Starship Stormtroopers, How Are Ya?

by Henry on November 30, 2006

Orson Scott Card’s new ‘American libruls start a new Civil War’ novel has been provoking well deserved hilarity. Scott Lemiuex quotes one of the choicer descriptions of the Evils of Leftist Professors.

He kept thinking, the first couple of semesters, that maybe his attitude toward them was just as short-sighted and bigoted and wrong as theirs was of him. But in class after class, seminar after seminar, he learned that far too many students were determined to remain ignorant of any real-world data that didn’t fit their preconceived notions. And even those who tried to remain genuinely open-minded simply did not realize the magnitude of the lies they had been told about history, about values, about religion, about everything. So they took the facts of history and averaged them with the dogmas of the leftist university professors and thought that the truth lay somewhere in the middle.

But for my money, John Ringo and Tom Kratman’s forthcoming current Watch on the Rhine (die Wacht am Rhein), billed by Baen Books as “The Most Un-PC Book of the Year,” sounds even juicier.

A man-eating Posleen horde invades Earth and Germany is forced to rejuvenate its most reviled warrior caste: the Waffen SS. With peacenik and under-prepared modern Europe reeling, it’s up to these old soldiers to reforge the steel of hard regimen and redeem their honor as warriors. It’s a chance for Europe’s fighting spirit to reawaken, weed out the lingering rot, and fight for the survival of humanity itself. Politically correct? No way! Thoughtful and action-packed? Absolutely!

Und so weiter” to use what I suppose is the appropriate phrase under the circumstances. All the book needs is a blurb from Glenn flat out racist Reynolds. “Is Europe going to revive the Waffen-SS to stiffen up its drooping manliness in the face of invasion by cannibalistic aliens? Not immediately, perhaps, but famed science fiction writer John Ringo thinks that we’re in enough danger that he’s co-authored a cautionary tale that’s set in more-or-less present times.”

I suspect these two books are the first blossoms of a sub-sub-genre of revanchist sf warporn that will develop over the next couple of years to console warblogger-types and to tell them that they will be justified by history when the cyber-empowered Islamo-Nazis/man-eating aliens/liberal-comsymp-guerillas come marching over the horizon. There’s sure to be a dissertation in here somewhere for some hard-working grad student.

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1

Seth Finkelstein 11.30.06 at 12:27 pm

I wonder how Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream is selling these days. Maybe a PR campaign in the warblogs would rediscover it.

2

Doug 11.30.06 at 12:40 pm

Hey, will the book be banned in Germany?

Glorifying the NSDAP und so weiter.

(On the one hand, bad because marketing coup for presumably awful book. On the other hand, satisfying to see people pay a price for glorifying the SS. On the other other hand, free speech absolutism and all that. Hm.)

3

Backword Dave 11.30.06 at 12:42 pm

IIRC, James Lileks wrote pretty fulsome praise for the Spinrad-scripted episode of Star Trek. Seth’s idea is not unfeasible.

4

Robbie Taylor 11.30.06 at 12:43 pm

Seth beat me to mentioning it – but here’s a link to The Iron Dream for your perusal.

5

Rasselas 11.30.06 at 12:49 pm

Hard-working?

6

astrongmaybe 11.30.06 at 1:12 pm

Wah-hey! Neo-Freikorps-ism! Maybe they should check out the real thing.

7

Fitz 11.30.06 at 1:21 pm

Having not read John Ringo and Tom Kratman’s forthcoming anything: I still feel its unfair to compare it to Robert A. Heinlein work. That novel pioneered sub-genera and opened up military thought to a popular audience.

Neither have I read Orson Scott Cards work (except for the excerpt from Lawyers, Guns, Money) I did appreciate this however.

“Thank heaven he could go home to Cecily every day. She was his reality check. Unlike the ersatz Left of the university, Cessy was a genuine old-fashioned liberal, a Democrat of the tradition that reached its peak with Truman and blew its last trumpet with Moynihan.”

It really is difficult pulling double duty: having to be both the conservative & the liberal in any given exchange. Meanwhile the new left is free to roam unmolested through academia, never accountable never engaged.

It has its unpleasant side effects politically however. One is an inability to capture the public’s attention with slogans like “hegemony”, “imperialist”, “oil-industrial-complex”. You end up with a divided political left, its leaders voting sheepishly for the second Gulf War, all the while – terms like “power vacuum” & “civil-war” are left to Brent Scowcroft & Pat Buchanan.

8

Eyal 11.30.06 at 1:33 pm

Just for general information, Watch on the Rhine has been out for a bit over a year (the forthcoming title is the paperback edition).

9

qingl78 11.30.06 at 1:37 pm

History is littered with examples of “supermen” warriors being defeated by citizen soldiers. Just look at the Canadians against the 12th SS at Juno beach. The SS was so sure that they would push the Canadians back into the sea “like little fish” through the shock of armour like they did on the eastern front.

Everyone who is alive right now is as strong and as powerfull as anyone else by evolutionary definition.

10

Uncle Kvetch 11.30.06 at 1:43 pm

Given that this is OSC we’re talking about, shouldn’t that be homosexual cyber-empowered Islamo-Nazis/man-eating aliens/liberal-comsymp-guerillas?

Just saying.

11

Jim DeRosa 11.30.06 at 1:43 pm

I enjoyed some of Cards early works and was appreciative of the short story collections (Future On Fire, Future On Ice)he editied.
I visited his website and realized he was a conservative freak. But I will spare him the gas chambers and oven treatment for one thing. He introduced me to Octavia Butler’s writing. So he can live.

