a thousand years allowing dozens of sentient species to peacefully coexist and cooperate while Palpatine's regime lasted only two decades, and it (as well as its successor) only excelled in building increasingly fancy tools of genocide. The Empire doesn't "get things done": it quite obviously functions under a raubwirtschaft economy: plundering its provinces, using the loot to finance the military-industrial complex tasked with safeguarding said plunder and predictably, its system cannot -and doesn't- last.

I don't buy that Lucas is a cheerleader for tyranny, his NYT 1999 interview notwithstanding: if he had been, he wouldn't have portrayed the Galactic Empire as the inept bully it is, nor Palpatine as an opportunistic demagogue suffering for a rather glaring case of Dunning-Kruger effect (sure he knows how to conquer power, but once he got it -and he was in charge for 30 years, including 20 as an absolute Louis-XIV-like king- he proves to be a rather amateurish administrator)

Also speaking of Star Wars, and given that one of Umberto Eco's best quote was "Translation is the language of Europe", there's something worth noting: in Star Wars, virtually all the protagonists are polyglots (Finn is an exception, but then, he was raised a Stormtrooper: I do expect him to catch up now that he's bled for the good guys)

donzelion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donzelion said...

Bravo!

And perhaps the banality of imperial despotism is ironically captured by 'Force Awakens.' Yep, it's another wannabe empire. Yep, they're doing the same thing they always do. Oh look, this one's bigger. Let's blow it up again, and then get back to work, just as we always do. Because thats ehat heroes do." Characters change, the plot remains the same.

donzelion said...

"I don't buy that Lucas is a cheerleader for tyranny..."

One of the tyrants is captivating - Vader is a superman of focus, the ultimate executive. But the apparatus? The cannon fodder? The emperor? The whole dark side has nothing to offer, nothing creative, just same ole same ole. The heroes offer all of the interesting variety.

For us, Lucas couldn't possibly favor 'tyranny' - it's brutal and dull - but a society that demands identity compliance and uniformity, and fears individualism, might plausibly interpret him that way. I would expect that a paid Chinese government critic (or someone writing for an audience knowing the government critics will be watching) would offer an interpretation of star wars as pro-authoritarian. A sly observer might even assert that the star wars franchise argues for 'order' v 'freedom' (to get past censors) - knowing that anyone who comes to love the silly fantasy will reach the opposite conclusion.

David Brin said...

You assume that I credit Lucas with a sapient and considered PLAN to promote despotism. He's not that smart. He knows that defiance of authority-bullies who are mean and who have red eyes is key to selling tickets, so of course that is foremost! But showing democracy or institutions or citizenship as functional? Sure, ALL directors repress those things, for reasons shown here:

http://www.davidbrin.com/idiotplot.html

But he goes way beyond. The only people qualified to topple an evil overlord demigod are rebel demigods.

locumranch said...



I couldn't ask for a better segue in regard to the human wont to make the temporary advantages of high office, authority, power, wealth & privilege permanent and even inheritable.

For, according to 'Wookieepedia', Palpatine was a politically ambitious youth, well educated at Theed University (Harvard analogue?), majoring in the Legislative Youth Program (Law?), duly elected to the Galactic Senate & the Chancellorship by just democratic process, only to consolidate his authority by disseminating misinformation (MSM?), engaging in foreign entanglements (Iraq?), presiding over an unprecedented military build-up (Military Readiness?), manufacturing artificial military conflicts up to & including the creation of a straw-man 'Rebel Alliance' (ISIS?), manipulation of galactic currency markets (LIBOR?) & shady backroom deals with Sith Lords (Koch Brothers? Goldman-Sachs?), all in order to justify increased executive powers (Homeland Security Acts?).

And, like George W Bush & Hillary Clinton, Palpatine was first & foremost a Progressive in the sense that he kept "moving forward; advancing", "proceeding in steps; continuing steadily by increments", being "open to or favoring new ideas, policies, or methods". Palpatine was a typical Empire Builder and, in the name of Progress, he even kept rebuilding that damn Death Star, even though it was a dysfunctional boondoggle & a waste of taxpayer monies.


Best

donzelion said...

"You assume that I credit Lucas with a sapient and considered PLAN to promote despotism."

If you refer to Laurent, I can't speak for him - for myself, no such assumption applies. The work is in the wild, the interpreters will make of it what they will, and the act of interpretation can be a creative one. I like my theory of a "sly Chinese dissident" consciously misrepresenting "Star Wars" to speed its way past censors and appease censors. (Mostly because, yet again, it recreates the exact same narrative cliche you're acknowledging.)

Perhaps 'narrative' in general 'dislikes' a certain form of authority. To sell tickets or books, the work must be interesting (Matrix I was interesting, Matrix III was a cliche aspiring to steal ideas from other cliches). A character who merely does what s/he is supposed to do with an order that presents the characters with what they're supposed to do is "hard" to translate into an interesting film (certainly, it's doable - just studios regard 'hard' as 'expensive/risky' and prefer regurgitation to creation). (By the way, I 'loved' Idiocracy - perhaps the most extreme manifestation of the concepts in your article - not a great movie, but so many notions presenting present logic at its extremes, e.g., "Fart-man, part 10" (or whatever it was called) winning Best Picture.)

Every novel and film is at least in part an escape for an individual engaging a story offered by another - the media lend themselves to triumphant individuality accordingly. That applies to the "we're in this together" films of the 30s - 50s - the institutions seldom work (except for the occasional 'good cop' against evil criminals), the cavalry is always late (leaving strong individuals to hold the line against 'savages'), and rather, it's individuals seeking to "restore the balance in the Force" (Jimmy Stewart's filibuster in Mr. Smith - or the town coming together in Wonderful Life; Rick Blaine reluctantly joining the fight for liberty; or best of all, the institutions of Jimmy Stewart can only be saved by John Wayne in Liberty Valance).

The implied assertion is "strong individuals have a place within the order" (on the outskirts at least). Which plays with the oldest adolescent power fantasy - wanting to be Hercules/Perseus/David in one era, wanting to be Luke in another, and wanting to be Iron Man or whatever in this era. It's less about "we need a demigod to stop an overlord" and more about "I feel like trash - I want to "be" a demigod - and if I am, I'll stop those evil overlords!"

Politically, I find that troublesome. Milosevic was nasty; we helped bring him down with a few air strikes, a lot of coordination, and he died in a cell in the most boring trial of the century. Saddam was nasty; but bringing him down led to great dramatic tension (and several thousand dead Americans, not to mention Iraqis and others). Many Americans seek to stroke their feelings of powerlessness by participating patriotically in such foolish enterprises as that (and by accumulating guns, which also make them feel immediately empowered - sharing in John Wayne history, if not actual history).

donzelion said...

Ugh, just re-read what I wrote, and an editors pen would be helpful. Alas.

Still, moving on to that article...

"In fact the self-preventing prophecy is arguably the most important type of literature" (http://www.davidbrin.com/idiotplot.html#sthash.76R4KGKz.dpuf)

Important, perhaps, but the self-preventing component would fail but for the power of individualized narratives exploring heroic individuals (and embraced by a non-heroic audience that wants, on some level, to relate). I love Umberto Eco (may he rest well) - a self-preventing prophecy (the mendacity of wealth's influence on faith in Rose, or the murderous obscurity of a cogniscenti-Illuminati in Foucault's) - because a semiotic trope shifts the game from one in which "action means everything" to "symbol means everything" - inviting audiences to participate in connecting symbols themselves. A self-preventing prophecy creates symbols an audience can similarly connect (the NSA looks like 'Big Brother' - stop it! restore privacy!).

Or to modify the Iron Rule - "When society works, it's boring." News stories about society working properly are called 'puff pieces.'

The corollary, 'Everyone is stupid' - is mostly a reflection of the author's limitations: authors are very smart, but seldom Einstein/Newtonian geniuses (and if they wrote 'Einsteinian' fiction, they'd have a pretty small readership). I'd modify that to "It's easier to make a lot of stupid people act stupid, because then both my character and my audience will feel 'smart' when they overcome the idiots."

You're right of course - compelling drama requires some level of accepting that someone somewhere didn't think of something that (in hindsight) is so perfectly obvious that it would have resolved the dramatic mess before it ever happened. Hamlet, you ninny! Why didn't you just take the crown yourself when your daddy died? You'd have saved all those lives (and spared us all that drama).

But I think your reference to "hope" (esp. the Spiderman originals) is well-placed. Why don't ordinary people who step up get more attention? (I loved 'beacons' scene in Return of the King for the same reason - stories popped into my mind of folks sitting ready on mountaintops to light a fire for decades untold - Peter Jackson offered his own fantasy of a father/son up on the mountaintop - it's wicked cool humanism). Perhaps, we need a little more "Liberty Valance" (there are many types of strength, and Stewart and Wayne are both necessary - but the guy who fits into society gets the girl) - and a little less "Wild Bunch" nihilism.

David Jordan said...

Regarding the whole "idiot plot" thing. If you're trying to make a story that's the most challenging for a couple of core characters, having society failing them or trying to get them is a really effective way to do that.

But...who says your story has to be about just the struggle of a couple people! If you want a dramatic story about a society, the story should pit the whole against something or someone who presents a worthy challenge.

Sure, follow a few key people who contribute important pieces to the puzzle, but then show how the efforts of everyone else contribute as well. Even Star Wars ends up doing this to some extent, despite the focus on force-users.

In Return of the Jedi, which Dr. Brin loves to criticize, for instance, the Rebel fleet that actually destroys the second Death Star doesn't have any known force-sensitives. Amid all the family drama, George couldn't avoid a whole story thread about regular people working together to get things done.

Of course, Independence Day was explicitly about the teamwork required to beat the aliens. You had different people with different skills enabling each other to be effective (computer guy takes down the shields, so the fighter pilots can do their jobs...wait that's Return of the Jedi with Luke/Leia replaced with the computer hacker/fighter pilot duo and the President.

Those are all external fate-of-the-world threats, but it could just as easily work for an internal struggle, a community wrestling with itself. Or about adapting to changing circumstances. Anything suitably difficult and reasonable to be dealt with as a group vs an individual. You don't need powerful foes, you need challenging problems.

Winter7 said...

The important thing in politics is that the leader is someone chronically honest. Because democracy, like any other political system, it is only the mask of the plutocracy. (Everyone thinks childishly that Mexico is a democracy) (Ho, how easy it is to twist the truth for plutocracies)
And indeed, all countries would benefit from "a Jedi Council;. To monitor the honesty of politicians But .. Who ensures that the Jedi Council will not end up working for plutocracy?
  As the power of money can hire armies; and will buy 99% of the population. (But we not, we are honorable, as Lord Stark, to the end)
Atentamente:

David Brin said...

DJ There is a sliding scale. When the villains are as badass as in Independence Day, the US govt and military are allowed to be both competent and good! But still in order to support the two heroes.

Yes in ROTJ it turns out that neigther Luke nor Darth nor Leia make a spit's worth of difference. The wookie captures a walker-bot and gets the gate open, the power supply goes down and Billy Dee Williams goes yee haw! and the emperor is dead. But does anyone NOTICE? I doubt Lucas did.

Winter7: " Because democracy, like any other political system, it is only the mask of the plutocracy."

You stunning ingrate. Every hour of every day you blithely use benefits handed you on a silver platter by our brilliant 5 competitive arenas -- markets, democracy, science, courts and sports. ALl of them laboriously tuned to stave off the feudalism that wrecked every other society.

Are we imperfect? Always! Is our renaissance in danger? Always! Have the oligarchs been doing a putsch to restore feudalism? Sure.

But dig it. Your cynicism is the diametric opposite of how to fix it. As earlier generations fixed it just enough to keep the revolution rolling forward.

You are a product of the oligarchs' koolaid machine. You may not be the enemy of our renaissance. But your cynicism is.

Robert said...

I rather shocked a friend of mine several years ago when I said there needed to be a Mystery Science Theater 3000 of the Star Wars series - including the original trilogy. He was a huge MST3K fan... but despite his view that the best movies that were MSTed were those that took themselves seriously, he could not accept that the original Star Wars should be MSTed.

I'd already moved on and realized that while they were fun movies... they weren't exactly great movies. They were good for their time. They inspired a lot of movies since, much like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings inspired much fantasy literature since. But there are better fantasy novels out there than LotR, for all that Tolkien's work is even after all these decades one of the better fantasy series out there. Likewise, Star Wars stands out... but there have been science fiction movies that go far beyond Star Wars in storytelling and plot.

Amusingly, he has adjusted his view since. There are Rifftrax of the remastered Star Wars trilogy, and he's enjoyed them. But for a bit there... they were sacred cows.

No doubt this is why so many fans have a knee-jerk response to your criticism of their pedestal-enshrined movies. These are their sacred cows.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

@Robert,

I was the biggest Star Wars fan in 1977, even in those first few weeks when hardly anyone else knew what Star Wars was. And yes, the integrity of my memories of the original are sacred. I have avoided watching the newer, updated versions of the film for fear of having my memories overwritten in the same manner that I can no longer "hear" the Beatles' "Got To Get You Into My Life" in my head without the Earth Wind and Fire version intruding.

But the thing is, for me, it was never about Star Wars being a great movie, but about it being a great visual experience. Sure, it was just like dozens of old Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon serials, but instead of the cheezy special effects of those older flicks, it really felt like you were out there watching starships battle, feeling the speed and the weight and the energy of all those cool machines.

The plot had to be engaging enough to keep you interested in watching what was up on the screen, but only that. People who worship Star Wars as great literature are retconning their own memories. It was never the greatest story of all time. It was, in its day, the greatest visual experience of all time. Lucas brought cheezy space opera to life on a scale never before seen and schooled everyone in how it's done!

Of course, now, the popcorn ads have more special effects than Star Wars did in '77, just as your I-Phone has more computing power than Apollo 11 did.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Matrix I was interesting, Matrix III was a cliche aspiring to steal ideas from other cliches"

And, as I said before, Matrix reloaded wasted the perfect twist:

If, instead of spewing pseudo-philosophisticism the Architect had told Neo "We don't need to use Humans as batteries or processors or whatever, we could simply have gone into hibernation after we kicked your ass in the war your kin started: we created the Matrix to save Humanity from extinction and give you a second chance at leaving alongside us in peace once the nuclear winter ends", the second movie would
1. Have had a much better conclusion
2. Allowed the third episode to be more than a DBZ ripoff peppered with existentialist soundbites.

