I didn’t want to inject a political opinion into the Pournelle obit below. For one thing, I’ve noticed way too often that an artist’s triumphs (or failures) seem to be totally uncorrelated to either his politics or his personality. Too many writers I respect highly are either flaming assholes or even downright evil, but as long as they keep their prejudices out of their writing, they can be fairly judged as artists. Ted Nugent may be a toxic creep, but I will be the first to proclaim he is a magnificent heavy metal guitar technician and showman. This goes on both right and left. I feel artistic ability is like athletic talent, it has nothing to do with ideology.
Having said that, I can’t help but noticing how many SF writers I admire, particularly those of the Golden Age of the 1950′s and 60s’, were wingnuts of the highest order. Heinlein will always come to mind, he tells a terrific story, if you can get past the political bullshit. To his credit, he was not a racist of the white supremacist persuasion, but many of his alien villains all seemed to be Marxist-trained. Another one from that era is A.E. van Vogt. Remember “The Weapon Shops of Isher”? I am not the first to notice this. Norman Spinrad has written extensively about it, and his satirical novel “The Iron Dream” (AKA “The Lords of the Swastika”) skewers the whole movement beautifully.
Maybe its just that the McCarthyite HUAC atmosphere of the time favored these guys, or that they felt the need to loudly proclaim their anti-Commie creds, or maybe the editors of the day favored these philosophies, or the SF audience wasn’t as sophisticated and educated as it is now. I don’t know. But the SF material of that time
was often (but not always) saturated with neofascist themes; there was an obsession with the Superman mythos and Ubermensch ideal, nationalism, militarism, misogyny, the perfection and eugenic guidance of human genetic bloodlines (Remember “Dune”) and although usually outright racism of the Jim Crow variety was avoided, there remained this obsession that some forms of men were simply superior to others because of their genetic heritage, which is, after all, the Fundamental Theorem of Fascism.
Of course, the smarter ones don’t come right out and say this publicly today. They know perfectly well its not politically correct, and we all know how much they hate political correctness. Today’s inferior races and creeds aren’t the black, brown, yellow and red men; its the lazy, stupid, unambitious, complacent non-entrepreneurial types who want everything handed to them on a silver platter; the sub-human takers who want to steal and loot from the creative, risk-taking, bold makers. You know, the unemployed and working class vs the managerial/professional/executive/ownership class. For modern fascists, social problems are not the result of historical, economic and political forces, they are national, cultural and psychological in origin. If everybody was “just like us” we “wouldn’t have these problems”. Obviously, THEY must be intrinsically deficient. They don’t come right out and say its in the DNA, but deep down inside they sure as fuck believe it; or they have deftly substituted an anthropological sort of racism for the now discredited genetic variety.
Some of this survives today, much disguised, in the comic book superhero genre. But that’s a topic for some other time.