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    Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

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    missingyoumadly
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    Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by missingyoumadly on Tue May 12, 2009 9:38 am

    I sort of debated about where this ought to go; Preston, feel free to move it if needed.

    Star Trek: Science FIction for Progressives

    Okay, first of all, I haven’t seen the new movie, yet, so there are no spoilers here. Second, I don’t want to be too politically correct. Conservatives can certainly like the Star Trek universe. (I hear they are especially fans of the Ferengii and have many posters of Quark. Go figure. :-) ) I am a strong progressive, but love the Terminator movies and other films with conservative themes like Bruce Willis’ Die Hard series. (Although the Die Hard movies aren’t QUITE as rightwing as many wingers seem to believe. After all, a prevailing theme in the films is of hi-tech thieves, motivated by nothing more than capitalist greed, are the real villains. They pretend to be terrorists, taking advantage of conservative government hyper-fear of terrorism to provide cover for real crimes. Hint, hint. Is this too subtle?) We all have our guilty pleasures.

    But I do think that Star Trek is a fairly progressive/liberal science fiction franchise. It’s a basically hopeful vision of the future. It offers up a future earth that has survived war, terrorism, and ecological disasters and forged a global government of representative democracy (we are never told this, but it must be some form of federalist system to avoid tyranny). Hunger and poverty have been overcome. Most diseases have been conquered and high quality universal healthcare is available for all. Education is free and the world is highly literate with most people going beyond secondary education. It’s a clean energy society that is eco-friendly. (In Star Trek IV, the Enterprise crew in their stolen Klingon ship actually go back in time to the 20th C. to keep whales from going extinct–and in the process save the earth of their future.) There is finally global racial harmony. And, despite the micro-mini-skirted uniforms that reflected the fact that the original series was made in the ’60s, we finally have gender equality, too.

    Even moving beyond terrestrial concerns, Star Trek paints a hopeful future not of a terrestrial-based galactic empire, but a United Federation of Planets–that eventually even includes the Klingons. The Starfleet ships are armed–Roddenberry’s humanistic vision is liberal, but not pacifist–but their main purpose is exploration and diplomacy. They try to avoid wars. (It would be hard to write a pacifist space adventure series that would still find ways to be action-oriented–but I write that as a challenge that I hope some will take up.) And, although often violated, there is a strong attempt to avoid repeating the grim histories of imperialist colonialism and neo-colonialism through a “Prime Directive” of non-interference in pre-space cultures and non-interference in the internal politics of even space-faring worlds. The problems still to be faced are the problems inherent in civilization.

    I don’t mean to suggest that there are no problems with Roddenberry’s vision. Several come quickly to mind:

    1. I could never comprehend the Star Trek economics. Money has disappeared. So how are goods and services exchanged? A galactic system on the barter system? The Ferengii certainly show capitalism at its worst (and I find it very fitting that their planet is horribly polluted and their society so patriarchal that the women are required to be naked all the time and to remain homebound!), but at least their economics is recognizable. I am a democratic socialist, but NOT a Marxian communist. I can’t buy the Marxist dream of the withering away of the state, never mind the withering away of money!
    2. It is a very secular vision. Not until Next Generation explores Klingon religion and Deep Space Nine explores the faith of the Bejorranns do we see any exploration of spirituality. Star Trek projects a rationalist view of the future that I do not share. The Roddenberry vision still sees science/logic and faith as locked in eternal warfare. This is a modernist outlook that our post-modernist world has, thankfully, begun to question. (Although, international readers take notice: Here in the U.S., the Bush admin.’s utter hostility to science has led to a resurgence of modernist “scientism” among progressives. The “faith vs. reason” framing that I thought we had begun to transcend in the ’90s is back with a vengeance. Sigh. Thanks, AGAIN, George.) I also like that the movies and the later series flesh out what the original series only hinted at: that even the Vulcans were not completely empiricist, having numerous meditation techniques and disciplines–even for their devotion to logic. Like our Zen Buddhists, or some forms of Quakerism or Unitarianism, the Vulcans may have purged the supernatural from their worldview, but they have not been able to abandon some form of spirituality, including heavy doses of ritual.
    3. There is an Enlightenment/modernist disregard for tradition in the Roddenberry vision and in progressivism itself. It can easily become rootless. Of course, this is endemic to pioneers. Explorers and pioneers who leave home to find out what’s over the next mountain or the next wave or beyond the next star are a decidedly rare breed in human history. They leave home and home traditions behind–but bring more home traditions than they think. Yet they cannot be traditionless. In the new place, they forge new traditions–and more of what they once knew will work itself in that they consciously intend. I have a healthier respect for tradition and received wisdom. I think there needs to be a constant creative tension between tradition and innovation.

