Skip to content

On tribes, divisions and markets.

I’m not American, so actual US citizens are welcome to entirely disregard my opinions (hell, they’re opinions. You’re welcome ignore them, no matter where you come from. But I am talking about a country and a market that is not my own. ) Of course, sometimes from outside the trees, you can see the wood. Please understand that I don’t personally care what your politics or beliefs are, I am putting the status quo and future in writing world – particularly of sf/fantasy in the biggest English market, the US, as I see it. That almost certainly will be wrong. The arguable point is how far wrong. What I hope is worth deriving is how you can position yourself to work best for your writing sales.

It’s been apparent to me that the two sides of US the political divide are further apart than ever. Both sides consider the other’s positions extreme. This divide has grown for some time but it really started to become obvious to me about 10 years ago. Since then that has accelerated. I’ve seen no signs of either side being willing (or able) to turn that around. Part of this was left having decided the arrow of history only went one way –towards their idea of ‘progressivism’. This is well illustrated here with this charming photograph of how primitive and repressive Afghanistan was in 1960, compared to the liberties and dress-codes and education they now enjoy…

Yes, steady and directionally one way…

Anyway, the US Left decided they couldn’t lose, and there was no need to treat the people who were doomed to lose with the respect you might give a foe who might be the victor.

That worked out really well.

But instead of dealing with that reality, and of course people who really hadn’t enjoyed the prior attitude, doubling down seems to have been the order of the day. Ergo, the division is now wider than ever. It’s particularly exemplified by ‘demonization’ of anyone who isn’t in their camp.

The left calls the right – that is to the right of them, which includes people who don’t support either side, or don’t care: racists, sexists, homophobes, misogynists (the female right, particularly), and Nazis and Fascists. The latter is quite funny to any student of 20th century history, as the aims of fascism are eerily similar to the manifestos of the more extreme left, and they both like same color shirt for the thugs they use to silence any dissent. Accuracy doesn’t come into any of it, it’s really about calling them the names of things they have been told are right to hate.

The right tend call the left socialists or communists. This, considering Venezuela and the mass-murders of various communist regimes is their epitome of vile. The left often embrace these labels (accurate or not).

Both sides call each other idiots, stupid, etc. This remains somewhat inaccurate, as neither side has a monopoly on stupidity or idiots – and there are some people on both sides capable of brilliance – which is particularly obvious where what they’re being brilliant about has little to do with their politics. A brilliant surgeon or artist’s work can remain brilliant, even if they think Mao was a good man, or all homosexuals should be pushed off buildings.

In theory, at least, it should be possible for us to judge the work on its merits, not on the person who did the work’s views. For years this was held up as kind of epitome of integrity, and right and fair way to judge and decide.

In this circumstance, you find book contracts, sales or awards, are a close approximation of that group’s demographic representation, barring some logical reason. To use an example from a different context: Jews and Catholic demographics would closely reflect in a blind wine tasting competition, Mormons and Muslims would not. If you apply the filter ‘drink alcohol, have taste buds’ they should be close to demographically representative, within reason.

The same would apply (with say the filter of English and literate) to world of writing. If there’s a deviation, there should be a valid reason – IF it is on merit.

The problem of course is if some of the audience or judges don’t judge on merit. Then the awards or sales are skewed away from those they judge against on matters beside the merit of the work, and towards those they like. This becomes even more obvious if one group or ‘tribe’ in the total population acts this way, and the rest act on the basis of merit. If all Catholics only buy books by Catholics and only vote for Catholics in voted awards, but everyone else buys and votes for what they rate best… It’s pretty sweet for Catholics. You can see ‘tribal’ bias straight away in the numbers – as one did in Hugos.

It’s the kind of deal that ONLY works, if the whole population (excluding the tribe) goes on being fair and on merit, while the ‘tribe’ favors their own, and discriminates against ‘non-tribe’ members. You can see it in the workplace, in the arts, in education, and of course in writing. If any group is way out of line with its demographics – You have 90% Catholics in an opera but the overall population has 25% — That group has almost certainly been playing tribally. The end result is usually that the rest start to play tribally too – at least against the ‘tribal’ group.

Traditional Publishing in political ‘tribes’ is best explained by this. Nothing measures as honestly as ‘money’ – and this is by donations to the left and right.

donations to political paarties

So: if you wish to publish traditionally, the game on easiest setting is plainly to show you tribal colors – so long as that color is blue. You can see it works.

donations to politcal parties

It’s worth pointing out that this ‘writer’s’ section would include self-published non-traditional authors. I could dig for the graph, but, coarsely speaking this is now about half the e-book earnings. As the buying may also be ‘tribal’ but that’s the buying books by the reader, not the publisher – we’re probably looking at the bulk of the red coming out of this. Traditionally Published Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors are very ‘tribally’ skewed to the left.

The same analysis can be applied to awards, or sales. If there is a major deviation from the demographic with no viable reason: ‘tribalism’ is at play.

Which is all fun and jollies if you’re in and shouting loudly — for that ‘tribe’… until anyone else starts to act tribally.

At which point you have an interesting problem IF you played the game on easiest setting, shouting loudly for your ‘tribe’.

