Termagants, Nags, and Scolds

Here is yet another Walkaway story:

Illiberal Values

A quote:

I see evidence that certain liberal principles, the ones that impressed me in the Seventies, have eroded. Back then, for example, the CIA was understood to be a nest of liars and psychopaths who toppled democratically chosen leaders, lied to the public to start wars, and ran sick experiments on innocents using drugs and mind-control techniques. In Three Days of the Condor, a thriller from the period, Robert Redford plays a lowly CIA officer who discovers that the agency is nothing more than a crime ring. These days, however, with Trump playing the heavy, the CIA is revered by many liberals as a bulwark of integrity, its missions sacred, its conclusions unimpeachable, and its former director, John Brennan, worthy of a high-profile cable news job. The FBI draws similar adulation, never mind its history of spying on the likes of Ernest Hemingway, John Lennon, and Martin Luther King Jr.

This great liberal switch from skepticism to sanctimony about the most powerful arms of the Establishment is matched by a viral fear of Russia that reminds me of the John Birch Society pamphlets I’d come across now and then when I was young. Somehow, instinct told me then that they were crazy, exaggerating the cunning of the enemy, the depravity of the collaborators, and the vulnerability of America. The liberal comedians who lampooned such claims on shows such as Laugh-In were my idols. They dared to speak the most radical truth of all in a time of panic and paranoia…

My comment: In some ways, the Right and Left in America have swapped temperment. The Rightwing is now the haven the relaxed, easy-going, hippy-dippy freethinkers, whereas the Leftwing is the puritanical, condemnatory, judgmental, rigid termagants, nags, and scolds.

In other ways, the temperament of at least some of us on the Right have not changed. Being raised as the child of a Naval officer is an experience in many ways unique. I kept no childhood friends, because family moved from post to post and coast to coast, roughly once every four years. In my youth, I just assumed everyone got a new house and went to a new school twice a decade.

Everyone I knew or talked to knew the difference between a P-3 and an MH-60, knew was FLIR meant, what a sonobuoy did, and what it meant when a rotating searchlight shined one green beam followed by a split white beam. Anyone with a background similar to mine can probably figure out what type of duty my father was assigned. (Answer: The searchlight pattern means an aerodrome, P-3 is a Lockheed Orion aircraft, MH-6o is a Sikorsky helicopter, a sonabouy is a use-and-loose buoy equipped with sonar dropped from an aircraft, FLIR is Forward-looking infrared thermographics: All are used in antisubmarine warfare.)

But I was also raised to believe that logic, not emotion, was the basis of sound decision-making, and that ignoring problems would aggravate rather than solve them, including international geopolitical problems like the threat of international Communism, which was clearly hostile, aggressive, malignant, and which historically attempted to weaken victim nations internally by subversion and corruption, via conspiracy and espionage, before contemplating military action. That they were the bad guys was never in doubt. That their economic system was illogical and self-defeating went without saying. They were not only evil, they were wrong.

Hippies were ill-smelling, ill-kept, undisciplined useful idiots, boobs and fools, who, for reasons unknown, but probably related to aberrant psychology, poor upbringing, or neural damage due to drugs, were eager to welcome the Communist Revolution. They evidently did not realize that they would be the first ones stripped nude and stood up before the firing squads, and sent to an unmarked mass grave. Growing up in the 1960s, this was what we knew of the stinking hippies, the same way we knew that fish had fins and birds had feathers.

Now, I myself had no interest in politics until after my college and later my law school years came and went. I was no prude and I was no Christian. I believed in the equality of the sexes, the moral propriety of fornication, and the utility of the Pill along with everyone else I met of my generation. I was irreligious, a view reinforced and encouraged by well nigh every book I read or show or movie I watched. (Ironically, the huge exceptions to that were my all-time paramount favorite stories, Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe, the Instrumentality of Man stories by Cordwainer Smith — but I was too shallow to see that these were works of profound faith.)

Laugh at me if you will, but in the same way I could read the oeuvre of Tolkien and Wolfe  and Linebarger and not see their Christian tilt, I could read Campbellian  authors like Heinlein and Asimov and not see their Leftwing tilt.

To me, the idea that reason and science rather than sentiment and emotion solved problems, which was an idea whose drumbeat is heard in nigh every Campbell style yarn ever penned, was the paramount Rightwing idea, the very core value on which ideals of representative democracy, objective morality, and the free market are based.

