Is Modern Liberalism Gene Roddenberry’s Fault?

Ah, now this is my kind of article. Western Chauvinist tooted her own horn over at Gerard’s place when he linked to us, and I’m glad she did. To the sidebar she goes. It’s a little difficult to tease this posting the way she’s structured it; I’ll do my best…

Is Modern Liberalism Gene Roddenberry’s Fault?

Anyone old enough to have seen the original Star Trek series created by Gene Roddenberry might recognize the utopian ideals of today’s liberals in it. Think about it. On any major policy we debate, Star Trek is the fulfillment of the liberal playbook.

Start with environmental policy. No fossil fuels burned in GR’s world. Nope – only dilithium crystals and warped space needed. Isn’t it grand? No CO2 emmissions at all…

Next up, how about economic policy? Capitalism or socialism? How primitive. As far as I can tell, no currency ever changes hands. Everyone in the Federation seems to “work” for the Federation…

How about health care? Well, Star Trek gives a whole new meaning to “universal healthcare”! I never saw Bones turn away anyone…

And finally, we can wrap up social policy, civil rights, race relations, international relations conveniently in “the prime directive”. This is encompassed by today’s liberal ethics of multiculturalism, political correctness and moral relativism…

She forgot two things, though. One helps to reinforce her theory, the other one challenges it somewhat. The challenging one is more important, but we’ll go with first things first.

An important part of being a modern liberal is to intermingle subjectivity and objectivity, which is the first of the seven steps to complete insanity. This means “anyone who thinks differently than you do must be a flaming idiot or must have something wrong with them.” Perspective is a meaningless quality. Things are the way you see them, period.

You see this in Star Trek, in which the audience is invited to identify with the Captain in nearly every episode. Watch for this pattern, for it is almost as consistent as it can possibly be: If the Captain (Kirk, Picard or Riker) tells a subordinate to do something or stop doing something, the crewman or bridge officer will carry out the order without question. If he does not, it means the subordinate’s body has been possessed by an alien or he has caught some exotic otherworldly disease. Throughout this, the Captain’s orders are the pathway to well-being — obedience leads to the Enterprise surviving whatever calamity is looming, disobedience spells certain doom for all.

There are other ranks above the Captain, and there is a meaningful flip-flop here. If an Admiral is visiting, or if orders arrive from Starfleet (outside of the first five minutes of the episode), then these orders are bollywonkers. They must be, for they compel the Captain to do something that is outside of what he would normally be doing…the Captain is the embodiment of perfect moral reasoning…therefore, Starfleet is drunk on power, infested with aliens, or something. The flip-flop that takes place above the rank of Captain is that obedience leads to disaster and rebellion is the only shot at salvation. But if the Captain (with whom the audience relates) tells you to do something you’d better do it.

Back in reality, our post-modern liberals emulate this behavior just fine. Grown-up hippies driving around with “Question Authority” bumper stickers on their cars…and if they have dinner with you, and catch wind of the fact that you “question” global climate change, they’ll call you “stupid” just for questioning it, without perceiving so much as a hint of the irony. Rebellion — they can dish it out, but they just can’t take it.

Thing I Know #235. What a self-parodying mess it is when a command hierarchy is constructed within any rebellion, for there it becomes undeniable: The rebel is only a fair-weather friend, at best, to the act of rebelling.

The other thing WC forgot is Star Trek’s mission: To explore strange new worlds, and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has ever gone before! Back in the sixties, liberalism loved to talk a good game about this, and according to the evidence that has come to my attention, had not yet directly contradicted itself here. But nowadays it’s a whole different century; liberalism is all about not doing this. It is about bathosploration:

Opposite of Exploration. A progressive movement over time which endeavors toward an ideal, rather than toward a frontier. This makes fulfillment of the Exponential Growth Instinct absolutely impossible over the long term.

Bathosploration is about doing less instead of doing more. It is about making things clean and sanitized instead of finding out what’s possible. It goes down instead of up, inward instead of outward.

Probably the best embodiment of this in modern times was the Clinton administration’s revised drinking water standards:

At the end of his eight years in office, Bill Clinton set a number of political traps for President Bush. One of them was changing the allowable level of arsenic in our water supplies from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion. At the time, the scientific evidence that this change was needed was, at best, weak. And the proposal put severe burdens on some small towns. When the Bush administration took office, they set the rule aside and asked for a second look at the evidence. Immediately there was an outcry that Bush wanted to poison our children. (Sometimes from politicians, such as Tom Daschle, who had supported the higher level for years.) There was enough political damage from the charge that the Bush administration yielded to pressure and, after some months, accepted the lower standard.

And here’s the joke: More recent studies showed that the level of 50 parts per billion is fine. In fact, there is some reason to believe, thanks to the curious phenomena of hormesis, that a level of 50 parts per billion may be healthier than lower levels.

This is what bathosploration is. Can we polish what’s already been polished, and make it even smoother and shinier and more sanitary? Surely, there must be a way. Forget about exploring. Go inward instead of outward. Trudge toward an ideal instead of toward a frontier.

Liberals embrace this warts and all. You see it everywhere. You see it in the offshore drilling controversy. Don’t drill that! Something’s endangered. Buy carbon credits instead…bring your net carbon emissions to zero, like Al Gore said. Be a zero. Stop existing meaningfully. Abort your baby, show your patriotism by paying higher taxes, and when you die have a green funeral.

Star Trek is about the polar opposite of that. Oh sure, the individuals are likewise diminished…bridge crew notwithstanding, everyone on the Enterprise is just a nameless extra wearing spandex. It’s the exploration part of it. Reaching for the stars, finding out what’s out there — forget it. Liberals like to talk a lot about what could be out there. Stepping on out, once the technology is available, to find out for sure? Not on the liberal’s watch…not while he has anything to say about it. That disastrous episode Force of Nature in which Starfleet imposes a Warp 5 speed limit due to this discovery that the warp drive damages the fabric of space…that would end up being your pilot episode, right there. Omigod!! By existing and doing bold things, we’re damaging the environment! Again!

Funny how that never, ever seems to change.

Liberals think humans are so special, in our own way. Killer whales bite seals in half, or swallow ’em whole. Lionesses strip chunks of bloody flesh off the bodies of antelope that were frantically running away just moments before. Spiders inject venom into the bodies of flies that dissolve them into a ghastly milkshake from the inside out, while the flies are still alive, writhing in agony. That’s fine. But you, you human schmuck, are destroying the world simply by driving to work.

So if modern liberalism is Star Trek’s fault, the monster seems to have turned against its creator since being first animated. Perhaps that part of the Star Trek culture never was terribly well thought out. After all, what good does it do to seek out new civilizations and new worlds, and then once you find them…make extra sure you not have anything to do with ’em because of your revered Prime Directive?

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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