Work it out: IF left and right are equally split (which they’re not) 75% of authors going for 50% of market… and 25% selling to the other 50% tribe… You’re in financial pain.

It actually gets worse. If you take the self-published out – we’re in SF by numbers of authors not sales, sitting at 90% Trad Published being identifiably ‘Left’ and pushed fighting for the 50% of their ‘tribal’ share. Even if only 10% of those outside their ‘tribe’ start buying tribally, it’s going to hurt them, and make a lot of difference to those not in the ‘left’ tribe – because that’s 10% between very few people.

But wait… there’s more! In fact DOUBLE THE WHOLE OFFER.

You see the US is NOT split into 50% for each tribe. And given that one tribe, the Left or they call themselves ‘liberal’ has been acting tribally against the rest – 26% – more or less a quarter, belong to that tribe, with the other two ‘tribes’ the independents or moderates and conservatives at around 37% each. Which is a world of hurt if you’re from the 90% of trad published left wing authors fighting for the tribal share of 26%. You’re also in a world of hurt if you’re one of the ‘tribal’ publishers relying on selling non-tribally.

It was amusing – in the light of this, to have a friend I asked to track another reference for me ask what I was writing and produce this claim by John Scalzi that he’s really moderate, and certainly not far left.

Let’s be honest, I don’t like John Scalzi – it’s a personality and culture thing. I come from a culture where boasting about how good and successful you are is as well received as really loud fart in church, in the silence just after the minister has said ‘any just cause or impediment why the couple should not be joined in holy matrimony.’ When that boasting slides into exaggerating your importance and belittling others to boost that, that goes down like the guy who rips his trousers off and starts masturbating at the same point. I know, this is the American market, American culture, things are different, and I’m selling into a foreign culture, and need to adapt to it, not it to me.

I’m not good at it. I mean my ‘lawn’ is more than an order magnitude bigger than Scalzi’s with a wonderful sea-view – but that’s more down to good luck, good mentors and good friends than my mediocre talents and non-existent importance, so I don’t mention it with great frequency to puff myself up. Besides, it is mowed by wallaby, and by wombats who leave square poos on its pristine beauty.

I had to work hard to judge the guy’s work without letting my small interactions him and his personality color them. I’ve managed to enjoy a few writers who I don’t like in person, and many I disagree with. Likewise I regard a few writers as great guys, but I can’t read them. In this case I don’t like his work either. YMMV.

That said, I admit he has valuable skills for his chosen path. I do think he’s been very successful at self-promotion, and has ingratiated himself and identified with his publishers. He’s very good at both, and if that’s the route you wish to follow, I firmly suggest you study him, and learn from him. You don’t have to like someone to learn from them.

In traditional publishing this often seems to translate into large advances, which in turn means your publisher must recoup that, so they spend heavily on promotion, and make a huge laydown and push the distribution as hard as possible. This can end up on the two-for-one tables and reject remainders – but because the exposure and availability is huge, you can still easily outsell books readers enjoy far more. If your book is great AND you got all this, you could easily become a runaway bestseller. If not, your publisher is probably no better at admitting they made a mistake than most people.

Invisibility is more of an enemy than ‘meh’ but known.

This is sound business sense… up until that ingratiation means (as it does) you too must identify with your publisher’s ‘tribe’

Then – when other ‘tribes’ become ‘tribal’ too…

Then name recognition and association with a ‘tribe’ can become a poison chalice.

You can try telling everyone that, really, you’re moderate. Good luck with that. It’s as likely to lose you readers as your own ‘tribe’ – a tribe Gallup characterizes as moving further left. Personally, I’d suggest getting rid of the word ‘fascist’ as a descriptor of ‘people I don’t like or agree with’ might be a sensible start, for a ‘moderate.’

If you can’t do this: go indy.  Trad: Baen is worth trying, they at least have taken authors historically and recently from a range of political positions, making them literally the only one I can think of.

The other ways of playing the game are much harder settings. If you want to spot real talent and great role models for your writing itself, those who succeed without the ‘tribal advantage’ are those who are the great talents of our field.

 

94 Comments
  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    In the Real World, tribes that piss-off tribes bigger than them usually get destroyed.

    The Left doesn’t understand the Real World. 😦

    May 14, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      Well, there are situations where the tribes are closer to evenly matched, and the conflict festers for generations.

      Do any of us really completely understand the real world?

      May 14, 2018
      • Do any of us really completely understand the real world?

        I know full that I do not.
        What’s strange is seeing alleged Real World natives that have a less firm grasp on it than I do.

        May 14, 2018
    • In the Real World, tribes that piss-off tribes bigger than them usually get destroyed,

      But what if they’re pacifistic and refuse to yield guns? Doesn’t that protect them?

      Note: This reply brought to you by the Moriori ghosts association (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moriori#Invasion_by_Taranaki_M%C4%81ori).

      May 14, 2018
      • I mean wield. Yielding one’s guns is … unwise.

        May 14, 2018
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        Nope.

