Paul Krugman's column today, "Boring Cruel Euro Romantics", addressed technocrats. He called foul and suggested these people being called technocrats are not technocrats but are deeply, impractical romantics. When I read that line, I understood that he addressed my tribe.
I am a deeply, impractical romantic. I want to save the world, preserve freedom and demcracy for everyone, stop animal cruelty, and end disease, war and starvation. I don't blame money but I blame a displaced lust for money for many of the modern world's sicknesses and bedlam. Some would say it's a matter of have and have-nots. They may be right. I don't like it that some haves have so much and don't want to let the have-nots have any.
So I read that phrase and then read Paul's description of these DIRs and realized, oops, that's not me. Krugman went on about the DIR's dream of unifying Europe for pushing the Euro. These romantics 'doubled down' on austerity to solve issues.
I would not have doubled down on austerity, were I in charge. I would not launch super taxes, contrary to people's expectations. I don't expect taxes to solve everything. I like simple improvement, continuous improvement, identifying processes, getting them under control and figure out what needs to be fixed. Small steps.
You've probably read all my points before because I didn't make them up. I just practice them, learning off Tom Peters, Demings, and others, along with Al Gore. He pushed Quality Management and TQM and other acronyms as vice-President. We saw a lot of improvements in the USAF following 'Quality Air Force'. I think continuous improvement should be part of a writer's daily practices when they sit down and write. I call it editing, revising, and polishing.
I know that I'm a DIR because of what I write, what I think, and how I approach matters. I write science fiction and fantasy because I don't like our current version. I envision other, better worlds, and I don't think we can do it. I have little faith in humanity any longer. I love humans, trust most of them a lot, but there's that 20% who scare me that I don't trust.
So I invent big worlds, big bioships, other races. We travel the stars and visit other worlds. My peoples have dire, huge challenges but no one is dying from hunger. They're all just fighting. Even my cruel planets and societies extend human kindness to stop others from starving - well, except for a egomaniac or two.
I think about this a lot because often other stories often crop into my which aren't science fiction and don't deal with huge empires. They deal with individuals coping in small ways. A husband and wife ending life after 60 years of being together or two elderly people starting a new life together. Children dying of cancer, a woman contemplating suicide as she works on social issues, a homeless man's journeys and spying (the world is his television and he looks for windows without drapes, curtains or blinds at night).
My science fiction ships may someday be built. Maybe by us, maybe not. That's definitely the DIR talking, isn't it? If I'm deeply impracticial there would be no someday in it. But I believe they could happen because I'm a romantic. Other worlds are out there, along with other people. Maybe they're here now, as in my current novel, pretending to be part of us because they want to be part of us. Maybe you're one. It's possible.
Take it from a DIR.
In one sense, I believe all writers are DIRs. Odds of making it as a writer are against you. That's what novelists, publishers, editors, and agents tell us all the time. Blogging helps ease the pain as you work on short stories and novels. Some writers go into advertising, television, movies, plays, or journalism, but how many wannabes struggle without making it to any of those levels? Some, of course, make it, no problem, and can not imagine the odds that I talk about. They'll read my rant about writers being a DIR and chuckle, maybe shake their head, or brusquely reject my argument. "He doesn' tknow of what he writes," they'll say. "With the right education, hard work, and effort, anyone can write a book and get published."
They're probably right. I hope they're right. That's the fuel that feeds my dreams. Now, if you don't mind, I have to get back to my other planet. Something sinister is transpiring, heroes and heroines are emerging, and hope...is dying.
Come on, even DIRs recognize there must be some failures and setbacks to create tension before the story ends.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com