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Author Topic: Empire
owl232
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I just finished OSC's new novel, EMPIRE. I have some thoughts on it, hoping OSC might see this and find it of interest.

I enjoyed the book very much, like almost all of Card's books. It has the usual fast pace, interesting situations, and beautiful, clear writing. But I found the story less plausible than that of most of his books, even though Card's stories usually involve more unusual scenarios, with aliens, magic, etc. I found the *people* in this story less plausible. (Some spoilers to follow.)

First, I didn't believe that left-wing ideologues who hate the military would be running a secret, underground military base. I didn't believe they'd be able to find enough people to fill a small army who (1) are extremely far-left politically and (2) want to belong to an army and to fight in a war. This is not because I have a high opinion of the left in this country. As a university professor, I am very familiar with the flaws of the left wing. But one flaw they seem to lack is an excessive taste for military conflict.

Second, I didn't believe such a massive project could be kept secret, that they could find a construction company to do all the work required, hire thousands of soldiers, buy all the parts required to build the military hardware, and hire the people to do the research and development, all without a single employee, employee's spouse, friend, or neighbor, informing on them, during the several years it would take them to prepare.

A lot of implausibilities in stories don't matter. (After all, I *am* an SF/Fantasy fan.) But implausibilities about people's motivations and choices do. And because OSC seemed to be trying to illustrate how a second civil war in America might happen (see the Afterword), implausibilities in how the civil war gets started matter.

I think Card wanted, at least superficially, to be nonpartisan. He has the conservative hero married to a liberal, and they have a dialogue in which she reminds him that *most* liberals oppose violence and civil war. The Afterword suggests that Card wants to warn against extremism and divisiveness from both sides, not merely to warn about the excesses of the left. But the novel came off, to me, as pretty clearly slanted to the right. And if it struck me that way, I think it would strike actual leftists even more that way.

Here's part of what I have in mind: The story portrays that there are all of these leftists who are prepared to kill in order to take over (part of) the country. They have agents infiltrating the Pentagon and the White House. And once they make their move, there are lots of other leftists--not members of extremist paramilitary organizations, but ordinary Democratic government officials--happy to jump on the bandwagon, in New York, Washington state, etc. But these people are never given an intelligible motivation -- what are they thinking? What has provoked them, other than just losing the last election, and the usual opposition to Republican policies? Why do they think they're justified? As far as what we see in the story goes, they seem to be just a bunch of wackos whom there's no point trying to understand. This is unlike most of Card's novels, in which Card usually helps the reader to understand very different perspectives and some seemingly indefensible actions.

At the same time, the response of the people on the right seems measured and infinitely patient. In reality, there would be people calling for nuking New York City (perhaps not many, but some extremists). When the rebels were defeated, people would be calling for summary executions of the New York city council.

If a second civil war were to start, it would probably involve, not a massive, treasonous conspiracy by one side, but a series of escalations brought about by ideologues from both sides, each of whom thinks at each stage, with some justification, that they've been provoked by the other side. And it would likely happen over some hot-button issue. For instance, it seems to me that a more likely beginning than Card's scenario is this: the left has control of both houses of Congress and the White House. They pass a bill banning all private firearms ownership and requiring the approximately 80 million firearms owners in the country to hand in their weapons. The majority refuse ...

Here's another one: Another very large terrorist attack succeeds (with no need for a conspiracy by Americans). The President starts arresting Muslim Americans en masse and taking them to detention camps (it happened in World War II), or he declares martial law, or he declares a draft and initiates another Middle East war. Widespread civil disobedience results ...

In the Afterword, Card suggests that the country is the most polarized it has been since the first Civil War. I doubt that this is the case. The current polarization is just more salient to us, but I think that we were more divided in the 1960's, and possibly at other times in our history that I am less familiar with. I don't think that accusing the other side of being stupid or corrupt is anything new in politics. I think there's been more divisive rhetoric during the Bush administration because this Administration is unusually offensive to leftists (more so than Bush senior's administration, and perhaps even more so than the Reagan administration). After the next election, things will likely settle down some.

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Steve_G
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Well written, thoughtful, critique. I appreciate that you kept it polite too. I also agree with about everything you wrote and I'm more of a central rightist.

