I really am. Those who know me well already know that, but for the rest of you, let me explain.
There is what one believes, and then there are one’s natural inclinations. And all of my inclinations are suspicious of change. Not against change; suspicious of it. I scowl when new words are coined, and demand that they justify themselves. In music, I grimace and tap my foot impatiently at drum machines and atonality.
In Texas Hold ’em, I still call the fourth community card “fourth street” and the fifth one “fifth street” instead of “the turn” and the “the river” respectively. Why? Because I do, that’s why.
In politics, yeah, I’m a Red, but I’m an old-school Red: an orthodox Trotskyist, a traditional Marxist. I believe that the proletariat is the revolutionary class, that the falling rate of profit causes market crashes, that history is best understood as the struggle to wrest human wants from nature, that the materialist dialectic is the best general explanation we have for matter in motion, and that explanations for social phenomena that don’t start with the class struggle are liable to be vacuous. I disliked the New Left when it was New; and I still dislike it now that it’s no longer Left. Post-modernism and identity politics I find easy to hate, because both my inclination and my reasoned beliefs line up (as opposed to language and music, where, really, I wish I were more comfortable with change).
And in fiction, I am quite fine with both reading and telling stories. I feel like all fiction ought be stories. I do not believe that; I believe that there is room for all sorts of experimenting and wild, weird stuff. But what I want are stories. I want to write them and then see them published in books. You know, the kind people hold, and turn the pages, and read? And I want them sold in book stores where people browse; and I want them in libraries where people can pull them off the shelves and consider checking them out; and I want them in used book stores where people who can’t afford new books can try new authors without going broke.
I approve of the new stuff, of e-books, of certain alternate publishing strategies. I think, long-term, they will probably have a positive effect on the quality of stories; but I’m not comfortable with them.
Because, at heart, however much I wish I weren’t, I’m a conservative.