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Science Fiction and Conservatism:

Like Eugene Volokh and Glenn Reynolds, I too am a big fan of John Scalzi's recent Science fiction books Old Man's War and Ghost Brigades. But the New York Times was wrong to describe the Volokh Conspiracy and Glenn as "conservative" in its review of Scalzi's works.

More fundamentally, it is not clear to me that there really is much affinity between science fiction and conservatism. Most of the prominent "conservative" science fiction writers (e.g. - Robert A. Heinlein, whose work the reviewer compares with Scalzi's) are in fact libertarian in their ideology. Conservatism, or at least those variants of it that emphasize the value of tradition, is likely to be in tension with the emphasis on progress in both technology and social organization that is a major theme of science fiction. Religious conservatism is likely to be in similar tension with the rationalism that is a major part of the sci fi ethos.

Conservative traditionalism probably has greater affinity with fantasy literature than with science fiction. Fantasy often relies on nostalgia for the values of the past and tends to be suspicious of social change. And it is no accident that some of the greatest fantasy writers (most notably J.R.R. Tolkien) have also been conservatives.

This is not to say that there is no conservative science fiction or that conservatives shouldn't like sci fi. Some science fiction can be conservative by cutting against some of the dominant themes of the genre; similarly, there are liberal and even a few libertarian fantasy novels. And there are good reasons for enjoying literary works that you don't agree with ideologically. Personally, I like fantasy even more than science fiction, even though the latter is a much better fit for my libertarian ideology.

Finally, like Eugene, I'm happy to receive any review copies of science fiction books that publishers care to send me:). Who better to review new Sci fi and fantasy books than a blogger who has devoted posts to such topics as the portrayal of federalism in science fiction and fantasy, and The Law of Star Trek?

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Science Fiction and Conservatism:
  2. Science Fiction:
Anderson (mail) (www):
But the New York Times was wrong to describe the Volokh Conspiracy and Glenn as "conservative" in its review of Scalzi's works, .

Says you. Good heavens. There are quite obviously common senses of the word that apply handily, esp. to the Instawhatsit. "But I'm a libertarian who just happens to be functionally indistinguishable from a conservative!" is not terribly persuasive.

More fundamentally, it is not clear to me that there really is much affinity between science fiction and conservatism.

Did the article suggest there was? There's a reason why so many of Heinlein's readers reacted badly to Starship Troopers.

(Which I think is a really good book, a fine novel in the spirit of taking an idea &running all the way with it, but not a political handbook -- surely RAH didn't think it was the latter, either.)
1.9.2007 6:04pm
Jeff Shultz (mail):
I think they say they are conservative simply because they are not nanny-state liberals in their outlook and writing.
1.9.2007 6:09pm
James Dillon (mail):
I had the same reactions as Anderson to this post, though s/he has already preempted my intention to articulate them at length. I've seen plenty of posts in this blog, including some, I believe, by Professor Somin, acknowledging that libertarianism is a discrete subset of the conservative movement; is the NYT really to be faulted for using the term "conservative" rather than the less-widely-understood "libertarian" to describe the blog in a passing reference? Moreover, like Anderson, I see no implication in the article that there is an "affinity between science fiction and conservatism." Professor Somin is quite right that there doesn't seem to be one, but the argument seems a bit of a straw man since the Times didn't suggest that there is.
1.9.2007 6:11pm
Eric Anondson (mail):
There's a reason why so many of Heinlein's readers reacted badly to Starship Troopers.
That movie was an abomination to the fans, that's for sure.
1.9.2007 6:20pm
HLSbertarian (mail):

Says you. Good heavens. There are quite obviously common senses of the word that apply handily, esp. to the Instawhatsit. "But I'm a libertarian who just happens to be functionally indistinguishable from a conservative!" is not terribly persuasive.


That doesn't say much about the people doing the distinguishing.
1.9.2007 6:24pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
So a libertarian (InstaPundit) who's pro-choice, who's for recognizing same-sex marriage, and allowing stem-cell research "just happens to be functionally indistnugishable from a conservative"?

Nor do I recall Ilya's ever having said "that libertarianism is a discrete subset of the conservative movement." Certainly there is a libertarian wing of the Republican Party (I'm mostly in it, for instance), and there are some people who are conservative in the sense of taking conservative views on social issues but who are libertarian in the sense of not wanting the government to implement those views. But there are plenty of libertarians who are not in the conservative movement; a lot of the Hit &Run posters are examples. Libertarianism overlaps with conservatism, and libertarians (especially in law schools and the legal academy) make common cause with conservatives on the issues on which they agree -- such as free markets and gun rights. But that hardly makes libertarianism a subset of the conservative movement.
1.9.2007 6:36pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Glenn Reynolds is really a liberatarian, and I am the queen of England. Ilya: I have this great bridge in Brooklyn, I'll sell it to you for a grand.

Regardless of what he says, Glenn never fails to support and vote for the party-line of the national Republican party, with few minor exceptions (e.g. Schiavo, gay marriage) that he voices but never actually challenges any candidate's views on or has any effect on his vote. Torture, Jose Padilla (whom Ilya assures us all is "almost positively guilty" [of what who knows]), the detention of other US citizens without process, the rendition of admittedly innocent people to terrorist-sponsoring states for torture, the wiretapping of US citizens with NO oversight and the almost laughable "legal" justifications therefore, the questionable intelligence leading the Iraq War, the conduct of the Iraq War itself, etc., etc. -- Glenn has never taken any of these issues seriously, and has repeatedly blamed "lefties" (like Andrew Sullivan, Greg Djerdjian) for "crying wolf" about these things which he explicitly claims has forced him to not take them seriously. This is not libertarian, under any reasonable definition of that term.

Further, Glenn's consistent invocation of the meme that if you do not support the Iraq war, or worse if you did not originally support it, you do not take Islamic terrorism seriously and that many of those people actually root against America has made him, by far, the most disliked blogger by just about everyone to the left of Lieberman. This sort of talk that Glenn consistently and repeatedly invokes, and then dismissively rejects any challenge to him of it, also has the effect of equating genuine dissent with anti-Americanism, another assuredly non-libertarian thing.

The most compelling indictment of Glenn's faux libertarianism that I read came from Radley Balko (someone who I think we all agree is a real libertarian) laughing at Glenn's claim to have voted against Harold Ford because of the "activist left's" "outing" campaign against gays. When I emailed Glenn about Balko's devastating critique, his response was that he found the criticism "interesting" but he disagreed. When I asked him what he disagreed with, he did not respond.

So, in short, Ilya, give me a freaking break!
1.9.2007 6:40pm
Elliot Reed:
Hasn't E. Volokh himself previously denied claims that he's a libertarian on this very blog? I seem to recall him describing himself as a "libertarian-leaning conservative." Barnett a bona fide libertarian, but he doesn't post very often. And as others have mentioned this blog is quite clearly aligned with the conservative movement.
1.9.2007 6:42pm
Moonage Webdream (mail) (www):
The article notes "politically conservative". Now, to me, you guys are politically quite conservative. It does not use the generalized conservative, which would imply social conservatism, which I've seen no indication one way or the other here. The problem in society today is people in-large make no effort to distinguish the two. That creates headaches for me as I am politically conservative, but socially liberal. The two are not tied together in any shape, form, or fashion. In fact, pre-Reagan, the two were much more closely related than they are now. True conservatives don't believe in using the government to advocate social issues such as abortion, religion, marriage, etc.. That's NEO-conservatism, of which I am absolutely not a member of. So, the problem is, yeah, I agree with the article in that you guys are politically conservative. However, I don't agree with their implication of what that should mean. All it SHOULD mean is you believe in smaller, less socially involved government. That's all. If this were indeed a perfect world and people spent five minutes thinking about their labels, a conservative loving science fiction wouldn't raise an eyebrow. And, being a conservative loving science fiction, ( see my science blog ), I wouldn't feel the least bit slighted by that silly article. ( Heinlein's OK, I prefer Sir Arthur C. Clarke to anyone. )
1.9.2007 6:44pm
James Dillon (mail):

Nor do I recall Ilya's ever having said "that libertarianism is a discrete subset of the conservative movement."


Professor Volokh,
When I made that statement, I was thinking of Professor Somin's post entitled "Liberaltarianism," see http://volokh.com/posts/1165247590.shtml, and the several subsequent posts on the same theme, in which he discusses "whether libertarians should reconsider their traditional affiliation with the conservative movement and move toward the Democratic Party." While I suppose one might argue that a "traditional affiliation with the conservative movement" is not quite the same thing as being a part of the conservative movement, that seems a pretty fine distinction upon which to object that the NYT was wrong to refer to the Volokh Conspiracy as a "conservative blog."
1.9.2007 6:55pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Well, EV just said what I meant to say, though naturally better than I would have. I suspect that if Glenn Reynolds were a fervent opponent of the Iraq war, his apparent indistinguishability from a conservative would evaporate.

What surprised me about the NYT review wasn't so much the word "conservative" as the descriptor "conservative political blog." Most of what's posted here is only in the most inclusive sense political, and most even of the obviously political posts are straight reportage rather than commentary.

Re conservatism and sci-fi, though: The work that springs to mind is C.S. Lewis's "space trilogy," which is sci-fi by any reasonable definition. There are other occasional outliers — I wonder how many of Philip Dick's admirers know his story "The Pre-Persons," in which children can be "aborted" until the age of twelve on their parents' request. But IS is right, I think, that conservative writers gravitate more to fantasy than to sci-fi.
1.9.2007 6:55pm
r78:
Well said Greedy Clerk!
1.9.2007 6:57pm
Enoch:
is the NYT really to be faulted for using the term "conservative" rather than the less-widely-understood "libertarian" to describe the blog in a passing reference?

Yes. Don't they pride themselves on their precise grasp of "reality" and their ability to present it to the reader?

To be sure, for a lot of their writers (and readers), conservative = libertarian = Republican = Christian = fawning admirer of Chimpy Bushitler.
1.9.2007 7:05pm
frankcross (mail):
I am troubled by the apparent militarism of science fiction (and some other) libertarians. That just doesn't seem very libertarian to me.
1.9.2007 7:05pm
Steve:
So a libertarian (InstaPundit) who's pro-choice, who's for recognizing same-sex marriage, and allowing stem-cell research "just happens to be functionally indistnugishable from a conservative"?

Good God. You just redefined Gerald Ford right out of the conservative movement. Just because there are some extremists who believe that apostasy on these hot-button social issues is a disqualifier doesn't make it so.

My own, half-serious test: If you think Andrew Sullivan isn't a conservative, then you're a conservative.
1.9.2007 7:12pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Oh come on, libertarians are conservative--more like reactionary, get over it. You want to go back to a society and political system that never existed. Just because you want to do it with fancy ray guns and other technology doesn't make you less conservative. And most politics in science fiction is extraordinarily primitive. They are mostly dictatorships, oligarchies, or even hereditary monarchies or some other kind of authoritarian system. Democracies seem to have been thrown on the ash heap of history. Maybe that's why you libertarians all like it so much.

And anyone who claims to be a libertarian yet earns his living teaching at a public university is nothing but a fraud.
1.9.2007 7:13pm
Colin (mail):
But IS is right, I think, that conservative writers gravitate more to fantasy than to sci-fi.

That's an interesting statement. My gut reaction is to disagree, but based only on a few relatively high-visibility authors that spring to mind. I.e., Drake, Ringo, and maybe White as relatively right-wing (in Ringo's case, frothingly right-wing) SF authors, and Mieville and Brust and relatively left-wing fantasy authors. There are lots of examples and counter-examples, of course, but I'd be interested to hear which you were thinking of.
1.9.2007 7:16pm
orson23 (mail):
Would Anderson (at the top) call "Batman Begins" as a neurotic revenge film? Everyone with a brain recognizes the film as about a twice traumatized victim converting tragic loss into self-empowerment on behalf of the powerless.

Apparently Anderson prefers the braimless and inaccurate to the veridical - which is pretty much why I gave up reading the New York Times somewhere between Clinton's impeachment and the invasion of Afghanistan.

Which tells us more about us, respectively, than sensible, perceptive thinking about new literature.
1.9.2007 7:27pm
Ilya Somin:
"whether libertarians should reconsider their traditional affiliation with the conservative movement and move toward the Democratic Party."

Actually, this is a quote by Todd Zywicki, not by me. I never said that libertarians are a part of the conservative movement, and for that matter I doubt that Todd meant to do so either. The posts in question discussed whether libertarians should continue to make ALLIANCES with conservatives. You can have an alliance with a group you're not a part of.
1.9.2007 7:31pm
Ilya Somin:
Several people try to make the weak claim that the VC and Glenn Reynolds is in fact conservative or the downright silly claim that we are somehow cheerleaders for Bush. Let's see, both Glenn and most of the VC posters disagree with Bush on (just to emphasize a few highlights):

1. Government Spending.
2. His prescription drug program (by far Bush's biggest domestic policy initiative).
3. Gay marriage.
4. Stem cells.
5. the No Child Left Behind Act.
6. The Miers appointment.



Yes, we agreed with Bush on the decision to invade Iraq. So did half the Democrats in Congress. That no more makes us conservative or pro-Bush than it does Hillary Clinton.

In this context, it's worth noting that last fall I argued right here on the VC that it would be good for the country if the Republicans lost the November election.

The above is a list of disagreements with Bush, and of course disagreeing with Bush is not always the same thing as disagreeing with conservatives. However, most of the VC posters disagree with conservatives on nearly all the standard issues on which libertarians and conservatives split (drugs, privacy, sexual freedom, gay rights, etc.).
1.9.2007 7:37pm
Mark Field (mail):

The posts in question discussed whether libertarians should continue to make ALLIANCES with conservatives. You can have an alliance with a group you're not a part of.


An alliance?! For at least 40 years it's been more like a marriage. It seems pretty late in the day now to deny that you ever had sex with that woman.
1.9.2007 7:39pm
Ilya Somin:
Oh come on, libertarians are conservative--more like reactionary, get over it. You want to go back to a society and political system that never existed.

Well, if we want to implement a system that "never existed," we can hardly be accused of being reactionary - or even conservative.
1.9.2007 7:47pm
Ilya Somin:
An alliance?! For at least 40 years it's been more like a marriage. It seems pretty late in the day now to deny that you ever had sex with that woman.

Comparing a political coalition to a marriage is kind of silly. However, people often get married to spouses they disagree with on various ideological issues - especially if the other available marriage partners are people they disagree with even more.
1.9.2007 7:49pm
James Dillon (mail):

Actually, this is a quote by Todd Zywicki, not by me.

You're right; I apologize. I tracked back to that post from your post on Russell Kirk, which was identified as a related post, and I assumed without checking that you had written the original one as well.


I never said that libertarians are a part of the conservative movement, and for that matter I doubt that Todd meant to do so either. The posts in question discussed whether libertarians should continue to make ALLIANCES with conservatives. You can have an alliance with a group you're not a part of.

True, but I still think that the New York Times can be forgiven, in this context at least, for subscribing to the relatively elementary "conservative vs. liberal" dichotomy by which the American political landscape is often characterized at a high (and concededly imprecise) level of generality. Had the article been devoted to exploring the political leanings of the Volokh Conspiracy, the reporter would obviously be remiss in not offering a more nuanced discussion of the political views taken by many of this blog's participants, but in the context of a book review that casually mentions the fact that this blog has recommended Scalzi's books, I think the author can be forgiven for assigning it to the "conservative" half of the political spectrum without going off on a tangent about what libertarianism means.
1.9.2007 7:52pm
The River Temoc (mail):
Well, STARGATE would hardly seem to be conservative inasmuch as it advocates turning on "false gods" and killing them. (Please, no flames about whether STARGATE is "real science fiction.")
1.9.2007 7:56pm
DRB (mail):
"I suspect that if Glenn Reynolds were a fervent opponent of the Iraq war, his apparent indistinguishability from a conservative would evaporate."

