In a post about Mike Judge’s film-in-purgatory Idiocracy (which sounds hilarious), Billmon at The Whisky Bar mentions that it “appears to be loosely based” on the classic SF story “The Marching Morons” by Cyril Kornbluth.
I haven’t read anything of Kornbluth’s for probably twenty years; he died young a few years before I was even born, so there hasn’t exactly been a lot of new material I’ve had to catch up on. I do remember avidly reading collections of his short stories as well as his collaborations with Frederic Pohl, most particularly The Space Merchants, a great anti-corporatist novel that’s now more than fifty years old.
So I was a little surprised when — in the discussion of the plot of “Morons” (a con man who wakes from suspended animation suggests to the elite running an overpopulated world of idiots that they trick the idiots into getting onto spaceships that dump them in space) — that Billmon says:
If his genetic theories make Kornbluth sound like an out-and-out Nazi, he certainly never went to any great lengths to dispel the impression.
I have to wonder, though, is Billmon confusing the “genetic theories” of the people in Kornbluth’s story with those of Kornbluth himself? Would a World War II veteran who was writing in the McCarthy era about the persecution of conservatists and the opressiveness of consumerism actually be “a natural for a slot on the Pioneer Fund’s board of directors, or a co-author for Charles Murray’s next book” as Billmon puts it?
And would someone who himself advocated the mass extermination of the “Morons” have concluded the story by having the protagonist who advocated using Hitler’s policies himself tricked into sharing the fate of the people he condemned by the people he though he was tight with? Maybe Billmon’s got some other source of information on Kornbluth that I don’t have, but Cyril the Nazi wasn’t exactly the image I got from reading his work all those years ago.