While I enjoyed the book, it felt pretty indulgent on the writer's part. Part of the problem was that the story was only partly Card's. The other part belonged to the video game he was trying to shoehorn the story into. Personally i think it was a bad idea, and hope Card avoids this sort of novel in the future. He is much better when not encumbered by the unrealistic plot points brought on by a videogame.

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Oobie Binoobie
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It sounds like you've named a difference in Card's approach to this story, rather than a problem, actually.

Most of the time (with Ender's Game being a major exception) he writes in third-person omniscient. You read the thoughts of the characters right next to their quoted words.

For Empire, the omniscience is toned back a bit, probably to save a surprise for the ominous ending.

As far as the relative plausibility of his scenario versus yours, all I have to say is that it's fiction and the author gets to choose. The idea is certainly plausible; leftist revolutions have occurred before and some have been very violent. But I agree that there were some shoehorned bits in the book.

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Battler03
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I think your problems with Mr. Card's ideology are perhaps well-reasoned; but understand where he's coming from.

Mr. Card is a Democrat. He's an old-school Democrat, though--he's pretty conservative socially and also with regard to foreign policy (especially the Long War). Yet he's watched his party get taken over by special interest groups (moveon) and hatemongers (Sharpton and Jackson, to name a tiny portion).

Imagine the rage you would feel if your party of choosing were betrayed by race-baiters and radical neo-hippies. I don't use that word lightly--I think Mr. Card is probably enraged with the hijacking of his party's platform by influences that, well, describing them as "radical" may be an understatement.

The Verus character is obviously Soros. Somebody had to say it.

I concur with his reasoning about a leftist coup, also, in regards to an assassination. I think that no matter how crazily liberal you are, you won't stand for the assassination of our President; however, liberals may use the event as an opportunity to further their own agendas. Think not? Look at the current crop, and how they've tried to appropriate the Long War for their own means. (I am reminded here of the only time I've ever felt admiration for Senator Rangel--when Chavez was ripping on Bush, saying he was the devil and wishing he was dead and whatnot, and Senator Rangel was asked to comment. Rangel said something along the lines of "I hate Bush, but dammit, he is our President; and anybody who calls him the devil can go eff himself." At that moment, I would have bought Senator Rangel a beer.)

Lastly, I find it interesting to compare the reaction to Empire with the reaction to Michael Chrichton's "State of Fear." Once again, a well-reasoned, semi-plausible story (with an afterword by the author where, sincerely, he says "I'm not on either side") is ripped to shreds by people who obviously have an ideological agenda. It's sad. Empire is not by any stretch Mr. Card's best work, but like State of Fear, it is pretty good.

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TomDavidson
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Speaking as a member of MoveOn.org, I'm curious why you'd consider the group to be made up of "radical neo-hippies," as opposed to the mostly libertarian technophiles that actually belong to it.
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Puppy
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Oobie, what you're describing as "Third-person Omniscient" is actually "Third-person Limited with Light Penetration".

In Card's books, almost without exception, you can only read the thoughts of a single viewpoint character at a time the rest of the world is a mystery until we explicitly switch viewpoints to another character, after a line or chapter break.

An "Omniscient" viewpoint is more like what you see from Michael Crichton, who freely jumps around from one character's thoughts to another within a single paragraph, or offers narrator-level hints about things the characters are not aware of.

So when Card pulls out from his characters' innermost thoughts a bit, and focuses on their outward actions, he's going from "Deep Penetration" to "Light Penetration", but his perspective is still "Limited" rather than "Omniscient".

To use his own terminology, anyway.

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Battler03
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Speaking as a member of MoveOn.org, I'm curious why you'd consider the group to be made up of "radical neo-hippies," as opposed to the mostly libertarian technophiles that actually belong to it.

I said it was a special interest group, which it is. In and of itself, this is not a big deal--special interest groups can sometimes help the democratic process--but moveon is a very narrow one, with aims that are kind of scary. And the fact that it's taking large amounts of money from Soros, the insane megalomaniacal billionaire, is terrifying.

