Reflecting on Sarah Hoyt’s long and thoughtful article on the Sad Puppies vs. “Social Justice Warrior” fracas at the Hugo Awards:
It is actually a good illustration of the difference between a positive-sum game and a zero-sum game. To the Sad Puppies camp, writing sci-fi is a positive sum game. You have more writers of varying political stripes (or of no discernible stripe at all), you have more and more diverse fiction, which will appeal to a broader range of people, which will get more people to read and buy sci-fi, and everybody is happy.
To the SJWs, however, what they truly care about is a positional good, namely intellectual and moral superior status over others. (Cf. this interesting piece on “Virtue signaling” .) Competition for any purely positional good is a zero-sum game, and the more people participate the less is there to go around. So for the SJWs, throwing up barriers to entry and ostracizing people are rational strategies (in pursuit of an irrational goal).
And as the causes and mascot group they ostensibly champion gradually gain acceptance, their response will of course be to become ever more shrill and radical — because if suddenly everybody at least pays lip service to that particular cause or mascot group (or simply accepts it as part of the landscape) then there is no longer any virtue to be gotten in doing so, except by drastically escalating demands.
The end game, in this case, will be ten people and a dog buying the latest 99.4% pure LGBTQWERTYZ-friendly SJW novel, and them congratulating themselves on being the only people sophisticated enough to understand this transgressive piece of dreck. And then another group comes along saying that 99.4% isn’t pure enough, and ostracizes the first…
There are actually virtue inflation cycles in organized religions as well, with one believer trying to outdo the other in piety. Closest to home in that regard: there were the most extreme ultra-Orthodox who during the recent Passover would not rely on the municipal water supply because somebody might have dropped some bread in the Sea of Galilee and thus contaminated the water with some ppb quantity of leaven (consumption of which is strictly forbidden during Passover). In a country where the majority of people (including yours truly) already keeps kosher to some degree and still more respect the additional stringencies during the week of Passover, simply keeping kosher for Passover may be enough for those who observe these commandments for their own sake — but it will not meet the needs of status seekers (which exist in every culture and every field of human endeavor) as they will only be ‘special’ by going to ever greater extremes precisely when more people adopt the basic strictures.
Coming back to sci-fi: the fact that Sad Puppies not only includes women and minorities (besides being politically much more diverse than the ingroup) — and that authors like Sarah Hoyt even use sympathetic homosexual characters as protagonists — actually means precisely that the SJWs have to become that much shriller to continue to be the ultra-precious moral snowflakes. So expect the more inclusive that “our” side will become, the more hysterical and outré will be the escalation in demands from the SJWs. State-financed species reassignment surgery anyone? (“I am a dinosaur trapped in a human body”)
Originally posted on According To Hoyt:
Years ago on this blog I talked about Technique of The Coup D’Etat by Giovanni Guareschi and I typed the beginning in here. I shall copy that. (Assume typos are mine.)
At ten o’clock on Tuesday evening, the village square was swept with wind and rain, but a crowd had been gathered there for three or four hours to listen to the election news coming out of a radio loudspeaker. Suddenly the lights went out and everything was plunged into darkness. Someone went to the control box but came back saying there was nothing to be done. The trouble must be up the line or at the power plant, miles away. People hung around for half an hour or so, and then, as the rain began to come down even harder than before, they scattered to their homes, leaving the village silent and deserted. Peppone shut himself up in the…
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