I assumed, at that age, that the authors and editors were Rightwing because each and every story I read relentlessly trumpeted the virtue of the individual over the collective, the truth over superstition, the self-made entrepreneur over the bureaucrat. Indeed, the self-made man was the American archetype in just the same way that the faceless anthill man is the Communist archetype. All these stories lauded the nonconformity, the individual, the free thinkers.

To a youthful reader, the difference between the cynical realism of, say, J.E. Pournelle, and the cynical mockery of, say, Robert Heinlein was invisible. They looked to my innocent eyes as if they were singing from the same sheet music.

It never occurred to me, considering how bizarrely and openly illogical Leftwing philosophy, economics, and politics are, that the Left regards itself as composed entirely of freethinkers, non-conformists, and intellectually brave pioneers.

It was not until I went to my first science fiction convention, rather late in life, that I realized many science fiction writers and editors regarded themselves, and indeed, the whole field, to be Leftwing, collectivist, radical and liberal in nature. I was flabbergasted. To this day, from time to time, disbelieving laughter erupts from me at the notion.

When Jack Vance or Roger Zelazny penned stories about one lone revolutionary standing up against a tyranny, or showed a sardonic nonconformist alone in a society chained and choked by stuffy and intrusive customs, regulations, and smothering Victorian propriety, their Leftist readers (and perhaps they themselves) read these tales as parables condemning Rightwing conformity and praising Leftwing individualism, if such a paradox can be imagined.

When the scales fell from my eyes, I realized, as I grew, that my Vulcan brain had automatically and even unconsciously attributed to the Left a virtue of integrity and self consistency that they never possessed. I assumed that they knew what side they were on, and knew where the road paved with their good intentions led.

Gene Roddenberry himself, the man who invented Vulcans, was a Leftist. He had invented a character who was a sentimental and emotional idea of what a rigorously rational spirit would be like, a man devoted to logic. But please note the clues I overlooked in youth: the pacifism of the Vulcans, their teetotalism and  vegetarianism,  are easy-to-swallow markers of alleged enlightenment or moral superiority used exclusively by the Left. Rightwing superhumans, such as Barsoomians or Osnomians, are usually nudists, for some reason.

Let me also point out that we are discussing a period decades older than political correctness. The Left had not been invaded and brain-zombied by the Social Justice Warriors back then. Robert Heinlein’s books have not been rewritten by teams of mischievous elves, yet now he is condemned as “far right” by the zombies of the modern Left, despite Heinlein being the foremost and most celebrated advocate (at least in the small circle of 1960s science fiction readership) the Leftwing sexual revolution, or eco-fretting about overpopulation, and so on; likewise, many an episode of original Star Trek condemns utopianism, or rule by experts, even by computerized experts, which would now sound positively ultraright in sentiment.

There is no paradox in a revolutionary or radical penning a story where his socialist utopia has come to pass. Many early works of science fiction, some forgotten and some not (Ralph Bellamy’s LOOKING BACKWARD springs to mind) have no conflict between old style Leftism and old style science fiction.

But Hard SF, especially in the Campbellian mode, no matter what the intent of the writer, tends to reinforce a conservative viewpoint. Nuts-and-bolts SF inhabits a world were results matter more than good intentions. Campbell’s whole philosophy of SF was summed up in his definition of the genre: examining the impact on society and on human life of changes produce by scientific progress. Whatever Campbell himself thought (and I assume as a New Yorker he was as leftwing as they come) this it itself a thought and an area of interest utterly alien to the Leftwing worldview and destructive of it. In order for there to be changes to human institutions that can be changed by scientific progress, there must be a human nature which stays the same, and does not change.

Many if not most of Isaac Asimov’s short stories depict human nature as absurdly pliant, plastic, and able to change to almost anything. Think of his famous ‘Nightfall’ where he, or, rather Campbell, assumes the sight of stars would drive men mad if we did not see them nightly. (The idea is comical: did men go mad when first looking into a microscope, and discovering animalcules living in their drinking water?)

The idea of pliant human nature is a core principle upon which all Leftist ideologies are based. Indeed, a terse definition of “ideology” is to call it a substitute for religion, where man seek by political means to call upon human institutions to cure original sin.

