Monday, 1 August 2016

Attitudes

Manse Everard tells Janne Floris:

"'Get off that guilt trip. What are you, some kind of liberal or something? Let's put sentiment on the shelf and think about the matter from a Patrol point of view.'"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 597.

Come off it, Everard. Liberals aren't all that bad. It is a pity that "liberal" seems to have become a political swear word in the US. There has to be some label for the many respectable people who are neither to the left nor to the right. In fact, "liberals" can receive abuse from both directions! Apart from that one word, I agree with what Everard says. Guilt is sometimes appropriate but never "guilt trips" and sentiment needs to be put on the shelf. But what is the Patrol point of view? How many human moral systems exist in the period guarded by the Patrol and does the Patrol as such really endorse any of them? Might there be periods when Patrol agents simply assassinate those whose existence is undesirable from a "Patrol point of view?" Even within the twentieth century, Everard and Wanda differ on the issue of hunting animals.

Although the views of a character are not necessarily those of the author, I think that there is a good match between the views of Anderson and Everard. Shalten says:

"'The next stage that we contemplate is likely to be still more dangerous and taxing.' He sketched a smile. 'Or, on the basis of what I have heard about your political views, perhaps I should say 'dangerous and demanding.'" (The Shield Of Time, pp. 67-68)

Everard says:

"'They've got rent control there in these decades, you know. Always guarantees slums...'" (p. 180)

Thus, when Everard did not disapprove of homosexuality (see here), I took this also to reflect Anderson's view and maybe to express a change from an earlier story. Meanwhile, SM Stirling presents a very positive portrayal of a black lesbian. See, in particular, Island In The Sea Of Time, p. 391.

6 comments:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Unfortunately, the word "liberal" no longer has in the US is true, classical meaning, as developed by Adam Smith and his successors (limited government and a free enterprise economy). Like it or not, it has come to mean, at least in the US, those who advocate endless expansion of the power of the state and hostility to those ideas and institutions (such as Christianity) resistant to that expansion.

    So, Manse Everard's use of "liberal" was appropriate in his context.

    Sean

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sean. I knew you would respond on that one.
      I must shortly eat, help my family and attend meditation group (with a visiting monk), thus a cessation of blogging for a few hours!
      Paul.

      Delete
    2. Sean,
      I understand that you oppose "liberalism" in the current sense of that term but am still not sure how that sense connects with the word as used by Everard. He accuses Janne of guilt-tripping and sentimentalism, not of statism or anti-Christianity.
      Paul.

      Delete
    3. Kaor, Paul!

      I realize now I was too brief in my first comment. Both Manse and I, being after all Americans (even if Manse is fictional), also had in mind the wider uses or meaning of the word "liberal" in its bad sense. In this context, to think rationally and logically, without being swayed by emotion or sentiment. To facts and things as they are, not as we would wish them to be. Broadly speaking, conservatives/libertarians and Christians are the ones who tend to be the truly rational ones in the US. "Liberals," in the bad sense, tend, broadly, to deny the facts of real life, to be swayed by passion or emotions. So, I think I can see how or why Manse spoke as he did.

      Sean

      Delete
    4. Sean,
      Not all Christians are rational though!
      Paul.

      Delete
    5. Kaor, Paul!

      Too true! Simply think of Pastor Deubel and his followers in ISLAND IN THE STREAM OF TIME. And I have personally tried to talk with "evangelical" Protestants who deny evolution, the antiquity of the Earth, or that Catholics are Christians, etc., etc. They were definitely being irrational!

      But it's my belief even an irrational Protestant or other Christian does less harm than an irrational liberal (in the bad senses of that word).

      Sean

      Delete