I’d pay good money to get inside Ewan Morrison’s head and roam around for a bit. Maybe then I could understand the reasoning behind his latest in the Guardian, "YA dystopias teach children to submit to the free market, not fight authority."

Morrison has ‘discovered’ that recent YA blockbusters like The Hunger Games and Divergent contain overt libertarian themes and this doesn’t sit very well with him. The whole column is a masterpiece in – to use a relevant, but cliched, analogy – Orwellian Newspeak.
Consider the title – "YA dystopias teach children to submit to the free market…"
Submit to the free market. Submit to freedom.
I realize columnists don’t often choose the titles of their pieces, but this is one is a gem. It sounds a uniquely religious theme – search for "submission is freedom" or various alternatives and you’ll find a number of Christian and Islamic religious sites trying to explain the oxymoron.
Winston undergoes this conversion at the end of 1984 when he realizes that he does, indeed, love Big Brother (spoiler alert!). Interestingly – especially for a UK newspaper – Morrison chooses not to cite this, perhaps the most famous and beloved of the dystopian novels. Perhaps it would have hit too close to home, considering all of the themes Morrison inadvertently borrows.
I’ll reproduce his key paragraph because it is so wonderful:
What marks these dystopias out from previous ones is that, almost without exception, the bad guys are not the corporations but the state and those well-meaning liberal leftists who want to make the world a better place. Books such as The Giver, Divergent and The Hunger Games trilogy are, whether intentionally or not, substantial attacks on many of the foundational aims of the left: big government, the welfare state, progress, social planning and equality. They support one of the key ideologies that the left has been battling against for a century: the idea that human nature, rather than nurture, determines how we act and live. These books propose a laissez-faire existence, with heroic individuals who are guided by the innate forces of human nature against evil social planners.
So much goodness here. Morrison is perturbed that the "bad guys" in these novels aren’t corporations. Earlier in the piece he approvingly cites Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep as "a post-apocalyptic world in which a massive private global corporation had replaced governments and nations."
I haven’t read the novel, but I have seen Blade Runner several times and I had no idea this was the point. Regardless, huge corporations would not be a novelist’s first choice for a villain in a dystopian novel for one reason – they’re not sanctioned to use force against ordinary citizens. This is a power, in almost every nation around the world, reserved for the state. Microsoft isn’t forcing you at gunpoint to buy Windows 8, nor does Amazon require citizens to purchase items from it’s website.
Talk about a horrible villain – all I’d have to do is buy Apple and drive half a mile to Wal-Mart to defeat these two.
I’ve not yet read the Hunger Games series or Divergent but the movie versions of each never identify the political leanings of the oppressors – Morrison assumes that they’re leftists which in and of itself is a startling admission. Instead of arguing that these novels create a caricature of the left – one that will never come to pass – Morrison says that these are "attacks on many of the foundational aims of the left."
His next argument is equally disturbing, the idea that the left has been waging a battle with the right over nature vs. nurture. It’s certainly not a battle I’ve been fighting, and from a political standpoint why should anyone have a dog in this fight? Who cares which side is right?
Morrison cares because he aims to use the coercive power of the state to enforce the values of the winning side. This is why ‘submitting to freedom’ is unconscionable because statists like Morrison can’t enforce their preferred policies on the rest of us.
Toward the end of the piece, Morrison throws out this howler, "Putting all this together within one genre, it’s a huge indictment of the history of the left and a promotion of the right."
I disagree. A "huge indictment of the history of the left" can be found in history books recounting the horrific escapades of Stalin, Mao, Che, Hitler (yes, he was a man of the left), and the North Korean regime. Morrison acts as if there is no "history of the left" to indict. Of course there is, and that’s what makes statists dangerous and, coincidentally, wonderful antagonists for a dystopian novel. In fact I have an idea for a dystopian novel or screenplay but I can’t figure out a way to get around the state = bad guy theme that has been done to death lately.
Morrison ends his piece with a censorship suggestion – always on the table for progressives:"If you see yourself as a left-leaning progressive parent, you might want to exercise some of that oppressive parental control and limit your kids exposure to the ‘freedom’ expressed in YA dystopian fiction."
Morrison is, apparently, able to write this sentence with a straight face. There is no evidence that he’s chuckling to himself at the irony.
He makes a perfunctory nod capitalism’s way in his final sentence, but manages to undermine his entire argument in the process, "the good thing about laissez-faire capitalism is that things come in waves and pass out of fashion quickly."
Unlike statism, which would force us to adhere to Morrison’s proscriptions for our lives at the point of a gun. That never seems goes out of fashion.
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