The Way of Non-Attachment

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In my last post I discussed how hedonism leads to emptiness and suffering. Hedonism is a self-destructive mindset born from attachment to sensory pleasure. The antidote is the cultivation of non-attachment.

In Buddhist thought, craving (tanha) creates attachment (upadana) whose fruit is suffering (dukkha). If you fail to achieve what you desire, you experience suffering. If you do achieve what you desire, you may feel temporary happiness, before descending into suffering.

As an example, imagine an executive who feels unhappy because he can’t afford to live the high life. The latter is the craving resulting in attachment to the idea that he should live a life of luxury. To overcome his emotional distress, he decides to secure five-figure monthly income. He puts in 80-hour workweeks, sucks up to his bosses, aggressively negotiates for raises, and ruthlessly cuts out everyone who stands in his way. He achieves his target income and sinks his money into a magnificent house, expensive cars, club memberships and other pointless trinkets. To maintain his new lifestyle, he has to continue putting in 80-hour workweeks, juggle the bills, play office politics and watch for backstabbers — and in the process wrecking his health and sanity.

Our imaginary executive desired money and prestige, and willingly made himself a slave to money. Despite the outward appearance of success, he suffers immense workplace pressure and puts in crazy hours that sap his energy to maintain his lifestyle, and in the process suffering from even more money-related stress. His attachment to wealth and the appearance of success sucked him into a vicious, self-destructive cycle instead of taking him to contentment.

In Buddhist thought, there are four kinds of attachment: sensory pleasure, wrong view, rites and rituals, and self-doctrine (i.e. assuming that one has a permanent, unchanging self). Pursuing these cravings creates fuel for further suffering, since you will experience suffering either from not having what you crave or when you want more of it.

In light of this, non-attachment is one of the cornerstones of Buddhist thought. By eliminating craving, one removes attachment and therefore suffering. The practice of renunciation, or nekkhamma, enables a person to free himself from worldly desires and gain spiritual perfection.

Non-attachment can also be found in other philosophies and religions from around the world. The New Testament of the Bible encourages Christians to exercise non-attachment, following the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. The Stoics held material possessions lightly and refused to be controlled by their desires, instead striving to be content with their lot in life. The Dao De Jing notes that people attached to material goods will suffer much, while contented people are rarely disappointed.

The practice of non-attachment is a universal concept. Regardless of your personal view on religion, the practice of non-attachment through renunciation of harmful desires leads to inner peace and saves you from self-destruction.

Ambition and Non-Attachment

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Not everyone is called to be a Buddhist monk, a hermit, or an ascetic, and that is perfectly fine. If you wish to live in the modern world then you need to abide by its norms and customs. You will need food, water, shelter, clothing, medicine, education and so many other sundry things to get by. Quite naturally, you will need wealth to live.

For lay people, material goods and wealth are not necessarily evil if they create the conditions for contentment. It is going to be extremely hard to be content if you have to hold three jobs and work for 16 hours every day of the week just to eke out a living. If you do not need to worry about current and future expenses, your mind is at ease and will more readily find a state of contentment. Thus, for lay people, it is not wrong to be ambitious or to pursue career goals and dreams, so long as they do not lead to suffering.

The key is to understand what you want and why you want it. Armed with this insight you can predict if they will lead to suffering. Thus, if you want to earn one million dollars for the sake of obtaining luxury goods and the trappings of wealth, you can be sure to experience no end of *dukkha*, since these desires cannot be permanently satiated. Conversely, if you wish simply to be able to live a smooth life without ever having to worry about bills and unexpected expenses, you will be less likely to overextend yourself, push yourself to the breaking point and ruin your health and relationships.

Pair this insight with what you truly need for a fulfilling life. This could mean adequate food and clothing, shelter, positive relationships and community, and life purpose. You will realise that few of these things are material objects. Everything else is simply nice to have; there would not be any significant impact on your well-being whether you have them or not.

