Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Endnote to the Weird Tales Controversy

The Utopia of the Progressive is a Dystopia for the rest of us. Armed with his theories about how we all ought to live, the Progressive is the man behind the terror, murder, privation, and misery of one revolution and one absolutist regime after another. The Progressive is O'Brien. We are Winston and Julia.

I recently read a good deal of truth in a lowly form, the television tie-in novel. The novel is The Prisoner #2: Number Two by David McDaniel (Ace, 1969). (To tie things together nicely, I found the book at PulpFest.) Here is a quote:
Number Six: Most people who want to run other people's lives for them are theoreticians. (p. 54)
The Progressive is a theoretician, a systematizer, a purveyor of truth, reason, and rationality, an author of weighty tomes and fiery manifestos. Dissatisfied with himself and with his fellow human beings, he wishes to remake us in the image of his theory and system. Many millions may have to die in the process, but that is as it should be. As for the rest of us--not the theoretician himself, of course, but the rest of us--we are consigned to Dystopia.

A theoretician and practitioner of Dystopia is in the news today (Sat., Aug. 22, 2015). Ieng Thirith, eighty-three years old and onetime leader in the Khmer Rouge, has died. She and her fellow theoreticians were murderers and their victims numbered in the millions. Mrs. Ieng came from the middle class as murderous theoreticians tend to come. Educated in the West, she was a scholar of Shakespeare and a teacher of literature. She was also a Marxist, and as Marxists do, she turned against her own middle class. If you wore eyeglasses or were a teacher in Cambodia in the 1970s, you were as good as dead. And then you were dead, with your skull and your eyeglasses piled up as in a midden outside a monster's cave.

Intended or not, the endpoint of progressivism is Dystopia, and because human beings are and shall be free, Dystopia, if it is ever brought about, eventually decays, dissolves, or is overthrown, only for the cycle to begin again. One difference now over past theories and projections of Dystopia is that technology may allow for more perfect control over human beings. The test of our humanity will be whether we submit or rebel, the same choice faced by Number Six in his seaside prison, The Village, and the same choice faced by every one of us every day.

In addition to writing about the need to overthrow the dead, cannibalistic past, Jeff VanderMeer has written about Dystopia and related topics. His essay is called "Redefining Utopia and Dystopia or Post-Apoc," it's dated July 15, 2015, and you can read it by clicking here. If you are skeptical of the connection between progressivism and a yearning for Utopia/Dystopia, you might find something to help turn your opinion in Mr. VanderMeer's essay.

First I should say that "Redefining Utopia and Dystopia or Post-Apoc" seems to me a loose and unfocused bit of writing. It isn't exactly clear to me what Mr. VanderMeer is trying to say. I'll just offer some quotes:

In referring to a term, "hyperobjects," the author writes:
. . . any term we do use had better be complex enough to really help us make a paradigm shift in our thinking, because the very problems we face have occurred because we’re too simplistic in our thinking. 
This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.
To translate: "paradigm shift" = "intentionally transform" = forced change = progress.

That's just the warmup. Here's the kicker from Jeff VanderMeer:
What may be required is that we redefine Dystopia and Utopia, perhaps not so much along the lines of "do we have things or do we not have things"--less about a middle-class idea of happiness--and more along the lines of what do we need to do to be less intrusive on the landscape and to be more adaptive to it. If that lessening is "dystopia" then maybe dystopia isn't a bad place to be.  
And this:
Desolate is not depressing. Empty is not depressing. These are human constructs, values we apply to the diminishment of human beings or the thought of the diminishment of human beings. 
The subject of "Redefining Utopia and Dystopia or Post-Apoc," like Ms. Figueres' speech, is global warming, but I think there is a larger idea at work here. Global warming is not primarily a scientific issue. Global warming is politics masquerading as science. And as we know, politics contaminates anything with which it is mixed. That's a minor point. The  larger point is that progressives like O'Brien, Number 2, Ieng Thirith, Christiana Figueres, and apparently Jeff VanderMeer, instead of living and allowing other people to live, have developed complex and abstruse theories about living; have decided that we all must change how we think and live to meet their theories; are prepared to deprive us of our rights and freedom for that purpose; and wish to usher in a Utopia/Dystopia through which they plan on having us all more fully under their control. In his essay, Jeff VanderMeer appears to be doing some softening up: "maybe dystopia isn't a bad place to be." He also seems open or welcoming to the possibility of a "diminishment of human beings." By what method? Ieng Thirith had one. Maybe that's too extreme for him.

