Third Parties

Church Chat

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John Lofton, the hardest of the hard-core hard-right Christians, hectors—sorry, interviews—Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr. Barr displays remarkable patience, though it's clearly fraying by the end.

If you'd like a quick summary of the candidate's answers, here you go: Barr admires Ayn Rand because of her support for individual liberty, not because she's an atheist; Barr is a Methodist; Barr thinks the role of government is defined by the Constitution, not God; Barr supports laws against molesting children; Barr does not think homosexuality is "lewd and depraved"; Barr does not think the government should punish Sabbath-breaking; Barr is pro-life; Barr thinks the individual states should determine the penalties for abortion; Barr does not care to discuss what he believes the penalty for abortion should be in Georgia; Barr supports the death penalty; Barr does not think the federal government should have been involved in the Terri Shiavo case; Barr does not believe Shiavo's death was a murder. And Barr would really, really prefer to be talking about taxes, education, free speech, and government surveillance.

Bonus link: From 20 years ago, Lofton's interview with Allen Ginsburg, which is—I think I can say this without hyperbole—the greatest interview in the history of human conversation.

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  1. Nice little sparring match to get in shape with. Tonight he goes mano-a-mano with Colbert. A win tonight keeps him fighting. But if Colbert scores a knock down, or even just beats him on points, it could KO the rest of the campaign.

  2. I concur with the greatness of the interview. If we’re proclaiming things the greatest, I say the greatest thing ever written in the English language is Hunter S. Thompson’s “The Song of the Sausage Creature”.

    My hands had seized up like claws and the rest of my body was numb. I felt nauseous and I cried for my mama, but nobody heard, then I went into a trance for 30 or 40 seconds until I was finally able to light a cigarette and calm down enough to ride home.

  3. John Lofton, the hardest of the hard-core hard-right Christians,

    Um, Jesse? Gary North thinks that people who fail to “honor thy mother and father” as specified in the 10 Commandments should be stoned to death. North, an economist, favors stoning because the implements of execution are free and available to everyone.

  4. The interview might show that Barr is not a complete nut-job, but he is still not a libertarian.

  5. the greatest interview in the history of human conversation.

    Wow, that was actually very cool, i would love to read more one on one sparring like that, it’s honest. Anyone have any suggestions?

  6. Judge Roy Moore (the Ten Commandments Alabama judge) also supports public stoning – as the Bible is “higher” law than the Constitution.

    The Libertarian Party can gain from the GOP’s close identity with the Christo-Nutjobs if Barr exploits this.

    The only problem? Some of the same nutjobs have gravitated over to the Libertarian side.

  7. That Ginsburg interview is all kinds of awesome.

  8. Wow, that was actually very cool, i would love to read more one on one sparring like that, it’s honest. Anyone have any suggestions?

    Low-hanging fruit: Track down the original, longer version of the Lofton-Ginsburg interview, which appeared in Chronicles in 1988 but unfortunately does not seem to be online. (I linked to the edited version that appeared in Harper’s two years later.)

    Gary North thinks that people who fail to “honor thy mother and father” as specified in the 10 Commandments should be stoned to death. North, an economist, favors stoning because the implements of execution are free and available to everyone.

    What a wuss! Lofton wouldn’t pussyfoot around with secular economic arguments.

  9. The interview might show that Barr is not a complete nut-job, but he is still not a libertarian.

    Purity test alert! Whooop! Whooop! Whooop!

  10. The interview might show that Barr is not a complete nut-job, but he is still not a libertarian.

    Drink, I believe.

    Seriously, not a lot to hate in those answers (as summarized) [insert standard disclaimer on abortion, reasonable minds, etc.]

  11. “Purity test alert! Whooop! Whooop! Whooop!”

    What if Ron Paul was interviewed by Stormfront and said that not all blacks and jews are evil?

    It’s kind of like that.

  12. Both of these are hilarious.

  13. Low-hanging fruit: Track down the original, longer version of the Lofton-Ginsburg interview, which appeared in Chronicles in 1988 but unfortunately does not seem to be online. (I linked to the edited version that appeared in Harper’s two years later.)