        Sadly, those tribes aren’t really pacifistic but don’t carry guns and work hard to piss-off the tribes who carry guns. 😈

        May 14, 2018
        • They delude themselves into thinking they are pacifistic and we’re the violent ones. Also, that being effectively violent is something you can learn quickly when you need it rather than a profession that takes years to master.

          May 14, 2018
  2. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    Further apart than ever? Might the period of relative closeness instead be the anomaly? Consider the Radical Republicans of the 1860s, and the Democrats of the following sixty to eighty years.

    Other issue, dividing the population politically that way conflates levels of investment and resolve. Hard core political fanatics of every stripe are probably a minority. Most of the population isn’t that radical, and we probably do not want to make them that radical. Punish apathy viciously enough and you will not like all the attention you gather. The breakdown of preferences will be different than when the disinterested are permitted to tend to their own private fixations.

    The political situation in the US is interesting. It is hard to sort present one off events from starts of new trends. If some sort of realignment occurs, the political breakdowns may shift some.

    May 14, 2018
    • And how many people lie or at least shade things when they are talking to pollsters, just in case?

      May 14, 2018
      • Oh, definitely. I’d bet even money that people who intended to vote for Trump kept damned quiet about it, when asked by an anonymous pollster on the phone, or approached at an event. In too many instances, pro-Trumpers got attacked, figuratively or literally.

        May 14, 2018
        • That is a bad bet. The average of national polls came very close to predicting the Trump-Clinton popular vote split, which is what they measured. Of course, the popular vote does not determine who wins.

          May 14, 2018
          • Only if you exclude fraud, which we know happens, and the fact people in states they know will go blue (California) often don’t vote for red, because what’s the point.
            You’re assuming facts not in evidence, such as a clean vote (we have plenty of evidence to the contrary.)

            May 15, 2018
      • …and how many lied just to take the Mickey out of them? It was that sort of election.

        May 14, 2018
      • Uncle Lar #

        For example, I have a strong hunch that polls on US gun ownership tend to report well below actual fact. How many will speak honestly to an anonymous voice on the phone or some stranger at the door with a clipboard?

        May 14, 2018
        • SheSellsSeashells #

          Y’know, I just can’t deliver an informed opinion on that since that tragic boating accident where all my guns just fell over the side. Terrible, isn’t it?

          May 14, 2018
          • Evenstar #

            The lakes and rivers of the U.S. must been rich in firearms. 😀

            May 14, 2018
            • Evenstar #

              *be

              May 14, 2018
  3. c4c

    May 14, 2018
  4. There have been interesting studies showing that the “right-of-center”* tribe understands the background, ideas, and goals of the “left-of-center” tribe very well, but that the reverse is not true. In marketing terms, it suggests that even if an avowedly Progressive author wants to expand his/her/its/xir/kumquat’s market, that individual might not have the background knowledge to do it, and might not even know that they lack the background.

    *For US definitions of center. I’m about to give up on where the European center has wandered off to.

    May 14, 2018
    • True. At least, until you get far enough to the left that they actually think working people in flyover country matter (Eric Flint is a prime example).

      May 14, 2018
      • Eric, no matter what you think of him, is one very rare examples of a Left wing writer who has actually been manual laborer. Who actually has friends and talks socially to people who do not share his ideology.

        May 14, 2018
        • My great uncles were much the same way.

          May 14, 2018
    • Should probably be reported as missing. The European center, that is. I’m here and can’t really find it. Seems that people who consider themselves rather moderate, like I do, or what you’d call classical liberal, now count as fairly extreme right here. Unfortunately when it comes to voting, in most countries the actual extreme right are the only ones who advertise, and seem to be willing to do, some of the things we’d want done. Not mine, so far, so I haven’t been forced to make that decision, but who knows how long it will take. 😦

      May 14, 2018
      • Yes, it’s pretty sad when someone who believes in limited government, free markets and freedom of speech is considered extreme right.

        May 14, 2018
        • LA May – polarization. Scalzi moans about being called extreme left. He doesn’t get that the first step to getting your opposite to not ‘demonize’ you is to deal with those on your own side who demonize the opposite side to pull their horns in.

          May 14, 2018
      • I warn people often what the Folks elsewhere in the world call “far right” would be considered a slightly loony rural Democrat in Texas or Louisiana.
        Add things like some places, the “right wing” party is called Liberal, and well US folks are easily confused by any discussion of parties outside the US. Add that there are usually a passel load of parties with similar names and “coalition gov’t. etc and we get glazed eyes and tend to wander off.

        May 14, 2018
    • TXRed, you are correct about the studies and lack of knowledge of the US Left about those not in their bubble.BUT – They have no desire to CHANGE their writing. They don’t want to accommodate: merely have money from those benighted heathen. And no, that doesn’t mean any of their little flock are allowed to buy or even read and become less ignorant about other political viewpoints, and discover that those cardboard cut-out villains are actually real and often nice people. This is one way traffic. That’s my point. It won’t work

      May 14, 2018
      • A lot of problems in the world can be traced to insufficient greed. A properly greedy left wing author or editor, who wished to sell to the underserved fly-over market, would pull an Eric Flint and actually talk with the customers on the other side.

        Unfortunately, a lot of people value their ideological blinders much more than their wallets.

