The Award of Cruelty

(11 comments)

Diversity and social justice issues were creeping into the Hugo Awards, or rather into the cultural artifacts they celebrate, as such issues creep into the culture generally.  It happens because people are getting more and more interested in them, more open to them, and caring more about them.  This is, by the way, the product of material struggles for recognition and equal rights by people who are marginalised by mainstream culture in the West (i.e. racist, sexist, transphobic, bourgeois-hegemonic culture).  It must be stressed that such claims are not only valid on their face but also are represented, in artistic terms, by valuable work that deserves recognition.

The Puppies saw this trend and it infuriated them.  Just as they are doubtless infuriated by any such progress, by the increasing volume of the voices they used to be able to talk over and down to with impunity, by the increasing - and increasingly recognised - validity of these voices, not only in themselves but in their abilities.  The Hugos are, the Puppies think, their turf, just as the rabble of GamerGate, and the constituency they pander to, imagine that video games are their turf.  They took the gradual changes occuring in an institution that has always reflected a seam of progressivism in SF/Fantasy (just as it has always reflected other seams) and blew the phenomenon up out of all proportion.  (Seriously, I wish their distorted view of Hugos, and culture generally, were really true, and the voices they hate and fear really were as ascendant as they fantasize them to be.)

They saw this smidge of progress and imagined that it constituted some kind of attack upon their freedom.  They imagined it, and believed it, having chosen to imagine and believe it... because it's amazing how sincerely and passionately people can believe ridiculous things that further their interests, confirm their prejudices and pamper their privileges.  They did this because that's what reactionaries always do.  It's a classic maneuvre when you're rallying around the defence of established privilege and entrenched power relations (which is what reactionary politics always is, at base): paint yourself as the victim.  It's great camouflage.  And they love it too.  They love the smell of the victim paint on their bodies, drying on them, crusting and cracking, leaving a trail of victim flakes everywhere they go.  Conservatives and reactionaries and fascists and ressentimentalists are as fond of being the victim as the whingeing, entitled, self-pitying minorities that live in their imaginations.  (There is probably something psychological to be made of the right-wing love of victimhood, and the way they always portray themselves in much the same terms that they complain about in their confabulated enemies and hate-figures.  I remember how, at school, bullies would always howl "But he started it!" and "It wasn't my fault!" when caught, and then pout self-pityingly at the injustice of being told not to bully.)

But yeah, they interpret the struggles of the marginalised and mocked, their demands for justice, as an attack.  Moderate demands.  Not wanting to overturn the table.  Just wanting a seat.  A seat, moreover, that has been hard won and earned fair 'n' square.  That was what the Puppies were scared of.  Fewer seats for them to spread out on.  And here's the thing: in their stupid, crude, self-pitying, myopic way they have a point.  The less oppressed some people are, the less powerful are the people who used to benefit from their oppression.  Yeah.  True.  What they get wrong is the construction they put on this. 

The Puppies, and the ressentimental and truculent group they represent, then paint any unified resistance as totalitarian groupthink, as the effect of drones all obeying a single politicized agenda.  Because this is another classic maneuvre.  Efface your own deeply political motives (what could be more political than the aggressive defence of one's own privilege in the face of attempts by others to become less subject to you?) and then angrily ascribe political motives and agendas to the people combating you.  Your own motives are, by definition, pure.  Pure in the sense of being disinterested.  The spurious notion of impartiality as being a middle way between two extremes (i.e. the extreme of power and the extreme of powerlessness) is a fallacy often embraced by the right for the sake of argument.

