Monday, July 9, 2012

Politics of Trek: “The Enemy Within”

Liberalism and conservatism fundamentally disagree about human nature. Conservatives believe human nature is fixed and cannot be changed, though it can be controlled by the individual. Liberals believe human nature is malleable and can be changed to eliminate negative traits. Star Trek comes down on the conservative side in Episode 5: “The Enemy Within.”
The Plot
As our episode begins, the Enterprise is orbiting Alpha 177, conducting geological experiments. When an injured crewman is beamed up covered in magnetic dust, the transporter begins to malfunction, but this is not discovered before Kirk beams up. This malfunction splits Kirk into two separate people, one containing only Kirk’s good side and one containing his evil side. Separated from each other, the good Kirk become indecisive and the evil Kirk becomes purely impulse driven and maniacal. Eventually, the two begin to die without each other and they need to be sent back through the transporter to be spliced back together.
Why It’s Conservative
“The Enemy Within” is about the duality of man. Each of us has two halves, a good half which strives to behave nobly and a darker half dominated by rotten and unhealthy desires. It is the combination of these two sides which make us who we are, and both sides are necessary. That is the point to this episode and it’s ultimately a very conservative point.

When Kirk is split into two parts, we quickly see that neither part can function without the other. The evil part lacks self-control and acts in irrational, destructive and even criminal ways. He is incapable of living among others because he has no ability to respect their rights or to treat them in a manner which would allow society to foster. Nor is he capable of choosing his own long-term good over immediate gratification. This isn’t really all that surprising as both liberals and conservatives would agree that a person who acts purely on their base instincts would end up like this.

Where the episode takes a surprising turn, however, is that the good half fails too. That half of Kirk proves to be indecisive and incapable of making decisions. Specifically, he’s incapable of making the command decisions needed to guide the ship because he’s afraid those decisions might be the wrong decisions and because he no longer has the strength to send people to their possible deaths. Here Spock makes this very point, that both halves of our personalities are needed to be fully functional:
SPOCK: Judging from my observations, Captain, you're rapidly losing the power of decision.
MCCOY: You have a point, Spock?
SPOCK: Yes, always, Doctor. We have here an unusual opportunity to appraise the human mind, or to examine, in Earth terms, the roles of good and evil in a man. His negative side, which you call hostility, lust, violence, and his positive side, which Earth people express as compassion, love, tenderness.
MCCOY: It's the Captain's guts you're analyzing. Are you aware of that, Spock?
SPOCK: Yes, and what is it that makes one man an exceptional leader? We see indications that it's his negative side which makes him strong, that his evil side, if you will, properly controlled and disciplined, is vital to his strength. Your negative side removed from you, the power of command begins to elude you.
Notice Spock’s point that it takes both sides to make a person complete. The good side makes the person wise. The bad side gives the person strength, i.e. the power to be decisive and make hard decisions. Spock also observes that the evil side must be tamed and control: “his evil side. . . properly controlled and disciplined, is vital to his strength.” This is a key conservative point.

Conservatives believe that all humans have a good side and a bad side, and that it is impossible to eliminate either from our natures. In other words, human nature is fixed and cannot be changed. Yet, they also believe the individual is capable of taming their bad side and keeping it under control. This is why conservatives do not accept policies which are intended to change people, but they instead advocate policies which are intended to give people an incentive to control their bad sides and to punish those who fail. This is exactly the point Spock is making. He notes that not only do we have these two halves, but that it requires both sides for us to be fully functioning, and even more importantly, we must control our evil side to harness the benefits it provides.

Liberals disagree with both points. Liberals believe that humans are malleable and that human nature can be changed with education or through peer pressure. This is why socialist states sent people to camps for re-education. This is why liberals seek to criminalize “hate” rather than the actions resulting from that hate. This is the premise of political correctness, that the negative parts of human nature will simply vanish if no one is willing to admit they exist. This is the theory of thoughtcrime and newspeak.

Liberals also, paradoxically, believe that it is beyond the ability of an individual to control their dark side. They believe that our instincts are taught to us by our experiences and, once learned, they overwhelm us and force us to act. That’s why they excuse crimes as being the result of cycles of violence or being the result of root causes, because they think it is simply beyond the power of the individual to overcome what they’ve been taught.

