|English: Image of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, also known as Joshua A Norton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
I like Steampunk. I'm a fan. I like the maker aspect of it (although this actually should involve making things. Gluing clockwork to stuff shouldn't really count, should it?) The 'thrilling adventure' aspect finds very specific chords within my brain and strums them with great skill.
Of course, when you're dealing with a subject that relies so heavily on imperial tropes (most Steampunk stories seem to be Victorian stories, with Victorian heroes, albeit with ray guns), issues of class and privilege will arise. Fortunately, there are people working to add depth to Steampunk.
The thing is, while some people would like some dirigibles and ray guns and robots to their in their past, they feel comfort with the power structure that was already there. The Victorian Empire. The gentlemanly classes. Proper Etiquette. Stuff like that. They like the idea of unrealized technologies, but only the most mechanistic forms. They don't realize societal organization and have a technology, too.
Anarchism came alive in the 19th century. As did feminism, and free thought, and so much more. As much as I want to dream of a world where people flew around in steam-powered dirigibles, I want to dream of a world where the Paris Commune succeeded, where the Native Americans beat the US Calvary, where the empires of the world fell to their subjects.
In order to do something, you must dream it first. The context may be changed, the details altered, but it is the dream that comes first. We need dreams of revolution and liberation, in Steampunk, or any other genre you like. We need them now, more than ever.