7 Leftist Trends in Science Fiction

Tim @ Random Observations has a Science Fiction and Leftism post in which he details seven leftists trends in science fcition. Here’s the short version:

7 Leftist Trends in Science Fiction

  1. The Misunderstood Villain
  2. Moral “Evolution”
  3. Atheism
  4. Globalism
  5. Child-Worship
  6. Moral and Cultural Relativism
  7. Free Love

13 thoughts on “7 Leftist Trends in Science Fiction”

  1. That’s a really poorly thought out article, and not worth anyone’s time to read, examine or tear apart. Skim it if you want a giggle, but don’t bother reacting to it.

  2. Lets see, just looking at the list, and not the article:

    1. The Misunderstood Villain – Not leftist so much as not fundamentalist .

    2. Moral “Evolution” – Not so much leftist as not-antiphilisophical.

    3. Atheism – Huh? Athiests aren’t necessarily left. Maybe he’s thinking communist not leftist.

    4. Globalism – Not leftist so much as not navel-gazing. The world exists, deal.

    5. Child-Worship – Uh, no. You definitely don’t have to be leftist to be a child worshiper.

    6. Moral and Cultural Relativism – Not so much leftish as not utterly paradigmaticly blind.

    7. Free Love – Even leftists know T.A.N.S.T.A.F.L. (their ain’t no such thing as free love)

    It’s more a list of “7 things that threaten my belief system.”

  3. should have called it “liberal trends”…leftism partiains to a partical flavor of liberalism…many of those listed really have nothing to do centrilized control of the economy and are simply run of the mill liberal ideas.

    In no way does being an athiest equate to being a leftists and as to free love i find it hard to fathom…one only has to look Stalin’s or Che’s tendancy to kill of homosexuals or China’s one child policy to find the stupididty of equating the left with free love.

  4. Wow. That’s fucked up. As an atheist with nothing but contempt for the left I’m also a tad offended.

    Oh wait, it’s from a blogger. never mind.

    Many people on the right need to be reminded that morality and its codification as law predates monotheism.

  5. The author does make the concious decision to equate christianity to being right wing and athiesm with “leftism”. Which is a bit silly really. There already is a proper term for athiesm, it’s called athiesm. You have to wonder about the motives of a person who deliberately sets out to make such a substitution to make a point.

    It’s interesting to see Orson Scott Card identified as an athiest lefty author.

  6. Two points in defense of TANSTAAFL meaning what I said.

    1. “…means that a person or a society cannot get something for nothing. Even if something appears to be free…”

    2. It was funny.

    ;)

  7. It is very true that science fiction is (generally speaking) hostile to religion, so the idea of the article is interesting. But the guy needs to seperate religion/philosophy from politics. Left/Right is not a religious position, it’s a political one. It’s a HUGE problem in the USA that people don’t realize that they are not the same thing. It neuters religion and stifles political debate.

  8. I would disagree with Scott that SF is hostile to religion, considering how many science fictional religions there are. Paul Atriedes call for jihad and Worf’s steadfast belief in Stovo-Kor are not, in general terms, viewed as extremist or fundamentalist. The Foundation books are riddled with religious apologetics, and just about character on Babylon 5 had deep seated religious beliefs.

    There was a panel at the last Readercon about how Campbellian SF assumed that a secular worldview wold win out over a religious one to form the consensus future that most early SF took place in. I think such a view could be construed as hostility to religion.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Scott’s take on left/right. Such a fact should be self-evident, and the fact that t isn’t tells me we’re a long way from a secular worldview.

    Some links:

    http://blue.butler.edu/~jfmcgrat/sci-fi/intro.htm

    http://www.adherents.com/lit/

  9. Two items…

    “2. It was funny.”

    To mis-quote ST: “Humor. A difficult concept.”

    As for religion in SF, there is plenty of religion in SF, or at least there is plenty of famous uses. See Walter M. Miller. See James Blish, and the “reply” by Ken MacLeod. See Robert A. Heinlein. See Arthur C. Clarke.