        May 14, 2018
        • A large part of that, in publishing, is poor motivation. An acquiring editor gets nothing (financial) out of getting a great seller. (so any motivation is personal (which may be political) satisfaction). He or she loses nothing if they buy a PC author who sells very little. If you made renumeration for editors linked to the sales… (well, they’d probably cheat elsewhere. but at least there is real motivation, which the shareholders should like).

          May 14, 2018
  5. 23skidoo

    May 14, 2018
    • adventuresfantastic #

      Skip to the loo

      May 14, 2018
  6. c4c

    (and… that bit about the wombats. It revived my puzzlement, on how those square poos are even physiologically possible.)

    May 14, 2018
    • adventuresfantastic #

      We want pictures of your lawn and the attendant fauna. Poo pictures optional.

      May 14, 2018
  7. I can’t really speak for novels, but when it comes to short fiction (which I read very broadly for Rocket Stack Rank), I would say at least 80% of science-fiction/fantasy short stories, novelettes, and novellas have little or no obvious political bias. Those that do (in the sources I read) are overwhelmingly left-wing, but they’re also generally not very good and don’t get many recommendations nor are they typically nominated for prestigious awards.

    Now a lot depends on what you mean by “left-wing.” If a story is left-wing just because it a) treats global warming as real b) includes a non-pathological gay character c) has a female protagonist d) is set in a non-western culture, then you’d get a much higher number than 20%, but if people who can enjoy such stories were “left-wing,” then the left-wing would have a clear majority of the audience.

    From where I sit (Seattle), the biggest problem in the US has been the collapse of civility. Prior to 1992, it was a point of pride among most Americans to say things like, “well, I didn’t vote for him, but he’s our president now, and I have to support him–even if I don’t support his policies.” But in 1992, a significant chunk of Republicans refused to accept that Bill Clinton was legitimately elected. In 2000, a significant chunk of Democrats said the same about G.W. Bush. In 2008 virtually all the Republicans refused to accept Barack Obama as their president (and even denied he was really an American), and today, virtually all Democrats treat Donald Trump as a Russian puppet. I think we could resolve the policy issues if we could resolve the civility problem. But it has built up gradually over decades, and it will not be resolved easily.

    May 14, 2018
    • Andrew #

      The vitriol of 2000 well eclipsed whatever concerns Republicans had in 1992….that and other broad brush generalities in your post do not bode well for “resolving the civility problem”….

      May 14, 2018
    • Margaret Ball #

      “But in 1992, a significant chunk of Republicans refused to accept that Bill Clinton was legitimately elected.”

      Can you point to any sources supporting that assertion? I don’t recall anything like that.

      May 14, 2018
      • George Phillies #

        I am not going to search the sources, but the line was more precisely that Clinton did not have a majority, and Bush would have won if Perot had not been a candidate. The former does not matter. (For no points: What is the smallest number of votes you can receive and be elected President?) The latter, say the exit polls, is false. If Perot had not run, Clinton would have won and had a majority of the vote.

        May 14, 2018
        • Perot was a conservative and stole votes from Bush. If he had not run, it’s Bush who would have won.

          May 14, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      Margaret, that’s probably how he likes to think about the fallout of the Democrats nominating a serial sexual predator who then passed a bunch of laws making sexual predators vulnerable. On the other hand, Denis Hastert does suggest that perhaps the Republican establishment would have held their nose for the right person.

      Greg,
      The birther stuff started as the Clinton campaign being sore about losing the nomination. Obama himself made himself vulnerable to it with the versions of his books published in the nineties. I dislike that characterization of Republican opposition to Obama. I consider myself entirely vindicated in my forecast of what his Presidency would mean. Ed Gein would have made a less destructive President.

      The standards being used to argue that Trump is a Russian stooge, applied evenhandedly, would hang Jackie Kennedy, LBJ, and many others. Sure he sucks up to Evil. He has done that for a very long time, and no one can be surprised by that. As of yet he has been less destructive than Ed Gein would have been.

      May 14, 2018
      • Synova #

        He sucked up to the Clintons! Their kids grew up together and were great friends.

        But schmoozing is how you get things done at the level of business that requires you to get political favors.

        I’m always amazed at how this is evil on the part of the businessman but seemingly upright and righteous on the part of our Public Servants such that we demand ever more power be given to them while they mysteriously become millionaires themselves.

        May 14, 2018
        • BobtheRegisterredFool #

          Synova,
          If a response to me, exactly. That picture of them at Trump’s third wedding is why Trump cannot surprise anyone by saying anything nice about a dictator or mass murderer. That pretty much has to be baked into the calculations of anyone choosing to support Trump, at least if it is a fully informed decision.

          May 14, 2018
    • Holly #

      May I suggest that you just don’t see the political bias, Greg? Like a fish not seeing water. I assume your particular set of customers (not sure what Rocket Stack Rank is, a magazine?) have the same comfort zone you do–that’s generally how that works out–so as long as it works well for you, that’s great. I also assume you have little to no overlap of target customers with Castalia House, and I think most of their books are pretty unabashedly non-left-leaning. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean right-leaning: there’s a huge gap between anarcho-libertarians and conservatives, bigger than between left and right, but anarcho-libertarians are also very not left-leaning.)

