Perhaps it makes perfect sense for the science fiction genre — literature and movie, and all its glorious expanse — which achieved prominence in the 20th century to have become in a way, sideways, in small sphere the guinea pig of societal trends to come.
I’m only half in jest and all in seriousness, mind you.
This isn’t some half baked idea, like pretending to see the universe in a droplet of water or the conflagration of a match. (Both of which things I was convinced were perfectly valid, due to having learned them in science fiction books, which by the time I got my hot little — emphasis on little — hands on them were over fifty years old.)
It’s rather the fact that because the twentieth century was riven by two primary and — if we have a future as a species, I’m sure to our descendants — insane ideas: the idea that “science” — by which one must understand the knowledge at that time, not the process by which knowledge is acquired, with its heresies and toppling of accepted theory — could explain and ordain everything; and the idea that “great men” in charge would leads to glory by use of that “science.”
It was all a sham. Most of the cherished ideas pushed down the gullet of our unsuspecting selves, half a century ago, less than 25 years after two long wars — whose sides had been led by “the best men” according to “scientific” ideas, such as “eugenics” (spits) — had turned much of European youth into mulch, were well, mulch. Or if you prefer fertilizer, but that is an insult to fertilizer, because in fact fertilizer has a use, while oh, Paul Ehrlich (may he never be sufficiently damned) and his insane Population Bomb theories, enriched himself while perhaps dooming the species or at least civilization.
And if you answered that comment with “Perhaps humans are better off extinct” I want you to go to the nearest mirror, stare yourself in the eyes and tell yourself to have the courage of your convictions. Either all humans are useless and a “plague on the Earth” or there is value in them. If all humans are “a plague on the Earth” then you too, my dear, are part of it, and I invite you to carry through with the obvious. And no, I don’t mean by not reproducing. (What? Enabling your selfishness by never admitting someone should come after you, much less sacrificing yourself for others should be regarded as a virtue? By whom???? Not by us, deary. We see you as you are, craven and cowardly and infinitely selfish, trying to attire yourself in the rags of virtue.) If all humans are despicable, you are too. Why are you still alive while believing humans are a plague?
And if you don’t believe humans are a plague, why are you running around flapping lips and emitting adolescent glossalia you expect to pass off as word from on high? No one, except perhaps the very young and very dumb, is fooled.
Anyway, of course “the humans are a plague upon the Earth” and “the humans are the worst of all creatures in the universe, bar none” was part of my growing up in science fiction. And sure, a young and terminally “intellectual” Sarah (an epithet that is the contrary of the denoted, since it signifies an adherence to trendy opinions) spouted all that nonsense. Well, you know, i try to be charitable to my young self. It was the seventies in Europe. The nail that stood out would get ridiculed out of the educational system, and all my teachers and professors were dumbass enough, or conformist enough to pretend that such eructations as “humans are a plague upon the earth” were deep thought.
But that having been pioneered in science fiction was no surprise. Go back far enough, and you find the science fiction of the twenties and thirties praying to the twin “scientific” gods of socialism (a scientific form of government, after all, in which “the best men” chose the way to allocate resources so everyone had enough and no one went without.) and “eugenics” sometimes in those quaint days referred to as “racial hygiene” because you see, racial genetics were also “resources” that must be husbanded and distributed, less the world sink under a morass of the unfit and “unevolved.” (Ask Margaret Sanger about it, when they get telephone lines to hell.)
And then there was “the Earth is going to freeze to death” — I’m packing my library and hoping that I didn’t throw away the anthology (very convincing) I bought at the end of the 80s in which author after author talked about the Earth freezing due to… well, excess freedom, and “consumerism” and “free market.”
Because those d*mn dirty apes just don’t know how to live, and won’t listen to their betters! The Earth has a chill, and the cure is socialism, population control and the “best” people in charge.
Of course, five years later, there were anthologies about how the Earth had a fever and the cure was socialism.
Now, was all of science fiction that crazy? Um… no. That was the science fiction that got translated, pushed, and discussed as great and brilliant ideas.
Sure, some of the crazy (and almost all social science and soft science and could-be-fudged science of the 20th century was pants on head, run around making chicken noises insane) ideas made into even the sanest of science fiction. Heinlein, for instance, feared overpopulation. (Or at least paid it lip service.) And Clifford Simak, marred his achingly beautiful visions of the future with crazy-cakes beliefs in a future in which “the right people in charge” would fix everything, in a controlled and orchestrated world. (It is almost impossible for people today, who aren’t completely indoctrinated to realize to what level the “common sense” of fifty years ago was insane “socialist-like” pap.)
