If I was an American conservative who valued art and literature (there are still a few such benighted individuals around), I would find Adam Bellow's recent screed, "Let Your Right Brain Run Free," deeply embarrassing. While he claims he is not calling for outright propaganda in his plea for assistance in creating a "counterculture" that will arise through the efflorescence of a new "conservative fiction" (he wants money to publish it, of course), it hardly seems a contribution to literature to advocate for writers who "craft dramatic situations and pick heroes and villains that serve more subtly to advance their point of view." Advancing a point of view, whether it be from the right or the left, is not an act of creating culture but of doing politics by other means, although Bellow is not overly scrupulous to disavow that his ultimate goal is transparently political.
In order to establish that the current literary scene is dominated by liberals (I don't imagine too many conservatives need much persuading on this), Bellow gives us an anecdote from his own experience illustrating how a smug, left-wing attitude has overtaken literature, but the experience is from almost 40 years ago and concerns two SF writers who surely can't be taken as representative of mainstream literary fiction, either in their practice or in their political attitudes. Except for this introductory anecdote, Bellow provides no evidence, no examples at all, confirming that only liberals get published, so that a separate sphere of avowedly conservative fiction is necessary. If the claim is that current writers and publishers are using fiction to "subtly to advance their point of view" (maybe not so subtly) from the left, Bellow's essay uses nothing but ingrained conservative grievance as support.
The story of Bellow's encounter with left-wing pretension and rigidity at the science fiction workshop, however, may just be the initial sign of the fundamental incoherence in his essay. At times his lament is over conservatives' inability to influence forms of popular culture such as science ficton, and he encourages conservative writers working in other popular genres. However, his argument that conservatives should focus their attention on fiction because "books engage the reader much more deeply, at a level of identification with the characters and plot that can instruct the soul and edify the mind" seems oddly to misunderstand both the way popular culture exerts its influence--not through entertainments that "instruct the soul and edify the mind" but almost subliminally, through something closer to sensationalism than to instruction--and the reason most people read genre fiction.
At other times Bellow's claims on behalf of fiction refer explicitly to "serious" writing, as when he notes the role of writers such as Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, and Andrei Sinyavsky in bringing on the collapse of the Soviet Union. Somehow I doubt that these writers would much approve the comparison of their work to the "dissident samizdat movement" represented by conservative American fiction writers producing their "thriller, mystery, historical, military, western, gothic, supernatural, romance, and young adult" works. Ultimately Bellow seems confused about whether he wants to publish conservative versions of Twilight or One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.
Even more confusing for the reader is Bellow's proposal for a "well-developed feeder system. . .including MFA programs, residencies and fellowships, writers’ colonies, grants and prizes, little magazines, small presses, and a network of established writers and critics" on the right to match the similar system on the left. A coalition of thriller writers, writers of "dissident samizdat" fiction, and graduates of MFA programs promises to be rather unwieldy, their work wildly variable in its capacity to affect the larger culture.
Perhaps it doesn't matter, as long as the novel at hand is certifiably "conservative." One still wonders how a "counterculture" so thoroughly self-enclosed could manage to affect the larger culture at all, but it would appear conservative writers need a sense of solidarity. Putting aside whether mainstream literary culture is so monolithically "liberal" that such a seemingly desperate action is warranted in the first place (although of course it's not), the right response to works of literature that reduce themselves to a political agenda, that use fiction as a literary form primarily to reinforce political attitudes, is to point out that this is the debasement of literature, not to further contribute to its debasement by imitation. The notion that there can be either "liberal fiction" or "conservative fiction" is antithetical to the very existence of literature as a form of art, the experience of which should enhance the reader's appreciation of the complexities of human experience, not undermine it in the name of dogma and ideology.