Thu. May 31
Science Fiction Is Inherently Conservative
Editor’s note: This piece is part of a symposium in which a variety of writers and thinkers weigh in on the relationship between conservatism and pop culture.
Acculturated: Can you think of good examples of conservatives doing pop culture and could you say a word or two about them?
Glenn Reynolds: Well, the notion that right-leaning pop culture is driven by politics but left-leaning pop culture is not is transparent twaddle. Leftist political messages have simply become so established in pop culture that people treat them as part of the wallpaper–which is, of course, the Gramscian strategy.
One place where conservatives–and particularly libertarians–do pop culture well is in the science fiction field. Authors like Sarah Hoyt, John Ringo, David Drake, and even Harry Turtledove produce excellent writing in the Robert Heinlein vein, which leans libertarian-right. And John Barnes is very capably reprising the brilliant Heinlein juvenile novels of the 1950s in a twenty-first century style.
Of course, academic-writing-seminar types have been proliferating in the science fiction world (often creeping in via fantasy) and some worry that they’ll ruin the field. But I don’t think so. There’s too much of a fan base for more traditional science fiction. In fact, with the new “Human Wave” movement of prohuman, protechnology science fiction, there’s big pushback against dreary literary antiheroes and dystopian futures. Likewise, though I don’t know how Neal Stephenson identifies politically, his Hieroglyph Project harkens back to the muscular science fiction of the Golden Age.
Acculturated: Why do you suppose conservatives do well in SF? Is there something about SF that lends itself to a conservative disposition?
Glenn Reynolds: Science fiction is inherently rational and forward-looking. That puts it at odds with contemporary liberalism.
Glenn Reynolds is the Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee and blogs at Instapundit.