But Heinlein could never buy into “humanity is a plague.” His humans build, expand, survive, and do better, despite whatever of the insanity of the day infected his stories. And a lot of other writers of the time exhibited an almost dual personality, like the young Sarah who mouthed ‘humans are a plague’ while in her rock-sane back brain hankering to have at least 11 kids. (It didn’t work that way. For reasons beyond my control. But I tried, at least.)
Science fiction flourished and stayed alive to the extent that the people writing/being distributed were the people who told stories humans wanted to read. And those were largely stories of humans winning. (What my young fans call Humans effe yah!
Because while nihilism gives the frustrated and lost a passing sense of superiority, it is not a life-sustaining philosophy. You either believe it is all nothing and worth nothing, or you believe that as awful as life, the world and humans can be, you can make however small a contribution to make it better. And if it’s the first, what are you still doing here, and not departing this vale of grey goo already? Need help packing, perhaps? Don’t worry, if it’s nothing and means nothing, you’ll need nothing along with you.
In defense of the crazier authors of the 20th century, many of them believed passionately in socialism and government control. It was crazy and stupid, but they held in their brains, at the same time, the bizarre idea that humans were terrible creatures who must be controlled by superior humans, and that somehow socialism would end their suffering and make them shining beings of light. They never dug deep into the psychological implications of that contradiction, and we’re not going to either. (Dr. Fraud is dead, and I don’t feel so good myself. I hear that Neo-Freudianism is very useful, but I view it rather as neo-Marxism. I don’t care how pretty that new structure looks, it’s foundations are rotten and sitting on a mass grave. Back it up, and do it anew.)
And then– Well, then the Soviet Union fell. The Soviet Union, by the way, was the sham of shams of the 20th century. You might not know this if you are old enough that your mentally damaged parents, or even mentally depraved professors were too old to change their opinions when the whole rotten empire collapsed. They had devoted their lives to advancing socialism (oh, and by the way, socialism was always the polite name for communism, since in the end, in the perfect state of communism, the state would wither away automagically and we would be like gods knowing good from evil…. Er…. I mean, for those who have yet to realize the underpinnings of Christian heresy, we would be the perfect homus-sovieticus who lived (but really, mostly would end up dying) for “from each according to his abilities/to each according to his need.”) and they by gum were not about to admit they were wrong. After all, most of what their pose as communists (as for the communists of today) had done for them was a sense of unearned superiority and the certainty they would end up as rulers (instead of dead in the unmarked grave, ahead even of the reactionaries they despised but who were, after all, useful for doing things.)
So the poor lost bah lambs went around bleating that “the good guys had lost” and never taught the young ones the horrors of the ideology which always, always, always ends up in mass graves and massacres and somehow has failed to produce a single case of “real communism” (medieval monks came closer. Having the advantage of faith in eternal life and, oh, yeah, small numbers and volunteer(ish) adoption.) And the young kids have no idea. Which is why it’s inappropriate to shoot in the face anyone wearing a Che or Mao t-shirt, but not inappropriate to ask them why they are wearing pictures of mass murderers, and proceed to instruct them on history. (With words, people, with words. Yes, the poor children (some of them forty) will cry about micro and pico aggressions, but really this is not their fault. It is their parents or teachers, or whoever filled their heads with the rankest evil shit ever produced who deserves to be walked naked through town, tied to the tail of a donkey, while being whipped till the blood runs freely. Of course, some of them will be dead, the cowards.)
Though in deep denial, they knew. They knew their god had toppled and failed. And that all the king’s horses and all the king’s (or even the general secretary’s) men couldn’t put faith in Karl Marx together again.
So they spiffied up Marx, that old English nationalist (look it up and weep) and economic ignoramus (in all his brilliant ideas — most swiped from others, of course — he forgot distribution, something that was plainly obvious to poor little me at thirteen when I had to learn his rank bullshit in three of my courses. Economist my sore ass. He was a gifted polemicist, but his ability at economics started and ended with his ability to grift off his rich friends.)
Gramsci, who is probably playing “hide the pineapple” with Sanger in hell, (we’ll have to wait for the telephone line to know for sure) came up with a rescue of the theory earlier in the twentieth century, when it became obvious that in fact the free market was making more working people unimaginably rich than Marxism could even pretend to. (BTW if you want a comparison of the two systems, you could do worse than visiting the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, KS. They detail the space program side by side, and I have no reason to believe that other programs run by the USA and the USSR were much different. The USSR could achieve the same — and sometimes, briefly — higher results, not by superior science, or ability or allocation of resources, but by complete disregard for human life, for individuals, or, in fact for science. They did things as much as possible on the cheap, and if they lost ten missions, great. They’d publicize the one that succeeded. Like all “big government” socialism in the USSR was a tissue of lies, evil and insanity.)