    In general, I think, conservatives paint their ideal societies in the past. In a lost Eden or a lost Golden Age or swallowed Atlantis. They idealize the 1950s of Leave It to Beaver and Father Knows Best or they idealize an Old Europe or Puritan New England or the First Generation after the U.S. Revolution or life on the American Frontier (Little House on the Prairie)–or Ronald Reagan’s America. The real history of all those eras was not so idealistic, of course. Wally and the Beav may have been oblivious to it, but the America of the 1950s had a Cold War, McCarthyist witch-hunts, a war in Korea, and deep segregation and the beginnings of the great challenge to segregation. I could complicate the pictures of the other “golden ages” too.

    Even when conservatives paint hopeful pictures of the future, they tend to be projections of a return to the idealized past: Lost in Space shows the patriarchal nuclear family structure of Father Knows Best in the future. And those science fiction shows simply had no black people, indeed, no non-whites, in them–not even in subservient roles. It’s no wonder that African-Americans in the 1950s and 1960s viewed those shows as genocidal–they seemed to take place after an (unmentioned) racial genocide. And no wonder that civil rights leaders like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were fans of Star Trek, which featured prominent roles for African Americans!

    The conservative regard for the past is not completely without merit. We all search for a “usable past.” The Hebrew prophets appealed to past actions of God and past eras of greater faithfulness in order to call Israel/Judah to repentance and reformation. We do well to judge ourselves by the ideals of our forebears at their best. But we also do well to remember their failings and faults and to refuse to make idols of either our forebears or the times in which they lived.

    Progressives, by contrast, tend to be more like the Church Father Irenaeus than like Augustine of Hippo: we tend to project human perfection not in an unfallen past, but in a redeemed future. But this also has its limits. It easily falls into the trap of the Myth of Inevitable Progress. Progress comes only through struggle and never without set-backs and pain.

    Still, I remain a progressive. I grew up in Florida–a mile from Cape Canaveral until Junior High. I watched Apollo rockets and later space shuttles take off. I had a poster of Neal Armstrong (as well as Jacques Cousteau). My Christian commitments lead me to modify Roddenberry’s vision, but the Star Trek vision of the future still resonates with me. In this time of economic recession and multiple perils, may we all “Live Long and Prosper.”

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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by missingyoumadly on Tue May 12, 2009 9:42 am

    OK now for my comments:

    1. Star Trek is definitely predictive programming, touting all the beautiful benefits of world government - a theoretical utopia according to Gene Roddenberry.

    2. "I am a democratic socialist, but NOT a Marxian communist." Wow, what an admission lol.

    3. "I also like that the movies and the later series flesh out what the original series only hinted at: that even the Vulcans were not completely empiricist, having numerous meditation techniques and disciplines–even for their devotion to logic. Like our Zen Buddhists, or some forms of Quakerism or Unitarianism, the Vulcans may have purged the supernatural from their worldview, but they have not been able to abandon some form of spirituality, including heavy doses of ritual." - Wow, again, what an interesting thought process. A global government which inludes of all things, ritualism????

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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by Extant on Tue May 12, 2009 3:18 pm

    It's all about the militarization of society and through that, space itself. A society needs a grand activating myth to gird it's loins for such a supreme effort. All the trailers I have seen for the new Star Trek movie have lent it an exciting, visceral, "who dares wins" flavour to proceedings. It seems a bit different from previous incarnations whilst still retaining the idealistic, utopian flavour.

    Chris Knowles has some good commentary on this:

    Star Trek: Where are we boldly going

    Dawson's Trek

    I'll be seeing the film this week so I'll come back to comment once I have.

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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by Lucid Memes on Tue May 12, 2009 10:31 pm

    missingyoumadly wrote:
    3. "I also like that the movies and the later series flesh out what the original series only hinted at: that even the Vulcans were not completely empiricist, having numerous meditation techniques and disciplines–even for their devotion to logic. Like our Zen Buddhists, or some forms of Quakerism or Unitarianism, the Vulcans may have purged the supernatural from their worldview, but they have not been able to abandon some form of spirituality, including heavy doses of ritual." - Wow, again, what an interesting thought process. A global government which inludes of all things, ritualism????

