Tuesday, April 7, 2015

About Morlocks, Eloi, and Social Justice Warriors; or John C. Wright doesn't understand H. G. Wells

I just saw John C. Wright's In Which a Morlock Chides Me. I doubt Wright and I have much more in common than a belief people ought to treat each other with respect, and even there, we differ. I'm with the Quakers in liking Jesus's advice to call no one master, but I can't knock Wright's use of "Mr" and "Miss". It's certainly an improvement on the insults his opponents love.

But I've got to say as respectfully as I can that Wright doesn't understand Wells. In The Time Machine, the Morlocks are the descendants of the working class, and the Eloi (from the Hebrew for "lords") are the descendants of the bourgeoisie. Wells' point is that the class war hurts everyone. Neither race is admirable.

Wright calls the internet's angry identitarians "Morlocks", but they're believers in ideas developed at the US's most expensive schools, and they tend to be graduates of those elite schools—they're Eloi. Their sense that they're entitled to insult others while quickly taking umbrage at any possible slight is an ancient trait of the privileged classes. Their notion that the most important forms of privilege are social rather than economic is common among the privileged. Wright seems to recognize the Eloi in Damien Walter when he refers to his "weak and girlish way", a better description of the childlike Eloi than the apelike Morlocks.

Ah, well. Wright's a conservative and I'm a socialist, so it's no surprise that he identifies with Eloi and I with Morlocks.

Since I don't have a proper conclusion, here's a Wells quote:

"That Anarchist world, I admit, is our dream; we do believe - well, I, at any rate, believe this present world, this planet, will some day bear a race beyond our most exalted and temerarious dreams, a race begotten of our wills and the substance of our bodies, a race, so I have said it, 'who will stand upon the earth as one stands upon a footstool, and laugh and reach out their hands amidst the stars,' but the way to that is through education and discipline and law. Socialism is the preparation for that higher Anarchism; painfully, laboriously we mean to destroy false ideas of property and self, eliminate unjust laws and poisonous and hateful suggestions and prejudices, create a system of social right-dealing and a tradition of right-feeling and action. Socialism is the schoolroom of true and noble Anarchism, wherein by training and restraint we shall make free men." ― H.G. Wells, New Worlds for Old

Related: On Star Trek and the dark history of "Social Justice"—a post for David Gerrold

ETA: A beginner's guide to "Social Justice Warriors" in the F&SF community

ETA 2: Just read Wright's The Perversion of a Legend. He really needs to work on that "respect everyone" thing. If he wishes to keep claiming to be a Christian, 1 Peter 2:17 matters.

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