Always, the oppressors and/or their useful idiots think of oppression as, and describe it as, the norm.  The baseline.  Zero on the meter, from which atypical readings diverge into the plus or minus.  The current state of things (or the current state of things as they imagine it, sometimes mapping nostalgia onto now) is, obviously, good because it benefits them.  Obviously normal because it benefits them.  Obviously the best way to do things beause it benefits them.  Obviously democratic and fair beause it benefits them.  "I love freedom," goes the thinking, "ergo when I get to dictate the terms of the debate, that's freedom.  When things are arranged to benefit and privilege and prioritise me, that's freedom."  This way of thinking, by the way, is hardly unique to the hard right.  It is characteristic of managerialist liberalism.  For liberal elites (see Noam Chomsky, not Rand Paul, for a definition of what this actually mean), this is pretty much what 'democracy' means: social arrangements dominated and managed by liberal technocrats and intellectuals, without too much interference from the people.  (Yes, I know, I sound like some of the 'radical' right here... and there are areas where such people will spout rhetoric that sounds like a radical analysis of liberal capitalism... but BEWARE, because that's just the cynical populism of the right, just evidence of their failure to understand the real problems of democracy even as they dumbly sense them.) 

The normalising of the current state of injustice means that entities like the Puppies can, once again, paint their angry, sclerotic, dudebroish, O'Reillyesque defence of their own privilege as a defence of liberty.  Ultimately, however, the liberty being defended is their liberty to run the place without anybody questioning it.  Their liberty to help themselves to the biggest slices of pie (anybody cries shennanigans when you take more than your share and you accuse them of wanting all the pie for themselves - it's as old as the hills).  Their liberty to dominate the culture and set the agenda, and patronize people different from them.  Their liberty to insist upon outdated cultural assumptions and definitions in the face of evidence and demands which refute them.  Other liberties mean nothing to them.  The liberty of people not in the privileged group to write and read what they like, to influence the wider culture, to unify to combat their own marginalisation, to be recognised not only for their humanity and rights but also for their achievements... entities like the Puppies are openly hostile to such liberties, because for all their libertarian bluster they are, essentially, doing nothing more than fighting a rearguard action against cultural trends which terrify them because they chip away at their old hegemonic position.

These generalisations are useful because they can be applied at other levels of our culture.  What I say above is generally true of right-wing movements anywhere and anywhen, I find.  To the extent that they are significant at all, I think the Puppies are significant as an example.  A vivid, close-to-home example for people in the SF/Fantasy community.  But then, as I say, the SF/Fantasy community is already expanding to include more and more people who already know exactly how people like this operate, either because they are increasingly politicised or because they have to cope with this kind of bullshit on a day-to-day level because of their own positionality.  Which is precisely the scary fact that glavanised first the Sad then the Rabid Puppies, much as they might try to hide their true fears under layers of code and dogwhistling, and faux-victimhood, and disingenuously apolitical nostalgia for simplicity, and more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger lamentation about the kids on their lawn.

The Puppies will claim to be champions of democracy.  But the kinds of gradual shifts that we see represented in the changing face of the Hugos are democracy.  To the extent that shifts in attitudes entails shifts in demands, and shifts in demands brings on shifts in what gets published, it may even be a legitimate instance of consumer democracy!  It's also a symptom of the fact that we're in a relatively small and marginal subculture here (i.e. the kinds of people who write and/or read SF novellas published by relatively small presses.)  In any case, the manifestation of such democratic changes in things like the Hugos is usually pretty weak and watery and late compared to the real thing.  Established and entrenched structures are slow to change, and slow to register change from without... as indeed are established and entrenched subcultures and their attitudes.  But the Hugos are voted for.  So the access of people to the levers of this structure, or this expression of the views of a subculture if you prefer, makes it a reasonable barometer (if you'll permit me to mix metaphors flagrantly).  Precisely why the Puppies attacked it.  And thus a minority tries to dominate artificially in order to stop a majority dominating organically... and, as always, the canny thing is for the reactionaries to claim persecution.  The standard reactionary technique.

Just look at the media's reaction to the clamour of those alienated from a right-wing Labour party to rejoin and vote for a 'left-wing' leadership candidate, an MP who has the temerity to be a moderate social-democrat instead of hugging the extreme neoliberalism that the media likes to call the 'centre'.  In many ways, this is an instructive comparison because it's almost an mirror image of what happened with the Puppies and the Hugos.  Instead of an institution that more-or-less accurately acts as a barometer for the views and tastes of the community it concerns, Labour is a party utterly alienated from those it claims to represent.  Instead of mass-reactionary entryism in an effort to distort results rightwards, Labour is being rejoined by people who want to reclaim it for those it was historically supposed to serve.  The bass-ackwards view of events concerning the Hugos which is peddled by the Puppies is mirrored in the bass-ackwards view of Labour's leadership election by the right-wing UK media.  (How long, by the way, before the Puppies nominate the Mail's dystopian sci-fi about an apocalyptic Corbyn premiereship for next year's Hugos?  Purely on artistic merit, natch.)

