The Libertarian Futurist Society posted a 15-year-old essay
about how all true/hard SF is properly libertarian. (I was alerted to this by this post
; I don't go looking for libertarian screeds.) It's... fascinating. I was especially caught by this part:
SF is a radial category in which the prototypes are certain classics of hard SF. This is true whether you are mapping individual works by affinity or subgenres like space opera, technology-of-magic story, utopian/dystopian extrapolation, etc. So in discussing the traits of SF as a whole, the relevant question is not “which traits are universal” but “which traits are strongly bound” — or, almost equivalently, “what are the shared traits of most of the core (hard-SF) prototypes”.
That makes sense - it ties strongly into shweta_narayan
's post, Let's talk about category structure and oppression!
which mentions that we group things according to similarity with the core category traits:
The "bird" category has (somewhat culture specific) internal structure. For example, most Americans will agree that a robin is a better example of a bird than an albatross, and an albatross is a better bird than an ostrich. (And while bats are not birds, they are better birds than horses are, and horses are better birds than refrigerators are; so the gradations continue to some extent outside the category boundary).
Her post continues to point out that an ostrich is every bit as much bird
as a robin, scientifically. That it is our cultural biases that treat some birds as "real" and others as "funny weird maybe-fake" birds. Albatross, kiwi, penguin, emu, and peacocks are all just as much "bird" as robin, sparrow, and crow. Science and hard analysis of traits gives us one answer ("these are all birds, because of genetics") and culture teaches us something else ("some of these are real birds; others are only 'technically' birds").
Back to the "about SciFi" essay. It starts with the statement that some traits are central to SF, not because they're universal but because they're the most meaningful (a reasonable enough claim) and then goes to claim that libertarian politics are "strongly bound" to hard SF, and that only SF that supports libertarian ideals is true SF, because only it gives the proper framework because
"hard SF has a bias towards valuing the human traits and social conditions that best support scientific inquiry and permit it to result in transformative changes to both individuals and societies. Also, of social equilibria which allow individuals the greatest scope for choice, for satisfying that lust for possibilities."
I can posit that hard SF is about "heroic people solving problems with science." I'm actually rather fascinated by the idea that the Justice League is a proper SF saga. Where I disagree is the notion that libertarian politics bring about "social equilibria." Author has apparently misunderstood "equality" to mean "white dudes get to do anything they want."
I'm not up to sorting out historical errors, and definitely not interested in wasting time making a list of them to argue with old white dudes who want to insist that "their" literary genre needs to inspire everyone else for the same reasons it inspired them.
"SF’s libertarian tradition: ornery and insistent individualism, veneration of the competent man, instinctive distrust of coercive social engineering and a rock-ribbed objectivism that values knowing how things work and treats all political ideologizing with suspicion...."
Starhawk's The Fifth Sacred Thing
has all of these traits, and I suspect that it'd be immediately rejected as a work of science fiction at all, much less hard sf, because its foundation isn't "US-flavored men-first society is best." Sense8 has these traits; I doubt they'll be lauding it as a new hard-SF series.
The "libertarian" definition of hard SF isn't about "objectivity;" it's about "making sure SF supports my existing biases about how the world works." The author/site owners (and more importantly, the crowd that supports this essay and others like it) seem to think that 50's America had no coercive social engineering - that the concept of "nuclear families" and "men as outside-job-havers and women as stay-at-home child raisers" is an innate part of the human condition rather than a system created to force half of society to provide unpaid labor.
It seems to think that an objective approach to how-things-work will reject all spirituality. In an interesting twist, it will accept the possibility of ghosts, aliens, psychic powers, FTL travel, teleportation, mysterious disembodied entities with tremendous power, and memory transfer - as long as these things are claimed to have some aspect that a human dude in a lab can put on a chart. (Human woman in a lab putting things on charts only counts if dudes can replicate her results.) If they are perceived and practiced without that, the "libertarian hard-sf" fans claim they belong to some other genre, even if the characters practicing them claim, "This is science; it's just science you don't understand yet, that you don't have tools to measure."