Maybe you disagree, but lots of people feel the way I do. Look at the Verus character and how he used his various groups and shell companies to bring about a coup. The terrorist ("rebel") the good guys capture near the end of the book says things to them that sound exactly like things you hear from moveon or democratic underground. This is what a lot of normal people are worried about. Mr. Card would not have written about it if the worry wasn't already there.

...and on a side note, any libertarians who align with the democrat party are either idiots or not really libertarians. From a libertarian's perspective, NEITHER party is very good, but wouldn't you rather work with one who at least paid lip service to your ideals, instead of speaking out against them?

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TomDavidson
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quote:

Imagine the rage you would feel if your party of choosing were betrayed by race-baiters and radical neo-hippies...

That's an exact quote. Assuming that you consider Sharpton and Jackson "race-baiters," that leaves MoveOn.org to play the role of your "radical neo-hippies." Again, why do you think that MoveOn.org is a bunch of radical neo-hippies? What about its aims are "scary?" Do you have any idea what its aims ARE?

quote:
And the fact that it's taking large amounts of money from Soros, the insane megalomaniacal billionaire, is terrifying.
Is it MORE terrifying than, say, the large amounts of money that the "Swift Boat Veterans" took from their own pet billionaires? Why?

quote:

Maybe you disagree, but lots of people feel the way I do. Look at the Verus character and how he used his various groups and shell companies to bring about a coup.

You realize that you're citing fiction here to "prove" your point, right? In an argument that's about whether the fiction is itself credible?

quote:
he terrorist ("rebel") the good guys capture near the end of the book says things to them that sound exactly like things you hear from moveon or democratic underground.
Yes. It was one of the most transparently shallow moments of the book; Cole captures a straw man cartoon of the "Left," a whiny little techie who can't cope with pain or political reality. Can you understand why, for many people, this is an example of why the book does not accurately portray the Left?

quote:
From a libertarian's perspective, NEITHER party is very good, but wouldn't you rather work with one who at least paid lip service to your ideals, instead of speaking out against them?
Which ideals are those? My right to engage in homosexual sex? My right to not have my phone conversations monitored? My right to smoke a little pot? My right to choose a cell phone carrier? Are you seriously arguing that the Republican Party pays "lip service" to those freedoms?
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Battler03
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Do I know what moveon's aims are? Hijacking the Democrat party, by its own admission. Remember when they released that statement to all Democrats saying they were going to take over?

The Swift Boat vets group is not trying to take over the Republican party. They were a group of people who witnessed Kerry as a military officer and knew from his conduct in that capacity that he'd be a horrible President. I never figured out why people thought that was so evil. There are several guys I work with that I would never want to be President, because they're scumbags; does that make me evil?

The bit about the Varus character and the captured terrorist were not to prove those archetypes correct; they were to tell you that yes, lots of people believe them. Whether or not they are true, this is the image that many of us get when we think of Soros, or moveon types. It's reinforced by browsing the forums at huffpost or DU; or by reading the transcripts of Soros' speeches. He sounds like Emperor Palpatine.

As far as libertarian ideals, the Republican platform is much closer to those than the Democrat one. Republicans (at least in theory) believe in as little government interference with your life as possible; whereas Democrats believe the opposite (only they call it a "domestic program" instead of "regulation"). Whether or not the current Republicans adhere to that is shaky, but at least that's the idea.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Do I know what moveon's aims are? Hijacking the Democrat party, by its own admission.
Somehow I doubt you'll find any "admission" using that terminology. [Smile] And a better question is this: why would a group founded by two college students want to "hijack" the Democratic Party? What do THEY want the Democratic Party to do that the Dems aren't currently doing?

quote:
They were a group of people who witnessed Kerry as a military officer and knew from his conduct in that capacity that he'd be a horrible President.
Well, no. They were overwhelmingly a group of people who'd never actually witnessed Kerry at all, but disliked him by reputation a great deal.

quote:
Whether or not they are true, this is the image that many of us get when we think of Soros, or moveon types. It's reinforced by browsing the forums at huffpost or DU; or by reading the transcripts of Soros' speeches.
Is it your opinion that I can form a fair assessment of the right wing by reading the Free Republic forums?

quote:
Republicans (at least in theory) believe in as little government interference with your life as possible; whereas Democrats believe the opposite...
This has certainly not been the case for as long as I've been a registered voter. Tell me, which plank of the Republican platform is about removing government from my life?