12

Jeff R. 11.30.06 at 2:15 pm

The first blossoms? Geopolitical Nightmare Scenario books have been a staple of SF pretty much since the beginning; only the particular details of the authors’ nightmares change. Empire is just the latest in the tradition of 1984, The Day After, Red Dawn, Kaleidoscope Century, and so forth; just one of the first to start processing the nightmares generated from the Bush II years. (The left side’s equivalent book, which at least promises to me a much better quality read, will be Ken McLeod’s The Execution Channel coming next year…)

13

Callan 11.30.06 at 2:15 pm

People who should know better have always had a bit of a thing about the Waffen SS. Good soldiers, cool black uniforms, absolutely bezerk warrior ethos and the ranks!

“You will attack the Russian positions Standartenfuhrer von Felsenheim whatever the cost in casualties. The Fuhrer and the Fatherland demand no less”.

“Jahwohl, Obergruppenfuhrer von Oberlitz! I promise you that I and my men will uphold the honour of the Florian Geyer assault division! The snows of Moscow will run red with the blood of these filthy Bolshevik untermenschen! Unterscharfuhrer, prepare my Schmeisser for battle”.
“Jahwohl, Herr Standartenfuhrer!”

Crazy names, crazy guys.

14

Russell Arben Fox 11.30.06 at 2:18 pm

“homosexual cyber-empowered Islamo-Nazis/man-eating aliens/liberal-comsymp-guerillas?”

With Ivy League degrees; don’t forget that part.

15

Henry 11.30.06 at 2:19 pm

Thanks Eyal – change made.

16

neil 11.30.06 at 2:24 pm

Wouldn’t we be relatively safe around cannibalistic aliens?

17

Jason 11.30.06 at 2:27 pm

I read Watch on the Rhine. The fact that I actually read the entire thing ashames me. It is a hideous piece of garbage. I didn’t even throw it across the room in disgust when the Jewish scientist joined the Judah Maccabbee Korps of the SS. It’s rare these days that you get pro-SS science fiction. A completely insane novel.

18

ponte 11.30.06 at 2:28 pm

Fitz,
“Oil-industry-complex” sounds suspiciously similar to a phrase coined and popularized by Eisenhower. I guess that’s one less thoughtcrime for which you have the burden of holing lefty professors accountable.

19

bi 11.30.06 at 3:04 pm

Fitz’s comments exemplify a serious problem which plagues the Free World today: the utter inability to distinguish “non-fiction” from “fiction”. The fact that Fitz simply plucks a novel excerpt and treats it like it’s a real event speaks volumes about the degree of intelligence of some people.

Jorge Luis Borges was wrong. You don’t need a conspiracy of intellectuals slipping extra pages into encyclopedias to create a New Reality(tm); all you need is several fiction writers churning out ideological porn, and you’re all set to turn the whole world into Tlön.

20

Doctor Slack 11.30.06 at 3:06 pm

Geopolitical Nightmare Scenario books have been a staple of SF pretty much since the beginning

Empire looks to be more in the tradition of “violent wish-fulfillment scenario” to me. Lumping a book like this or, say, The Turner Diaries in with 1984 would seem descriptively useless.

21

vanya 11.30.06 at 3:09 pm

Were the Waffen SS really all that great anyway? Wikipedia has this judgement:
“The majority of the Waffen-SS men originally received second rate weapons and equipment with many formations receiving Czech and Austrian weapons and equipment. With the exception of a select few of the ‘Germanic’ SS Divisions, this policy was continued throughout the war. The majority of the best equipment went to the Heer’s elite divisions (Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland and Panzer-Lehr-Division)

If I recall the SS were distinguished more by their willingness to kill civilians than by a superior military ethos. And in any case their 1940s tactics are not exactly cutting edge in 2006. What a ridiculous premise. It makes no historical, military or logical sense, clearly the only point was to try to sell books by being controversial.

22

winna 11.30.06 at 3:17 pm

John Ringo is vile. The only book I have ever returned to the store because I didn’t want the author to make a penny from me was There Will Be Dragons, which begins with a couple of people discussing how the declining birth rate in a utopian society was all the fault of women because they couldn’t be bothered to have children. Men couldn’t have children, Ringo goes on to explain, because they lack a nurturing instinct, so for the good of society women should be forced to bear and raise children or the species would die out.

23

Soderberg 11.30.06 at 3:36 pm

Orson Scott Card is a sad case. He used to write excellent science fiction, but then he turned mormon or something and began to churn out right wing fantasy novels.

24

kvenlander 11.30.06 at 3:37 pm

Baen’s free library has a couple of other Ringo books for the curious. I’ve never read any and I doubt I’ll start now. Lots of Marching in the titles.

25

Bruce Baugh 11.30.06 at 3:54 pm

Baen Books (who published Watch on the Rhine) has made good money for a long time at it. Jim Baen, the company’s late founder, had a sometimes infuritiating mix of tastes, which it appears the company will continue to abide by. Baen publishes three or so kinds of books: immensely useful and desirable reprints of classics of sf and fantasy that have fallen out of print, fun schlock, and military porn that slides into Ringo’s sort of vile crap. The company’s been one of the great innovators in e-book editions, generous in support of libraries, handicapped readers, and such, as well as doing the aforementioned good deed of reviving neglected classics and faves….and they publish what amounts to nazi propaganda. Ugh.

26

C. L. Ball 11.30.06 at 4:10 pm

OSC was never a “literary” science-fiction writer like Lem or Le Guin. I’ll concede that the these excerpts sound clunky but Ender’s Game was not a prose masterpiece either. It was the plot and the hero’s reluctance that made it compelling. I read Clarke’s Rendevous with Rama recently; it’s hard not to smirk much of the time.

Re OSC, hasn’t anyone noticed that the professor he is describing is a “reality-based” thinker, not an ideologue?

27

Fitz 11.30.06 at 4:11 pm

Bi-guy

“The fact that Fitz simply plucks a novel excerpt and treats it like it’s a real event speaks volumes about the degree of intelligence of some people.”

