Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A list of themes I've seen enough of.

From Sarah Hoyt's post yesterday, following the chain of links to the original, I came upon this list:

  • There is no truth, only competing agendas.
  • All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West's history of racism and colonialism.
  • There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
  • The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
  • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
  • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
  • For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But 'oppressed' people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
  • When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist's point of view, and make concessions.
The title of the original post was "Gramscian damage," which I have seen around but I never knew what "Gramscian" meant. So I looked it up. It is for Antonio Gramsci, a Marxist propagandist and general issue a-hole.

Reading the list, I'm struck by how often these themes are the entire basis of fiction and films. Not a complete list, but good for a start. These themes infest recent science fiction to the exclusion of all else. Anti-colonialism is particularly popular as a cause in itself.

For me, the presence of any of the above bullshit in a story is reason to put it down. As soon as I come to "the poor are victims" or "violence and war are never justified" I'm putting the thing back on the shelf and moving on.

So, all you authors out there, fair warning. Free country so you can write whatever you want, but if anything on that list forms the basis of your book, I will not be reading it. I'm done reading about that.

The Thematic Phantom


Orvan Taurus said...

Ah yes. I recall reading it back when ESR first wrote it. Worth re-visiting from time to time.

Every year or two now, I also re-watch Why We Fight: Prelude to War and while in many ways it's dated (WWII, therefore...) the underlying parts are all too relevant. And sadly, seem to be becoming ever moreso.

The Phantom said...

We should make a list of "Leftist SF Themes That Suck" and post it all over the place. As a public service, you know. ~:D