[ April 23, 2007, 07:38 AM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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I'm convinced that the comics and sequels can reveal more about our mad leftist villains. Perhaps the video game might shed light on the motives on cover-ups that aren't heavily explained as well, but I think most of the video game will focus more on switching weapons and pointing the Wii Remote at the screen.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Tell me, which plank of the Republican platform is about removing government from my life?
What is 'the dead and buried one' for 500

quote:
Lastly, I find it interesting to compare the reaction to Empire with the reaction to Michael Chrichton's "State of Fear." Once again, a well-reasoned, semi-plausible story (with an afterword by the author where, sincerely, he says "I'm not on either side") is ripped to shreds by people who obviously have an ideological agenda.
I distinctly recall that "State of Fear" was also ripped to shreds by people who actually knew what they were talking about when it came to climatological science.
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Lyrhawn
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I think both old school Democrats and old school Republicans need to realize that they are holding onto parties that no longer exist.

Republicans aren't small government, non-interventionist, fiscal conservatives. They are spearheading the movement to allow the government to reorder your life, starting in the bedroom, as they like, they seemingly want war regardless of feasibility, and they're spending us into the ground.

Democrats I think are the same party they have been for the last decade, they're Clintonian Democrats, but the Dems of the 60's, if that is really what Card claims to be (honestly don't know what era he clings to), are also gone.

Everyone who espouses loyalty to them should stop and take stock of the situation, then find out who really falls in line with their beliefs and switch parties. Maybe if people stopped clinging to a lost past, a couple more parties could spring up and we'd get some serious third and fourth party opposition.

Incidentally I don't really mind that the parties have switched around. Party platforms are not statis. The Republicans of today aren't the Republicans of 200 years go. A Republicans freed the slaves, and a different one almost single handedly started the Environmental movement in America. A Republican sharing the values created in the last 50 years would never have shared those actions. We're just onto the next generation of both parties.

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TomDavidson
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Again, I personally would be libertarian if the libertarian party weren't currently hijacked by lunatics.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Again, I personally would be libertarian if the libertarian party weren't currently hijacked by lunatics.

Them emblazoning Thomas Jefferson everywhere makes me hesitant to join, but that's another story.
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TomDavidson
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I'm more bothered by the idea of a bunch of tinfoil-wearing gun nuts hopped up on hallucinogens, but I guess fear of the Founding Fathers is a good one, too. [Wink]
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Oobie Binoobie
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quote:
Originally posted by Puppy:
Oobie, what you're describing as "Third-person Omniscient" is actually "Third-person Limited with Light Penetration".

Ah, OK. It's been only 25 years since I actually studied literary points of view, so I am not surprised to be light on the lingo.

The point is that there appears to be a difference in how he jumped around from viewpoint to viewpoint.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I'm more bothered by the idea of a bunch of tinfoil-wearing gun nuts hopped up on hallucinogens quoting Jefferson, but I guess fear of the Founding Fathers is a good one, too. [Wink]

Fixed. [Wink]
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C3PO the Dragon Slayer
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Political parties should be abolished altogether. That's what George Washington suggested; that's what has him earn great amounts of my respect.
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NotMe
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C3PO, I'm with you on that one. I'll probably register as an independent, and if I were to enter politics, I would never run on a party platform. I think candidates should have to work for each and every one of the votes, rather than just work to get party endorsement. Also, I'm hoping I'll get less political junk mail as an independent.
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LoveOfWorthing
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I'm just now listening to OSC's radio interview on "Empire."

And I'm also sitting here wide-eyed and open-mouthed and just shaking my head, because he's describing my *life* and the foundational reasons I never bothered finishing that PhD. Ho-ly cats. YOU GOT IT, OSC. You have absolutely nailed it. There is less genuine tolerance in academia than one would expect--and no tolerance at all for anyone who is in any way religious.

I like to say that I'm neither "blue" nor "red," but a Purple Libservative, because in my view, I didn't leave the (old-school) Left--the Left left me.

