Mrs Hoyt and Miss Mugwump

The luminous Sarah Hoyt has an entertaining and insightful diatribe here on the phenomena which we might call “My Elves Are Different” — wherein Hoyt hears with disgust the moral preening of some lady novelist pretending to be daring and original just where the writing is most trite and predictable.

Here is the main contention of her article:

It struck me for the first time a few years ago on that Tor symposium on Heinlein that humans – perhaps all humans – have a necessity to view history as a ladder and themselves – or their generation, their kind, their club, their kin – at its pinnacle [….] What I’ve seen is that when material civilization and objective markers of achievement have marched backwards, we tend to compensate with moral preening.

[…] the people who object to “male dominated science fiction” – these people are not in fact comparing themselves to any science fiction that exists or existed.

[…] And yet, today, women can without a trace of irony make the following statements, (I’ve heard them, in panels) – my novel is totally different. It has a strong female main character. (No, really? Astound us. Is there a strong male character that’s not legacy still being published? In recent years?) and “I’m not like all those old pulp science fiction novels. I care about ideas and what they mean to people.” (You mean, like whether an ant-like civilization would be preferable to human; or what happens when a supercomputer runs the world; or what happens when a cloud becomes intelligent; or the complexities of rebuilding a civilization built on the Catholic church after a nuclear holocaust; or whether our dreams exist in another dimension; or – Those pulp non-ideas?)

[…] Do they really believe this? Are they so devoid of knowledge of the field that they believe that all that lies behind there is cartoon-like sci fi, not even rising to the level of Star Trek?

[…] Will studying the masters fix the problem? Probably not.

My comment: Brava! Well said!

I would not dream of disagreeing with anything Sarah Hoyt says here, but I would venture to suggest, albeit with hesitant deference, that she does not go far enough. She does not dig deep enough to identify the roots of this particular weed. It is not innocent human folly on the part of her lady space-fiction novelist quoted, nor a mere lapse of judgment.

Let us take as granted at the outset that Mrs Hoyt is correct that studying the masters will not correct the outrageous nature of the falsehood believed here by the lady space-fiction novelist (whom, for the sake of convenience, we will refer hereafter by the invented name of Miss Floriferous Quoin Mugwump of Asperity, Oregon).

I agree wholeheartedly with Mrs Hoyt. But I go beyond her by saying no study of any form of fact whatever will have any influence on the worldview of Miss Mugwump whatsoever: hers is a worldview is designed not to react to facts.

Is there any doubt whatsoever what is the worldview of Sarah Hoyt’s lady space-fiction novelist? Miss Mugwump is a Politically Correct modern Liberal.

Miss Mugwump believes that all prior novelists were too craven to pen a strong female character, and that the early magazine writers were barren of ideas significant to people for one reason only: Political Correctness encourages, nay, it requires a false-to-facts belief, founded on nothing but illusion and wishful thinking, which promotes self-flattery, and allows for self-congratulation and moral preening.

Mugwump would be too shy to say that she is prettier than Helen of Troy, nor that her books are better written than Shakespeare; but she is oddly not too shy to say that she serves the cause of feminine equality as no woman ever before, or the cause of bringing the enlightenment of significant ideas to the benighted.

In reality, boasting oneself to be prettier than Helen or wittier than Shakespeare is no less absurd than boasting oneself to be a more female sci-fi writer than Leigh Brackett or Ursula K Le Guin, or penning female characters stronger than C.L.Moore’s Jirel of Joiry or Asimov’s Bayta Darell, or more pointedly, Jael Reasoner from Joanna Russ.

(For those of you keeping track, Jael is from the 70’s, over forty years past; Beyta is from 50’s, over sixty years past, Jirel is from 30’s, over seventy. I do not want to tell you what year Britomart or Camilla, Penelope or Deborah hail from. Strong female main characters did not begin with Miss Mugwump, unless she is older than Spencer, Virgil, Homer and Moses.)

But here, in the madness in the mind of Miss Mugwump, she is willing to say the third boast, about her moral superiority, but not the first two, a physical or mental superiority. Why is that?

Allow me to propose that there is one overarching theory, let us call it the Universal Field Theory of Madness, to explain the Politically Correct mind-set of the Modern Liberal.

I suggest that there is a certain philosophy (or antiphilosophy) called Political Correctness, technically called Nihilism, which has crept like some vast amoeboid slime from the torture hells of Lenin to the ivory towers of Academia, from thence sloshing into the poppy field of literature and the swamp of popular entertainment and now runs along main street of our common conversation like an open sewer.