When you find yourself intensely craving something, ask yourself *why* you want it. What need are you trying to fulfil? Is it necessary to your well-being, or are you simply chasing transient feelings? If it is an essential need like food or medicine or a critical tool for a job, then there is no harm in obtaining it. If you are simply using it as an emotional crutch, then the best route is to let it go.

Your thoughts become your reality. How you think about yourself changes the way you feel, perceive and act. Whatever you turn your attention to becomes so. If all your thoughts are consumed with thoughts about making more money or hoarding it, you become a money-hungry monster. If your thoughts are filled with compassion towards others, you become more compassionate. Thus, if you find yourself ensnared with desire, simply turn your thoughts to something else, or clear your mind through focused meditation. Starved of attention, desire dissipates into nothingness.

This process applies to all forms of harmful desires, be it desire for material goods or casual sex or emotional disturbances. If you find yourself obsessing over something to the point where you experience suffering from it, such as ruminating over your failures or why you can’t get something, simply turn your thoughts to more productive uses — including how to improve your life instead of remaining where you are — and act on them.

You are not an eternal and unchanging being. Your life will change over time. It is inevitable. When your circumstances change, so will your life, your wants and needs. When these change, don’t resist it. Simply take stock of what has changed, understand your new life requirements, and take appropriate action to achieve a state of well-being.

Life is to be lived well. Not in the pursuit of fleeting things or feelings, but in fulfilment and in contentment. To reach such a state, identify the desires that lead to suffering and parse them from your life. With a free spirit and a light heart, you can escape suffering and find contentment in all things.

Trump’s Travel Ban Will Prevent a Clash of Civilisations

President Donald Trump’s travel ban has predictably incited a firestorm of controversy. Predictably, the mainstream media lied about Trump’s ban, claiming it bans Muslims from entering the United States. Also, quite predictably, they aren’t going to tell you that the ban will prevent a clash of civilisations in America.

This is the full text of Trump’s executive order. Nowhere it in mentions Muslims or nations by name. What he has done is to suspend the entry of foreign nationals from states defined in a law proposed by former President Barack Obama and passed by a Democrat-controlled legislature for 90 days, to suspend the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, and to direct the relevant agencies to strengthen vetting and screening processes.

87% of the world’s Muslims are not affected by the ban. It is not a Muslim ban; it is a temporary suspension of entry of nationals from states of concern.

These states of concern are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen are failed states, either on the brink of collapse or well past it, and are engulfed in war and terrorism. They cannot guarantee that people leaving the country are not criminals or terrorists. Iran is a known state sponsor of anti-US terrorism, most recently in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and has recently conducted a ballistic missile test in defiance of a UN resolution. Tehran is not going to tell Washington whether a traveler is an innocent person or a Quds Force operative on an espionage mission. Until the US develops a robust means of screening out undesirables, it only makes sense to temporarily halt entry of persons from these states. The ban applies to all people, not just Muslims.

The media has run plenty of stories about the plight of people who were deported, refused entry or are in a state of limbo due to the ban. I sympathise with their situation, but the sad truth is that government policy must by necessity paint with a broad brush. I suspect Trump is once again using high-pressure tactics, wielding popular reactions to the ban as an instrument to exact concessions from the hard left and the hard right. Scott Adams has more information here. In the coming days and months, I will not be surprised if the Trump Administration or the federal agencies roll out a raft of exemptions and screening recommendations, making Trump appear more reasonable.

But only up to a point. If Trump is going to deliver on his promise to Make America Great Again, there will be much more stringent screening measures in the near future, if not an outright ban on almost all refugees. And this will prevent a clash of civilisations.

Inconvenient Facts about ‘Refugees’

In November 2015, Michael Cernovich of Danger and Play decided to find the ground truth about the Middle Eastern refugee crisis. Traveling to Budapest, he documented his findings here. He discovered that most of the refugees were able-bodied young men, and were taught how to lie and where to go to receive the most benefits.

Why are these male refugees in Europe instead of fighting the Islamic State?

That should tell you something about the refugees. Here are three things the media won’t tell you about them.

