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War has started once more. The propaganda machine has been turned on, slowly gearing up to churn out the drivel and rhetoric that infests the forums around war time. The usual heavy hitters can be seen advocating and debating for their respective side's (actions/stances, take your pick) in this rapidly engulfing conflict. Was NEW in the right? No. Was it ethical for them to do so? Undoubtedly no. Was it moral for them to take vengeance? Vengeance has never been moral. Did NEW exercise their right to take vengeance? Indeed, they did. Were PC/iFOK cowards for not outright defending their ally in NEW? Subjective to each person's independent view, though personally I can understand their position. Is it obvious that they tried their best at ending the conflict peacefully? Undoubtedly so. Did the current power structure surrounding Pandora's Box play a part in this situation? Yes. I do admit that it is a bit surprising to see the past motto of 'Friends > Infra' being used by the side labeled by most as Ex-heg/Polaris against SG/PB. Then again, politics is always in motion and the power that used to rest at Q's hand is now in the hands of SG/PB, there is no doubt about that. Will this war be a curbstomp? That still has to be seen depending on how the counter DoW's are done. Either way, war is war even when it might be vastly overwhelming on one side. All we're here is to play a war game behind a thin veil of a political simulator, not to stagnate the war game by overusing the "realpolitik" of the political simulator. PS: Happy Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody.
Writing about cultures or subcultures isn’t my exactly my bag—I’m not a sociology major or a media or gender studies major. In fact generally I think that, for me, writing about culture is, to some degree, a waste of time. I’m not trained for this sort of thing, so I can’t really see any way for me to write about these things scientifically, or in any way that doesn’t just excuse my own biases. *Note-trained culturists do this too* So, unless I’m some sort of weird intellectual sadomasochist, why would I then chose to write about the subculture that emerged from a science fiction genre? I chose it because of a belief of mine—that, in the English speaking world, we have by and large replaced the speculative arm of philosophy with literature and science fiction. This isn’t new—Plato’s Republic, one of the earliest works of philosophy, was in many ways an attempt to speculate on what the good society would be like, a story that launched both utopian and dystopian fiction. From that point on for thousands of years, philosophers, in making their point, speculated into the past (if they are saying that their philosophy comes along naturally), or the future (if they are saying that their philosophy should be taken up)—Rousseau’s natural man and Nietzsche’s last man and ubermensch. This reflected an attempt to hit the reader firmly in the middle-brow—the dry and specific analysis was accompanied by easy to understand analogy. But where was the point when the two parted? In the 19th century, science fiction was by and large explorations of the future, with the political/philosophical dimension largely in the notion of OH GOD CHINESE PEOPLE ARE EVERYWHERE THIS IS TERRIBLE, or some similar ripped from the headlines scaremongering. This isn’t really a rip on science fiction, but at the time it fit the description I gave to steampunk—it was a subset of fiction without a consciousness. It was the beginnings of the 20th century, with the First World War, that the very foundation of philosophy was attacked. From the overly rational nature of political thinking which brought along the First World War (and, to the fascists, democracy—the Hegelian argument that parliaments and constitutions get between a people and their nation comes up quite a bit in Nazi propaganda), to the idea that social consciousness makes it impossible for any properly middle class writer to do their job (In Virginia Woolf’s the Leaning Tower she says just this), you can see it everywhere. One could say that, in getting in on this reactionary trend, Lovecraft, with his thoughts on the unfathomable nature of the universe, is one of the first scifi writers to double as the propagandist for a particular philosophy, and indeed I would place his predecessor, Edgar Allen Poe, as one of the movers of the speculative fiction movement from something which reflected the spirit of the times to something that changed the spirit of the times. Under that requirement, I can’t with due conscience say that Lovecraft and his contemporaries were the beginners of the schism. Instead I would list a lanky Brit, who failed at writing proper fiction before moving to science fiction, and, in so doing, changed the face of the genre. Eric Blair, who called himself George Orwell, wrote pretty boring fiction. If you read the books (excepting Down and Out) he wrote before ‘36, they’re really nothing to write home about—the guy just didn’t have an eye for prose beyond the spartan style you can get in his other works. He even said that without the great conflict against fascism he would have stayed in obscurity. But that’s not fully the case—many writers attacked fascism during the time, and many of them had a better way with words than Blair (I’m more of a fan of Hemingway myself, but then I’m a massive ponce, so). It was Orwell’s (I’m going to stick with Orwell now) use of allegory and speculation that made Animal Farm and 1984 so memorable and accessible. And, interestingly enough, because they’re against something and not for something, they are lauded by people across the spectrum, because both books are, essentially, against totalitarianism, though Animal Farm has stronger shades of anti-Stalinism. But Orwell was just the most well known of the first generation of political science fiction writers. Ayn Rand wrote many works which, unlike Orwell’s novels, weren’t only against something but for something—her vision of extreme individualism. Her books are still massively popular, partially because, rather than preaching her views through a dry political text, she created allegories to show her ideology through. Other fantastic books which had inherently political themes to them came out after the 40’s—Foundation’s pacifism, or the militarism of Heinlein’s novels. But, even as a political scientist, I can’t say that all philosophy is political. There are other broad wings which are equally important—the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language are both important, and both were largely ignored by science fiction writers until Philip K. Dick came along. Philip K. Dick, historically, is an oddity. In nearly any other era he would have been a philosopher, and in fact his largest novel (sadly unpublished) is a 2000 page long deconstruction of classical Greek Philosophy. His books seem to be the polar opposite of my description of steampunk—for there is hardly ever a connecting aesthetic or setting between his books, but there is always several common interlinking themes, of suddenly feeling true reality, or of probing the limits of humanity. It is all substance, with style being added on almost in hindsight. His work was during the point when science fiction was becoming a part of the mainstream, and during a point when science fiction (and it’s sister genre, fantasy) were really coming into their own. Nearly every piece seemed to be preaching it’s own opinion, and science fiction was starting to split into different subgenres (beyond the usual hard VS soft), allowing it to take in a full range of world views. All this means that most English speaking outsiders, the people who would have been philosophers in the 19th century, were raised on a constant mental diet of science fiction and fantasy, and many of those children who became writers wrote science fiction. And so, by the time we got to the year 2000, most of speculative philosophy has been cannibalized by science fiction, and most of the people who would become philosophers became science fiction writers. That is basically the crux of the tedious history I just wrote. But now we need to look to see—is this positive? In many ways the change is just in the way the speculation is explained. How much worse are John Galt’s monologues compared to those of Socrates? But, at the same time, the writers who write these things tend to show their work less than your average philosopher. Less often than the universe of Dune, a universe with a great deal of ethical and ideological depth (and also clearly not the author’s utopia), is a preachy novel like The Sword of Truth, where the main character (a stand in for the writer’s beliefs, a sort of ideological Jesus Christ), can not only do no wrong, but can do right when others do wrong. But, in the end, arguing over whether it’s good or not really doesn’t change that much. With the massive rise in literacy, and especially in critical thinking amongst the population as a whole, philosophy—complex thought as a whole—needed to find a way to adapt to reach this massive new audience. What philosophers were doing 100, 200, 300 years ago is the same thing professors do now—they’re writing to each other and to the few people able to read their dry unentertaining books. Now that people besides those people can read and participate in literature as a medium, we can’t just revert back to being a bunch of elites reading and writing for each other. To suggest it would be preposterous. The change has already been made—in the English world, philosophy is already science fiction. The point of this article—this series—is that this doesn’t mean it needs to be dumbed down, and in fact it shouldn’t. It just means that you have to be entertaining.