    I’m 23 years old, if it’s not online i don’t bother. lol! In all seriousness though it’s rare to find an interview of that sort anywhere, such honesty from both of them. It’s so much easier to get sucked into the conversation because whether you agree with them or not (an in my case i found them both to be radically weird) you know that what they are saying is true to what they beleive. there’s no pandering, ass-kissing, or fronting involved.

    It’s a shame this isn’t more common, what i see now are “objective” interviews, which frankly are too dull to sit through, biased interviews where the interviewer is doing little but agreeing with the subject and asking for more, and the 1-sided “o’reilly” style of bullying.

    There’s no wit, intelligence, or honesty involved, like everyone now is afraid to be open to judgment.

    Thank you for the bonus link, gives me something to chew on for the day.

  14. Oh, this is the fuckwad who hectored Frank Zappa on Crossfire. Look up that video, it’s a riot.

  15. Jesse, that Ginsburg-Loften interview is funny as shit! Thanks man!

    This Lofton guy, I’ve honestly never heard of him, but what a character:

    “I’m a Christian. So I don’t fantasize.”

    That is hilarious stuff.

  16. Thanks for the summary, Jesse. I’ll probably still read the whole thing anyway just to confirm my bias against the religious right.

  17. Each day I seem to like Barr more.

    Great interview — but don’t understand why he bothered with that nut — no one listening to him is going to vote for a libertarian.

  18. The bonus link was great. But if Lofton had the interview published in Chronicles, does that mean that he (and the editors of Chronicles) could not see how badly Ginsberg cleaned his clock?

  19. Lofton was on Politically Incorrect back in the day and Sandra Bernhard said to him “If you were my child, you would have been an abortion” (or words to that effect) and then spit on him.

  20. “But if Lofton had the interview published in Chronicles, does that mean that he (and the editors of Chronicles) could not see how badly Ginsberg cleaned his clock?”

    He probably thought he cleaned Ginsburg’s clock. He arrogantly asserted his own righteousness. He called his interviewee a sinner. And he proclaimed the Good News. From the standpoint of his ilk he ran the tables…

  21. How’s Ginsburg come out on punishing people for breaking the sabbath?

  22. jbd-

    Depends on your perspective doesn’t it? To Lofton and his readers the interview confirmed their worst fears about Ginsbrrg, that he was a mentally ill heathen pervert. To Ginsberg and his fans it confirmed what they believed about Lofton and his people, that they are repressed hostile and afraid of anything different from what they know.

    There’s only a “winner” if you are looking for one…

  23. apologies for typos…

  24. I think that they were both right about each other, and the real winner is me, reading it 20 years later…

  25. Barr did quite well. Terri Schiavo was obviously murdered by her husband who threw her down the stairs and beat her, but that wasn’t the direct question posed, so he gets a pass.

  26. There’s only a “winner” if you are looking for one…

    Bingo.

    Einstein famously said – “What we ‘see’ depends on the theories we use to interpret our observations”

    Lofton’s ‘theories’ are constricted and mundane – but popular. I am sure he would be declared winner by vote.

  27. Warty,
    Sorry but I have to disagree. The greatest tome ever assembled in the English language, is Dune

  28. can someone please explain to this Alabama dullard/yokel what it is to be “hectored?”

  29. I’m still waiting to hear back on how I can interview Barr. Maybe Reason could help that along, since they obviously want to have a fair and open debate about the issues I cover.

  30. Shut the fuck up, dumbass.

  31. The greatest tome ever assembled in the English language, is Dune

    Anything written by Flannery O’Connor would mop the floor with Dune, those movies were terrible anyway…

  32. Lonewackoff said:

    “I’m still waiting to hear back on how I can interview Barr”

    The “Barr” may be set pretty low for interviews with a LP candidate, but I’m pretty sure that you fall below it.

  33. I’m still waiting to hear back on how I can interview Barr.

    Here’s the secret formula.

