Saturday, December 29, 2007

Liberal Of The Year - Terry Pratchett?

My brain moves slowly around Christmas time. So I've only just left a comment on Liberal Democrat Voice about who has been the Liberal voice of 2007.

It's the 57th comment there. So just in case you're not going to read that far down, I'm repeating it here:

I have another, very serious suggestion - Terry Pratchett.

His readership in the UK is huge. Those who have read his books will know that underneath all the humour and fantasy is a very liberal philosophy.
There’s too much to mention but, for example, books such as “Equal Rites” and “Monstrous Regiment” have a theme of , well, equal rights for women. The hero of “Small Gods” is an honest priest trying to stay one step ahead of a corrupted fundamentalist religion. One of his best characters , Commander Vimes of the City Watch, is about as non-racist as you can get - he offers jobs to dwarves, werewolves , zombies and even golems. (this may strike non-readers of Pratchett as pretty flippant, but in it’s own context it’s very serious stuff.)

The most famous fantasy books in the last 50 years have been the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I like those books, but Tolkein has a huge amounts of killing, has races such as orcs with no good qualities whatsoever, and a lot of monarchs. Pratchett is on the side of the people.

To quote from Pratchett’s novel “Feet of Clay”:

“You are in favour of the common people?” said Dragon mildly.
“The common people?” said Vimes. “They’re nothing special. They’re no different from the rich and powerful except they’ve got no money or power. But the law should be there to balance things up a bit . So I suppose I’ve got to be on their side”.


Later on in the same book he’s ordered to destroy a golem:

“In order to keep the peace, the golem will have to be destroyed”
“No, sir”
“Allow me to repeat my instruction”
“No, sir”
“I’m sure I just gave you an order Commander. I distinctly felt my lips move.”
“No, sir. He’s alive, sir”
“He’s just made of clay, Vimes”
“Aren’t we all, sir? According to the pamphlets Constable Visit keeps handing out. Anyway he thinks he’s alive, and that’s good enough for me.”

I can think of no individual who has spread a liberal , tolerant philosophy more in the last 20 years than Terry Pratchett. And now would be a very good time to give him some credit for it…

2 comments:

Tristan said...

Good point. Night Watch won the Prometheus Award for Libertarian Fiction.

Its got a great liberal message of the rule of law, a good skeptical view of revolution (and especially those who talk of 'the people') and the dangers of concentration of power in unaccountable politicians.

Again, its Sam Vimes who's the main protagonist and pursuer of this liberal view.

Gavin Whenman said...

YES!

Chris expresses his own views on this weblog.


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