Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Kirkian Foreign Policy

Patrick West writes of Star Trek's 40th anniversary and takes the opportunity to blast American foreign policy:

Thanks to a process of osmosis from perennial reruns, Star Trek has propagated the belief that it is proper to interfere in other societies, that it is America’s duty to assume the role of (inter-)world policeman, and to correct the errant ways of other cultures — for their own good. And Spock was to Kirk what Blair is to Bush, a lackey willing to assist his master in his curious mission that seemingly has no specific objective.


Then what of the show’s celebrated “prime directive”, that the explorers should never interfere in alien civilisations? The problem here is that the prime directive is blatantly and persistently violated. Not an episode concludes without one of Captain Kirk’s sermons, his incessant moralising to troubled alien civilisations that they should follow his lead and cherish life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Star Trek represented not the ethos of mutual, egalitarian co-operation, but of multinational interference firmly under the leadership of Americans. Rather than having succumbed to the urge to boldly go and meddle with strange new worlds he didn’t understand, Captain Kirk should have stayed at home and sorted out his own people’s problems.

The Prime Directive, when applied universally, is really stupid. Thankfully, even Captain Kirk saw that. That's why he freed a planet ruled over by a tyrannical computer, ended a 500-year war that killed millions of people a year, ended a planet-wide gang war, and freed an entire race of slaves.

Perhaps Mr. West considers the Federation ending such problems "meddling". But the Darfurs, Rwandas, and Bosnias of our world and others do not end unless someone interferes.


Ian S. said...

That's exactly the problem - (post-) modern technocratic liberals (as exemplified by Al Gore) think that having a tyrannical computer run everything would be ideal.

John said...

Instead, we all need a healthy fear of government. That visceral, emotive loathing of government is something that we have largely lost as people.

decrepitoldfool said...

ian s., welcome to a future where everything is run by giant corporations. At least we can change the character of government if we need to.

Doubtful Gore would advocate any tyranny - he's a free-market eco-capitalist who thinks profit is the right way to achieve environmental gains.