    1. Contact his campaign.

    2. Ask.

    Not so hard. You’ve got a blog; it has readers; he’s clearly willing to talk with crazy people; he just might say yes.

    Then you can post his answers on YouTube and the entire political world will quake.

  34. Wow! I’ve spent a great deal of time with Ultra hardcore fundamentalist christians and I have never ever met anyone as rude and unloving as that Lofton comes across in that old interview. Oh, and he seemed rather stupid compared to Mr. Ginsburg imho.

  35. Mr Walker channels Mr. Ginsburg

  36. it has readers

    Evidence please.

  37. Wait a second – is Lonewacko actually looking for facilitation of his interview plan from Reason?

    Damn, dude, fucking Urkobold will get a Barr interview out of Welch before you do.

  38. Not so hard. You’ve got a blog; it has readers; he’s clearly willing to talk with crazy people; he just might say yes.

    Jesse Walk-ers away with the win.

  39. Jewls like this are why I love Hit and Run sooooooo much! Excellent job Mr. Walker.

  40. May I suggest editing the Wikopedia entry for Barr to include the fact that he has not granted you an interview?

  41. Anything written by Flannery O’Connor would mop the floor with Dune, those movies were terrible anyway…

    I have to agree with Warren. And bringing up the movies does nothing to change that. I once declared that Dune is the all time “winner” in Quality(book) – Quality(movie). Considering Q(movie) is negative for Dune (especially the original release), it only reenforces the greatness of the book (in this measure).

  42. I once claimed that the 3 greatest american novels of the 20th century were (in no particular order):

    Dune
    Atlas Shrugged
    Sometimes a Great Notion

    I think that combo says something about me (other than libertarian sci-fi fan), but Im not sure what.

  43. We need more interviews like the Lofton/Ginsberg gem you posted to. And we need them to be live on television.

  44. Posted to = linked to.

    growl.

  45. Sigh, apparently Sometimes a Great Notion, the movie, is being remade. 2010 release.

    Sigh. Okay, now I know what my 3 novels have in common. They cant reasonably be made into movies.

  46. Yes that was the greatest interview ever. Lofton is either baldly lying to himself or to others when he says he has no fantasies. Ginsburg makes a lot of sense. He realizes the crucial distinction that there is a big difference between thinking about or desiring something and actually doing it. It’s why all the people who play GTA games don’t go out on crime sprees.

  47. Dune is the greatest novel? Are you kidding? It’s very good, and Herbert’s universe is extremely complex and layered, but come on. Really, there is no “greatest novel” just like there is no “greatest movie”.

    By the way, if you like intricately detailed book worlds, try George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. That dude is possibly the most detailed writer I’ve ever read. The realism and cruelty he shows his characters are mind-blowing.

  48. there is no “greatest novel” just like there is no “greatest movie”

    That works for most things but there is a greatest baseball player and he’s still Babe Ruth.

  49. Epi,

    Ive avoided Song of Ice and Fire for some reason. I think its to avoid getting dragged into series Im not going to finish.

    Even with Dune, I quit after God Emperor.

  50. Epi,

    After looking it up, I know now why I avoided it. I tend towards sci-fi over fantasy. Ive never understood why most bookstores mix them. They should be two separate sections.

  51. You’re right-that Ginsberg interview is the GREATEST.

    GINSBERG: He says: “Do I contradict myself? Very well. I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes,” Do you know what he meant by that?

    LOFTON: Probably nothing good.

  52. Lofton was on Politically Incorrect back in the day and Sandra Bernhard said to him “If you were my child, you would have been an abortion” (or words to that effect) and then spit on him.

    Eww. Who knows where that spit had been?

  53. Why am I not surprised at Lofton missing a Whitman quote.

  54. Sigh. Okay, now I know what my 3 novels have in common. They cant reasonably be made into movies.

    Come on now, Brangelina’s Atlas Shrugged will be a film for the ages!

  55. svf,

    While Jolie as Dagny works for me, I dont think there is a character in the movie that fits Brad Pitt.

    There is no way that movie will do the book justice.

  56. ed, in my opinion, that would be Lou Gehrig.

