Women and African-American sf writers created trumpist dystopias because they were beta testing trumpism


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/12/women-and-african-american-sf.html


#2

Well, obviously, this means that The Left is responsible for creating Trumpism, because their little speculative dystopian thought-experiments have put ideas into people’s heads. If they’d only stuck to writing proper speculative fiction about sturdy-thewed white men solving the world’s problems with their guns and fists, none of this would ever have happened. Once again, it’s all the fault of progressive liberal Muslim Marxist cuck feminist SJWs.

(argues simultaneously that our brave new Trumpocratic regime is also an unmixed blessing, vanishes in puff of unnoticed internal contradiction)


#3

Feudalism arose as a successful system of government because (according to some) Arab/Islamic control of precious metals made a currency-based system difficult and so a land tenure and service system arose in Western Europe.
The abstraction of assets away to electronic offshore holdings is, I suspect, having the same effect. We’re returning to a kind of feudalism in which the primary asset is land/ownership of corporations, and the value of money is held up by a bubble.
The US and the UK seem both to be heading into a form of feudalism. Ordinary people increasingly don’t actually own land - except where its value is low - and are at the mercy of feudal landlords who control jobs and are free to abuse their villeins. Wage agreements between apparently competing corporations are the same in principle as the barons agreeing the same fee in service per villein to remove the incentive to move - or even severely punishing movement.
Feudalism in England really started to decline after the Black Death, when the shortage of labour was such that landlords who bucked the system and paid better got the workforce. The problem today is that shortage of labour is unlikely to be an issue. A disease which killed off so many people that we became a short-handed agrarian economy would actually involve something like a 95% population collapse and the end of the modern era.


#4

Somewhat off topic, but I wonder about this at times. I don’t see how backing a currency with precious metals is better than backing it with land or shares of companies, though. I’m thinking of Terry Pratchett’s Making Money, where Lipwig (as the guy running the Mint) said, “The world is full of things worth more than gold. But we dig the damn stuff up and then bury it in a different hole. Where’s the sense in that? What are we, magpies? Is it all about the gleam? Good heavens, potatoes are worth more than gold!”

Obviously there’s been a lot of discussion in recent years about what could be a better unit of account for wealth, with things like cryptocurrencies and time banks.


#5

I think the difference between precious metals and fiat currencies are virtually none. People have had lots of different backing for currencies over the centuries. The question is, if you could turn your dollar bills in for a fixed amount of gold, what good would that be to you other than having a different way to store wealth? I don’t have any use for gold. If the government was backing currency with cod (the official currency of Newfoundland at one time) then you’d know you could go get some fish to eat for your money. That gives something concrete that costs can be compared against.

I think fiat currency is the best because ultimately we really are trading in our common understanding and trust. I think the urge people have to return to metal-backed currency is about a neo-liberal idea that we ought not place any value on our trust in society or in one another.

Storing value in land is closer to cod than to gold, I’d say. But it does have a side effect of establishing dynasties. Land tends to accumulate value rather than lose it, so feudalism especially grows the gap between the rich and the poor (who, under the system, have literally nothing).


#6

trumpism – corrupt confiscation of wealth, overbroad policing powers, discriminatory hiring practices, impunity for violent abusers – has been a daily fact of life for brown people, women and queer people.

Exactly. So many white people suddenly think the world is on fire because of even the possibility that their lives might some day get as bad as life has always been for so many people of color, women and queer people.


#7

Hm, EAT THE FISH!


#8

That’s both a rational and useful perspective.
Also, the world kind of is on fire both in that there is room for those who have always suffered to suffer still more and that an increase in suffering for anyone is never a good thing.
Well… not quite. A turning of the tables would be fine. I don’t see that happening, at least pre-dissolution.


#9

It depends on how the land is used.

Feudalism frequently created disincentives to creating value out of one’s land. Conferring social and political status based on land ownership created the economic disparity between rich and poor under feudalism.