Thus, a liberal Spock would have held up the good Kirk as the model of what liberals hope to achieve for all of mankind and he would have spoken of rehabilitating the evil Kirk. He would have been aghast at the idea of returning the evil portions to the good Kirk, because that is exactly what liberals hope to achieve with humanity. And he certainly wouldn’t have suggested that Kirk could control his evil side.
Interestingly, to show you how much liberalism has changed since 1966, even the show’s liberal voice McCoy agrees with Spock this time, noting that: “We all have our darker side. We need it! It's half of what we are.” He doesn’t seem as convinced that the darker half is necessary for all of us, but he accepts that it is what makes us who we are and he notes that Kirk at least needs it to command a starship:
MCCOY: Yes, human. A lot of what he is makes you the man you are. God forbid I should have to agree with Spock, but he was right. Without the negative side, you wouldn't be the Captain. You couldn't be, and you know it. Your strength of command lies mostly in him.
I can’t help but wonder if a modern McCoy would be so ready to agree with Spock?

62 comments:

Patriot said...

Andrew.....very interesting observations here. I think we conservatives, as opposed to liberals, have always acknowledged good vs. Evil. He'll, religion is based on this concept. Libs appear to have always believed in the ability of mans inherent goodness, and if the right policies, rulers, thoughts and feelings were ever to be enacted by law, we would have perfected man and triumphed over those inferior neanderthals among us that still believe in their ancient gods. WE are so much smarter than THEM and if they would only do what we say, we would have piece on earth.

Great summation and quotes from this star trek episode! Never having been a real Trekkie, I'm glad someone has taken the time and brain power to think about conservatism in the star trek universe.

Patriot said...

(I really hate this IPad spellcheck and autocorrect bug. Anyone know how to turn it off?)

Anthony said...

Andrew said:

Where the episode takes a surprising turn, however, is that the good half fails too.
----
People being magically split is a common trope in scifi/fantasy and usually neither half functions well after the split. The good side is overly sensitive and won't hurt a flea, the evil side is indifferent to suffering and will happily hurt anyone. I never read a political subtext into those sorts of plotlines.

Also, I don't know if I buy into your theory about the philosophys' differing takes on human nature. For example, liberals tend to believe that any form of family is acceptable, conservatives tend to argue (and the weight of the evidence is on our side) that having a father and a mother tremendously benefits kids.

At the end of the day adults are responsible for their own actions, but I believe that most Americans agree that culture shapes individuals (I recently read about Afghanis cheering as the Taliban executed a woman accused of adultery, something which would be inconcievable in the US).

http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/08/world/asia/afghanistan-public-execution/index.html?iref=allsearch

As a conservative (albeit one who often finds himself arguing against the consensus) I don't think mankind is perfectible and/or infinitely maleable, but I do think that culture can make people better or worse and that all cultures are not equal.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Patriot! I'm glad you're enjoying the series. What's funny is that as I was growing up, I knew I agreed with the show, but I never guessed it was as solidly consistent as it is. And looking back at it, I'm truly impressed how much conservatism they've packed into so few words. It's really an impressive achievement.

I think you're right that liberals believe that if they could just get the right mix of policies and "good will" among the leadership, then everyone would magically lose their bad sides and we would all be good people. Conservatives knew better. We know that is part of who are and we will never lose it. So the best we can do is hope to control it. And I think that difference is ultimately reflected in dozens of policies.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, This difference of opinion very much exists and you see it in several ways, one of which is policy.

A LOT of liberal policies are premised on trying to change the way people think rather than just controlling their actions. Hate crimes are a perfect example. If I kill you, what does it matter if I did it because I hate you or because I just get off on killing? Conservatives don't see a difference -- murder is murder, and we seek to punish the act. Liberals are more upset at the thought and thus try to criminalize the thought. And the reason for this difference is that conservatives don't think you can change people's thoughts, you can just control their actions, whereas liberals believe that if they can ban bad thoughts, they can stop bad deeds.