I didn’t think it was “real” I thought it was accurate.

Or are you just trying to be abusive when you’re not being pedantic?

28

Phoenician in a time of Romans 11.30.06 at 4:11 pm

I read Watch on the Rhine. The fact that I actually read the entire thing ashames me. It is a hideous piece of garbage. I didn’t even throw it across the room in disgust when the Jewish scientist joined the Judah Maccabbee Korps of the SS. It’s rare these days that you get pro-SS science fiction. A completely insane novel.

Also just loved the bit where the SS got to bash hippie’s heads in because, you know, the hippies were *protesting*, man – DIDN’T THEY KNOW WE WERE AT WAR?

Go read Richard Morgan’s _Broken Angels_. Ugly and violent enough to satisfy anyone, good tough science-fiction, and a great indictment against war as a whole.

29

astrongmaybe 11.30.06 at 4:12 pm

You think the ADL knows that Simon & Schuster is distributing this stuff? Over to you, Abe…

30

bi 11.30.06 at 4:58 pm

(Ah, Fitz hates being pedantic. In fact, he’s so un-pedantic that he simply takes what he feels to be an “accurate” account and treats it as fact:

“It really is difficult pulling double duty: having to be both the conservative & the liberal in any given exchange.”

Because making a distinction between what’s “real” and what’s “accurate” will be very pedantic, and very bad indeed. Where was I?)

= = =

Oh, and 29 posts and nobody has mentioned Ayn Rand’s novels? Those are literally porn.

31

anonymous 11.30.06 at 5:53 pm

Maybe we can draft Webb out of the senate to
write more of that fictional stuff we can all
approve.

I’m sure you all would simply love
“A Country Such as This” or “Fields of Fire”
or “Sense of Honor”.

USNA graduate.
Marine.
Secretary of the Navy.

mmmmmmm

Soderburg, how on earth can you possibly
think OSC ever wrote ANYTHING that was
“excellent”? Do you read with your eyes
closed? The only positive thing that can
said about him is that he is only half as
bad as Clancy.

yccch

32

Public Spirit 11.30.06 at 6:35 pm

Since such a degree of consensus has emerged in this thread about what the Right is supposed to enjoy as “porn”, it’s only fair to ask what may allow the academic and media establishments to get their jollies: what is “porn” to most of CK’s posters and their kindred spirits?

A cursory analysis of the sad state of popular culture shows that cheap leftist enjoyment has a definite masochistic slant: while a honest shoot ’em up by men and women in uniform of a ravening horde of aliens gets panned by the cognoscenti, in the prequel the massacre of a bunch of hapless civilians by a single alien beast receives accolades as “a great sci-fi horror thriller” (note also the fascination with HR Giger’s sick “art”). Pretty much the same can be said of other critical darlings, like all those hack ‘n slash movies where coteries of youthful libertines see their death wishes fulfilled. Particularly revolting are the “nightmare in elm street” flicks, where the liberal penchant for “understanding the other side” leads to a morbid exploration of Freddie Kruger’s background. A bad guy can’t be just bad, it seems.

And what’s that nonsense about “hegemony” being a dirty word? Who would you prefer to be at the helm rather than the US? Iran? Masochistic, indeed.

33

Tulkinghorn 11.30.06 at 7:22 pm

There is a link between Ringo and Webb, now that you mention it, and it is not flattering to Webb.

Webb put out this loopy bit of ethnohistory, to the effect that the Borders Scots/Scots Irish are the true, most authentically American ethnic group, and amounts to a warrior caste of “Jacksonian” heros that the rest of us decadents lefties should honor. When these guys talk about American exceptionalism they are talking about this perceived group of extra special types.

Many southerners in the military have picked up on this meme, and Ringo is one of them.

34

Helen 11.30.06 at 9:43 pm

There was an expectant tension in her voice that he couldn’t fathom but that rippled the flesh of his thighs.” (The Iron Dream)

Gotta love it!

35

Keith 11.30.06 at 9:52 pm

Wouldn’t it be easier to just hire Ghurkas rather than train all new Nazis?

The obvious sequal: the human race will be on the verge of extinction due to inbreading so we’ll have to revive the Joy Devision to go forth and breed forcefully with suitably Nordic Aliens.

36

Eli Rabett 11.30.06 at 10:21 pm

For those of you interested in how to deal with cannibalistic aliens

37

Kevin 11.30.06 at 10:58 pm

public spirit: If you loved “Aliens” so much more than its precursor, why couldn’t you be bothered to name it? (Also, are you aware that the aliens get much more screen time and detail in that film than in the first?)

I also wonder if you’re serious in holding up the “Scream”/”I Know What You Did Last Summer” franchises as the exemplars of “cheap leftist entertainment” (whatever the hell that means). Maybe you should meet some liberals who don’t live in your college dorm.

38

krhasan 11.30.06 at 11:06 pm

Let’s not confuse the issue by associating bad writing with democratic politics. Only the extremists of left or right should be excoriated. Anyway, it’s only a book!
To give another example, I first read books by Heinlein in my early teens – titles like “The Door into Summer” and short stories ” The Green Hills of Earth” and I read everything of his after that even if I didn’t agree entirely with the philosopy behind some of them. Much later, when I was in my thirties, I finally read “Starship Troopers” and thought it glorified war far too much. However, my late father, also an SF fan and a retired Naval Officer with World War 2 service (who invariably had nightmares after seeing a war movie) had a different viewpoint – he saw it as a good discussion on citizenship.

39

bi 11.30.06 at 11:18 pm

Kevin: Hey, it’s a “cursory analysis” after all! Don’t be so pedantic!

Ayn Rand Naked
Ayn Rand Naked
Ayn Rand Naked
Ayn Rand Naked
Ayn Rand Naked

And Michael Moore is fat.