There is not even a grain of truth to the Puppie's performative bloviating about democracy, anymore than there is in the UK media's bloviating about 'responsible, adult politics'.  It might be argued that if reactionaries want to join and pay their membership fee so they can vote in the Hugos, then that's fair enough.  The Hugos are a barometer because they have some responsiveness to public opinion, which itself is a function of the fact that, unlike the Oscars and Baftas and so on, they are voted on by anyone who cares enough to pay a minimal sum for the pleasure of doing so.  And are the Puppies not members of the public, and paid-up voters?  This falls flat, and is revealed as mere sophistry, because they are - in true fascist style - taking advantage of democratic structures in order to countermand democratic results.  They artificially dominated the proceedings and squidged out genuinely representative nominations.  But, ultimately, I'm just not that fussed about the legitimacy or good standing of an awards ceremony.  What it represents on the other hand... or rather what is represented by the changing face of the nominations and nominees... that's rather more important.

The issue here is that the various Puppy-endorsed nonentities had no business being on the nominations if the nominations are supposed to represent an organic and democratic reflection of the state of fan culture.  The Puppies warped the Hugos out of recognition and usefulness as a result of their ballot-stuffing antics.  They actively, deliberately and effectively excluded people who would've been on the ballots otherwise, and in so doing markedly reduced diversity.  Their argument would doubtless be that diversity is not something we have the right to expect.  It can't be enforced.  No 'positive discrimination'.  But, as usual, they are operating in bad faith to the point of dishonesty; distorting reality to the point of inverting it.  Diversity was, as can clearly see, going to occur naturally and organically and democratically.  They, the Puppies, set about artificially stifling it.  They have the right to their say, of course, but not to dominate proceedings dishonestly and artificially in the name of rebalancing something that was never out of balance in the first place.  Again, balance seems to them, naturally, to be the state of affairs where they get what they want.  It really is incredible how the people sat at the top of a pyramid (or strangely invested, for peculiar psychological reasons of their own, in the ideology of the people at the top of a pyramid) can look down and see it as a level playing field, and thus resent it when anyone tries to flatten it.  "Democracy!" hollers the self-righteous and outraged minority from above at the crowd below trying pull stones out of the base of the structure.  "If you can't climb then you don't deserve to get this high!" they say, forgetting that they were just lifted and plonked on top.

They'd love us to get sidetracked on the issue of the legitimacy of political voting (which, in any case, has now been addressed by the Hugos with their 'E Pluribus Hugo' amendment to the nomination process), because they have an easy retort to anyone who says they voted on a political agenda.  They have the time-honoured playground response, the "I know you are but what am I?" response.  Moreover, they have the claim that they only did what they did because 'we' did it first.  And when we respond with our counter attack, they can then do the obvious and say "ahhhh look, you voted based on politics not on the quality of the text!  You did exactly what we accused you of doing!  By fighting us you have proved our point!  Ahhhh!".  I know that this is how they think because twitter is currently infested with Puppy-supporters and GamerGate-types doing and saying precisely these things, making precisely these 'arguments'.

But Lee & Herring fans will know what I mean when I say "this is not an 'ahhhh' situation".  Again, their argument is two-faced sophistry.  The Hugos were changing all by themselves (as it were), without 'us' having to consciously organise any sort of SJW conspiracy.  This doesn't make them wonder if 'our' movement might actually be organic and democratic rather than a bullying minority... or at least, if they do wonder such things, they don't admit it.  Again, if it strays from what the think is 'normal' (i.e. the set of arrangements that privileges them and their preferences) then obviously someone is conspiring against normality.