  1. Most of the refugees are not refugees.

When you think of ‘refugees’, you tend to think of women, children and elderly fleeing from a war zone. That is not the case here. At least 60% of these refugees are economic migrants. This dovetails well with Cernovich’s findings about refugees being taught to game the system. They are not running from Daesh; they are attempting to take advantage of Europe’s generous welfare states. And ‘activists’ are aiding and abetting them in doing so.

  1. Most of these refugees are functionally illiterate

65% of incoming refugees from Syria are unable to read or write their own language. 70% of trainees in skills training courses for refugees have dropped out. And yet they are settling in a distant land that speaks a different language and embraces different cultural values. Most of these refugees do not have the skills to contribute meaningfully to their host nation; all they can do is simple menial labour.

If these were ‘regular’ refugees, this would not be a problem. They would simply stay in refugee camps until the war is over, then go home. But many of them are economic migrants. Their goal is to stay in their host nation. If they want to stay, they must contribute to society like regular citizens do. But if most of them cannot contribute, why should they be allowed to stay?

  1. Arab refugees are radically different from their host nations

People are not blank slates. Refugees are no different. They come from Arabic-speaking Muslim-majority lands with barely functional and highly corrupt authoritarian formergovernments. They expect despotism and nepotism everywhere, and their societies tend to be organised along tribal lines with strong religious influences. Democracy, civil rights and separation of church and state are unknown to them, and indeed fundamentally incompatible with the cultural values of their homelands.

They will experience massive culture shock in the West, and most of them will be unable to integrate meaningfully into society. They will be unable to communicate with ordinary Westerners. They will not be able to find work. They will have to acclimatise to a different climate. They will be surrounded by people with vastly different political and cultural norms. This is the recipe for a clash of civilisations.

Samuel Huntington argues in The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Orderthat the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War era will centre on religious and cultural identities. Peoples at the borders of distinct civilisations will clash with each other to secure dominance of their own culture and religion. And so far, Europe has proven Huntington right.

Sweden is now the rape capital of the West. Migrant gangs prowl the streets of Europe, enforcing shariah law and committing crimes. Germany has experienced a rash of sex attacks by migrants, and authorities are excusing rape culture. And now, the hard right is mobilising in numbers.

It seems to me that the Trump Administration has learned from Europe. It is a small miracle there haven’t been any major terrorist attacks in the United States yet, but large numbers of poorly-screened refugees and migrants are fertile grounds for terrorism. The implementation of more robust screening measures would ideally keep out the terrorist- and criminally inclined. An outright ban on most or all future refugees would eliminate the chance of a clash of civilisations, either now or in the future.

Muslim Refugees are not (European) Jewish Refugees

Inevitably someone will compare the Muslim refugees to Jewish refugees during World War II. This is a false comparison.

The Jewish refugees were European Jews. They were raised in modern states with modern education systems. They share the same cultural norms as the rest of the West, such as democracy, secularism and civil liberties. While they might have linguistic difficulties, they had valuable skills and had an innate understanding of public norms and codes of conduct in their new lands. Most importantly, the Jews did not remain refugees. After the war, they tended to do one of three things. They legally immigrated into their new countries, returned to their homelands, or emigrated to Israel.

Refugee status is not a permanent status. Once the crisis is over, they either assimilate or return home. On the other hand, many of the refugees flooding Europe have no intention of assimilating or returning.

However, there is one similarity between the Jews and the Arab refugees. The Jewish refugee crisis was solved by the destruction of the Third Reich. Similarly, the Arab refugee crisis can be solved through a similar way.

Strike the Root

The solution to the Arab refugee crisis is not to invite even more refugees and trigger a clash of civilisations. It is to strike the root of evil.