40

Mark Anderson 11.30.06 at 11:31 pm

Having read Ringo, I’ll comment that he seems to be a lesser version of Jerry Pournelle; sometimes fun in collaboration with saner writers, but his solo works make pretty wretched reading. Even if you enjoy military SF, the premises are contorted, the ideas are inconsistent, the plotting is weak, and the characters aren’t particularly interesting. If I recall correctly, this book started out as a submission to the ‘Posleen’ franchise universe, and Ringo liked it because it was so outrageous. But I think the anti-hippie/left wing views are his own. “Watch on the Rhine” isn’t even his most painful read; try “Ghost” sometime (available free via Baen), for a real dose of it.

As prior posters have pointed out, there isn’t anything new about this subgenre. Certainly the ‘those damn liberals getting their just rewards’ genre dates back to “Atlas Shrugged” (libertarian porn :-) if not earlier. There’s been quite a bit of stuff written post-Vietnam about those ‘damn hippie-pacifists’ getting their just rewards for scorning the military. It has a small but dedicated following among true believers, and is pretty much ignored by the rest. Ringo has found his niche and is busy filling it. I’ve not read Card’s book, but it sounds like it fits in the same category, perhaps with a bit more of the “Left Behind” apocalyptic porn angle.

It’s probably clear that I’m uncomfortable with the term ‘warporn’; the combination of definition and prejudgment rings of someone as far to the one side of the issue as Ringo is on the other. What exactly constitutes warporn? I have some difficulty separating on a thematic basis classics like ‘Horatio Hornblower’ from the kind of stuff Ringo writes; the difference is quality and embedded attitudes, not subject matter. Maybe it is really like porn in that “one knows it when one sees it”. The difficulties of writing action-packed adrenaline-charged pacifist novels insure that there will be a greater supply of war books, and some of it will be like Ringo’s junk. Ignore him; go buy John Scalzi, or for more conventional military SF, Eric Flint, David Drake, Elizabeth Moon or David Weber. Or for older stuff Joe Haldeman, John Steakly, or even Gordon Dickson.

As far as Card goes, I think he’s always been a Mormon. He’s certainly made no secret of the fact that his religious views influence his writing. Sometimes that’s good; SF is too often lacking in characters struggling with moral dilemmas. Sometimes it’s painful, when he writes a multivolume series that reads like Exodus or the Book of Mormon. Sounds like he’s back writing the painful stuff again. Glad I learned it before I bought the book.

Perhaps my willingness to be easier on Card is that I view SF as a literature of ideas, and I am willing to forgive some flaws in characterization and plotting if the ideas are interesting and developed properly. (Truly great SF gets all three, but it is vanishingly rare.) Card has delivered on this on occasion. Ringo’s infrequent interesting ideas are spoiled in development, and lack the other virtues as well.

41

Public Spirit 11.30.06 at 11:39 pm

“public spirit: If you loved “Aliens” so much more than its precursor, why couldn’t you be bothered to name it? “

Poor editing on my part, I guess. I hope it’s not a big deal.

“I also wonder if you’re serious in holding up the “Scream”/”I Know What You Did Last Summer” franchises as the exemplars of “cheap leftist entertainment” (whatever the hell that means). “

Oh, that’s an…interesting stance. The left, which sometimes appears keen to deconstruct everything in sight, suddenly decides that there are some forms of entertainment that are inherently apolitical, after all.

Do those awful movies (which however do enjoy a sizeable, rabid cult following) stand for the mores I value? No, they don’t, I find them vile. Do those films say: “stand tall, America”? Certainly not, the opposite is actually the case. Are they politically loaded, thus? Yes, in every conceivable sense. They are liberal (and literal!) “porn”, yet I don’t see you waste your breath and your spittle over them.

“Maybe you should meet some liberals who don’t live in your college dorm.”

I finished college long ago, my friend. For which I’m grateful. If the atmosphere was somewhat rarefied then, it’s become unbearable these days.

42

Kevin 12.01.06 at 12:25 am

The left, which sometimes appears keen to deconstruct everything in sight, suddenly decides that there are some forms of entertainment that are inherently apolitical, after all.
Do those awful movies (which however do enjoy a sizeable, rabid cult following) stand for the mores I value? No, they don’t, I find them vile. Do those films say: “stand tall, America”? Certainly not, the opposite is actually the case. Are they politically loaded, thus? Yes, in every conceivable sense. They are liberal (and literal!) “porn”, yet I don’t see you waste your breath and your spittle over them.

Honestly, you just lost me. I don’t recall there being any discussion of teen slasher pics – which fanboy critics may take seriously but no adult I know finds interesting – until your post. And it’s now suddenly my responsibility to tut-tut that nasty, amoral Wes Craven?
Feh.

43

Public Spirit 12.01.06 at 1:02 am

“Honestly, you just lost me. I don’t recall there being any discussion of teen slasher pics – which fanboy critics may take seriously but no adult I know finds interesting – until your post. And it’s now suddenly my responsibility to tut-tut that nasty, amoral Wes Craven?
Feh.”

Still more dissembling and sneer. And this is supposed to be one of the best liberal blogs? Where do slasher films, that fellow Scott Card’s novels or that other Neonazi pamphlet come from, if not from the very same witch’s brew of trashy, profoundly stupid popular culture? Yet you regard the former exhibit as irrelevant for politically minded adults, whereas the latter can be burnt in effigy, with you dancing in glee around the bonfire. The mentality of witch-hunters, clearly.

You’ll swallow an elephant whole and choke on a gnat. Curious.

But slasher films are merely an example. Not only is the liberal side of the popular culture aisle at least as bad as that of the right, it’s also far more prevalent.

