Incarceration Nation

Ursula K. Le Guin: 1929 - 2018

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Her name was Ursula K. Le Guin, born in Berkeley, California, October 21, 1929, the daughter of a noted anthropologist, Alfred Kroeber.

But her name is known from her novels, many in the realm of science fiction, which weaved new worlds from the shards of this one.

Her books were often thinly veiled commentaries on the evils of imperial war, and the fevers of militarism.

Among her works: The Word for World is Forest, a 1969 allegorical work that took on the Vietnam War; The Dispossessed (1971) which imagined an anarchistic global resistance to the depredations of the rich; and another 1971 work: The Lathe of Heaven, an excerpt of which reveals its flavor:

“He had grown up in a country run by politicians who sent the pilots to man the bombers to kill the babies to make the world safer for children to grow up in.” (Chapter 6)

Le Guin’s work didn’t just thrill readers of science fiction.

In the rare air of philosophy, her work appeared to probe questions about the deep nature of neoliberal society.

In her book, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, Le Guin creates a world where all is seemingly well, except for in a dark, fetid closet, where a little child suffers, alone, but somehow, her very tortures grant societal well-being to Omelas’ residents.

Philosopher Elizabeth Pivonelli opens her book, Economies of Abandonment, with Le Guin’s harrowing vision as the basis of her introduction, entitled, “The Child in the Broom Closet,” as an allegory of the modern West and neoliberalism, which rests upon the invisible violence of capitalism and its monstrous appetites.

 Ursula (Kroeber) Le Guin won the coveted Hugo award for her science fiction excellence.

Prison Radio, January 24, 2018

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