Absolutely spot on. Some of Glenn's disagreements with the Bush administration and the once GOP-dominated Congress have already been listed by previous posters. I think what really causes his critics to claim that he's a conservative is his refusal to back off from supporting the war on terror in general and the action in Iraq in particular.
1.9.2007 7:56pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
So a libertarian (InstaPundit) who's pro-choice, who's for recognizing same-sex marriage, and allowing stem-cell research "just happens to be functionally indistnugishable from a conservative"?


How exactly is forcing someone to pay with their tax dollars for embryonic stem-cell research a "libertarian" position?
1.9.2007 7:59pm
Aleks:
Re: And it is no accident that some of the greatest fantasy writers (most notably J.R.R. Tolkien) have also been conservatives.

Calling Tolkien a conservative, even by mid 20th century British standards, is a bit awkward. The man was no friend to capitalism and industrialism, and certainly not to anything smacking of fascism. Tolkien wasvery uncomfortable with the modern world in all its aspects, the Right no less than the Left. It's no accident that LOTR was a favorite of hippies in the 60s.
And for a noted fanatsy writer who is definitely not conservative (and still living) see Stephen R Donaldson.
1.9.2007 8:03pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Colin,

I suppose I oughtn't to have said anything, because my own sci-fi &fantasy reading is mostly of many-decades-old classics, where the divide really is pretty clear. It's not that there aren't leftish fantasy writers, but that there are very few conservative sci-fi writers, and those there are are writing decidedly against the going grain, as Lewis did. (Lewis, in Out of the Silent Planet, has his physicist anti-hero say "It is enough to me that there is a Beyond," which I believe is verbatim H.G. Wells, unless it's verbatim Bertrand Russell. His protagonist's vernacular gloss on this statement is worth buying the book just to experience.)
1.9.2007 8:03pm
Frater Plotter:

Oh come on, libertarians are conservative--more like reactionary, get over it. You want to go back to a society and political system that never existed.

On the contrary -- we want to move forward to a society that has not yet existed.

Looking back in history we see specific advances, when liberty has gained a foothold over tyranny. Liberalism and republicanism were the 18th century's advancement over monarchy and absolutism. Later came the end of slavery and the extension of the rights of citizenship to women and to racial minorities. The 20th century also saw the rise and collapse of history's largest-scale experiments in applied tyranny: Soviet Communism and (German, Italian, Spanish) Fascism ... as well as other encroachments on liberty in the forms of corporatism, religious fundamentalism, and "social democracy" (non-Communist socialism).

But there has never really existed a society founded on organized defense of liberty without exceptions.
1.9.2007 8:07pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Well, STARGATE would hardly seem to be conservative inasmuch as it advocates turning on "false gods" and killing them. (Please, no flames about whether STARGATE is "real science fiction.")


Actually Stargate would be a pretty good example of a "conservative" science fiction series particularly in its favorable portrayal of the military and taking a decidedly hawkish stance on foreign policy both on Earth and abroad. As far as the "false gods," it isn't a show that's particularly hostile to Judeo-Christian religion and the "false gods" they battle tend to invariably be of the Eastern variety with the Ori a caricature of Islam.
1.9.2007 8:07pm
ern (mail):
Thorley: I've emailed Reynolds with that particular question before, and didn't get a response. Still, Reynolds' interest in (and apparent support of) some of the transhumanist stuff (longevity research, etc.) doesn't exactly endear him to the conservative movement, most of whom have (at a minumum) serious concerns about such technology. In the end, it sounds more libertarian than conservative, although I don't think I've heard Reynolds come right out and cheer federal funding for such research. I could be wrong. Of course, there are no restrictions on stem-cell research now, anyway--only on the federal funding. So libertarians shouldn't have any problem with the status quo on stem-cell research.
1.9.2007 8:10pm
Byomtov (mail):
How exactly is forcing someone to pay with their tax dollars for embryonic stem-cell research a "libertarian" position?

I don't know, Thorley. Are you claiming that libertarians should oppose all government funding for medical research, or other kinds for that matter?
1.9.2007 8:11pm
Hattio (mail):
I have to agree with James Dillon on the question of how the NYT should have described the writers of this blog. The question isn't so much is it an accurate description, but rather whether its the most accurate you can make a one word description for the average reader who's not a political junkie to understand. Given those restrictions, conservative comes closest.

On the other main question, whether sci-fi and/or fantasy writers tend to be liberal or conservative, I have always tended to think of sci-fi writers in general as fairly libertarian, but definitely more conservative than not. I have also kind of assumed fantasy writers were more liberal. But I can't really justify either of those. They are more just gut feelings.
1.9.2007 8:19pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Aleks,

Re Tolkien, well, yes. But this is why calling Reynolds and VC "conservative" is silly. "Conservative" is a label attached to anyone who holds any one of a large array of positions on different issues. If you favored the Iraq war, you are "conservative." If you think Roe should be overturned, you are "conservative." If you want lower taxes you are "conservative," and if you oppose gay marriage you are also "conservative." Not that landing on the other side of any of these points is sufficient to make you not-conservative; any one of them is a deal-breaker.

As a pro-gay-marriage person who thinks Roe was wrongly decided, thinks the Bush tax cuts were very silly, and thought the decision to go to war was correct, I find that I am therefore a "conservative." I'm still a registered Democrat, for what it's worth.
1.9.2007 8:20pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Would Anderson (at the top) call "Batman Begins" as a neurotic revenge film?

Whoa, Nellie ... you want to give us some context here?

Apparently Anderson prefers the braimless and inaccurate to the veridical - which is pretty much why I gave up reading the New York Times somewhere between Clinton's impeachment and the invasion of Afghanistan.

Here's a lesson I learned on the Internets: if you're going to write a comment calling someone stupid, check your spelling. Though, whatever braim is, I probably prefer being without it -- sounds yucky.

I have no clue whether your comment's made regarding my remark on Starship Troopers, or my remarks on libertarians ... which is not a great testament to your powers of expression. Maybe some braim would help?
1.9.2007 8:21pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
EV: So a libertarian (InstaPundit) who's pro-choice, who's for recognizing same-sex marriage, and allowing stem-cell research "just happens to be functionally indistnugishable from a conservative"?

Yeah. So?

"Conservative" is not a synonym for "Bible-thumping mugwump," though it's an understandable confusion.
1.9.2007 8:25pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Of course, there are no restrictions on stem-cell research now, anyway--only on the federal funding. So libertarians shouldn't have any problem with the status quo on stem-cell research.


I agree, it seems to me that what we're seeing is a lot of "libertarians" who have a blind spot or two when it comes opposing "big government" insofar as government going beyond roles like national security and usurping things which ought to be left up to the private sector or the States.
1.9.2007 8:25pm
r78:

1. Government Spending.
2. His prescription drug program (by far Bush's biggest domestic policy initiative).
3. Gay marriage.
4. Stem cells.
5. the No Child Left Behind Act.
6. The Miers appointment.



Actually, many self-styled "true conservatives" also disagreed with Bush on 1, 2, 5, and 6.

So if you are posting this list as a means to distinguish between VC posters and "conservatives", it fails.
1.9.2007 8:27pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Calling Tolkien a conservative, even by mid 20th century British standards, is a bit awkward. The man was no friend to capitalism and industrialism, and certainly not to anything smacking of fascism. Tolkien was very uncomfortable with the modern world in all its aspects, the Right no less than the Left. It's no accident that LOTR was a favorite of hippies in the 60s.

JRRT was of course a Roman Catholic, which explains his cross-grainedness. But he was certainly a conservative.

I like to quote Bierce's definition: "A conservative is a person enamored of existing evils, in contrast to a liberal, who wishes to replace them with others."
1.9.2007 8:27pm
Steve:
I think what really causes his critics to claim that he's a conservative is his refusal to back off from supporting the war on terror in general and the action in Iraq in particular.

Well, it's not the war on terror as an abstraction, it's specific issues that come up. For example, ordinarily one might expect libertarians to be in the forefront of an argument against warrantless wiretapping. It's not like a libertarian to rely upon a mere assertion by the State that "it's only to fight terrorism, trust us!" and be like "oh, alrighty then."

In addition, one might expect a libertarian to be harshly critical of liberals on nanny-state issues. But Reynolds employs harsh rhetoric towards liberals on the war issue that is, in fact, indistinguishable from that used by hard-line conservatives. Out in the real world, there are a great many people who support the war in Iraq without believing that liberals are "on the other side." And he's incredibly statist when it comes to press freedom, or at least that of the New York Times.
1.9.2007 8:28pm
frankcross (mail):
Ilya, on four of the six issues with which you and Glenn disagree with Bush, you are to the right of Bush. That's evidence of conservatism. You all are definitely not lockstep conservatives, no one could say that. But if one were to draw a spectrum of liberal to conservative, do you doubt that you would be somewhere toward the conservative side?

Also, for the record, it is not true that half the congressional Democrats agreed on the invasion of Iraq. They voted to allow Bush to make the decision to invade, which could be justified on a variety of grounds other than actually wanting to invade.
1.9.2007 8:30pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Steve makes me want to follow up on my response to EV: how much of "libertarianism" is really due to conservatives who aren't comfortable with the fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party? Secular conservatives, we might call them.

But my flurry of comments has been due to the fact that I must run, to go pick up my kids from the Maoist collective.
1.9.2007 8:31pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Actually, many self-styled "true conservatives" also disagreed with Bush on 1, 2, 5, and 6.

So if you are posting this list as a means to distinguish between VC posters and "conservatives", it fails.


Agreed and 4 is an issue where Bush's position was more "libertarian" than that of the "libertarians" who were critiquing him.
1.9.2007 8:35pm
Jay Manifold (mail) (www):
I'm just chuckling over the pseudonymous coward's remark that "Glenn's consistent invocation of the meme that if you do not support the Iraq war, or worse if you did not originally support it, you do not take Islamic terrorism seriously and that many of those people actually root against America has made him, by far, the most disliked blogger by just about everyone to the left of Lieberman. This sort of talk that Glenn consistently and repeatedly invokes, and then dismissively rejects any challenge to him of it, also has the effect of equating genuine dissent with anti-Americanism, another assuredly non-libertarian thing."

In reality, of course, far too many "liberal" bloggers consistently invoke the meme that if you support the Iraq war, you must be a "conservative," no matter what position you take on any other issue. And I love the "has the effect of equating genuine dissent with anti-Americanism" -- it doesn't matter what he says, only that it putatively has an effect that a "liberal" doesn't like!

On to the more seemly topic of JRRT's politics. See his Letters for background; he was a sort of anarchist monarchist who was horrified by forced industrialization, thus "The Scouring of the Shire."
1.9.2007 8:39pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Glenn's consistent invocation of the meme that if you do not support the Iraq war, or worse if you did not originally support it, you do not take Islamic terrorism seriously and that many of those people actually root against America has made him, by far, the most disliked blogger by just about everyone to the left of Lieberman. This sort of talk that Glenn consistently and repeatedly invokes, and then dismissively rejects any challenge to him of it, also has the effect of equating genuine dissent with anti-Americanism, another assuredly non-libertarian thing.


Really, examples please.
1.9.2007 8:50pm
Elliot Reed:
Reynolds's positions on the President's "security" policies and the invasion of Iraq are jointly sufficient to establish that he's no libertarian. The Iraq is pretty non-libertarian on its own: you take a lot of forcibly extracted government tax dollars and kill a bunch of people who have never done anything to us (collateral damage) for the purpose of transforming another society via the miracles of central planning from Washington. It originally had a defensive justification of a sort, but nobody believes that anymore and Reynolds hasn't come anywhere near saying the war was a horrible mistake because the threat to our national security was actually nonexistent.

Add to that his support for the government's policy of arresting and torturing people without charges or trial with no more basis than the President's say-so, and it's clear he's parted company with anything resembling libertarianism. This isn't just taking a nonlibertarian position on one or two issues: it's completely gutting it, like claiming to be a liberal but supporting the abolition of all government welfare programs (and their replacement with nothing).

"Libertarian" is NOT the same as "economically conservative and socially liberal."
1.9.2007 8:52pm
Nathan_M (mail):
Professor Somin's complaint seems to me to be based on a different definition of the word "conservative" than the NYT article is employing. Often it seems "conservative" and "liberal" are used now as a synonym or "left-wing" or "ring-wing", rather than to refer to a specific political philosophy.

In that sense, I think it is fair to describe EV and Glenn (assuming InstaPundit hasn't changed radically since I stopped reading it because the tinfoil hat stuff about the "MSM" gets old fast) as conservative. At least for Glenn, it is probably more accurate a one word label than "conservative" since Glenn seems to think that the war on terror is by far the most important issue of our times, and calling him a libertarian doesn't give any insight in the position he takes there.
1.9.2007 8:54pm
Nathan_M (mail):
My post should read "At least for Glenn, it is probably more accurate a one word label than 'libertarian'".

Sorry for the typo, it's a shame I'm incapable of proof-reading effectively before my comment is published.
1.9.2007 8:58pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Well, if we want to implement a system that "never existed," we can hardly be accused of being reactionary - or even conservative.
One problem liberals and left-wingers have is the failure to understand the difference between wanting laws to look like they used to look and society to do so. Speaking broadly, conservatives want the latter, not the former, while liberals want the former, not the latter, and liberals don't realize there's a distinction.

Of course, that's only speaking broadly, because libertarians don't really favor a return to the pre-New Deal legal regime; we favor a liberalization of many laws from that time period. It's really only in the area of economic regulation where that generalization has any validity.
1.9.2007 9:00pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Anderson: Since, according to the dictionary, a "Bible-thumping mugwump" means a Bible-thumping "Republican who refused to support the party nominee, James G. Blaine, in the presidential campaign of 1884," or a Bible-thumping "person who is unable to make up his or her mind on an issue, esp. in politics," I agree that "conservative" is not a synonym for that.
1.9.2007 9:31pm
Hattio (mail):
Liberals want laws to look like they used to look? When? Maybe I would prefer some of the Fourth amendment Jurisprudence from back when the Fourth amendment actually had some teeth, but that's about the only area.
1.9.2007 9:32pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Thorley Winston. www.instaputz.blogspot.com and just keep scrolling. And kiss my ass while you are at it. That is a fact.
1.9.2007 9:38pm
pedro (mail):
Someone with an unshakeable faith in the ability of his government to wage effetively an incredibly expensive war on an abstraction does not sound like a libertarian to me.

On the other hand, it is true that--for reasons that I myself cannot fathom, and I mean this sincerely--libertarians in America seem to enthusiastically endorse the appointment of very socially conservative judges and justices.
1.9.2007 9:39pm
Anonymous Hoosier:
EV: ROTFL. *Excellent* use of an essential tool of textualism!
1.9.2007 9:40pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Liberals want laws to look like they used to look? When?
No; that was just my bad typing. I meant libertarians. Let's try it again, but this time I'll say what I mean:

One problem liberals and left-wingers have is the failure to understand the difference between wanting laws to look like they used to look and society to do so. Speaking broadly, conservatives want the latter, not the former, while libertarians want the former, not the latter, and liberals don't realize there's a distinction.

Of course, that's only speaking broadly, because libertarians don't really favor a return to the pre-New Deal legal regime; we favor a liberalization of many laws from that time period. It's really only in the area of economic regulation where that generalization has any validity.
1.9.2007 9:42pm
Ilya Somin:
1. Government Spending.
2. His prescription drug program (by far Bush's biggest domestic policy initiative).
3. Gay marriage.
4. Stem cells.
5. the No Child Left Behind Act.
6. The Miers appointment.