    Wow that makes me think of Dune. But ritual however could be generalize and not necessarily in a spiritual or semi-spiritual context. Someone with OCD does rituals all the time...I think some of those in positions of power are OCD and their habits are reflected in their decision making

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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by Extant on Fri May 15, 2009 5:40 am

    I saw the new Star Trek film yesterday. Very, very well made movie. It was a definite thrill-a-minute action ride. Very much like being taken on a virtual roller coaster, but it retained enough of the flavour of the original series, the idiosyncracies of the original characters, like Kirk's individualism, egotism, and taste for the ladies (there's an Orion girl that he frolics with in one scene), Karl Urban's Bones is pretty damn good actually, and Quinto embodies Spock very well too. Abrams is as inventive as ever with this reinvigoration of the franchise. Major plot spoiler is hidden in the following box (do not click if you want to be surprised watching the film. Really):

    Spoiler:
    It turns out that this Star Trek universe is indeed a different universe. It's an alternate reality invaded by a vengeful Romulan from the Star Trek universe we know from all the previous instalments in the franchise. The reality in this movie seemed to be following the timeline of the other reality before the Romulan Nero crashed the party via a black hole, and started a crucial chain of events where the future is now laid open. He changed the course of history. The events that we all know from the previous films and T.V. series have been negated by the introduction of a totally new timeline. The film makers are now open to do whatever they want with the franchise. Before Nero entered into the equation there were little differences in this film and the original Star Trek series. I couldn't really work out why until the alternate reality thingy kicked in.

    Clever plot device actually. Expect a long running franchise.

    Oh, and Spock is banging Uhura. cheers [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.] [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

    What I said in a previous post is now reinforced further from watching the film: this is propaganda for the militaristic space-faring "utopia" that I feel we are being guided to. As with all the previous Star Trek films and television series if you're not Star Fleet, you're nothing. Everything as is presented in the movie is defined by Star Fleet. Wayward youngsters like Kirk have to be corrected by "the system" and mark themselves with the Star Fleet badge.

    This is a very, very populist movie too. Far more so than any of the previous films. Gone are the more cerebral, considered visions of command that Picard and Janeway brought to proceedings (though they still had the mettle required, the "right stuff"), the slightly tweaked Kirk, though a genius as stated by his recruiting officer Captain Pike, is even more the full on rebel that was remarked in the original Star Trek.
    These are everyman characters on the large that the average youngster can full relate to, empathise with, laugh at/with, but still look up to, idolise, fantasize about.

    I don't think it's a coincidence either that they've gone back to the sixties vibe, free-swinging, more sexual paradigm that we saw with the original. This is meant to make space, Star Fleet, the space programs that are in full swing now seem more attractive. It's a bit of a "Top Gun/Maverick" Star Trek in a sense. This is "Sex Trek" in a way, just like the prototype.

    The movie was also unusually flippant, and reminiscent of the original (remember the Tribbles? Humour in that zany vein.) and didn't take itself seriously.

    I must admit I'm quite taken with this film. It's not perfect, certain things didn't quite work for me (some of the actor's characterizations are a bit bland for instance, but I think that's the point) but I really feel the potential as an old time Trekky for this franchise. And when I feel myself activated in this way by the Star Trek mythos, I smell propaganda.

    Still fun though.

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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by Lucid Memes on Fri May 15, 2009 7:36 am

    I was never really into star trek, but I never had a problem with trekkies lol. I've always believe that as long as you're awake you're being targeted by media manipulation, it will never have an effect on you.

    When you talk about space movies with the purpose of militarizing the public, it makes me think of the Starship Trooper movies. In those movies, you couldn't even be a citizen in their government without serving in the military. But in a sophisticated way, they show the con of military propaganda by showing a contrast between gloriously misleading recruitment videos and the brutal reality of warfare

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    So in a way, I think starship troopers was taking a shot at propaganda that encourages the militarization of society in science fiction


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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by Extant on Fri May 15, 2009 7:48 am

    Yeah, Starship Troopers is superb. It's a litmus test I use if it ever comes up in conversation. If the person I'm talking to doesn't see it as ironic critique of militaristic jinogoisitic propaganda in modern-day society and the gung-ho militarism in some areas of the sci-fi genre (besides the loveable B-movie it is on the surface) then I know a little something about where I can take the conversation.

    Funnily enough there's even a guy I know on a "conspiracy" forum who just takes the film at face value. But then he's pro transhumanism too, so no surprise there.

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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by Lucid Memes on Fri May 15, 2009 8:47 am

    Winston_Smith wrote:Funnily enough there's even a guy I know on a "conspiracy" forum who just takes the film at face value. But then he's pro transhumanism too, so no surprise there.

    Yes. This is no surprise at all. Transhumanist directly targets sci-fi and comic book convention demographics ("comic-con" is a fitting name) cause they're more susceptible to that kind of propaganda. And speaking of Star Trek, didn't they try to get William Shatner to advocate transhumanism?

    lol, I love how that would fit. "come on kids! you wanna be like captain kirk? great! just give us control of your DNA and join the military, it'll be fun!" Very Happy


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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by missingyoumadly on Fri May 15, 2009 9:20 am

    I'm an old time trekkie myself, and I can remember watching it and thinking, gee, society would be so much better if it was like star trek! (*smack*) So before I woke up, I was certainly prey to the propaganda...having said that, I can still enjoy it with the knowledge that I have now. I look forward to seeing the movie!

