OSC’s Afterword to Empire

The audio version of Orson Scott Card’s latest book, “Empire” (reviewed here) contained an afterward where a lot of what he said really hit me as just common sense. But how he phrased it needs to be heard by any and all involved in politics. From the top level “Right wing crazies” and the “Leftist Commies” to the people who barely follow the political landscape.

After I listened to the book (and afterword), I really wanted a copy of the afterword, but couldn’t find it. So I sent a request to OSC through his ornery.org site to see if I could get a hold of the text. I never heard back, but when reading the last article on his blog, I noticed a new link to the side. “Read Orson Scott Card’s afterword to Empire” — sure enough, it was posted.

Seriously, everyone should read this afterword. Here’s a small excerpt (the last three paragraphs):

Or, maybe, we can just calm down and stop thinking that our own ideas are so precious that we must never give an inch to accommodate the heartfelt beliefs of others.

How can we accomplish that? It begins by scorning the voices of extremism from the camp we are aligned with. Democrats and Republicans must renounce the screamers and haters from their own side instead of continuing to embrace them and denouncing only the screamers from the opposing camp. We must moderate ourselves instead of insisting on moderating the other guy while keeping our own fanaticism alive.

In the long run, the great mass of people who simply want to get on with their lives can shape a peaceful future. But it requires that they actively pursue moderation and reject extremism on every side, and not just on one. Because it is precisely those ordinary people, who don’t even care all that much about the issues, who will end up suffering the most from any conflict that might arise.

Now go read the rest.

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8 Responses

  1. Reluctant says:

    Wow… lot’s of typos. I’ll fix them now.

  2. Dave W. says:

    Dan, I don’t agree that we’re anywhere near a civil war based on incivility, hyperbole and vitriol. As far as I could tell, his basis for the underlying heat is summed up in his statement:
    “if you hold any of one group’s views, you are hated by the other group as if you believed them all; and if you hold most of one group’s views, but not all, you are treated as if you were a traitor for deviating even slightly from the party line. ”

    Although this may be true for some, they are such a small part of the whole that they are literally insignificant. I don’t think the majority of people feel strongly enough about any of the current divisive issues to take up arms because of it.

    Secession from the Union was justified in the minds of the South because they saw the limitation/abolition of slavery as a direct attack on not only their lifestyle but on their livelihood. Which of today’s issues can engender this kind of reaction? Abortion comes closest, but there aren’t enough people whom it affects directly and adversely enough to inspire widespread violence.

    The only thing that would make another U.S. Civil War possible would be if the U.S. fell into economic ruin and people’s livelihoods depended on the difference between left and right. As long as most of us can still get a tee-time or a trip to the gym, as long as there’s still electricity and gasoline flowing, as long as too many of us aren’t out of work, I don’t think a civil war is possible.

    Card is generalizing the extremes to encompass the whole spectrum. I believe the sprectrum is still a one-hump, not a two-hump camel. I think maybe Card is letting his fictional world bleed into his perceptions of reality. I’m sure he’s a perceptive and convincing writer of fiction, but I don’t think he has a good grasp on the real America.

  3. Reluctant says:

    He was speaking about those who are in power… those who are completely involved in the political process. I realized that he didn’t mention this in the afterword, but as illustrated by the book summary:

    The war of words between Right and Left has collapsed into a shooting war, though most people just want to be left alone.

    So he’s not talking about the average person. He’s talking about the political parties and those elected to represent the American people, which they are not doing well.

    He’s also not saying that we are even close to a civil war. He is however saying that we are closer than many might think based on the thinking that the sides have to have a geographical line. I suppose it would be best to read the book first to get the real gist of the afterword. It is an afterword.

  4. Reluctant says:

    A few more comments on your comment, Dave.

    I’m sure he’s a perceptive and convincing writer of fiction, but I don’t think he has a good grasp on the real America.

    That’s very arguable. I feel that he does have a decent grasp. But just because you disagree with him on a few points (mainly his support for President Bush), you immediately discount all his points. You are making his point by your feelings towards him.

    And your quoting of him is absolutely true in the political parties. There are very few legislators that are willing to cross the lines on any single issue.

  5. Dave W. says:

    Does he support Bush? In that case, he’s completely nuts (I’m kidding (mostly)).

    So the war is only among the elite politicos? What has happened to the rule of law? Is the Constitution still regarded as valid and sacred? It seems like an intriguing idea, but I don’t see how it could happen. I guess that would require my reading the book, and, as you know, I don’t read books by Republicans.

    • daveinlaurel says:

      So it’s now 2014. the economy is in shreds, large numbers of people are on the dole, and the rule of law depends on who’s running the show, even locally. Still think it can’t happen?

  6. Reluctant says:

    Yeah, reading the book helps, but it’s still completely fiction and really would require things sinking much deeper than our current state.

    I think my (and OSC’s) point is that we are heading down the path and we need to prevent it. Not really to prevent a civil war (because I don’t think that is really that possible), but because it’s so incredibly divisive in our society.

    Even though, individually, most people don’t care, those who are in power (along with the media), set the tone for the entire nation. And when they make their living from sensationalism and controversy, it causes all kinds of problems for the average American.

  7. Dave W. says:

    And the real-life solution is a man named OBAMA!

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