Actually, many self-styled "true conservatives" also disagreed with Bush on 1, 2, 5, and 6.


Yes, but 3 and 4 are not unimportant. MOreover, as I noted in my previous comment, I (and most of the other VC libertarians) also disagree with conservatives on virtually all the other issues that traditionally separate the two groups (drugs, sex, gay rights, defendants' rights, the moral value of tradition, etc.).
1.9.2007 9:43pm
Anonymous Hoosier:
It's a shame that the liberals who comment at the VC don't subscribe to the same principle as many (but certainly not all) other liberals: that people are entitled to their own self-labeling. Particularly members of oppressed minority groups like African-Americans, non-heterosexuals, and, one would think, libertarians.

Certainly the last has less representation in the political process!
1.9.2007 9:45pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
*Excellent* use of an essential tool of textualism!

Agreed. But too lovely a word to leave in the dustbin of history!

that people are entitled to their own self-labeling

Pretty to think so, but obviously an invitation to certain abuses, as well as to confusions of thought. Next thing you know, people will be appropriating "mugwump" to make it mean whatever they like.
1.9.2007 9:51pm
Truth Seeker:
You know a leftist is out in moonbat territory when he thinks anyone who does not agree with everything he suports is a conservative. They can't even comprehend libertarianism. Everything is black or white. Moonbat or conservative.

Glenn Reynolds supports abortion rights, gay marriage and stem cell research. He cannot be called a conservative. If you think Glenn Reynolds is a conservative, you are a moonbat!
1.9.2007 9:53pm
pedro (mail):
Ilya: Just how important are those disagreements? I ask as someone for whom those disagreements are significantly more important than any disagreements I may have on matters of economic policy. I may not be a libertarian, but I have an open mind as to what the right economic policies are in a given socio-economic context, and I often find Hayekian criticisms of economic engineering from above rather convincing.
1.9.2007 9:54pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Yes, but 3 and 4 are not unimportant. Moreover, as I noted in my previous comment, I (and most of the other VC libertarians) also disagree with conservatives on virtually all the other issues that traditionally separate the two groups (drugs, sex, gay rights, defendants' rights, the moral value of tradition, etc.).


But as I and others have pointed out, there is nothing "libertarian" about the critique of Bush's stem cell policy as there is nothing "libertarian" about forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research. It's a leftist position much like wanting to redefine civil marriage to include same-sex couples
1.9.2007 9:55pm
Steve:
It's a shame that the liberals who comment at the VC don't subscribe to the same principle as many (but certainly not all) other liberals: that people are entitled to their own self-labeling.

I don't think many of us have an issue with the right to self-labeling per se, although we're still trying to figure out the Hispanic/Latino thing. More to the point, what we resent is the ploy of labelling oneself "moderate" or "independent" or "libertarian" simply in order to be able to smear liberals without coming across as a conservative hack. If Glenn Reynolds were a conservative who thinks that liberals are "on the other side" in the war on terror, he'd be no different than any number of extremists in the blogosphere; but since he's a "libertarian" making that claim he's supposed to have some credibility as a freethinker. It's annoying, that's all.

Conservatives are hardly in a position to bring up the right to self-labeling, of course, given that every human being who runs for office as a Democrat automatically gets described as the most leftiest lefty uber-left liberal who ever lived.
1.9.2007 9:59pm
Steve:
You know a leftist is out in moonbat territory when he thinks anyone who does not agree with everything he suports is a conservative. They can't even comprehend libertarianism. Everything is black or white. Moonbat or conservative.

Glenn Reynolds supports abortion rights, gay marriage and stem cell research. He cannot be called a conservative. If you think Glenn Reynolds is a conservative, you are a moonbat!


The irony is more than palpable.
1.9.2007 10:03pm
Mark Field (mail):

Glenn Reynolds supports abortion rights, gay marriage and stem cell research. He cannot be called a conservative. If you think Glenn Reynolds is a conservative, you are a moonbat!


To sheep, no doubt other sheep look different.



One problem liberals and left-wingers have is the failure to understand the difference between wanting laws to look like they used to look and society to do so. Speaking broadly, conservatives want the latter, not the former, while libertarians want the former, not the latter, and liberals don't realize there's a distinction.


So you're saying that you're really incompatible and you never should have married her?
1.9.2007 10:09pm
Truth Seeker:
Thorley, you're getting all excited over the stem cell question because it's too nuamced. Libertarians were against Bush's stem cell ban because it was a government rule on an existing program based on religious dogma, not science. If we were to step back and ask the question of whether government should be funding research with tax dollars, that would be a different question. But the stem cell question was not about the basics of any funding, but rather about, once the taxes are collected and earmarked for funding, how should they be spent.
1.9.2007 10:27pm
Tennwriter (mail):
Well as a working at it, conservative SF writer, I sure hope the notion that SF and conservatism don't work together is wrong. Well actually, I know it is.

It is true, I'll grant you that Libertarians in SF get more play than conservatives, just like Liberals in Hollyweird get more play.

The notion that SF has to be about improvements in Technology and social organization is problematic. Some SF is about that (and it could easily with some imagination be conservative--I'll get to that in a bit). But, I'm tempted to hubris when I suggest that maybe a majority of SF is not about that--frankly a lot of SF is about a decline in social organization.

Not just books, but whole sub-genres such as Cyberpunk, Post-Apocalyptic, Alien Invasion, and a fair chunk of the Military SF is rather gloomy to boot plus all the Liberal SF where Christianity, conservatism or capitalism or militarism triumphs and the world goes down the toilet. There is a lot of that last category which helps explain why so many fearful people today--Glenn was right when he said a lot of people took the Handmaid's Tale seriously.

Now, you could easily enough write about a world in which a revival of the Spirit (which happened in various places in England, and helped transform England from an anarchic place with horrifically tough laws such as hanging 13 yr. olds for stealing a loaf of bread, and out of control crime anyways to a more kindly, yet less criminal society) yields a more moral, kindly society with more mature, responsible, and generous people who need less gov't to restrain them since they have self-control, and the greater 'little legions' move power back from the gov't to the clubs and churches and associations of normal life, and this kicks in a tech surge (I think most Libertarians would agree with me here, so far. More moral people, plus smaller gov't, plus revivified private life==massive tech surge), and then write a story about conservatives having to deal with becoming superhuman entitities like the transhumanists dream of.

Actually such a story could easily fulfill one SF writer's vision of SF which was to offer a twisted mirror of the present. Such a story could focus on how the first 'supers' interact with the later comers--which might have interesting parrallels with US and Iraq.
1.9.2007 10:57pm
Pantapon Rose (mail):
Isn't support for the war in Iraq a traditionally liberal position? Using US power to take out fascists and correct the wrongs of the world sounds more like Clinton (Somalia, Kosovo) than elder Bush (Iraq War 1).

And, of course, withdrawing support when a war starts to go bad is also a traditionally liberal position.
1.9.2007 11:01pm
Jim Treacher (mail) (www):
To sheep, no doubt other sheep look different.


The same goes for asses.
1.9.2007 11:05pm
Truth Seeker:
Can it be that a libertarian is a conservative who doesn't believe in God. And a liberal is an atheist who doesn't believe in man?
1.9.2007 11:46pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Folks: "Kiss my ass" is hard to fit with "no profanity, personal insults, and the like." This is the latest of many transgressions by Greedy Clerk, but not the last; he is now banned. Everyone else: Please keep it thoughtful, substantive, and polite.
1.9.2007 11:55pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
By the way, while calling people you disagree with "moonbats" isn't quite as bad as "kiss my ass," it's not exactly conducive to reasoned debate, either. I say it again: Please keep it thoughtful, substantive, and polite.
1.9.2007 11:57pm
Enoch:
most politics in science fiction is extraordinarily primitive. They are mostly dictatorships, oligarchies, or even hereditary monarchies or some other kind of authoritarian system.

I seem to recall Ursula K. LeGuin making a scornful comment to the effect that all too many galactic empires are modeled on the British empire of the 1800s...

Back in 1999, David Brin made some trenchant comments on the politics of Star Wars:

George Lucas has an agenda, one that he takes very seriously. After four "Star Wars" films, alarm bells should have gone off, even among those who don't look for morals in movies. When the chief feature distinguishing "good" from "evil" is how pretty the characters are, it's a clue that maybe the whole saga deserves a second look.

Just what bill of goods are we being sold, between the frames?

* Elites have an inherent right to arbitrary rule; common citizens needn't be consulted. They may only choose which elite to follow.

* "Good" elites should act on their subjective whims, without evidence, argument or accountability.

* Any amount of sin can be forgiven if you are important enough.

* True leaders are born. It's genetic. The right to rule is inherited.

* Justified human emotions can turn a good person evil.


Primitive, indeed.
1.9.2007 11:58pm
r78:
To sum up, Ilya states that he (and most other VC libertarians disagree with Bush regarding

1. Government Spending.
2. His prescription drug program (by far Bush's biggest domestic policy initiative).
3. Gay marriage.
4. Stem cells.
5. the No Child Left Behind Act.
6. The Miers appointment.

And disagrees with conservatives on:
7. drugs
8. sex
9. gay rights,
10. defendants' rights
11. the moral value of tradition,

Of the 11, on 4 (1, 2, 5, and 6) you are more conservative than Bush.

Of the 11, on 5 of the 11 you are more liberal than Bush. These don't add up to 11 because the gay issue appears twice.

(And I am using the conservative/liberal labels in the sense that they are used in American politics today.)

To this list I would add the Iraq war, where it seems that most VC libertarians either support or are basically indifferent to given the paucity of posts by VC folks opposing it. That is another vote in the conservative bin.

Re the "War on Terror". It seems that most VC posters either think it is at least a justifiable inconvenience as opposed to a massive waste of time. That is another vote in the conservative bin.

Regarding the Electronic Surveillance by the Administration. Back when the furor was ongoing there was a deafening silence by VC posters about it and several comments noted that. It could be that and EV noted, he didn't post much about it because he was inexpert. Or it could be that EV and other VC posters were not terribly concerned by what many on the left viewed as the greatest assault on individual rights in the last 100 years. On balance that is another vote in the conservative Bin. This also calls your assertion that VC posters are in disagreement about the rights of defendants.

Regarding torturing American citizens (and others) who have not been charged - let alone convicted of any crime - once again there have either been murmurings of approval by VC posters or utter silence. That would be another vote for conservative. This, too, calls your assertion that VC posters are in disagreement about the rights of defendants.

Regarding Property Rights, I have seen multiple VC posts bashing the State's right to exercise eminent domain for various purposes. This is not a traditional liberal/conservative split, but it does go to the rights of ths state over the individual so that would place you in the conservative camp, too.

Finally, various VC posts have linked to run of the mill corporate propagandists like the AEI, Ted Frank, etc. and they are clearly in the conservative camp.

So I would put that 11 indicia where you are either in the conservative camp or to the right of Bush and 5 to the contrary.


Finally,
1.10.2007 12:04am
Perseus (mail):
Electronic Surveillance by the Administration...what many on the left viewed as the greatest assault on individual rights in the last 100 years...

Not racial segregation, not the Japanese internment, etc., but electronic surveillance by the Administration is what many on the left view as the greatest assault on individual rights in the past 100 years?!? Which lefties are these?
1.10.2007 12:44am
Ken Arromdee:
But as I and others have pointed out, there is nothing "libertarian" about the critique of Bush's stem cell policy as there is nothing "libertarian" about forcing taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research.

Some issues can be opposed for different reasons.

If you oppose government-funded stem-cell research because you oppose government-funded anything, then you're a libertarian opponent of stem-cell research.

If you oppose stem-cell research because you believe in some centuries-old religion that has ruled that stem cell research kills things with souls, you're a conservative opponent of stem-cell research.

It's wrong to say that Bush is more libertarian than many libertarians because he opposes stem-cell research and they don't. His reasons for opposing it have nothing to do with the reasons libertarians might have.
1.10.2007 1:19am
Elliot Reed:
As a card-carrying member of the left, I'm quite sure the NSA surveillance program is not the greatest assault on individual rights in the past 100 years. It's not even the greatest assault on individual rights by this administration (that would be when the Solicitor General told the Supreme Court that the President
1.10.2007 1:20am
Elliot Reed:
Accidentally hit 'post'. Let me just try that again:

As a card-carrying member of the left, I'm quite sure the NSA surveillance program is not the greatest assault on individual rights in the past 100 years. It's not even the greatest assault on individual rights by this administration (that would be when the Solicitor General told the Supreme Court that the President has the inherent authority to arrest and detain anyone, including U.S. citizens, on nothing more than his say-so). It's also, as Perseus mentioned, not as bad as apartheid or our concentration camps for Japanese Americans during WWII. But "not as bad as apartheid" isn't much of a defense, either for the substantive policy or for the failure to say anything about it.
1.10.2007 1:24am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
I'm amused by the concept that sci-fi is intrinsically libertarian, not conservative. It is certainly true that a lot of sci-fi is libertarian, and Heinlein's influence certainly plays a part in that. But before Heinlein, most sci-fi was extraordinarily non-political. It was so focused on technology that political structure was almost impossible to determine. A frighteningly good example is the original Star Trek series. Can anyone deduce from watching it what the structure of the society was?

1. There's a Federation, that seems to allow local planets to have their governments.

2. We get the impression that the Enterprise operates on some sort of judicial system (at least with respect to military justice) that is an evolution of American law. (The episode where the geeky looking lawyer demands the right to confront Kirk's accuser, and lists all the protections of defendant rights.)

3. But how are those planets governed? Is Earth an elitist dictatorship? Is it a democracy? Is it run by a modern United Nations? (Probably not: they would have been too corrupt to actually get any spaceships built.)

Even sci-fi writers who write vaguely libertarian fiction, such as Jerry Pournelle, have in the past clearly identified themselves as conservatives, not libertarians. Even Larry Niven, who has a more libertarian bent to his fiction, certainly criticizes some of the wilder anarchist delusions in his short story about the park where you can do anything you want except attacking others, and in the Niven &Pournelle novel Oath of Fealty.

I am also amused at how many leftists here insist on calling Eugene Volokh and Instapundit "conservatives." Look, I'm a conservative--not spectacularly so, but on a fair number of issues, there is a very clear dividing line:

1. Gay marriage. I am fiercely opposed to judicial imposition of it, but I would oppose it being passed legislatively.

2. Abortion on demand. I'm not keen on making abortion completely illegal--at least while there remains a sizable minority that thinks otherwise--but certainly restrictions designed to discourage it are a good idea.

3. I support an historical understanding of the establishment clause--not the parallel universe version that the ACLU has constructed, where the government is obligated to treat all religions and no religion on an equal basis.

4. I support enforcement of laws against child pornography, and while I would probably be considered a wicked heathen by James Dobson on what I would consider not to have crossed the line into having "no redeeming social value," I can see some real merit to using the existing federal and state laws to prohibit distribution of hardcore pornography that depicts violence, rape, bestiality, and coprophilia.

5. I think discouraging drug and alcohol use by minors is a really good thing, and I think lowering the "so drunk that freshmen can't find their way back to their dorm" age to 18 (one of Instapundit's pet goals) is a mistake.