Wow, wow, and more wow. Wow.

I knew my days were numbered when most of the papers that were "privileged" and "validated" were about race/class/gender and "queer studies." Nothing against any of that in theory, I just, personally, did.not.care.

I just wanted to follow my own interests which were decidedly "mythopoeic." I am against guns, capital punishment, *and* abortion. It's the consistent life ethic. I was even more sure that my days were numbered when I could not become a "political lesbian" (or any other kind--I'm just *not*, you know?) And when a fellow grad student came to me with a question "because [she] just had a feeling" that I'd "have a different perspective," I knew I had to get out of Dodge.

Here was the question:
End of the term was coming up. Papers were due; exams were coming shortly. The woman who came to me (who was happily married, btw), was pregnant and having morning sickness. She'd mentioned that to another of our classmates.

She was advised by another woman to have an abortion because "papers were due" and "exams were coming," and after all, "she could always get pregnant again in the summer."

Uh.....

I bellieve my response was on the order of "HAVE YOU COMPLETELY LOST YOUR MIND?? HAS SHE???"

My pregnant friend just smiled at me and nodded, and affirmed my point of view that the other woman, and much of the rest of the world, had completely lost their minds, and that she could deal with sniffing ginger root and throwing up for a while, end of semester or no end of semester. There is such a thing as incompletes for illness. There is such a thing as "a human life is worth more than a paper, or even a degree."

PS, she wound up giving birth to a very healthy and beautiful little girl. The irony of the sex of her child, which a "feminist" was so ready to encourage her to sacrifice, was not lost on either of us. That little girl is now just about college age, I imagine, or close to it.

So much for the Left. And the Right, for that matter. And the academy. Literary criticism just became inconsequential to me, because it lacked anything transcendent.

[ May 12, 2007, 05:16 PM: Message edited by: LoveOfWorthing ]

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Samprimary
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quote:
She was advised by another woman to have an abortion because "papers were due" and "exams were coming," and after all, "she could always get pregnant again in the summer."
Hahaha oh god.
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LoveOfWorthing
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Sam,

I just counted on my fingers.

The "little girl" would today be around 14 or 15. The age of my freshman students.

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Qrios
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Isn't Empire about us all giving each other the chance to speak? and to try to pull back when we are throwing out words like "hijack" and "lunatic" and "you" and "we?" To give each other the benefit of the doubt? Remember, back in the day of Jefferson and Washington, most individual voters were self sufficient - they grew their own food and clothed their own families, and were not cogs in an interconnected wheel. I'm not saying we should go back to that, and I'm certainly not saying that their statements are no longer meaningful and important. Just that it's harder now.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Isn't Empire about us all giving each other the chance to speak?
Why do you say so?
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some dude
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Battler03

quote:
Yet he's watched his party get taken over by special interest groups (moveon) and hatemongers (Sharpton and Jackson, to name a tiny portion).
moveon, sharpton, and jackson have taken over the democrats? what world do you live in?

quote:
The Verus character is obviously Soros.
you mean supposed to be Soros, somehow I don't see the real guy actually funding a secret far left military conspiracy.

quote:
once again, a well-reasoned, semi-plausible story (with an afterword by the author where, sincerely, he says "I'm not on either side") is ripped to shreds by people who obviously have an ideological agenda.
the argument is that it is not well-reasoned or semi-plausible and that saying "I'm not on either side" doesn't make a book balanced.

First off on the balance part. There was one token reasonable liberal character and this character was a stay at home mom for whom the only evidence of liberalness was that it was claimed she was one and didn't rush to blame everything on the liberals. Second the professor, whose name escapes me right now, only tricked/convince extreme leftist to take part in the civil war instead of both extremes. In reality if Cards "civil war" where only the extreme left wing fought the actuall government the populace would backlash to the conservative party and not want the reconciliation the proffessor offered.

on top of all of this, I found the characters in the book to be pretty wooden compared to Card's normal work. Though I must admit the thougts and conversations of the reasonable conservative special ops guys did add some balance by at times being what I perceived to not be reasonable at all.

loveofworthing
quote:

I knew my days were numbered when most of the papers that were "privileged" and "validated" were about race/class/gender and "queer studies."