So Gramsci came up with a correction. You see, when Marx, clearly and obvious spoke of the working class, he actually meant the “exploited.” The people in the third world. In Marxism (don’t believe me? Have a kid in school? Check his geography book) the only reason countries are poorer is not the fact that they are socialist kakistocracies, or still mired in tribalism, or have cultures that are kin to that which you can find in swamp water under a microscope. No, because economics is a fixed pie, the only reason that some humans are poor than others is that they were stolen from. And the rich ones stole from them.
This makes perfect sense, because all we have and all we do is because cavemen stole rocks from each other (nods sagely.) Oh, it’s dressed up might purty with the idea that developed nations took the “natural resources” of poorer ones.
This not only makes absolutely no sense, because nations go up and down in wealth rather randomly. But also because to this day, in natural resources, Brazil could buy and sell the US any day. Which is to the way their populations life, nothing.
But this bullshit has infected the intellectuals in the first world.
You see, there is a glut in intellectuals and their production. The one thing the end of WWII did, by creating engineers and people with useful skills, was convince — seemingly everyone in the world, since the future comes from America — that what was needed for truly “enlightened” and “scientific” governance was a college degree.
Except that not only are most people not suited for rigorous scholarship, even fewer people are suited for useful degrees. This, btw, doesn’t mean they are stupid or can’t run their own lives, only that there is a limit to what can be studied or taught in schools, and most of what is being taught should be shoveled off the back of a truck. (Seriously check your kids’ school books. After you’re done exploding, feel free to ask the teachers what the heck this all means.They will stare blankly because teacher education is one of those things that should never be entrusted to colleges. It has devolved to political indoctrination and procedurism.)
But we were talking about science fiction.
I’m not sure, and it’s late at night and I’m lazy, when the invasion of the “somewhat akin to scientists” in science fiction begun. I’d imagine the late fifties.
These were people who, unlike the early writers (yes, even Simak. He worked when journalists could tell a fact at least one time out of three, or after it bit them in the ass), were “intellectuals” which is to say overeducated, completely indoctrinated people with a sense of unearned superiority.
I know by the seventies, at least in the bilge translated into Portuguese (which was, of course — and still is — the stuff that “wins awards” (except for mega bestsellers like Heinlein) ) American Sf/f writers were writing defeatist nonsense, in which all military men were evil, scientists and older people were all corrupt, colonies all died because of someone’s repressed lust for someone’s wife’s ass. Oh, and the US was corrupt, the USSR invincible, and oh, yeah the humans were a plaaaaaaague upon the Earth.
I do know it got much worse by the eighties and nineties. Because– well, because it turns out at the back of their brains most people eschew defeatist, nihilist crap. They’ll put up with Star Trek saying there is no money in the future (I guess credits aren’t money) or whatever insanity, as long as the stories are decent and not telling them (not to subtly) that they’re a plaaaaaague.
Defeatism and insanity don’t sell. Which means that publishers, sometime in the last twenty years, having completely lost their minds, would capitalize on whatever they could, including sickly vampire romances, while pushing the “worthy” fiction, which somehow has become a matter of numbers (do you have enough trans characters, comrade? Don’t look at me. I tend to have them without trying. And kindly keep your opinions to yourself. As I said, Dr. Fraud is dead, and I don’t feel so good myself. But rest assured not being Marxist all my characters are inherently straight males (possibly Mormon, who knows? They do not, however, all have great racks.))
Fifteen years ago, science fiction (and mostly fantasy, because the other side of the invasion of people who have degrees in nothing much — from English to Underwater Gender Fluid Dance — in both writing and editing capacities is that science fiction lost to ground to fantasy, under the heading of “no one wants to read that anymore” which is publisher for “I don’t understand marketing or statistics, and I don’t understand science, either.”) was already in the grip of publishing “for show and to be complimented by my peers” even while print runs circled the drain and we had started referring to our date night, which often ended up in a bookstore, as “let’s go be disappointed by Barnes and Noble.” (Because a bibliophile in possession of spending money often had to retreat home with empty hands. Not to say I didn’t find/buy decent writers, but they seemed to be a disappearing breed.)