  10. While it might be a stereotype to equate the political Left with Atheism, it is a stereotype that gets reinforced each time the ACLU sues a township to remove a nativity scene, or the Ninth Circuit declares the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. To put it mildly, it was not Edmund Burke who coined the phrase calling religion the opiate of the masses.

    But I do think the blogger here may be mistaking cause for coincidence. Skepticism of religion has been a major theme in SF from the STAR TREK movie where Spock shoots God with a phaser canon, through the use of the Great Galactic Spirit as a fraud in Asimov’s Foundation series, through the Church of Fosterism as a fraud in STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND and as another kind of fraud in SIXTH COLUMN by Heinlein, all the way back to Olaf Stabledon and HG Wells, whose views, to say the least, were not those of the religious mainstream of their day. Some of these men were Left in their politics (HG Wells was, certainly), but Science Fiction by its nature challenges tradition, and concentrates on how the future will change us.

    Even SF stories that portray religion in the futures as recognizably related to our own, such as in DUNE (the Fremen are Zensunni, i.e. Zen Sunni, that is, Buddhist Mohammedans) or in ENDYMION (a Catholic Church dystopia) or in Gordon R. Dickon’s DORSAI books (The Friendly are Space Puritans) once again emphasize how these institutions would differ from our own, almost beyond recognition.

    SF books that are positive toward religion, usually relegate religion to the background (The Norlaminians in SKYLARK OF SPACE, for example, seem to have a vaguely Protestant Deism, no doubt worshipping the same Great Cosmic Spirit that Klatuu mentions in DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL who alone possesses the power of life and death).

    And this is for the quite reasonable reason that dwelling on religion in a positive way, as a divine institution rather than a corrupt human institution, departs the story from Science Fiction. If your story has in it a Church guided by the Holy Spirit according to Heaven’s Plan rather than Seldon’s Plan, you are no longer in a scientific universe. Ergo skepticism of religion is natural for Science Fiction: the default assumption.

    (I should mention this is not some special peculiarity of SF. You can have ghosts or monsters in a Pirate story, for example, or other spooky elements, but if Captain Jack Sparrow is rescued from danger by an Angel of the Lord, you have departed from a Pirate story, and are now writing devotional fiction. On the other hand, if the religious element is handled merely for its spooky flavor, and not to make a homily, this is a counter example: when Indiana Jones sees the Nazis melted for tampering with the Ark of the Covenant, the Angel of the Lord there is simply an eerie occult power, no more ‘religious’ than the strange lights seen in the sky in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Jones is still solidly in the realm of boy’s adventure fiction, because the religious element is used not to encourage devotion in Jewish or Christian or Muslim morality, but merely to say that There Are Some Things Man Was Not Meant to Know.)

    Skepticism of Christianity also forms one of the major threads of Leftwing political correctness. One could make the argument that any social engineering scheme, socialism or welfare or political correctness, is based on the axiom that human moral codes, laws, and customs are human inventions subject to no greater authority than man’s will or whim: and that this axiom naturally allies itself to secularism: a default assumption. If you think marriage is a sacrament, you talk about it differently than if you think the rules are no less arbitrary than traffic laws.

    So there may be a degree of coincidence involved: we have two things, SF and Leftist politics, which for independent reasons tend away from religion.

    On the other hand, even a brief survey of SF luminaries shows a great number of the tribe are atheists, or, at least, folk who express disinterest (or contempt) in established religion, and who also happen to be on the Left. When SF types sit down to debate the deep topics of religion and politics, the result is usually socialists and libertarians exchanging personal insults, by no coincidence, the two political philosophies primarily concerned with utopia-seeking futures: a theme near and dear to the heart of SF.

    Someone has gathered a perhaps speculative page of denominations of SF writers: http://www.adherents.com/lit/

  11. Personally, I find religion and politics to be two things that will cause even some of the most stable of folks to go off kilter. The discussion here has been very tame and level headed (which is a good thing). I also agree with Scott that one’s religion is ultimately not an expression of their politcal stance. I also want to thank JCW for his post and causing my brain to hurt again…

    Thanks!!!