In the service of this 'argument', they elide voting politically and voting for things you genuinely like because of (or partly because of) your politics.  But - and it really is embarrassing to have to point out simplicities like this to adults - there's a difference.  

Of course you are likely to like things you agree with.  Part of why I like China Mieville is because he has a very similar worldview to me (admittedly, this is partly because I've taken a lot of my worldview from his).  He writes interestingly about things that interest me.  He writes inspiringly about things that inspire me (there's no point denying that I love Iron Council partly because it engages favourably with revolutionary politics - I find that thrilling).  He writes with horror about things that horrify me.  I don't have to stop and look away in revulsion when he makes racist observations about people of colour, as I do when I'm reading (the equally fascinating) Lovecraft, or whoever.   Vox Day said, in his interview with Phil Sandifer, that China Mieville is one of his favourite writers.  I choose to believe that, because I can understand how Lovecraft is one of Mieville's favourite writers.  Let's give Day the benefit of the doubt and assume he's telling the truth, simply because we know from our own experience how such things are possible.  Day, on the other hand, champions the piffling work of John C. Wright, with its mechanical and lumpen Christian allegory and metaphor, presumably because it pushes a worldview (the inherent value and moral supremacy of Christian civilisation) that he finds salutary and inspiring, as inspiring as I find Mieville's depiction of revolution from below. For the sake of argument: Mieville is to me as Wright is to Day.  Lovecraft is to me as Mieville is to Day.  All we've done here is point out the obvious fact that Day and I are on opposite sides.  Well, we knew that.  I'm happy to concede that taste is politically-invested.  They vote for the stuff they like partly because it represents their politics.  We vote for the stuff we like partly because it represents our politics.  (They'd probably want to talk about positive discrimination or reverse racism or misandry or something... some variation on the idea that by prioritising things like diversity we're squeezing out the rights of the neutral, non-political fan/reader... because, for them, the neutral/vanilla human is a white straight guy and the non-political or apolitical is that which hugs his perspective.  This is exactly the underlying meaning of the kind of laments for the loss of good old-fashioned adventure stories about robots and space battles that you get from 'moderate' Sad Puppies like Torgersen and Correia.)

But it's their tactic to accuse us of a totalising insistence upon ideological consistency, manifested in a determination to vote politically in the Hugos.  On a superficial level, this is (or should be) easy for anyone to see through.  The sheer hypocrisy and bad faith of the argument advertises itself.  "You voted 'No Award' so you want politics to dominate the awards!" they say, in response to our response to their attempt to politically dominate the awards.  I mean, fuck.  Bad faith and hypocrisy that blatant and brazen is usually only seen in Western mainstream media reports about Israel.

And another thing: 'we' know full well when 'we' are producing or reading or praising material which has a political valence or agenda, precisely because from 'our' side such political valences and agendas are oppositional.  When a person of colour, or a trans person, or a woman writes a book, she knows she is doing something political and oppositional (whether she wants to be so categorised or not) just by doing so.  When a writer creates a trans or gay protagonist for their novel, they know that is an oppositional political act.  How could it not be, even if the writer wanted it to not be, given the climate in which such choices are made?  Remember, the privileged take their own position as neutral.  The oppressed and marginalised have no such luxury... which is precisely why it wouldn't even be illegitimate to deliberately stack the Hugos in favour of diversity!  The political actions of the right and left (for want of a better term for the broad church of opinion behind more diversity in SF) are not morally equivalent.  Positive discrimination is not as bad as the discrimination it aims to counteract.  Climbing is climbing, but climbing up and climbing down are different.  You can't shit up a pyramid, as Stavvers said.  The interminable whinges of the right about "reverse racism" and "misandry" have been adequately covered elsewhere so I won't reiterate them.  Suffice it to say that we can demonstrate, materially and empirically, that there is such a thing as oppression and such people as the marginalised.  So the Puppies' claim to moral equivalence breaks down, even more so any claim they make to moral superiority.  There is a certain point at which "yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man" breaks down and facts intrude.  It having been established that there is such a thing as oppression, and such people as the marginalised, there is a clear moral superiority to those making political/artistic moves from below, political/artistic moves which tend to combat the objectively provable injustice.