***

* "By the way, I 'loved' Idiocracy - perhaps the most extreme manifestation of the concepts in your article"

As noted here, Idiocracy would have been a much better movie if instead of having "The plebs are outbreeding the nerds, civilization will end because the marching morons will take over, boohoohoooooooooooooo" the future had been revealed to be an utopia in disguise: one where a sitting black president can ride on a motorbike through city streets without being assaulted by some loon shouting "Where's the birth certificate?" or organize an open-to-all BBQ on the White House's front lawn without needing a secret service detail on steroids or where the people in charge are actually pro-meritocracy instead of merely paying lip service to it while doing all they can to rig the system at their kith and kin's advantage.

Catfish N. Cod said...

David: What about the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Civil society appears much stronger in these works, does it not? Sometimes it is clearly helping-but-insufficient: the cops in AVENGERS, the US military in the first CAPTAIN AMERICA, the Nova Corps in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Sometimes it is ambivalent or being subverted: partially interfering in IRON MAN 2, but contributing with the introduction of War Machine; subverted by a clearly oligarchic-tyrannical enemy in WINTER SOLDIER, well-meaning but clueless in THOR.

And ALL these facets are in play in the more down-to-Earth installments, such as AGENTS OF SHIELD. We see multiple times and in multiple ways the post-Nixon ambivalence to government power and government secrets. Skye exemplifies the Millennial generation's attitude to such -- wary, but willing to be open to positive sums and honest efforts. Most of all, the reason that show even exists?

Gregg Clark's Agent Coulson! The very exemplar of a dedicated, honest, ideal public servant, quietly and confidently working through both bureaucracy and investigation to improve the world. THIS civil servant kicks ass with excellent martial arts and gunplay. And yet he interacts as equals with demigods! Yet aside from side effects from unorthodox comic-book medicine, he has no superpowers. Like Batman, he's a normal human. His mind and his ability to inspire teamwork (teamwork!) make him amazing. A brand new character whose surprise popularity spawned a whole new lobe of storytelling.

Never in the MCU is civilization hopeless or intrinsically a negative influence -- it's always trying, never gives up, and can be effective whenever the threats are not so superpowered.

=========================================================================================

Laurent: I feel that comment might have gone better in the mouth of the reconfigured Oracle or in one of the legacy programs from a previous Matrix, and maybe at the start of the third movie. Or split it between the Architect and one of the other programs. The Architect is too unemotional a character to make it really work. Honestly, I thought that was an unspoken motivation of the Oracle character, and I think it would have improved the story to have made it explicit.

But then, by movie three, the Wachowskis are already trying too hard; a problem they would not solve in subsequent productions.

Fail Burton said...

In regard to Pwning Tomorrow, any such anthology which has a line-up which is over a third promiscuous supporters of Third Wave Feminism verges on Orwellian Doublethink. Let's be SF authors for a moment and extrapolate only that contingent into the entire anthology as well as culture of SF. I think it's safe to say you could title it Banhammering Tomorrow, as such people are violently opposed to free speech. It is this lack of awareness which has virtually destroyed the viability of the old core of SF to produce not only good work but work which is humanistic. I regard the newly released Nebula nominees as not only the lowest point in SF's 100 year history in America as a recognizable genre but its single biggest disgrace. Suffice it to say there is no free speech or equal protection in Mudville. That turf belongs to the racist and sexist yet anti-Jim Crow "old white dudes" like Rod Serling and Ray Bradbury who would've looked on that Nebula line-up in horror, as well as despair in seeing how futile their canary-in-a-coal-mine morality parables were as wasted as the warning tale of George Orwell.

Paul451 said...

We're attracting the Puppies now? Gak.

Anyway,

Re: Idiocracy.

Others, including Brin, have pointed out that President Camacho is actually a pretty good President. He had a program actively seeking out the best and brightest minds. He accepted their advice even when it went against his own ideology/beliefs, against the common beliefs in society, was ridiculed by other staff, and offended several large special interests. When the advice appeared to fail, he turned on a dime and rejected the advisor, rather than doubling down on it. And then when the advise turned out to be successful, again "flip flopped" happily, in spite of his very public condemnation of the protagonist in the final act.

How many modern politicians could do that?

The Idiocracy-universe is a dystopia, obviously, but the people in it are generally all trying to do the right thing. There weren't any actual villains, just a challenging circumstance.

Ironically, it's a movie that doesn't rely on the Idiot Plot.

Paul451 said...

Re: The puppy.

I love the irony in saying "such people are violently opposed to free speech" because a few sites have banned a group whose sole purpose is to prevent people-they-don't-like from being published. Which tries to cheat contests solely to deny people-they-don't-like from receiving public recognition/reward.

Orwellian Doublethink indeed.

"Stop publishing authors I don't like! Stop voting for authors I don't like! Because... uh... free speech!"

Fail Burton said...

I am not a Puppy; nor am I a Conservative, Libertarian, Alt-Right, a Limbaugh fan or get my information from Fox News. So let's get the straw men out of the way. Whether I am those things or not doesn't reflect reality. I did not concoct a former SFWA President's cartoon of him swinging a "banhammer" nor him saying the world would be better without comments sections. I haven't concocted Tor Com's routine deletions and bannings over innocuous comments, pre-bannings from any number of blogs, and general deletions of comments for arguing nothing more than equal protection and due process. I didn't create a banblocker for Twitter nor have I invented the fact Twitter shadowbans people who oppose radical feminists. I have not concocted this ideology routinely banning people at U.K. and American colleges. I did not concoct feminists almost successfully banning one of their own - Germaine Greer - who ended up speaking late last year with police protection.

In 1973 Greer was invited and freely spoke her mind about men in debate with William Buckley at Cambridge. There were no airhorns, trigger warnings, claims of PTSD, shouting her down, attempts to ban her or blood-smeared faces. The motion to pass the Cambridge debating society's issue of supporting the women's liberation movement passed by a huge majority. That is a stark contrast. Since I am plainly establishing a principle, where is the irony or doublethink? The reason these people don't want to debate is for the simple reason they can't defend their bizarre assertions. Were I to write I am tired of "black saviors" scoring the winning basket or touchdown there is a name for that. Replacing that with "white saviors" doesn't magically turn racism into social justice. That is a simple comparison based on a simple principle - that of equal protection.

Cat Rambo said...

Thank you for the shout out for the Speakers Bureau! People can find it at http://speakers.sfwa.org.

Tacitus2 said...

Disclaimer: I am only superficially aware of the whole Puppies controversy. But the topic raised by our new commentator Fail Burton strikes me as something that is:

A: likely to bring on the flames, and

B: relevant to both the world as a whole and the particular microcosm of same that is SciFi literature.

So before too many Jovian bolts get thrown, a plea for calm. Think more than once. Read posts several times before hitting SEND.

Too often the online world devolves to mire and bile before any meaningful conversation occurs.

Tacitus

Jumper said...

We never worried about that crap before - why start now? ;>]

My appreciation for Star Wars is how it made the Hollywood money people rethink how much return they can get by ballooning the SF special effects budgets.

locumranch said...



As a 'kinder & gentler' knock-off of Kornbluth's original 'Marching Morons' (and maybe Pohl & Kornbluth's 'Search the Sky'), the film 'Idiocracy' dispenses with the indispensable 'Smart Slave Class' implicit in its source material & instead introduces the rather (ridiculous) PC idea of the 'Equal Capable' moron (good-natured doofuses, all) who manage to maintain a semi-functional society despite their obvious mental handicaps.

Unfortunately, we see the same ridiculous 'PC-ification' in the Enlightened West right now when it comes to our pending Democalypse (our increased Dependency Ratio) as our doofus dependents out-number the workers by more than 1 to 1, increasing the likelihood of the glossed-over part of Kornbluth's self-preventing prophecy coming-to-pass, the imminent resignation of the enslaved Worker/Smart Class required to keep society functioning.

It has become increasing clear, as I approach retirement, that fewer & fewer individuals are willing to take up Kornbuth's 'Smart Man's Burden' and enslave themselves to an ever-increasing burden of dependents, even when the EU morons are increasingly confronted by their false PC narrative of 'Equal Capability' as they attempt to import an entirely new crop of Migrant Slaves who are neither smart (willing; capable) nor good-natured (educated; obedient).

Enjoy the Show, All: I'm going to get a Latte.


Best

David Brin said...

Catfish I agree that the Marvel universe has been way above average in its treatment of civilization as a real possibility. I should comment on that, some time.

Paul, interesting insight into Idiocracy! It was fun and positive. In its way.

As for political correctness taking over the sf awards… well out of self-protection, I’ll say little. And yes, that self-repression speaks volumes. This despite believing 90% of today’s political insanity is on the right and that the SP “movement” was flagrant stupidity tinged with genuine racism.

Here’s the difference. While there are some sanctimony-fueled, symbolism-obsessed fanatics on today’s far-left… they do not threaten our baseline, enlightenment civilization with destruction, the way that sanctimony-rocketed, symbolism-obsessed fanatics on today’s ENTIRE right do.

We can live with some shrill PC bullies taking over this or that university soft-studies department or writer’s org. But our great experiment will NOT survive if a secretive world trillionaire-oligarchy uses radio shock savanarolas to re-ignite the Civil War, wreck U.S. political process, cheat and re-establish feudalism.

Alas, that position wins me no cred with the opposite extreme. This is a situation in which moderate-progressive and well-intentioned people - even those who have striven for justice, fairness, betterment and a smarter /nicer civilization all their lives - are better off just hunkering down.

And so, Fail Burton, your denials notwithstanding, I deem it likely you are seeking justifications for rage and denial, refusing to face the real threats endangering our children and civilization. Larger matters than the fact that I will never again get a Nebula Award. B… F… D.

Jumper said...

With John Barlow as Donald Trump.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Marching_Morons

David Brin said...

Hypocrisy! Our "dependency" ratio is rising because the Rooseveltean middle class is being bled at the bottom by rapacious lords at the top.

There is no conceivable excuse for why the goppers have consistently blocked reform of the check-cashing industry, which loan-sharks the poor every month. Bills that would give the poor access to basic banking services and rein in rent-to own would fine tune capitalism to help empower the poor to compete, instead of locking them into company-store slavery.

Such bills are always put on the table by dems and always shoved off the table by goppers... and there is no conceivable excuse.

Oh... and note he does not answer re the trillions gifted to oligarchs via tax boons, resource extraction sweetheart deals and secret banking. All of them vastly, vastly bigger rapes than all of his imagined and subjective targets, combined.

locumranch said...


Not sure what the above has to do with the "Age dependency ratio" (% of working-age population), defined as the ratio of dependents--people younger than 15 or older than 64--to the working-age population--those ages 15-64.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.DPND


For the many to carry the few, this is merely good citizenship; but,
For the few to carry the many, this is either stupidity or subjugation.


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donzelion said...

Yikes, 'dependency ratio?' People live longer. The non-working, longer working 'dependents' are a triumph of social security, not a cause for alarm. The non-working children are a triumph of hope for every family that raises them.

Perhaps there is a small group of unemployed, lazy ne'er-do-wells - hated by so many, in part because the rich feel only their children should have a place in the leisure class, and in part because an honest day's work is so seldom granted the regard it merits.

Robert said...

I've been on the Internet too long.

First thing I thought of when I saw "puppies" was "wait, why the derision toward someone new on the blog site? I thought those sentiments died off with insular forum communities..."

Then again, I kind of ignored the whole voting thing for scifi books. I've never really looked for the "best" science fiction. Just stuff that interests me. So awards and the like mean nothing to me. And thus the racism/sexism of certain groups passed me by.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

So? We invent robots then. In the 1930s Galbraith etc predicted a 20 hour work week. It took another century, but our productivity may boom to such levels. New problems. New dilemmas. But not impossible to deal with...

...if we aren't hobbled by gloom-addicts. What they'll never do is admit the blatantly obvious -- that handwringing, all-knowing, dismal pessimism and dismissal of problem-solving is a symptom shared by most kinds of mental illness. Even when it is on-target, it helps no one, accomplishes nothing,

LarryHart said...

@locumranch and @donzelion

While I have a certain amount of sympathy for locum's "I'm not appreciated for my work, so I'm not going to do it" attitude, I am much more in agreement with donzelion's stated position.

To the extent that the system--at least in America--has more and more free-riders, it is not because people are refusing to do their share, but because people are being told that their share is no longer required.

The view that less human labor required as input to the system implies that fewer people have a right to life is a "People are meant to serve the economy" view. Anyone who has seen my posts at all know that I'm more a believer in "The economy is meant to serve people." Which means that if less work is required to make the system work, then people should be allowed a higher standard of living for less work. In the extreme--if we lived in the Garden of Eden--no work at all would be required in order be allowed to eat, breathe, and sleep. That would imply that everybody has the right to live off of the commons, not that nobody does.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re- Dependency Ratio

As we move from a growing population to a zero growth or even a dropping population the ratio of people of "working age" to "retirees" will change
Less "workers" per "retiree"
Some people seem to panic at this change,
BUT at the same time the number of people who are at the other end of the age group will also change
Less children who need to be supported and educated

The savings on one side do a lot to balance the extra costs on the other side

Then you come to the productivity improvement and the drive to the 20 hour week

History shows a number of occasions in the past when people and events have managed to slow or even reverse the overall improvement trend
Like the defeat of Napoleon and the huge step backwards that caused in Europe

Future historians will look at the neoliberal agenda pushed by Reagan and Thatcher as the cause of a 50 year setback in social progress


Paul451 said...

Re: The Puppy.

You use their weird in-language, their pre-digested box-quotes, then you are them. Don't like it? Try having your own thoughts.

--

Re: Locumranch regurgitating the "dependency ratio" myth.

The ratio of workers:non-workers is higher than during '50s, '60s, '70s. Productivity is also higher. Yet remuneration per employee as a share of GDP is much lower.

