Jeannette Ng was right: John W Campbell was a fascist


It’s also that Campbell used his op-ed space in Astound­ing to cheer the murders of the Kent State 4. He attributed the Watts uprising to Black people’s latent desire to return to slavery. These were not artefacts of a less-englightened era. By the standards of his day, Campbell was a font of terrible ideas, from his early support of fringe religion and psychic phenomena to his views on women and racialized people.

To your other point, there are awards named after arguably worse people who did arguably worse things. That’s an argument against those people, not an argument that Campbell’s cheerleading of genocide should be considered less of a big deal.


I hope you live long.

As you say, a long-dead Nazi probably doesn’t need to be name-checked. It’s better they’re treating the disease, not a non-existent ego.


Good point; once again, I’m not trying to excuse anything about the man. But he also generated much, if not most of his positive image MUCH earlier, during the heydey of the “golden age” of science fiction; the award was addressing that. Appropriate? No, but not surprising.

The other thing to remember is that he chose good writers, out of a pool of many good writers.

It’s like a lifeguard that only seems to pull white guys to shore, and then hearing people claim he’s the best lifeguard, because he saved most of your favorite white guys.

He definitely affected how people remember the “Golden Age”, but that’s not always a cool thing in itself.


Fair enough, but that’s not my point. I’m addressing people’s surprise at how this could happen at all, without people (who aren’t Campbell) intentionally being foul human beings.

You ain’t lyin!

There are those who think Campbell was a fascist and there are those who bother to crack open a dictionary and read the definition of the word.

The important message here, I think, is to be okay with some cognitive dissonance, and not insist on perfect consistency. People hold legions within them, a few really good, a few really bad, and many just functional and neutral. The attempt to suppress cognitive dissonance leads to many ills.


Oh, cool, gotta make sure we use the dictionary definition whenever we discuss certain words. Must enforce an authoritarian framework around the use of language. I’m sure there’s a word for that, but someone insufferable would probably point out I was using it incorrectly.


Yep, always someone around to point out that words have meaning, and so should insults, otherwise they are just the braying of jackasses.

1 Like

Sorry yes. I admit to not knowing that much about him.

1 Like

Yes, you’re not insufferable at all. I was completely wrong. Thanks.


There really should not be much of a debate here. Some people can separate the artist from their works, and some people cannot. Different cognitive styles. Just don’t be an ass and insist someone else adhere to your own cognitive style.

Ng makes a good point here as well on nullifying the good works a person has produced, as any such boycott won’t accomplish making the world a better place or righting the wrongs perpetrated by the artist. If we substitute art for science, we can clarify the issue. Should we throw out knowledge which was obtained through unethical means? BBC has a great read on this which explores the question on the myriad of scientific advances the Nazis made.


If you’re going to be a pedant, don’t be wrong.

You point to the dictionary, but I have a feeling you think if the dictionary lists more than one usage for a word, then there’s only one usage that’s really correct. I invite you to crack a few dictionaries on your own. Read all the usage notes.

John W Campbell held (and promoted in writing and editorial decisions) a lot of fascist ideas and he didn’t have to go to Italy to get them.


Norman Mailer - ASSHOLE
Gore Vidal - ASSHOLE
John O’Hara - ASSHOLE
Ernest Hemingway - COMPLETE ASSHOLE

Picasso - both PRICK and an ASSHOLE
Jackson Pollock - WHAT A FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE!

Stephan Hawking - Deeply womanizing self-satisfied ASSHOLE!


If we eliminated wonderful artistic work because how unbearable the creator was, we’d have nothing but Family Circus cartoons (maybe, who knows what a prick Barfy is?), and Ziggy (I’m not at all sure there wasn’t something dark behind that).

Besides, I get a big load of enjoyment from the works of the all the above mentioned pieces of shit, sans Family Circus and Ziggy.

We do, but that’s not going to happen to those guys.

None of those authors are in any danger of being forgotten. Pat yourself on the back for championing something equivalent to the idea that people shouldn’t forget to drink Coca-Cola.

It is pretty telling that they’re all men, and all white, though.

You couldn’t pour out some whiskey for all the difficult people that aren’t on that list because their “difficult-ness” was more problematic and less defended because they weren’t white men?

I don’t see the kind of people that are called “Sluts”, “Shrill”, “Gold-Digger”, “Housewife”, “Hanger-onner” or any of the kind of slurs that actually disappear cultural producers.


I don’t know why you have to denigrate these majestic depictions of assholery - they have their own cultural value.

And those assholes will be kept alive and relevant by this prose work of assholery reclamation - rather than just fading away. A backdoor retcon, if you will.


It’s interesting that, unlike with, for instance, Heinlein, it seems really difficult for modern Campbell fans to articulate what, exactly, Campbell did that was so great in the first place

He was a fascist gatekeeper

Fascist gatekeeping was his job, and he did it well

People who thought fascist gatekeeping was cool named a bunch of shit after him

Fascist gatekeeping is out of fashion, and now people wonder why all this shit is named after this guy


Dr. Cliff Huxtable was a nice guy. Unfortunately he was a fictional character created and portrayed by a serial rapist.


Jerry Pournelle defines fascism.