nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

Traditionalist societies

is an essay about how pervasive the idea is in sf that traditionalist/collectivist societies are bad, and the only thing commonly done with them is for the protagonist to either get out or change them.

The commenters seem to pretty much be writers. I'm a reader, so I'm going to be talking about existing stories, not to mention a little history.

Part of what I found interesting about Novik's _His Majesty's Dragon_ was that goodness was portrayed as behaving as well as possible within unquestioned constraints of British society rather than as trying to revise it. This is getting shaken in the later two books, but Lawrence is still dubious about making big changes. I'm hoping that future books will address the effects of either making those changes or not making them rather than just letting matters hang.

Before I read that essay, I was thinking about how little there was for Sam in the Shire before the War of the Rings. On the other hand, he didn't see it that way (he knew what he wanted, but that didn't include changing the Shire), and even when he becomes Mayor it apparently doesn't occur to him to set up public education (or even private education) for promising young hobbits, let alone all young hobbits.

IIRC, Foster's _Midworld_ is definitely about a collective/communal/traditional society. People are necessarily loyal to their tribes' trees--the trees are *not* replacable nor is it possible for people to connect with a different tree if their tree is killed. The misfit doesn't escape, nor does he want to.

In Recent Developments in the Study of the Great European Witch Hunt, it's proposed that the witch hunts pretty much *weren't* the result of evil hierarchies nor of settled tradition. Rather, they correlated strongly with the breakdown of central authority during the Reformation.

I don't know whether this is true (anyone have more recent research handy?), but it doesn't sound crazy. I can see people preferring traditional social structures (and I'm including stable government in this) because uprooting them carries the risk of great evils. The worst events of the past century have been the result of people who thought it was a good idea to Redesign Everything, and quite possibly there should be more sf about people who value their societies.

I'm not saying that stability is absolutely wonderful, just that the love of it is part of humanity and it isn't always the worst thing.

Link thanks to ylee.
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