Dell Magazines have changed the Campbell Award to the Astounding Award, removing the name of fascist John W Campbell

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/09/03/equal-opportunity-kook.html

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This is great news, at least to anyone who isn’t a fascist or a fascist enabler (sorry “moderate centrist independent”). The former know better to show up here, but the latter won’t be able to help expressing “concern” and JAQing off about the decision, just as certainly as they’ll be white male nerds.

[ETA: It only took 2 hours. Impressive.]

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campbell-hubbardwb

Elron and JWC.

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I for one find great achievement more impressive than ideological purity. And under this microscope nobody is really very pure. Which leaves us a whole heap of nice, safe mediocrity.

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Good.

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Doesn’t that presuppose that greatness is a side effect of being objectionable? I find that pretty hard to believe, as there’s plenty of historical figures that are great figures in their own right, even by today’s standards. Nobody’s renaming things named after Einstein, for example, and he was far from mediocre.

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Now, let’s move on to erase Wernher von Braun’s name from various government-approved/taxpayer-funded locations in the U.S.

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JWC lived from 1910 to 1971. At that point in history, bemoaning the end of slavery was not an effect of the times. It was racism, plain and simple.

There is at least an argument to be made, had he lived a century earlier, that he could be a product of the environment, whatever, but no, he lived through WWII. That should have ended any illusions.

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Doesn’t that presuppose that greatness is a side effect of being objectionable?

It suggests that the 2 are often found together. When you invest most of your attention striving for something beautiful you tend to have little to spare on good manners and politics.

Also, if we applied the microscope to Einstein I have no doubt that we could find something to object to in his character as well. The only pure ones are the ones who never do anything worthwhile.

I can’t agree with you on this - I’ve heard this line before, but only as a excuse for people who are too ‘busy being productive to be nice’ - but for every Steve Jobs, there’s a million middle managers that fit the exact same description and are just terrible people.

It’s just survivorship bias. You’re paying attention to the Campbells and Jobs of the world and ignoring all the useless jerks.

And as @docosc mentioned, it’s not like he lived in the 1800s. Bemoaning the end of slavery was not simply ‘failing to understand current social mores’, it was being an objectionable asshole.

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One more than the other. Are “achievement” and “ideological purity” really scalable… I mean, how much better an artist should Hitler have been to offset his ideology? A “Vermeer”? Or a “Caravaggio”?

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Well the useless jerks didn’t usher in a golden age of sci fi. So I’ll stand my ground on that one.

And as @docosc mentioned, it’s not like he lived in the 1800s. Bemoaning the end of slavery was not simply ‘failing to understand current social mores’, it was being an objectionable asshole.

Or maybe he was just exploring the idea in conversation. That was his job after all, exploring crazy ideas. You’ll understand if I’m not so eager to grab my pitchfork.

I would recommend that you read the essays and comments in question (especially his later years), because his intentions are pretty clear from them - Wikipedia has links to many of them. Until then, it’s difficult to have a discussion about it, because you’re not familiar with the work you’re defending.

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That’s astounding.

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I think you might be missing a moral gradation or two between ‘sinless’ and ‘slavery enthusiast with distinct fascist tendencies’.

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I am not interested in putting his record under the microscope. As I already said, ideological purity doesn’t impress me.

Look, the fellow delivered gold! The works of Asimov, Heinlein and Hubbard!

Your political writhings are just a speck before that. Sorry.

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Yeah, that’s why Asimov still has his name on a magazine

Campbell had a lot of power in the publishing industry but he didn’t make it great, he held it back

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Just good enough that he could quit his day job.

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