To be sure, genuine refugees do need help. Nobody should have to live at the mercy of Daesh, warlords or terrorists. But transporting them across the sea to a faraway land with vastly incompatible languages and norms is not the answer. Not when nearby countries with similar norms and languages can help. Saudi Arabia, for instance, has enough tents to house 3 million refugees. Similarly, these countries have functional governments with militaries capable of fending off terrorist incursions. Moving refugees to safe zones in neighbouring nations is cheaper, safer and faster than moving them to the West, and will not provoke an inter-civilisational conflict. Indeed, Donald Trump has secured an agreement from Saudi Arabia and Dubai to establish safe zones. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump implements a permanent travel ban alongside deportations to these safe zones.

With refugees secure, the nations of the world can focus their attention on destroying Daesh and other armed groups causing havoc in the region, and restoring law and order to these lands. And this is not something the West can take a lead in.

While America can supply the firepower needed to destroy the Islamic State in the field, this is not enough to win the peace. Eventually the power brokers must sit down and hash out long-term arrangements for a stable and peaceful society. The West must not take the leading role in such negotiations and state-building measures. This will be seen as imperialism and an attempt to impose their will. Instead, states from within the Islamic civilisation, such as Saudi Arabia and Dubai, will have to take charge. Their shared culture and religion will improve the chances of successful negotiations and long-term outcomes. What the West can do is play the role of honest broker, ensure all sides play fair, and pressure the key players to keep returning to the negotiating table until they find a win-win solution.

Donald Trump’s travel ban is not necessarily the best solution, but it might well be the least bad policy — for now. Trump must avoid inciting a clash of civilisations in America, and that means keeping out the people most likely to foment such a clash. Going forward, I expect Trump to roll back the ban and incorporate new screening measures and exemptions. But to properly solve the refugee crisis once and for all, Daesh and other warlords must be destroyed and replaced with stable states — and that is something the West should not play a leading role in.

Media credits:

  1. https://www.reddit.com/r/The_Donald/comments/4ao8b7/who_of_you_did_this_trump_is_now_officially_god/
  2. Mike Cernovich, Danger and Play, 2015
  3. Uri Dan, To the Promised Land, 1987 (Public Domain)
  4. http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-destroy-islamic-state/

The Boston Tea Party and the Washington Riots are Not the Same

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery attempted to draw moral equivalency between the Boston Tea Party and the Washington riots.

They are not the same. I can’t tell if it’s willful ignorance of history or deliberate distortion of the record, but when dealing with the far left, there is no difference.

By drawing comparisons to the Boston Tea Party, the Left is attempting to legitise wanton acts of destruction and rioting. They are attempting to create a narrative to justify future riots, the same kind of riots seen in Ferguson and Baltimore. But the Tea Party is not the same as a riot.

The Boston Tea Party


(W.D. Cooper. Boston Tea Party., The History of North America. London: E. Newberry, 1789. Engraving. Plate opposite p. 58. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress)

The primary target of the Boston Tea Party was the East India Company, a government-granted monopoly that benefited directly from the Tea Act passed by King George.

When the Sons of Liberty boarded the Dartmouth, Eleanor and the Beaver they destroyed the tea — and only the tea. They did not sink the ships. They did not attack the crew. They did not lay waste to the port.

It was a deliberate, focused act of violence aimed at property, with a government-linked monopoly as the primary target and the government itself as the secondary target. It did not involve anyone who was not a beneficiary of the Tea Act. Even so, the Sons of Liberty — and everybody else, including their allies and sympathisers — recognised that the protest itself was illegal. The colonial government did not suppress the Tea Party because the colonial government supported the cause, not because the protest was legal.

The Boston Tea Party itself was the culmination of decades of colonial frustration with the British government. The colonials believed it was not fair for King George to levy taxes on the colonies without granting them representation in Parliament. They saw King George and Parliament as remote rulers far removed from the goings-on in their lands, utilising taxes and the Regulars to keep the colonials in check. Despite decades of arguments, London did not budge. Taxation without representation was the order of the day. When the Tea Act passed, it undercut the livelihoods of colonial tea merchants while propping up a government monopoly on the brink of collapse. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The Black Blocs of Washington

Now contrast this with the riots in Washington, fronted by the infamous Black Bloc.

