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Dissemination and Political Compromise

In comments at Pandagon, commenter BlackBloc writes:

MIA [a musician] would not have been given a podium by the cultural producers in the first place if she had been seen as fully authentic. By definition, anyone who can get to the heights of popularity that MIA attained is compromised politically. It’s similar to the selection that news or education institutions do, as put forward in Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent.

I suspect this is true.

One can argue, perhaps, that some of the venues that writers use for dissemination are too small to necessitate political compromise–an excellent argument for the utility of small presses!–but at the same time, usually those avenues don’t provide wide dissemination.

I can only hope that the accumulation of many pieces of politically compromised work can still create change, even though each individual work is compromised. I must hope this because it’s the same argument that applies to activism–few of us are perfect activists in our lives, and if we must compromise in order to exist, one can only hope that the cumulative effect of intentional, well-aimed, compromised action can still create political effects.

(As a side note: the few people I know who compromise very little have to work very, very hard to make their lives match their politics. And while I understand the necessity of compromise, its ubiquity shouldn’t be used to excuse it… “everyone compromises” is not a get-out-of-moral-quandary free card. Compromise is still problematic. And the people who live the politics we’d like to see enacted deserve amazing amounts of respect for their work.)

  • Hi, I'm Rachel! I write science fiction and fantasy short stories. I've won the Nebula Award twice, and been nominated for the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, and some other things. My seventy or so short stories are available around the internet as well as in print, and many of them are in my latest collection, How the World Became Quiet. I have a masters degree in fiction from the University of Iowa. I have five cats. I like my cats, but strongly suggest one stops at three. Or two. Excuse me, I have to go take care of cats.

1 thought on “Dissemination and Political Compromise

  1. Hi Rachel,

    This is why I distrust Noam Chomsky. Who knows how much he’s had to compromise his arguments in order to reach such a large audience?

    Che Guevara, too. (Guy must make a fortune off those shirts!)


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