Thursday, July 03, 2008

Science Fiction, Gender Balance, Marxism/Collectivism and My Kind of Male Chauvanist

I really need to spend time editing these post titles...

Whilst trying to come up with something to post today, I made a mistake--I read something great. Sometimes reading something I appreciate will inspire me, other times it'll just intimidate me. Today, I was intimidated, I read two posts that were thought-provoking, skillfully argued, with some killer lines...oh, and they had the added bonus of being right.

John C. Wright is one of my favorite living science fiction writers, even tho I have yet to really get into one of his novels. But I love reading his blog, and trust that one day, I'll appreciate his fiction. Yesterday, he responded to an online panel discussion about gender balance in genre fiction with two great posts, "Gender Balance in Genre Fiction" and "The Coldness of the Heretics." Even if you don't care about Science Fiction publishing (or genre publishing in general), they're worth the read.

In the first post, he talked about his own position, and pointed to a take he appreciated (as did I). Am sure he's correct when he said, "I doubt this will be the most popular response." But his explanation for his doubt is phrased perfectly: "In an age when thin-skinned whining is regarded as a moral good, stoicism is regarded as unethical." (gotta get that one committed to memory for future use)

In his last four paragraphs he gives a summary of what it is to act like a man--not unlike Brad Miner's view, just put in a pithier manner. In short, "If male chauvinists like me really want to be male chauvinists, we have to be male chivilrists as well, in which case we cannot treat womanhood with other than courtesy and fearful reverence."

In Wright's second post, he really lets loose, reacting to a comment to the panel, which stated in part:

I would argue that to consciously embrace and celebrate the dominant culture through an act of writing, editing or publishing - or even reviewing/acknowledging -- knowing the inequities and injustices that the dominant culture is built on, is an unethical act that perpetuates the worst of that culture's inequities and injustices.
Wright responds:
I hope the disproportionate absurdity of the sentiment expressed speaks for itself (it is an unethical act to review or acknowledge a book complimentary to Western values, because the West is built on evil. So don’t review STAR WARS or acknowledge STAR TREK because Virginian planters kept black slaves, the Romans conquered the Gauls, and the Homo Sapiens wiped out the Neanderthals).

I hope the illogic involved is likewise obvious (Only within the ethical context of Western values, Judo-Christian and Greco-Roman ideals of justice, individualism, and pity for the underdog, it is regarded as an evil to side with one’s forefathers against the stranger or sojourner when one’s forefathers are arguably in the wrong. Oriental ethical systems make patriotism and family loyalty paramount. The Muslim has a broader standard, since Islam is a universalist religion, but no pity is obligated for the infidel, but instead, a positive obligation to war, to pillage and to conquer. Hence, we cannot reject the West except from Progressive philosophical ground; but Progressivism is unique to the West, a heresy of the Enlightenment, so to speak, that can grow out of no other intellectual tradition.)

So seeing no need to dwell further on the lack of proportion and the lack of logic, I should like to emphasize the dismal coldheartedness of the world-view expressed. I submit that it is an inhuman world view.
Wright follows that with a 2400-word worldview apologetic against "that inhuman worldview" (Marxism/collectivism) that he'd do well to expand and publish (as well as cleaning up the typo 'Judo-Christian', as fun an idea as that is)--he attacks Marxism on political, moral, and aesthetic grounds.

Wright's well worth your time, particularly on these two posts.