Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Hardboiled politics

Date: 19 Jul 2003


Re your comments below:

> I've also been thinking about police procedural
> novel in the same context.
> It's politically more leftist, since there are no
> heroical individuals, but
> the order is kept by the community and the men and
> women who are elected and
> trained by the community itself. And the police are
> very often shown to be
> part of the proletariat (not in the Leninist sense
> of the word), as is the
> case in Collin Wilcox and other pp writers. They are
> not the brave
> individuals, but only parts of the community and
> society. Society itself
> restores the order, which is I think what should
> happen - in the real world,
> fixers, heroes, that stuff belongs to fiction.

I keep on getting drawn into this thread, but I can't let this assertion go by witout unrebutted.

I happen to write police procedurals, Juri, and while they may not be classic examples of the form, they are fairly TYPICAL examples of the form, and one they are empatically, absolutely, indubitably, without exception NOT is leftist.

Jack Webb, who has a fair (though not absolute) claim to being the creator of the police procedural sub-genre is also emphatically NOT a leftist.

Joseph Wambaugh is NOT a leftist.

Gerald Petievitch is NOT a leftist.

John Creasey was NOT a leftist.

Maurice Procter was NOT a leftist.

Ed McBain may possibly be a leftist, though I doubt. He may, possibly, identifes himself as moderatley liberal, but judging from the evidence of his 87th Precinct books, he's, by and large, a pretty non-leftist kind of guy.

Collin Wilcox, who I knew personally, was also not a leftist, and, as for his character not being a brave individual, that belied in virtually every single book in the Frank Hastings series that I've read, most of which end with an action climax in which Hastings must perform some courageous act of physical heroism to bring about justice.

There are certainly examples of cop stories with a leftist slant. The Martin Beck novels of Sjowall & Wahloo are perhaps the most famous examples. But the obvious leftism of the those novels, far from being typical for the police procedural, makes them stand out from the rest of the sub-genre. They are the exceptions that prove the general "non-leftist" slant of the police story.

The fact of the matter is you're a lot more likely to find novels about "lone wolf" private eyes with leftist agendas than cop novels with such an agenda. Roger Simon, Sara Paretsky, Michael Collins, and Gordon DeMarco are just a few examples.

As to your assertion that police act as a unit, rather than as an individual, that certainly true, but the members of those units are not, either in real life or in fiction, mindless cogs in a soulless machine of law enforcement. They are individuals, with individual opinions, preferences, aspirations, backgrounds, and personalities. They are employees of the community, and to a degree, they are representatives of the community, but they are NOT the community in the sense that you seem to imply. They are people the community has hired to do work, often unpleasant and occasionally dangerous work, that communities need to have done. And in taking on that job, they don't, either in fiction or in real life, abrogate their individuality. And quite a few of those individuals are splendidly heroic. I've seen the proof first-hand. Teamwork is not, by definition, a left-wing comment, nor is it a bar to individual initiative.

Further, I don't grant that individual heroism is a form of creeping fascism. Fascism is a governmental form that stifles individualism. That fascist governments are often built around a cult of a single charsmatic personality like Hitler, Mussolini, or Stalin, is not an indication that fascism fosters individual acts of heroism, but that it allows for a small number of people, often one single individual absolute power over the rest of the individuals in a given jurisdiction.


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