Now, seriously, are there any of you leftists who think that Instapundit or Eugene Volokh are "conservatives"? Perhaps being in law school, you haven't met any conservatives, and therefore assume that because Instapundit and Professor Volokh are to the right of you, that this makes them conservatives. Nope. (A fair number of conservatives would regard me as too liberal, I think.)
1.10.2007 2:00am
Tom952 (mail):
The amazingly large sales of the "Left Behind" fantasy novels reveals a high affinity for fantasy literature among religious consertatives.
1.10.2007 8:12am
Al Maviva (mail) (www):
I'll agree that the Volokh khonspirators are 'conservative' when those of you to my left agree that communists, socialists and liberals are funcationally the same.
1.10.2007 8:42am
Dan Hamilton:

Finally, like Eugene, I'm happy to receive any review copies of science fiction books that publishers care to send me:). Who better to review new Sci fi and fantasy books than a blogger who has devoted posts to such topics as the portrayal of federalism in science fiction and fantasy, and The Law of Star Trek?


I hope this work for you. But do the Publishers people read this blog?
1.10.2007 8:49am
Jeek:
But before Heinlein, most sci-fi was extraordinarily non-political. It was so focused on technology that political structure was almost impossible to determine. A frighteningly good example is the original Star Trek series.

The original Star Trek came after Heinlein had written most of his major works - 26 of his 33 novels (including Starship Troopers) had been published when the original Star Trek series came out in 1966.

Original Star Trek is vaguely based on an "interstellar United Nations", but it didn't really need to be more specific in order to tell the story. One does get the feeling that the UFP tolerates armed intervention in the affairs of other planets, despite the "prime directive".

Even Larry Niven, who has a more libertarian bent to his fiction, certainly criticizes some of the wilder anarchist delusions in his short story about the park where you can do anything you want except attacking others, and in the Niven &Pournelle novel Oath of Fealty.

Niven has some fairly nasty governments in some of his works. For example, in the Known Space universe,

Earth, the human homeworld, is oppressive to an extent that would be unbelievable to most twentieth-century humans. Due to the perfection of organ transplant technology, all state executions are done in hospitals to provide organ transplants, and to maximise their availability, all crimes warrant the death penalty. A science known as 'psychistry' is used to 'correct' all forms of 'mental aberration'—the populace is incredibly docile. To combat overpopulation (one estimate is 18 billion people!), a licence is required to procreate, only available after exhaustive testing has determined that a prospect is free of 'abnormalities'; failure to acquire one before procreating is a capital crime—the populace is genetically homogeneous. To prevent the development of new WMDs, all scientific research is regulated and all potentially dangerous technology is suppressed-there have been very few real breakthroughs in science since the twentieth century.


On the other hand, many of those outside the Earth-Moon system (Belters etc.) are recognizably libertarian in philosophy.

"The State" in World Out of Time is pretty much a libertarian nightmare.

To this list I would add the Iraq war, where it seems that most VC libertarians either support or are basically indifferent to given the paucity of posts by VC folks opposing it. That is another vote in the conservative bin.

Not all conservatives supported the Iraq War, and it is a mistake to assume that anyone who supports the war is conservative.
1.10.2007 9:03am
Jeek:
before Heinlein, most sci-fi was extraordinarily non-political.

An important exception being Asimov's Foundation series!
1.10.2007 9:07am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
It's really only in the area of economic regulation where that generalization has any validity.

But economic policy is exactly why libertarians are tarred (apparently) with the conservative brush. Once you get the few social issues (which only became truly important to the "conservative" movement in this country in the last thirty years or so), you are the loony fringe of the right in this country. You absolutely oppose government intervention in environmental, consumer protection, or worker health and safety matters. You are staunchly anti-union and are opposed to a minimum wage. As for government anti-poverty programs, you are absolutely convinced that they are counter-productive and are therefore indifferent to poverty (since it is caused only through incompetent government intervention in the market or the laziness of the poor themselves). Yet for all your objections to government intervention in the market, you rarely if ever object to policies that tilt the playing field in favor of corporations or suggest the elimination of the government created fiction that is the corporation.

Just because you are radical on certain social issues doesn't mean libertarians aren't conservative. Certainly no one would argue that Andrea Dworkin or Catherine MacKinnon were conservative just because they were/are radical feminist anti-porn crusaders (and their definition of porn would comport with the most prudish Oklahoma church lady).

But how are those planets governed? Is Earth an elitist dictatorship? Is it a democracy? Is it run by a modern United Nations? (Probably not: they would have been too corrupt to actually get any spaceships built.)

You picked a really bad example with the Star Trek. Gene Rodenberry was a raging bleeding heart liberal and internationalist. The Federation of Planets (or whatever it was called) was clearly a democracy and was based on a United Nations type structure. From its multiracial and multiethnic crew it tackled some very hot button issues of the day: the left and right side black and white people; the first interracial kiss ever on network television.
1.10.2007 9:26am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
before Heinlein, most sci-fi was extraordinarily non-political.

But not science fiction films. The first great science fiction film (and still one of the best) Metropolis in 1926 was a political film and many the science fiction tv series and films of fifties (e.g. The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, The Body Snatchers) were either allegories of the cold war and communism or about the dangers of atomic power or the bomb.
1.10.2007 9:38am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

On the other hand, many of those outside the Earth-Moon system (Belters etc.) are recognizably libertarian in philosophy.

"The State" in World Out of Time is pretty much a libertarian nightmare.
It is also a conservative nightmare. And a liberal nightmare. About the only people that would not consider it a nightmare are the leftists with the integrity to call Stalin "the last real fighter for the people!" (Yes, I've met people who say things like that.)
1.10.2007 10:53am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

The original Star Trek came after Heinlein had written most of his major works - 26 of his 33 novels (including Starship Troopers) had been published when the original Star Trek series came out in 1966.
I know that, but in a lot of ways, Star Trek reflects the older tradition of sci-fi--the Amazing Stories tradition of bug-eyed monsters, leavened with Gene Roddenberry's good-hearted, well-intentioned, tremendously unrealistic 1960s liberalism. (Lots of people that used to be in that camp are now conservatives.)
1.10.2007 10:56am
Jeek:
So ironic that the message of the original Star Trek - that an interstellar American aircraft carrier has the right to intervene in local politics whenever the Captain wants to - was issued at the same time that real US aircraft carriers were engaged in violating the Prime Directive in Southeast Asia...
1.10.2007 11:13am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
J.F. Thomas, as usual, committing crimes against history:


But economic policy is exactly why libertarians are tarred (apparently) with the conservative brush. Once you get the few social issues (which only became truly important to the "conservative" movement in this country in the last thirty years or so), you are the loony fringe of the right in this country.
Only in the last thirty years or so? Hmmmm. Prohibition. It was a mistake, and one that many progressives joined with conservatives on, but it is a bit more than thirty years ago.

Part of what caused the social conservative cause to come back to a boil in the mid-1970s was a dramatic set of changes to the laws in the United States, with a number of states repealing laws against homosexuality and adultery, and the courts scrapping many of the existing laws about obscenity. These were causes that were important to conservatives for decades, but they were laws that had enjoyed supermajority support for decades.

You absolutely oppose government intervention in environmental, consumer protection, or worker health and safety matters. You are staunchly anti-union and are opposed to a minimum wage.
Libertarians aren't "staunchly anti-union." They don't see any reason to give them special legal privileges, since they are effectively the same as a corporation that seeks to monopolize a marketplace. Call unions what they really are--labor monopolies--and they aren't so attractive, are they?

By the way, you may have unintentionally shot yourself in the foot on this. Conservatives do not "absolutely oppose government intervention in environmental, consumer protection, or worker health and safety matters." You have confused libertarian doctrines (which are laissez-faire and individualistic) with conservatism (which leans laissez-faire but is generally more Christian-centered), and are criticizing libertarians for being conservative, when they are not.


As for government anti-poverty programs, you are absolutely convinced that they are counter-productive and are therefore indifferent to poverty (since it is caused only through incompetent government intervention in the market or the laziness of the poor themselves). Yet for all your objections to government intervention in the market, you rarely if ever object to policies that tilt the playing field in favor of corporations or suggest the elimination of the government created fiction that is the corporation.
Wrong again. This is an area where this claim would be right for conservatives, who have traditionally tilted in favor of corporations, and completely wrong for libertarians, who have long argued that corporation as legal person is unjustified. You obviously understand libertarian doctrine as well as you understand history.
1.10.2007 11:14am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

So ironic that the message of the original Star Trek - that an interstellar American aircraft carrier has the right to intervene in local politics whenever the Captain wants to - was issued at the same time that real US aircraft carriers were engaged in violating the Prime Directive in Southeast Asia...
You didn't watch Star Trek much, did you? There are a whole bunch of episodes where to need to avoid violating the Prime Directive provides much of the plot. The few episodes where Kirk violates the Prime Directive are very much the exception, such as the planet where the locals have patterned their society on Chicago gangsters of the 1920s.

There is one episode where the Vietnam War analogy is explicitly mentioned, and it involves a planet where the Klingons have been supplying advanced technology (flintlocks ) to their clients, and the Enterprise finds itself doing likewise in response to this aggression.
1.10.2007 11:18am
Mark Field (mail):

it is a mistake to assume that anyone who supports the war is conservative.


That might have been true in 2003. By now, continued support for the war in Iraq pretty much defines someone as a conservative. It's become one of those issues which serves as a "type" for classification.
1.10.2007 11:19am
jallgor (mail):
Elliot Reed wrote: "Libertarian" is NOT the same as "economically conservative and socially liberal."

It may not be the same but Libertarians tend to fall on same side as conservatives on economic issues and liberals on social issues. That's why the "left of Bush right of Bush" issue counting above is meaningless. the distinction is on why someone supports something not on whether they support it.

r78L: How many liberals do you know that are in favor of the use of eminent domain?

Finally, I don't understand where the Iraq War falls into this debate. Other than the usual "Republicans are warmongers and Democrats are doves" I have never seen anyone articulate why support, or lack of support, for the war would make someone conservative or liberal from the perspective of their political philosophy. Isn't the reason why you support or oppose the war the real issue as to your political philosophy?
Contrary to what a poster above stated, I believe the war was about self-defense and I supported it on that basis. I continue to support the decision to go to war because the presence of WMD's always meant little to me in the aalysis of whether Iraq was a threat to us. I don't think the war has been executed well but I also had no illusions that the current situation was a possibility and told many friends that I expected some level of troop commitment would be needed for 10 years or more. I generally consider myself a Libertarian and not a conservative. I see nothing about my support for the war as being inconsistent with my being a Libertarian.
So other than pure partisan type labeling, what is it about support for the war or more accurately, what motive for support makes someone conservative? If Bill Clinton had led us into Iraq would you automatically be a conservative if you opposed it? What about support/lack of support for Clinton's intervention in the Balkans? Did that automatically label someone liberal or conservative?
1.10.2007 11:28am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Libertarians aren't "staunchly anti-union." They don't see any reason to give them special legal privileges, since they are effectively the same as a corporation that seeks to monopolize a marketplace.

I see, libertarians have nothing against unions. Its just that they should be given any legal standing, which of course means that they simply wouldn't exist in a libertarian world. Isn't that like saying that you have nothing against limiting the liability of corporate stockholders, but the courts shouldn't enforce such agreements?

Wrong again. This is an area where this claim would be right for conservatives, who have traditionally tilted in favor of corporations, and completely wrong for libertarians, who have long argued that corporation as legal person is unjustified.

But you are not opposed to the concept of limited liability businesses or corporations in general. Why in a world of complete market freedom and freedom to contract should the government put laws in place to protect individuals against liability (especially when you recognize no similar government recognition of labor's right to collectively bargain)? That was my point. So are you saying that libertarians support the elimination of all laws that create artificial business entities and every business agreement should be based on an individual contract? I learn something new about libertarians every day. Heck, why should the government even be involved in land transfers and recording deeds?
1.10.2007 11:30am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Only in the last thirty years or so? Hmmmm. Prohibition. It was a mistake, and one that many progressives joined with conservatives on, but it is a bit more than thirty years ago.

But you are again confusing social conservatism and populism with economic conservatism which have always existed in tension in this country and many other places. The rich and powerful in this country routinely ignored prohibition and profited from quite handsomely (look at the Kennedys). Just like today, good Mormon families like the Marriotts don't mind making a mint of money by delivering porn to the guests at their hotels. And in the nineteenth century all kinds of sins were ignored or loosely regulated, just watch an episode of Deadwood. Not only that, the market was almost completely unregulated. You could sell almost any product, no matter how dangerous or worthless, and make any claim you liked about it, and if it killed or maimed the user or just proved entirely worthless the consumer had practically no recourse. It was a libertarian paradise.
1.10.2007 11:48am
Aultimer:

Cramer wrote-

3. I support an historical understanding of the establishment clause--not the parallel universe version that the ACLU has constructed, where the government is obligated to treat all religions and no religion on an equal basis.


Since this is a thread on Sci-Fi, it bears mention that Jefferson's Virginia is part of the coplanar universe, not a parallel one.
1.10.2007 11:49am
markm (mail):
I think that liberals who see a connection between science fiction and conservatism think that these two things are inherently "conservative":

1) Disdain for socialism

2) Approval of the military
1.10.2007 11:51am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Since this is a thread on Sci-Fi, it bears mention that Jefferson's Virginia is part of the coplanar universe, not a parallel one.
However: both Jefferson and Madison's actions as President demonstrate that they didn't share the ACLU's view of the establishment clause.

The ACLU's view of the establishment clause is the result of playing telephone--a series of precedents that distort previous precedents and evidence.
1.10.2007 11:57am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
J.F. Thomas writes:


But you are not opposed to the concept of limited liability businesses or corporations in general.
Actually, I am. I would support such an abolition as part of a move to a completely neutral, laissez-faire legal system. And I'm not even a libertarian (although I have some sympathies that direction).

Why in a world of complete market freedom and freedom to contract should the government put laws in place to protect individuals against liability (especially when you recognize no similar government recognition of labor's right to collectively bargain)? That was my point. So are you saying that libertarians support the elimination of all laws that create artificial business entities and every business agreement should be based on an individual contract?
Certainly that's the position that most libertarian economists have taken, and I think it was the position of the Libertarian Party platform at one time.
I learn something new about libertarians every day.
You have lots to learn about lots of things, Mr. Thomas.
Heck, why should the government even be involved in land transfers and recording deeds?
Because it reduces violence. Libertarians, of course, in their wilder flights of fantasy, imagine even this being privatized. This is part of why I am not a libertarian. You have to come back to reality occasionally.
1.10.2007 12:01pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
J.F. Thomas writes:



Only in the last thirty years or so? Hmmmm. Prohibition. It was a mistake, and one that many progressives joined with conservatives on, but it is a bit more than thirty years ago.


But you are again confusing social conservatism and populism with economic conservatism which have always existed in tension in this country and many other places.
You were the person making the claim that social conservatives didn't really care about any of their causes until 30 years ago, and I just demonstrated that you (as usual) were ignorant of history.

The rich and powerful in this country routinely ignored prohibition and profited from quite handsomely (look at the Kennedys).
"The rich and powerful" are all alike, aren't they? Just like all black people have natural rhythm. Did you know that the Asssociation Against the Prohibition Amendment (the group that finally got Prohibition repealed) was largely funded by conservatives such as the DuPonts?

Just like today, good Mormon families like the Marriotts don't mind making a mint of money by delivering porn to the guests at their hotels. And in the nineteenth century all kinds of sins were ignored or loosely regulated, just watch an episode of Deadwood.
Ah, so this explains your detailed knowledge of history--watching television.
Not only that, the market was almost completely unregulated. You could sell almost any product, no matter how dangerous or worthless, and make any claim you liked about it, and if it killed or maimed the user or just proved entirely worthless the consumer had practically no recourse. It was a libertarian paradise.
You might want to actually read something about the era, and the laws, and why the Progressive Era laws came about. A good start would be Gabriel Kolko's Triumph of Conservativism. Kolko is a socialist, but he had enough integrity to write a history of the Progressive Era that demonstrates that many of your fantasies above are wrong. Federal meat inspection laws, for example, were the result of aggressive lobbying by the largest meat packers, who wanted federal inspection as a way to beat down non-tariff import barriers in Europe. (The European meat packers had claimed the lack of U.S. government inspection meant the meat wasn't safe.)

