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Entries by tag: socialist

Red Writer: I stand with Irene Gallo.

Near the middle of The Grass King's Concubine there's a three page section where one of the protagonists (Aude) explains to one of the inhabitants of the Grass King's reign the basic principles of socialist. It's in chapter 17, pp.217-19, if you want to check. It states, pretty much in black and white, that the character -- and the author, as it happens -- is opposed to a system in which a small number of people have the bulk of the wealth and power, at the expense and to the detriment of the many. I believe this to be true and I included it in the book on purpose. Both Grass King and its sequel, A Fire of Bones which I am working on at present, are overtly, deliberately, avowedly political books. I'm a political writer: more, I am an openly socialist writer. And I'm proud of it. No insult calling me a communist or a pinko or any such thing can offend me, because this is who I am, at core; these are my principles and I hold to them. A system which favours the few over the many is broken. A system in which wealth trickles upwards from the poorest, the excluded, the disprivileged, is immoral. Oppression, deprivation and exclusion are the fruits of unregulated robber-baron capitalism, and the latter in the form in which it currently exists is industrialised feudalism.

A few weeks ago, Tor books art editor Irene Gallo, writing in her own space and under her own name, not in relation to her employer, called Theodore Beale aka Vox Day, the leader of the self-named 'Rabid Puppy' movement which is presently trying to spread the culture war between hard right and centre-right in the U.S.A. a racist, sexist, neo-Nazi. And she's right. I'm not going to provide links here to prove this: I have no interest in giving the man the clicks. But google him, look at his website and you will quickly find that Ms Gallo wrote no more than the truth. Today, Mr Beale is spear-heading an attack to get Tor to fire Irene Gallo, for daring to stand up to him, and getting his followers to write letters to this effect. He does not like what she said. And he wants her silenced and punished.

Mr Beale defends his own abusive language in terms of the U.S. free speech laws, and has used that to launch racist, sexist, homophobic and bullying attacks on many people within the sff community. He has a *right* to be abusive, he tells us, over and over. But he does not believe that this right to what he calls 'free speech' should extend to anyone who contradicts him, or talks back. He does not believe that Irene Gallo has this right. Oh, he has wrapped this up in a specious argument about her position in the industry, but she made her remarks about him in her private capacity. While he abused his membership of SFWA, the official body for professional SF writers, to use the sfwa twitter feed to make a vicious racist attack on writer N. K. Jemison. For this, he was thrown out of SFWA. If anyone has demonstrated an abuse of position, it's Beale and not Ms Gallo.

Mr Beale believes in freedom only for himself and those who agree with him. He believes he has the right to police the words and lives of everyone else and punish or destroy them if they offend. He is the perfect robber capitalist, dreaming of a world in which the rich -- and he is very very rich -- control everything, from resources and awards to bodies and thoughts of those who he considers his inferiors. He's trying that today with TOR books.

And this red writer is standing here in his way. The US culture war does not belong in our genre, which is global and not the property of any one interest group or political belief. Do I want right-wing books and writers in my genre? Yes, I do. Writing belongs to us all. Do I want *only* right wing books and *only* white, straight, American male writers? No, because that is counter not only to the roots of sff -- which lie in the work of writers of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and political views -- but to my personal principles, which believe in inclusion and support for the many rather than privilege for the (predictable straight white male) few.

I stand with Irene Gallo.

Or, and if you want to go and denounce me and my books as communist, feel free. I'm not ashamed of my politics.


Skirt of the day: denim.

On e-books and capitalism

It occurred to me this morning, in light of something someone said yesterday on twitter, to wonder about the anxiety some readers have about ownership of the e-books they buy. It's an anxiety that seems to cross all the boundaries of readers, from those who just buy happily from the big outlets to those who campaign against DRM and those who happily pirate. They are all concerned that they should actually, definitely, irrevocably own those pieces of data and they are anxious that someone -- especially the big companies -- might take it away from them.
Capitalist thinking pervades everything. This anxiety is all about property (even, in some cases, where it's expressed as an anxiety over freedom.) I find this interesting, even more so when you consider that many of these same readers are suspicious of the control exercised by big business, which is a valid concern in socialist terms.
Now, from the perspective of writers, a book or story is the product of their labour and their concerns are around the ways in which this is alienated from them, either by official middlemen or by unofficial ones. This makes perfect sense to me: workers need to eat, and in capitalist societies, they are dependent of the product for this, either directly or indirectly.
But the reader anxiety -- 'I paid for this, so I must own it forever' -- strikes me as both symptomatic of the pervasiveness of capitalist thinking and as slightly illogical, especially when it's on the part of those campaigning against big business. There's a disconnect in the thinking, there, somehow, because the radical ideas are underpinned by a deep-rooted attachment to, and anxiety over ownership. Indeed, on some level, the desire for freedom from DRM -- which I share, btw -- is closely entangled with the same desire for control over a perceived piece of property as fuels the supporters and inventors of DRM, though on an individual rather than a company level.

Capitalist thinking infects everything.
For the record, I discover I don't have a deep attachment to owning e-books. Most of those I buy I read once. In my head they're rather like library books. I don't know why this is. I need to think about that more, clearly.

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