Friday, April 10, 2015

Even Sadder Puppies: An Insider Cops To The Scam

     Larry Correia, the author of the popular Monster Hunter series, is the quintessence of the “outsider” to the science fiction / fantasy world. The “insiders” detest him for his politics and his love of firearms. Thus, when he first strove to become involved in the semi-organized world of SF/F fandom by attending its annual Worldcon, at which the field’s highly prized Hugo Awards are announced, the “insiders” subjected him to an unexpected degree of insult and contempt. He’s written about it more than once.

     I’ve never attended a Worldcon and don’t intend to attend one. Indeed, I’d have no truck with it if it were held across the street and a courier were dispatched to my doorstep with a limo and an engraved invitation. Hey, that’s just me: and incurably skittish about crowds. But Correia’s laudable reaction – the original Sad Puppies campaign to open the Hugo nominations to a wider and more inclusive field of writers – was the exact opposite. As you’ve read here and probably elsewhere, this year it reaped a staggering degree of success.

     I allowed myself a dollop of Schadenfreude over the butthurt reactions of the trumped-Ace “social justice warriors” who had cliquefied the Hugo process to exclude those whose politics diverge from theirs. That was yesterday’s indulgence. Today’s subject is of more substance.

     An “insider’s insider,” George R. R. Martin, author of the wildly successful fantasy series A Song Of Ice And Fire, has taken it upon himself to promulgate a sort of Gospel Of The Insiders. Correia, who despite not having spearheaded “Sad Puppies 3” remains closely identified with the concept, answered him at length.

     In point of fact, the controversy can be boiled down to one paragraph – and not a particularly long one:

     If the rules of Hugo nomination and balloting permitted the “social justice warriors” to do what they did – colloquially, “slate voting” – with considerable success for some years, then the very same rules permit what the Sad Puppies campaign has done with equal success. Therefore, the ire of the “social justice warriors” is merely over having been beaten with their own tactics. That makes them sore losers and nothing else.

     What’s particularly striking about this affair is how the insiders who’ve proclaimed for half of forever that the Hugos are “for all of fandom” have decided to issue a modification to their stance. Here’s George R. R. Martin’s formulation:

     Who owns the Hugo Awards?

     You know, looking back, I am probably partly to blame for some of the misconceptions that seem to exist on this point. For years now I have been urging people to nominate for the Hugo Awards, and saying things like “this is your award” and “this award belongs to the fans, the readers.” I felt, and still feel, that wider participation would be a good thing. Thousands of fans vote for the Hugos most years, but until recently only hundreds ever bothered to nominate.

     Still my “it is your award” urgings were not entirely accurate.

     Truth is, the Hugo Awards belong to worldcon. The World Science Fiction Convention.

     What is Martin saying in the above? That the explicit rules governing Hugo nominations and balloting, which have been as they are for many years, really aren’t the rules at all? That rather than just paying the fee for a supporting membership, he who wishes to nominate or vote for certain books for the Hugo must actually attend the convention, wherever it might be situated that year? Or is he trying to say something else?

     Ponder that for a moment.

The aim of the High is to remain where they are. -- George Orwell

     Insiders are inherently hostile toward outsiders. (They’re often hostile toward one another as well, as within a sufficiently large clique there will usually be one or more sub-cliques maneuvering for control over the larger group.) To have “made it inside” is to have achieved a desired status, a distinction from others who haven’t managed it. The value of such a distinction is inversely proportional to the number of people who share it. To extend Orwell’s insight modestly, not only do the High want above all things to remain where they are; they also want to prevent the expansion of their ranks...and with an almost equal fervor.

     When the insiders find the rules working counter to that aim, they seek to change the rules – or to insist on a new interpretation contrary to the one that was used against their interests. Sometimes they succeed. But when their machinations are illuminated for all to see, the value of their insider-ship is diminished even more than it would otherwise have been.

     By protesting, entirely because they’ve been thwarted, that the Sad Puppies campaign somehow abused the simple, clear Hugo nomination process, the “social justice warriors” have done a large disservice to those writers who’ve been awarded Hugos in the most recent years: the very writers their own machinations raised to glory.

     The “social justice warriors” are faced with a terrible dichotomy: either the Sad Puppies campaign was entirely licit as the rules stand, in which case their outrage is over having been outplayed at their own game, or the campaign was a low, dirty tactic, in which case it was just as low and dirty when they employed it, and taints the Hugos awarded to their favored ones.

     George R. R. Martin, whose books I’ve enjoyed heretofore, has taken the second of those positions, in direct contradiction of both the clearly worded rules and his own previous pronouncements on the subject.

     That is what insiders do.

     A number of parallels, not all of them accurate, have been drawn between the Hugo controversy and the “GamerGate” flap. The details of the latter are somewhat different from those of the former, in that no awards and (with the exception of the Twitter hashtag #GamerGate) no organized campaigns were involved. The common element is the desire of the “social justice warriors” to exclude persons they dislike for their politics or their particular tastes from being considered as holders of respectable opinions. In the former case the battlefield is the Hugo process; in the latter, it’s the “gamers’ press,” which has been targeted for conquest (with a fair degree of success to date) by the “social justice warriors.”

     The core parallel is insider-hood: who controls the levers of power in the relevant domain.

     Like all leftists, the “social justice warriors” seek power: first and foremost, over who may say what, and where, and to whom, and on what subjects. They have a particular affinity for the expressive trades: the educational system, the news media, and above all the entertainment media. These are the shapers of public opinion. Power inheres in groups, institutions, and the control thereof. The rest should follow without need for further explication.

     In those areas where they’ve established themselves as the insiders, the “social justice warriors” will fight viciously to prevent any dilution of their control. In those areas where they’re still struggling for hegemony, they’ll use every imaginable tactic to achieve their aim...and will ignore any protests of foul play once they’re in the power seats.

     That’s the process, and the end toward which they will forever strive:
     To be the only respectable writers.
     To be the only “legitimate” educators.
     To command the heights of the entertainment world.
     To rule on who may speak with authority, and about what.
     And they will destroy whoever and whatever stands in their way.

     Be on your guard.

1 comment:

Russell said...

"Or is he trying to say something else?"

Yup. It's a shell game, a con. They want to appear to have legitimacy through popular support, but they want only the right kind of popular support, vetted and cleared as goodthinkers.

If you pick cup 'A', the ball will be moved, openly under your nose, to a different cup. They expect and demand that you don't point the fact they just moved the ball to a different cup.

It's rude to point out the Emperor has no clothes.