Reader Request Week 2018 #4: Far-Left(?) Scalzi
This question would invite all sorts of dumbshittery, I get that, but: how do you suppose a cottage industry in attacking you for being ‘far left’ became a thing? There are actual far left authors they could go after, it’s not like Steven Brust or China Mieville aren’t outspoken.
Yeah, but China (wisely) avoids most social media, so he’s no fun, and while Steve is on social media, he’s an actual Trotskyist, and these dimwits would literally have no idea what to do with him once he got on his particular political hobby horse. There are other authors far to left of me who they do try to tangle with, but that doesn’t usually work out for them either — I note a few of them will make sallies at Nick Mamatas from time to time, which is always delightful since Nick is happy to leave them at the bottom of a smoking crater as often as they like, being that Nick is both smarter and meaner than all of them, possibly combined, and also enjoys sticking stupid people in the eye if they willingly come to him for a poke, which apparently they do.
But I was never really being attacked for being “far left” because I am actually far left in my political or social opinions. Honestly over the last double decade the only thing I was really substantially left of the political mainstream about was same-sex marriage, and I’m pleased to say the political mainstream came and found me on that one. On just about everything else, if you check the national polling on political and social issues, I’m pretty much either dead center or only a bit to the left rather than extremely so. I’m a liberal of the petit bourgeois sort, in other words, and this should not be in the least bit surprising for who and what I am, a comfortably well-off straight white dude. As I’ve said before, if you think I represent the vanguard of the far left, that’s a tragedy, both for your understanding of politics, and for the far left itself. I mean, shit. Ask Nick Mamatas how far left he thinks I am. He will accurately, snarkily and possibly profanely peg me on the political spectrum. I rather strongly suspect it will not be to the far left.
The reason there’s a cottage industry in attacking me as “far left” is rather more simple and rather a bit more sad than that, which is that there was a small(ish) clutch of writers and fans whose politics ranged from stock conservative to reactionary to white nationalist and who, for various reasons, disliked me and the fact I have a successful writing career. So they went out of their way to try to insult and diminish me in ways that carry weight to others of their sort. So along with questioning my masculinity and/or my sexuality and/or my sales and/or the validity of my awards and/or my writing talents and/or blog visits and/or [insert whatever here], they called me “far left” because in their universe being far left is one of the worst things you can possibly be. Me just being moderately left wouldn’t do, mind you. Everything has to be extreme for these boys. So far left I am. It’s me and Stalin, bear hugging.
And, well. Okay. From the perspective of sales and personal and professional reputation, this sort of nonsense has been literally harmless to me; any sales that I may have lost from their silliness (and to be clear I don’t think I really have) have been recouped and then some elsewhere. My anecdotal observation over a dozen years is that most of my readers don’t really care about my personal politics, or just accept that as I’m creative person I’m vaguely liberal because that’s kind of what we mostly all do, isn’t it.
Likewise, my loudest detractors tend to be performatively terrible people who mostly yell inward, toward a putative fanbase of people who are aspirationally performatively terrible. So that bubble of feculence tends to be self-limiting, and I’m content to not have that sort read me. Occasionally some their effluvia escapes and a normal, non-terrible person sees it, and the result of that, again anecdotally, is “These people are horrible and they hate you? I’m guessing I’m going to like you more.” So again, very little downside.
(This is where I note, strictly for the avoidance of doubt, that not everyone whose politics are to the right of mine is a terrible person, either performatively or otherwise. And not everyone who dislikes me is terrible either. I’m sure some absolutely delightful people dislike me. However, I can say that if you’ve been going out of your way to call me, say, a far-left beta soyboy or something similarly dude-panic-Mad-Lib, you’re probably not exactly nice.)
With all that said, and reinforcing a comment I made on a similar subject last year: the large majority of this nonsense appears to be over. Most of the characters who went out of their way to attempt to belittle me seem to have moved on to other enthusiasms, and other targets who they feel will offer better returns on their sport. I can’t say I’m exactly broken up about that. I’ve noted a couple of come-lately jerks trying to rerun the playbook that others have tried, but they seem to be having less success with it, to an even smaller audience of fellow jerks. As a result they come across as even more sad and pathetic than the previous bunch. I would suggest they leave it alone, but they wouldn’t listen.
So, you know. If they want to call me “far left” or anything else, whatever. The only people they’ve managed to convince of any of that is themselves. And they’re not exactly the best judges of the subject, I have to say.
(There is still time to ask a question for Reader Request Week! Go here for all the details, and to ask your question.)