This isn't to say that I'm claiming, by fiat, to have right on our side, and that we can thus dictate what is or is not published, reviewed, awarded, etc.  That is their caricature of us, and also their disguised (even from themselves, it seems) self-portrait.  If Vox wants to caricature people like me as doing something authoritarian with my reading habits, well, let him.  C'est la guerre.  Only to be expected from a reactionary who cloaks his fascist bullshit in rhetoric about liberty from the authoritarian left, etc.  But it's also a case of c'est la guerre when I, and others like me, fight back against his politically motivated maneuvres.  I'm happy to admit political motivation when it comes to art, especially when it comes to fascism.  You can't launch a blatantly political attack upon art and then cry "Politics!" when someone responds... or rather you can, but not without making yourself look like the dishonest dickwad you are.

The truth is that there is no such thing as politically neutral fiction, or as the politically value-neutral judgement of fiction.  Same goes for visual art.  Same goes for criticism and most forms of non-fiction.  It's hypocritical bullshit to argue, as the Puppies do, that you can and should make judgements free of political evaluations, and that you're an ideological zealot if you don't.  In any case, the Puppies usually make this argument performatively and in bad faith.  Even when they sincerely think they're being apolitical, praising things that seem (to them) to be neutral, you have to remember that for them a neutral and normal world is precisely one where their own prejudices and privileges are taken for granted.  For them, their choices are apolitical by definition.  No matter how ideologically they choose, they must always perform the role of the ingenuous, blinking naif who just likes what he likes and doesn't get why some people are 'offended' by it (if in fact they are).

And, more fundamentally, even if you are consciously and scrupulously apolitical (some hope), that itself is a political choice.  In the face of manifest injustice, particularly within your own camp, neutrality is the same as siding with the powerful.  Not allowing your politics to dominate your own, let alone anyone else's, taste in art, is obviously the right way to go, as long as you don't fool yourself (or try to pretend that) your politics has no effect on what you like or don't like.  This has nothing to do with whether or not we should let fascists dominate a high-profile award.  Some people have said to me, both before and after the results: "isn't it unfair to penalise nominees because of a political tactic of voting 'No Award'?"  This is really just the liberal version of the fascist "ahhhh!".  And my response was and is: at this point, the issue of the merit or otherwise of the works under consideration has become secondary.  Of primary importance now is fighting a fascist incursion.  This isn't to say that those works should be judged by their politics.  This is to say that judging them in any way at all has now become a matter for another time, another place, another arena.  An arena uncompromised by fascism.

Fascism is a dealbreaker.  Normally I'd be happy to sit back and let awards be won by all manner of stuff I dislike and disagree with.  Moffat's Doctor Who has won loads of Hugos in recent years.  The Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) category has seen some politically atrocious films nominated in recent years.  The Dark Knight, Iron Man, District 9, Avatar, Captain America, Iron Man 3.  All ghastly to one extent or another.  Generally, as it happens, the Hugos have dodged the worst of these bullets (with only Inception being an outright ghastly winner).  The point is, I didn't care.  Of course the Hugo Award for movies is going to films that push bourgeois ideology, imperialist values, sexism, the worship of corporate billionaires, the war on terror, the dehumanization of Arabs, etc.  That's the kind of world we live in, a world where extremely repulsive ideas like these are normal and normalised (and thus taken as neutral by people who aren't on the sharp edge of their effects).  "In any epoch the ruling ideas will be the ideas of the ruling class", as Marx said.  I don't even have that much of a problem with Guardians of the Galaxy, except that it became the chosen candidate of the Puppies.