Socialist states banned certain ideas because they thought they could kill them by never letting them be spoken, and thus, they could remove the idea from man's nature. They called this making the new socialist man, and their goal was to create a person who had no individual desires. Modern liberalism tries the same thing with speech codes and political correctness. They believe that if you can stop an idea from being spoken, it will vanish.

You also see this difference in things like criminal law, and what you say is the perfect example: adults are responsible for their own actions. This is not an idea liberals accept. They will accept it rhetorically yes, but not in practice. In practice they excuse misbehavior for any number of causes -- abusive parents, bad environment, cultural differences, the influence of videogames/films/television, the presence of guns, etc. Liberals excuse misbehavior for these reasons all the time.

darski said...

And awaaaaaay we go:

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/chicago-mayor-appeals-gangsters-values-get-away-kid

A little link magic would be nice so we can all see Chicago Mayor Appeals to Gangsters' 'Values': 'Get Away From That Kid'

I'll be back

AndrewPrice said...

darski, Well timed link! I don't think there's anything wrong with appealing to kids to change their behavior. I absolutely think that needs to be done. You have to teach kids the right way to act. But if you're hoping that someone just appealing to them will take away their base instincts, that will never work. To stop behavior like this, you need to give them incentives -- make their positive behaviors more rewarding and make the negative behaviors more costly. Trying to "educate" the public to change their values just doesn't work.

Here's you link: LINK.

Mountain Man said...

It seems to me that conservatives are realists when it comes to human nature. They know that man is inherently corruptible, and no number of laws will change man's basic nature. John Adams was right: "Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion."

Liberals believe that man is born a blank slate, and simply needs to be molded and shaped with the right ideas. To the degree which this fails, it is blamed on society. And liberals would say that the only reason there is failure is a lack of funding for those programs which are teaching the correct ideas.

AndrewPrice said...

Mountain Man, That's an excellent way to put it! Conservatives understand that we are the way we are and we can't change that. All our dealings with each other and a couple thousand years of history have proven that.

Liberals, on the other hand, are naive or idealists in this regard and they think that man is a blank slate who can be reshaped into anything. They probably get this idea from the way you can influence children and the way morals have evolved over time. But there are serious limits on that power, and one of them is the inability to eliminate basic emotional needs like envy, fear, selfishness, altruism, etc.

tryanmax said...

I'm going to go on a tangent to say that my favorite part of this episode is that it gave William Shatner the chance to portray the different Kirks. Much of his acting has been lampooned over the years, but I feel this episode demonstrates his chops. Of particular note is the good yet vulnerable Kirk because it is just so unusual to see Shatner act that way. The brazen, evil Kirk was a little more typical, but I think I detect a particular relish at playing the bad guy for once. Speaking as a sometimes actor, who doesn't love playing the villain?

tryanmax said...

FYI, I just sent you the email I promised earlier. Looks like it spent the morning in the "Draft" folder because apparently I never hit "Send."

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, A lot of people have commented on that, that this episode gave Shatner a chance to show off his acting by playing them both. I wouldn't go that far, but I thought he played them well and I enjoyed how different they were.

I got your e-mail. :)

ScottDS said...

Anthony kinda beat me to it but, while there have been many, many stories, movies, etc. where someone is split in two, it's rare (at least in my experience) to see both sides portrayed separately. Usually, whenever a TV show does an "evil twin" story, and they all seemingly have, it's "normal well-adjusted" vs. "evil" as opposed to this episode which is strictly "good" vs. "evil." There's obviously a difference.

I remember seeing this episode for the first time and being surprised at this. After hearing about it for so many years, I simply assumed normal Kirk would stay the same and would fight his evil self... but it was great that they made the choices they did.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I agree. There are a lot of shows where an evil twin shows up, and Star Trek even did a couple of those. But they almost always involve one normally, well-adjusted person and then one crazy twin. This is one of the few times where they actually split the person in half and assign traits.

