The Corner

Trek and Pandagon

Blogger Jesse Taylor, who seems incapable of disagreeing with me without making some sophomoric potshot, wonders if I’ve ever watched Star Trek.

First of all, his name is Patrick Stewart. Second of all, Star Trek revolved around one major philosophy: secularistic utopianism. In fact, a lot of Star Trek focused by and large on the idea that a technologically advanced humanity had unified as it headed into space, and the great conflicts came between interstellar races (more accurately species) governed by planetary single-system governments and/or coexisting multilateral factions.

In fact, if you look at most of the conflicts on Star Trek, they come from the fact that various systems of governance and/or governing attitudes are fundamentally flawed, usually in terms of aggression (Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians) or avarice (Ferengi). Humans/the Federation were the de facto lawkeepers of the universe because they either didn’t have or had overcome the fundamental flaws that governed other species’ behavior.

I guess the question is, did Jonah watch Star Trek?

I don’t really disagree with much of this. Though, first of all Star Trek begins with The Original Series (TOS) not with The Next Generation (TNG). In TOS the show was explicit about Federation culture being American culture. This is why one academic dubbed the show “Wagon Train in space.” The conflict with the Klingons (and Romulans) was an excplitly Cold War morality tale.

I agree that TNG turned a lot of this stuff on its head. Picard was a diplomat instead of a cowboy, a Frenchman instead of a Midwestern American etc. The chief enemy — in the begining — were capitalistic Ferengi rather than Communistic Klingons. But, it should be noted that the Ferengi stunk as villains which is why the producers brought back the Romulans and introduced the ultimate totalitarians — the Borg. Moreover, even the awful politics of its leading actor couldn’t completely swamp the show’s dedication to scientific discovery, the quest for truth and individual liberty — which still came through as essentially American in flavor and entirely Western in substance. I can quote episodes if I must.

Whatever. This is all stuff I’ve written about before and hardly controversial.

Taylor writes, “In fact, a lot of Star Trek focused by and large on the idea that a technologically advanced humanity had unified as it headed into space.” True enough I suppose, but how this exonerates Patrick Stewart or contradicts me is a mystery. As Taylor concedes, humanity unified as it went into space, not before it went into space. The spirit of exploration and the ability to put old grievances and differences behind them came with space exploration. Stewart’s terran isolationism rejects all of that.

In short Jesse: scoop of chocolate, scoop of vanilla, don’t waste my time.


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