So if workers feel like they aren't getting their fair share, they are correct. If they blame "dependents" hanging on the bottom of the ladder, they are incorrect. The leaching is not the unemployed or retired-dependent. There physically isn't a way for the unemployed and retired-dependent to consume enough of the national treasure each with their meagre dole cheques and food stamps. The numbers just don't work.

The leaching is purely from the top.

David Brin said...

BTW... why don't we hear from the right about their favorite shiboleths, anymore? Forced School Bussing and Welfare?

The first of those was a horrendous, egregious, scintillating-stupid excess of the left which helped propel the creation of today's new confederacy. But it is over. Dead.

The latter is never mentioned, why? Because the Gingrich -Clinton bill simply worked. At least eliminating the worst excesses. Though now the system is rather un-compassionate. And I sure would gladly trade the Republican designed system called "Obamacare" with something a lot more sane.

Does anyone sane even try to say - anymore - that Canadian-Health doesn't work?

locumranch said...



There is a small group of unemployed, lazy ne'er-do-wells - hated by so many -- they are called the rich, oligarchs & plutocrats. David hates them too, he says.

We hate them because they do not contribute to the collective, yet they take & take from the collective without contributing reciprocal merit.

Free riders, the leisure class, consumers, thieves, entitled demanders: These takers have many names. These are people who are either refusing to do their share or who are told that their share is no longer required as others must do this for them.

The view that less human labor required as input to the system implies that fewer people have a right to life is a "People are meant to serve the economy" way, whereas "The economy is meant to serve people" view implies that people have the right to become a parasitic, rich, oligarchic & plutocratic leisure class who can take & take from the collective without reciprocal obligation or responsibility.

Both views are mistaken.

Those who engage in honest labour, maintain the infrastructure & produce the means of subsistence, they are either own the fruit of their labours or they be slaves.

And, since slavery is evil, slaves have the right to disobey, cease their labours, slay their masters, free themselves or die trying as in 'Live Free or Die".

The Canadian Health System does not work, btw, because it does not have to when those in need can come south to the USA.


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Fail Burton said...

I am not seeking justifications but reading the news. America doesn't work without due process and equal protection, and it is as simple as that. Destroy trust in law and we have nothing, the same way no sport could survive if the players truly believed the rules were stacked or arbitrary.

The tell-tale sign of a supremacist ideology is if a target isn't breaking the law, change the laws until they do. We saw that at Heidelberg U in 1933 and with poll taxes and literary tests to deny the vote in the Jim Crow South.

Today we see false statistics bruited about from trusted institutions until they are taken for granted as fact. The next thing you know a "Dear Colleague..." letter is sent from the Office of Civil Rights at the Dept. of Education to every institution of higher learning in the U.S. It threatens to pull their federal funding under Title IX sexual discrimination if they don't set up their own kangaroo court star chambers to deal with sexual assault, thereby bypassing due process and the criminal justice system. There is no burden of proof, no right of representation by a lawyer and no right to face one's accuser.

Imagine if the previously mentioned Rod Serling and Ray Bradbury spent their time obsessively promoting wildly exaggerated 1 in 5 rape statistics that have only recently been shot down by our Dept. of Justice instead of writing anti-Jim Crow stories and teleplays. This is the impact institutions can have on America and that includes our story-tellers. Since "rape culture" is part and parcel of those now rewarded with Hugo and Nebula noms, and clearly even a reward for such propaganda, it shows to what a low estate SF has fallen. It is no longer a canary-in-a-coal-mine but itself a noxious poison.

Rod Serling was a man who served and was traumatized in the Pacific War. He didn't learn to hate the Japanese but war. Today's "marginalized" in SFF claim such traumas they never faced ranging from slavery to the East India Company and even "micro aggressions" such as mistaking one black author for another at a convention one Nebula nominee said was "institutional racism." In an analogy, such people have not learned to hate war but the Japanese, and are still slapping Japanese tourists wherever they find them.

David Brin said...

I have made clear that I agree that there are PC-police bullies. But to make of them an obsessive-central fixation is almost always a floundering to find excuses to maintain loyalty to a vastly, vastly more harmful (currently) hate volcano on the mad right.

The things at stake - whether or not I ever get another Hugo or Nebula, for example - should matter to me more than they do to you, sir. Yet they do not. I am worried about civilization. And that matters far more than some pathetic whining and badgering over a silver rocket ship.

Oh about campus pushiness re sexual matters. Overcompensation is to be expected. I don't like the due-process-trampling aspects but those always give way to reason, in time. Show me a steep decline in sexual assaults and I'll talk about easing back on these necessary (hopefully temporary) reactions.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

There is a small group of unemployed, lazy ne'er-do-wells - hated by so many -- they are called the rich, oligarchs & plutocrats. David hates them too, he says.

We hate them because they do not contribute to the collective, yet they take & take from the collective without contributing reciprocal merit.


So you equate those who grab too much with those who get nothing at all?


Free riders, the leisure class, consumers, thieves, entitled demanders: These takers have many names. These are people who are either refusing to do their share or who are told that their share is no longer required as others must do this for them.


No, they--I should say "we" as I have a month's notice--have been told our share is no longer required, not because we demand someone else shoulder our burden, but because there is no burden available for us to shoulder. And then, in the same breath, we are blamed for not being "willing to work." What I find that really means in today's terms is "not willing to work hard enough to take someone else's job away."


Those who engage in honest labour, maintain the infrastructure & produce the means of subsistence, they are either own the fruit of their labours or they be slaves.

And, since slavery is evil, slaves have the right to disobey, cease their labours, slay their masters, free themselves or die trying as in 'Live Free or Die".


Ok, I'm genuinely curious who the "masters" are that it would improve your situation to kill.

donzelion said...

To LarryHart, Locum, and others thinking about 'dependency ratios' -

‘Dependency’ reasoning is a cynical trap. Those fixating on the ‘dependency ratio’ struggle not to look at what causes the ratio to change. 'Free riders'? Sure: that's the stated fixation (as was 'welfare queens' in days gone by). But the reality - the great triumph of people enjoying longer lives and fewer children dying while young cynically morphs into a tragedy of ‘too many mouths feeding at the same trough.” The bulk of the 'free riders' are our elders, youngsters, and sick - who are reduced to ‘trough pigs eating the fruit of my labors’ - thus inviting cynical solutions like Silently Running away (to mountain retreats - preferably in Idaho rather than space), or Logan’s Running them out of town, or Soylent Greening them in geriatric wards, or Hunger Gaming them for amusement. Double yuck.

In modern Sci-Fi, I like how JJ Abrams rejects the notion of ‘dependency’ by asserting the importance of elders (the largest and fastest growing component of our own ‘dependents’). Exploiting nostalgia, sure, but never cynically, since his ‘elders’ are his preferred vehicle for generating emotional depth – John Locke’s triumph over paralysis sells ‘Lost’ more than the insipid Jack/Sawyer/Kate love triangle ever did; Spock (Nimoy) as wistful, nostalgic prophet; Leia/Han convey a complex relationship through a single glance; Luke – the putative ‘demigod savior’ - proves to be a teary MacGuffin, needing a hug more than a light saber. These folks ‘depend’ on a new generation to ‘save’ them - but they have more to offer than serving as adolescent power fantasy surrogates.

Fringe is perhaps Abrams & Co’s best work on elders and repudiation of ‘dependency’ - Nimoy, Peter Weller, Christopher Lloyd, and esp. John Noble’s ‘Walter Bishop’ create a pantheon of ‘fallen demigods’ dependent upon ‘ordinary people’ for redemption by reconnecting them to humanity. Their ‘superpowers’ didn't help much - and usually caused a breach.

For the discouraged, reminders that ‘dependents’ are often unexpectedly wonderful should prove a useful antidote for the Soma of cynicism.

Fail Burton said...

"Kameron Hurley retweeted Maria Popova ‏@brainpicker 'The white male gaze counts on silence, in aggregate..."

"...'mainstream American art' is almost exclusively created from within, and to serve, the white male colonial gaze"

Those two quotes are from 2015 Tiptree Award winner Monica Byrne, retweeted by one of your double Hugo-winning colleagues in your anthology. She won those Hugos by maintaining men had tacitly agreed to erase women from military history, a thing which never happened since women have been adept at doing that themselves by avoiding the "privilege" of the military draft.

"Race, class and national oppressions come from men, serve ruling class white men's interests." - feminist Charlotte Bunch, 1972 (Founding Director (1989) and as of 2016 current Senior Scholar, at the Center for Women's Global Leadership, Rutgers University) Member of the National Women's Hall of Fame, selected by United States President Bill Clinton as a recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and once accompanied Hillary Clinton to China.

That latter is access to power, and there is no difference in the quotes; they are interchangeable. Throw in Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn testifying at the U.N. using the same theme and that is access to power which shapes policy, including that of Twitter. The entire effect is to demonize men with accusations of a shadowy and menacing control of everything using rhetoric once saved for Jews. That is far beyond a thing like the Nebulas although the connection between that crusade there and in video gaming and institutional power is a clear one; media matters, and when it lies it harms us all. Why be surprised such a culture opposes free speech?

The difference in culture between how Germaine Greer was treated in '73 and Milo Yiannopoulos was just treated at a talk at that same Rutgers U of Charlotte Bunch is stark; he was greeted with attempts to ban him and women shouting him down and smearing fake blood on their faces at the actual talk. Afterwards a few claimed PTSD and created youtube videos which once again lied about rape statistics. Taken as a whole, it is a BFD.

Within this culture, there is no better, simpler way to be charged with harassment, racism, homophobia, and misogyny, or even falsely associated with Conservatism and racist Puppies, than to argue for free speech, due process and equal protection.

And in fact there has been a steep decline in sexual assaults over the years. You need only look at Dept. of Justice stats to see that. In any event those are criminals, and I am not one of them.

LarryHart said...

Fail Burton:

I am not seeking justifications but reading the news. America doesn't work without due process and equal protection, and it is as simple as that. Destroy trust in law and we have nothing, the same way no sport could survive if the players truly believed the rules were stacked or arbitrary.


Exactly why Scalia and his ilk have done so much damage to the social fabric. That might not have been your point, but it is mine.

I've been reading left-leaning and right-leaning editorials and commentaries about Scalia's effect on the court, and both sides seem to agree that there is a battle between "originalists" who want to stick with exactly what the words of the Constitution mean vs the "living, breathing document" folks who want to extrapolate the Constitution's meaning in a modern context. Both sides make a good case for their respective ideas of what the Supreme Court should do with the Constitution, and yet both sides miss an essential point.

Scalia and the other Republican appointees were about to "discover" that when the words of the Constitution say "whole number of persons", it really means "number of people who are registered to vote, or else number of people who could register to vote if they decided to, we're not quite sure, but definitely one of those things rather than whole number of persons." That is not the action of a "strict originalist". It is the action of a blatant partisan on behalf of the Republican Party.

Decisions like that one, or "Citizens United" in which Roberts asserts with a straight face that there is no evidence that money in politics leads to corruption, certainly lead citizens to the conclusion that the rules are arbitrary and rigged. And I'm sick and tired of hearing that those who see the obvious truth just say so because we'd prefer activist liberal judges, and that only "strict originalists" like Scalia stand athwart rampant progressivism gone wild.

Tom Crowl said...

I'm a "Liberal" (though not always sure exactly what that means). So generally prefer Democrats... but:

My problem is what underlies the "pragmatism" in politics (which sets the framework for compromise)... and the relationship of that to the environment in which they operate.

Hillary's "pragmatism" is real... but built on an imbalance of political forces acting upon her...and hence very damaging to the nation over time. The middle class (and the poor as well) have been betrayed by a myriad of devil-in-the-details "compromises" acceptable to the narrow lobbying community impacting the legislative process. The problem is that deals resulting are a product of these selective forces pressing on all sides in the negotiation. The lack of meaningful mechanisms for "heat-from-the-bottom" has resulted in "compromises" by BOTH parties that have benefited themselves and their funders while betraying their nominal bases. This is why the Establishment is becoming so hated by large portions of both the Left and Right as more and more leave both of these Parties. Its not their disagreements that have done the damage. Its what they've agreed on. (e.g. Greenspan's cheap debt instead of better wages, financial bubble blowing instead of infrastructure repair, private prisons instead of legal reform, etc.... and lastly a complete refusal to address lobbying and campaign funding. This is a meta-political problem... not a Right/Left problem. And will never be fixed without addressing meta-political structures... (i.e. lobbying, campaign funding, gerrymandering, voting practices, etc.)

SO... if you follow that and think it makes any sense... it should be understood how that damages Conservatives as well... and eventually degrades good government and social cohesion for everybody.

David Brin said...

Notice FB falls back on anecdotes. Did I acknowledge that there are PC bullies? My response, which FB ignored in order to keep nursing anecdotal grievance, is that it don't matter squat.

The chief harm done by these extreme-lefty jerks is to provide the anecdotes that everyone from Hannity and Limbaugh onward then use to cry: "You see? THAT is what Liberalism is!!!"

Is that harm? Sure! Would I calm down such people if I could? I cannot and trying would hurt me, slightly. They are endurable!

But the rationalization of fellows like FB is not. Smart conservatives who - like George Will - leap upon anecdotes to find some excuse for continued loyalty to a movement that is utterly hijacked by monsters.

Fail Burton said...

"Anecdotes"? Since when are institutions "anecdotes"? The U.N., Rutgers, the Presidency of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, a second President parroting false rape stats, the Dept. of Education, major American universities with Star Chambers, the website associate of the largest publisher of SF, Twitter and others all on the same page with radical feminist rhetoric is not an anecdote. That goes just a little beyond PC bullies, don't you think? This is nothing less than the institutionalization and mainstreaming of hate speech. Of course my version of that is based on equal protection and neutral definitions, not race, gender or the changing of the seasons.

Tony Fisk said...

It is a bland anecdote that this list of institutions support radical feminist rhetoric.

Paul SB said...

Larry, another important point about constitutional "originalists" is that the framers of the Constitution were not stupid. They could not predict how the nation and the world would change in the future, but they knew that it would. That is why they made provisions for amending the Constitution. It's a high bar to be sure, but just the fact that they made such provision shows these "originalists" for the reactionary fools they are. They claim to be able to divine the original intentions of the framers, but it is clear that the framers intended the Constitution to be a "living document" - a body of law that can adapt and change with the times. Either they are not smart enough to see their own contradiction, or they are simply being disingenuous.