Similarly, much of the federal regulation of interstate commerce was driven by a widely held belief that federal regulation would be less burdensome than state and local regulation of commerce--which often reflected populist sentiment in many parts of the country.

Mr. Thomas: you really need to learn some history from something other than television.
1.10.2007 12:10pm
Mark Field (mail):

How many liberals do you know that are in favor of the use of eminent domain?


I'm butting in here, but the actual use of eminent domain in any particular case has to be judged on its own merits. The power of eminent domain is one that I (a liberal) believe the government needs and should have.
1.10.2007 12:26pm
Adeez (mail):
I understand this is a simple analysis. But I always thought of libertarians as conservative on economic issues and liberal on social issues. Wouldn't that make them a true middle-ground party, no more conservative than liberal?
1.10.2007 12:30pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
"The rich and powerful" are all alike, aren't they? Just like all black people have natural rhythm. Did you know that the Asssociation Against the Prohibition Amendment (the group that finally got Prohibition repealed) was largely funded by conservatives such as the DuPonts?

Umm, I think you missed my point as this actually supports it (that "traditional" conservatives as represented by the business elite were against prohibition). I guess I did muddle my point a little when I made a little dig against the hypocrisy of socially conservative people (like the Marriotts) who nevertheless are willing to compromise their principles in the name of making a few bucks.

Federal meat inspection laws, for example, were the result of aggressive lobbying by the largest meat packers, who wanted federal inspection as a way to beat down non-tariff import barriers in Europe.

And of course the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle had nothing to do with it.

Kolko is a socialist, but he had enough integrity to write a history of the Progressive Era that demonstrates that many of your fantasies above are wrong.

Besides characterizing Kolko as a socialist being absolutely ridiculous, I was of course referring to the 19th century, not the early 20th. My little point about Deadwood was merely to point out that it is historically accurate to say that prostitution, gambling, and general lawlessness was rampant in large sections of this and many other countries (check out the estimated number of prostitutes in Victorian London). Heck, the word "hooker" comes from the prostitutes that followed Gen. Hooker's army in the Civil War.Similarly,

much of the federal regulation of interstate commerce was driven by a widely held belief that federal regulation would be less burdensome than state and local regulation of commerce--which often reflected populist sentiment in many parts of the country.

And this supports your point how? Business is constantly playing state and federal governments off each other to see which will serve its interests best. I will note that this site is all for Federalism except when it comes to state consumer protection laws on usury which it has spent considerable time deriding recently. Then it seems to be all for Federal regulation of banking.
1.10.2007 12:40pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


"The rich and powerful" are all alike, aren't they? Just like all black people have natural rhythm. Did you know that the Asssociation Against the Prohibition Amendment (the group that finally got Prohibition repealed) was largely funded by conservatives such as the DuPonts?



Umm, I think you missed my point as this actually supports it (that "traditional" conservatives as represented by the business elite were against prohibition). I guess I did muddle my point a little when I made a little dig against the hypocrisy of socially conservative people (like the Marriotts) who nevertheless are willing to compromise their principles in the name of making a few bucks.

You muddle all your points by your Marxist class interest arguments. Prohibition represented both social conservatives, concerned about the destructive effects of alcohol abuse, Progressives, who had this fantasy that banning alcohol would solve an enormous raft of social problems that were certainly correlated with alcohol abuse, and a fair number of wives who may have been completely apolitical, but were tired of hubby drinking up the paycheck before getting home.



Federal meat inspection laws, for example, were the result of aggressive lobbying by the largest meat packers, who wanted federal inspection as a way to beat down non-tariff import barriers in Europe.



And of course the publication of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle had nothing to do with it.
You should actually read about the role that it played. Sinclair wrote The Jungle as a criticism of the heartlessness of capitalism. As Sinclair himself later wrote, "I aimed a punch at America's heart, and hit them in the stomach." Sinclair's book--which possibly reflected reality at some of the smaller, less reputable meat packers who were actually driven out of business by meat inspection--was only part of the process.



Kolko is a socialist, but he had enough integrity to write a history of the Progressive Era that demonstrates that many of your fantasies above are wrong.


Besides characterizing Kolko as a socialist being absolutely ridiculous,
That's not my characterization--that was how Kolko described himself when he was invited to a libertarian conference some years back, by people that were enamored of his book, but didn't realize where he was coming from.

I was of course referring to the 19th century, not the early 20th.
Progressive Era: 1900-1916. Hmmm. That's a whole year away. Once again, your ignorance of history is exposed.

My little point about Deadwood was merely to point out that it is historically accurate to say that prostitution, gambling, and general lawlessness was rampant in large sections of this and many other countries (check out the estimated number of prostitutes in Victorian London).
Your claim was that in the laissez-faire market, there was no liablity for anything. That's not the same as widespread criminal behavior. (Prostitution was illegal in Victorian London, although police corruption meant that it was openly tolerated.)

The claim about no liablity is actually wrong on a number of counts. Some of the Progressive Era reforms were intended to solve problems before they happened--prior restraint applied to actions, rather than words. In some cases, the legal system did a poor job of ascertaining blame. With respect to food, in an age before modern microbiology, figuring what made someone sick was often difficult.

Workmen's Compensation systems came into effect at least partly because the legal system did a haphazard job of properly assigning blame to employer or employee for on the job injuries. The notion that there was no legal liability for one's actions, is a fantasy.
1.10.2007 1:00pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Business is constantly playing state and federal governments off each other to see which will serve its interests best. I will note that this site is all for Federalism except when it comes to state consumer protection laws on usury which it has spent considerable time deriding recently. Then it seems to be all for Federal regulation of banking.
I don't speak for Volokh Conspiracy. They are generally libertarian, not conservative. I support federalism as the Constitution defines.

The federal government's authority to regulate interstate commerce was originally intended as a way of preventing states from regulating it, by occupying that space. But even antebellum America had examples of federal regulation of interstate commerce. I believe that I have read about federal regulation of Mississippi steamboats based on that authority.

Postbellum, interstate commerce became subject to greater and greater federal regulation, and often as not, the motivations were to protect business interests that had the ear of Congress. This alone is an argument against giving too much regulatory authority to government agencies. Yes, they could use it for the benefit of the little people. But far more often than not, it is used for the benefit of those with the ear of the government. Best to limit their authority, including the authority of granting corporations limited liability. An American economy built entirely on partnerships and sole proprietorships would be quite different, I suspect.
1.10.2007 1:06pm
Parvenu:
Going back to the original post: I don't see the correlation between science fiction or fantasy and any particular political inclination.

Doctor Who is a science fiction that, for whatever reason, finds more favor among my liberal friends. I have no idea whether they're representative, but I see no reason to believe that they're not (at least of young, white-collar, law-school-grad liberals).

Stargate is a science fiction that has some conservative memes, including its friendliness to the American military and the fact that military solutions to problems are ultimately more often the only effective ones (Daniel Jackson's attempts at "dialogue" with hostile races generally end up with him needing rescue by more well-armed men than himself); however, it also includes a fair number of conservative memes, not least of which is that most religions, including Christianity, are portrayed as the remnants of long-forgotten alien occupation or domination of primitive Earth cultures. The Ori are not a caricature of Islam; they are the series' backstory behind the demons of Christian tradition (see, for example, the "lake of fire" in which they reside in their home dimension), just as their archenemies, the Ancients, are the series' portrayal of the angels. The fact that the series casts the angels as nothing but former mortals (whose technology is so advanced that it appears supernatural even to us) is definitely not a conservative meme.

Battlestar Galactica is the only science fiction show I've ever seen praised in National Review, for whatever that's worth. That said, it doesn't fall neatly into either camp and at least some of its story arcs could be interpreted as sympathetic to Iraqis and/or Palestinians under superpower occupation. In addition, humanity is portrayed as polytheistic (apparently following a centuries-evolved form of Zoroastrianism, of all things), while the cybernetic Cylons are monotheistic.

Firefly was unabashedly libertarian, in as close to the pure sense of the word as one can get; one of the primary movers behind the show was an objectivist.

On the fantasy side, I think the reputation the genre has for being conservative-friendly comes primarily from the two most well-known names in the genre, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. However, as another commenter already noted, Stephen R. Donaldson is hardly a conservative. An even more notable liberal fantasy writer was Marion Zimmer Bradley, editor of the Sword and Sorceress anthology and author of The Mists of Avalon, a feminist retelling of the Arthurian legend from the perspective of Morgain and Guenevere, in which basically every male character, as well as Christianity, comes off poorly.

Anyway, a long trip for a short point: the associations between science fiction and libertarianism and between fantasy and conservatism both seem to be fairly tenuous.
1.10.2007 1:12pm
Centrist:

I think that liberals who see a connection between science fiction and conservatism think that these two things are inherently "conservative":

1) Disdain for socialism

2) Approval of the military

I think the reason for the connection is that neither sci-fi authors nor conservatives see any need to heed reality when developing their plots.
1.10.2007 1:16pm
Aleks:
Re: But he was certainly a conservative.

Maybe in a small "c" way only. I cannot imagine him being a fan of our Mr Bush or even Britain's Mrs. Thatcher. A couple years back there was a debate on NRO about this: Is LOTR conservative or liberal? The consensus was that it is both, or neither. You can find both liberal and conservative themes in Tolkien's popular writings. As examples of the former, his environmentalism (long before that became popular) and the odd lack of overt religiosity in Middle Earth (even if you read the background mythology in the Silmarillion, Tolkien's "god" is more of a Deist-type being, remote and mostly uninvolved after the act of creation.)

Re: Part of what caused the social conservative cause to come back to a boil in the mid-1970s was a dramatic set of changes to the laws in the United States, with a number of states repealing laws against homosexuality and adultery, and the courts scrapping many of the existing laws about obscenity. These were causes that were important to conservatives for decades, but they were laws that had enjoyed supermajority support for decades.

This is not quite true. Today's "religious Right" germinated from protests against the loss of tax breaks for certain church schools that still practiced segregation in the 1970s. The most charitable thing one can say is that the motive was self-interest (and the least charitable thing to say is that this was flat out racism.) The changes in laws and mores in the 60s and 70s didn't really seem to bother anyone at first; the Southern Baptists even supported Roe vs Wade and abortion rights for some years before hopping on the pro-Life bandwagon. In fact, only the Roman Catholic Church (whose sociopolitical stance is partially liberal, partially conservative) was much perturbed by changes to laws on divorce, birth control and abortion initially.
1.10.2007 1:17pm
Shelby (mail):
Parvenu:
conservative memes, not least of which is that most religions, including Christianity, are portrayed as the remnants of long-forgotten alien occupation or domination of primitive Earth cultures

How is this "conservative"? If anything this appears to undermine the notion of religion, making it perhaps not liberal, but at least anti-conservative.
1.10.2007 1:25pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Workmen's Compensation systems came into effect at least partly because the legal system did a haphazard job of properly assigning blame to employer or employee for on the job injuries. The notion that there was no legal liability for one's actions, is a fantasy.

And you accuse me of ignorance. There was nothing haphazard at all about how the common law assigned blame for on the job injuries. It was assigned to the employee and was the employee's responsibility. Workmen's Compensation systems came into being to address this inherently unjust situation that could only be rectified by government action.

And while the idea that there was no legal liability for ones actions is overstating it, the point is that corporate and individual liability for selling or producing dangerous products was extremely limited and changed drastically in the twentieth century. What liability that existed generally was limited only to the parties to a contract (if you were harmed by a dangerous product, your only recourse was against the person you purchased it from, not the manufacturer). To this day we buy cars from independent dealers precisely because in the early days of the automobile industry the manufacturers made the conscious decision not to sell directly to the public so they could protect themselves from liability suits for selling defective products. Even though those days are long gone the marketing structure remains.
1.10.2007 1:31pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
But economic policy is exactly why libertarians are tarred (apparently) with the conservative brush. Once you get the few social issues (which only became truly important to the "conservative" movement in this country in the last thirty years or so),
But your second sentence is true only if "social issues" are defined as "abortion." (And, surprise, it "only became truly important to the conservative movement" when the Supreme Court took it out of the hands of the legislatures such that it had to be a national issue.) Given that the modern Democratic party is built around race and abortion, dismissing the social side of politics as if it represented just a narrow segment ("a few social issues") is disingenuous.

Just because you are radical on certain social issues doesn't mean libertarians aren't conservative.
Yes, it does.

Nor are libertarians "conservative" on economic policy. Libertarians are, well, libertarian on economic policy. We are not in favor of "policies that tilt the field in favor of corporations," whatever that means. We're not in favor of policies that tilt the field at all.
1.10.2007 1:31pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Over one hundred posts into this, and nobody has mentioned that when referring to a blog as "conservative," it's fair to include the general tenor of *comments* as well as posts.

While there are a handful of at least semi-regular liberal commenters at the VC, the clear majority of comments at the VC are conservative, and conservative of all stripes -- from the economic conservatism of libertarians, Republicans, and others, to religious right stuff, to simple anything-to-the-left-of-Lieberman = communists/terrorist loving/anti-American.

Plus, some regular Conspirators are reliably on the conservative/right-wing side of things (David Koppel and David Berstein, for example). Nothing wrong with that, but it's not unfair to label them as such.

So, sure, while Eugene, Dale Carpenter, and Orin Kerr do sometimes (articulately and intelligently) distinguish their positions from those of mainstream conservatives on current issues on libertarian grounds, and while "libertarianism" is indeed different than "conservatism" on some issues, it's hardly unfair to call this a "conservative" blog as a whole.

Related but distinct point on Greedy Clerk being banned. Although I'm not one of the most active liberal commenters here, I'm around enough to have seen liberals get attacked personally and with considerable invective -- typically by a pretty easily identifiable group of right-wing commenters. I'm a big boy and I can deal with it, but I'm not sure G.C.'s use of the word "ass" puts him in such a different category as a number of other folks that post here on the other side of the fence. Of course, it's not my blog, but I would vote for a reconsideration of the ban.
1.10.2007 1:48pm
CrosbyBird:
But I always thought of libertarians as conservative on economic issues and liberal on social issues.

Recognizing it as an oversimplification, it seems more accurate to me to say that conservatives are libertarian on economic issues and that liberals are libertarian on social issues. A reason libertarians ally with conservatives (as traditionally defined) on economic issues is because they take less in taxes from the individual and favor smaller government. A reason libertarians ally with (again, traditionally defined) liberals on social issues is because they place fewer restrictions on individual actions and emphasize choice over government rule.

Re: stem cells, the ship has already sailed on the money being taken away. It might as well go toward the cause of eradicating health issues that potentially reduce the need for future government expenditure rather than funding an intellectually backwards program like Intelligent Design.

Re: gay marriage, again, the ship has already sailed. Marriage as an institution and the resultant financial benefits are not going away. Once that is accepted, it becomes an individual rights issue, and that is one of the few roles the government should have, namely, ensuring that the rights of the individual are protected.

Those aren't conservative positions.

Many libertarians agree or disagree with a political position in light of certain assumptions of things that aren't changing in any reasonably near future. Beyond that, if the only way to be considered a member of a group is to be hugging the pole at the very end, there's going to be nothing but moderates and lunatics.
1.10.2007 1:54pm
Mark Field (mail):

Anyway, a long trip for a short point: the associations between science fiction and libertarianism and between fantasy and conservatism both seem to be fairly tenuous.