This doesn't neccessarilly mean that other types of papers(in literary criticism i guess) would have a harder time getting "privileged" and "validated." I would actually guess that it was the result of more of these types of papers being submitted. After all literary criticism seems to draw more of the type of people that would write those types of papers. The correct stat to look at to see if you should actually be discouraged is if papers of the type you wished to write were "privileged" and "validated" at a different percent then those on "race/class/gender and "queer studies."" Also why do you refer to them as queer studies? Queer normally implies a negative connotation, did you mean to imply a negative connotation to those who are gay? If so I would probably guess that the blame for the conflict between you and the more liberal acedemia may be more the fault of your intolerance for other viewpoints then the liberalness of academia. Further evidence for this is your reaction to another students view on abortion you describe. Many simply view the fetus in a womans womb as only a potential child much in the same way that a married couple could potentially have sex to have a child and not as already being a child. You and your friend don't see it that way and hence didn't listen to her advise. On the other hand a pro-choice woman who has a baby after being raped might also find the suggesting that they should keep the baby may be equally offensive and she would likewise not follow that advice. The fact that once at collage you might come into contact with people with widely differing morals then your own. That girl giving the advise had not lost her mind and the fact that she was going to collage and would give advise based on her world view is in no way an indictment of academia extreme liberalness then your being their with your antiabortion views is an indictment of academia as conservative.
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Eric number what
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quote:
Originally posted by owl232:
I just finished OSC's new novel, EMPIRE. I have some thoughts on it, hoping OSC might see this and find it of interest.

I enjoyed the book very much, like almost all of Card's books. It has the usual fast pace, interesting situations, and beautiful, clear writing. But I found the story less plausible than that of most of his books, even though Card's stories usually involve more unusual scenarios, with aliens, magic, etc. I found the *people* in this story less plausible. (Some spoilers to follow.)

First, I didn't believe that left-wing ideologues who hate the military would be running a secret, underground military base. I didn't believe they'd be able to find enough people to fill a small army who (1) are extremely far-left politically and (2) want to belong to an army and to fight in a war. This is not because I have a high opinion of the left in this country. As a university professor, I am very familiar with the flaws of the left wing. But one flaw they seem to lack is an excessive taste for military conflict.

Second, I didn't believe such a massive project could be kept secret, that they could find a construction company to do all the work required, hire thousands of soldiers, buy all the parts required to build the military hardware, and hire the people to do the research and development, all without a single employee, employee's spouse, friend, or neighbor, informing on them, during the several years it would take them to prepare.

A lot of implausibilities in stories don't matter. (After all, I *am* an SF/Fantasy fan.) But implausibilities about people's motivations and choices do. And because OSC seemed to be trying to illustrate how a second civil war in America might happen (see the Afterword), implausibilities in how the civil war gets started matter.

I think Card wanted, at least superficially, to be nonpartisan. He has the conservative hero married to a liberal, and they have a dialogue in which she reminds him that *most* liberals oppose violence and civil war. The Afterword suggests that Card wants to warn against extremism and divisiveness from both sides, not merely to warn about the excesses of the left. But the novel came off, to me, as pretty clearly slanted to the right. And if it struck me that way, I think it would strike actual leftists even more that way.

Here's part of what I have in mind: The story portrays that there are all of these leftists who are prepared to kill in order to take over (part of) the country. They have agents infiltrating the Pentagon and the White House. And once they make their move, there are lots of other leftists--not members of extremist paramilitary organizations, but ordinary Democratic government officials--happy to jump on the bandwagon, in New York, Washington state, etc. But these people are never given an intelligible motivation -- what are they thinking? What has provoked them, other than just losing the last election, and the usual opposition to Republican policies? Why do they think they're justified? As far as what we see in the story goes, they seem to be just a bunch of wackos whom there's no point trying to understand. This is unlike most of Card's novels, in which Card usually helps the reader to understand very different perspectives and some seemingly indefensible actions.

At the same time, the response of the people on the right seems measured and infinitely patient. In reality, there would be people calling for nuking New York City (perhaps not many, but some extremists). When the rebels were defeated, people would be calling for summary executions of the New York city council.

If a second civil war were to start, it would probably involve, not a massive, treasonous conspiracy by one side, but a series of escalations brought about by ideologues from both sides, each of whom thinks at each stage, with some justification, that they've been provoked by the other side. And it would likely happen over some hot-button issue. For instance, it seems to me that a more likely beginning than Card's scenario is this: the left has control of both houses of Congress and the White House. They pass a bill banning all private firearms ownership and requiring the approximately 80 million firearms owners in the country to hand in their weapons. The majority refuse ...

Here's another one: Another very large terrorist attack succeeds (with no need for a conspiracy by Americans). The President starts arresting Muslim Americans en masse and taking them to detention camps (it happened in World War II), or he declares martial law, or he declares a draft and initiates another Middle East war. Widespread civil disobedience results ...

In the Afterword, Card suggests that the country is the most polarized it has been since the first Civil War. I doubt that this is the case. The current polarization is just more salient to us, but I think that we were more divided in the 1960's, and possibly at other times in our history that I am less familiar with. I don't think that accusing the other side of being stupid or corrupt is anything new in politics. I think there's been more divisive rhetoric during the Bush administration because this Administration is unusually offensive to leftists (more so than Bush senior's administration, and perhaps even more so than the Reagan administration). After the next election, things will likely settle down some.


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Eric number what
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I have to say I found "Empire" totally bizarre. I have enjoyed most of OSC's books but I think this shows signs of a serious decline. A lot of the silly elements in the book (the underground base with the puzzles to get in, the hoverboards etc) clearly relate to the tie-in with the video game - very bad idea that.
What really struck me though was the political attitudes - I had thought I understood Americans, but I'm having to rethink. I think that people from most other countries will find the idea of the Democratic Party as left-wing unbelievable - I would put it Center-Right. Hollywood stars too are not left-wing - they are tied to the money-making machine, they will spout vaguely environmental or peace-loving ideals, but it's just show.
And, OSC, people of other Western nation do not hate the Americans (not even the French). We admire your ideals, but deplore how you fail to put them into practise. Most of all however what annoys (and frightens) people is how the American leadership never listens. Other nations have in the past been far worse than the Americans in empire-building, but things have changed, there is a consensus that what happened in that era was wrong. This does not seem to have happened in the United States - the leadership there never admits to being wrong.
So to conclude, I cannot see any possibility of a left-wing coup attempt - however I can certainly see a Right-wing government using an imagined threat to restrict freedom and democracy.

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Battler03
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Eric, I agree that the chances of a leftist military coup being actually carried out are small; but only because--and take it easy, guys--leftist don't tend to follow through very much. My prime example is the people who say Bush "stole" the 2000 election: what sane person is so lazy and apathetic that they'd allow a person who is so evil he'd actually steal a national election to go on drawing breath? The only other possibility is that they don't actually believe that; but that is a topic for another thread.

As far as imperialism being evil...I don't think there is a "consensus that what happened in that era was wrong." Plenty of people would agree with that sentiment, but not all; many people realize that the age of imperialism actually helped the world advance significantly. Just look at the three largest British colonies--the US, India and Australia--and then look at their neighbors who were never part of the Empire. Imperialism, when done right, can be a blessing.

Lastly, your point about Democrats not really being leftist...that's funny; I think the Republicans are not really conservative at all any more. The Democrats are left and swerving more left every day; the Republicans are at best moderate but also getting more left slowly.

Some dude, your points about the story not being plausible or the liberal characters being stereotypes are well taken, but you have to remember two things.

First, appearances are often more important than substance--that is, whether or not one side of the political debate is evil or stupid enough to attempt a coup is not NECESSARILY relevant; what IS relevant is that a huge portion of each side believes the other capable of such. All that has to happen is for one side to become paranoid enough to start something. I predict that it will end up being the right that actually starts it, when communist policies are enacted by the left that would effectively end their way of life; but who knows.

Secondly, stereotypes exist because they're generally true. You never hear of the "bagpipe-music-loving-Mexicans" stereotype, or the "really-great-at-basketball-Asians" stereotype. That's because those situations do not IN GENERAL exist.