  57. Epi,

    Sorry I got the wrong classic Val Kilmer movie earlier. Nice shout-out to Song of Ice and Fire.

    robc,

    The bigger problem with this series is that Martin will probably never finish it at the pace he’s going. But you should have read the rest of the Dune books, all were magnificent (though I haven’t read any of Brian Herbert’s).

    Smart people on ice!

  58. other than libertarian sci-fi fan

    I’m guessing that would make you a fellow Heinlein fan? V. Vernor? Stross?

  59. Lofton believes in the bible, not in god.

  60. damn typos, i meant Vernor Vinge, i just finished Rainbows End he’s still got it, i’m really into Ken Macleod lately too.

  61. There is no way that movie will do the book justice.

    Vadim Perelman is a tremendously gifted director. And he’s adapting.

    On a different note, I concur that the Ginsberg/Lofton dialogue is f’n great.

  62. Am I the only one that thought of O’Reilly while reading the interview?

  63. Am I the only one that thought of O’Reilly while reading the interview?

    Not even close, Lofton actually let Ginsburg get a word in…

  64. V. Vernor

    Was that supposed to be Vernor Vinge?

    If so, I was just about to recommend A Deepness in the Sky. Hugo, Nebula, and Prometheus (best libertarian sci-fi) Award winner.

    I preferred A Fire Upon the Deep, but they are both excellent. Deepness is a prequel to Fire, but they are independent of each other (there is some stuff that isnt explained in Deepness that is understandable if you have read Fire but it matters not at all).

    I didnt particularly care for Rainbow’s End, but I need to read more Vinge.

  65. Oh, and more of a Larry Niven fan than anyone else.

  66. The prequel novels that Brian Herbert wrote are pretty decent, but the books that pick up where Chapterhouse Dune left off are awful.

  67. Ginsburg makes a lot of sense.

    I was never a great fan… until now. Damn, that made my day.

    Ive avoided Song of Ice and Fire for some reason.

    I stopped in the 4th book, which means now I’ll probably have to read them all over again. Not too bad, since I enjoy them tremendously and I’m sure I missed a lot of details anyway.

  68. I didnt particularly care for Rainbow’s End, but I need to read more Vinge.

    Across Realtime (collection of a trilogy) is the one to read, fantastic! I went about 2 weeks expecting to see national monuments bobbled up!

  69. Continuing to stoop low, Jesse Walker writes:

    Here’s the secret formula. 1. Contact his campaign. 2. Ask.

    Someone else – such as the vast majority of those above 3rd grade – would realize that the fact that I’ve already asked is implicit in my earlier statement that “I’m still waiting to hear back”. That statement indicates that I have contacted them and am now “waiting to hear back”. In fact, there can be no “waiting to hear back” without me having asked them, which I’ve actually done twice.

    Perhaps there are students from local elementary schools who’d be willing to help Reason out with previewing comments, posts, and the like.

  70. The current crop of British hard SF writers are all doing great work. Neal Asher, Alistair Reynolds, John Meany, Adam Roberts, Richard Morgan, Charles Stross, and, of course, the incomparable Iain Banks.

  71. Oh, this is the fuckwad who hectored Frank Zappa on Crossfire. Look up that video, it’s a riot.

    I hadn’t looked it up, but I thought that this must be that same guy as I was reading the Ginsburg interview. I second the recommendation to look up the Zappa video on YouTube. Zappa gives this little turd a much harsher smackdown than the more genteel Ginsburg did.

    Ginsburg was right, of course. I’m sure an analysis into Lofton’s subconscious would reveal far darker stuff than anything Ginsburg could have dreamed up. “I don’t fantasize.” Uh-huh.

  72. Don’t forget Ken Macleod, his Fall Revolution series are truley awesome.

  73. GINSBERG: Nothing is completely black-and-white. Nothing.

    THE DEVIL: Nothing’s black and white, nothing’s black and white-what about a panda? What about a panda, you dumb fuck! What about a fucking panda!