If you reply to me, I might not have time to get back to you until next week. Busy times preparing for government inspection. Most people seem unaware that schools get inspected at all.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Fail

You need to look at outcomes

WHEN;
Women get paid the same as men
There are as many women top politicians and CEO's as men
There are as many men injured/killed by women and women injured/killed by men

THEN you can complain that the pendulum has swung far enough complain that it may swing too far

Until then you are in the same position as a KKK member complaining about blacks voting

David Brin said...

I never said don't complain about such stuff. Just as some climate "skeptics" are actually curious, instead of the vast majority who act as shills for the Koch-Saudi campaign to keep us on a carbon teat.

I have angered many by insisting that liberals STOP calling themselves 'leftist" in any way. They need leftist allies against the far worse insanity on today's mad right. But I often point out that there is lunacy at the far edges of the left.

Only note, if FB's EVERY anecdote were true and not even slightly exaggerated... and I know for a fact they are... then it would by a hangnail irritant compared to the deliberate demolition of US politics, science and temperate reason that has been the core and central aim of the masters of the American right. Trillions funneled to oligarchy. Trillions more torched in deliberate economic sabotage. Science undermined, the Earth imperiled, politics corrupted, rights attacked. And one of the worst crimes of all... managing to make the PC bully lefties look good, by comparison.

THAT is dangerous.

locumranch said...



This a blue pill site, FB, so go easy.

Many here are good-natured, intelligent & educated, but few are ready to dispense with illusion, preferring to interpret data in accordance with official narrative, mistaking indoctrination for education, consistency for progress, matriarchy for equality & authority for benevolence.

As above, David understands that leftists aren't liberals, leans liberal but still thinks the left superior to its near identical right.

Take my advice - you'll never rue it:
Be quite prepared to meet your God,
But don't stampede yourselves to do it.
Just cultivate a sober gait;
Don't emulate the lively conger;
No need to race, slow down the pace,
Go easy, Pals - you'll linger longer.


Best

Will Feret said...

@DavidBrin

Don't be fooled by right-wingers who claim they are opposed to "political correctness"... if by political correctness they mean authoritarian policing or changing of language to manipulate how people speak/think along political lines (which is what they usually mean by it) and lazily drawing connections to bigotry where none may exist. American conservatives are THE most politically correct people on the planet.

Accusing Obama of being an anti-White racist, constantly making white Christians feel like they are the persecuted ones (from the same people who complain about "race baiters"), calling the estate tax the "death tax" (courtesy of Frank Luntz), calling global warming deniers "skeptics" (Rick Scott even BANNED the words "climate change"), demanding Democrats show constant "patriotism" or they'll be accused of hating America (such as when Obama didn't put his hand over his heart during ONE pledge of allegiance), demanding Obama stress his Christianity even more or endure being called a Muslim, David Horowitz's Academic Bill of Rights (which implements right-wing political corrtness ON college campuses!), calling extreme social conservatism "family values", calling Plutocrats "Job Creators", "enhanced interrogation techniques" instead of calling it what it is (torture), etc.

The fact they have railed against political correctness for so long has made it easy to forget they have successfully implemented their own form of "political correctness" on our entire discourse. They are the ultimate language policers, and are hypocrites who suffer from severe psychological projection.

baal said...

Seems to me nearly every SF book I pick up these is written by a hard core Libertarian. The strain that would hate Hillary, and is a gun rights activist. Brin is the exception, but he's got writers block or is too busy being a leading futurist.

I am disgusted by the plotline of the book your pushing. DC and SF get nuked?? Spare me from crap like this!

Write something Brin you lazy POS!

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re - nearly every SF book I pick up these is written by a hard core Libertarian.

Yes - and No

One of the interesting things I see is individual writers (not all of them) seem to trend away from that as they get more nuanced

David Weber would be an example,
In his Honorverse the fall of Haven changes,
Initially it was because of "Liberal politicians"
Then it became regulatory capture by an elite
In the latest books it was because of a secret cabal working to undermine the society

Winter7 said...

Ho; true. That my tendency to generalize at all. (I did not mean American democracy) (despite what many say the conspiracy theories) True. Americans are in paradise compared to Mexicans.
And if. I'm cynical. But sometimes things are not what they seem. That of brainstorming is a great thing to consider all options before doing anything. We cynics, usually have more crazy and viable plans.
So Pálpatín (sorry, I meant Trump) is winning?
As I said before. Minorities in the United States are currently the most totaling the votes. If Pálpatin (Sorry, I meant Trump) wins, then that means that the electoral system in the United States went down the drain. The logic is that Hillary wins. If not win ..... Welcome to my post-apocalyptic universe. Where everyone has to memorize the new Newspeak dictionary; edited by the Ministry of Truth.
So useful in my cynical comment is that I give you the key to find out if something is very wrong. And if I'm wrong .. Great.
Long life to Galactic Republic.

Laurent Weppe said...

Speaking of Star Wars...

Here's a clever comment:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CbxaTVOUsAAmamY.jpg

Fail Burton said...

As I said, argue nothing more than free speech, due process and equal protection and then watch the priorities and pendulums come out. That is where danger comes from, not some imaginary "masters." Must I have the bar lowered for rape until I fit the suit while waiting for the first bridge in America ever built by women to be finished before I can claim my full rights as an American citizen? Must I wait for feminists to pie-chart Vet's hospitals with "diversity" by forming murderous all-female armored divisions?

By the time our mysterious masters are conquered I'll be unemployed for simply waking up in the morning with intersectional vectors of privilege, if not in a jail cell. Meanwhile to those with rewards points of oppression go the spoils. Good luck. A magazine in Canada just asked for job applicants on Twitter, making it clear white men were not welcome before the few brain cells left there complained and the acct. was deleted. SF writers used to write about such societies, not become them. That canary is long dead and no one's noticed it hasn't fallen off its perch. I give you the deaf, dumb and dead canaries of the SFWA. They are no longer leading the way but sucking fumes from their own exhaust.

You might want to give a listen to Rod Serling's Nov.11, 1966 speech at UCLA, now on youtube. He was complaining about something or other. "Equal..." something I think.

Will Feret said...

@FailBurton

What a wonderful example of right-wing "political correctness", with your whiny persecution complex, random race baiting, and anger towards SF writers for not writing the "correct" themes and values. You are just as hysterical as the "SJW's" you probably hate.

OMG locum are you a Red Piller? I knew you were crazy but holy shit I always thought you were more the "kooky Uncle at Thanksgiving" kind of crazy not the "guy I need to keep an eye on if he's closer than 20 feet to me or anyone else" kind of crazy.

donzelion said...

The 'consent/rape' discussion reminds me of Cherry 2000 (the 'lawyers' negotiating sexual consent agreements between daters). Trying to think of more artful treatments of the concept...

@FailBurton - "argue nothing more than free speech, due process and equal protection and then watch the priorities and pendulums come out. That is where danger comes from, not some imaginary "masters."

Starting from the 1870s, these arguments were made - consistently - and indeed, from 1870 to 1930, so many people were so afraid of so many overstated threats (e.g., African-Americans, women voting, Catholics selling us out to the Pope), that they neglected to pay attention to the folks who'd accumulated so much "wealth" that they could cause the Great Depression. ("Wealth" in quotes - then as now, much of the 'wealth' is actually debt in various forms, and then, as now, those holding vast debts had discovered numerous ways to compel someone else to pay up.)

Tony Fisk said...

As it happens, I did wade through last year's Hugo offerings. My general impression was of much mediocre whining about milquetoast rulers. Even so, I ignored the 'debate' and managed to not select 'No Award' in all but one short story section. Then had a good laugh when that section was the only one that *did* get an award. So much for my forecasting abilities! (I did peg Ms. Marvel, though ;-)

Fail Burton said...

I have not refused to talk about a so-called "oligarchy" but ignored it because I have the talent to worry about two things at once and concerns over an oligarchy isn't an excuse to watch other rights be eroded. The other reason is that open corruption is nothing new. Those indicted in the recent FIFA world soccer scandal must envy the American political system. Whereas FIFA had to resort to crude cash bribes in manilla envelopes and laundering money through offshore shell corporations, our politicians call such bribes "endowments" and launder money in plain site - legally.

The 2008 crash which raped pensions to the point where people didn't even want to open their pension investment statements caused bank interest rates to plummet from 4% to 0.5%. Why would banks need to pay interest on their new source of gov't funding while the SEC looked the other way?

You don't have to be a genius to figure out who benefits from low wages and high property values and it isn't me. Oh, I might be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time in this pyramid scheme and sell my house for 5 times what I paid 7 years before, but the other side of that is a person paying 5 times what the house was worth 7 years before. Americans are basically trying to follow the signs of a points-shaving scheme and hope they get lucky.

This is why I am in favor of legally setting our population at 200 million and working to lower it from our current 320 million. Higher wages, cheaper property, a real economy instead of a fake one based on tinder from the Third World. Years ago Western states tried to get a water pipeline from the Great Lakes to fund their desert paradises of Evaporation Rate Estates. Those lake polities resisted but it's clear that is not going to go away; nor will their be any new forests or land created. We must also stop allowing corporations to count as "a guy" in political campaign funding.

As for "race-baiting," I have a simple definition for that: anyone who obsessively Tweets and blogs about an entire race or sex and throws them down as immoral to the accompaniment of demonization theories and blood libels while using a very in-house specific lingo is a member of a racist, sexist, supremacist cult. Opposing that is not "race-baiting, "racism," or anything like it. It doesn't matter to me whether a Twitter feed wall-to-wall full of the misdeeds of an entire biological group calls their "social justice" white or feminist, they are one in the same. Orwell warned us of this and even E. R. Burroughs in 1912 had us cheering a 15 ft. tall green monster with 4 arms, tusks and praying mantis eyes to kill people to all intents and purposes human. Principle, not identity.

I am not fooled by Trojan Horses which falsely claim descent from women's suffrage and the Civil Rights movement while their award-nominated authors use terms like "white dude parade" and "male tears." I am not fooled when the author of the most awarded SF novel in history writes a post the month that novel is released using the analogy of a restaurant claiming most "white cis dudes" are like waiters who randomly punch or tacitly condone the punching of PoC, women and gays. Even Burroughs wasn't stupid enough to be fooled by the real and true analogy: that of a pitch-perfect copy of anti-Semitism or white supremacy in pig-tails bearing talk of wheel-chair access and allergies to scented products. The fact these people would never write "black broad parade" or "black homo broads" in a thousands years is a self-indictment and confession, not social justice. The fact 12 such people are Nebula nominees this year and from a culture which usually considers Burroughs the racist is not only revealing but a disgrace.

Tacitus2 said...

Fail Burton

Supportive as I am of new voices here, especially challenging ones, I think your notion that our population can/should/might possibly be legally mandated at 200 million "jumps the shark".

Tacitus

donzelion said...

@FB - Well, you definitely appear quite angry about something. Let's pause for a second.

"By the time our mysterious masters are conquered I'll be unemployed for simply waking up in the morning with intersectional vectors of privilege, if not in a jail cell."

Should either happen to you, you can give me a call. I'll represent you, sue your former employer, or get you out of jail, as needed. A lawyer shouldn't solicit clients on a public forum - but in this case, (a) you don't know my name, and (b) this isn't going to happen anyway, so (c) it's all good. So let's not worry about risks and problems that can be readily addressed.

Oligarchy poses problems that cannot be so readily addressed. But as for your other concerns -

(1) You will never be prosecuted for thought crime in America, but if you are, you can contact me. That said, Twitter, Facebook, or any private service, is probably within its rights to censor anything they choose not to present. They're not a "public forum" - they're private companies, with different rules (generally).

(2) If you dread corruption, and have evidence thereof, by all means, contact a lawyer. Under the Private Attorney General Act, you (and your lawyer) could reap quite a windfall. More important, doing your duty (by pointing out actual instances of corruption, not generalities of 'corrupt behavior' will improve the community.

(3) If you would like to permit the federal government to rein in corporate 'free speech' (stop treating them as 'a guy') in political affairs, I suggest voting for a Democrat for President and Senate so "Citizens United" can be overturned. Republicans are pretty set on maintaining it, though there may be some variation in your state.

(4) I don't understand your fury at the rape statistics. The FBI/DOJ are not disputing the CDC's claims of 1 million+ rapes/year - so which 2 presidents do you think are lying, and why? For statistical purposes, they changed their definition of 'rape' to omit the term 'forcible' - that now means that sex with a victim (usually a woman) who is inebriated or passed out constitutes 'rape.' In terms of prosecution, local law still governs. In colleges, Obama has suggested they adopt a 'preponderance of the evidence' standard during their own hearings/investigations - BUT unless you have a "right" to a college education, this is not an 'erosion of rights' but simply a 'decision about student disciplinary processes.' They could always expel you for other non-criminal conduct, like cheating on a test, skipping all your classes, or failing to pay tuition.

Hopefully, that will help you to relax. There may be some SJWs around, but should it ever come to pass that your rights are actually violated, you will find many people will flock to your defense in our country (even those who vehemently disagree with everything you say will fight to the death to safeguard your right to say it - just not necessarily on Twitter). God bless America.

sociotard said...

Russia is asking permission start flying over the US with surveillance planes, as per the Open Skies treaty. The state department is grousing that Russia does not meet all its obligations under that treaty.

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/russia-seeks-fly-us-high-powered-digital-camera-37106168

Anonymous said...

Dear donzelion:
"So many people were so afraid of so many overstated threats (eg, African-Americans, women voting, Catholics selling us out to the Pope), that they neglected to pay attention to the folks who'd accumulated so much "wealth" that they could cause the Great Depression. ("Wealth" in quotes - then as now, much of the 'wealth' is actually debt in various forms, and then, as now, those holding vast debts had discovered numerous ways to compel someone else to pay up.)"

Excellent point! Right!
As for the following:
"But as for your other concerns - (1) You will never be prosecuted for thought crime in America, but if you are, you can contact me".

