The Sci-Fi Roots of the Alt-Right

In “The Sci-Fi Roots of the Far Right”, leftie David Auerbach makes me want to read the Hugo-nominated 1977 novel Lucifer’s Hammer, co-authored by Larry Niven and the recently-deceased Jerry Pournelle:

Pournelle — who died earlier this month — first rose to prominence as part of an influential group of right-wing science-fiction writers in the 1970s and 1980s that also included Larry Niven, David Drake, Janet Morris, and S. M. Stirling. All envisioned the best of a militarized humanity breaking away from the evils of bureaucracy and bleeding-hearts and aggressively colonizing and conquering space, exploiting its military and financial potential. Unlike most conservatives, all were less concerned with preserving the past for its own sake than for planning for the future—their preferred future.

In partnership with Niven, Pournelle’s science-fiction married aggressive military might with Atlas Shrugged-style techno-futurist fantasies and nativist paranoia, offering what in retrospect looks like an uncannily prescient portrait of the Trump era and its cultural overtones. Take, for example, the pair’s Hugo-nominated 1977 novel Lucifer’s Hammer, which depicts a small ranch of patriotic American farmers as they struggle to survive after a comet hits earth. Early on, the farmers debate how to keep out undesirables:

“They’ll all be here, all that can get here,” Christopher shouted. “Los Angeles, and the San Joaquin, and what’s left of San Francisco … How long can we keep it up, lettin’ those people come here?”

“Be n**gers too,” someone shouted from the floor. He looked self-consciously at two black faces at the end of the room. “Okay, sorry—no. I’m not sorry. Lucius, you own land. You work it. But city n**gers, whining about equality—you don’t want ’em either!”

The black man said nothing. He seemed to shrink away from the group, and he sat very quietly with his son.

“Lucius Carter’s all right,” George Christopher said. “But Frank’s right about the others. City people. Tourists. Hippies. Be here in droves pretty soon. We have to stop them.”…

 Today, Lucifer’s Hammer reads as a depiction of a post-apocalyptic war between Trump counties and Clinton counties, simultaneously promising American renewal even as it depicts unavoidable catastrophe. The comet acts as a cleansing, wiping away so much dead wood of civilization. (Feminism, too, comes in for repeated knocks.)

Pournelle and Niven’s attitude toward civil-rights struggles and feminism wavers between condescension and irritation. Progressive issues are bumps on the road of progress. At their most dangerous, they radicalize lumpen segments of the population into dangerous terrorists: Antifa is one step on the way to the New Brotherhood Army.

Like Raspail’s Camp of the Saints, it’s amazing that guys were anticipating where we are headed way back in the ‘70s.

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