Thursday, September 08, 2005

On the Right-Wing

Just to explain, politically I'm more Socialist than not, and liberal in the small "L", non-free-market sense. From an American perspective I guess I'm on the extreme Left-wing; I believe strongly in the nationalisation of practically everything, including health, the railways, coal, etc. From a Welsh Valleys perspective, traditionally I am not even close to being in the minority.

Which makes it really odd that I like Tom Clancy books so much. I mean, Clancy is slighly to the Right of [insert name of domineering historical character, regardless of verifiable data on actual rightwingness in the modern sense, i.e Ghengis Khan, or Attila the Hun]. I suspect the root of the matter is the fundamental attraction gung-ho action (read violence) holds for men. Serious, I've seen pacifists scream and snarl and perforate their friends with lead while playing Halo. Not all male, mind, so again please feel free to disregard any sweeping my statements might be making.

Having said that, I almost fell out of love with him once. There's a book series, Op-centre (British spelling on the cover, 'Op-center' in the text), created by Clancy and Steve Pieczenik but actually authored by Jeff Rovin. Enjoyable enough, but obviously junk; say what you like about Tom, but there is a considerable writing talent on display in the novels he actually wrote. Op-centre, not so much. (As an aside, there is another book series that he created but didn't write, the name of which escapes me, based around the truly laughable Conservative Voodoo idea that left to their own devices (and presumably never having to soil themselves by paying taxes), rich people will use their companies to create private institutions that will protect the country and its people. Hoh yes.)

So I read my way through the series, not taking it particularly seriously, when one of them demonstrated an absolute, total fuck-up. Rovin referred to the Spanish Civil War as 'a Communist insurgency against Royalist forces'. And that was it, no further elucidation. Nothing about Fascists, Nazis, the fact that at that time it was only Left-wingers who were ready to oppose the most abhorent political movements of the 20th Century, three years before the British reacted and five before the Americans. I'm sure Obi-wan would agree with me that the sentence is accurate, from a certain point of view. But divorced from the correct context, at best it ignores or downplays the role of the Fascists in the conflict in order to give us all another reason to hate the dirty Commies, and at worst it attempts to re-write history, or suggest that the Fascists were in the right.

So I stopped reading the Op-centres, and almost stopped reading Tom Clancy's regular doorstops. I eventually started up again with Rainbow Six. Great book, better computer game. But sadly, the magic had gone. I still play the games that come under the Tom Clancy brand, though, as I find them to be uniformly the dog's bollocks.

As I've mentioned before, the other Right-winger I enjoy reading is Brit SF author, Peter F. Hamilton. Lots of great space-opera, spaceship action. And an awful, ugly conceit; in the Night's Dawn trilogy, early space colonies were ethnically diverse and collapsed into violence and crime, so the later ones were 'ethnically streamed' (Hamilton's words), so all the Brits went to one world, black people to another, and, for all I know, all the fucking Inuit to their own Ice Planet. If we were to give him the benefit of the doubt, it's a way of explaining the Planets as Thinly Veiled Metaphors ('Planet America', 'Planet Africa', etc,) we find scattered around the universe of SpaceFic. But there is an underlying cynicism that I don't subscribe to; people just can't get along because We're all too different to Them. Which is ridiculous, because let's face it if everyone was white, we'd be negatively differentiating each other by hair colour, or if we were all blonde it would be, I don't know, knob size.

There's an idyllic Victorian Britain World which is all Conservative and lovely. Because we all know things were so much better in the 19th Century. In his next book series (also quite good) there's a similar Victorian fetishism- lots of trains as the best way to travel through wormholes, private companies and individuals being really magnanimous; Tory Utopianism, if you would. Enough to give Isambard Kingdom Brunel a stiffy.

It's fascinating that a writer in a forward-looking genre can be so intrenched in a false view of the past.


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