And eleven years ago, give or take, I saw the advent of indie, which is now — no matter what the happy nonsense you hear from the trads — eating traditional publisher cake and beating them up for the lunch money. (And science fiction does fine, btw, thank you so much.)
At the time I said “indie is not killing trad. Trad committed suicide.”
But I hadn’t yet realized fully the role of publishing — PARTICULARLY — science fiction publishing as guinea pigs for western civ.
I just couldn’t believe that the future of Western Civ would be science fiction’s interpretation of Gramsci (which is even more insane than their belief in, oh, Margaret Sanger or “climate science”) which required them to give awards and rewards not for excellence in story telling that people enjoyed, but for the color of the skin or other immutable attributes of the writer (which is sort of what Rex Stout said about seasoning trout: the garlic should be rubbed on the cook. Apparently they thought this was true, or a profound statement, or something.) This requirement has led to the field’s supposed heights (in everything but sales) being dominated by a diverse population of mostly white, well-off females, with the occasional guy in a fright wig or Asian well-off female, or even well-off white female with a perm and a bad fake tan to break the monotony. (They don’t care about sales. They’re in it for the jobs in academia, and the “consulting gigs” with various media companies. Who gets exactly what they deserve, in both cases.)
But now here we are, in 2021, with “scientism” by “the best men” having just exploded all over our faces (no? Really? Then why are you wearing that mask?) over the months of covidiocy, and with even China admitting everything we were told about population was a lie (oh, not openly. The Middle Kingdom would like to own the future, after all) and all of a sudden it is all about “equity.”
This is a system in which people who were never discriminated against get advanced ahead of people who never discriminated against them, to cleanse the invisible demons of “structural racism” that supposedly infect America and Great Britain uniquely. (We suggest anyone who believes that bullshit go live in a non-anglophone country amid the locals and listen, really listen to how they talk and what they say. I particularly and fervently enjoin them to go live in Cuba. Or, oh, yes, Arabic countries. Please, do. We’ll help you pack. And because we’re not utter bastards, we invite you to live the fight wig behind.)
Note in the current bullshit, there isn’t even a pretense of a veneer or a hint of thought about “competence” or “can do the job.” It’s all about that most ridiculous of attributes, which randomly passes to people or doesn’t: skin color. (Hell, it varies through life. If I’m indoors a lot and particularly if I’m sick, I am almost as pale as my husband. Almost.) That and other racial characteristics (though my features are — apparently with reason. Who knew? My ancestors were…. uh….. diverse — somewhat evocative of Africa — though in my nose Africa and the Middle East collided at speed — I have mom’s lank, straight hair. Which of course makes me totally white, and probably male too. No, wait, I just checked. Still female. Oh. You mean it’s how I feel not my anatomy? Well, mostly I feel like a disembodied mind. Shut up. No one is asking for rescue from Plato’s cave. I like it here. It’s cozy.) are now the be all end all way of deciding whether you’re “one of the best men/women/whateveryoufeelliketoday.)
Which is fine and dandy, because you know publishing, even science fiction publishing, was not a vital function of society, like …. oh, building bridges, designing cars, figuring out how to make houses that don’t fall or blow up spontaneously.
And in science fiction you can say “this is a bad book because it’s insufficiently Marxist” and other than the fact you’ll be lionizing a bunch of crap, you won’t affect anything much. (No one is willing to implement my tied-to-tail-of-donkey program. Yet.)
But when you say “we need more diverse mathematicians, because 2 + 2 = 4 is white supremacy.”
Well, we know what happened with science fiction, the guinea pigs. As publishing houses forgot their job was to sell books, and started viewing themselves as prophet kings who would usher in the perfect Homus Sovieticus or at least get the admiration of their equally mal-educated peers and be invited to the cocktail parties with all the good sausage-like objects, sales — their actual vital function — went in the crapper, and even dedicated readers had trouble finding something good to read.
Now that society is following the guinea pigs into the insanity of “diversity” (or theoretical diversity) is all that matters! As long as we are all still good Marxists…..
what do we do, when it’s hard to find cars that go, or houses that don’t leak, or clothes that don’t fall apart, or even food to eat?
Sure, okay, maybe that “plague upon the world” will manage to go extinct.
But take heed if you’ve been preening and taking comfort in unearned Marxist superiority. I wouldn’t bet at all against a moment, before the collapse, when you get tied naked to the tail of a donkey, and whipped till the blood runs freely.
And if there’s an ounce of honesty in you, you’ll know you deserved it, for selling out the future for invitations to parties with the good sausages.