Authors are aware the market for novels is becoming more glutted by the day. With all that competition just to get your work in front of a potential reader, let alone to make a sale, many are asking themselves if it might be wiser to conceal their political opinions lest they alienate a segment of their audience.
In today’s climate, however, this line of reasoning has one very fatal flaw.
Authoritarians don’t read.
I’d go to far as to say: Authoritarians can’t read.
Not because they are stupid. They are so terrified of consuming culture that might upset their frail digestive systems, even the smell of a new idea leaves a terrible sneer upon their faces. All they have a stomach for is whatever has been ground down by thousands of identical iterations into flavorless gruel. Not just books but artwork, music, film, anything.
The very idea of culture upsets an authoritarian because any piece of creativity, no matter how neutral or benign, contains the hidden danger of expressing—even unwittingly—an alternative perspective. For an authoritarian there can only be one point of view, therefore all culture is suspect, therefore must be suppressed. Since culture is basically what humanity does, this impulse must be squashed out with literally endless demonstrations in support of Il Duce, full of dumb songs, empty slogans, and idiot rhetoric.
Get it in your head that everything you do say think or feel will piss off an authoritarian. Have you ever seen an authoritarian who wasn’t angry? You have not. He’s angry at you right now. So fuck him.
If you are an author, or if you do anything to add color to what would otherwise be a dreary monochrome existence, it is not actually possible to remain outside the political fray. So take action to shore up your own side. At the very least, you can do absolutely anything to make and promote culture, especially culture that encourages people to see the world from a prospective other than their own. This is easy to do, even if you feel lazy or timid or clumsy. Because even works by and about self-absorbed entitled white people can show us at least something we haven’t seen before. Even them!
(Feel encouraged to go further, though.)
Remember that the human dignity of literally anyone can be a weapon against an authoritarian, so do something that reveals yours. If you can’t think of something especially original to do or make, so what? Make or do what you can. Even tiny details say a lot about the people who do the work.
Let me give an example. Last week I made this, even though it had been done a million times before.
This pussy hat follows the pattern to the letter, using $5/1000 yards of acrylic pink yarn. Perhaps the most boring type. Am I silent in this then? I don’t think so. In this dangerous era, I don’t feel as threatened as others, but the past few years’ experience has taught me it’s true that no one is free until everyone is protected. So I took this to the Women’s March in D.C. in a “stand and be counted” state of mind because I believed numbers might be a matter of discussion.
But I noticed a lot of variation in the make of pussy hats. Some were instead knitted in the round and sewn across the top. Some used fancy variegated yarn, some were made of costly wools or other materials. Some had expertly shaped cat ears to replace the sack corners used on the standard hat. Some were well-crafted beanies without ears, the design chosen to show off skill with various knit stitches. Some were store-bought machine knits. Some forewent the ribbed brim for stockinette stitch so the edge rolled up. Quite a few were crocheted. One was made of granny squares. Someone just showed up wearing Louise Belcher’s rabbit ears. These and more.
Not all of the heads under these hats face the same challenges ahead, but every one of them is a thumb in the eye of authoritarianism, if for no other reason than they represent a person who is not the others. Small shit matters a lot.
Plus, do you really want to be someone too selfish to upset a fascist? No, you do not. Com’on, gross.
Like, you should be punching Nazis. In the face. All day.