My question for anyone who would like to see human beings diminished is this: Why don't you diminish yourself? Or if you believe in global warming, this: Why are continuing to pollute the atmosphere--our atmosphere--with your exhalations? Or if you believe there are too many people in the world, this: Who exactly do you think should be eliminated? Or better yet: Why are you still here? Be the change you wish to see in the world, as Gandhi said, and remove yourself from the equation. Or do you lack the courage of your own convictions?

Original text copyright 2015 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Here, here, Terence! While reading this, I thought of a few other terms that could be used in this discussion: hypocrisy, paranoia, self-loathing, suicidal,narcissism, and the oft-times quoted line from Orwell's 1984, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." I know you used the death of a Khmer Rouge monster as a springboard to your assertion, but this insanity of human nature has been played out so many times. For example, the world had suddenly millions less people from the Stalinist purge even before Hitler rose to power to begin his own. It is also interesting to note that many of the same so-called intellectuals and their ilk who proselytize are the first to be rounded up and sent to camps or slaughtered. If we keep this up, global warming will be the least of our worries.

    1. John,

      You've made a nice list of terms to apply to socialists, leftists, and progressives. I won't use the word "liberal" as I'm not sure there are any true liberals left in America.

      I think hypocrisy and self-loathing are key characteristics of the left. For example, Al Gore flies around in his fossil fuel-powered jet to attend conferences on global warming. Then he returns to his Tennessee home where he spends $30,000 per year on his energy and natural gas bill. Not producing carbon dioxide is for the little people, I guess.

      Gore is a leftist, so of course he favors increased taxes on everybody and everything, but in order to avoid increased taxes on capital gains, he tried to sell Current TV in late 2012. Unfortunately for him, he missed the deadline and suffered a $5 million penalty. Those darned greedy one-percenters.

      In 2014, Jeff VanderMeer went on a book tour during which he visited Austin, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and New York City, among other places. I'm pretty sure he didn't go on his bicycle. And yet he believes we--meaning you and I--should cut back on our use of fossil fuels so as to save the planet, presumably for his enjoyment.

      The idea that socialists, leftists, and progessives are self-loathing, and by consequence suicidal, is also key to understanding them. Unlike the rest of us, they believe their flaws and failings are external to themselves. They believe that "society" is to blame for the problems of the individual. Because self-loathing is so unbearable, they transfer their feelings to the rest of humanity. They hate us because they hate themselves. They wish to punish us and destroy us because they so wish to punish and destroy themselves. Hitler very nearly took the whole of Europe down the drain with him because of his extreme self-loathing. My theory is that our current president loathes himself: he will never cease in his efforts to punish the world for what his parents did to him by rejecting and abandoning him.

      Stalin and Saddam Hussein were both beaten and abused as children. Hitler may have been abused as well. All probably internalized a message of their worthlessness, and all were murderers in the extreme.

      By the way, the line you quoted is from Animal Farm rather than 1984, but your point is well taken. You're right, too, about Stalin and Hitler and about the fact that intellectuals--men of words and of ideas--are the first to go up against the wall once the revolution succeeds. They always believe they can control events because of their superior ideas, and they are always murdered by ruthless men of action. Stalin will forever drive a pickaxe into Trotsky's skull, and Islamists will eventually murder the leftists who pretend to love them so much.

      Thanks for writing.