It was Alexis de Tocqueville who said: “America is good and if ever America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” By sending men to the Moon and probes beyond the boundaries of the Solar System, by being the mightiest and most advanced nation on Earth, we show how great we are. So I guess we’re still pretty good.

What mainstream entertainment outlet is ready to embrace this message, unabashedly?

44

bi 12.01.06 at 1:04 am

“Do those films say: ‘stand tall, America’? Certainly not, … Are they politically loaded, thus? Yes, …”

Oh wow. So any film that doesn’t espouse American jingoism is politically loaded. The conclusion, therefore, is that the only films which aren’t politically loaded are those which espouse American jingoism!

Which leads us to the most shocking truth of all: The Smurfs Were Communists! Oh no!

“The most compelling evidence that the Smurfs were communists comes from their relationship to the arch-villian Gargamel. If you remember, the only thing that Gargamel wanted the Smurfs for was for his own profit. In the first four or five seasons, Gargamel’s master plan was to catch the Smurfs, boil them, and turn them into gold. … All he cared about was getting gold. His only interest in how to get rich, and nothing, nothing would get in his way.

“Gargamel was a capitalist.

“The evil antagonist of the Smurfs was the ultimate capitalist, terrorizing the peaceful good little communist Smurf community. It all starts to fit together doesn’t it?”

45

Kevin 12.01.06 at 1:19 am

bi, thanks for the apertif; that was delightful.

46

Kevin 12.01.06 at 1:21 am

Oh hell, it’s too late for me to be posting. I misspelled it, and anyway, I meant digestif. (My French is rusty, but now that Quebec is to be a nation within, it’s time to polish up.)

47

bad Jim 12.01.06 at 1:29 am

You have to understand the mindset which can categorize both slasher flicks and the mainstream media as “liberal.”

Anything which does not explicitly celebrate conservative values and attitudes is deemed “liberal,” including much of science and all non-Christian religions.

48

Doctor Slack 12.01.06 at 1:31 am

public spirit: A bad guy can’t be just bad, it seems.

That’s funny, most “deconstructions” of slasher flicks that I’ve ever seen tend to conclude that the bad guys are a kind of divine punishment for hedonistic teens (which is why the virginal heroine is typically the only one left standing). You’re missing a key opportunity to shrill about the leftist cognoscenti, here, because obviously this must mean that critics are anti-faith and pro-hedonism. Bad critics! So depraved!

It was Alexis de Tocqueville who said: “America is good and if ever America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” . . . we show how great we are. So I guess we’re still pretty good.

Is stupidly invertting de Tocqueville’s sentiment supposed to prove something? I feel some sneer coming on.

What mainstream entertainment outlet is ready to embrace this message, unabashedly?

I don’t know, maybe you should ask the makers of Armageddon, The Right Stuff, We Were Soldiers, Independence Day, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, The Patriot… little art-house films that were ruthlessly suppressed by liberal apparatchiks, but I understand that courageous teams of Christian warriors go from state to state selling bootlegged copies from the backs of vans. Seek them out; maybe they can tell you how the War on Christmas is going, too.

49

Public Spirit 12.01.06 at 1:33 am

bi: actually, your mention of “the Smurfs” is quite useful, thanks. It stretches to the breaking point a form of sophistry that Kevin has been using with teen slasher porn, and which should have been obvious to me from the start.

By pointing out that some subject-matter is uninteresting to adults, you try to palm it off as apolitical. That’s clearly a fallacious line of thought.

Teen slasher porn is as political as they come, within the domain and constraints of juvenile entertainment. “The Smurfs”, that hideous “Spongebob” et al. are as political as the sphere of infantile entertainment will allow.

It would be a futile attempt at propaganda to present the Smurfs as communists, since children do not understand the concept of communism in the first place. And yet the Smurfs are not precisely what you could call rugged individualists either. Their shticks or one-dimensional skills are all that give them distinct personalities, and they never use them for profit. The community is all important, and discourages personal initiative and adventure. It’s certainly not communism, but it is indeed a very staid, soft, self-complacent European fantasy. Dare I say…decadent?

50

Public Spirit 12.01.06 at 2:13 am

7. “public spirit: A bad guy can’t be just bad, it seems.
That’s funny, most “deconstructions” of slasher flicks that I’ve ever seen tend to conclude that the bad guys are a kind of divine punishment for hedonistic teens…”

That’s so utterly ludicrous. There’s nothing divine about the punishment meted out by the masked freaks one sees on Friday the 13th, nothing wholesome in the cheap nudity and bondage. Where your liberal critics want to see “divine punishment”, I see a liberal, juvenile death wish. Read my first post.

“It was Alexis de Tocqueville who said: “America is good and if ever America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” . . . we show how great we are. So I guess we’re still pretty good… Is stupidly invertting de Tocqueville’s sentiment supposed to prove something? I feel some sneer coming on.”

I suppose that those cease to be’s and ever’s may require predicate calculus or perhaps some form of modal logic, but I think the point can come across fine with just run-of-the-mill propositional logic.

(if a, then b) is, as you surely know, equivalent to (if not b, then not a). Take “cease to be good” as “not good” and “cease to be great” as “not great” and you get the result ie. (if great, then good), via double negation. That’s hardly rocket science.

American rocket science, that is.

“What mainstream entertainment outlet is ready to embrace this message, unabashedly?
I don’t know, maybe you should ask the makers of Armageddon, The Right Stuff, We Were Soldiers, Independence Day, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, The Patriot…”

All those films “benefit” from generous leavenings of liberal mawkishness. At any rate, I can see every one of those and raise you for each a dozen anti-American rants.

51

Public Spirit 12.01.06 at 2:22 am

#50: “all that gives them”

I shouldn’t write these suckers on the quick.