This is in no way comparable to the Tea Party. The Tea Party did not deliberately attack people. The Washington rioters attacked police officers, and smashed windows and torched cars belonging to private businesses and individuals unaffiliated with President Donald Trump or the Federal government.

Disrupt J20 was an excuse to indulge in random acts of gratuitous violence. The rioters didn’t target anyone or anything belonging to Trump or his administration. They simply attacked ordinary Americans who live in a city that overwhelmingly voted against Trump, a President who has not done significant anything yet.

Think about that: the progressives, anarchists, antifascists and other groups were attacking their own supporters, in a country that prides itself on freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Instead of peaceful protests and petitions in a nation known for responding to such methods, the rioters indulged in violence.

The Washington riots had far more to do with the Stamp Act riots than the Tea Party. And the Stamp Act rioters, it should be remembered, were so destructive that the Founding Fathers sought to distance themselves from them.

The Slippery Slope

To be fair, the Boston Tea Party and the Washington riots have one thing in common: they were both acts of political violence.

Political violence rots the body politic. It is an irrevocable step towards chaos and bloodshed. Mob violence signals to everyone that the political process has failed, and it is time to unleash the beasts within. History tells us that mob violence is the death of liberty, democracy and civilisation. From the fall of the Roman Republic to Byzantium during the Imperial Exile, the French Terror to the Cultural Revolution, mob violence is a symptom of coming chaos.

The Boston Tea Party irrevocably led to the American Revolutionary War. America looks fondly upon the Tea Party today because America won the war. Had the British won, the textbooks and the popular narratives would be far different indeed.

The Washington riots allow Progressives to tell themselves that mob violence is acceptable, and a preferred tactic in future controversies. But this is a delusion. The riots also tell the Hard Right what to expect when the Progressives come for them.

I have seen discussions of armaments and tactics among the militant right. They are ready and willing to inflict bloodshed on a scale beyond what the Left can dream of. The Left calls for gun control, safe spaces and feminism; the Right believes in gun ownership, training and preparation. The Progressives may bring boots and clubs and stones; the Hard Right will wield AR-15s and Molotov cocktails and IEDs.

If the culture war goes hot, who do you think will win?

The Unmaking of Heroes

I grew up with heroes. Sun Wu Kong, Perseus, Thor (the god not the comic book character), Bellerophon, the Eight Immortals, Justice Bao, Heracles, David. The list goes on and on. As I grew older, I found different kinds of heroes: Kusanagi Makoto, Batman, Okumura Rin, the Punisher, Deunun Knute. And, yes, Captain America.

People need cultural heroes. They want to see the triumph of good over evil, virtue over vice. They want to see the wicked punished and the just rewarded. They want to see brave and resourceful people overcome impossible odds. It’s a universal trait, seen in every culture around the world.

People want to believe. They want to be inspired. By reading of heroes doing great things, they can believe that they, too, can achieve great things. When they see heroes smite the wicked, they can believe that they, too, can be agents of righteousness in the world. When they see heroes outwit, outlast or outtalk the enemy, they can believe that they, too, can achieve such greatness.

Belief in virtue is a powerful thing. From such belief we have Martin Luther King Jr., Chiang Kai Shek, George Washington, the Righteous Among the Nations, Sophie Scholl, the Four Chaplains. The everyday unsung heroes.

Never underestimate the power of belief. Never underestimate the power of stories to inspire greatness.

And so, with a heavy heart, I read of Nick Spencer perverting Captain America, turning him from incorruptible paragon to insidious mole.

The Triumph of the Message

Amidst the Sturm und Drang over the revelation of Captain America being a Hydra agent, one small detail was almost left out: the Red Skull, the leader of Hydra. Here’s what he had to say:

“I have just come from Europe — my homeland, in fact. And do you know what I saw there? It was an invading army. These so-called ‘refugees’ — millions of them — marching across the continent, bringing their fanatical beliefs and their crime with them,” Captain America’s nemesis says. “They attack our women, and bomb our cities. And how do our leaders respond? Do they push them back and enforce the borders, as is our sovereign duty? Of course not. They say, ‘Here, take our food. Take our shelter. Take our way of life, and then take our lives.’ Despicable.”