¡Good! In Latin America the story is different. If. No one is prosecuted for "democracy". What actually happens is that an "organized crime group" becomes "ground beef" (literally) to all rebels who speak against politicians and groups with power.
I am glad that in the United States is not a fake democracy.
Because I hope someday to live in America. But I have not decided on which place to go to live. What place is almost non-existent levels of "supremacists" "serial murderers" and generic gangs? (I do not make fun. It is a matter of survival) (yes, really) (Because in Mexico have those problems, multiplied by infinity) (Why travel of tourists to Mexico? Do they have any idea how many tourists were killed last year? ) (it was not a pretty death)
God bless America. (And also bless Latin America, because superheroes can no longer reconstruct what has already been destroyed) Hopefully the candidate Pálpatin (sorry, I meant Trump) is not a "directive 66" or "order 66" for the armies of clones and public officials "cloned" Because if something I've learned is that public officials and the army never oppose a new Sith leadership. They just keep quiet and keep their jobs) That happened in my country. Heroes are scarce. And they live shortly.

Sincerely:
Winter7

Val said...

The most amusing thing about the success of Democracy and Government in the US is simply how invisible it is despite being so essential for almost every aspect of daily life.

Its sort of like the Oxygen in the air we breathe.

Fail Burton said...

You're taking my comments too literally. I am as angry as E. M. Forester was about machines which stopped, Bradbury was about pedestrians, and Niven was for having your organs harvested for running a red light.

Having said that, when one of the most famous SF writers of his generation openly admits on his own site he does not have a free hand to speak his mind, which does that more sound like: Ellison's Dangerous Visions, or an Orwellian Trust and Safety Council which muzzles dissent?

You are talking about law. I am talking about the fact it is culture which precedes law. Change the culture, change the law. Normalize hate speech, muzzle opposing it in colleges throughout America and watch what happens. I am talking about a slippery slope, and we have come a long way from Cambridge and New Riders of the Purple Wage, haven't we.

And along that slippery slope, I'll say this again: in his UCLA speech, what if Serling had argued fake rape stats, intersectional privilege and the white colonial male gaze alongside Roddenberry, Stefano, Bradbury, Heinlein, Dick, Zelazny - all of whom argued our common humanity in morality tales rather than emphasized our differences via award-winning racial revenge fantasies into competing Towers of Babel to the point where we in the glorious new 21st century have become so debased we no longer have a single binding definition of "group defamation... or balls and strikes, height, color, etc. Anything is anything. There is no common language, no touchstones, no rules which benefit all. Put on your SF hat and extrapolate.

And you're wrong about the stats. They lumping in menacing looks and phone calls from ex-boyfriends. That info is publicly available, you need only read it.

David Brin said...

baal… SF & DC get nuked by BAD people. Who are hunted down, at the end of the book.

In fact there is a swathe of lefty SF writers, who dominate awards but don’t sell many books… and libertarian authors who sell well and many of whom are now evenhanded, swerving (as Ayn Rand did!) to blaming conniving oligarchs more than sappy socialists.

FB… you are rigid. Articulate, but unable to budge in your wrath. I have repeatedly said that the problems you aim at are real ones and extrajudicial, presumption-of-guilt re campus sexual matters is wrongheaded and should be opposed. Though a contributing factor has been foot-dragging by national fraternity orgs, who badly need to make proper behavior training a part of every pledge and initiation.

No, the problem is that you will not consider the plain fact that by ANY metric, statistical or by levels of injustice etc, the threats to us all posed by the jabbering-capering loony right and their new-feudalism masters is vastly worse. You are like a climate denialist cultist who will not budge, pointing at his NOAA anecdotes and screeching “seeee?! The authors of that paper were caught Cheating!” And then following with “Because of this minutia I don’t have to admit that something should be done to increase national energy efficiency!”

A true ‘skeptic’ would say ”Okay WHILE we are vigorously promoting efficiency and sustainables and improving research, let’s address these NOAA lapses here.”

But you cannot offer such a deal – “I will agree to help fight the Murdoch-Limbaugh-Saudi attempted oligarchic putsch, if along the way we also try to beat back leftist sins like extrajudicial, presumption-of-guilt in campus sexual accusations.” Such tradeoffs are called Pol – IT -ICS. But you will never do that. Why? Because your frets over extrajudicial, presumption-of-guilt on campus serve a purpose of allowing you to fixate and maintain loyalty to a cause. A cause that you know to have veered over cliffs of insanity.

donzelion said...

Winter7 - personally, I like the West Coast (anything from Seattle through San Diego). Nowhere is completely safe, but most of us find things 'safe enough.' You'll find supremacists and gangs pretty much anywhere if you look for them; look for better people, and you'll find far more of the good folks.

Don't believe all you hear from Trump (Palpatine) (especially not when he says it). I see no Sith leader likely to destroy this Republic any time soon. Bad ones can hurt, but the foundation is solid.

Good luck if you want to migrate. But here's a thought: if heroes are scarce in your country, so long as you are an honest person who does your job well, perhaps you add one to that number.

David Brin said...

I would not self-muzzle about PC-correctness if the tradeoffs weren't so obvious.

1) Their excesses do not affect civilization as a whole nor the future nor posterity and therefore, I am not behooved to show great courage. They are not Goliaths to be faced down by this David.

2) And hence I am free to act in self- interest. In which case relative silence is pragmatic.

3) Above all... and dig this well... their excesses are rude and sometimes nasty... but they are in directions we need to go. We DO need to overcome sexual and racial bias. We DO need to do some overcompensating PC-related things, to show we are welcoming of the diversity that will propel both science fiction and civilization forward!

The "side" that has (briefly, I hope) taken over sci fi awards processes is in many ways self-defeating, but it is motivated toward making a better future, far more than their diametric opponents are.

Yes, I refuse to accept their stark, self-righteous, sanctimonious "us-vs.evil" and black-white dichotomies. But if the situation truly were polar, I would choose these colleagues over their racist-sexist-feudalist foes, any day.

And anyone who cherry picks individual sentences out of these remarks, to "show" that I am taking sides against my peers, is a liar whom I'll hunt down, I promise.

David Brin said...

BTW I am not the first to be like this. Kurt Vonnegut enraged leftist friends with his story "Harrison Bergeron" which satirized those fanatics who wish to equalize outcomes across society. Look it up.

This despite Vonnegut having fine, liberal positions. As I have said, I know the far left can go mad. Right now that... is... not... our... problem.

Anabelle said...

A challenge: name one time a democracy has fallen to too little regulation or too little taxation of the rich. And when you can't compare that to all the times democracy has fallen to demagogues who demonized the rich.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Anabelle

I can't think of any time that a democracy has fallen because of demagogues who demonized the rich - except those occasions when said demagogue was funded by the rich

But the other case - too little regulation and too little taxation of the rich
Argentina, Germany, France, Chile, Greece....
Too many to mention

David Brin said...

Stunning lunacy, Anabelle. And I look you in the eye, direct

. For you to ignore what Adam Smith clearly saw... that feudal-inherited oligarchy was THE failure mode across 99% of human societies, across 6000 years is proof of...

...sorry...

stark jibbering insanity.

Anabelle said...

If you're talking about Hitler, he claimed to be socialist and wanted to ban interest. He was probably lying to gain power but that was what he said.

For Chile you're probably talking about Pinochet. Pinochet was backed by a stronger foreign power gained power in a coup not an election. He was also responding to a socialist leader whop had universally condemned for disruption of legality by the Chliean supreme court. Democracy was already collapsing.

Anabelle said...

The land my house is built on was covered with trees for 99.9% percent of human history. If my house is rendered uninhabitable it will be covered in trees again. Should I consider a forest fire conductive to preservation of my house, for clearing out the trees?

donzelion said...

Anabelle/Duncan - "too much regulation" or "insufficient regulation" are empty concepts - there is no such thing, nor can there be. Think about 'democracy' - and particularly, what the Founders saw when they considered adopting it - failure in Athens, Rome, Cromwellian Britain, the Italian city states, and every single other instance where it had been tried. (They overlooked Iceland. Everyone does, 'til the Vikings land...) They interpreted the failures as the result of 'faction.'

For your question, the Founders would see every tax, every regulation, as being 'liked by some people' and 'hated by some people,' with a risk that rigid factions might develop, who would descend into civil war, fragmentation, or the collapse and retrenchment into a monarchy/empire. If the people really hate a law, they'll change it. Otherwise, it wasn't a democracy to begin with.

Now, in a weird sense, a Confederate calling to secede might assert that Lincoln (and others) threatened "too much regulation." After all, he planned to ban slavery in the Western territories, which would upset the balance in the Senate, which would (with the wisdom of the slippery slope fallacy to guide them) result in them losing their slaves. He also called slavery 'evil' - so they knew a vast conspiracy when they heard it.

So the U.S. civil war MIGHT be presented as a battle of "too much regulation" - but only if one agrees with the cause of the slaveowners. And one might present it as "not enough regulation (regarding slavery in the West) - but only if one agreed with Lincoln. Either way, you're merely stating "I like this side better" and dressing it with argument - not describing what happened and why.

(As for me, filtering the story through 'faction' - I can choose a third side - that of the Constitution.) ;)

donzelion said...

As for this - "The land my house is built on was covered with trees for 99.9% percent of human history. If my house is rendered uninhabitable it will be covered in trees again. Should I consider a forest fire conductive to preservation of my house, for clearing out the trees?"

Um, nope. And I fail to see how that connects with Davids, Duncan's, or my point. If YOU don't like a regulation, then it's "too much regulation." If YOU are in the majority, then propose a change. Bang - it's gone. If you're in the minority, then try to grow a majority. If the oppression is extreme, then move elsewhere.

SciFi offers myriad possibilities to 'move elsewhere' - at the very least because as an entertainment medium, the person engaging it is "moving away from' this world in their own mind (temporarily, at least). Some SciFi is mostly 'escapist' entertainment. But good SciFi helps us to reconnect.

David Brin said...

Frigging ingrate Anabelle, knows that this moderate, mixed, rooseveltean society is one of the only times humanity ever departed from the standard failure mode of feudal-inheritance-oligarchy. Yet, she maintains that our society would be much much better if it were more feudal.

All the goodies that she has and enjoys came from a relatively flat-open society in which the kids of the rich merely have huge advantages but not a cheating lock on power. A society in which the greatest and best of our "rich" folks got it by delivering unbelievably good products and services. Folks who were formerly middle class nerds, like Jobs and Musk.

Oh, and that branch of the rich? A few are libertarians. Most are democrats.

Fail Burton said...

There is nothing rigid about maintaining I have a right I've awarded myself to not be lit up by morons because of my ethnic heritage or sex. The fact you think that veers into insanity is precisely to the point.

And exactly what am I too make of a millionaire like Murdock, a millionaire broken clock like Limbaugh and filthy rich Wahabbi fanatics who live in a static medieval world with a thin smear of tech they can't and didn't create superimposed like jam over moldy bread? Please articulate. It might help if you could articulate that outside a framework that necessitates a presumption of my rigid and insane wrath. The idea "diversity" will provide us the next generation of fast-attack nuke carriers to protect us from countries which have no gender studies classes seems lunatic.

I honestly have no idea what you're talking about. You seem to have imposed a system of seniority I must adhere to or I enter an insane asylum.

And you say the anti-male, anti-white lesbian liberation ideology you mistakenly refer to as "PC-correctness" aren't Goliaths, and yet you can't publicly oppose them while you can go off on the "masters" like Murdoch, Limbaugh and Saudis with no censure. You have effectively turned the meaning of "Goliath" upside-down. Since the SFWA is diametrically opposed to Bradbury and Serling I disagree we are headed for a better future, unless you spell "better" "dystopian."

And by assigning "racial and sexual bias" to tens of millions of people according to nothing more than their race and sex, you have also overturned what racial and sexual bias mean. "Diversity" in SF is a term which is never used without a stack of lies based on nothing more than a demographic spike in SF writers from 1912-60 while ignoring 30 Ruth Fielding novels 1913-34 or Nancy Drew from 1930 on over at the Stratemeyer Syndicate. The Patriarchy seems to have been rather myopic in achieving their suppression of women.

Even those who promote "diversity" don't believe in it, as there is no flood of them eager to relocate to Egypt or Guatemala and nor is this phoney "principle" ever applied to romance fiction, basketball, Bollywood or the NBA. Meanwhile, Egyptians and Guatemalans risk their lives to come to our racist-sexist society where the New Jim Crow goes by the mysterious immeasurable term "structural inequalities."

The racist-sexist-feudalist foes of the SFWA are a chimera they have concocted out of their heads by memory-holing history so that it is only this colonialism and that slavery which is ever mentioned. The Taj Mahal and Alhambra attain a neutral status rather than being seen for the colonialist slave cultures they were.

Treebeard said...

Fail Burton, it's nice to see another person here whose eyes are open to the real dangerous totalitarian insanity of our times. Dr. Brin would have you believe that this is a marginal, inconsequential thing, but the speed with which they conquer and transform entire cultures and are able to demonize anyone who opposes them, with “liberals” like our host afraid to speak out lest he be cast to the Outer Darkness, should alarm everyone. This is a fanatical, deranged power cult that has managed to infiltrate our institutions and spread their poison with little opposition, and the main reason is the complacency and fear of the liberals. I for one will take Dr. Brin's challenge and oppose the oligarchs, if he will help us smash these Stalinists.

Anabelle said...

I am not arguing "we should give the rich whatever they want , tax them nothing and regulate them not at all". I am arguing that we are not existentially threatened by politicians who say they will tax and spend and regulate a little less.

I want less income inequality! In addition to the numerous social benefits, it reduces the "lynch the rich" factions ability to gain power. The current administration has been pretty much terrible on that front though.

Jumper said...

The executive branch is often blamed for what Congress does, or fails to do. I find this habit mostly among children, or those with child-like minds, who simply won't learn about civics because it bores them.
Obama did raise the minimum raise for all Federal contractors. He took heat for it, too. That was in his purview.

donzelion said...

Ugh - Fail Burton, I really hope your Monday gets better if you're so desperately in need of an attaboy from a very good author. But Treebeard, if you think Fail's eyes were opened, you either don't know where he started from, or you are endorsing the Brietbart source.

