Thursday, 16 February 2012

Please specify which revolution

Our triumph in space is the hymn to Soviet country!
This bit of Soviet space propaganda looks strangely familiar.

Oh, dear
Oh, yes.  That's it.

An object lesson about why you should always step backwards and take a good look at what your message is actually saying.


eon said...

Well, not all SF writers were particularly hard-core in the capitalism department.

Asimov, toward the end of his life, frequently editorialized in favor of "communitarianism" in IASfM (and the "Foundation" stories are pretty much paeans to rule by an intellectual elite'), Harry Harrison was a serious (anti-gun) liberal, and Dallas McCord (Mack) Reynolds was a self-described socialist. It didn't stop him from cashing the checks he got from John W. Campbell for stories published in "Astounding/Analog", though.

Even Gene Roddenberry's United Federation of Planets was fundamentally socialist. Listen to Picard pontificating on "we don't use money" and/or "we are concerned with the quality of life" sometime. (If you can stand it.)

I'd say a good portion of SF writers view a socialist state as an ideal, when run by people they think are smart enough to do it. Which they define as people like themselves, for the most part.

I'd have to say that of the Golden Age writers, only Heinlein, Piper, and Anderson were dedicated anti-socialists. And of the three, only RAH was a hard-core, libertarian capitalist. (Piper was more of a monarchist, and PA was an old time "small l" libertarian.) Later on, Pournelle, Drake, and Weber became the main "anti-socialist" writers, but I wouldn't call any of them "cultural conservatives", either. Anymore than I would Ringo, Flint, Taylor, or Kratman.

Which suits me just fine. I'm not exactly Newt Gingrich, myself. (Closer to RAH, Piper, and Ringo, actually.)



David said...

eon- True, but I suspect that Asimov was a Communist in his youth, but frantically back-pedalled away from it when he saw his career chances threatened.

eon said...


I've often had the same thought myself. Asimov's parents left the then-new USSR in 1921, and he was old enough to absorb at least some of the rhetoric.

Of course, his earliest sales as a writer were to Campbell, and as you say, JWC took a dim view of socialism in any form.

Mack Reynolds is a similar case. His "Section G, United Planets" stories can be read as either a celebration of an "enlightened" culture creatively meddling in the affairs of less perfect ones with an eye to "uplift"- or as a seriocomic portrait of the 1950s CIA in a far-future time. I suspect Reynolds intended them as the latter, but they read more as the former. (Ron Goulart achieved the latter with his "Barnum System" stories in the Seventies.)

And in "Dawnman Planet" the "enlightened meddlers" get smacked down, rather hard, by an even more advanced culture that's gotten a bit annoyed with their antics.

BTW, my use of the term "uplift" is deliberate. Yes, I've read David Brin, and yes, I consider him to be basically the present-day Mack Reynolds.