(Let those who doubt the heritage I give for this school of thought look up the history of Critical Theory, particularly after 1933 when the Frankfurt School moved to Columbia University, New York. If you were assigned to read Erich Fromm’s ART OF LOVING in high school, look up his background as well.)

Feminism is one of several pseudopodia of this chthonic mass, and shares its essential characteristic. I do not here refer to suffragettes or those who demand equal legal or civic rights for women. I mean the coven of tittering witches, hags, and she-trolls who took over the movement after the goal of legal equality was reached. Marxism took the mutually beneficial relation of employer and employee, called it exploitation, and demanded that the laws of economics be abrogated in order to create heaven on earth. Feminism takes the mutually beneficial relation of man and woman, calls it exploitation, and demands the laws of biology and psychology be abrogated in order to create heaven on earth. Both are busily creating hell on earth.

The feminists have not piled up quite as many corpses as the Marxists, but they burn the torn remnants of their unborn babies in furnaces to heat the hospitals in Great Britain, as well as being well on their way to make sure every teenaged girl has a broken heart and a loathsome venereal disease, preferably an incurable one. Masculinity has already been as successfully exiled from polite society as smoking tobacco has been. Meanwhile, and by no coincidence, homosexuality has been welcomed and legalized just as smoking marijuana has been.

But no matter what their difference in the way in which they increase the misery of the world, feminism and Marxism are joined at the root, and at their essence.

Political Correctness is the best name for this school of anti-philosophy, because it actually names itself for what it is, perhaps the only time in their history when they used a word in a truthful rather than Orwellian fashion.

“Political” Correctness, like “Social” Justice is a modifier that negates it noun. A thing is said to be “politically” correct only when it is the absolute opposite of correct, just as something is called “social” justice when it is absolutely unjust.

If you notice, the ministry of propaganda in George Orwell’s dark prophetic novel was not called ‘The Ministry of Correct Thought’ or ‘The Ministry of Censorship’ but instead mockingly, insolently and horridly named itself ‘The Ministry of Truth’. All else in his work is fiction; that horrid and mocking insolence is true. It is practiced today, among us.

The Correctoids do not adopt falsehoods that differ from the truth by some acute or obtuse angle, but only when they mockingly and insolently and horribly are directly contrary to the truth in a straight line: one hundred eighty degrees in the wrong. This absolute wrongness is their leitmotif, their trademark.

Hence, the Political Correctoids are not just wrong because they are mistaken, not just wrong because they are evil, but that they are deliberately and scrupulously as wrong as they can possibly be. They are not wrong about one or two issues, but about every issue Political Correctness touches.

This is because the Political Correctoids hold it to be a paramount moral imperative to deny truth and embrace falsehood. The more unconvincing and outrageous the falsehood, the further from facts and closer to fairyland the falsehood is, the greater is the moral imperative to believe it, and the more praiseworthy the belief.

The essential characteristic of Political Correctness, its soul, its definition, is what I call ‘The Unreality Principle.’ The Unreality Principle is the moral imperative to believe a falsehood not despite it being false but precisely because it is false; the more outrageously false it is, the more blind is the false belief, and the more the blindness, the greater the merit of believing it.

To someone operating by the Unreality Principle, reality is the last thing that would influence thought, attitude, belief. The only reason to operate by the Unreality Principle is to gain immunity to reality. Reality is the object of the rebellion. Reality is the foe.

The Unreality Principle explains the otherwise inexplicable phenomenon of our Miss Mugwump, a female space-fiction novelist in the same genre as Leigh Brackett and C. L. Moore, Andre Norton and Ursula K LeGuin, claiming, and in public, and with no trace of irony, nor hint of shame, that strong female characters are new to science fiction (where they appeared before they appeared in mainstream literature), and that that pulp writers had no stories about ideas meaningful to people.

The reason why Miss Mugwump says such an outrageously stupid and obviously false thing is not because she is stupid nor is attempting to deceive anyone. Most lady space-fiction novelists are quite intelligent and quite less deceptive than the average novelist, since they both know the rules of literature and have some familiarity with science. So why do smart and honest people say outrageously stupid and obviously false things?

Ah, to explain that we shall have to travel far afield indeed, but not over any ground readers familiar with me will find new. It has to do with the very basic nature of philosophy and antiphilosophy and the very crooked nature of those who are addicted to self-esteem.

This will requires its own essay.