  74. As to the Barr interview, I think it’s a brilliant strategy for him to do interviews with loony fundamentalist types. They are not his intended audience; we are. Such interviews are the most striking way for him to distance himself from his Republican past and anything non-libertarian he said and did while in Congress.

    Furthermore, I believe there is still a strong “leave me alone” streak among many fundies. That is originally why they joined the GOP back in the day. They may not agree with many of Barr’s positions, but his overall limited-government view will resonate in that community.

  75. Steve,

    Meh. He performs the same socialist fallacy the trolls here do: purposefully conflating anarchy and libertarianism in order to denigrate libertarianism. (I get it MacLeod… you’re a commie… that came through loud and clear…) I like the Engines of Light stuff better, but Newton’s Wake is practically Naomi Klein’s Disaster Capitalism shtick verbatim and so only represents a sad return to form.

    (And for the record: I don’t care for overtly libertarian SF either (sorry L. Neil Smith fans.) Heinlein gets a pass because he can actually produce non-political work as well.)

  76. The interview might show that Barr is not a complete nut-job, but he is still not a libertarian.

    * Drinks *

    Really? Other than his support for the death penalty, all of Barr’s positions outlined by Jesse Walker are arguably libertarian, unless you believe True Libertarians TM shouldn’t follow the Constitution, and can’t be pro-life because they hold different opinions from you on when a fetus becomes a human being.

  77. I couldn’t help but think of “Stranger in a Strange Land” while reading the Ginsburg interview. He seemed to remind me of Valentine Michael Smith. I don’t know why, though.

  78. SugarFree,

    If you havent read him, I dont consider Vinge’s stuff “overtly” libertarian.

  79. Don’t ever change, Lonewacko. You aren’t much of a comedian, but you’re a great straight man.

  80. prolefeed,

    Im not even sure support for the death penalty isnt arguable libertarian too. If we are going to punish criminals, isnt it possible to deserve death? There are many pragmatic reasons to oppose the death penalty, but Im not sure of the liberty argument against it.

  81. SugarFree-

    I don’t think he’s as overt as you make him out to be, and The Stone Canal was very fair to anarcho-capitalism in my opinion. And i thought the real heroes of Newton’s Wake was the AO group, hardley socialist…

  82. I stopped in the 4th book, which means now I’ll probably have to read them all over again. Not too bad, since I enjoy them tremendously and I’m sure I missed a lot of details anyway.

    That’s what happened with me. I just don’t read much any more (which is why I can’t hold a good conversation with the rest of you about the current state of sci-fi), but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this series go. I’ll ram my way through A Feast for Crows even if I have to take a plane to Australia to do it.

    robc, you may be a sci-fi guy, but a) Martin has done excellent sci-fi short stories, and b) A Song of Ice and Fire is beyond anything else I’ve ever read in terms of its realism and detail.

  83. By the way, if you like intricately detailed book worlds,

    You need to be reading the Malazan books by Stephen Erikson. Way, way up there in the pantheon.

  84. To expand on this, Martin’s characters are incredibly real and believable. They are massively complex, with motivations that make sense (instead of pushing the plot along). They are flawed. While there are characters we are ostensibly supposed to root for, all of them have their good and bad traits.

    And he is so viciously cruel to his characters, and by default to the readers who come to love the characters. He will kill them, and you have no idea it’s coming (The Red Wedding is an example). He will maim them, rape them, and take from them what they love most. Just like the real world. The brutality of his books is striking, not only because of its intensity, but also for its realism.

    He’s not telling you this story because he wants you to feel all happy when the hero kills the bad guy. He wants you to feel the lives of the characters.

    It’s very difficult to describe how intense it all is. I really suggest you read it.

  85. Just did a quick count, I have only read 20 of the top 50 from here:

    Top 100 Sci Fi Books

    Ive used this list to catch up on my “classics”. This time last year I had only read 8 of the top 10. So I bought the other 2 and now, with the adjustments that happen, I have only read 8 of the top 10.

