The Corner

Picard the Conservative

A prominent conservative writer, who wishes anonymity, offers the following analysis: “Jean-Luc Picard . . . was deeply conservative, in the finest Burkean tradition. Picard embraced the conservative Gaullist ideal that ‘institutions can only be preserved if they are constantly renewed’ and was therefore, as Paul Johnson admired in De Gaulle, someone who was modernist and even futurist precisely because he was conservative. Picard preserved all through his travels that love of “la France des villages”; of old books, ancient plays, and classical music. This conservatism was often and prominently highlighted. Even his admiration for [the preternatural wise-woman character] Guinan was conservative at the root: He was intellectually modest enough to know that there were things he could not understand, and would have to leave to trust — perhaps ‘faith’ is a better word. . . . [Picard] had, as Paul Johnson said of De Gaulle, the historian’s capacity for seeing events sub specie aeternitatis, from the standpoint of eternity, which is perhaps the very most conservative way to view the great stage upon which we are all merely players.”

This last part, about the conservative way to view temporal events, reminds me of the serene detachment of Krishna’s conversation with Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. (I came to the Bhagavad Gita, as so many other Westerners did, through T. S. Eliot, who was a big fan.) It is your duty to fight, but with an eternal perspective that relativizes the passion with which you fight. It is in selfless action that we find our true self; which is the core of Advaita (non-dualist) Hinduism, and an essential part of Christian thought also (“whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it,” Luke 17:33).

I concede to my many e-mail correspondents that on Star Trek matters, I am a novice. But I think it’s clear that some of these moral/spiritual/religious insights about “the permanent things” that the conservative writer above mentioned have a great value — and maybe a more lasting one than the show’s liberal messages on specific political issues of the day.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More