Theme: The Fully Politicized Society

Sgt Mom recently posted about the “Sad Puppies” affair:  basically, it seems that the science-fiction publishing industry and its leading association and award structure have become highly politicized in the name of “progressivism”…in reaction, a contrarian movement arose called the “Sad Puppies”  (there are also “Rabid Puppies”)…and these groups have been vitriolically attacked by some prominent members of the SF publishing establishment.

It strikes me that this would be a good time to update and repost my earlier Theme roundup of posts on the general topic of politicization.

A very funny post about a very serious topic.  Sarah Hoyt, herself a science fiction writers, tells of (and illustrates) some of her own experiences with the Science Fiction Writers Association.

What kind of things do you think they talk about at a convention of the National Art Education Association?  Best ways to teach perspective and watercoloring techniques?  How to explain Expressionism and Impressionism? Not these days.

“Political correctness” has become a serious threat to American society

What makes people want to live in a politicized society, and what is day-t0-day life like once the complete politicization has been accomplished?  In this post, I cite some thoughts from Sebastian Haffner, who came of age in Germany when the Nazi movement was casting its spell, and a vivid fictional passage from Ayn Rand, who grew up in the early Soviet Union.

Gleichschaltung.  A word much favored by the Nazis, it means “coordination,” “making the same,” “bringing into line”…especially, in Nazi usage, “forcible coordination.”  The orientation toward Gleichschaltung is very apparent in today’s “progressive” movement and today’s Democratic Party.

Prestigious Physics Professor Protests Politicization. Harold Brown, professor emeritus at the University of California Santa Barbara, explains the reasons for his resignation from the American Physical Society.


Stasiland. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, author Anna Funder traveled to the previous East Germany to interview both those who had lived under Communist oppression and the perpetrators of that oppression.

The Nature of Dictatorships.  Thoughts from Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, maker of the excellent film The Lives of Others, which is set in Communist East Germany.

Prefiguring the Hacker…and the American Surveillance Society. A 1953 science fiction story, Sam Hall.

Eric Hoffer on the destruction of individualism. “Even in the freest society power is charged with the impulse to turn men into precise, predictable automata. When watching men of power in action it must be always kept in mind that, whether they know it or not, their main purpose is the elimination or neutralization of the independent individual – the independent voter, consumer, worker, owner, thinker – and that every device they employ aims at turning man into a manipulatable ‘animated instrument,’ which is Aristotle’s definition of a slave.”

Bitter Waters.  A Stalin-era Soviet factory manager writes about his experiences.  Describing the chaos into which the Russian lumber industry had been thrown by Soviet central planning:  “Such is the immutable law. The forceful subordination of life’s variety into a single mold will be avenged by that variety’s becoming nothing but chaos and disorder.”

Rose Wilder Lane.  The author and political thinker describes a debate she had with a Russian village leader, back in 1919 when she was still a Communist, about the centrally planned society.   “It is too big – he said – too big. At the top, it is too small. It will not work. In Moscow there are only men, and man is not God. A man has only a man’s head, and one hundred heads together do not make one great big head. No. Only God can know Russia.”

The mentality of the totalitarian revolutionary.  Thoughts from the Russian writer of Dr Zhivago, Boris Pasternak.

Life in the fully politicized society, continued.  Even Maureen Dowd may be finding limits as to how much politicization of art she wants to see.

The bitter wastes of politicized America.  “The best way to hold a large group of people together is to make them feel as if everyone else is out to get them.  The most effective political adhesives are distilled from hatred and distrust.  People who disagree with your agenda are “attacking” you or “robbing” you…When the government controls everything, there is no constructive relief valve for all this pent-up tension.  It all boils down to a “historic” election once every couple of years, upon whose outcome everything depends.  They’re all going to be “historic” elections from now on.  That’s not a good thing.”

“But would you want your daughter to marry one?”  Americans increasingly say they would be displeased if their son or daughter were to marry a supporter of the opposing political party.

Deconstructing a Nazi death sentence.  The text of the justification for the sentence passed on three members of the White Rose resistance group provides useful insight into the totalitarian mind.  (The link to the transcript in the post doesn’t work anymore; use this instead)

Defying Hitler. This important and well-written (but mis-titled) memoir deals mainly with the social environment in Germany prior to the Nazi takeover, but the latter part of the book demonstrates what life was like under a new totalitarianism that was rapidly tightening its grip. The section about the author’s father–who was given the choice of either endorsing political opinions he did not share or losing his pension and being reduced to destitution, along with his family–is painful to read and is unpleasantly reminiscent of certain recent events in America today.