“Your entire culture is under siege,” Red Skull continues to an American audience. “The principles your country was founded upon lost in the name of ‘tolerance.’ Your religion, your beliefs, your sense of community — all tossed aside like trash. And you cannot even speak out against it, lest you be called a bigot!”

This is the rhetoric of American conservatives, the alt right, and European nationalists. Spencer clearly wants to criticise right-wing ideology in his comic. And he isn’t afraid of how much history he has to pervert.

Hydra’s goal is world domination, to implement a fascist new world order. One would imagine that Red Skull would welcome mass illegal immigration and terrorism. This would undermine borders and faith in national governments, creating the conditions that would allow Hydra to step in. Hydra’s ideal recruits would be people who believe in its dream of a united world, run by ubermenschen like themselves, and are willing to commit terrorism. In all the depictions I have seen, Red Skull does not see himself as an American or a German or a European or anything but the leader of Red Skull — and yet here he speaks like an ultranationalist.

Captain America is a paragon of American virtue. I imagine that by some twisted leap of logic, he must also also be an American ultranationalist zealot.

This story concept is weak. It is inherently flawed. Why would a globalist organisation start spouting nationalist doctrine? Why would an organisation hell-bent on world domination espouse ideas that would further divide the world and make it harder for it to achieve its goals?

Spencer wants to portray Hydra as a right-wing organisation inspired by modern nationalist thought. But he doesn’t understand the international right-wing movement. Right-wing parties want to end immigration — and the crime and terrorism that follows mass illegal immigration — and rebuild their societies. They do not care about world domination or invading other countries; they want to restore the days of glory. While there may be cooperation between nationalists and ultranationalists across borders, they aren’t out to rule the world; they’re out to kick out the outsiders and enforce their national sovereignties. Their alliances are built upon opposition to globalisation and supranational organisations like the European Union. It is logically inconsistent for a terrorist group that aims to unite the world under its rule to support an ideology that would keep the world fractured into sovereign states.

And what if this Hydra is now an ultranationalist organisation? Then the question I must ask is: which nation is it supporting? Why does it have a German leader attempting to recruit Americans? Why would it want to poke its nose into the affairs of other nations? Ultranationalists have a national scope, globalists have a global vision; this Hydra is somehow both nationalist and globalist, a walking contradiction that cannot exist and survive for long. Not in the real world and not in fiction.

I have no doubt that Spencer and his allies intend to resolve this story arc by preaching the triumph of the ideology opposed to nationalism: globalism, tolerance, diversity. The same ideology that Hydra — the original Hydra — would have to embrace to be a world-spanning international terrorist organisation with one vision and one goal.

The difference between reality and fiction is that fiction has to make sense. Spencer sacrificed story logic on the altar of politics. No doubt the ‘revelation’ of Captain America’s secret betrayal would generate international controversy — which would ideally push sales — but the story is doomed from the start. Hydra is the core of this story, and Hydra is not logically consistent. If the core of the story cannot hold, the rest of it must fall. Such is the fruit of placing message over story.

A Return to Virtue and Glory

Spencer placed message over story, and the story will fail. We have seen this again and again and again, from dishonouring the original Thor (the comic book character) to create a female Thor, Spider-Woman risking her baby to fight crime while pregnant, to lazily inserting self-censored postmodern commentary into the mouth of a Norse god without having the guts to actually articulate these words or explain why the god would care about modern society.

The intellectually honest thing to do would be to create new characters, new antagonists and new franchises. New worlds with internal consistency and the freedom to fully explore ideas and themes without being shackled by established canon or fan expectations. Instead, a number of ‘creators’ chose to subvert existing heroes, and now they chose to turn a hero into a villain.

This is why I stand with Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies. Stories must come first; messages mean nothing without strong stories. This is why I stand with the Superversive and Human Wave movements. Stories can be a force for good in this world. These ideas underpin my stories, and if they put me at odds with the world, I am proud to oppose.

