In defence of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

Over on G+, in response to my thoughts on liberal dystopias, Jason Baryla mounts a sterling defence of the widely maligned Baron Vladimir Harkonnen.


“Maybe it’s because of how much Donald Trump resembles Baron Vladimir Harkkonen”

Sorry if this is off-topic, but I cannot agree with this statement. The Baron was a hedonist with obvious aspirations to wealth and power, and while that may mirror Trump’s narcissistic delusions of grandeur, the two cannot be any more different.

The Baron had a calculating mind, approaching Mentat levels of awareness (quite possibly the reason he was selected for the BG breeding program), and he always had some contingency plan in place. His contingency plans even had contingency plans. He never did anything unless he was damn sure it would work, or that any failures would be immediately mitigated or redirected away from him and House Harkonnen in general.

Trump, by comparison, is wholly reactionary, impulsive, and ignorant (in the truest sense of the word). His public statements are superficial at best and often show a remarkably lack of understanding of the topic at hand. For him to resemble the Baron, his words would need to be at odds with his actions. However, we see his policies contain the same myopic, short-term goals portrayed by his words. Any of his attempts to redirect attention away from himself are done in a way that only spotlight the fact they are redirections.

In short, aside from some surface similarities, they are polar-opposites.


In my own defence…I realy just meant the pustules!

Aaaaand the entire Dune series on Kindle!

Liberals have to do better than Brave New World

The future that liberals want only looks great for the Alphas who can buy a place in the techno-corporate hierarchy.

Maybe it’s because of how much Donald Trump resembles Baron Vladimir Harkkonen. It’s hard to have a conversation about the weird landscape of politics today, without referencing at least one scifi dystopia.

“a much more inspiring vision than a society dictated by the Alpha clones of Mark Zuckerberg”

Whether it’s the worrying parallels between Trump’s America and Maragaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Or how very much our mass media looks like The Hunger Games. Or the cognitive dissonance of seeing Fahrenheit 451 becoming a reality before our eyes.


None of this is shocking. These fantasy dystopia’s were written as metaphors for real world politics by very smart people. People like Ray Bradbury and Suzanne Collins, who had the intellectual flexibility, and imaginative muscle, to stand outside political dogmas, and see the human frailities our society keeps repeating.

The most popular game in political debate today is to blame our potential dystopian future on our political enemies. Depending on who you talk to, George Orwell’s 1984 is an allegory for the evils of capitalism / communism / socialism / conservatism…just delete as applicable.

If I could put my name to a political law, it would be this:

Walter’s Law : any political ideology left unchecked will ultimately resolve into somebody’s utopia, and somebody elses dystopia.

Dystopia / utopia aren’t political issues. The human frailities that cause them are inherent in the structure of our mind. Greed, hatred, delusion. These qualities exist in all political ideologies, and manifest as unique forms of dystopia.

I’m liberal by inclination with, like the majority of my generation, a large helping of socialism. I look at the insane demonisation of socialism in the United States, and see the consequence of 40 yearsof propaganda, upon the most brainashed population outside North Korea.

But that brainwashing was possible because it’s built on a seed of truth. Yes, just as religious conservatism becomes an Atwood-esque theocracy, socialism given total power risks becoming the authoritarian nightmare of 1984. I think we all know this.

What we think about less on the left, is how terrifying liberal political ideals look to many people. Especially to people in poverty, people that liberalism stridently claims it wants to help. If liberalism is its own dystopia, and we must believe this is possible, then it’s best represented in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

The new elite of Silicon Valley, the financial industries, global corporations, and political leaders like Hilary Clinton, who represent liberalism, all look worringly like Huxley’s dystopian vision. The future that liberals want looks great for anybody who can buy their way into an elite college education, and a position in the techno-corporate hierarchy, up among the Alphas.

For everbody else it looks remarkably like just more of our current consumerist bullshit. More working meaningless Gamma and Delta jobs, then anaesthetising ourselves with video games, superhero movies, and other kinds of soma, while the elite get shitfaced at Burning Man, and claim they’re building a new capitalism.

Liberal politicians have spent the last two years losing elections they should be winning. Because while Brave New World is arguably a less worse option than Mad Max or 1984, it’s still a horrifying option to most of us. Until liberalism can articulate a much, much more inspiring vision than a society dictated by the Alpha clones of Mark Zuckerg, it’s going to continue to lose.