The party of paranoia, racial obsession, and totalitarian thinking. Link to a post by Daniel Greenfield, aka Sultan Knish, in which he explains the nature of today’s Democratic Party.

19 thoughts on “Theme: The Fully Politicized Society”

  1. There is a probably apocryphal statement about the practices of lawyers.

    “When the law is on your side, pound the law.”

    “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts.”

    “When neither are on your side, pound the table.”

    We are at the table pounding stage in this country. I tend to follow this advice right now.

    WASHINGTON—Saying there were no other options remaining and that continued intervention would only prolong the nation’s suffering, experts concluded Tuesday that the best course of action is to keep the United States as comfortable as possible until the end.

    According to those familiar with its condition, the country’s long, painful decline over the past several decades has made it clear that the most compassionate choice at this juncture is to do whatever is possible to ensure America is at ease during its last moments.

  2. But we are not in a fully politicized society. We aren’t even in a properly politicized society. We put politics where it shouldn’t be and leave politics out of where it should be.

  3. I have five children. The two oldest are lawyers and leftists. They are 50 and 48.

    The youngest is a libertarian whose favorite blog is Chicks on the Right.

    This in spite of a steady diet of leftist blather at the U of Arizona where her freshman English composition instructor (a grad student) spent the review period before finals on a rant about Ronald Reagan who was, she said, “an actor who recited lines written by others.” I doubt the grad student had ever heard or seen Reagan.

    Maybe there is a little hope but I fear that we will have to go through a period of serious unrest and maybe revolution before we get to the hope.

  4. David Foster – Most people do not know what they get from government, how well it is provided, and who is responsible for its provision, adequate or inadequate. It is not easy for a diligent citizen to gain sufficient information to obey the law, or even keep their life, liberty, or property safe in case of mistaken identity or wrong address police raids. It is difficult to track bureaucrats who violate our rights so that they are tossed out on their ear and never again have an office of public trust or profit in these United States. It is difficult to identify when politicians are conspiring with government union organizers to give extravagant pension obligations and leave the taxpayers holding the bag decades in the future. It is difficult to identify when politicians rob maintenance accounts for the infrastructure we have to build new bits of infrastructure to buy votes.

    I can go on.

  5. TML…as the scope of government grows ever-wider, it is difficult for even those focused on it full-time…Congressmen, in particular…to comprehend what is going on. The problem is of course multiplied for individual voters, who have much less time (and often, not so much interest) in following political affairs.

    When deciding to stick the government’s nose in something new–the state of major league baseball, for example–CongressCreatures never seem to consider that their own information and knowledge bandwidth is finite, and that time spent on MLB means less time available for, for example, national security.

  6. The frightening thing with the Global Warming scam is that I suspect it didn’t start off as conscious fraud. Years ago I read quite a bit of the early work and what struck me was just how stupid it was – these people were, by the standards of the physical sciences, dim. But they described their work in sufficient detail so that the reader could recognise its nature easily. I further suspect that two things then happened. First, to cover up their folly, they started lying: “adjusting” data and so on. Secondly, there were attracted into the field an assortment of zealots and crooks who advanced the Global Warming doctrine as their route to political power, fame, wealth, or whatever it was they desired. I have wondered whether something of the same sort happened with various political and religious movements in history. You start with credulous people, not much good at critical thinking, and end up with sadists and madmen in charge.

  7. David, from a comment on that site: It follows on from Mozilla shamefully getting rid of Brendan Eich last year, because he opposed gay “marriage.” (Incidentally, Firefox’s market share has declined since then.)
    As a right wing developer, I am going to find the necessary contacts, and write to the organiser of this conference to express my dismay, and I hope as many people will do the same.

    Eich did not even publicly oppose it. He contributed to Prop 8, an exercise in democracy originated by Progressives in the 1920s.

    Maybe the left wing dim programmers are responsible for the awful performance of Obamacare and the FBI IT project that collapsed.

    Between 2001 and 2005, the FBI’s Virtual Case File project failed. The Virtual Case File project was part of a larger initiative called Trilogy. Costs overran by 89% or just over $200M. A project that should have taken 3 years, failed after 4 years with requirements still not met. In some ways this project is similar to the London Stock Exchange’s Taurus Project, where scope creep lead to the project (at least as initially envisioned) being cancelled after massive cost overruns. This analysis draws on a very detailed report from the Office of the Inspector General, but here we focus explicitly on the project management failings.

  8. David Foster – The reason we’re stretched figuring out what government is doing is that we haven’t insisted that they put the information up on the net in a machine readable format so that our computers can fetch the information from their computers at will. In essence, we haven’t integrated the information revolution in how we govern. Take a look at business intelligence software to see what is possible.