First, there's the 'plot to silence' Milo whats-his-name, a two-bit junior varsity agent-provocateur aspiring to a place on the Fox big leagues. Gives a speech, here's a harsh word from a professor - and feels like he's being chilled and silenced (never occurs to him that the professor has studied the subject matter he spent a couple weeks on for several years - and might actually have something meaningful to say too). The students go out for a beer afterward, echo their professor and express their irritation at the speaker - he converts it into a 'therapy session' to discharge their trauma. Another group of ladies refuses to speak to him at another university because they have better things to do - he sees "proof!" of the plot to chill his Messianic Message and the bad faith cowardice arrayed against him.

All of that leads me to think either
(1) You're having a really bad day. OR
(2) You're fishing for something in bad faith, with the intention to try to put words in someone's mouth - to extract a quote (as Milo whatever has done), and then to try to force someone to speak in a forum of Milo's choosing to 'explain' or 'retract' things.

I'll assume the former. I'll assume you're mad at the SFWA for honoring someone whose work you have pre-judged because she said something feminist that mortified you so you don't have to read it to know you hate it. An irate fan having a bad day.

Jumper said...

Anyway, was there something particular SFWA members said to provoke all this, or is it all just spun floss based on assuming assumptions? The only thing I ever could figure was that a bunch of guys with doubts about their own masculinity who turned misogynist were seeing phantoms or self-hallucinated boogywomen.
Actual screeds about this affair seemed to never come to a point, didn't seem evidential, assumed some sort of in-group knowledge which was damn near unobtainable, and of course the whole hooraw was written in badly spelled language, incorporated mistaken beliefs about the world, and very little critical thinking, so the whole mess was indecipherable.

A.F. Rey said...

Fail Burton's rants sound awfully like what the Sad Puppies were protesting--and what George R.R. Martin soundly debunked.

http://grrm.livejournal.com/418285.html

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Anabelle, donzelion

Slightly tongue in cheek but

(1) Every democracy that has failed has been killed by "the rich"
either investing in a demagogue (Hitler) or failing to pay their way and tanking the economy or (in the older examples) simply buying mercenaries

(2) The way "the rich" do this is by using the power of their money

The solution is either to tax them until they no longer have that power and/or to regulate the use of that power

Louis D. Brandeis
We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.

From that logical path the reason that the democracies failed is that they did not tax/regulate the rich enough

donzelion said...

Annabelle - under Obama, the highest income tax bracket for ordinary income increased from 35% to 39.6%. The capital gains tax increased from 15% to 20% (and that's how the most wealthy earn most of their money). An increase? Yes. A lynching? Please.

Indeed, when Bush offered the 2002 tax cuts, he included a sunset provision that would have them expire after his term ended. So in effect, you're blaming the current administration for the lynching that the previous administration wrote into the law! Well, maybe they wrote that sunset provision expecting it would never happen (so they just lied when they projected the total costs of the Bush tax cuts). But it was on the books.

The fact that you can do so (and indeed, that is where the debate has moved in the last several years) demonstrates the power of a cynical side in this debate: people "feel" extremely angry about "too much tax" and "too much regulation" - they hate the DHS that Bush built, and blame Obama for it, they hate the NSA that (well, many of them built, but there's only one president around to blame). So much anger. So little reading of what is in the laws on the books. That means the anger comes from someone who is selling it - soma - intended to outrage ("lynch the rich!" no...nobody is talking about that - not even Bernie, who wants to raise taxes on them significantly more - more them all the way back to where Reagan left them...how dare he suggest taxes were higher under Reagan...uh, it's on the books).

donzelion said...

@Jumper - you'll have to go back to Fail's original posts here, including the retweet. Fail appears to be projecting onto the entire SFWA the 'militant feminism' displayed in a quote Fail finds utterly abhorrent.

Or, to put it more succinctly -
"The only thing I ever could figure was that a bunch of guys with doubts about their own masculinity who turned misogynist were seeing phantoms or self-hallucinated boogywomen."

Yep. You got it.

"Actual screeds about this affair seemed to never come to a point, didn't seem evidential,"
Which is why I started looking up Fail's points to see what he was talking about. Sadly, that tracked me to Brittybart news (if you know them, I need not spell their name properly - they're persistently searching to see what forums their stories get referenced on - which they use to sell to the advertisers and consultant class to prove their role as a 'thought leader.'

"assumed some sort of in-group knowledge which was damn near unobtainable,"
As did I.

"and of course the whole hooraw was written in badly spelled language, incorporated mistaken beliefs about the world, and very little critical thinking, so the whole mess was indecipherable."
Not indecipherable. Just not worth the effort. (Guilty as charged - I better switch to typing on a computer and not a phone while waiting around.)

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Fail

You fail to use logic

"And you say the anti-male, anti-white lesbian liberation ideology you mistakenly refer to as "PC-correctness" aren't Goliaths"

Look at the results
Women/non whites/gays are UNDERREPRESENTED in all of the measures of power,
They are the victims of violence NOT the perpetrators

You are the KKK member complaining that "some nigger got blood on my sheet"

David Brin said...

Anabelle you have utterly altered your position in order to claim it was originally different. So, add deeply dishonest to jibbering loony. Please. You are out of your league here. Go drool elsewhere, hm?

Sorry FB but you prove my point every time.
1- by insisting that PC bullies are actually a major political force in America, when the anecdotes you present only show them to be irritants on some college campuses etc., having nothing to do with the vastly larger number of Liberals.

2- by refusing to show us any evidence to the contrary.

3- by refusing to even glance at the real threats to civilization that you are using these dopey flakes to avoid looking at.

I must be very frustrating for you. Unlike those you normally poke-at, I accept that the anecdotal lefty-crimes you point to are real. Some of them are very wrong. Still, I show you the degree to which you shrieking-hysterically exaggerate the socio-political-existential threat that such extrema-fools represent.

They are not trillionaires suborning all our institutions. They have not obstructed energy efficiency and independence and science, thus endangering our planet and children. The far left sometimes, tepidly attacks science but nothing like the Entire right’s relentless WAR on science.

You have proved relentlessly not to fit into the pattern of those who can look all-ways - like a climate “skeptic” - but to be blinkered-maniacally tunnel-focused. Like a climate denialist cultist, you use your mantras to avoid even glancingly referring to the actual dangers.

Are there injustices? Might some that you rail at have some basis? Sure. But there are words for someone who is actually able to concoct the phrase “I am persecuted because I am a white male.” They start with “pathetic.” Guys who use that mantra to blame others for failures in life.

Anabelle said...

How have I changed my position?

Catfish N. Cod said...

If we are discussing "failure modes of democracies" should we not start with early examples?

Rome fell as a Republic (though became stronger as an Empire) because of insufficient regulation of the rich. This is not a matter of dispute. The power of the lower classes was consistently attacked starting c. 150 BC by foreclosures of small farmers and tradesmen by wealthy landowners who consolidated further wealth, particularly by taking advantage of the absence of strong young males -- who were fighting in wars decreed by a Senate filled with those same wealthy landowners. Conservatives in our modern era love to decry "bread and circuses" but never address why mass throngs of unemployed were in Rome to begin with. They were driven from their jobs by plutocrats and refused to accept serfdom or slavery on the lands once their own; they went instead to the one place they could seek grievance -- the only place where the votes could be counted -- Rome herself.

When those dispossessed elected the Gracchi on an explicit platform of limiting the power of landowners. He got one major reform passed... and then was assassinated. As was his brother after him. Meanwhile, in the Senate, the 'populares' party that was willing to speak for tribunal power and more democracy repeatedly managed the State better during their consulates than the 'optimates' party dominated by the plutocratic conservatives. Until eventually, when a populares administration revoked the commission of a optimate general... he marched on Rome.

Both parties after that were more and more willing to break the Roman Constitution, sometimes in fear of their lives but more often just to get their way in the developing class war. Until that same general marched on Rome again... slaughtered them all... and rewrote the Constitution in a way intended to maintain optimate domination forever.

After that, popular tyranny -- with the full backing of the electorate! -- was only a matter of time.

All of this from a failure of the real estate and labor markets, originating from excess concentration of wealth.... and insufficient regulation.

There are numerous more examples, but none have had such influence on history as that one. Plutocracy destroyed freedom in Rome. This has been well known for centuries, studied over and over. (And often praised, by the plutocrats of other ages, who cheered on the crushing of the rabble and disdain for those who attempt to organize and act in the public interest.)

Tony Fisk said...

Some advice, FB. I can proseify as magentally as the best of them, yet I cannot comprehend the kernel of much of what you utter either.

Which is to say that you should learn to speak in clear and simple terms, rather than 'articulate'. The content of your statements will not suffer. Indeed, you will stop sounding like the left wing feminising terminologically obfuscating crypto-academia you clearly want nothing to do with.

Oh yes, and provide some evidence for the gripes you bring here, rather than expect we sceptics to just accept, or go looking for it.

David Brin said...

Great stuff, Catfish! Though in fact all we need to know is that inheritance oligarchs have ALWAYS drifted into cheating and the end sink was always feudalism. And that the founder of modern competitive capitalism, Adam Smith despised the way feudalism cheating always ruins the potential fecundity and creativity of markets.

And the fact that market competition has never ever functioned better at propeling a vibrant and growing middle class than it did under Rooseveltean tax rates.

And that every "supply side" cut in taxes on the rich had exactly opposite to the promised effects - always... opposite. Sending deficits skyrocketing and driving the middle class into corners or toward cliffs.

But please, do not bother with "Anabelle." She could not even be bothered to actually read the article she was supposedly criticizing. This is not a person worth my further time.

Fail Burton said...

I have not made assumptions as to the motives of anyone here which are by an amazing coincidence 100% miserable. I have not mind-read anyone and put the results in scare quotes then deemed them pathetic or falsely claimed to know their origins, whatever the hell that means. I have not accused anyone of serial madness, anger or a persecution complex. I have not made false claims of any commenter which are outright lies. I have not bizarrely asked for "evidence" after someone used actual quotes. In fact I have provided evidence you choose to ignore as if I never wrote it.

I cannot take this site seriously as an intellectually honest exchange of ideas. I will not be back.

Anabelle said...

What article?

Tony Fisk said...

Democracy keeps failing, supposedly, yet keeps coming back for more. Like warts, or an emergent property.

I wonder if it isn't feudalism that is the unstable mode: introduced by disruption, like an invading weed, but struggles to maintain its hold as the ecosystem re-establishes itself. (This is pure armchair speculation, of course.)

locumranch said...



In an indirect way, I think Annabelle is making a very important point about a lack of concordance between regulation & enforcement as our society tends to confuse the two (in a 'General Semantics/Korzybski' kind of way), always calling for more regulation & tougher laws when problems arise due to insufficient enforcement of existent law which would otherwise be adequate.

A act of terror? Gun violence? Tainted food at Chipotle? The Progressive Left reflexively demands more & more regulation to prevent a recurrence, always forgetting that laws do not enforce themselves, always ignoring the pre-existent laws that would have had the desired effect if they were enforced.

Worthy of mention, Fail Burton & Treebeard seem to be channeling a popular meme attributed to Voltaire -- "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize" -- which, if true, would indicate that the villain is not necessarily those oft-maligned oligarchs, but those who we hold above reproach like the priest, the mother, the ingenue & the sainted victim, for it is a truism that those who we trust implicitly (without reservation or question) are more likely devastate us by betrayal.

At our peril, we forget that history's greatest villain (Hitler) was elected by democratic process & popular acclaim, capturing 44% of the Reichstag & the German vote.


Best

Tony Fisk said...

I have not bizarrely asked for "evidence" after someone used actual quotes.
What's bizarre about asking for evidence for assertions you don't accept?

In fact I have provided evidence you choose to ignore as if I never wrote it.
You did? Sorry if I missed it, but why not just repeat it...

I cannot take this site seriously as an intellectually honest exchange of ideas. I will not be back.
..instead of flouncing off in a huff? Oh well. No loss.

Anabelle said...

@Tony Fisk

Interesting. England is probably a good example of an inevitable spiral towards democracy. Also, consider pirates. Even groups of murderous thieves with no education in democracy gravitate toward it naturally.

David Brin said...

Inevitable spiral toward democracy, my speckled behind. I despair over folks who know zero history and who proudly ignore even the MOVIES they have seen about the past! Squint and picture those 6000 years. 60 centuries. Three HUNDRED human generations of serfs and lackeys sweating under the lash and swords of the owner castes. Athens was crushed precisely because they knew democracy would out-compete oligarchy and Plato railed for 2000 years against the experiment ever being tried again.

==
L...Cogently spoken, yet Voltaire was wrong. When he who rules over you is secure, he simply chuckles at your criticism. It also depends upon his goal. Since the Murdochians’ goal is destruction of the USA and Pax American, they needn’t stop the victims from railing about it. They need only destroy politics. Which they inarguably have done.

As to US being your rulers? Har! Sure we centrist pragmatic optimists chide on you for your zero-sum grouchitudinousness.

But that’s just because a majority of smart-savvy productive guys happen to be like us. Sorry. I don’t see you being bullied, pal. You have a great time, here.

As for FB? Cornered by light shining upon his monomania, of course he had to leave. He will find another place to impotently rage at mostly impotent PC bullies, imagining them into giants so he can feel brave. A tempest in a teapot. While the real fight is out here.

Until the era of brown shirts arrives, it is of little significance. Of course that day might come. It is Why We Fight.

donzelion said...

Catfish/Duncan: to me, both Rome and the Third Reich are tales better understood as interfactional struggles, not countries that transition from one form to another due to 'too much' or 'too little' regulation of the 'rich.'

The 'bad regulations' Catfish cites as the 'cause' are hardly 'new' errors. Indeed, they were likely regulations the Roman Republic had tried previously, during the course of its remarkable five century rise. If the 'lack of regulation' is what caused the incipient struggle, then why don't you return to the ongoing effects of that bad regulation throughout the following turn of events? Instead, you focus (appropriately) on the players - Caesar's agency, the factions he builds, the breaches among them - the 'first cause' fades in relevance from the story, in favor of the 'death match' among the participants.