I'm kind of skeptical of the claim also. Just to take two other recent examples, I might call Buffy the Vampire Slayer "liberal", but it got good reviews from NR. I have no idea how to characterize X-Files.
1.10.2007 1:55pm
Parvenu:
Shelby:

Misprint. I meant to put "liberal memes" there, to contrast with "conservative memes" in the opening sentence of that paragraph. :-( Oops.
1.10.2007 1:57pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Not only that, the market was almost completely unregulated. You could sell almost any product, no matter how dangerous or worthless, and make any claim you liked about it, and if it killed or maimed the user or just proved entirely worthless the consumer had practically no recourse. It was a libertarian paradise.
I'm not sure it's very fruitful to argue with someone who thinks Deadwood is a reference source, but, no, that's not a "libertarian paradise." You don't understand libertarianism. "Making any claim you like about" a product is not libertarian. Preventing fraud -- of course, by fraud I mean actual fraud, not what passes for fraud these days among the ATLA crowd -- is one of the core purposes of government, according to libertarianism.
1.10.2007 1:58pm
Cornellian (mail):
An American economy built entirely on partnerships and sole proprietorships would be quite different, I suspect.

So different one might hesitate to describe it as a modern economy. I don't think we'd see much investment if investing a dollar on the stock market put your entire life savings at risk. I seem to recall reading a story recently (might have been in the Economist) about the economies of Middle Eastern countries. It said that the economic structures of modern Western economies (limited liability corporations, regulated securities markets etc.) largely do not exist in the Middle East. I can't help but think that's a major barrier to economic advancement in those countries, over and above the obvious problems of corruption and a political culture poisoned by sectarian hatred.
1.10.2007 2:06pm
Parvenu:
David:

That doesn't tell us much without a concept of what you consider "actual fraud." I'm sure a fair number of ATLA types do in fact consider the practices they think should give rise to liability are in fact actually fraudulent, not merely "constructively fraudulent" or whatever the appropriate converse of "actual fraud" would be. You can give a definition of "actual fraud" that puts so onerous and unrealistic a duty to investigate on a prospective consumer or investor that it effectively does amount to an unregulated marketplace.
1.10.2007 2:10pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
And this supports your point how? Business is constantly playing state and federal governments off each other to see which will serve its interests best. I will note that this site is all for Federalism except when it comes to state consumer protection laws on usury which it has spent considerable time deriding recently. Then it seems to be all for Federal regulation of banking.
1) "This site" isn't "for" anything. There are numerous contributors here who have different views.

2) Federalism, contrary to the beliefs of liberals who simply spit and make a sign to ward off the evil eye when they hear the word, is not a "state always wins" doctrine. Federalism holds that the state and federal governments each have certain roles to play.

3) Being "for" something as a philosophical or policy matter is different than being for something as a legal or constitutional matter. And being "for" something as an ideal constitutional matter is different than being "for" something as the constitution is actually interpreted -- e.g., I oppose all federal involvement in welfare, but if it is going to be involved, I would prefer it do so in ways that minimize government interference. (e.g. housing vouchers rather than government housing projects).
1.10.2007 2:26pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
So different one might hesitate to describe it as a modern economy. I don't think we'd see much investment if investing a dollar on the stock market put your entire life savings at risk.
But note that there's nothing inherent about that. The idea that limited liability for investors is government interference in a free market depends on the notion that unlimited liability is the natural state of things, rather than a policy choice. There's no inherent reason why investing a dollar in the market should make you liable for more than a dollar's worth of harm caused by the people to whom you gave the money.
1.10.2007 2:32pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Aleks writes:


This is not quite true. Today's "religious Right" germinated from protests against the loss of tax breaks for certain church schools that still practiced segregation in the 1970s. The most charitable thing one can say is that the motive was self-interest (and the least charitable thing to say is that this was flat out racism.)
News to me. Much of the protests started in West Virginia with disputes concerning the teaching of evolution in public schools. Bob Jones U. lost its tax exempt status because of segregation, and I think some of the segregated private schools set up in the South in the 1960s probably did so as well, but I can't recall ever seeing any Religious Right leader complain about those tax breaks going away.
1.10.2007 2:42pm
ys:

I hope this work for you. But do the Publishers people read this blog?

After it was mentioned as a powerful source by the NYT, they just might.
1.10.2007 2:45pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


Workmen's Compensation systems came into effect at least partly because the legal system did a haphazard job of properly assigning blame to employer or employee for on the job injuries. The notion that there was no legal liability for one's actions, is a fantasy.
And you accuse me of ignorance. There was nothing haphazard at all about how the common law assigned blame for on the job injuries. It was assigned to the employee and was the employee's responsibility. Workmen's Compensation systems came into being to address this inherently unjust situation that could only be rectified by government action.

I've spent a bit of time reading the case law associated with California's Workman's Compensation system. You are simply wrong with respect to the situation there. Employees were usually the loser under the common law system, but not always, and the problems of proof meant that the results were quite unpredictable. California's Workman's Compensation law ended up replacing a system where an employer could be (and sometimes was) hit with substantial bills with a system where the employee was limited to a fixed amount of payment, regardless of employer liability.

A few years back, a driver for the Southern California Rapid Transit District called in an urgent request for help. In the 40 minutes that it took for them to dispatch a police car, she was attacked and raped by a passenger. She filed suit, alleging that negligence on the part of her employer had caused her to suffer severe emotional trauma. And the courts told her that she no longer had ANY right to sue her employer for negligence. She was entitled to the Workmen's Compensation fixed payment system, no different than if she had fallen down the steps of the bus. Great system you guys created, isn't it?

And while the idea that there was no legal liability for ones actions is overstating it,
So why did you say it?
the point is that corporate and individual liability for selling or producing dangerous products was extremely limited and changed drastically in the twentieth century. What liability that existed generally was limited only to the parties to a contract (if you were harmed by a dangerous product, your only recourse was against the person you purchased it from, not the manufacturer). To this day we buy cars from independent dealers precisely because in the early days of the automobile industry the manufacturers made the conscious decision not to sell directly to the public so they could protect themselves from liability suits for selling defective products. Even though those days are long gone the marketing structure remains.
That might have been one reason (although since you say it, I'm skeptical--perhaps your source is Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), but one of the reasons for independent dealers is that the manufacturers wanted an extensive network of parts suppliers and repair facilities. This was originally not perceived as a highly profitable situation, so it was tied to selling new cars--which was highly profitable.
1.10.2007 2:50pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Making any claim you like about" a product is not libertarian. Preventing fraud -- of course, by fraud I mean actual fraud, not what passes for fraud these days among the ATLA crowd -- is one of the core purposes of government, according to libertarianism.

Funny, there was a whole thread a couple weeks ago touting the wonders of the deregulation of the dietary supplements industry. And that has allowed all kinds of unsubstantiated claims to be passed off as true and all kinds of patent medicines and homeopathic treatments to be sold as safe and effective with minimal evidence of either. In fact in many instances the exact opposite has been found. Several manufacturers of vitamins have just been fined $25 million for claiming that their products helped with weight loss.

Libertarians also want the market for drugs deregulated, in effect letting the consumer and pharmaceutical companies decide, not the nanny-state, what is safe and effective. All the while approving of efforts to hamper consumer access to the courts (as is evidenced by your disdain for ATLA).

The idea that limited liability for investors is government interference in a free market depends on the notion that unlimited liability is the natural state of things, rather than a policy choice. There's no inherent reason why investing a dollar in the market should make you liable for more than a dollar's worth of harm caused by the people to whom you gave the money.

Well of course the idea that collective bargaining is government interference in a free market depends on the notion that individual employment contracts are the natural state of things rather than a policy choice. There's no inherent reason why similarly situated workers in a market shouldn't bargain collectively against the power of a corporation, which after all is not made up of individuals but a monolithic group of liability protected stockholders.

See how easy it is to for both sides to play this game?
1.10.2007 2:54pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


An American economy built entirely on partnerships and sole proprietorships would be quite different, I suspect.

So different one might hesitate to describe it as a modern economy. I don't think we'd see much investment if investing a dollar on the stock market put your entire life savings at risk.
I would expect that almost all corporations would have very large liability insurance policies to deal with this problem. For highly risky businesses, the premiums would probably be so high as to discourage those businesses from operating. You have a problem with that?
I seem to recall reading a story recently (might have been in the Economist) about the economies of Middle Eastern countries. It said that the economic structures of modern Western economies (limited liability corporations, regulated securities markets etc.) largely do not exist in the Middle East. I can't help but think that's a major barrier to economic advancement in those countries, over and above the obvious problems of corruption and a political culture poisoned by sectarian hatred.
There's a lot of things missing in Islamic countries (at least those that take it seriously): interest, for example. That's probably even a more serious obstacle than limited liability. But you can always count on a leftist to complain about limited liability of corporations, and when you agree that it is bad, and should be eliminated--then they get upset that you agreed with them about this.
1.10.2007 2:55pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Libertarians also want the market for drugs deregulated, in effect letting the consumer and pharmaceutical companies decide, not the nanny-state, what is safe and effective. All the while approving of efforts to hamper consumer access to the courts (as is evidenced by your disdain for ATLA).
You don't suppose disdain for the ATLA might be related to the absurd lawsuits that trial lawyers have filed? Suing McDonald's because some people lack the self-discipline to not eat there daily? Suing gun manufacturers because a gun worked as intended, and was criminally sold after the original lawful retail customer purchased it? I have seen one such suit where the criminal obtained the handgun because he dug it up in someone's back yard. What next? Are you planning to sue General Motors because a criminal used a Chevrolet in a drive-by?

There are reasons that prohibiting lawyers from becoming judges starts to make some sense.
1.10.2007 3:00pm
Jeek:
You didn't watch Star Trek much, did you? There are a whole bunch of episodes where to need to avoid violating the Prime Directive provides much of the plot.

The Prime Directive was constantly violated, and on the flimsiest of pretexts (of course the real reason was Dramatic Necessity). Off the top of my head, I can think of a number of episodes in the original series in which the PD is violated (in addition to the one you cite where they arm the primitives): the one where they destroy the Nazi world, the one where they stop the war that is fought by computer simulation, the one where they take over the planet that is based on 1930s gangsters, the one where Kirk destroys the Landru computer, the one where Kirk destroys the Vaal computer, the one where Kirk becomes a God to the Native Americans, the one where the other Captain uses his phaser in the war between the Yangs and the Kohms, the Galileo 7 episode where they phaser the furry giant creatures. I bet there are more if I think about it.
1.10.2007 3:02pm
Miggs:
Greedy Clerk-

Farewell
1.10.2007 3:03pm
John M. Perkins (mail):
Hmmm, no agreement on "conservative."
Little agreement on "libertarian."
No agreement on "excluding Sundays."

But heavy agreement on "orginal meaning" of compromised wording of Hamilton, Madison and Mason?

So says this -3.63 Leftist/-4.15 Social Libertarian who loves Dr. Who, Roger Zelazny, Robert Howard, Ursula LeGuin, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, E.P. Thomson [Psychaos Papers], Star Wars IV &V, Star Trek [particular Enterprise], Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Yevgeny Zamaytin, Stargate movie and SG1 [but not Atlantis].

Heinlein was always better on the back cover blurbs than in stringing together something that caught my attention.

Best read, "A Rose for Ecclesiastes," best flic "Blade Runner."

Yes, there's a left wing tinge to the list. I don't think it's the political message as much as the quality of the prose/dialogue. Just look at Howard and self-proclaimed libertarian John Milius' adaption. Brilliant.

BTW, for a fabulous indy film, check out "The Whole Wide World" with Vincent D'Onofrio as Howard.
1.10.2007 3:09pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Although this is getting far off the original topic, re the history of workers' comp, two things were simultaneously true: (1) the great bulk of workers' on-the-job injuries were not compensated, creating a public scandal; AND (2) in a not-insignificant number of cases, relatively sympathetic judges and/or juries managed to get around the very restrictive legal rules of the day (comparative negligence, fellow-servant rule, etc.) and award decent-sized settlements in a fairly unpredictable way.

Thus, there was sentiment on BOTH sides for the legislative fix that became workers' comp. That's one reason why workers' comp laws were passed earlier than most other worker-protective laws (although whether workers' comp turned out to be such a great deal is another issue).

Now, whether any science fiction writer has addressed how to compensate injured workers is another question, one I can't answer.
1.10.2007 3:10pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Funny, there was a whole thread a couple weeks ago touting the wonders of the deregulation of the dietary supplements industry. And that has allowed all kinds of unsubstantiated claims to be passed off as true and all kinds of patent medicines and homeopathic treatments to be sold as safe and effective with minimal evidence of either. In fact in many instances the exact opposite has been found. Several manufacturers of vitamins have just been fined $25 million for claiming that their products helped with weight loss.

Libertarians also want the market for drugs deregulated, in effect letting the consumer and pharmaceutical companies decide, not the nanny-state, what is safe and effective. All the while approving of efforts to hamper consumer access to the courts (as is evidenced by your disdain for ATLA).
You are at least attacking libertarians for libertarian ideas now. This is progress. Libertarians believe the government has no obligation to prevent sales of marijuana, heroin, meth, or plutonium. Conservatives don't have that much confidence in the wisdom of every consumer.

Disdain for the ATLA isn't the same as "efforts to hamper consumer access to the courts." Civil suits are a fundamental part of protecting rights, both of consumers and of businesses. I would guess that the vast majority of civil suits are actually businesses suing businesses.

Still, just because civil suits are necessary doesn't mean that every civil suit is appropriate or sensible. The suits against gun manufacturers for guns that worked as intended, and where the manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer had all followed all federal, state, and local laws, were an example of the corruption of the trial lawyer mentality. Read Outgunned, by one of the trial lawyers involved. He was quite direct in saying that the purpose of these suits was to drive the industry out of business, since there simply wasn't the political will to do so. He described trial lawyers as the "fourth branch" of the federal government. (The ATLA version of the U.S. Constitution must be very entertaining.)

What's amazing is how incredibly ignorant the author was about guns and existing gun control law. Here was a guy that thought he had the right to drive the handgun manufacturers out of business because they weren't doing the right thing--and he didn't even know what the current federal gun control laws were! But why should you actually know something about the subject before you arrogantly try to impose your will on the rest of the country? That's what being a trial lawyer is all about.

The author even lovingly described how one of his recently dead partners had faked a heart attack in a courtroom on a Friday afternoon because he wanted to give his summation on Monday morning, just before the jury went to decide the case. And the author was proud of this dishonesty!
1.10.2007 3:10pm
markm (mail):
Jeek beat me to it. I watched every episode of the original series, many times - and in every show involving less advanced planets, the Prime Directive was, like the guarantees of individual freedom in the Soviet Constitution, something that people would piously cite while violating it.
1.10.2007 3:12pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):


You didn't watch Star Trek much, did you? There are a whole bunch of episodes where to need to avoid violating the Prime Directive provides much of the plot.

The Prime Directive was constantly violated, and on the flimsiest of pretexts (of course the real reason was Dramatic Necessity). Off the top of my head, I can think of a number of episodes in the original series in which the PD is violated (in addition to the one you cite where they arm the primitives): the one where they destroy the Nazi world, the one where they stop the war that is fought by computer simulation,
In that case, this was a society that was at a level of equality and therefore not subject to the PD.
the one where they take over the planet that is based on 1930s gangsters,
As I mentioned, only to deal with the damage caused by a previous violation--and even then, they were careful not to change their social structure, but only make themselves "the Feds"
the one where Kirk destroys the Landru computer, the one where Kirk destroys the Vaal computer, the one where Kirk becomes a God to the Native Americans,
Where Kirk gets shocked, and develops amnesia, so he has forgotten the PD the one where the other Captain uses his phaser in the war between the Yangs and the Kohms, the Galileo 7 episode where they phaser the furry giant creatures.Both imminent loss of life self-defense uses, I believe.
I bet there are more if I think about it.
There probably are. But there are plenty of episodes where they go out of their way to avoid it.
1.10.2007 3:17pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
That might have been one reason (although since you say it, I'm skeptical--perhaps your source is Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), but one of the reasons for independent dealers is that the manufacturers wanted an extensive network of parts suppliers and repair facilities.