      I’m curious about your sample size for “Virtually all Republicans” in your last paragraph. Apparently all the non-included Republicans are those I know personally. Mostly they were annoyed that they had to put up with him as their president, and some of them liked him except for his politics. He was the sort of guy they’d ask to a dinner party at their house, not vote for. Then there’s a significant subset who voted for him the first time, were annoyed by his anti-police rhetoric and race-baiting and didn’t vote for him for re-election. A lot were really anti-Pres. Obama after they got screwed over by the ACA. I know only one guy who really believed Pres. Obama wasn’t a naturally born US citizen, and several who were annoyed that Pres. Obama wasted so much time instead of just saying, “Look, folks, here’s my long form birth certificate,” the first time it came up. Same folks are annoyed by his lack of release of college grades, and by Pres. Trump’s lack of release of tax returns.

      Of course, I obviously don’t know your Democrat group either. I think I know two who are willing to admit they’re convinced Pres. Trump is a Russian puppet. Mostly . . . hmm . . . egomaniac, sociopath, greedy capitalist, bully, and sex-pest top the list.

      Maybe my acquaintances are just abnormally intelligent and tolerant of other views. Must be because we live in flyover country. Or maybe it’s because the media sticks to “If it bleeds, it leads” and there’s no blood in civility. Get the media to be civil, and ninety percent of the civility problem is solved.

      May 14, 2018
      • BobtheRegisterredFool #

        Holly,
        I believe it is possible that Obama himself does not know for certain where he was born. I understand that few people retain memories of being born, much less the ability to clearly identify where in the world it occurred. The same documentation exists for his sister, who apparently is known to have been born overseas. The time to evaluate that was before the vote of the electoral college.

        There’s a legitimate question whether Ivana and Melania were Soviet plants or, due to their upbringing, excessively sympathetic to the Russian government. Further is the matter of the former communist official father-in-law. There are good and decent people with Nazi in laws, but they are mostly unelectable to high office. The problem is not that there is no reason to suspect Trump. One problem is that they are ignoring the defensible reasons and shouting out the self impeaching reasons. Another problem is that in ignoring the defensible reasons, they also ignore the question of applying them evenhandedly to everyone. Mexico has about the same size economy as Russia, and about as strong a reason to suspect as an origin of subversion. Is a Mexican spouse, particularly one whose parents were officials of a Mexican political party, sufficient reason for an official to be considered especially suspect?

        Re: Trump excessive foreign financial entanglement? If he caves on forcing sanctions, we will know.

        May 14, 2018
        • Loyd Jenkins #

          Is there anything that you feel that President Trump is doing right?

          As for the 92 election, a third party candidate tipping an election one way or another has happened so often, it is downright American.

          May 14, 2018
    • Synova #

      See but no one ever “supported” the president if they didn’t support his policies. Complaining about politicians is a highly valued pass-time and always has been.

      What happened, if you recall, is that suddenly and very very loudly, not supporting *policies* became racism. And hoping that policies failed (or at least predicting their failure) was portrayed as hopes that the president failed. It was truly amazing to watch because if you were a libertarian what you saw and heard was repeated statements that the ONLY reason that you disagreed with progressive socialists on economic policy is that you were a racist and hated the fact that a black guy was president.

      After all, no one disagreed with Bill Clinton on economic policy, EVER. Right? There was never even an Austrian School or Milton Freedman or Heyek or Adam Smith or anyone. No, no one was genuinely pissed about economic or fiscal policy or predicting that the “stimulus” wasn’t going to help and would prolong the pain… you were a racist.

      Now apply that process of displacement of other people’s motives to absolutely all social and economic policies. While there have always been haters, suddenly that’s ALL there was. No one was *genuinely* concerned about marriage (even if wrong about what to do about it), no one genuinely has concerns about locker room or bathroom privacy or the wisdom of allowing children to make medical decisions that will render them sterile, no one genuinely cares about free speech, they just want to hate people in public.

      In science fiction there was no genuine concern that short sighted criteria, social preaching, and publishing bias was leading to insipid and depressing volumes and losing us the expansive wonder of the past, no, not at all. It was just old White Men being cranky and wanting their Patriarchy back again.

      As for Presidential sensibilities… people always gripe when their guy loses but the first time a presidential candidate failed to graciously concede was Al Gore. Apparently our faith in the election process wasn’t high on his list of priorities.

      May 14, 2018
    • Greg I hope you read your review stories more carefully than you read my post. My entire point was that the reaction to tribalism (something that shows up beyond any possibility of denial in the numbers) was to elicit a tribal counter-response – WHICH MEANS WORK IS NOT JUDGED ON ITS MERITS, BUT THAT TRIBE OF THE CREATOR SELECTS IT _BEFORE_ ANY CONSIDERATION OF MERIT OF THE WORK. When the reaction comes: the same applies but in inverse. If this is not the case, merit first selection would require that – for a simple, verifiable example, you could take the Hugo award finalists, and you would see the Demographics of EFL America reflected there – in politics, religion, skin color, orientation. It’s not. That should worry you, even if not ethically, in terms of the reaction: it obviously doesn’t.