Similarly with Hitler: to say "the rich screwed up and Hitler happened" injects us into the story, judging their errors, through our hindsight superiority - in a way, it absolves them of 'guilt' by fixating upon their 'failure' to know what we know now. The Wiemar government was hardly foolish - they curbed hyperinflation well before Hitler, and put down his first putsch. Yet somehow, he amassed a following, growing to be the greatest counterbalance to the communists, so that when the Depression hit and endured, discrediting the 'old regime's' approach (just over a decade, rather than many centuries) - the selection of Hitler was an interfactional choice, not merely an 'error of those greedy rich people.'

One can blame the "rich" - whether poorly regulated or poorly taxed (or in Annabelle's terms, "over-taxed and over-regulated') - for the success AND for the failure of every government (e.g., "the Mongols weren't great conquerors, they just conquered lands where rich people were poorly regulated"). An explanation that covers everything offers insight on nothing. Further, fixating on the faction, rather than the venality of the rich, leads to an understanding why some bad regulation or inadequate tax wasn't rectified (often, they simply couldn't get it to pass given factional constraints) - though it deprives me the sense of 'hindsight superiority.'

And lastly, by accepting the 'factional' story and its centrality in these changes - we can use that in our present day. The IT titans, Warren Buffett, numerous other members of the 'rich' take a very different view of regulation and tax (they're a small minority among the 'rich' - but a powerful elite). The Kochs and the Saudis both profit from oil, but today, they're engaged in a price war death match - if the Saudis 'win' - fracking will be dramatically reduced in America at least for a time and many billionaires will go bankrupt (at the price of deferring energy independence).

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

A act of terror? Gun violence? Tainted food at Chipotle? The Progressive Left reflexively demands more & more regulation to prevent a recurrence...


Some of those other things, perhaps, but the demands for more government intrusion into our lives after an act of terror come squarely from the right.

New York, Washington, Chicago, LA, are likely terrorist targets, yet we're not the ones saying "Please make me less free as long as you keep us safe!" No, we have you non-targeted red states to thank for that.

Tainted food, I'll give you that it's the left who shows concern, whereas the right claims the market will sort itself out (i.e., if enough people die from eating brand X, the survivors will eventually stop buying it). But the left would be happy with "enforcing the existing laws." It's the right who keeps gutting the enforcement agencies to prevent the existing laws from being enforced.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

At our peril, we forget that history's greatest villain (Hitler) was elected by democratic process & popular acclaim, capturing 44% of the Reichstag & the German vote.


What makes you think anyone is forgetting that? It's one reason Donald Trump and Raphael Eduardo (Ted) Cruz are scary. Cruz is the Martin Sheen character in "The Dead Zone", and Trump's supporters look and sound like something out of a Nuremberg rally.

LarryHart said...

Fail Burton:

I cannot take this site seriously as an intellectually honest exchange of ideas. I will not be back.


I dunno, people who threaten to self-Rapture rarely seem to stay away for long.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Until the era of brown shirts arrives, it is of little significance. Of course that day might come. It is Why We Fight.


Have you seen a Donald Trump rally?

donzelion said...

I still think Fail Burton is having a really bad Sunday/Monday, and may come back and surprise us with something interesting.

Annabelle's question - do democracies fall when they are 'over-taxed' or 'over-regulated' (rephrased) is an interesting one (and I stand by my answer: there's no such thing, over-taxed/under-taxed is all relative to the individual).

LocumRanch/Larry - there is of course, a wholly 'private' mechanism to guard against tainted food, which existed long before Roosevelt. Under the 'common law,' lawyers could sue Chipotle for any harm they caused, and thus 'make whole' the families of those who died as a result. That's actually the legal structure the founders intended - lots of really wealth lawyers (Adams and Jefferson were both lawyers, as were most 'gentlemen' of leisure in that day.) The great problem with that system is that a corporation is darned near impossible to hold liable for such accidents (the grandchildren of the deceased 'might' be made whole). The founders simply couldn't contemplate a world full of mega-corps - the biggest corporation of the time was the Catholic Church, followed by the East India Tea Company - both of which were often regarded with distaste (perhaps Scalia, a staunch Catholic, 'read that out of the record' to reach his vote on 'Citizens United').

Tim H. said...

I wonder if the folks rattling about political correctness and SJWs aren't really railing against the coincidental changes that didn't have much, or anything to do with them? Political correctness can be a PITA at the extremes, but the bulk of it is asking people not to be a**holes. Kind of hard to argue for singing like Dennis Leary all damn day long.

donzelion said...

Tim H - check our Kareem Abdul Jabbar's quite insightful piece on PC and its detractors.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/02/22/kareem-abdul-jabbar-in-defense-of-political-correctness/

"Anti-political-correctness rhetoric serves as a clever tool for politicians who wish to distract voters from the real issues (and their lack of solutions) by tapping into their darkest fears about those who are different than themselves. It’s genius — as long as those they’re manipulating are too zombified to think for themselves."

"Which is exactly what they want. They want you to feel and behave like children while they pretend to be the all-knowing benevolent father. While they rile you up about how immigrants are stealing your jobs, they distract you from the expert assessments that show how Latino immigration has had less effect on employment than factories that moved abroad, weakened labor unions and recurring recessions. So while we’re told to focus on building a massive wall to keep out immigrants, the real architects of job loss and economic instability continue unaffected."

Bam. 'The War on Christmas(!!!)' indeed.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "From that logical path the reason that the democracies failed is that they did not tax/regulate the rich enough"

And that a sizable chunk of the ordinary citizenry made the self-defeating cynical calculus that it was in their interest to kowtow to the parasitic oligarchs in exchange from preferential access to the scraps while the rest were too loath to acknowledge their own neighbors' duplicity to start taking defensive measures.

***

* "Until eventually, when a populares administration revoked the commission of a optimate general... he marched on Rome."

Uuuuuh... Caesar was a member of the populist party. He was a rich dandy from a prominent patrician family, sure, but politically, and by Roman standards of the day, he was most definitely left-wing, and appart from Pompey, his enemies during the civil war came from the Optimate faction.

Sure, nowadays the pro-oligarchy Right is a lot more Caesarist than the Left, but it's a fairly recent development: oligarchs espoused Caesarist tactics much later, after the European Revolutions made it clear that the "let's employ Varangian/Swiss/Croat/Janissary elite troops who won't sympathize with the plebs and slaughter rebels without a second thought" Modus Operandi favored by monarchies wouldn't work anymore, while modern left-wingers grew increasingly more resilient to the fantasy (resilient, not immune) of the benevolent strongman who sides with the hoi polloi after so many authoritarian rulers who had for years championed the cause of the oppressed screwed the pooch and mimicked their corrupt predecessors once in charge.

***

* "I wonder if it isn't feudalism that is the unstable mode: introduced by disruption, like an invading weed, but struggles to maintain its hold as the ecosystem re-establishes itself."

My personal pet-theory is that feudalism vs democracy is the result of the opposition of two conflicting aspects hardwired in most Humans' psyches:
Most humans are both instinctively repulsed by injustice, and conflict-averse: feudalism appears when parasitic bullies take advantage of the second instinct, and maintain itself so long as the anger produced by injustice remains weaker than the innate aversion to strife. But since aristocrats seldom are self-limiting parasites, the abuses and corruption keep increasing until anger overrides conflict-aversion.

***

* "the Mongols weren't great conquerors, they just conquered lands where rich people were poorly regulated"

Assuming that the "I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you." quote attributed to him is genuine, that may well have been Genghis' Khan's own opinion, ironically.

***

* "Political correctness can be a PITA at the extremes, but the bulk of it is asking people not to be a**holes"

Political correctness is, at its core, demanding that people cease to indulge in cultural, religious, ethnic, sociological, determinism.
And that's a good thing: determinism is the tool used by would-be tyrants to justify their bloodlust and dictatorial desires: by saying "these people are intrinsically evil/violent/conniving/primitive/barbaric/inferior", determinists are implicitly saying "these people Deserve to be subjugated/slaughtered".

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

"Political correctness can be a PITA at the extremes, but the bulk of it is asking people not to be a**holes"

Political correctness is, at its core, demanding that people cease to indulge in cultural, religious, ethnic, sociological, determinism.


Simpler than that..."political correctness" is a derogatory term for what, in other contexts, might be called "politeness".

If you substitute the term "polite" for "politically correct" when someone begins a sentence with "I'm not going to be politically correct, but...", it more accurately displays the fact that they are essentially saying "I'm going to purposely be an a**h*** , and if that bothers you, then you are the problem."

What right-wingers deride as "political correctness" on the left is simply "Stand Your Ground" as practiced by the left, a concept that the right also has no trouble with in other contexts.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Oy.

Caesar, Caesar, Caesar, Caesar, Caesar. That's all people want to talk about. Such an effective self-promoter, it's still working today. I don't know who this "you" is that donzelion wants to talk about. The cut-and-thrust of individual politicians in the midst of the collapse certainly makes for good spectator sport and the grist for endless dramas. It fascinated the nobility for centuries as it gave great education on how to manipulate and dominate. But absolutely NONE of it would have been possible a century prior, when the Roman Constitution still functioned. Ranks mattered there, but only in how to slot you into peer-groups where you would have to account for more than your broad acres. Once individuals mattered for what they controlled, rather than how they governed or spoke or supported policy, the Republic was already more than half dead.

To wit: Laurent, I was not talking about Gaius Julius. The rot was setting in when that master opportunist was playing hooky in the streets. The optimate general in question was Lucius Cornelius Sulla. The first to use mass force against the State in the interest of the optimates... though not the first to use force at all; that taboo had been broken over forty years before. (Sulla killed many of Gaius' mentors, but figured at 17 he was too small fry to bother. Oops.)

I certainly would not say that the populares are lily-white in the long view of history, either. Tiberius Gracchus' innovation of impeachment and recall merely for use of veto power was a bad move, and as things got increasingly desperate, the populares resorted to (using modern terms) breaking traditional term limits... manipulating what elections remained after Sulla's slaughter... and yes, ultimately advancing the Caesars to a point where they totally overthrew the corrupt, inflexible, unresponsive system. This may well have been in the interest of the electorate of the time, but ultimately destroyed freedom in Rome.

And I wouldn't say that they would have had an easy time finding the right balance, either. This was pretty much unexplored political territory at the time; no city-state had ever had such power before while still retaining a republican constitution.

Another serious factor in the decline of the Republic, for example, was how politicians of both parties could enrich themselves enormously in the provinces without taxation (since they themselves controlled tax policy outside core Roman territory). There should not have been political advantage in 'donating' monies to the public fisc which had been procured by the Poor Bloody Infantry. Marius (107 BC) saw the landless-soldier problem and instituted land-grants to veterans, especially those previously landless -- but left the demob/grant program to be run BY THE GENERALS, which turned the legions into mobile and armed versions of the same corruption as the provinces.

Again and again -- the power of private individuals to procure wealth and power outstripped the government's power to channel wealth and power in the public interest. Once ANY politician could amass personal power, ALL the politicians acted to amass personal power -- those who did not were overwhelmed by those who did not. Populares also could arouse mobs to support them, which optimates could not; this is why a populares family ultimately came out on top. But the lessons should not be learned by who ultimately took the Prize, but rather how it came to be that There Could Be Only One.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

My personal pet-theory is that feudalism vs democracy is the result of the opposition of two conflicting aspects hardwired in most Humans' psyches:
Most humans are both instinctively repulsed by injustice, and conflict-averse: feudalism appears when parasitic bullies take advantage of the second instinct, and maintain itself so long as the anger produced by injustice remains weaker than the innate aversion to strife. But since aristocrats seldom are self-limiting parasites, the abuses and corruption keep increasing until anger overrides conflict-aversion


Going off on a tangent here, but this is exactly the sort of thing I always imagined Hari Seldon's laws of psychohistory to be able to model and predict.

donzelion said...

#DavidBrin/Annabelle - Annabelle is on to something interesting with her "spiral towards democracy' and her nod toward pirates, even if David's point on the historical primacy of feudalism can't really be questioned.

First though, rather than pirates per se (or Vikings, a step up), try navies as a whole. America is a land power that has a navy, but our navy does not define us. Except in SciFi...where the ships of old are converted into metaphors to explore notions otherwise obscured to our 'landed' orientation. Navies are inherently 'democratizing influences' in a way that armies cannot be.

(1) Romans could decimate an errant legion, but a captain must maintain discipline on his ship without such harsh measures. Loss of 10% of the crew threatens the viability of the entire vessel - not so with a legion. An army captain can be as cruel as he pleases, limited only by the power backing him; if he miscalculates, he can flee to his superiors. Cruel captains confront mutiny at sea; miscalculate, and you better be a good swimmer.

(2) If an army captain disobeys his general and orders his troops to flee the field, other captains or the general can impose maximum punishment. When a navy captain disobeys his admiral, he has the option of becoming a pirate. Obedience among officers at sea requires a deep context and some token of respect - a nuanced treatment since each captain is an 'equal' but also 'not equal.' Obedience on land requires mere power.

(3) Prominent families will seek glory by foisting their sons into officer cadres, but they do so most often into the army, rather than the navy. Why? If the son in question is a halfwit and becomes a navy officer, SOMEONE has to know how to steer the boat.

SciFi and Freedom raise this in a new context, particularly in America, where we have never had the same naval identity Brits or Vikings did. Our first mythology was the Western hero, a libertarian champion. But SciFi offers us many "ship captains," a more 'democratic' ideal when they remind us

(1) All lives are necessary - no person is a disposable commodity
(2) Leaders must respect one another to function effectively, and
(3) Merit and experience should trump privilege.

Tim H. said...

donzelion, thanks for the link, that was stated elegantly. I'll add a paraphrase "Cut slack for others as you would have it cut for yourself.".

Robert said...

Off on a tangent for a moment - chalk up another one, Dr. Brin, to predictions from "Existence"

Specifically, the use of lasers as propulsion much like the Crystal Observatories.

While they talk about using it to send people to Mars in three days, I can think of a far better use for this technology: sending probes to the outer planets to start more in-depth investigations of our outer solar system. After all, if it took just three days to get a spacecraft to Mars (probably with fuel to help stop the craft and then to send a smaller craft back to Earth), then what about a space probe to head to Uranus or Neptune? Or even Pluto again... getting an orbiter to Pluto in a fraction of the time otherwise needed?

Rob H.

raito said...