[That's reason enough for a little diversion actually.  Why did they favour Guardians of the Galaxy?  Possibly because their other main options - the other films that ended up on the nominations list, for example - were potentially queasy from a Puppy perspective.  Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which was partly a resurrection of the 70s conspiracy thriller, was interpreted by many as containing some kind of suspicion or critique of American government institutions.  You can't expect blinkered, philistine, textually-myopic idiots like the Puppies to notice that actually it goes out of its way to provide Western power structures with even more alibis than your average film of it's type.  Like some liberal commentators, the right probably found the film to be an astonishing explosion of left-wing radicalism.  Similarly, The Lego Movie, which was claimed by some (including, dismayingly, some on the left) to be a critique of capitalism... a bizarre idea.  As for Interstellar, I expect many of the Puppies or Puppyish were infuriated by the assertion that a girl might become a scientist.  Some can quote tracts of sociobiologistic psuedo-sociology at you to prove that women don't make good scientists.  Other just assume there aren't any women scientists to speak of, take their own assumption as obvious fact, and then ask rhetorical questions about "who invented everything, eh?"]

But back to the point.  Much as I hated every last one of the movies on this year's Hugo nominations, I have no particular political issue with people voting for them.  I suddenly do have a problem, however, when one of them gets recommended by a fascist to other fascists, and/or fascist sympathisers and fellow travellers.  I'd have an issue with my own favourite film this year winning awards if they were awarded by fascists.  It wouldn't make me like it any less, but I'd oppose the award.  Because fascism isn't just another viewpoint amongst viewpoints.  Fascism is the seed of the destruction of all other viewpoints.  Moreover, it is the amorphous, pilfered, cobbled-together scavenger ideology which represents counter-revolution.  It is explicitly the politics of division of people who should be united.  It is the antithesis of human liberation.  It is a program for protecting the bourgeois order from attacks economic, political or cultural.  No matter what revolutionary verbiage it may use, fascism is always on the side of the bourgeois status quo... but the bourgeois status quo with a vengeance, with its most savage instincts let loose.  And make no mistake: 'Vox Day' is a fascist, or near enough to being one as makes no odds.  Whatever his piffling self-justifications and triangulations, whatever his double-talk and sophistry and barely comprehensible evasions, his views run the gamut of fascist obsessions both classical and current, from the civilisational rhetoric, the Breivikian Islamophobia, the crypto-Christian triumphalism, the sexism, the cultural racism and pseudo-scientific contempt for the humanity of people of colour.  He can backtrack on his description of N.K. Jeminsin as a "half savage" all he likes.  He can try to efface it by insisting on his asserted Native American heritage (would it really change anything it Hitler turned out to have been a bit Jewish?), by claiming that he based it on some psuedo-philosophical bit of bullshit instead of some pseudo-scientific bit of bullshit, by claiming he only did it to troll her into calling him a racist (nifty strategy: con someone into calling you a racist by being flagrantly racist towards them, then claim they're a hysterical SJW because they accurately characterised your comments!)... none of this exculpates him.  This is routine, bog-standard, drearily predictable flim-flam that you get from every tuppeny-ha'penny fascist these days.  Retreat from the almost-universally frowned-upon biologistic claims of classic fascists to half-baked culturalist assertions, then angrily respond "Islam ain't a race - duh!" (or equivalent, according to circumstance) to anyone who calls you out.  This is precisely what Mr Day does in a recent interview in which he makes some scarcely-intelligible distinction between 'real Africans' you get in Europe and 'African Americans', going on to imply that Europe is now plagued by culturally-backward African immigrants (it's okay for him to be a migrant, of course... see what I was saying above about their idea of 'normal' being synonymous with their own positionality) who don't know how to use toilets properly.

