Parallels between minor SF kerfuffles & real world politics are both trite & true

In various less-friendly spaces of the internet, I spent time watching right-wing SF fans trying to negotiate their own narrative around the Dragon Awards. There was often a plaintive cry from somebody trying to be the voice of reason as to why things can’t just be about the books. The notable thing was that in the case of the Dragons, they meant that the left had somehow introduced “politics” to it. This despite the case that there had been almost zero campaigning for Dragon Award nominations outside of a narrow area of SF fandom revolving around Superversive, Pulp Revolution and the groups I call the Rabids and the Scrappy Doos. Even the former Sad Puppy leadership had been relatively quiet.

My interest here was not the Brian Niemeiers of the groups but others, less inclined to create an SJW conspiracy out of nothing. In several cases, you could see them correctly reasoning that if they want the Dragon Awards to have any status then they would need authors like John Scalzi and N.K.Jemisin involved. However, they would always return to the idea that it was up to people like John Scalzi to, therefore, fix the problem by participating. Commenting here, author David Van Dyke took a similar tack – the Dragons need broad based participation, therefore can authors that the SF right calls “SJWs” (whether they are or not) please participate. This despite the fact that the reasons WHY authors didn’t want to participate were clear and unambiguous – they didn’t want to get caught up in the culture war that other on the SF right want the Dragons to be.

What is particularly interesting is this. When the right that is adjacent to the more belligerent alt-right NEED somebody to be reasonable, to compromise in WHICH direction do they turn? Note how it is the LEFT? This is more than just the modern conservative dictum of not-shooting-right/no-enemies-on-the-right but a tacit acknowledgement that they themselves have no capacity to control their allies.

The alt-right want the Dragons Awards to be a culture-war shitstorm because culture-war shitstorms help them recruit small numbers of extremists via radicalization and the comradery of a conflict. It’s a tactic anybody on the left will recognise from many micro-Trotskyist groups in the past, whose expectation of a conflict (e.g. a labour dispute) was that making hyper-strong demands (not necessarily EXTREME demands but essentially shitty negotiating positions) would not lead to a successful outcome but would lead to a better struggle and new recruits.

This dynamic among the more moderate right with respect to their terrorist allies is an abrogation of their duty to take on extremism. Instead, they hope that the left and centre will do it for them, while they hope to retain the votes of terrorist sympathisers.

In 2016 the strongest GOP counter-reaction to Trump was the ‘Never Trump’ group but even they expected the Democrats to do their dirty work for them. They expected Hillary Clinton to win and then when she didn’t, they stuck to complaining about the left rather than making any real concerted attempt to take back their party. All the time sort of hoping that the left will sort out their problem with an overtly violent & authoritarian movement in their ranks. Fear and cynicism.

Back when Trump won the GOP nomination, Larry Correia had this to say:

“This is an amoral statist authoritarian liberal, who got to where he was by being a huckster con appealing to anger and fear. He is a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He is an insult to the founders, a disgrace to our people, and in the unlikely event he wins, will probably go down in history as the man who ended any hope of small government or individual liberty in America.”

Of course, Larry expected Trump’s nomination to mean victory for Clinton and when that didn’t happen and Trump’s presidency really did prove to be amoral, statist, and authoritarian, Larry has focused on the ‘but not actually liberal’ and has either avoided politics or stuck to left-bashing.

This mix of short term opportunism and unwillingness to tackle extremism is resulting in relatively moderate conservatives finding themselves unwilling to confront terrorism. In the UK this was exemplified during the Brexit campaign when a radicalised terrorist murdered Labour MP Jo Cox  At the time pro-Brexit voices like Louise Mensch (who has since rebranded as a never-Trumper pushing unfeasible conspiracy theories) turned her rhetorical attacks on the left – condemning anybody who was naturally outraged by the use of murder as a political act. The demand was absurd and simple – that in the face of political extremism on the far right, to the point of overt terrorism & murder, that the left needed to be less vocal rather than the right needing to be less prone to murder.

So the same performance happens fractally across different levels of debate. Conservatives want the left to:

  • Defeat the terrorist aligned section of the right but…
  • without making a fuss and…
  • the conservatives will call the left names while they do that because…
  • the conservatives still want the support of the alt-nazis.