  86. Steve,

    Not looking to start a pitched battle, but…

    The “libertarian” planet was filthy, covered in advertising, everyone was a hair-trigger gun nut, and was basically pitched as having no laws except those to protect corporations. Calling a set-up like that “libertarianism” is being insulting to libertarianism. And the libertarian antagonist of the novel eventually enslaves millions of uploaded human minds. Libertarianism = slavery? WTF?

    It also must be contrasted with the socialism depicted in Cassini Division where everything is la-di-da perfect and the only opposition to his preposterous Utopia comes from villainous capitalists. His RL associations with the Wobblies and the praise he heaps on unions through all the books also makes his politics pretty clear.

    I don’t think the books are badly written, but the sparks from his grinding axe get kind of old after a while.

  87. Top 100 Sci Fi Books

    93/100

    I would have had more but I have one of them and haven’t read it yet (Ilium, Dan Simmons), and I loath Orson Scott Card.

    Having said that, any list that has Jurassic Park down as a better novel than Stars My Destination can suck on my big old hairy nuts.

    David Pringle’s list is fairly representative of my tastes, but it was complied in the mid-80s and is a bit outdated.

  88. brotherben,

    I say Ruth has the edge because he was a hell of a pitcher
    before he became one of the greatest sluggers.

    And that interview is far from the greatest anything. Sorry.

  89. There are many pragmatic reasons to oppose the death penalty, but Im not sure of the liberty argument against it.

    Part of the reason I’m a libertarian/anarchist is because of my atheism. I don’t believe in God, nor do I believe people have the right to act as gods. I believe human minds to be intrinsically fallible. Coming from that perspective, I find the death penalty to be abhorrent. There simply is no guarantee that the person being executed actually committed the crime.

    That said, the definition of libertarian is not set in stone. If Barr wants to call himself libertarian, that’s fine. But if I vote for him, it will be because of the policies he supports, not a self-imposed label.

  90. “Perhaps there are students from local elementary schools…”

    That’s very nice of you to think of your classmates, Lonewacko, even when they give you wedgies every recess.

  91. prolefeed,

    Im not even sure support for the death penalty isnt arguable libertarian too. If we are going to punish criminals, isnt it possible to deserve death? There are many pragmatic reasons to oppose the death penalty, but Im not sure of the liberty argument against it.

    Killing somebody sure deprives them of their liberty, but I see your point about “in principle” versus “in practice”. Heinlein’s “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress” argues that the death penalty, in that extremely severe environment, could be a libertarian action.

    Let me back off a bit from my statement and say that, with the government we currently have and will almost certainly have in the foreseeable future, we should not permit them the power to kill people because they can’t be fucking trusted — which is, as you noted, a pragmatic argument.

    Good point. Thanks for bringing it up.

    Oh, and I thought Bob Barr handled the interview that is the topic of this thread very well, trying to not alienate potential right-lib converts while sticking to his libertarian guns in the face of some very aggressive questioning. I think Ruwart would have totally fucked up that interview, not that she would have agreed to do it in the first place.

  92. not that she would have agreed to do it in the first place.

    more likely: not that she would have been interviewed at all in the first place.

  93. SugarFree: Ilium/Olympos is great, probably my favorite of Simmons work.

  94. Niven’s tech might be good, but his grasp on the English language and fundamentals of storytelling and characterbuilding fucking suck.

  95. Bingo,

    Started out waiting for Olympos to come out so I would read them together, but I got on a “re-read all of Grant Morrison” kick. I still have the Peter Hamilton Judas Unchained books lurking on the shelf as well.

  96. I also second Episiarch’s enthusiastic recommendation.

  97. zoltan,

    Ive had this discussion with a friend of mine. Niven doesnt try to build characters (which is why his short stories are so strong). He builds places (The Ringworld, The Smoke Ring, Avalon) or cultures (Pak, Mote).

    I disagree about the fundamentals of storytelling. Especially in the short stories/novellas. In his novels, he tends to break traditional storytelling and instead goes with a different form, the character or group of characters travelling throw odd locations and having adventures. More like the Odyssey than traditional novels.

