When I wrote my journal entry on "Klingons vs the Federation", I had no idea the topic of morality was so charged. The journal entry right after it was seemingly unrelated and received no comment, which surprised me since the subject matter of a very rational male being a
keen young mind read[ing] between the lines and perceiv[ing] the folly of all that he's told to accept. Because he lacks an adult perspective, however, what he cannot grasp is the ruthlessness of the war that the education reformers have waged"
Indeed, I'm still trying to get to the top of the whole matter myself, having lived a life where I naturally identify with the protagonist in that story more than quite a bit.
In the comment section of the Klingons vs the Federation, you can read my old friends acting like I've always known them to act. Most of them no matter where they fall in opposition to each other, oddly enough, probably identify with Brandon also. Bill Dog and Pudge, both straightforward and rational. And both are ready to skewer with the reason and ration then bind them and take captives with it. They are, essentially, the dread pirate Roberts of internet debates. Then there is CounterTrolling, who I believe I've never met before, smart enough to know he was being out-maneuvered but not smart enough to realize his evasiveness was really his own captivity of ignorance. Don't get me wring, CounterTrolling shows some great insights, but when push comes to shove he cedes the rational high ground and runs for the bushes. The hope is to get payback with teasing evasion, like the school child who runs into the hills to get the pleasure of annoying the teacher with the chase. Its a Pyrrhic victory.
And then there is Marxist Hacker, who can be rational and moral, but treading the unpaved terrain of reality outside of academia often gets high centered on the gooey plateau of the utopian disconnect. In that way he takes after Karl Marx, who was probably the most successful Utopianist, but ultimately a flawed unconstrained utopianist like the rest.
Yes, I'm being a bit incisive with my commentary today of my old and new friends here. There perspectives and reactions are altogether engaging and fascinating. They have my regard and esteem. But today instead of dealing with the Klingons fatal flaw, I want to make mention of the Federation's fatal flaw. You see, even though the Federation is more based on a real history then the Klingons, the extrapolation of how Earth finally makes it into space like a phoenix from the ashes of a nuclear war is still not plausible to me. In fact, it is probably no surprise that the Star Trek universe doesn't wholly rely on our Earth like ambition and instead evokes a Vulcan ex Machina to tutor them the rest of the way into the hostile galaxy. While Carl Sagan, and Arthur C. Clarke have far more developed plots of a carefully guided upliftment of humanity through measured contact in Contact and 2001: Space Odyssey, the Roddenberry universe also relies on a First Contact. Utopianism and restraint, critical for safeguarding progression, are not in and of themselves progress. In fact, they can in many ways cause regression.
In short, the human spirit which provides the drive for the utopian morality as seen by Roddenberry, is not enough to get us to the stars even in his own vision. My misgivings that the Klingons with their exploitative and expansionist culture slit their own throats if they laid their hands on the power required for space travel. My misgivings for the Federation are more nuanced. Richard Fernandez at The Belmont Club, is someone I read faithfully. And, to be honest, you should too. Today he provided me the best way to describe the fatal flaw of the Federation's morality...
An academic from the University of East Anglia argues that animals have privacy rights. âoeWhat does it say about our assumptions about animalsâ when people film them he asked. In Britain a Muslim who spray painted a war memorial with a slogan calling for Islamic world domination, the assassination of Gordon Brown and the exaltation of Osama bin Laden is not prosecuted, after authorities concluded that his graffiti was âoenot racially motivatedâ. A teacher is acquitted for beating a student with a 7 pound dumb bell after he snaps from repeated taunting.
Each incident exemplifies in its bizarre way the new morality. Things are now âappropriateâ(TM) or âinappropriateâ(TM) for reasons which only 20 years ago would have been regarded as completely crazy. Take Peter Harvey, the teacher at a school in Britain. He knew the rules, the only problem was, he couldnâ(TM)t take them any more.
Hounded for months by a group of students who decided to see what it would take to make him snap; tripped up, shoved him into hedges and followed home threateningly, Harvey went on a 5 month leave of absence because he feared he would lose his mind. Punishing the gang leaders was out of the question. Traditional classroom disciplinary measures were no longer available to him. No more harsh words, no more corporal punishment, however slight. Teachers had been sentenced to jail for striking students in a country where the police were called into classrooms 40 times a day because the schools had lost control. Upon his return from leave the same group decided to secretly record him going over the edge and arranged to goad him after which they planned to distribute the video to complete his humiliation. They didnâ(TM)t reckon on the 7 pound dumb bell. The result was a 14 year old with a skull fracture and a man accused of murder.
In a way Peter Harvey was a failure. He couldnâ(TM)t meet the enlightened standard. Political correctness is a tough game; it demands a relentless reinforcement of small problems until things fall apart. Double down until your broke. Poor, weak Mr Harvey wasnâ(TM)t made of stern enough stuff.
You should read the whole thing for access to the links he provides, and read more of his excellent commentary on the matter.
But when you get down to it, getting the bomb was an act of war. Even going to the Moon was (perhaps primarily) a political dog whistle to each country about the countries ICBM capacity. In the Star Trek Universe, it was a repurposed ICBM which the first warp technology was developed on for Earth. These Klingon like ambitions and the concept of ownership is probably more directly correlated to progress then the moral restraint that the Federation represents.
Restraint is critical. But, when you get down to it, restraint can too easily turn from the demure Jekyll to a Mr. Hyde monster of self-flatulation and drawing from the accreditation of our own restraint in compensation for injustice. Or rather, we pay our own morality to subsidize injustice. Any utopianist nation ready to spend good moral capital for bad, is bound to exhaust their own resources and utterly collapse under the emotional and monetary load.
The teacher, restrained from the ability to restrain injustice, finally regressed to his own animal nature. Or, perhaps, self-destructed completely. Brandon willfully accepting being bound by the same sinews he then used to thread his pathetically anemic rebellion. He'd never reach the stars with such a utopian bargain. He dramatically undervalued his own use of those threads, and underestimated their ability to bind. To give the analogy people tried to tell me not so long ago, I was drinking a quart of poison to get someone to drink a thimble full.