Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Libertarianism of Firefly

In our recent discussion of the political tendencies of Star Wars and Star Trek, Cybrludite suggested that the short-lived science fiction franchise Firefly is libertarian.

I've seen all fourteen episodes of the show (but not the concluding movie), so this proposition intrigued me.

The main characters are not state actors (e.g. Star Trek, Babylon 5) nor are they trying to become state actors (e.g. Star Wars, Exosquad). They are freebooters who have a generally non-aggressive attitude toward those around them, but complete disregard for the rule of law. They are, at times, openly thieves. Government is never presented in a positive light, but generally as a totalitarian force that seeks power for its own sake, and uses it arbitrarily.

So yes, I can see how Firefly comes across as libertarian.

For other views, consult this column by Reason's Julian Sanchez about the specifically existentialist libertarianism of the series. Tyler Cowen sees the series as Burkean. And Gardner Goldsmith gave a lecture on the subject at a Borders book store.


RevAnne said...

In Serenity, their adversary is the state, in the person of an Alliance agent. It's worth watching. I think you can stream it on Netflix...
"You can't stop the signal."

John said...

I need to see that movie.