Where the novelist’s work is concerned, politics corrupt, and an absolute concern with politics, corrupts absolutely. And while the desire to include a political aspect of one’s beliefs in a novel is almost constant, there are good reasons to resist it, since if you give into this impulse, you will stop being a novelist and start being a propagandist. In the current age, when passions are so keen, and when distortions are so omni-present, it is a good idea to remember that there is a profound difference between the two.
Political content fails in a novel for three reasons. The first is that the novelist is almost always concerned with those aspects of humanity that differ from what we expect people to be. Perhaps it is best to think of this inside out, or in its most extreme opposite form. Socialist Realism was a good example of the foolishness of writing novels that are concerned with “political truths” as opposed to actual ones. This, of course, was a reflection of the Soviet notion that a writer, just like any other worker, was there to do strictly utilitarian work, and that meant glorifying the state. In practice this meant accounts of Worker X in Shoe Plant T-24, who had met her quota for the month with an almost orgasmic satisfaction. Now, in this case a novelist (as opposed to the propagandist) would be more interested in her fury at being confined by rules and regulations, her secret temptations to commit sabotage, her meeting with her boyfriend in the glue room, or, perhaps, her lesbian affair that, if it came out, could get her sent to nut house. And, of course, these and other such activities are precisely what the Socialist Realist writer was forbidden to include.