It’s Brad v Damien!

In the red corner, Damien G Walters: Guardian author, hate figure of Larry Corriea, writer of a really annoying piece called ‘The 8 Tribes of SciFi

In the blue corner, Brad Torgersen: Ex-Sad Puppy leader, not very good picker of books, writer of an even more annoying piece on Walter’s piece called ‘Herping Your Derp

I can find Damien Walters somewhat annoying. I can find Brad Torgersen somewhat annoying. Brad discussing Damien, discussing a insubstantial taxonomy of science fiction/fantasy sub genres? No, please, please make them stop, no.

Damien’s original piece was weak but I guess it was meant to be light hearted and not to be taken seriously. However, the division of SFF readers into eight groups seemed very arbitrary and shallow.

Brad has locked on to the piece and attempts to pull it apart. Go for it Brad! It is, after all, a wet paper bag of a piece.

Here is Brad quoting Damien:

Consider Damien G. Walter’s assertion:

If you want to make the world a better place, you need a space to imagine what that place might look like. From George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, way back to Thomas More’s Utopia and even further,

It’s been said before, by better men than me. But somebody really needs to remind 21st century Western progressives that Orwell was writing cautionary tales, not instruction manuals. 1984 remains a chillingly current examination of the power of the tyrannical mindset. Reading 1984, one is reminded of this observation, by C.S. Lewis, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Nobody — and I mean absolutely nobody — should want to live in the world of 1984.

Brad?! Brad? You had one job Brad! Look, we’d even made it easy for you!

Where to start?

Firstly his quote from Damien is deliberately selective. Here it is with the second sentence COMPLETE.

If you want to make the world a better place, you need a space to imagine what that place might look like. From George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, way back to Thomas More’s Utopia and even further, writers have fantasised about the possibilities of progress, both good and bad.[CF: my empahsis]

It is a clumsy lead in sentence prior but reading the full sentence, it is clear that Damien is talking about both DYStopias and Utopias. Brad isn’t short of space on his blog – stopping a sentence before the end is intentional.

Brad then spends much of his post implying that Damien (and leftists in general) haven’t actually read Orwell. I can’t claim that every Guardian reading British leftist has read 1984 but I haven’t met one who hasn’t. Both Animal Farm and 1984 have been standard books in UK schools for decades.

The real question is whether Brad has read it. Brad launches into the notion of 1984 being about a tyranny that is so awful precisely because of its good intentions and follows that up with a quote from C.S.Lewis.

Problem is that isn’t 1984 at all.

Some select quotes (mainly from O’Brien part 3 Chapter 3 explaining reality to Smith)

  • We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
  • The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites.
  • Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.
  • The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy — everything.
  • We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science.
  • There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

To misquote Brad: Or maybe Damien Brad hasn’t read any Orwell at all?



  1. Mark

    While Walter’s piece definitely deserved a biting critique* from someone with a deep knowledge of SF, that person really isn’t Brad. His actual knowledge is shallow at best, as demonstrated when he tried to make something out of Mad Max and New Wave v Campbell.

    *with the caveat that DW might be entitled to a “I was being light hearted” defence.


  2. KR

    Brad’s grasp of contemporary politics does not appear to be stellar either. When he thinks he’s condemning the “21st century progressives” by invoking CS Lewis : “a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies” …. he is blithely ignoring who the moral busybodies today are and what oppressive things they are attempting to enact for our own moral good (prevent transgender bathrooms, override woman’s control over own bodies, the three-strikes-you’re-out for-profit carceral state, school choice and intelligent design, all the way down to the height/weight of strippers to prevent unattractive ones from taking the stage (whew, thanks Louisiana legislature!). Hint: its not the “21st century progressives”.

    Fun house mirror Brad, that’s how I like to read him. His thoughts are like having a secret decoder ring for actual reality, or a peek into the bizarro world.


  3. Lurkertype

    Projection is Brad’s entire way of thinking. Well, along with misquoting, poor reading comprehension, dogwhistle soundbytes, petulance, lack of research, absence of empathy, and deep, deep insecurity.

    (Has Drumpf read 1984?)


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