  12. While it might be a stereotype to equate the political Left with Atheism, it is a stereotype that gets reinforced each time the ACLU sues a township to remove a nativity scene, or the Ninth Circuit declares the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. To put it mildly, it was not Edmund Burke who coined the phrase calling religion the opiate of the masses.

    But I do think the blogger here may be mistaking cause for coincidence. Skepticism of religion has been a major theme in SF from the STAR TREK movie where Spock shoots God with a phaser canon, through the use of the Great Galactic Spirit as a fraud in Asimov’s Foundation series, through the Church of Fosterism as a fraud in STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND and as another kind of fraud in SIXTH COLUMN by Heinlein, all the way back to Olaf Stabledon and HG Wells, whose views, to say the least, were not those of the religious mainstream of their day. Some of these men were Left in their politics (HG Wells was, certainly), but Science Fiction by its nature challenges tradition, and concentrates on how the future will change us.

    Even SF stories that portray religion in the futures as recognizably related to our own, such as in DUNE (the Fremen are Zensunni, i.e. Zen Sunni, that is, Buddhist Mohammedans) or in ENDYMION (a Catholic Church dystopia) or in Gordon R. Dickon’s DORSAI books (The Friendly are Space Puritans) once again emphasize how these institutions would differ from our own, almost beyond recognition.

    SF books that are positive toward religion, usually relegate religion to the background (The Norlaminians in SKYLARK OF SPACE, for example, seem to have a vaguely Protestant Deism, no doubt worshipping the same Great Cosmic Spirit that Klatuu mentions in DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL who alone possesses the power of life and death).

    And this is for the quite reasonable reason that dwelling on religion in a positive way, as a divine institution rather than a corrupt human institution, departs the story from Science Fiction. If your story has in it a Church guided by the Holy Spirit according to Heaven’s Plan rather than Seldon’s Plan, you are no longer in a scientific universe. Ergo skepticism of religion is natural for Science Fiction: the default assumption.

    (I should mention this is not some special peculiarity of SF. You can have ghosts or monsters in a Pirate story, for example, or other spooky elements, but if Captain Jack Sparrow is rescued from danger by an Angel of the Lord, you have departed from a Pirate story, and are now writing devotional fiction. On the other hand, if the religious element is handled merely for its spooky flavor, and not to make a homily, this is a counter example: when Indiana Jones sees the Nazis melted for tampering with the Ark of the Covenant, the Angel of the Lord there is simply an eerie occult power, no more ‘religious’ than the strange lights seen in the sky in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Jones is still solidly in the realm of boy’s adventure fiction, because the religious element is used not to encourage devotion in Jewish or Christian or Muslim morality, but merely to say that There Are Some Things Man Was Not Meant to Know.)

    Skepticism of Christianity also forms one of the major threads of Leftwing political correctness. One could make the argument that any social engineering scheme, socialism or welfare or political correctness, is based on the axiom that human moral codes, laws, and customs are human inventions subject to no greater authority than man’s will or whim: and that this axiom naturally allies itself to secularism: a default assumption. If you think marriage is a sacrament, you talk about it differently than if you think the rules are no less arbitrary than traffic laws.

    So there may be a degree of coincidence involved: we have two things, SF and Leftist politics, which for independent reasons tend away from religion.

    I notice that when SF types sit down to debate the deep topics of religion and politics, the result is usually socialists and libertarians exchanging personal insults, by no coincidence, the two political philosophies primarily concerned with utopia-seeking futures: a theme near and dear to the heart of SF. I am not sure if this means Left and Libertarian outnumber Conservatives, or if they are less meek about sharing their opinions. I do note that SF seems to pull in a surprising number of Catholics among our top ranks: a page listing the denominations of SF writers is here: http://www.adherents.com/lit/

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