Saturday, October 21, 2006

Star Trek as Fascist Fantasy

Gotta love the Captain. Ed Morrissey, of the Captain's Quarters Blog has an essay up today suggesting that Star Trek has much in common with fascist ideology. He quotes another essay, written by Dr. Kelley Ross of Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys, CA, entitled "The Fascist Ideology of Star Trek."

Dr. Ross postulates:
Star Trek typically reflects certain political, social, and metaphysical views, and on close examination they are not worthy of the kind of tribute that is often paid to Star Trek as representing an edifying vision of things.
In a 1996 newspaper column, James P. Pinkerton, discussing the new Star Trek movie (the eighth), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), quotes Captain Picard saying how things have changed in his day, "The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force; we work to better humanity." Perhaps Picard never stopped to reflect that greater wealth means greater material well being, which is to the betterment of humanity much more than any empty rhetoric. But this is typical of Star Trek. A first season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called "The Neutral Zone," has Picard getting up on his high horse with a three hundred year old businessman who is revived from suspended animation: The businessman, naturally, wants to get in touch with his agents to find out what has happened to his investments. Picard loftily informs him that such things don't exist anymore. Indeed, poverty and want have been abolished, but how this was accomplished is never explained. All we know is, that however it is that people make a living, it isn't through capitalism as we know it. Stocks, corporations, banking, bonds, letters of credit -- all these things seem to have disappeared. We never see Picard, or anyone else, reviewing his investment portfolio. And those who still have a lowly interest in buying and selling, like the Ferengi, are not only essentially thieves, but ultimately only accept payment in precious commodities. In the bold new future of cosmic civilization, galactic trade is carried on in little better than a Phoenician style of barter, despite the possibilities of pan-galactic banking and super-light speed money transfers made possible by "sub-space" communications. ...

If daily life is not concerned with familiar economic activities and the whole of life is not informed with religious purposes, then what is life all about in Star Trek? Well, the story is about a military establishment, Star Fleet, and one ship in particular in the fleet, the Enterprise. One might not expect this to provide much of a picture of ordinary civilian life; and it doesn't. One never sees much on Earth apart from the Star Fleet Academy and Picard's family farm in France -- unless of course we include Earth's past, where the Enterprise spends much more time than on the contemporaneous Earth. Since economic life as we know it is presumed not to exist in the future, it would certainly pose a challenge to try and represent how life is conducted and how, for instance, artifacts like the Enterprise get ordered, financed, and constructed. And if it is to be represented that things like "finance" don't exist, one wonders if any of the Trek writers or producers know little details about Earth history like when Lenin wanted to get along without money and accounting and discovered that Russia's economy was collapsing on him. Marx's prescription for an economy without the cash nexus was quickly abandoned and never revived. Nevertheless, Marx's dream and Lenin's disastrous experiment is presented as the noble and glorious future in Star Trek: First Contact, where Jean Luc Picard actually says, "Money doesn't exist in the Twenty-Fourth Century."

So what one is left with in Star Trek is military life. Trying to soften this by including families and recreation on the Enterprise in fact makes the impression worse, since to the extent that such a life is ordinary and permanent for its members, it is all the easier to imagine that all life in the Federation is of this sort. Not just a military, but a militarism.

Read the rest here.

Now, I can see where Capt. Ed is coming from, I'm inclined to be more ambivalent about it than he is. I can see the correlations to our present-day Earth, however, Star Trek belongs to the science fantasy genre of television, and....well, it's fantasy.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but when you're writing fantasy, you try to get as far away from where you are in the cosmos when you write it. In other words, if you're fantasizing, your fantasy world would be perfect. Of course there would be no money, no starvation, no disease, no pestilence, no wars, no violence, and the problems you would face in a fantasy world, would be, by logical definition, different on a grand scale from what any ordinary person would face in an ordinary world. A fantasy world is no ordinary world, because it would be, well...perfect!

If you're writing a fantasy, you're going to, I would think, put your wish-list into it for the ills of whatever world you live in at the time you write that fantasy. If there is famine and pestilence and violence in your ordinary world, those things will no longer exist in your fantasy world. If you're unattractive or shy in your world, in your fantasy world, you're ten feet tall and bulletproof.

Of course, present day leftists and liberals do fantasize a utopian world where everybody is green, we all have what we need according to our needs, and everybody loves each other and gets together every day to sing "Kumbayah" and hold hands, but that's purely a fantasy, too, because liberals believe in the ultimate goodness of man, which isn't reality. Some people are just born evil and they stay that way. You can't breed envy and greed out of people any more than you can breed out 10 fingers. That's why none of those leftist "isms" (communism, socialism, humanism) works in practice. None of those ideologies taks in consideration man's natural propensity for evil.

I'll continue to love Star Trek in all it's forms, just because I appreciate it for what it is, and what it was, in it's time. For me, it was just great entertainment, and at the time, I guess I was too young to catch whatever political message there was.


Blogger linearthinker said...

Yet they call their ship "the Enterprise"...

I love irony.

12:14 PM  
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