52

Doctor Slack 12.01.06 at 2:25 am

There’s nothing divine about the punishment meted out by the masked freaks one sees on Friday the 13th, nothing wholesome in the cheap nudity and bondage.

The church fathers would have disagreed with you. So too, perhaps, a certain strain of the moderns.

(if a, then b) is, as you surely know, equivalent to (if not b, then not a).

Nonsense. If an apple falls from a high wall, it is smashed on the floor. If an apple is smashed on the floor, it did not necessarily fall from a high wall. Are you fucking kidding me?

All those films “benefit” from generous leavenings of liberal mawkishness.

Still more dissembling and sneer…

53

Doctor Slack 12.01.06 at 2:28 am

“(if a, then b) is, as you surely know, equivalent to (if not b, then not a).”

No, hang on a second. This is erroneous, but not in the way I suggested above. Rather, it’s erroneous in bearing no relation whatsoever to your misuse of de Tocqueville quotation, which was transposing (if a, then b) to (if b, then a). I blame the demon rum.

54

Public Spirit 12.01.06 at 2:53 am

“There’s nothing divine about the punishment meted out by the masked freaks one sees on Friday the 13th, nothing wholesome in the cheap nudity and bondage.
The church fathers would have disagreed with you. So too, perhaps, a certain strain of the moderns.”

The Church Fathers were lucky enough to be spared “Friday the 13th”, which I’m sure they would have condemned.

“(if a, then b) is, as you surely know, equivalent to (if not b, then not a).
Nonsense… “

After an initial crass misunderstanding which, charitably, we’ll impute to a hasty first reading…

“(if a, then b) is, as you surely know, equivalent to (if not b, then not a).
No, hang on a second. This is erroneous, but not in the way I suggested above. Rather, it’s erroneous in bearing no relation whatsoever to your misuse of de Tocqueville quotation, which was transposing (if a, then b) to (if b, then a). I blame the demon rum.”

…you still refuse to get it. Tocqueville is saying: (if not good, then not great). From this follows: (if not (not great), then not (not good)) i.e. (if great, then good). Easy as pie.

Apple pie, of course.

55

astrongmaybe 12.01.06 at 2:58 am

@41 etc. As prior posters have pointed out, there isn’t anything new about this subgenre.

Normally I’m skeptical about hysterical reactions to Nazi-fetishism in popular culture, but I do think there is something startling about this. It’s maybe not so easily shrugged or laughed or scoffed off as people are doing here.

For decades there has been militaristic Nazi nostalgia: I don’t know the authors people are talking about, but I can remember kids in school reading Sven Hassel books and war comics. This seems quite different. This is not nostalgia, but specifically (come on: the resurrection of the SS) a fantasy of the recuperation of certain aspects of interwar rightwing thought for the present day. Not a harking-back, but a re-actualization. As such, it panders to and is part of a contemporary political culture built on ideas of decadence, emasculation, alien hordes threatening the homeland; internal enemies betraying the nation and sapping its spirit and its will; the weakness of speech versus the glory of the (violent) act, and so on. Check out the recent thread on CT on the bizarre fantasies of civil war in France in the New Republic and its circle.

It’s easy to play psychoanalyst and laugh at the likes of Ringo etc, just stupid boys jerking off to the image of all those hard, male, er, members of a more virile society, and at fitz and publicspirit, treasuring their fantasies of a decadent, feminized “Europe”. But they are fluent and unashamed in the language of this gruesome political culture, which even ten years ago was confined to bizarre fringes, but is now distributed by major publishing houses and echoed in national magazines.

56

WF 12.01.06 at 3:10 am

As a matter of logic, public spirit is right except when s/he substitutes “didn’t cease to exist” for “exists”. I mean, America could cease to be good sometime between AdT’s observation and present time, thereby ceasing to be great, but then become great again without becoming good.

On everything else, this:
“Do those films say: “stand tall, America”? Certainly not, the opposite is actually the case. Are they politically loaded, thus? Yes, in every conceivable sense”

is really very wrong, unless you think the question of American greatness concerns everyone as much as it concerns public spirit.

An easy example would be “Hamlet,” which doesn’t say “stand tall, America,” and perhaps is political, but hardly so in every conceivable sense, and specifically not in the relevant sense.

57

bi 12.01.06 at 3:18 am

Public Spirit brings out the “hey, thanks for proving precisely my point” trump card. Unfortunately for him, Mark Kaplan got there first.

Here’s a news flash for the humour-impaired Public Spirit: “The Smurfs Were Communist” is a satire. And the joke’s on you. Visit the rest of the web site and see for yourself.

So, it’s been shown that we have another sorry bloke who’s utterly incapable of telling “non-fiction” from “fiction”.

58

bad Jim 12.01.06 at 3:29 am

Basically it’s the myth of decay, that we are the weak descendents of powerful ancestors, ourselves unable to cope with threats which the Old Ones could have dispatched with ease. (Authoritarians, in thrall to ancient texts, may be particularly susceptible to this theme; the rest of us expect extraordinary powers from something newly discovered.)

The Nazis may be particularly attractive because of their cool black uniforms or their leather straps or their reputation for utter ruthlessness.

59

Public Spirit 12.01.06 at 3:40 am

“Public Spirit brings out the “hey, thanks for proving precisely my point” trump card. Unfortunately for him, Mark Kaplan got there first.

Here’s a news flash for the humour-impaired Public Spirit: “The Smurfs Were Communist” is a satire. And the joke’s on you. Visit the rest of the web site and see for yourself.

So, it’s been shown that we have another sorry bloke who’s utterly incapable of telling “non-fiction” from “fiction”.”

What are you talking about? I didn’t follow your link, which was obviously satirical. I’m not going to follow the Kaplan one either; neither smilies nor links can make up for lack of substance.