    The major reason that we haven’t done it is that nobody to date has created the prerequisite data structures to hammer this stuff into shape.

  9. You start with credulous people, not much good at critical thinking, and end up with sadists and madmen in charge.
    Agreed. Even charities can fit that definition a degree. They end up deliberately impeding progress on the very things they set out conquer. Or more often, simply collect money and do little or nothing. Seen any progress on cancer from the American Cancer Society? Me neither.

    “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”
    ― Eric Hoffer (Had to look that up!) Similar idea.

  10. ” Eric Hoffer (Had to look that up!) Similar idea.”

    I have a page on my blog for favorite quotes. That’s one. Robert Conquest has one similar.

    Conquests’s Three Laws of Politics:
    1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
    2. Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left wing.
    3. The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies .

    — Robert Conquest.

  11. I may have asked this before and been answered – but, I’ve a friend that claims that under the Soviets bridge was banned in some areas. She’s a great bridge player and noticed that Russia produced great chess players but not bridge ones. She figured they’d be naturals at it. And someone told her or she read that – I always remember it.
    The idea of at least four people getting together for an evening’s talk and card playing was too subversive. Politicize the church, speech, press, assembly – and after a while, you are merely encouraging solitary drinking. Not a great way to productivity, but one that does stifle dissent.

  12. You cannot appeal for progressives to be tolerant, because “tolerance” means “you must tolerate progressives.” You cannot appeal for progressives to support diversity, because “diversity” means “you must accept progressives.” You cannot appeal to American tradition, because AmeriKKKa is the worst country in the world. You cannot appeal to the Constitution, because it is an old, outmoded document written by slave-owning dead white males. You cannot appeal to liberty, because liberty is no part of progressivism.

    The old ways are dead. The Enlightenment and its values are dead.

    There will be only victors or losers.

  13. We put politics where it shouldn’t be and leave politics out of where it should be.

    What you have called politics is actually morality, and its enforcement by social means (shunning) and by law. Progressives believe their morality (expressed in their battle cry: “racist, sexist, homophobe”) should be universally enforced and should be agreed to by everyone.

    This is not a political agenda (except incidentally) it is a moral agenda, comparable to Christianizing the Roman Empire.

    That current battles are fought in gaming, tech conference, and SF publishing shows that progressives have won. All that remains is to annihilate the Old Believers, to redefine their vocabulary, rededicate their temples, and rewrite their books.

    Remember when Libertarians and Leftists (both a variety of communist) said, “You can’t legislate morality,” and when SF fans said, “Infinite diversity in infinite combinations?” Good times. Long ago. Long over. And lies. They never believed those things, but spoke them only as verbal shields to be discarded once they had won and their enemies could be eliminated.

  14. ErisGuy – What you can do is document “rob peter to pay paul” behavior and *not* tolerate it. Without that one “out”, progressive rule collapses. What you can do is document how our children’s future is being robbed by those who believe the progressive line and only those who are cynically promoting what they know is dysfunction and avoid personally and watch that go up in smoke too. What is most wrong about progressivism is that it doesn’t actually work. In a properly integrated politics, we’d document what doesn’t work and stop doing that. The piece that’s missing is the documentation part.

    You do know that the progressives are losing in SF publishing, right? They also seem to be losing in gaming. Tech conferences are a very early front but isn’t it a bit premature to throw in the towel? There’s a conservative strain which seems to be fundamentally uncomfortable with winning and minimizes or outright ignores victory to lament the next coming catastrophe. That’s dysfunctional too.

  15. “I’ve a friend that claims that under the Soviets bridge was banned in some areas.”

    I just read an article about the decline in bridge playing in this country, Apparently the concern is not new as that piece was in 1988. When I was in college we played for hours. I haven’t played in years now.

  16. When I was a kid we used to play Whist. It was a Sunday tradition involving three generations. When I got older we played eucre, sometimes for hours. I always assumed it was a modern, fast-paced update on bridge, for the Pepsi Generation or whatnot, but I was surprised to see its origins go back to the 19th century.
    Poker games like Texas Holdem seemed to be popular for awhile, especially with the tournaments televised, but I don’t see kids playing these types of “trick” card games anymore.

    Too bad because Ike thought bridge was the ultimate war game. Maybe that was another reason the Soviets banned it.

  17. I can remember undergraduates playing so much bridge it almost cost them their degrees. I stopped playing when I saw the way the wind was blowing: obsession was not for me. The best players I knew were all reading maths, or mathematical physics, or engineering.

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