[His racism against Africans seems - if some of these recent statements are taken into account - to be curiously faecally-fixated.  Racism, particularly racism against black people, has always been libidinously inflected, full of obsession about black people's imagined bodily functions, cleanliness (or supposed lack thereof), dicks, sex drives, etc.  Vox Day seems no exception.  There is evidently something curiously exciting to him about the idea of Africans spreading poo around Christendom.  I detect a perverse pleasure in seeing Christendom defiled by the bodily fluids of the desirable/terrifying Other.  It's tempting to just say that he gets reverse pleasure from seeing (or rather fantasizing about) such things because the scenario of a culturally backward "half savage" making a dirty protest out of Western civilisation is gloriously confirming of his prejudices... but I'm tempted to think that he may find it gloriously exciting in other ways (which is fine with me, I'm not judgemental... not about peccadiloes anyway).  I'm also tempted to bring in Freud's concept of the anal fixation.  There is some evidence for a correlation between anal personality types and political conservatism, in particular race prejudice.  Disturbingly, Vox seems to display personality traits associated with both anal retentiveness and anal expulsiveness!  Was Mummy strict and Daddy lenient?  Daddy's a jailed tax protestor isn't he... I suspect he was probably the strict (retentive) one, now I come to think about it.  Perhaps Vox just doesn't mind, as long as it's anal.  You can certainly see the expulsive type in his apparent desire to fling his shit around and imagine he's doing us all a favour by so doing, though he lacks the material generosity Freud associated with the expulsive.  He also lacks the rebelliousness, though I'm sure he imagines himself to be a rebel.  I dare any fan of Vox to be offended by the above.]

So there we have it: however compromised and messy they may be, the Hugos reflect something organic about the changing state of fan culture precisely because they are, at least to some extent, democratically controlled.  The priority isn't to rescue the Hugos or their voting system from manipulation just for their sake, no more than the priority for someone like me is to rescue the bourgeois parliamentary democratic system from the encroachments of the BNP and UKIP because I love the bourgeois parliamentary democratic system.  The point is to oppose the Puppies because I oppose their ideology and the stuff they do with it.  Because their ideology is crass and selfish and reactionary, because it fails the empirical test, because it's a defence of privilege against a movement of the oppressed, because in its extreme form (Vox Day et al) it's crypto-fascist and racist and sexist and Islamophobic, and because its effect is to attack progress towards greater recognition for the marginalised.  That doesn't just hurt the marginalised; as someone invested in real democracy, it hurts me to.  Even in the little pocket universe of SF/Fantasy awards, this matters.   SF/Fantasy punches above its weight, culturally speaking.  Aside from any personal investment in the 'scene', this is reason enough to care.

Comments

Anonymous 1 year, 11 months ago

You are the majority. You are those that shout down. You are the oppressor.

It's why your smiling.

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SpaceSquid 1 year, 11 months ago

Brilliant, sir, absolutely brilliant. One question though, if I may. When you mention "the empirical test" in your final paragraph, are you referring to some specific test, or simply to the colossal collection of irrefutable evidence that says, for instance, that trans people are oppressed and right wing cis-het white guys aren't?

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Jack Graham 1 year, 11 months ago

The latter rather than the former.

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Jack Graham 1 year, 11 months ago

I am smiling. That's not why.

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Richard Evans 1 year, 11 months ago

Brilliant post Mr Graham, your blend of fury, idealism and the cold blade of material analysis honed to a wicked edge. The first three paragraphs are pretty much definitive on the whole issue of representation in/of culture, making it absolutely clear that is always and everywhere a fiercely political struggle with actual observable consequences in the "real world". The oppressors develop a siege mentality when confronted with even the possibility of a more equal society. They dig in. But as Raymond Williams pointed out, there are always residual, dominant and emergent forces in society. Is it too optimistic to see Pox Day and his rancid pals as a noisy gaggle of residual forces, whingeing their way to extinction? When the grip of class society seems stronger than ever in the west, it's good to see some effective popular resistance, wherever the battlefield happens to be - Hugos, superheroes, dual-hearted time travellers - emergent forces can emerge anywhere. It's our job to support them, innit, to help give them the space to work their magic. 'Reason enough to care' - bloody right mate! Keep up the good work, Jack.

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Jack Graham 1 year, 11 months ago

You may come here again.

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AuntyJack 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm smiling because Anonymous can't spell a simple word like "you're".

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Jack Graham 1 year, 11 months ago

Not sure I'd want to pick on that personally.

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James Murphy 1 year, 10 months ago

This is one of the best pieces of yours that I've read.

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Jack Graham 1 year, 10 months ago

Well at least that means I'm not getting worse.

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Kit Power 10 months, 2 weeks ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoyfzbQDfSg

:)

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