Your little dig *did* remind me of the fact that propaganda is not age-insensitive, however. Most cartoons (including the Smurfs) are indeed bespoke liberal claptrap, stripped and dumbed down for the target audience.

Humor-impaired? You don’t know the half of it, buddy.

60

bi 12.01.06 at 3:52 am

OK, let me get this straight. Public Spirit couldn’t tell satire from seriousness, and in defence of this he says that I “lack” “substance”. Wow.

Obviously someone’s been taking a course in mud-slinging.

61

Doctor Slack 12.01.06 at 3:54 am

astrongmaybe: It’s maybe not so easily shrugged or laughed or scoffed off as people are doing here.

No “maybe” about it. The present wave of “Eurabia” xenophobia is deadly serious and genuinely dangerous.

public spirit:
Okay, digression now but what the hell, let’s try it this way: Papayas are nutritious because papayas are edible, and if papayas ever cease to be edible, papayas will cease to be nutritious.

In the scenario, it looks to me like a is a necessary prerequisite of b. Can you construct for me a scenario in which papayas can be nutritious without being edible? Because to me, that’s the problem you have with your use of de Tocqueville.

62

Doctor Slack 12.01.06 at 3:55 am

“that’s the problem” s/b “that’s analogous to the problem”

63

Doctor Slack 12.01.06 at 3:57 am

Oh, and: The Church Fathers were lucky enough to be spared “Friday the 13th”, which I’m sure they would have condemned.

Why? It’s a great illustration of the sort of punishments they wanted hedonists to suffer.

I mean, maybe they might not have liked the dialogue. That I’ll grant you.

64

bad Jim 12.01.06 at 4:01 am

(Whatever you do, don’t get him started on the Teletubbies.)

65

Phoenician in a time of Romans 12.01.06 at 4:05 am

Still more dissembling and sneer. And this is supposed to be one of the best liberal blogs? Where do slasher films, that fellow Scott Card’s novels or that other Neonazi pamphlet come from, if not from the very same witch’s brew of trashy, profoundly stupid popular culture? Yet you regard the former exhibit as irrelevant for politically minded adults, whereas the latter can be burnt in effigy, with you dancing in glee around the bonfire. The mentality of witch-hunters, clearly.

Dude, the only thing more embarrassing than wrestling with strawmen of your own creation is losing to them. In public.

If you want a clearly “leftist” (actually feminist) piece of modern pop culture, try trashing Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Go on, if you have the guts…

66

Public Spirit 12.01.06 at 4:20 am

bi, slack et al:

Aw, what the fuck, I’m getting tired. See, after the Glorious Godfrey/Amazing Grace grotesquerie , I’ve decided to go for a somewhat more low-key (but not less fucked-up) approach to trolling. The Public Spirit “blitz” has been pretty fun, on the whole. Thanks for the attention, anyway. I crave for it and all.

(c) and TM Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill

BTW, the Tocqueville quote is a straight lift from the comic. Perfectly satisfactory anti-establishment ultra-violence. Definitely recommended.

67

Doctor Slack 12.01.06 at 4:30 am

I crave for it and all.

I know, I know. Never let it be said The Left is without compassion.

68

Chris Williams 12.01.06 at 5:32 am

Hmm . . . I wonder what Pat Mills would think of ‘public spirit’. Nothing good, I imagine.

69

Alex 12.01.06 at 5:38 am

I was wondering how wingnuttia would cope with defeat, and we seem to be finding out. Denial, compensation fantasies and neo-Spenglerism. Ugh.

70

Doug 12.01.06 at 8:21 am

Actually, much better than getting the book banned in Germany would be turning it into a hit among the actual brown part of the German political spectrum. Not that the authors will likely care, and I wonder if enough of the neo-Nazis read English. Back to hm.

71

Matt Weiner 12.01.06 at 11:24 am

Ha! I knew it was going to turn out to be Glorious Godfrey in the end. Well trolled, m’lad.

72

Matt Weiner 12.01.06 at 11:26 am

Or m’lady, as the case may be.

73

RWB 12.01.06 at 9:11 pm

I’m coming a little late to this, but the book Watch on the Rhine sounds hilariously like Norman Spinrad’s The Iron Dream (as was mentioned in the first response), but without the irony.

Sci fi was produced for decades by white, progress-loving American males, and there was an ungodly lot of slaughtering of the alien/mutant/hive-mind hordes that happened in these books. In the 60s, lots of young writers who were fairly left-wing realized that just beneath the surface of so many of these books was a hyper-chauvinist, fascist, genocidal tendency. So they responded in their own expatiating works. (These writers included Phillip Dick and James Tiptree Jr., who was recently the subject of a very well-received boigraphy.) One rather literal-minded response was The Word for the World Is Forest by Ursula LeGuin, in which a race of beings is brutally dispossed, but finally fights back and defeat their alien oppressors … who turn out to be us (I hope I’m remembering it right–I read it in the 70s). She was a really good writer, but this bit of agit-prop was not one of her shining moments.

A more lateral exploration was The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad. (Interestingly, I don’t think Spinrad is half the prose writer LeQuin is, but in this book, he creatred a clever little bit of postmodern auto-critique.) He imagines a world where Hitler never participated in politics, but instead imigrated to the U.S., illustrated science fiction pulps, and when his English got good, started writing them. The Iron Dream is Spinrad’s pulpy pastiche of a typical 1930-40s sci fi novel as written by Adolf Hitler. In it, the Earth is a post-atomic wasteland, mutants everywhere, with only a small number of pure humans existing in their own country. The purest human of all, however, lives it the fetid mutant nations, makes his way to the pure-human nation, proves his purity by the most rigorous tests, becomes the leader, and fights a war against the mutant nations, particularly one nation that uses forbidden technologies to create armies of identical mutant soldiers. He reluctantly concludes that the best solution to the mutant problem is elimination of them. Etc. The sick thing is that as you read the book and realize it is a history of the Nazis (in a very self-mythologizing way), it is also completely plausible as a period pulp sci-fi book.