[ETA: speaking of which, here is Brad Torgersen desperately trying to find somebody to be angry with OTHER THAN the actual terrorist in the wake of a terrorist attack tl;dr its the media fault apparently.]



16 thoughts on “Parallels between minor SF kerfuffles & real world politics are both trite & true

  1. Regarding the real world:

    Post-WWII US short called “Don’t Be A Sucker”, showing how easily this type of rhetoric spreads. The aim of the film was to keep the US from going the way of Nazi Germany. The dialogue is eerily prescient to today.

    I’m not calling ’em alt-right any more. They’re wearing swastikas and carrying torches — those are Nazis.

    The more moderate conservatives can’t blame this on the Left — it’s all due to them not being able to control their loony-tune extreme compatriots.

    They’re always asking moderate Muslims to condemn radical Islamic terrorists. I call on them to condemn radical reactionary terrorists. But they don’t. Unlike the Muslims, who actually do (if you get your info from outside the BreitbartFoxSphere).

    Regarding Puppies, Scrappys, Superversives, MGC:

    You guys are supposed to be all about personal responsibility, self-control, dignity, and think the SJWs can’t do any of that. So why are you begging the “incompetent” Left to fix things? Get your own house in order, like responsible adults. Try following the Greatest Generation and Founding Fathers you claim to revere, and disown the Nazis and fascists.


  2. What’s sad about it isn’t even the unwillingness to deal with the extremism it’s the bad actors who then take things like tragedies and try to use it to make it about them. Like if a person took a hashtag meant to highlight quotes against fascism in books in the wake of a tragedy and tried to hijack it into being how people who are mean to them for being an asshole are the real fascists. I mean a person who’d do that is either a selfish prick or trying to help condone things that caused this weekends events or both. Hypothetically of course, who’d mis-understand the definition of fascism that badly or have self esteem so low?

    With the Dragon’s at this point it also going to be interesting to see who wins as several nominees have gone out of their way to defend Vox recently who during the whole Charlotteville white supremacy events wrote a post about the importance of uniting the white in relation to that. If the Dragon’s award white supremacists/nationalists or their defenders as you pointed out I’m sure the blame will fall towards anyone aside from those who either created or defended the slate creator.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My theory is that the Right believe “loyalty” is always more important than anything else and you can just be a good person if youre loyal to anyobe alese on your side, even if you dont necessary shatre their more extreme believes (I might have exaggerated a bit, but not much). Hence Trumps support, even from moderate right – he is one of uus!, Hence the reluctancy of the Right in dealing with Nazi ralleys. And hence the criticsm of the left, but the relative lack of criticsm within the right about hijacking the Hugos etc.

        The left -even the extreme left – is probably the opposite, they are known to infighting and splintering into the subatomic level (which is why Its so laughable when the right saidss “The Left wants…”, “The Left” cant agree on much that they want.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Peer, I believe you’re right. For some it doesn’t matter if supporters suggest you aren’t really a citizen, or worth equal consideration, or promote ideology that devalues the lives of others, as long as that person is an ally at making others pissed off there is no low they will not excuse.

        I may not like how the puppies and adjacent treat people or act but I’ve never called them not real Americans, or worth less as a person because of their backgrounds. However they attack liberal fans while defending and deflecting the actions of literal nazis.

        Lie down with dogs and get fleas bearing the plague I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. There’s that speech Walter White does in Season 3 of Breaking Bad, where he tries to rationalize away the death he’s caused as insignificant.

      This is *so precisely that* it’s really creepy.

      (No spoilers for future seasons, please, I’m super slow)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Jeezus. Brad’s post really is remarkable (and not in a good way). He doesn’t even mention who was marching and why, and that it was an anti-KKK protester who was killed. That’s awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Doubly terrible in that Brad’s wife is black, and therefore so are his children.

      The guy who drove into the crowd wouldn’t have known Brad’s a big right-wing keyboard warrior; he’d have seen the wife and kids as just more subhumans (and called Brad a race traitor if he did know).

      She needs to get out and take the kids with her. Then explain, “I’m sorry, kids, but Daddy’s friends think you and I aren’t human beings and I couldn’t let you be around that any more. Oh, and Daddy’s church didn’t think we were human till 1978 either.”

      How can any self-respecting mother subject her children to that?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not entirely sure what she’s trying to say there except for that somehow it’s the left’s fault, like it always seems to be.


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