Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Today's Political Thought: Radicals and Rabids

In regard to this year's big SFnal kerfuffle: the Sad Puppies are Menshiviks, and the Rabid Puppies are the Bolsheviks.

(Or maybe the SPs are Girondists and RPs are Jacobins.)

The point is that all movements that have a claim on radicalism are quickly hijacked by their own most radical elements. The merely sad puppies wanted to do a lot of things: get themselves and their friends on the final ballot, celebrate right-wing and military SF, declare that American white guys are obviously the best people ever, and so forth. The Rabid Puppy slate, though, was aimed precisely to do two closely related things: promote Vox Day and attack the "SJWs."

The radical who is focused and passionate and unyielding will always win out over the radical who is willing to listen to the other side and engage in dialogue.

I say this because a lot of the commentary online talks about the triumph of the Sad Puppy slate. This is just not true. The Sad Puppy "slate" was a bit squishy as a slate -- it didn't fill up all of its categories, and the calls to block-vote were vaguer -- and it did not succeed. The Rabid Puppy slate succeeded, and any success on the Sad side is purely because Day hijacked large pieces of the SP slate -- it was good enough for his purposes, I assume -- and included them in his own.

The Rabid voters made the difference. The best analysis of this is by Nathaniel Givens, who also is at least mildly pro-Sad Puppy [1]. Here's his money chart:

I don't think the Sad Puppies have realized this, or, if so, they haven't been willing to admit it in public. They were hijacked by their own Robespierre. And they need to think seriously about the situation, because exactly the same thing will happen next year when they come out with "Sad Puppy 4." Day will grab the pieces of that list he likes, add in a bunch of stuff from his own publishing program and anything else he can find that makes lefties' heads explode, and drive one or two hundred die-hards to vote exactly how he tells them to.

To be blunt, the Sad Puppies have been failures top to bottom. They haven't succeeded at anything they aimed to do, and any apparent success was due to other people's concerted actions. More importantly, the consequences have been getting worse and worse -- for them, and for the field -- every year. I wonder if they can realize that the thing to do when you're in a hole is stop digging.

[1] He uses "social justice warrior" as if it were a content-neutral descriptor, for example. I suspect he would not equally use "right-wing nutbar" for the other side. But he also clearly likes data and facts, which is the most important thing.

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