You know it's funny I'm being savaged for citing Deadwood (which btw has been praised for being true to the era and region it depicts) where much of the discussion is revolving around how many times the Prime Directive was violated on Star Trek.

And Jeek, have you ever kissed a girl?! You need to get a life!
1.10.2007 3:18pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Jeek beat me to it. I watched every episode of the original series, many times - and in every show involving less advanced planets, the Prime Directive was, like the guarantees of individual freedom in the Soviet Constitution, something that people would piously cite while violating it.
I'm so glad that Roddenberry was a liberal!
1.10.2007 3:18pm
josh:
First, I think there's a discrepency between listing a number of issues with which you disagree with a particular political movement or party, and the question of whether one still remains an adherent to that movement or party. I'm happy to call myself a liberal, even though the leaders of the movement/party often make me want to tear my hair out.

Accordingly, when Ilya made the following post at 7:30 pm, I think he made that very error:

"Several people try to make the weak claim that the VC and Glenn Reynolds is in fact conservative or the downright silly claim that we are somehow cheerleaders for Bush. Let's see, both Glenn and most of the VC posters disagree with Bush on (just to emphasize a few highlights):

1. Government Spending.
2. His prescription drug program (by far Bush's biggest domestic policy initiative).
3. Gay marriage.
4. Stem cells.
5. the No Child Left Behind Act.
6. The Miers appointment.



Yes, we agreed with Bush on the decision to invade Iraq. So did half the Democrats in Congress. That no more makes us conservative or pro-Bush than it does Hillary Clinton.

In this context, it's worth noting that last fall I argued right here on the VC that it would be good for the country if the Republicans lost the November election.

The above is a list of disagreements with Bush, and of course disagreeing with Bush is not always the same thing as disagreeing with conservatives. However, most of the VC posters disagree with conservatives on nearly all the standard issues on which libertarians and conservatives split (drugs, privacy, sexual freedom, gay rights, etc.)."

First, I disagree with Bush (and thus agree with Ilya) about 1 (government spending). Does that make me a libertarian? Of course not, it is but one of a hundred relevant issues with which we define our philosophies.

Second, I think it's wrong to lump Glenn Reynolds in with this blog. The Volokh Conspiracy posters, for the most part, regularly exhibit a level of intellectual honesty never seen on Instapundit. In my view, Reynolds (like Althouse) has lost the "right" to call himself a moderate or libertarian by constantly and consistently posting only that which supports conservative positions and derides liberal ones. Are there exceptions? Of course, but they are very few and very far between.

Third, any attempt to define Democrats (or liberals) for the vote on the war is specious because of the level of information available when the vote was made. Regardless of what one thinks of the question of Bush "lying" to the public about our intel regarding WMD, no commission, study, report, investigation, etc has been conducted in the question of whether Bush cherry picked only the "bad" intel when reporting to those who authorized the vote. It is simply a canard to say the legislative branch was privy to the same intel as the executive was prior to the war. (See p 15 of the summary of the Robb-Silberman report)

Finally, and to reiterate, the complaints about Glenn Reynolds' claims at libertarianism focus on his unending support of all things Republican and derision of all things Democratic. One simply cannot fit into any reasonable definition of libertarian with such conduct. I do not see the same exhibited on this blog.
1.10.2007 3:24pm
MnZ (mail):
The litmus tests that determine Liberal and Conservative have become utterly absurd. Many "Liberals" now consider people like Christopher Hitchens to be a "Conservative" while many "Conservatives" considers people like Rudolph Guiliani to be a "Liberal."

Pure idiocy...
1.10.2007 3:27pm
josh:
As an additional matter, I appreciate Prof. Volokh's decision to ban those who behave inapprorpriately on this site by name calling and whatnot. But will he apply the same standard to any future references to the Powerline blog, which regularly refers to its critics as "Moonbats?" John Hinderaker seems to be a favorite here, but his conduct vis-a-vis civility is indistingushable from the tone taken by Greedy Clerk above.

And, Ultimately, this is the type of issue that makes some on the left question the credibility (and thus stated political philosphy) of certain bloggers. To me, the term "moderate" (and even "liberterian" at times) means a certain level of intellectual honesty and evenhandedness. Where Glenn Reynolds, for example, only cites the incivility of left-leaning commentators on such blogs as the dailykos, but fails to take on identical behavior by rightwingers who call for the hanging of supreme court justices (or experienced attorneys who can only call their opponents "Moonbats"), he loses all credibility to call himself a moderate or liberterian.
1.10.2007 3:31pm
MnZ (mail):
I think there's a discrepency between listing a number of issues with which you disagree with a particular political movement or party, and the question of whether one still remains an adherent to that movement or party.


I disagree. I don't consider myself a member of any "movement or party." However, I agree with certain movements and parties at times. Personally, I think that it is dangerous to consider oneself a member of a movement or party first at the expense of ones ideals.
1.10.2007 3:35pm
MnZ (mail):
Regardless of what one thinks of the question of Bush "lying" to the public about our intel regarding WMD, no commission, study, report, investigation, etc has been conducted in the question of whether Bush cherry picked only the "bad" intel when reporting to those who authorized the vote. It is simply a canard to say the legislative branch was privy to the same intel as the executive was prior to the war.


The Clinton Administration sure had me convinced that Sadaam was hiding WMD. I am assuming that they were privy to similar intelligence.
1.10.2007 3:51pm
josh:
The Clinton admin's arguments for continuing sanctions against Iraq and the Bush rationale for war are two entirely different matters. Only one was presented to Congress, the American public and the world as justification for preeminent attacks.
1.10.2007 4:00pm
josh:
"Personally, I think that it is dangerous to consider oneself a member of a movement or party first at the expense of ones ideals." The you probably shouldn't consider yourself as such.

For others, it's perfectly plausible to look at politics as a menu of hundreds of issues and, because we only have two practicably electible parties, choose which one supports more of the issues on that menu that you support. It's not difficult for the able-minded to maintain one's ideals and still vote.
1.10.2007 4:03pm
Shelby (mail):
Josh,

Is it really unreasonable for the VC to link to other sites that use language that is frowned on but not forbidden here ("moonbat")? Especially when those links are relatively uncommon (compared to, say, links to Howard Bashman)?
1.10.2007 4:07pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Back to Tolkien ...

Maybe in a small "c" way only. I cannot imagine him being a fan of our Mr Bush or even Britain's Mrs. Thatcher.

Right, small "c". The big "C" for him was "Catholic," which as I rather glancingly said makes LOTR cut across our current ideological grain.

But Tolkien's preference for traditional mores, his dislike for "progress," are evident. Let's put it like this: if we're forcing everybody into two camps, "Tolkien is conservative" is a lot less weird (and much more defensible) than "Tolkien is a liberal."

He would disdain libertarians even more than liberals, I suspect ...
1.10.2007 4:08pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Only one was presented to Congress, the American public and the world as justification for preeminent attacks.

What makes an attack "preeminent" I wonder? Is it a matter of consensus amongst attacks in general?
1.10.2007 4:12pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
But Tolkien's preference for traditional mores, his dislike for "progress," are evident.

Tolkien's disdain for the modern and progress was almost certainly due to his experiences in World War I. He most likely suffered from what today we would call PTSD. He experienced first hand the horrors of the destruction that industrial society was capable of inflicting on people and the environment and retreated into academia and a pastoral fantasy of an England that never existed and another he invented.
1.10.2007 4:27pm
Ken Arromdee:
There's no inherent reason why investing a dollar in the market should make you liable for more than a dollar's worth of harm caused by the people to whom you gave the money.

There's no inherent reason why similarly situated workers in a market shouldn't bargain collectively against the power of a corporation, which after all is not made up of individuals but a monolithic group of liability protected stockholders.


Bargaining between workers and corporations can be handled by contracts between the workers and corporations (and there's no reason a libertarian society would prohibit doing it collectively). Liability cannot, because it involves liability to third parties who have not signed contracts.
1.10.2007 5:16pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Josh writes:

To me, the term "moderate" (and even "liberterian" at times) means a certain level of intellectual honesty and evenhandedness.
Why? My experiences with the Libertarian Party persuaded me that libertarians, like moderates, conservatives, liberals, and Marxists, come in all flavors, from intellectually honest, fair, and thoughtful, to manipulative, crooked, and reactionary.
1.10.2007 5:27pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

The Clinton admin's arguments for continuing sanctions against Iraq and the Bush rationale for war are two entirely different matters. Only one was presented to Congress, the American public and the world as justification for preeminent attacks.
So the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 was passed by Congress without any input from the Clinton Administration?
1.10.2007 5:29pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
J.F. Thomas writes:

Tolkien's disdain for the modern and progress was almost certainly due to his experiences in World War I. He most likely suffered from what today we would call PTSD. He experienced first hand the horrors of the destruction that industrial society was capable of inflicting on people and the environment and retreated into academia and a pastoral fantasy of an England that never existed and another he invented.
Amazing: Thomas finally got something right.

It wasn't just the horrors that Tolkien experienced, but the loss of friends. A whole generation of Europeans came out of World War I both personally traumatized and made cynical by the way in which the war had been portrayed. Sad to say, it wasn't just the doing of the governments. It had been a century since a really large scale, long-term, destroy everything and everyone war had been fought in Europe, and the abstractions of honor and the higher calling of war were just too attractive to poets. I remember one in particular where the poet (who later came to reality in the trenches) talks about war was going to cleanse England's youth of its dirty little stories and selfishness.

When real evil came along--not simply a dispute about over a Serbian punk assassin--a whole generation of people in their cynicism refused to believe that there was anything worth fighting over. The Vietnam debacle has had much the same effect, with a big chunk of that generation convinced that in any struggle, the U.S. is by definition on the wrong side--even when confronting people who recruit members by showing themselves beheading conscious people on videotape.
1.10.2007 5:37pm
josh:
Shelby:

I don't think it is unreasonable. Perhaps I have been unable to articulate it, but I find an inherent intellectual honesty to this site that I don't find with the likes of Instapundit or Powerline. I just made the comment to put the thought in Prof V's head. My point was that I appreciate the thoughtfulness of keeping the discussion civil (on a site like this. I can't lie. I love Sadly No! But I dont have much of a problem with those types of sites on the right and feel they serve a different purpose). And I wanted to put the idea in Prof V's head that some of the things he cites to do not maintain or attempt to maintain the same civility. That's all. Not really a snark or strongly held opinion on that. My gripe is more with the likes of Instapundit, who only links disparagingly to the incivility of the left, and ignores the same on the right (thus defeating his claim of moderation). I don't see a similar practice on this site.

Clayton Cramer:

To some extent, I agree. Obviously there are intellectually dishonest people of all political stripes. But for now, the dishonesty of the right (including Instapundits, et al) is more glaring because of how the country is positioned in world events. Take Clinton's impeachment as an example. I thought it intellectually dishonest for the left to bury the notion that it has for years sought gender equality in the workplace. That might not translate to impeachment, but one would expect the honest opinion maker to state up front his or her objection to the subjugation of women in the workplace before arguing against impeachment. Here, I find the right with simply a higher burden considering the situation they're gotten us into. Simple statements of apology for blamaing bad news from Iraq on the media, that things are going swimmingly there, etc. are called for in my opinion.

Moreover, I think the term "moderate" partuclarly connotes some level of balance an honesty between the endpoints of the political specturm in America today. One simply cannot reasonably define oneself as a moderate if one repeatedly (with only the most minor exceptions) supports conservative positions and derides liberal ones. That is not moderation. Perhaps it is my error to oftentimes equate moderates with liberaterians. Certainly liberaterians are often cast as the most extreme of the bunch. But, again, in today's political climate, it would seem to me that to truly muster the label of liberterian, one would need to straddle the political fence a lot more than the likes of Instapundit. Again, as with above, I do not really see that being as much of a problem for the posters on this site.
1.10.2007 5:42pm
josh:
Clayton

Did you even read the Iraq Liberation Act that you linked to????

It states, in part, "Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are: The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and law-abiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region ... My Administration has pursued, and will continue to pursue, these objectives through active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions. The evidence is overwhelming that such changes will not happen under the current Iraq leadership. In the meantime, while the United States continues to look to the Security Council's efforts to keep the current regime's behavior in check, we look forward to new leadership in Iraq that has the support of the Iraqi people. The United States is providing support to opposition groups from all sectors of the Iraqi community that could lead to a popularly supported government."

So the objectives were to get Iraq to join the world order, and Clinton's sole proposals for doing so were (1)the "active application of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions" and (2) "providing support to opposition groups from all sectors of the Iraqi community that could lead to a popularly supported government."

I can't really think of a response to any attaempt to equate those objectives and actions with the burden of proof I think necessary for preemptory attack. Moreover, the citation to this presidential statement provides little insight into the evidence presented to congress, the public and the world regarding the evidence (or cherry-picked evidence) of Iraq's WMDs, so I'm not sure how it contradicts my earlier point.
1.10.2007 6:11pm
Elliot Reed:
The Vietnam debacle has had much the same effect, with a big chunk of that generation convinced that in any struggle, the U.S. is by definition on the wrong side--even when confronting people who recruit members by showing themselves beheading conscious people on videotape.
Because, of course, when there are two sides and one of them is evil it follows that the other one must be an exemplar of spotless moral purity.

Seriously, the fact that the people we're fighting are bad guys doesn't mean that (a) we're not engaging in evil acts in the course of fighting them (b) we're fighting in order to help the oppressed people who really need it rather than moneyed special interests or (c) prosecution of a war is actually accomplishing anything.

I think issue (c) is the big problem with Iraq, but (a) and (b) have been big issues with other American foreign-policy interventions, such as our decision to support the Baathist coup that put Hussein in power.
1.10.2007 6:35pm
Dan Hamilton:
Josh your memory is to short term. Before Bush was even in Office there wasn't ANYONE who said that Sadam had no WMD. EVERYBODY said that Sadam HAD WMD. Goverments around the world, Clinton, Democrats, Republicans, EVERYONE. Nobody said anything against it. I don't think even Sadam ever said he didn't have WMD.

The OBJECTIVES and ACTIONS have NOTHING to do with "Weither Sadam had WMD or NOT". Clinton said Sadam did but did nothing about it. Bush said the SAME THING and did something about it. We can disagree on what Bush DID. The FACTS are that Clinton and Bush said the same thing about Sadam's WMD. You can have your own opinion, you can't have your own facts.

The whole meme that "Bush Lied" was invented by the Democrats to attack Bush. There is no evidence that Bush lied. There is evidence that Bush and the REST OF THE WORLD were wrong about how much WMD Sadam had but that doesn't mean that Bush lied, just that he was wrong. There is also evidence (we found some WMD) that shows for a FACT that Sadam HAD WMD. There is also the possibility that most of Sadam's WMD was moved out Iraq just before the war.
1.10.2007 6:42pm
Shelby (mail):
Dan,

Please stop shouting.
1.10.2007 7:00pm
Dan Goodman (mail) (www):
Heinlein was a radical leftist when he began writing. His views changed. Poul Anderson was far enough left to support Henry Wallace, became a conservative, and then a libertarian/conservative mixture. There are other science fiction writers who have changed, including some who've moved left.

