The best progressive novels by mattsteinglass
February 18, 2009, 1:43 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I come late to the pile-on on The Corner’s 25 best conservative movies list, but while others have focused on the labored readings of “The Lives of Others” or “Groundhog Day” as conservative, the one that really got me was number 20, “Gattaca”. In case you haven’t seen it, “Gattaca” takes place in a future where the private-market consumer availability of genetic modification for embryos has led everyone who can afford it to genetically screen or enhance their offspring, and hence corporations like the private spaceflight company “Gattaca” will only employ people who have certified top-level genetic profiles. People whose parents couldn’t afford to enhance their kids, meanwhile, end up as janitors. This is a parable of corporate dystopia, where the marketing of the very substance of humanity as a consumer good has led to a caste society that effectively eviscerates the promise of equality and values birthright over hard work. Wesley J. Smith of the wingnut-welfare Discovery Institute, however, glosses this as follows: “The movie is a cautionary tale about the progressive fantasy of a eugenically correct world.” As a progressive, I can only hope that in the future, science will allow everyone to possess the gene that allows you to understand what movies are about.

But this does raise the possibility of a different contest: “The best progressive novels.

1. Atlas Shrugged. The stirring tale of how an elite group of highly trained scientific experts decides to use their gifts to create an ideal society. There has never been a more powerful rejoinder to the know-nothing anti-scientism of the conservative right, or to the proposition that only market forces can shape society, rather than the collective actions of elite vanguards driven by their political and moral convictions.

2. Braveheart. Mel Gibson’s postmodern counterhegemonic war epic, in which the indigenous ethnic-minority Picts strike back against the totalizing logic of British capitalist imperialism. Gibson’s implicit indictment of American interventions in Vietnam and the Middle East is fiendishly subtle; the conservatives who’ve picked up on it have never forgiven him.

And so on. Well, Braveheart is a movie. But you get the point. Any other suggestions?


9 Comments so far
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Umm… the basic underpinnings of libertarianism is non-coercion. The “elites” who created their own society did so with everyone’s consent. There is nothing “unlibertarian” or progressive about specific people paying no taxes, voluntarily exchanging services, and asking to be left alone. How do bailout packages and mortgage re-writes fit in with Atlas Shrugged?

Comment by anon


Try reading ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, ‘Triangle: The Fire That Changed America’, ‘The Jungle’, ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘The Good Earth’, ‘Candide’, ‘Huckleberry Finn’, ‘The Octopus’, ‘A Doll’s House’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’, ‘Vanity Fair’, ‘Devil in the White City’, etc . . . These are real progressive novels.

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