This article is to philosophy as Boone's Farm is to wine. It attempts to burden the Star Trek universe with a heavy load of foggy metaphysics -- one can almost hear the "WARNING -- Structural failure imminent!" blaring in female computer monotone accompanied by klaxxon and flashing red.
If you are a significant Trekkie with a pretty good memory, it might be entertaining -- if not, don't bother.
The assertion of the article is that Star Trek had more philosophical underpinnings than I think it really had, but if it had them, it "evolved" from old relatively moral and hard headed "liberalism" to hippie age "tune in, turn on and drop out" escapism, to the modern anarchy of lust, sensation, and total relativism.
This quote comes in discussion about the movie Star Trek VI, "The Undiscovered Country" where "peace at all costs" with the Klingons appears to be just fine. In fiction, such things sometimes work.
This represented an almost complete inversion of “Star Trek’s” original liberalism, and indeed of any rational scale of moral principles at all. At no point in the show’s history had Kirk or his colleagues treated the Klingons unjustly, whereas audiences for decades have watched the Klingons torment and subjugate the galaxy’s peaceful racesThe article carries a rather mushy understanding of "old liberalism" -- which gets rather confusing, given the appropriation of the old term "liberal" via FDR and company in the '30s when terms like "progressive", "fascist" and "socialist" fell on rather hard times. "Liberal" was once rooted in LIBERTY, as in LIBERTARIAN, meaning "right wing" with the left being tyranny and the right being anarchy. Then the Statists stole it -- theft being one of their "prime directives" (see "income inequality").
It is pretty clear that the author of the column pines away for a form of "liberalism" at least long dead, if not imaginary ...
Roddenberry’s generation emerged from World War II committed to a liberalism that believed in prosperity, technological progress, and the universal humanity they hoped the United Nations would champion. In the Kennedy years, this technocratic liberalism sought to apply science, the welfare state, and secular culture to raise the standard of living and foster individual happiness worldwide.Ah, the optimistic world Statism of the Kennedy years! The dream of a Camelot that never was. One can dream of a "universal humanity" (no country to die for, and no religion too, (the Beatles Lennon) ...) ... let's throw in "the welfare state" and "secular culture" along with "technology" with LOTS of "hope" and call it "metaphysical hope stew"! What would a thinking person expect this stew to do rather than rot, or in his terms "evolve" into something even more random ... say the end which he closed the article with.
But that perversity is the natural consequence of the breakdown in the liberal principles that once guided the series. “Star Trek’s” romance with relativism gradually blotted them out until the franchise came to prize feeling over thought, image over substance, and immediate gratification over moral and political responsibility. What was once an expression of the Enlightenment faded “into darkness.”Was the author REALLY surprised that naming "prosperity, technological progress and universal humanity" along with "the welfare state" and "secular culture" as "PRINCIPLES" failed to work out and rather degenerated into what he laments? Not just for Star Trek, but more importantly for Western Civilization?
Over nearly 50 years, “Star Trek” tracked the devolution of liberalism from the philosophy of the New Frontier into a preference for non-judgmental diversity and reactionary hostility to innovation, and finally into an almost nihilistic collection of divergent urges. At its best, “Star Trek” talked about big ideas, in a big way. Its decline reflects a culture-wide change in how Americans have thought about the biggest idea of all: mankind’s place in the universe.
... or did he really hope that Star Trek would save us all?
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