      That said, you’re living proof of Jonathan Haidt’s research. The right and center know and understand the left: the left doesn’t have a clue how the other side thinks, but believes in some sort of straw bogey-man. “If a story is left-wing just because it a) treats global warming as real b) includes a non-pathological gay character c) has a female protagonist d) is set in a non-western culture, then you’d get a much higher number than 20%, but if people who can enjoy such stories were “left-wing,” then the left-wing would have a clear majority of the audience.” That’s a sort of straw-non-left, which has almost no basis in reality.

      Some of the cues you’re plainly missing would be: 1) the villain is inevitably white, male, conservative, and if religion features at all Christian. Now, when you actually look at the data, this group is demographically a very unlikely villain – they give more to charity, volunteer more of their time to help others not of their group, are under-represented in demographic proportion in crime records – gun crime too. If gays or women or Asians or whatever were treated like that, you’d label the author’s writing as right wing (which would be innacurate too. Most of the non-left simply reflect reality. Some heroes and some villains – people are people not villains because of superficial characteristics. 2)The cast is remarkably ‘representative’ and totally un-demographic. In real life the proportion of trans-sexuals may be one in 500. Oddly here it is one in 5. 3)The issues of sexual discrimination, color orientation etc are always front and center, even if they have nothing really to do with the story. Real life for most of us doesn’t have every disaster or adventure centered on these things. Some are: very few people on the non-left have a problem with that. Occasionally. It’s rather like chocolate truffles. Very nice in the right time and place, occasionally. Not nice for every meal and snack. Here’s your Oysters, with chocolate truffle, your steak, topped with chocolate truffle, your broccoli with chocolate truffle. 4) As a counterpoint to (1) the hero is inevitably a selected favored PC group. On the rare occasion that they happen to be white and male they’re either gay or loudly and overtly supportive of the talking-points of the democratic party. Real demographics need not apply. 5)Utopia if described is socialist (like Venezuela and other examples have proved so good) and the heroes world-view could be the democratic party manifesto. 6)Non-Western cultures are not some good some bad and some just different (as is really the case,, and as is really the case in few do many people enjoy as much liberty and quality of life as in Western culture (not all of which -Japan, South Korea, are in the ‘West’.)) No they’re always better – unless they’re straw conservatives, inevitably with the same villains (1) having made that way. – I could for a long while… but plainly these things are invisible to you.

      As for civility: let those who proclaim themselves better and more moral and the direction of the future lead by example. Admit they’ve been wrong, make compromises and stick to them. That way you may reach common ground. But I think one side is tired of giving, only to have compromise (which is not taking from the left, but not giving all they want) merely regarded as a next step.

      May 14, 2018
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        Liberal Definition of Compromise: Conservatives give up something, Liberals give up nothing and then Liberals demand Conservatives to give up more and repeat until Liberals have everything.

        May 14, 2018
      • if having heroic gay characters or strong and capable woman characters makes a writer left wing, Bob the Registered is right. I’m lefty as they come.
        It seems to me they don’t even read the people they slander.

        May 15, 2018
  8. The political contribution numbers probably skew toward high earners in each field, which for writers (especially indy writers) leaves a very long tail. Since indy publishing is the sort of enterprise where you can survive in the long tail for quite some time, there are probably many more conservative writers who are underrepresented, simply because they don’t have the income to donate more than a paltry sum.

    Also, are liberals more likely to donate to political causes than conservatives? Haven’t seen the numbers, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Conservatives are more likely to have religion in their lives, whereas liberals are more likely to treat their politics as their religion, filling that hole in their otherwise irreligious lives with their political ideology. At least in my experience.

    May 14, 2018
    • I don’t know about political donations, but I recall a study that found Republicans donate five times as much to charity as do equally-wealthy Democrats.

      Anyone astonished??

      May 14, 2018
      • Same with volunteer services. Oddly the same with conservation issues. Loud supporters of carbon taxes are more likely to litter and consume in excess and not participate in recycling. It’s sort of the old Catholic ‘Indulgences’. They feel they’ve done their bit, they’re entitled now.

        May 14, 2018
        • Draven #

          they’ve purchased their indulgences from teh church and have no need to act in a moral manner…

          May 15, 2018
        • Micha Elyi #

          Hey, davefreer, you misunderstand what you call “the old Catholic ‘Indulgences’ ” and now your error is being compounded by Draven.

          May 16, 2018
          • Why don’t you – politely and briefly is all I ask – clarify what it does mean? I took that straight from an article on the science that showed the ‘green activists’ to be willfully more damaging to the environment than ‘un-woke’ skeptics.

            May 16, 2018
          • Draven #

            Wrong, we’re specifically referring to the misuse of indulgences that happened.

            May 16, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      One might also question whether the value of contributions to either party are of equal value. Also different income brackets might correlate with different areas, correlating with different types of government, perhaps correlating with different flavors of politics.