I may not be able to concoct that phrase, but I can certainly concoct another. 'I was discriminated against because I was a white male.' Fortunately, the person delivering the message wasn't politically correct about it. I was told 2 things. The first was that because I was a white male who had supported myself for a decade I was not eligible for any significant student aid (this was in the days before you could indenture yourself for decades to the banks). The second was that had I been a woman, disabled, or a minority, I would have been. Apparently my failure was not having been a good enough example of the stereotype of a well-off white male. I'll also note that this was in response to a call from the college asking why I hadn't registered for classes (it was because I'd run out of money). Naturally, when I pointed out that the credits transferred from the tech school meant that I half the classes I was required to take did not advance me toward graduation, and could I go part time, the answer was no. In the same conversation where I was told that the college of engineering didn't like it when people managed to get in the program and then drop out. Didn't help that my roommate was able to go part time. He worked at the local utility that donated millions each year. So it happens. It's wrong when you're discriminated against. It's wrong when I'm discriminated against. So we work on that.

But I digress...

The whole political correctness thing reminds me of The Languages Of Pao. Except that the current incarnation of PC amounts to people saying, "You said something I don't like. That makes you evil and you should suffer." It's gone well beyond being asking for manners when it's used as a weapon.

A.F. Rey said...

'I was discriminated against because I was a white male.' Fortunately, the person delivering the message wasn't politically correct about it. I was told 2 things. The first was that because I was a white male who had supported myself for a decade I was not eligible for any significant student aid (this was in the days before you could indenture yourself for decades to the banks). The second was that had I been a woman, disabled, or a minority, I would have been. Apparently my failure was not having been a good enough example of the stereotype of a well-off white male.

I'm curious, ratio, what your reaction to this obvious injustice was.

Was it, "Since I am being discriminated against, we should take away this program from everyone?" Or was it, "Since I am being discriminated against, we should offer this program to everyone?"

I think this illustrates a major difference between Republicans and Democrats today.

Paul451 said...

Robert,
Re: Laser-sails.
"While they talk about using it to send people to Mars in three days, I can think of a far better use for this technology: sending probes to the outer planets"

Further.

We can at least reach the outer planets, with Pluto being the current limit of out capability of sending a probe in a reasonable time, but we physically lack the ability to get a probe out to one of the KBO/SDOs within a single researcher's career or out to the sun's gravitational focal minimum within a lifetime.

But Mars in 3 days means 600AU in less than 3 years, even if the laser-propulsion doesn't continue to work beyond Mars.

None-the-less, laser-sails aren't exactly a new concept, so I'm not really sure what the "news" was.

Laurent Weppe:
"My personal pet-theory is that feudalism vs democracy is the result of the opposition of two conflicting aspects hardwired in most Humans' psyches: Most humans are both instinctively repulsed by injustice, and conflict-averse: feudalism appears when parasitic bullies take advantage of the second instinct, and maintain itself so long as the anger produced by injustice remains weaker than the innate aversion to strife. But since aristocrats seldom are self-limiting parasites, the abuses and corruption keep increasing until anger overrides conflict-aversion"

Yeah. That's why one of the most successful tactics for the corrupt lords is to deflect the blame to an out-group. It's safer and easier to kick-down than kick up, to attack those who actually have less power.

Hence if a blue collar worker notices that the GDP rises but wages are stagnant, and starts to ask where the extra money is bleeding out of the system, he is directed to "welfare cheats", "entitlements", the dependant-class, etc, to distract him from those who have actually corruptly increased their wealth while society as a whole stagnated.

Paul451 said...

Belatedly, because I thought it was an interesting irony:

Fail Burton,
"the same way no sport could survive if the players truly believed the rules were stacked or arbitrary."

Except the rules of any sport are arbitrary, and usually are very deliberately stacked to make the sport more entertaining for fans, safer for the players .... or fairer for teams with less resources.

Any sport with salary caps or a reverse-order draft system(*) has it because they wanted to prevent their sport from being dominated by one or two well-funded teams who can buy up all the talent. Why? They know that that is unsustainable.

* (where low placed teams get the first pick of next season's best recruits, high placing teams get latter choices)

Likewise, most sports give the primary saleable rights for the sport to the league itself, so that it's self-funding (in lieu of "taxing" team and player income).

Successful sports have "taxes" and regulations, aimed at levelling the playing field (heh) and preventing distortion of the market by a wealthy few.

In other words, the very example FB chose to use to rail against progressivism/feminism/etc is actually an example of why such measures are necessary, and emerge repeatedly in successful systems, even ones run entirely as a for-profit business.

Paul451 said...

And belatedly, because I'm a bitch:

Fail Burton,
"I have not made assumptions as to the motives of anyone here which are by an amazing coincidence 100% miserable. I have not mind-read anyone and put the results in scare quotes then deemed them pathetic or falsely claimed to know their origins, whatever the hell that means. I have not accused anyone of serial madness, anger or a persecution complex. I have not made false claims of any commenter which are outright lies. I have not bizarrely asked for "evidence" after someone used actual quotes."

http://wondermark.com/1k62/

"I will not be back."

And will no doubt use it as an example of "being silenced by politically-correct/lefty/lesbian/something something apologists". An example of the "banhammer" that he spoke of in his first spurt. He was silenced...

...because people disagreed with him.

It's the common confusion of "I have a right to my opinion" with free-speech. You may not criticise my views, because I have a right to my opinion. You may not speak, because I want to speak without being criticised. The very same thing we despise about the shrill Left.

Locumranch, quoting Voltaire: "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize"

And see the commenter equating calls for tax increases on the extreme wealthy to "lynching" the rich. Because increasing taxes is the same as murdering black people in the '60s for trying to vote. Or note that FB's first post ranted about suppression of free speech, while criticising the existence of books he didn't like, and the actions of those who did like those books from being allowed to give awards.

Or watch/read any Fox/News-Corp opinion piece about supposed "political correctness" by teh liberals, and see that 90% of the time it's really anger at being criticised. A Twitter hashtag somehow suppressing the free speech of a paid commentator at an $800 billion global media empire.

As others have noted, those who rail the most against "political correctness" are not railing against the concept of controlling the behaviour of others, but merely over no longer being the group in control.

For eg, the Sad Puppies and their splinters didn't rebel against the nominees for the Nebula Awards by setting up their own SF Awards, they rebelled against the very idea that someone else was allowed to like something they didn't. Because "freedom".

David Brin said...

donzeel did you see my STAR WARS ON TRIAL riff on how the key metaphorical diff between SWars and STrek is the concept of the SHIP? In SW it is aWWI fighter plane, the knight’s charger, accompanied at most by a loyal squire/droid/gunner.

In ST it is a Naval vessel like the Beagle of Capt Cook’s ship – a mélange of many imperatives and many skilled crew including scientists. No demigods, just way above average people, working together.

Raito I never said there’s no discrimination vs WMs. Only that in the grand context it is dumb to call that as life-limiting a problem as it still is to be female or colored. Specific torts? Sure. GENERAL whining? Nope.

Paul read the Secession declarations of S.Carolina etc in 1861. Their core complaints included the fact that northern states allowed abolitionist newspapers to continue publishing. Un-be-freaking-leavable.

raito said...

A.F. Rey,

I'm not petty enough to want to take something away from others for no other reason than that I don't have it. There may be other reasons (not in this case), but not that one.

As it happens, it wasn't even the worst treatment I've received at an institution of higher education. Contemplate that for a second. Those are other unpleasant stories. But it was a bit of a nail in the coffin.

Dr. Brin,

I didn't say you said that (because you didn't). In fact, I said that I couldn't say it either. But neither is being a WM a guarantee, either (as some would have it).

Maybe it's a bit idealistic, but I'd rather not have swinging pendulums, nor do I think they're inherently necessary. If there's a problem fix it, certainly, but I don't like unfairness in any direction.

Tony Fisk said...

Looks like the Republicans have decided to drum their heels and hold their breath over Supreme Court nominees until Jan 20 next year.

('..protecting the will of the people' *my* speckled behind)

locumranch said...



Those who equate Political Correctness with mere 'Politeness' are being disingenuous: Political Correctness is Weaponised Politieness, deliberately designed to silence, shame & marginalise a designated masculine Whipping Boy in the pursuit of mostly feminine advantage, under the equalist pretense of Minority Reparations, despite the fact that the so-called Oppressed Female Minority is in actuality the de facto 53% Gendered Majority in the Enlightened West.

All Men suffer under this yoke called 'Political Correctness', irrespective of racial, religious & ethnic divisions (although, most certainly, it can be said that 'Men of Colour' suffer *more*) as Equal Opportunity & Title IX-style programs provide disproportional benefit to the Female Majority by labelling All Males as potential Rapists, Oppressors & Abusers and All Women as Victims.

And, wouldn't you know it? All Women, as well as any & all Formally-Designated Victims, are immune from criticism under Politically-Correct Doctrine.


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Those who equate Political Correctness with mere 'Politeness' are being disingenuous: Political Correctness is Weaponised Politieness, deliberately designed to silence, shame & marginalise a designated masculine Whipping Boy in the pursuit of mostly feminine advantage, under the equalist pretense of Minority Reparations...


If you had stopped with "silence, shame, & marginalize", you'd have had a stronger case. By making it all about feminists, your bias is showing. What I hear is, "Someone has to get special privileges, and it's supposed to be my group. Other groups aren't supposed to be able to do unto me as I've done unto them."

To the point I would have conceded to a shorter sentence--you have a point about Political Correctness itself, or at least to what you perceive as Political Correctness. However, those who make a point of "not being politically correct" generally do follow up with a rant which is really avoiding politeness. See Donald Trump for a blatant example.

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

Looks like the Republicans have decided to drum their heels and hold their breath over Supreme Court nominees until Jan 20 next year.


No surprise, but I wonder if they really think the next president will be a Republican. Or if they think they'll hold more Senate seats than they do now. This may come back to bite them, as in 1998 when they delayed Clinton's impeachment trial until after the elections, when they thought they'd increase their congressional seats. Didn't work out that way.

I'm actually fine (for now) with a 4-4 tie on the cases they were set to ram down our throats this session. The dynamic will become interesting if another one dies. If the next to go is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it will be quite a different thing from if it is Clarence Thomas.

David Brin said...

That there are cases and anecdotes and even tragic examples of all those things, I do not dispute. Case by case, such injustices merit attention... as do case by case examples of climate scientists misbehaving.

But to do as the hysterics have done - extrapolate and exaggerate PC bullying anecdotes into some kind of major, consistent and society wide persecution of white males? That is just plain silly. The chief differences between PC bullies and their enemies are these:

1-Their enemies are vastly bigger, stronger and more entrenched, with white males still tremendously advantaged. (Though perhaps not in specific cases where PC bullying dominates, e.g. in some college campuses and sci fi awards). PCBs simply do not represent the vast majority of liberals. Their political power on the grand stage is nil.

2- The DIRECTION that PC warriors want us to go... toward greater opportunity for previously excluded castes... is the right direction. Many of the PCBs may personally be jerks. But the trends they support are the right trends, in sharp contrast to the confederate hate-fests egged first by Fox, then Trump.

3- There is an inherent end game. As girls and minorities grow up feeling more empowered, they will, over time, become BORED by PCBs. This is already happening. My Karate black belt daughter does not feel limited, nor does she see any reason to make having a woman president her top political priority. Albright and Steinem are old farts and do not understand.

In contrast, confed xenophopic hate fests have no inherent limit. No limit at all. We saw where all that can lead, in my parents' time.

What saddens me is that so few are willing to nuance this, as I am doing. Without any doubt the worst PCBs are jerks!!! I will openly say so and we should work to reduce some of their specific excesses. But that is done by reducing our current acrimonious politics. And one side has done most of the hate-feeding. It must either back off or lose... lose bigtime...

db

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

And, wouldn't you know it? All Women, as well as any & all Formally-Designated Victims, are immune from criticism under Politically-Correct Doctrine.


So Madeline Albright didn't get criticized? Or Hilary for that matter? Carly Fiorina?

You might want to move here to Earth-1. It doesn't seem to be as bad a place to live as your planet is.

David Brin said...

onward

donzelion said...

@David - "donzeel did you see my STAR WARS ON TRIAL riff on how the key metaphorical diff between SWars and STrek is the concept of the SHIP?"

Not yet, but I shall (and shall move onward to). But I'm liking the notion that 'ships' of SciFi are America's allegorical navy - a vitamin C for a landlocked nation striving to explore cooperation. I like that Kirk comes from Iowa (the most 'democratic' of our Midwest states). And will miss this thread.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Nouman ullah baig said...


Nice post Vector Apk

Winter7 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Winter7 said...

Some here mentioned Julius Caesar.
Julius Caesar was a genocide with total absence of empathy. And certainly this man had the idea of ​​seeking the total happiness of all roma, bypassing the plutocracy. Happiness built on the ashes of millions of "barbarian" peoples.
And probably he would have succeeded in launching César roma all a benevolent dictatorship (which I do not approve) But Cesar had an ego bigger than me. He was entrusted; and it was destroyed. He believed that the plutocracy does not dare to play dirty against him. "Because he was Caesar." Behold l danger to really honest politicians today. If you assume that the plutocrats will play always clean .... Well, I do not think so. Did not Jesus of Nazareth said: "Be as shrewd white doves, but as serpents" (biblical allusion unwilling to discuss the existence of God)
So I hope that honest politicians have good tricks up his sleeve, because the plutocrats have many tricks up his sleeve.
And, as I mentioned before, the best trick of the plutocrats is altering election results used in counting votes a 'software style: "The Manchurian Candidate". Something that some say it's a trick that Republicans often used.
How can democracy survive such a powerful trick? A perfect magic trick. And maintaining the overall appearance of a perfect democracy. And I ask the righteous! Freemen of America !: What trick have up their sleeves to counter this problem? ... Upsss, sorry. I just saw the movie "Braveheart" and I was thrilled. je; je. Je.
I apologize for the poor translation. I do not speak English.

baal said...

This is a mischaracterization of Julius Ceaser who actually was a liberal of his day. The Roman Senate at the time was dominated by a faction (the boni) of arch-conservatives.
Another way to look at Ceaser's exploits in Gaul was he imposed civilization and Roman law on a tribal culture.