Thursday, June 27, 2013

David Brooks Tries To Write Science Fiction Again -- UPDATE

Oh boy!

In the past, America's Most Famous Conservative Public Intellectual's dabblings in speculative literature have been largely confined to leaden exercises in Whig fan fiction alternate history: stories in which the slate of Modern Conservatism is wiped entirely clean of the presence of Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay and Lee Atwater and George Bush and Jerry Falwell and Rick Santorum and Phyllis Schlafly and on and on and on.  Or, as one wag put it, is now painfully clear that Mr. Brooks is engaged in a long-term project to completely rewrite the history of American Conservatism: to flense it of all of the Conservative social, political  economic and foreign policy debacles that make Mr. Brooks wince and repackage the whole era as a fairy tale of noble Whigs being led through treacherous hippie country by the humble David Brooks.
Pulling this ridiculous exercise off is tricky, requiring that the Conservative Mr. Brooks abruptly pivot in the middle of his career, wrap himself aggressively around the leg of Fake Centrism and violently hump this shit out of it come what may.  Because as that same obscure wag said on a different occasion:
These stories are not about the world as it actually exists, but the world as Mr. Brooks wishes it to be.  And since he is not a very good fiction writer, there are many, many points where the gears of the real world and his fake Whig World grind and howl, forcing Mr. Brooks to apply gallons of fictive lubricant to keep the keening noise of the real world ripping Whig World off its hinges from drowning out the tepid drone of his writing.

When Mr. Brooks needs an imaginary moral high ground of Centrism on which to stand, he conjures an imaginary army of Dirty Fucking Hippies on the Left that exactly counterpoises the very real mob of Pig People on the Right. 

Sure, if he had to fend for a living in the real world where you and I live, Mr. Brooks would starve to death under a bridge within minutes.  But Mr. Brooks does not live in the real world.  He lives in an alternate universe of wealth and privilege where his friends and financial backers continue to completely insulate him from the brutal professional consequences that would normally accompany getting caught in public over and over and over again piling such ridiculous bullshit so very high and deep.

And ironically it is here -- in Mr. Brooks' obsessive contempt for the real world as it really is and in his pathological denialism about his own past -- that Mr. Brooks is at his most deeply Conservative.  Like Michelle Malkin (who Mr. Brooks dismisses as "a loon") the more Mr. Brooks lies about the real world as it really is to please his audience, the more he prospers.  And the clearer it becomes that his prosperity is directly tied to his lies, the more operatic those lies become -- such as his complete revision of the entire history of Conservatism to infuse it with a genteel, communitarian spirit that never was and to omit all the inconveniently icky stuff that actually turned it into a cultural and electoral force to be reckoned with...
But history runs in two directions, and so having already conquered the past and scrubbed it of any reference of the actual, ugly Conservatism that shaped so much of recent American history and gave David Brooks a career, today Mr. Brooks turned his attention to America's bright, multicultural future where, apparently, the entire Republican Party has wandered off into the woods and been eaten by bears.
Let’s make some educated guesses about what the New America will look like. It will almost certainly be economically dynamic. Immigration boosts economic dynamism, and more immigration would boost it more. There would also be a lot of upward striving. Immigrant groups tend to work harder than native groups. They save more. They start business at higher rates than natives.
Soon there will be no dominant block, just complex networks of fluid streams — Vietnamese, Bengalis, Kazakhs. It’s a bit like the end of the cold war when bipolar thinking had to give way to a radically multipolar mind-set.
This won’t lead to a bland mélange America but probably a move to ethnic re-orthodoxy. As Alvaro Vargas Llosa points out in his book, “Global Crossings,” the typical pattern is that the more third-generation people assimilate, the more they also value their ethnic roots. We could soon see people with completely unaccented English joining Chinese-American Federations and Honduran-American Support Networks.
Sadly, like every other crap amateur SF short story I have ever edited and handed back festooned with red ink, while the future Mr. Brooks' describes in his rejected submission to 20/20 Vision sounds very nice, it suffers from a plot hole through which you can drive an entire Vogon Constructor Fleet.

Where did all the Republicans go, Mr. Brooks?

Since no GOP-eating bears ever actually manifested themselves in your story, readers will want to know  -- will demand to know -- whatever became of all of those wingnut friends of yours in your happy future?  That massive, electorally powerful clown posse who, 150 years after Gettysburg, still aren't over it?  Who now have a complete stranglehold on the Party of Lincoln?  Who have made it perfectly clear they are willing to use America's second largest political party to grind the business of the federal government to a halt?  Who are bulldozing the states they control as far back into the Dark Ages as fast they can manage, while selling off the air and land and water and future of tomorrow's striving immigrants to today's transnational corporations.

Because, Mr. Brooks, without some minimally plausible explanation of how the hell we got from our present to your future that will pass muster with the averagely bright 12-year-old (A wingnut-specific plague?  Benevolent alien intervention?) neither F&SF nor Asimov's nor any other respectable publication is going to touch your fairy tale of America's Shiny Whig Tomorrow with a barge pole.


Then again, with the right circle of friends who needs the respect of respectable publications anyway?


Batocchio said...

Well, bears and pumas turned around the war in Iraq, so surely they can provide the conservative narrative with another victory!

Anonymous said...

Good morning, Mr. Glass.

Well, in all fairness, the same exodus of troublemakers is found in Star Trek:

1. Where are all the bigots?
2. Where are all the idiots?
3. Where are all the greedy people?
4. Where are all the warmongers?
5. Where are all the reactionaries?

The official answer to the above questions, if memory serves, is "they all went away after WWIII", but wars don't permanently alter human nature.

Enjoy the rest of your day.

---Kevin Holsinger

Smut Clyde said...

people with completely unaccented English

Unaccented English? What is this mythical tribe?

Anonymous said...

That Mr. Brooks uses the word "mutts" to describe future Americans betrays his true attitude. "Muttness", if you will, implicitly contrasts with some assumed state of being "pure bred". Were Americans "pure bred" before the arrival of immigrants? Are we not all from Africa originally?

W. Hackwhacker said...

Two-legged stools on four-legged stools...

Fiddlin Bill said...

An homage if you will:

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

That Mr. Brooks uses the word "mutts" to describe future Americans betrays his true attitude.

I particularly liked Blue Gal's mention of her "future mocha-colored grandchildren".

Walking around Milwaukee's eleven day Summerfest the past couple of days, one can see that mocha-colored future all around and let me tell you, brothers and sisters, from here it looks beautiful.