It's my impression that sf writers fit along political spectrums at about the same percentages as the general population --skewed because they're more likely to be from middle-class backgrounds. However, they're more likely to want tax money spent on manned space exploration; less likely to support teaching creationism.
1.10.2007 7:32pm
Dan Goodman (mail) (www):
Heinlein was a radical leftist. He was also a conservative -- at a different time in his life.

Poul Anderson also moved from left to right during his career. And there are other sf writers who've changed politically, including some who've gone from right to left.

I would say that most sf writers fall into the same percentages along various political spectrums as do people from similar backgrounds. However, there's probably a lower percentage of politically apathetic people and a higher percentage of off-the-scale ones.
1.10.2007 7:40pm
Aleks:
Re: But Tolkien's preference for traditional mores, his dislike for "progress," are evident.

Here we run into a problem, namely that mnodern American conservatism is NOT anti-progress-- as long as that progress is expressed as economic growth. What Tolkien thought about "growth" is very blatantly expressed in his treatment of Saruman and the "industrialization" of Isengard, and, later, of the Shire, and it is not a pretty picture.
His anti-capitalism, IMO, does not make him a liberal either, but it puts him well outside the pale of American conservatism, and probably of Thatcher-style British conservatism too. (And as an aside, Tolkien's letters show him as being less than admiring of Winston Churchill, so he was off the conservative reservation even in his own day.)
1.10.2007 9:09pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Funny, there was a whole thread a couple weeks ago touting the wonders of the deregulation of the dietary supplements industry. And that has allowed all kinds of unsubstantiated claims to be passed off as true and all kinds of patent medicines and homeopathic treatments to be sold as safe and effective with minimal evidence of either. In fact in many instances the exact opposite has been found. Several manufacturers of vitamins have just been fined $25 million for claiming that their products helped with weight loss.
Yes, and what exactly is your point? Some people commit fraud. I don't think anybody has ever claimed otherwise. And libertarians don't want to allow companies to "claim that their products help with weight loss" unless they actually do help with weight loss. On the other hand, libertarians don't want the government deciding that a person can't take a dietary supplement because a government bureaucrat hasn't approved it.
Libertarians also want the market for drugs deregulated, in effect letting the consumer and pharmaceutical companies decide, not the nanny-state, what is safe and effective. All the while approving of efforts to hamper consumer access to the courts (as is evidenced by your disdain for ATLA).
I don't want to "hamper consumer access to the courts." People can have all the "access" they want, for meritorious suits.

Well of course the idea that collective bargaining is government interference in a free market depends on the notion that individual employment contracts are the natural state of things rather than a policy choice. There's no inherent reason why similarly situated workers in a market shouldn't bargain collectively against the power of a corporation, which after all is not made up of individuals but a monolithic group of liability protected stockholders.

See how easy it is to for both sides to play this game?
No; you're playing a different game -- one that involves not making sense. Libertarians do not argue against collective bargaining. We argue only against forcing either side to engage in collective bargaining.
1.10.2007 9:26pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
[Tolkien] would disdain libertarians even more than liberals, I suspect ...
Would he? Ever checked out the government of the Shire, except the brief period under Sharkey? There was only one elected official, the mayor, and his job was ceremonial. The other 'government' duties were to deliver messages and watch the borders.

He was definitely not a dynamist sympathizer -- but if you read his Letters, he points out that when you try to force stasis on the world, it leads to disaster; that was the 'sin' of the elves.
1.10.2007 9:40pm
Byomtov (mail):
Libertarians do not argue against collective bargaining. We argue only against forcing either side to engage in collective bargaining.


"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."
1.10.2007 9:41pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Byomtov, I believe as long as we're going to engage in dueling quotes, the rebuttal to that one is, "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others."
1.10.2007 10:55pm
Josh Jasper:
Folks: "Kiss my ass" is hard to fit with "no profanity, personal insults, and the like." This is the latest of many transgressions by Greedy Clerk, but not the last; he is now banned. Everyone else: Please keep it thoughtful, substantive, and polite.



Unless it's homophobic ranting about how homosexuals are child molestors. Somehow that always gets a green light.

This is a double standard. You let conservatives get away with constant abuse of liberals, homosexuals, Muslims, and anyone else who's on the conservative hit list.

Why not just ban people for disagreeing with you. It'd be more honest?
1.11.2007 1:17pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Why not just ban people for disagreeing with you. It'd be more honest?

Because that's not the way conservative libertarian blogs work. You get banned for being rude to right wingers, not for making substantive points. Of course the conservatives, or whatever they choose to call themselves (since apparently conservative is an offensive term) can call the liberals all kinds of vile things and make ad hominum attacks but they will never be banned because, well, just because.
1.11.2007 4:07pm
Colin (mail):
That's not fair - the last VC ban I remember was Jack John (John Jack? Something like that.) who was banned for calling liberals vile things and making ad hominem comments.
1.11.2007 4:46pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Because, of course, when there are two sides and one of them is evil it follows that the other one must be an exemplar of spotless moral purity.
I don't anyone sensible makes that claim. Still, if the choice is between thorough evil--the sort that tortures people to death because it thinks it makes them more followers--and a side that sometimes does evil things as an alternative to greater evil (waterboarding al-Qaeda operatives to get information that prevents future 9/11s), most sensible people correctly decide that the great evil must be stopped.

Your position is why a lot of very noble, utterly clueless people at the start of World War II made excuses along the lines of, "Well, Britain and France are imperial powers. The U.S. has segregation and lynching. They aren't spotless and perfect, therefore there's no reason to prefer them over the Nazis."
1.11.2007 6:29pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Josh writes:

Unless it's homophobic ranting about how homosexuals are child molestors. Somehow that always gets a green light.
You can give some examples of this? I've never seen this--nor would I expect it, since Professor Volokh bends over backwards to abhor homophobia.

I have seen (and I myself have posted comments) pointing to evidence of disproportionate molestation levels by homosexuals. I have been careful to not claim that there is an equality between molesters and homosexuals, because clearly there is not; most homosexuals are not molesters. I have (and others as well) have pointed to correlations that suggest a causal connection between victimization and adult homosexuality. That's not the same thing, unless you aren't reading very carefully.
1.11.2007 6:34pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Josh writes:

I can't really think of a response to any attaempt to equate those objectives and actions with the burden of proof I think necessary for preemptory attack.
What, exactly, makes it okay to engage in acts of subversion of another government (which isn't just a matter of saying unkind things about that government) and invading it? In both cases, people get killed--and sometimes innocent people get killed.

As for burden of proof: that was met with the invasion of Kuwait, the attempted assassination of a former U.S. President, granting asylum to a person indicted for the first World Trade Center bombing, the genocide against the Kurds, the Marsh Arabs, the continuing use of torture by the Hussein Administration, refusal to abide by at least 17 different U.N. Security Council resolutions, granting asylum to Abu Nidal, wanted for the murder of a U.S. citizen, funding of terrorist organizations in Palestine. Shall I go on?
1.11.2007 6:37pm
Colin (mail):
Clayton Cramer, 2007:

You can give some examples of ["homophobic ranting about how homosexuals are child molestors"]? I've never seen this--nor would I expect it, since Professor Volokh bends over backwards to abhor homophobia.

Clayton Cramer, 2006:

NAMBLA, gay groups, the ACLU. Are these divisible? Not very easily--and the ACLU tends to be harder to divide from NAMBLA and the gay groups than dividing NAMBLA and gay groups.

I don't think that the VC is unfair with their comment policy. Enforcement seems a little arbitrary from time to time, but (A) less so than on many other sites and (B) almost certainly as a result of how rarely bans are applied.

Having said that, as Clayton Cramer's sordid comment history shows, some commenters are given very long leashes. I like to think that it is because airing out bilious prejudices gelds them.

When this thread started--or rather, the sci-fi thread preceding it--I hoped it would turn into a discussion of literature. Maybe someone would start to discuss authors, or the value of the genre, or noteworthy books. I guess not.
1.12.2007 12:38am
Tennwriter (mail):
I found Cramer's views of interest, but I agree that I preferred to see a discussion of books.

One person above talked of Jerry Pournelle in a possibly libertarian light. Well, I visit his website "the original blog" as he puts it, a couple times a week.

He's a Paleoconservative.

I don't entirely agree with this view, but at times the Paleos do make good points, and he is a patriot who loves America, and is a serious thinker so even when I disagree its useful (although sometimes I'm staring at them with a big 'hunh?' on my face).

He's for restoring the Republic, limiting the government, and for the West and the Christian way of life (he described a three-fold war of ideas between Christianity-the most tolerant, Islam--less tolerant, and Atheists--least tolerant of all), and for advancements into space and engineering.

I think in this post, and my previous one, I've put paid to the notion advanced in the original post of there not being affinity between conservatism and SF.

What there may not be is publishers quite so eager to publish conservative SF (except for Baen nowadays).

What I would like to see is some more Imaginative Conservative SF. I deeply enjoy the books of David Weber and David Drake and John Ringo (all nice guys I've met--why yes, thats name-dropping), but I wouldn't mind some more non-military SF which put a conservative into a mind-bending situation. Perhaps a First Contact novel would be good.

And yes, Weber wrote a recent Honor Harrington novel which avoided ship-to-ship combat mostly,a nd instead spent the almost entirety on interstellar politics inside and between two 'warring' gov'ts. It was a fascinating examination of Liberals lying to keep power, and use tax money to keep power,a nd the surprisingly deadly fruit that this seemingly relatively innocent corruption brought. It was a definite case of sow to the wind, reap the whirlwind.
1.12.2007 1:28am
Colin (mail):
Hmmmm. I enjoy Drake's work, and Weber's (especially his collaborations with Steve White). I think that Ringo, though, really needs a coauthor to keep his work on track. I got a kick out of the "March" series, and the Posleen stuff up to a point, but he just can't keep his politics out of his books. That's not a fatal flaw, but he doesn't write politics well. He turns it into petty sniping, making his worst and vilest villains into cartoonish caricatures of the political perspective he wants to deride. (China Meiville, an author whose work I really enjoy, does the same thing from the other side of the spectrum, but in my mind his work is saved by the fact that he just doesn't have many outright villains. And because his work is much more complex, a reader can find what he wants there rather than being forced to slog through the author's griping.) Along the same lines, I think that Weber is best when he sticks to rewriting Hornblower. His political machinations turn into political cartoons much too quickly.

(Ringo's real problem in my eyes, and the reason I stopped buying his books, is that I'm tired of reading about hot girl commando virgins who are as sexy as they are deadly. I went through three of his novels, found essentially the same character in each one, and that was enough for me. A little creepy.)

S.M. Stirling is (sort of) conservative, and writes more interesting political scenarios. Very militarisic, but less so than Weber, White, Drake or Ringo. His Draka stuff can be a little overbearing--he seems like he was working through some sexual issues himself--but the Protector's War books weren't bad.

I haven't read David Brin in a while, but he might be just what you're looking for. He's more libertarian than conservative, but his "Uplift" books are, in a way, all an extended first-contact story.

Also, I read a book a long time ago called "Forge of the Elders." I don't remember it being very good, because it was a very dry and very, very, very preachy libertarian fable (it's the preachy, not the libertarian, that bothered me). But it wasn't military sci-fi, and you might characterize it as more "conservative."
1.12.2007 3:09am
Colin (mail):
On a tangent, and hoping to skew this thread more towards interesting books, I've just started reading Sudhir Venkatesh's "Underground Economy." I've been wanting to read some of his own work since Freakonomics, which discussed his research into the economics of being a crack-dealing gangster in Chicago. I'm only a little ways into it, but so far it's a fascinating study of hustling and getting by in a Chicago slum.
1.12.2007 3:23am
Jeek:
David Weber and David Drake and John Ringo

I find them unreadably bad, suitable only for teenage boys of the least sophisticated sort.

S.M. Stirling is (sort of) conservative, and writes more interesting political scenarios. Very militarisic, but less so than Weber, White, Drake or Ringo. His Draka stuff can be a little overbearing--he seems like he was working through some sexual issues himself--

He clearly likes the Draka a bit too much, to the point where it's creepy.
1.12.2007 10:08am
TDPerkins (mail):
Jeek,

S.M.Stirling likes writing about the Draka, and digresses into the technology they employ (who wouldn't think a tank driven by a triple compound steam engine with axial turbine powered auxilliaries was cool?)--it's a very great stretch to say he likes the Draka.

In fact, in the novel Drakon which is set a few hunded years after The Stone Dogs, I'd have to conclude (if he finishes the series Drakon begins), he'll very much enjoy writing about how our America (or one much more like ours than the one in the earlier Domination books) hands the Draka their a$$.

Oh wait.

You think it's creepy to express approval of America too.

My bad.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, &pfpp
1.12.2007 3:51pm
TDPerkins (mail):
You think /= You probably think

Sorry, posted w/o noticing the deletion. TDP
1.12.2007 4:03pm
Colin (mail):
S.M.Stirling likes writing about the Draka, and digresses into the technology they employ (who wouldn't think a tank driven by a triple compound steam engine with axial turbine powered auxilliaries was cool?)--it's a very great stretch to say he likes the Draka.

I think Jeek was probably referring to the fact that all of the novels (except Drakon) are told almost exclusively from the perspective of Drakan characters. He does make them charismatic villains, but having read the rest of his work I think he does intend for them to be seen as villains.

In fact, in the novel Drakon which is set a few hunded years after The Stone Dogs, I'd have to conclude (if he finishes the series Drakon begins), he'll very much enjoy writing about how our America (or one much more like ours than the one in the earlier Domination books) hands the Draka their a$$.

Drakon was an outlier, stylistically and thematically. I liked it alright, but it wasn't as complex or as interesting as The Stone Dogs or Marching Through Georgia. I do wish he'd finish the series, but I doubt that he will. It read to me like a standalone novel, and he's in the middle of his Sky People series (which I think would have been better as short stories) and starting a new Protector's War series (which would be great if he'd lay off all the Wicca crap). There's also a book (maybe two?) of short stories set in the Draka universe. They were OK, but the farther he gets from the series' roots the less interesting those stories are to me. If he goes back to the series, I'd rather he write prequels or vignettes set during the wars.

You think it's creepy to express approval of America too.

That was crass and uncalled-for.
1.12.2007 4:04pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Back in 1999, David Brin made some trenchant comments on the politics of Star Wars:


I remember reading David Brin's piece on Star Wars and I'm a bit surprised to see someone actually quoting it. It was rife with factual errors (there was no "hereditary rule" in Star Wars and Grand Moff Tarkin not Darth Vader ordered the destruction of
Alderaan). Also his suggestion that Star Trek was somehow more democratic and less "elitist" than Star Wars seemed odd since nearly every episode of Star Trek revolves around the same seven or so senior officers who make pretty much all the decisions.
1.12.2007 5:50pm
TDPerkins (mail):
That was crass and uncalled-for.


I've read many of his posts. It seems quite accurate, if perceptive only in an on-the-nose fashion.

Cordially, Tom Perkins
1.12.2007 10:08pm
Mr. Mandias (mail) (www):
"You think it's creepy to express approval of America too."

Really uncalled for. Look, I'm as gung-ho American as anybody--and conservative by *any* definition--and I had the exact same reaction to the Draka series. They and their author are sick.
1.13.2007 2:45pm
Jeek:
S.M.Stirling likes writing about the Draka, and digresses into the technology they employ (who wouldn't think a tank driven by a triple compound steam engine with axial turbine powered auxilliaries was cool?)--it's a very great stretch to say he likes the Draka.

I think Stirling likes it when the Draka sexually subjugate their enemies. He wants them to win - and they do, in his novels - so that the entire world is thus subjugated. I think he's OK with the harsh brand of slavery the Draka impose, too.

He likes them. It is creepy.
1.13.2007 6:35pm