Social Justice Warriors wish to end the old age of heroes. Now they are converging on pop culture and twisting the popular heroes of my youth. There is only one solution.

Make new heroes.

 

Only Goodthink Allowed in SFF

The cult of social justice strikes again. Social Justice Warriors have launched a whisper campaign to purge the works of John C. Wright, Larry Correia, Brad R Torgersen and Michael Z Williamson from science fiction and fantasy bookstores in Toronto.

All of them have been accused of making homophobic comments. Only Wright has made remarks that could be argued as such; he called homosexuality an ‘aberration’. The others have not.

Their true crime was being associated with the Sad and Rapid Puppies campaigns, designed to encourage greater participation and transparency in the Hugo Awards. In doing so, they challenged the SJWs who insisted on turning the Hugo awards into a parochial contest to determine who can most blatantly signal their adherence to the principles of social justice in fiction, culminating in a self-congratulatory ritual that refuses to recognise the groundbreaking authors who have broadened the field of SFF.

The objective of the campaign is clear: to purge authors for thoughtcrime, leaving room only for goodthink. This is naked authoritarianism, and authoritarianism is authoritarianism no matter which side of the political spectrum approves it. Coming from a country that bans politically embarrassing books, such as Once a Jolly HangmanI cannot stand back and watch others attack the livelihoods of authors solely because they disagree with their politics.

There will come a time in the not too distant future when the SJWs will no longer resort to whisper campaigns. They will openly leverage the arms of the state to have thoughtcrime removed from bookshelves — and governments will acquiesce. Authors the world over need to be ready for this possibility.

The short-term solution is redundancy. Print and mortar bookshops are a dying trade. The modern author needs to explore alternative means of getting books out. Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing is the world standard in publishing and distributing books. Other options include Smashwords, Lulu and Lightning Source. Authors can also attempt to sell and distribute books, print and digital, from online shopfronts, like Chuck Wendig and Joanna Penn. Multiple redundant distribution streams will prevent a sudden loss of income should SJWs succeed in cutting one down.

But the long-term answer is antifragility. An SJW censorship attack should be treated as an opportunity, not a crisis. Hit back on every media channel you own and get your side of the story out. Ride the waves of controversy to generate greater attention for your books. Expose the SJWs for who and what they are, and ally yourself with the people who would stand against them. And let all and sundry know where else they can find your books.

There is no such thing as bad publicity, only opportunities to leverage other platforms. There is no censorship, only opportunities to drive customers to other distribution channels. There is no permanent victory for SJWs and their ilk: through the power of truth and new media, they shall be overcome.

No safe space for predators

Castalia House recently concluded a series of posts on paedophiles in science fiction. (Part 1 here.) Drawing on testimonials, newspaper reports and oral statements, the expose accuses a number of high-profile writers as sex predators or defenders of sex predators.

The series makes for morbid reading. It includes descriptions of outrageous sexual violence, exploitation of children, and celebrations of the same. It also includes testimonies to a slightly lesser evil, of people sweeping accusations under the carpet and protecting known predators. I am disappointed to see so many of well-known authors on the blacklist, especially a few of my childhood favourites.

I can understand why so many celebrities and fans chose to defend these people. It is human nature for people to circle the wagons against outsiders, critics and accusers. But it doesn’t make things right. It does not, and cannot, excuse such depredations. The right thing to do would be to report these accusations and allegations to the police and determine the truth of the matter.

Science fiction is the literature of the future. Fantasy is the literature of values. Children are the future of civilisation, and civilisation is founded upon what we value. There can be no safe space for people who prey upon children and the bedrock of civilisation.

To SFF writers and readers who care about society, I urge you to speak up. Do not tolerate naked evil. Do not sacrifice the future for expediency and poisonous friends. Call the enablers and the silent to account, especially those who should know better. The monsters in the midst must be identified, isolated and dealt with.

There must be no safe spaces for predators. Not in the world, not in society, not in SFF.