This was clever, and there was a feeling after that generation of writers that the crude quasi-fascism and imperialism of earlier sci fi was a dead relic, but obviously it has come roaring back, alas.

74

Valuethinker 12.02.06 at 12:13 pm

quinql78

Just on the 12SS and the Canadians on Normandy Beach.

I had relatives there, it was anything but a cakewalk. The Germans were outnumbered and numbed by heavy bombardment. But they fought like tigers. And they had better tanks and anti tank guns (Tigers, Panthers, and ’88s).

Had the numbers of men and materiel in Normandy been anything like equal, the Germans would have won. The good news is that we had overwhelming air power and artillery.

The Canadians fought well (see also Ortona, Italy, v. Von der Heydte’s paratroopers). But the SS really were crack troops, and battle hardened after fighting the Russians.

75

Valuethinker 12.02.06 at 12:28 pm

public spirit

I’m not sure how we leap from Friday the 13th to de Tocqueville.

The former is no leftist plot (feminists hate the entire slasher genre, remember) *although* as Siskel and Ebert pointed out the first Slasher film (which I think was F13) had Jaime Lee Curtis defending herself with flair and innovativeness (that coat hanger moment).

(there’s an analogy: go and see ‘Dead Calm’, an early Nicole Kidman flick in which she is raped by a psycopath, but fights back fiercely and effectively. It’s based on a classic Jim Thompson novel. PS the first 60 seconds is one of the most shocking scenes in any film I have ever seen– but then I have a young niece).

It’s ridiculous to say that these films are popular amongst college educated liberals. I find them creepy at best, and misogynistic at worst.

What they are is unbridled capitalism. There is a market, they do well at the box office, Hollywood makes them.

What de Tocqueville does talk about, and a lot of conservative thinkers have noted, is that if you run a society on the mighty dollar, and only the mighty dollar, then you get a society which can cater to the lowest common cultural denominator.

That is more or less where the US is now. That’s not a liberal-lefty problem, that is a problem of unblemished free market capitalism. Be it fast food, violent films, drugs, whatever, these ills of modern society (if they are ills), are the product of the success of the US economy and social system.

This is a problem American conservatism just hasn’t come to grips with– rabid free market capitalism does not create a cohesive society. The impulse to serve the greater good is not a capitalist one, it is a collectivist one. Nobody goes to war for Exxon-Mobil.

As to US ‘greatness’, well speaking from the perspective of the rest of the world, if you don’t tackle your contribution to Global Warming, then ‘greatness’ is really just a smokescreen whilst we all go down to defeat.

And American ‘greatness’ has dragged us into the quagmire of the Middle East, at enormous harm to the local inhabitants, and to the great detriment of the safety of people in Europe (as well as North America).

Saying the Soviet Union was bad doesn’t justify everything the US did or does.

A little more humility on the exercise of power might be appropriate.

76

Katherine F. 12.02.06 at 8:19 pm

77

John Quiggin 12.02.06 at 11:32 pm

Matt, I saw the surprise ending coming too, but was beaten by the time difference. Now where did I put that temporal warp machine?

78

Valuethinker 12.03.06 at 4:33 am

katherine f.

Burke is often (slightly) misquoted:

http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/2298.html

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke
Irish orator, philosopher, & politician (1729 – 1797)

79

bi 12.03.06 at 7:23 am

Valuethinker:

No, he’s not just slightly misquoted, he’s grossly misquoted. As Porter tells us, the closest thing to this that Burke actually wrote is the following:

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

Now the quote below from Boller and George is truly a real quotable quote — um, at least I hope it’s real:

Radicals have plenty of quotations from Karl Marx, anyway, and probably see no need to add to the Marxist treasure-house. Extreme rightists in America have a real problem, in any case; they would like to cite the Founding Fathers, but rarely find what they want in Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson. Hence the quote-faking.

80

Matt Weiner 12.03.06 at 10:31 am

bi, fans of “Hegel says somewhere” Marx may be in a bit of a glass house here (I would count myself as at least a fan of his writing). But that’s a great quote. It means a lot to me especially, because the radical-right magazine at Harvard in the early 90s (before it was apparent that similar nuts had taken over the GOP) used that faux-Burke quote as their motto.

John Q, I think by “beaten by the time difference” you mean Weiner-pwned.

81

Timothy 12.03.06 at 9:53 pm

I wince at all stories in which humans with roughly contempary technology fight off a full scale alien invasion. It Would Not Be Possible To Defeat FTL Capable Aliens With Conventional Tactics And/Or Weapons. Any technology capable of defeating outright an alien race capable of faster than light travel wouldn’t need to be weilded by manly men of manliness anyway, it would probably be more about pushing buttons anyway.

82

Eyal 12.04.06 at 8:04 am

In the case of the Posleen series (to which WotR belongs) that’s solved by a) having other aliens supply Earth with advanced technology and b) making most of the Posleen retarded.

83

Eyal 12.04.06 at 8:06 am

#22

In fairness to Ringo, IIRC the people discussing the need to make women bear more children are the villains of the series

84

Valuethinker 12.05.06 at 9:45 am

Kathleen

thanks for the correction!

Timothy

Footfall (Niven and Pournelle) – Aliens borrow their interstellar (Slower than light) technology.

Great song ‘the Jayhawk War’

Harry Turtledove – aliens and humans stand off for a while

(what is it about Science Fiction that we *always* seem to wind up with ‘Space Nazis?’ ;-)

There was a Lester del Ray where humans wind up taking on the power of Gods, as I recall.

HG Wells of course.

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