Following khalinche‘s example, I’m going to try writing a daily lj/blog post through November, as a kind of ersatz NaNoWriMo. This strikes me as an excellent idea, pilfering the best bits of nanowrimo (friendly pressure and a vague sense of community), and making it an excuse to write things I already want to write.
On day one, though, I’m already half-cheating with a couple of links. First is something head-slappingly obvious in retrospect: if you want social/political critique in China, science fiction is the place to look:
Who says that science fiction/fantasy is only good for escapism? Over the course of two hours we got: the Communist ideal as science fiction; designs for anti-urban-demolition weaponry, to be distributed to the populace; both internet firewall technology and anti-firewall-technology as China’s two greatest inventions since the compass; correlations drawn between The Matrix and Lu Xun; multiple references to Liu Xiaobo’s winning of the Nobel Peace Prize.
I have never heard any Chinese writers speak as incisively or as passionately about the Chinese condition as did these few sci-fi writers tonight.
Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, none of the authors he mentions are available in translation. Shame; publishing Chinese SF in English must make more financial sense than publishing Serious Literature.
Second is a delightfully vicious profile of Peter Thiel — billionnaire co-founder of Paypal and early investor in Facebook. What’s depressing is not so much the unpleasantness of his politics (he’s hardly the only person with scary views), but that, through wealth, he has more power than any thousand of the rest of us.
Thiel announced: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” The public, he says, doesn’t support unregulated, winner-take-all capitalism and so he doesn’t support the public making decisions. This anti-democratic proclamation comes with some curious historical analysis. Thiel says that the Roaring 20s were the last period when it was possible for supporters of freedom like him to be optimistic about politics. “Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women—two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians—have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron,” he writes.
Even here there’s a silver lining; Thiel has just spent $100,000 to support marijuana legalisation in California.