“Star Trek” and Fascism

A guy I know once told me that he thought Star Trek: The Original Series was a “fascist” TV show.  I asked him to elaborate, and he listed me some reasons:

  • All the heroes are military personnel.
  • All of them belong to a socialist federation
  • They all wear uniforms that signify their rank within the rigid hierarchy.
  • The main hero, Capt. Kirk, is a Carlyle-esque “Great Man” figure. A masculine paragon of excellence, who often triumphs through a Nietzschean casting aside of Spock’s “logic” in favor of genuine emotion.

I didn’t buy it then and I don’t buy it now, but it’s a fascinating argument.  Of course, I made some counterpoints:

  • The Federation is clearly supposed to be a neo-liberal society, built on tolerance and understanding between different groups.  It is more like an idealized version of the United Nations.
  • The Enterprise’s goal is ostensibly exploration and understanding, not conquest.
  • The real “fascist” version of Star Trek was shown in the famous “Mirror, Mirror” episode, in which the war-like crew of the parallel universe Enterprise fit the Fascist bill much better.
  • Besides this, there at least two other episodes where they bump into copies of the original fascists and the most famous of the “modern day” fascists.
  • The show’s values were generally liberal and progressive, as evidenced by the diverse cast and certain moments like Kirk and Uhura’s kiss, which was very controversial at the time.

Naturally, I think my argument stands up better.  However, my friend’s idea is still kind of interesting.  After all, despite that “peace and understanding” stuff, the Federation did find itself at war with those swarthy foreigners, the Klingons, awfully frequently.  (I think it’s significant that they changed this for The Next  Generation.)

What was the deal with the Federation?  Were they just a bunch of nice guys, or was something more sinister at work?  Does upholding the virtues of tolerance, inclusiveness and diversity except for the primitive and brutal “Others” still get you into the Tolerant Liberal Club, or does it put you in the Conquering Empire with Good P.R. Club?

Somewhere—I can’t find the exact quote, sorry—the radical libertarian Albert Jay Nock wrote that the people who opposed fascism and also supported a “league of nations” seemed to be saying that a drop of something was deadly poison, but a gallon of it was a miracle elixir.  What, Nock’s thinking went, was one-world government, a “league of nations”, if not authoritarian nationalism writ large?

Of course, Nock was wrong, at least in the case of the Earth.  For if there were a “one-world government” modeled on the United States, with each country being functionally equivalent to a State,  it would have no “Other” to make into its enemy.  It would not, as far as I can see, have the ultimate hallmark of a fascist nation: the racial or at a heritage-based class system.  This does not at all mean a one world government is a good thing, but it is not fascist.

But in Star Trek the Federation did not encompass all known sentient life in the universe, although it did seem that its doors were open to all who would join.   There were other systems of government and life-forms.  The Federation was just trying to… triumph over them.  Fascism!

There is an old quote I’ve seen attributed, probably incorrectly, to Huey Long: “When Fascism comes to America, it will be called anti-Fascism!”  I suppose you could say that is what the Federation has done, since they are committed to freedom and tolerance… and will destroy anyone who isn’t.

The new Star Trek movie Into Darkness especially seemed to accentuate the fascistic element of the series.  The grey uniforms the cadets at Starfleet wear (especially the hats), and the warmongering admiral make it seem like it’s on its way to being the Evil Empire.

1 Comment

  1. The enterprise is a heavily armed war ship (in case you hadn’t noticed – LOL).

    The crew are military personnel. They do not trade with anyone, they just fly around space looking for a fight. What appears to justify their hunger for conflict and violence is the absurdly unrealistic ‘baddies’ they keep encountering. These comic book villains are so blatantly improbable (always wearing ‘evil clothes’, eating ‘evil food’, flying around in ‘evil looking spaceships’ and no doubt listening to ‘that evil heavy metal music’ as well) that they provide the perfect justification for the Enterprise to fire off bunch of photon torpedos and phaser blasts and still come out the other side looking like the good guys.

    Inventing absurd over-the-top villains (either neanderthal-like baddies or the more supernatural enemies that come in the form of malicious clouds of gas) is precisely what fascist groups do here on Earth to justify their thuggery…….. the evil Jew, the savage blacks, the scheming immigrants and even the devil himself have ALL been used to justify war, aggression, persecution and empire building.

    The most popular comic book villain at the moment is the bearded terrorist – always depicted with an AK 47 slung casually around their shoulder so it’s clear that he is the bad guy, just as the baddies in Star Trek always seem to have a belt of ammunition as part of their outfits too. Of curse in reality fascist leaders (the ones who have historically murdered the most people and caused the most damage on earth) always tend to dress very smartly and respectably in nice dark suits with shiny buttons, or in Star Trek in nice colourful lycra uniforms. They never talk plainly about their lust for murder and violence – they always talk in terms of peace, security, patriotism, family values etc. And when their perpetual wars of genocide are mentioned it’s always in the context of ‘spreading democracy’ and ‘building a safe world for our children’ (yeah, by bombing the hell out of the world and leaving them to pay the bill).

    “…For if there were a “one-world government” modeled on the United States, with each country being functionally equivalent to a State, it would have no “Other” to make into its enemy….”

    This is why in Orwell’s 1984 the world was divided into three main regons with two always in conflict. However, that was only to provide the justification of a militarised/ police state society.

    The same is true in real life. Orwell and Huxley were both well aware of the strategies of the ‘ruling elite’ through membership of elitist societies such as the ‘Fabian Society – (who’s emblem is a wolf in sheep’s clothing BTW). In real life all ‘sides’ of WW2 were funded by the same globalist bankers. Even Prescott Bush (GWB’s grandfather) was prosecuted for funding the Nazi’s. At that level the concept of nations no longer applies – that’s just for us sheeple.

    WW2 was just a giant money making enterprise for those who funded it, manufactured and sold weapons for it and loaned vast sums to every government at interest. Once you have a government in debt you have them under control. War is basically a way to convert the blood of young men into profits for psychopathic banking aristocracy – it always has been and it still is today. A nice big bloody war every generation or two also helps to purge the population of all the young fit, idealistic men (the ones who might be a problem if they ever revolted against you). It also traumatises the nation deeply, which also making them much easier to manipulate and dominate.

    After WW2 the same people who funded the war then proposed the solution to the very problem which they had created. The solution (League of Nations/ UN) meant consolidation of power and centralisation of power….. in their hands (or hands which they controlled). From the beginning the UN was conceived to be the ‘One World Government’ but that doesn’t mean they won’t try to maintain the illusion of nations, or regions (such as the EU or the NAU or the AU) in order to keep us fighting in their fake wars of terror and profit.

    The trouble with both fictitious fiction AND fictitious reality is that we’ve all become far too accustomed to LUDICROUS plot lines which are loaded with propaganda.

    The caring, sharing, baby holding, peace loving, smartly dressed, clean shaven, morally virtuous, fully armed, rampaging, war mongering, psychopathic, genocidal, maniac simply DOES NOT EXIST as a ‘feasible character type’…….. any more than a delicious, creamy, smooth, boiling, on fire, ice cream sundae, full of nails can exist as a ‘feasible dish’. These are both examples of cognitive dissonance.

    Whenever the public can be made to accept contradictory information without questioning those blatant contradictions is when evil thrives. Evil is really just the blind acceptance of contradictions…. of non-sense.

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