      May 14, 2018
      • Right. So what these figures really show is that of politically engaged authors in the United States, spending on Democrats is greater. Whether that’s because liberal authors earn more on average than conservative authors, or because they simply outnumber conservative authors, or simply because liberal authors are more politically engaged, isn’t clear from the data.

        May 14, 2018
      • Over a large enough sample (this is) it should pretty much cancel out. Money is at least honest. A poll for example can be affected by the sample, the sample size, the question design, and the public perception of what the pollster may think of you. I’d trust the money most.

        May 14, 2018
  9. Terry Sanders #

    Not least because the left weaponized their opponents’ civility and beat themeover the head with it while proclaiming that their victimhood exempted them from its requirements. Much of the Alt Right is made up of people who’ve decided that if quiet objections get them called monsters, and silence is consent to be screwed over, they’ll try some of that nastiness themselves. Sheep, lambs, etc.

    May 14, 2018
    • snelson134 #

      THIS. EXACTLY.

      May 14, 2018
    • Oh there is little doubt that the Left has largely fueled the rise of the right. I’m seeing it in Europe particularly, re migration.

      May 14, 2018
  10. Christopher M. Chupik #

    “Anyway, the US Left decided they couldn’t lose”

    Always a sure way to lose.

    May 14, 2018
    • “Never bet on a ‘sure thing’.”

      May 14, 2018
  11. I note some correlations:

    The more someone works with their hands and the more their livelihood depends on their own skill, the more red they are.

    The more they work with other people’s money or where their screwups won’t impact themselves, the more blue they are.

    Unions upend this by always being solid blue.

    May 14, 2018
    • Except that unions do work with other people’s money–the money raised by union dues–and in many sectors, such as public education, union membership is compulsory. Also, unions basically exist to minimize the impact union members feel from their own screw ups. Project Veritas recently exposed a New Jersey teacher’s union president admitting on hidden camera that she protected a teacher who has sex with a student and is (or was–she’s since been suspended) making sure he gets to keep his pension.

      May 14, 2018
      • George Phillies #

        I believe you are conflating union members and union officers and employees of the unions. The AFL-CIO etc are quite disturbed about the high Trump support among union members who work in the private sector.

        May 14, 2018
  12. Uncle Lar #

    Dave, fine thoughtful piece on the mechanics of tribal affiliation in the arts in America.
    But we’re well into the next step and it is causing great harm to the publishing industry.
    Once an artist feels that their tribal affiliation protects them and guarantees them work it is almost impossible to resist embedding tribal markers into their creations. And with the left many of those markers espouse beliefs and lifestyles that the majority of the public find uncomfortable to outright offensive.
    Case in point the aforementioned Hugo awards. How often have we, speaking to the public, heard “I used to enjoy the occasional SF&F novel, but I guess my tastes have changed.”
    But their tastes did not change, instead tribal preference pushed material on them that simply was not to their liking. Ad that to a campaign to kill the most popular new format for reading material, e-books, through ridiculous pricing and it’s easy to understand the state that most publishing currently enjoys.

    May 14, 2018
    • I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had people say to me – ‘Oh I used to read sf/fantasy.’ ;-/

      May 14, 2018
      • Micha Elyi #

        Oh I used to read sf. I even tried a bit of the fantasy stuff, back when it was something other than A Girl Discovering Her Speshulness all the time. I even went to cons and personally knew some of the local SMOFs. Later, I moved out of all that.

        May 16, 2018
  13. George Phillies #

    Pray tell, exactly what do those red and blue circles represent?

    Having said that, I agree with your article. I am motivated to write more on my Disunion novels, tales of the United States after it agreed to partition a la Czechoslovakia, a partition conducted by sane people who wanted civility to prevail. The country is now in six pieces.

    May 14, 2018
    • Political leaning by job. If you go to the link at the words “show you tribal colors” you get the original charts at verdantlabs.com.

      May 14, 2018
  14. If the gatekeepers (traditional book publishers) are so heavily skewed in one direction, it stand to reason that they choices they make about what’s publishable and marketable are also going to be skewed. Pity those authors who don’t belong to their tribe; they have to be twice as good to get half the credit. Also pity the reading public, which is presented with choices ranging from from bad through terrible to atrocious.
    The positive side of this is that there is a potentially huge underserved market for stories skewed away from what is presented by traditional book publishing. It just takes more work to find it.

    May 14, 2018
    • There might also be new commercial opportunities for centrist, libertarian, conservative, or nationalist SF publishers, especially ones who thought that their writers should tell good stories, not deliver political messaging with a clam scoop. Of course, launching a new publishing house just as comic stores and book outlets are folding may create challenges.

      May 14, 2018
  15. Synova #

    I read that about being accused of being “far left” and it boggled the mind. Maybe someone was claiming he was. I never heard it. Opportunistic male feminist, sure. I figure he just chose his side and who he wants most to like him the most and went with it. That’s not being “far left”. He’s just doubling up on the “easy setting”.

    Maybe there’s something worthwhile to be learned from the business savvy involved in doubling up on the easy setting. OTOH, there are some good points, too, in crunching the numbers.

    Some time ago I quit telling people to read him but that they’d like his books more if they avoided his blog. He’s made too many statements about how awful and horrible people are when they complain about his public politics or his behavior to the extent of inviting people not to buy his books that I see no reason not to concede to his wishes.