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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by Justinfinity on Fri May 15, 2009 6:04 pm

    Regarding the first post... I really hate it when people look at things as conservative and liberal, and right-wing and all the rest of the illusions.

    Let me say, I think World Government is an EXCELLENT idea, but in an entirely different context to TPTB we're fighting today. If the people (and not TPTB) of this planet were really in control, I think everything would be fine. If everyone truly worked together, with sane, sound and educated minds, along with love in their hearts, for the better of humanity in all ways and manners, we will be living in utopia. I don't think we should ever look at the idea of a utopia-like society as 'fantasy'... and that's what TPTB attempt to accomplish with TV Shows and Movies. It is just not all just 'propaganda' in the usual sense.

    The propaganda in Star Trek is that despite all the great things we've achieved, earth is now more of a military-minded ruled planet (and 'federation'), as pointed out already in this thread - they keep intact that hierarchical scheme of control. I'm sure you all seen the Jordan Maxwell lectures of him explaining that Spock is really a Jew, Kirk is the Scottish origin of the word 'church', and the 'Enterprise' being the money machine. Now that tells you about the minds behind the creation of Star Trek, but we shouldn't fall for their propaganda by thinking all the great things achieved in Star Trek are 'out of reach' or 'unrealistic'. They display it as fiction and pervert it with their own ways for a reason. I know, as well as they know, that we're capable of really great things.

    I watched Generations, First Contact, and Insurrection yesterday, which I haven't seen for years, and before I was as symbol literate and 'awake' as I am now, and I noticed a lot of heavy occult and psychological aspects, which I won't even go into.

    This is just funny.
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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by Justinfinity on Fri May 15, 2009 6:15 pm

    Winston_Smith wrote:
    Oh, and Spock is banging Uhura.

    Uhura sounds like 'a whore'. Coincidence? I dunno lol.

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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by missingyoumadly on Fri May 15, 2009 9:39 pm

    My personal opinion is that a world government will NEVER work for the benefit of ALL people. As it stands right now, large government structures do not result in "utopia" - far from it (doesn't matter what type of structure, btw - democracy, communism, dictatorship, etc.) Smaller groups of people can make laws and live in a peaceful way among themselves, but the larger a group of people the less likely they are to be able to work together to effectively govern themselves. I realize the argument in this is that there are plenty of teeny tiny countries which are not particularly successful (ie Cuba, Haiti, etc.) but the thing is that the current societal structure of the world prevents these small nations from having any chance of success. And a world government, by virtue of the sheer number of people involved, would not have a chance at making every person satisfied within its system (utopia)

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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by Justinfinity on Sat May 16, 2009 12:24 am

    missingyoumadly wrote:My personal opinion is that a world government will NEVER work for the benefit of ALL people. As it stands right now, large government structures do not result in "utopia" - far from it (doesn't matter what type of structure, btw - democracy, communism, dictatorship, etc.) Smaller groups of people can make laws and live in a peaceful way among themselves, but the larger a group of people the less likely they are to be able to work together to effectively govern themselves. I realize the argument in this is that there are plenty of teeny tiny countries which are not particularly successful (ie Cuba, Haiti, etc.) but the thing is that the current societal structure of the world prevents these small nations from having any chance of success. And a world government, by virtue of the sheer number of people involved, would not have a chance at making every person satisfied within its system (utopia)

    I completely agree.

    Although I wasn't referring to any sort of government system we currently have or had on earth... or any system at all. The world structure needs to be built upon independence, and not dependence towards the system, that has everyone governing themselves as individuals. Of course, for this to work, the masses will have to be semi-enlightened, ya know, have some common sense. There would be no laws, no money, no 'authority'... none of that stuff. Everyone will have everything they need, always. People are free to do whatever it is they wish with their lives, to live however they see fit for themselves. There will be no obligations of any sort. We continue our advances in science and technology, and also start working on our conscious evolution. Politics, economics, religion, war etc will be things of the past. Everyone will be their own president or pope or whatever.

    i feel that's the way things should be now, and all the current crap out there is just illusions created by TPTB.

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    Re: Star Trek: Science Fiction for Progressives

    Post by splinters on Sat May 16, 2009 11:08 am

    Yeah, Starship Troopers is superb. It's a litmus test I use if it ever comes up in conversation. If the person I'm talking to doesn't see it as ironic critique of militaristic jinogoisitic propaganda in modern-day society and the gung-ho militarism in some areas of the sci-fi genre (besides the loveable B-movie it is on the surface) then I know a little something about where I can take the conversation.

    The starship troopers propaganda became more and more "obvious"in the movie Starship troopers Maruaders.

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