But since the drama in any science fiction story, short or long, that is not merely a thought-puzzle inhabited by cardboard characters (as ‘Nightfall’ is), requires human nature to be in conflict with human institutions, for there is no drama without conflict, and no institution without a problem that institution is designed to ameliorate or solve, therefore the unchanging nature, the ever-present threat of wicked or cunning men, crops up in every story that is not a bland utopia. Even Star Trek, that most bland of bland utopias, eventually created the sinister Section 31 to add drama to the background.

(Those who object to my calling the characters of ‘Nightfall’ cardboard, I ask you to indulge in the following thought experiment: imagine playing a role playing game set in the background of Traveler, or Star Trek, or Star Wars. In the party is a Valkyrie parasite, an ultra-logical Vulcan, and a sad Bothan whose sister died on a spy mission to get secret plans to the rebellion. You are a Lagash  newspaperman who suffers from a racial weakness of an uncontrollable phobia of darkness. Aside from that one racial weakness, how do you differ, either in dress, speech mannerisms, or biology, from a New Yorker circa 1950?)

More to the point, science fiction, more than any other genre, plays with ideas, speculates, asks questions, and provokes thought. Science fiction fans afraid of new ideas have very little reading material, at least back in the day. The idea of a safe space, or flavorless conformity to a dull set of conventional tropes was something that had to wait until after the old Leftwing gatekeepers and Secret Masters of Fandom were replaced or silenced by the sinister Social Justice Warriors, who infected their brains with parasites from WRATH OF KHAN. The science fiction produced by the brainworms is not science fiction, and hardly fiction at all. It is bland, safe, craven, boring conformist mush, heavy on the self-congratulation, light on the science and the fiction. See the recent Hugo Awards for examples.

In my youth, Leftwingers said, and, as best I can tell as an outsider, actually believed, that they would defend the right to free speech of speakers with whom they sharply and strongly disagreed. But coining the Newspeak nonsense phrase ‘Hate Speech’ evidently alleviates their heirs and replacements, the SJWs, of any such sentiment.

Now, while I welcome into the big tent of modern Republicanism any Libertarian or ex-Leftist willing to defend my freedoms from encroachment in return for my defending theirs, I should mention that the old, blue-nosed, rock-ribbed Republican sentiment which disapproves of pornography and sexual adventurism, immodesty, fornication, perversion, and even tastelessness is alive and well, at least as far as I am concerned. To me, these are not matters of sentiment, but of logic.

Logic says to look at evidence when it comes to matters of contingent fact, and to look to first principles and rigorous deduction therefrom when it comes to matters of necessity. As a matter of fact, humans are altricial, and, despite what you’ve been promised, sad experience shows that human sexual behavior cannot be divorced from human sexual passions and sexual reproduction.

While in theory sexual adventurism left to individual liberty (or license) should insulate the passions from the sex act with sufficiently rigorous contraception, in reality, oral contraception makes women hormonally hence mentally unbalanced, creates an incentive to fornication, which creates an incentive to aborticide, which desecrates human life.

As a matter of logic, respect for human liberty presupposes respect for human life: no matter what you say or pretend, you cannot have the one without the other.

Why do you think pro-abortion partisans so vehemently insist that taxpayers like me be forced to pay for their grotesque infanticides? Why do you think socialists (read commies) and national socialists (read Nazis) and other leftwing collectivists are the most bloodthirsty genocidal murderers in all human history?

The idea that their fellow humans have rights worthy of sacrosanct respect is alien to their philosophy, as it logically must be. No man, no society, no system of philosophy can over the long term regard men as livestock to be used or slain as the pleasure of the powerful dictates, and also regard men as endowed by their creator with unalienable rights, including the right to life. The very liberty allegedly promoting the Sexual Revolution is inevitably eroded and destroyed by it.

So we welcome one and all aboard the Trump train, because we all want our freedoms back, and because every sane man hates the frothing hysterics who have invaded the Left and turned them from an honorable opposition party to moonbarking mad lunatics screaming helplessly at the sky and rioting for no cause against no one: but you may not be perfectly at ease here, for, despite the changes in recent years, I suggest that the core of Conservatism is still the ideal of logic over sentiment and reason over emotion, which necessarily and inevitably leads to the connected ideas of objective truth, moral virtue, beauty and proportion in art and architecture, equal rights, rule of law, individualism, monogamy and monotheism.