Thursday, February 02, 2006

Science Fiction Friday- Why Star Trek is liberal ideology.

Now I’m going to try and keep this short. My goal is to cover the role of aliens, the Borg, and Q within Star Trek as a means of understanding a more general understanding of aliens within SciFi. My analysis of Star Trek, I believe, follows through to at least Andromeda and Star Gate, if not many other current SciFi shows. This will all set up my discussion of Firefly, Lost, and Battlestar Galactica. .

So first off, it is fairly transparent that the role of alien species in Star Trek is to set up a multiculturalist dynamic, creating a diversity of story lines concerning the clash of civilizations, the (im)possibility of understanding other forms of life, and various means of solving these dilemmas. Of course the Federation has the ‘prime directive’ which is an attempt to govern the interaction of, or interference, of superior species with lesser species, as to not upset the nature flow of each species evolutionary development (it is noteworth that Stargate has problematized the flow of technology). So, within this world of aliens meeting each other, and overcoming difference (and sometimes not), we are trained into a worldview of tolerance (at least the attempt).

Now, disrupting this universe of conflicting interpretations (of democratic discourse), come the Borg. They are the figure of the Totalitarian regime, the harbingers of assimilation of all difference into the same of the Collective, waging war on everything until all is assimilated, for “resistance is futile!” This generally aligns with Cold War fears of communism.

But then we also have the Q. The Q of course were the most interesting and most god like, as in pagan god like, for Q was whimsical, capricious, and meddlesome. And just like the gods, Q acts as the measure of humanity, embodying its hopes and fears. From the very first episode (Farpoint Station) to the series finale, Q comes to test humanity (as represent on the Enteprise), to find out its true potential, or its radical collapse. In the very last episode we hear Q confess that the reason they have taken such an interest in humanity is because in humanity they see the emergence of a rival, a potential power that will one day dethrone the Q.

So basically, for me, Star Trek is nothing other than the perfect liberal-capitalist ideology.

Here is why.

Concerning the multiculturalism of Star Trek, I grow suspicious of two things. The first is the assumption that everything is fine and dandy on the home world of each alien species (or at least of all the good guys). Sure, there are some problems and disagreements, but the conflict is between different cultures, not within them. The second, and much more important, is the near total lack of economic/technological concerns within the Star Trek universe. Sure there are differences of technology between species, but it is assumed that each home world allow for equal access to the same technology among all in the same species. You never find a Klingon who can’t afford a blaster. So I would say, Star Trek is a liberal fantasy about technological equality, distracting from economic issues through multiculturalist stories.

Concerning the Borg…well everyone needs an Enemy, and the Borg embody the enemy of liberalism. The fear of liberalism is that we would be made to do what we don’t want to do, that we would lose our individuality and expression (an individuality and expression that Capitalism desperately needs in order to keep selling things we don’t really need). So again, the Borg are a pretend Enemy (totally outside ourselves) which keeps us from considering that the true enemies might be closer to home.

And concerning the Q, well I don’t have much against the Q because they totally reveal the Star Trek universe to be a hoax. For one they encourage the myth that humanity is really progressing somewhere positive (the myth of progress, that anyone can overcome obstacles and make a life for herself). And most damaging, by having the Q state that humanity is its rival, show that the multiculturalism of star trek has always been about affirms one particular way of life (the eminently America liberal way) against all others. At the end of the day we find out that the Enterprise is really the hope of humanity, but not only humanity, but of all alien life, and all other species be damned. The Q expose the fantasy if only we would look a bit.

So all that to say, I think, in general, the uses of aliens in SciFi generally conform to this multiculturalist agenda, obscuring economic matters, and therefore is a type of ideology of liberal-capitalism. And this is not a future I want to be part of.

So, where do we go from here? Well, we go to Lost, Firefly/Serendipity, and Battlestar Galactica.

But first, what is your take on alien life in SciFi? Am I being to harsh? Have I overlooked a use of aliens that upsets my little typeology?

No comments:

Post a Comment