Steampunk Druidry for Social Revolution
By Nimue Brown
I’ve been looking for a place to stand for some time now. There’s the whole theory that with the right position and a big enough lever, you could move the world. I’m not interested in moving it, more changing it, but that lever and place to stand metaphor holds up passably. There are so many things wrong out there, from attitudes to the planet to social norms and gender politics, beliefs about money and responses to poverty… I could go on. There is a vast amount that needs to change for us to survive and thrive as a species and not destroy the one planet that is our home.
I love Druidry, and I love the whole mindset that goes with Druidry. However, it’s not for everyone. That’s in many ways the problem with any spiritual approach — it can’t be all embracing, and if it sets out to include everyone, it’s probably going to become vile. Where religion is concerned diversity is important, and about the only available antidote to the poisonous idea of ‘one true way’. I’ve known for a long time that Druidry was not going to be the place to stand in terms of wielding a lever to change the world. I’ve looked at Green politics, too, but the problem there is that far too many people are inherently mistrustful of power, authority, politicians and the systems they work in. Converting a lot more people to Green politics would therefore not necessarily fix much. It would most likely draw in the inherently political, not the innately disenfranchised, and it’s the second set of folks that I’m more interested in.
Then I found Steampunk. There is only one rule in Steampunk, and it is ‘be nice to each other.’ There’s shades in that of ‘an it harm none, do what you will.’ It’s a culture where respect and good manners are very much expected and encouraged, where tolerance and diversity have room to thrive. It creates, for example, a space in which crossdressers and trans folk can wander about in the gender identity/kit of their preference without fear of harassment. Prejudice is not even slightly splendid. There’s a delicious irony here, too, because of course Steampunk invokes the Victorian era, that great heyday of racism, sexism, colonialism, jingoism, classism, oppression, gay bashing and hypocrisy. Steampunk is not really about Victorian era stuff at all, it’s about how a group of people wish it had been. This is the world of the upbeat period novel. More Jules Verne than Charles Dickens, you’ll see the wondrous inventions and no orphans will be going up chimneys.
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