    His best works are about exploring the oddities and possibilities of a situation. The characters are there to advance the story from place to place.

  98. Got help our country, with the majority either wanting Big Government to let them be parasites, or using Big Government to kill perverts and abortionists. So good for Bob Barr for his resistance to interfering in State matters, and especially good for Ginsberg in exposing Lofton to his own inner sadist. I would kill to have seen Ginsberg teaching the nutty fundamentalist how to meditate! Makes me proud that Ginsberg and the other Beat Poets had such a positive impact on my post-college “living on the edge” days!

  99. Top 100 Sci Fi Books

    Harrumph. Like all Lists, my favorite artists are there but my favorite *works* by those artists are not, or are listed way below the more popular works.

    I loath Orson Scott Card

    Ender’s Game is fantastic. Every following novel got worse than the last one, culminating in his recent Mormon series which is practically unreadable.

  100. I cant believe the lofton fellow actually has the gall to talk about civics when he refuses to acknowledge any even minor difference between the role of religion vis a vis the state.

    Basically, he’s no different than any mullah who demands that their fatwas become law, through pure scriptural rule.

    I mean for fucks sake, barr was tossing him bones from time to time, but the guy wouldnt accept anything short of “death penalty” for ‘abortionists’.

    What the fuck is wrong with people

  101. On Ken MacLeod —

    After reading three out of four books in the Fall Revolution series, I was under the impression that MacLeod was pro anarcho-capitalist libertarian, with some lefty sympathies. (I think he’s actually the other way around, now.)

    I thought The Star Fraction was very pro an-cap, as was The Stone Canal. Even the Trotskyite mercenary in The Star Fraction thought the an-cap enclave was a beautiful thing; he said he just wanted to go even further and see a society that was even more free (as he saw it). And the an-cap society on New Mars in The Stone Canal was IMO just a portrayal of “warts and all” capitalistic anarchy — which made it a lot more convincing than a libertarian utopia such as the one portrayed in L. Neil Smith’s The Probability Broach (which I also enjoyed nevertheless). Society on New Mars was portrayed as exciting, interesting, messy, wealthy, and technologically advanced, and most residents seemed to be happy to be there.

    Did it have people who thought it was okay to enslave intelligences that did not possess organically human brains, but digital? Yes. It also had an abolitionist movement, whose members were also an-caps. The achievement of a libertarian society doesn’t mean all social problems and questions will be immediately solved.

    The harshest critic of New Martian society Canal was the catamite who went on a killing spree because he couldn’t accept that if he gives his consent to an action, he bears responsiblity for that, even if none of his choices were ideal. At least this raised an interesting philosophical point.

    I will admit that The Cassini Division threw me a bit, with its overly idealistic (IMO) view of a socialistic society. But even here, MacLeod shows that some people aren’t happy in that society, and prefer to live in capitalistic reservations. And in that book, the viewpoint socialist character also happens to be a horrible, horrible bigot.

    I think MacLeod’s portrayal of an an-cap libertarian society was complex and more than fair. Hell, The Star Fraction won a Prometheus Award (given to outstanding examples of pro-libertarian science fiction).

  102. Ender’s Game is fantastic.

    I hear there’s a movie in the works. I can’t help but shudder at how they will butcher it.

    No love for Erikson’s Malazan novels, eh? You people are missing out. You should read something published in the last 10 years sometime.

  103. The Reason interview with MacLeod is here. Like Stevo, I get the impression (more from his blog than from his novels) that his views have moved a bit leftward in the eight years since I did that Q&A.

    I should add that his most recent book, The Execution Channel, is a great read; I think it’s his best novel since The Stone Canal.

  104. “””Basically, he’s no different than any mullah who demands that their fatwas become law, through pure scriptural rule.”””

    Bingo.

    I find it funny that Lofton demands people must live under his laws. God gives you the choice through freewill. Lofton’s more uptight than God about how you should live.

    Here’s the Zappa crossfire clip. It’s great.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ISil7IHzxc

  105. I wish Lofton had asked Barr the same questions he asked Ginsburg.

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