[Science-fiction master Michael] Moorcock writes [in his classic 1978 essay Starship Stormtroopers], “If I were sitting in a Tube train and all the people opposite me were reading ‘Mein Kampf’ with obvious enjoyment and approval it probably wouldn’t disturb me much more than if they were reading Heinlein, Tolkien or Richard Adams.” And then he takes off the kid gloves.
What the “utopian fiction” of such authors teaches its readers, Moorcock argues, is blind obedience to a romantic hero whose motives may be just as ambiguous or pernicious as those of his enemies. “Heroes betray us,” he writes. “By having them, in real life, we betray ourselves."
Of course, Moorcock is an anarchist bordering on nihilism and (figuratively speaking) blind in his left eye -- or maybe it's his celebrant, Times SF columnist Dave Itzkoff, who is, since he goes on to say:
Left unchecked and unexamined, our desire to believe in these infallible father figures yields Ronald Reagan, George Wallace and Joe McCarthy. And, Moorcock says, “At its most spectacular it gives us Charlie Manson and Scientology.”
Moorcock writes that the only true alternative to such figures is the anarchist: “a mature, realistic adult imposing laws upon the self and modifying them according to an experience of life, an interpretation of the world.”
I guess we would need to wrench these words out of context --
blind obedience to a romantic hero whose motives may be just as ambiguous or pernicious as those of his enemies. “Heroes betray us,” he writes. “By having them, in real life, we betray ourselves."
-- to inscribe them above the doorway of the coming Obama presidency.