Since land = nobility and social status, one could not give up their lands or sell them for money in a feudal system. Land’s value had nothing to do with its ability to generate wealth. It could be rented out, or borrowed. English Common Law is replete with a plethora of different ways nobles tried to make use of their land for others without being able to sell it.

The rise of the merchant/middle class coincides with the ability of nobles to sell off their lands or the confiscation of lands for public use by the State. Once land was capable of being owned by people who needed to generate wealth from it, it had a true economic value.


#10

Is it okay that I still don’t understand the modern use of “cuck”? Like, I’m somehow not man enough that someone else has to satisfy my wife and therefore I’m called a cuck? What if I’m not married? What if I’m gay, does that mean that the person calling me a cuck is actually also gay?

It just seems like they would want to know all the details before saying they’re a part of something they might not be down with.


#11

It’s a matter of trust. Gold and silver were trusted more than most things around the ancient world, so they were obvious things to back currencies since they were portable. In a society in which the rule of law isn’t well established, things like title deeds have no value so using land as currency backing leads to a “what I have I hold” mentality; a fixed social order, little mobility, and the need to control the population to work the land. Hence why feudalism is messed up. Making Money is quite good as a primer but the point is that Ankh-Morpork is a stable society with extensive trading links and so it has credit. It’s not about to buy things with AM$ and then tomorrow say “What’s that? Never seen it before.” Lipwig’s great virtue is that despite his dishonesty, people trust him. He’s an excellent metaphor for banks.

A lot of science fiction authors - perhaps mainly male ones - have an (unhealthy?) fascination with feudalism and empires. Larry Niven is an honourable exception, as are Pohl and Kornbluth, Clarke and Asimov. They are convenient because they allow people to be identified with labels without explanation, like “Emperor” or “Viceroy”. But they help to normalise right wing tropes. My limited knowledge of that period of history suggests that if you don’t represent a feudal society as a dystopia, you’re doing it wrong.


#12

I agree, I think many people are thinking that way, unfortunately. Personally, I don’t think my life is likely to get that bad - big systems have lots of inertia. I do think it will get worse (or at least worse than it would have been otherwise), and that the effect on people of color, women and queer people (including those close to me) will be much more significant.

Of course, there is also the increased likelihood that much more of the world may actually, literally be on fire before this is over. Maybe the way to avert that is to act like it already is? I don’t know.


#13

OT, but explain also how calling someone a set of female reproductive apparatus is a grave insult? Personally I like the female reproductive apparatus and many of the owners of it, it seems an odd choice of insult.


#14

That works for me.


#15

It is one of those insults which tells us more bad things about the speaker than the person being called one.

One of my favorite ways to piss off neo-nazi about is highlighting the implication that their railing about racial mixing and “white genocide” amounts to declaring their sexual inadequacy.

There would be no “white genocide” if the allegedly plethora of racists were capable of mating with white women to perpetuate their pasty complexions.


#16

Noting that there is a very strong racial tinge in the porn genre, it’s a word that roughly means, “I’m pretty racist so I think that white women having sex with black men is degrading. I’m also really into the idea of degrading women, it gets me off. So I like to fantasize about black men having sex with white women, and I’m pretty damn creepy, so I like to share this sexual fantasy with strangers under some sort of thin guise.”


#17


#18

I think it speaks to your credit. It makes no sense to me either. At least, not emotionally. I can guess and reason as to why those who use it are moved by it, but it says more about their own psychology than anything else.

Unfortunately I haven’t managed to actually live my life the way my explicitly held beliefs tell me I should without burning out (no pun intended). I think I’m moving in a good direction, though.


#19

I’ve notice the same about the authors; David Weber is a stand-out example to my mind, as he’s pretty much an unapologetic monarchist; except for the fact that he doesn’t demonize unions or women, he’d be the sci-fi author of choice for the alt-right.

The interesting thing is seeing so many people (mostly men) being able to still look at a feudal system, even one being presented as a dystopia, and see it as a utopia, though. Parts of the Traveller RPG fandom come to mind for that.


#20

We all gotta choose our own battles. But yeah, those of us who don’t have many significant battles of our own to choose from should choose some other ones in which to join the fight.