    Don’t buy his books. He doesn’t want you to buy his books. You’ll still like them better if you avoid his social media altogether, but why go against what he has said he wants?

    May 14, 2018
    • BobtheRegisterredFool #

      Well, I think I’ve argued that Sarah Hoyt and Larry Correia are left wing.

      May 14, 2018
  16. Matthew #

    c4c

    May 14, 2018
  17. Christopher M. Chupik #

    Judging by the idiots at Origins caving to the leftist lynch mob, tribal warfare is alive and well.

    May 14, 2018
    • Joe in PNG #

      And we will see an effect that I’ve noticed.
      When the Left goes after someone who is on the Right, you get lines around the block in support.
      But should the Left need support, it’s really not there.

      Traditionally, this sort of things was used to keep people in line. I doubt it’s going to work on Larry, and hopefully will backfire enormously on the traditional Leftist gatekeepers, that they will be show to be powerless and out of touch.

      May 14, 2018
      • I recommend NOT attending ORIGINS. if you’re an Origins attending vendor, I suggest asking for your money back. If you had money to spend on this, I recommend buying from any vendor who cancels, and of course, buying more of Larry’s books. I’m sure you have all of them but your library needs a set, so do any kids in your life.

        May 14, 2018
    • What goes around, comes around ;-/. These lynch mobs are not run by very bright people.

      May 14, 2018
      • Confutus #

        Cannibals, they are.

        May 14, 2018
    • Luke #

      Just saw that about an hour ago.

      I’m still seething.

      May 14, 2018
  18. Combining this post with the one on choosing Amazon markers brought me to an interesting place… I found that the category called Catholic fiction is actually very tiny. Then I found that much of it is deeply depressing and / or heretical. Maybe not the category I want to try to dominate! If I could 😉 There are clearly markers I’d be very unwilling to put in anything I wrote.

    May 14, 2018
    • I think you may find that wearing that marker – and providing a positive story as opposed to the negatives – may pay very well indeed.

      May 14, 2018
  19. Marielle #

    In a nutshell

    1. Trump voters are the type of people who just wanted to be left alone

    2. Hillary voters want to kill everyone of the type in 1 and subjugate the rest

    There is absolutely no moral equivalence of the two sides. The Left in the US is hard core authoritarian, and they are using the schools to create Red Guard 2.0

    May 16, 2018
  20. BobtheRegisterredFool #

    Some of the alternative hypotheses to Greg’s suggestion need to be laid out more clearly.

    One, recent elections have not seen the worst rejection of a legitimate presidential election in American history. That was Democrats protesting a Republican who took the electoral college with a mere 40% of the vote. (As an aside, modern Democrats are cowards compared to those historical Democrats. Those historical Democrats could justly be said to have been brave compared to the modern Democrats.)

    Two, Governors bring executive experience to the Presidency, but do not have the opportunity that Senators do to start running after having built a national following. Furthermore, a Governor running from a state where their party has a strong advantage is going to find the Presidency has stronger opposition than they are used to. 1980’s Arkansas would have still had a fair number of Segregationist Democrat loyalists. What covered up Clinton’s rape habit there was never going to work on the national stage against the sort of Republican opposition the national GOP could field. Add to that the corruption, and things simply aren’t that surprising. In fairness to Greg, Arkansas politics aren’t something you would expect someone in Washington state to grasp.

    Possibly a separate hypothesis, the last three administrations have been heavily shaped by the influence the national Democratic Party of the Clinton machine from Arkansas. Bill was very successful with the political skills he developed in that environment. One important skill is setting up your guy to win before you actually run them. The Clintons knew that Hillary would be running for President from very early on, and planned for it. They hollowed out the Democratic Party, making sure it would not would not be producing competition to them internally. For the 2000 election, Hillary was too toxic to have chance, and needed to take a vacation from national attention and to develop personal credibility as a candidate. So they ran Gore, or permitted him to run, figuring they had it in the bag, he would hold her place, and she would have an easy run in 2004 or 2008. Didn’t happen, deeply distraught Clinton machine, and that distress spread from them through media and activists to some of the base. The media coverage had an effect, so 2008 was a shoe in for a Democrat. Clinton infighting had stripped the Party of more competent candidates than a unaccomplished Senator. But Obama was also available, was less toxic than Hillary politically, and was a better politician. Deeply distraught Clinton machine starts spreading the birther weaksauce, and Obama’s malice or criminal incompetence does the rest. (I opposed him from before the election for a number of issues. I am vindicated on them. Iran was bad policy. His environmental stuff more than offset anything he hoped to change for the poor. Etc.) 2016 was the same ‘eternal dominance’ fallacy as 2000, but more deeply distressing to the Clinton machine because it may be her last chance. She is not going to live forever, and perhaps her health will be too bad in 2020 even for her. Current Democrat intensity seems to be driven by the theory that it is a path to the Whitehouse for her.

    May 16, 2018

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. THIS APPLIES TO MANY OTHER FIELDS:  On tribes, divisions and markets…. - Novus Vero

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: