And Ci Devant Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens, Grasping at Straws
The Genealogy of "A Nation of Takers": Tuesday Morning Wingnut Watch Weblogging

Hoisted from Comments: Origins of the Right's "47%" Theory in 1970s Science Fiction

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Graydon writes:

Pournelle's Codominium stories from the early seventies used this idea as an explanation for social breakdown -- economically parasitic non-working citizens, paid for by ever-shrinking numbers of taxpayers.

It's been around a long time as a just-so story.

Totally impervious to facts, too; neither pointing out that money is the creation of the state nor demonstrating just how brutally hard poor people tend to work will put a dent in it.

My take is that it's not really economic at all; it's an attempt to de-legitimize democracy as a political process, because democracy keeps getting the wrong answers.

From the point of view of people who believe the whole 47% nonsense, the wrong answers; things like "women are people" and "blacks are people, with the vote" and so on. "Being a real American is about how you act, not what you look like" would seem to be the chief wrong answer and thus frothing insecurity just at the moment, but it's all the things that take away their expectation of the cringing, servile deference of true helplessness from the people around them.

Insisting on total cultural destruction in preference to adaptation is really terrible insecurity management, all the same.


There is something to be written about the contrast between Max Jones in Heinlein's Starman Jones in the 1950s--who maneuvers in a society where the sociological barriers to unfreedom are an oppressive guild system that denies opportunity--and John Christian Falkenberg in Pournelle's CoDominium in the 1970s--who maneuvers in a society where the sociological barrier to unfreedom are the shiftless Negroes takers and the politicians who use them as mobs.

In the end, IIRC, Max Jones bullies his way into the Astrogators' Guild on brainpower, guts, decisiveness, and an eidetic memory--and then regularizes his status by paying a whopping fine and promises himself to work for equality of opportunity in a generation or so, In the end, IIRC, John Christian Falkenberg traps the "takers" in a stadium and has his troops mow them all down in an unholy combination of the Nika Riots in Constantinople and some modern right-wing South American coup--after which the "makers" have a chance to rebuild civilization on the colony planet.