Lastly, somedude, reading back over your post, it's not only moveon and the race baiters. All the big names in the Democratic party have become consumed with hatred; for "the rich," for conservatives, for the military, for the corporate world, and for America. We can go back and forth about whether or not they actually hate, but trust me: the perception is there.

We can spend all day debating fine points, but I think the message of Empire is that people need to turn off the cable news and the partisan blogs and start talking to each other again. The only way to prevent the already-wide schism from getting bigger is to hang out and talk. Maybe get drunk and watch a game together. I don't think it'll ever happen--too many people on both sides are just too angry--but it's the only way.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I think the message of Empire is that people need to turn off the cable news and the partisan blogs and start talking to each other again.
How many "leftists" have you talked to recently, and where do you get your news?
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Battler03
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I think the message of Empire is that people need to turn off the cable news and the partisan blogs and start talking to each other again.
How many "leftists" have you talked to recently, and where do you get your news?
A guy I work with calls himself a liberal, but a "liberal" in my organization is a lot more conservative than a liberal anywhere else. Several more of my coworkers are leftist on particular issues, mainly social ones. I also make a point of perusing leftist websites regularly, just to make sure I'm exposed to all sides; but taking part in discussions on those websites is usually an exercise in exasperation, so I mostly lurk. I don't really get the chance to meet many leftists, because of the nature of my work. When I do run into them, at parties or whatever, I try and make a point of talking with them, just because they fascinate me.

I get my news from Drudge primarily. I read the Early Bird and Real Clear Politics almost every day, and check out foxnews.com and cnn.com several times a week.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I also make a point of perusing leftist websites regularly, just to make sure I'm exposed to all sides....
FWIW, leftist websites will give you no clearer view of the "left" than the Free Republic will give you of the "right."

BTW, what do you do for a living? Torture babies on behalf of the military-industrial complex? [Wink] j/k

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Samprimary
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quote:
I get my news from Drudge primarily.
You get your news from a source that invents stories about liberals he dislikes, and publishes hearsay if it will hurt them.
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Battler03
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Sam, almost none of Drudge's stories are actually written by him. He is the go-to guy because people in newsrooms leak their big stories to him before they're broken. The last bit of real journalism he did was breaking Lewinsky. People need to realize that his site is nothing more than a conglomeration of links to various news reports, punctuated by an occasional "breaking" report that he compiles himself after some flunky at a newsdesk somewhere drops a dime. I understand that hardcore Clinton devotees will NEVER forgive him for breaking Lewinsky, but everybody else should recognize what a valuable site his is. It's like memepool.com but for breaking news.

Tom, I'm a soldier. And "FWIW," I disagree; I think leftist websites (to include campaign websites for all major Dem candidates) present a very clear picture of the left; just as free republic and townhall and malkin's blog and protestwarrior (when it was still up) present a very clear picture of the right. To say that this or that website doesn't represent the left really just means that it doesn't represent YOUR PARTICULAR brand of leftism. Just like I may be inclined to say that a rightist website that reflects a more neocon slant is not "truly" right; but that's just me as a paleocon showing my distaste for the neocon movement and trying to deny the (destructive, in my opinion) grip it has on the modern Republican party.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I think leftist websites (to include campaign websites for all major Dem candidates) present a very clear picture of the left; just as free republic and townhall and malkin's blog and protestwarrior (when it was still up) present a very clear picture of the right.
Hrm. I think both examples present very clear pictures of the loud, ignorant extremes. But I don't think the membership of either category of site represents the majority.
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Eric number what
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Hi Battler
quote:
Just look at the three largest British colonies--the US, India and Australia--and then look at their neighbors who were never part of the Empire. Imperialism, when done right, can be a blessing.
Well, if by the US neighbour you mean Mexico, well that too was part of an Empire. The Brits did better than most in running their Empire, but it was very mixed. In the US and Australia the colonisers make up the majority of the population - I'm not sure if the Native Americans or Australian Aboriginals would think imperialism was a blessing. For another example Thailand was never colonised, and is doing ok - certainly compared to it's neighbour Burma.

I just wish the US would work more on strengthening international institutions, and also set an example by agreeing to abide by decisions from these, instead of trying to sort out the worlds problems vigilente style

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