And I think the reason they did it is precisely to make the point above -- that we need both sides of us. So many say, "gee, wouldn't it be great if people only had the good traits." But this show makes the point that only having the good traits would be a disaster because we need the ability to call upon our evil sides to make decisions. We need the ability to do bad things, to act selfishly, and to make decisions others won't like to be able to deal with other people.

But at the same time, as Spock says, we also need to control that side. We can't let it run wild.

I think this an excellent episode.

Anthony said...

Hate crime legislation in the US was originally the federal government doing something States refused to do. The first hate crime law was created in 1871 and it had the aim of ending the Klan's campaign of murder and intimidation. And when hate crime laws started being used again in the 60's they were necessary.

I don't think that in the past the aim was to punish thought, but to protect people the local governments didn't see fit to protect.

In modern America there isn't a need for hate crime legislation because there is no group so widely disliked that they are regularly denied justice. There are still hateful idiots out there doing evil things, but most people hold such idiots in contempt and juries need little prodding to throw the book at them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1871

Totalitarian states always ban thought in one form or another. Why wouldn't they? If you're one of the few with all the power, you certainly don't want to allow some idea which would unite the people against you to take hold.

I agree with you about college speech codes and agree with you to a point about criminal law but given that overwhelmingly Democratic states have passed harsh criminal laws, I believe that the liberals who are apologists for crime are those lucky enough to be insulated from it.

rlaWTX said...

I actually remember this episode!! (not in this much detail...)

Psychology says that people can change if they want it. But there are theoretical orientations within psych that vary on how. Most (CBT, Reality, etc) say that you have to work at it - whether you are working to replace the automatic responses, working to discover why you respond in such a way, working on finding and expanding positive strengths that will guide your responses... But there are a few (Person-centered) that say that people will all grow if only they are given the best environment (non-judgmental, affirming, etc). Now, there are excellent resons to create that therapeutic, safe space for a counseling client - and strong evidence that shows that this is a huge part of growth - but I have yet to see how just having this "person-centered" space will result in self-guided growth. And now I see why - this article cleared up my issues with this theoretical approach - it overly relies on the "good" half to out-perform the "bad" half of a person without any incentive for either half. While part of us may want to sensitive, caring creatures (as a Christian, I think this part is actually less than 1/2 naturally - see next comment), another part wants to remain selfish. Without incentive to overcome the selfish, we are likely to remain so.

Anthony said...

That Chicago quote is hilarious, but it seems like most of the mayor's new strategy involves closing down the hang-outs of gang members.

-----
In the last two months, since the crackdown on problem businesses began, BACP has identified 37 businesses that are now flagged on the watch list. Of those 37, 18 businesses have been cited and are in the process of having their licensing reviewed and have been referred for disciplinary action that could lead to revocation. One of the 18 stores, AM Dollar, had its license revoked last week and will be shuttered. Two stores have paid sizeable fines, and one of those two stores took a voluntary 30-day closing. Four liquor establishments have already had their licenses revoked and their doors closed.

http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2012/july_2012/mayor_emanuel_announcesinitiativetopreventgangactivityinandaroun.html
----

Its strikes me as delusional because anyone warped enough to join a gang isn't going to become a solid citizen just because you close their favorite hangout (or for that matter, stay away from kids because you tell them to).

rlaWTX said...

(as a Christian, I think this part is actually less than 1/2 naturally - see next comment)

I think that you also have to add in environment & experience. We are naturally more than 1/2 "bad" (closer to 75-25 at best) and I think that our more prosocial impulses that pump up that "good" part closer to 1/2 are formed by our experiences - the incentives our parents give us that create that understanding of the social contract of living around others. But also within us is a desire for social acceptance and that desire for acceptance also plays into our "good" part out-deciding the "bad".

This doesn't excuse our bad behavior - it just means that some folks have to work harder at overwhelming the "bad" nature. But part of the experiences we have that mold us is the understanding of what society expects. Pretty young we learn what is allowed (incentivized) and what is disallowed (punished). Regardless of our experiences, we have the option to follow the rules or break them. Whether we agree with the rules, whether we see the value in the rules, we know what they are. That choice is equal for everyone. Where it differs is how strongly we "automatically" choose or deliberately choose - and how we personally value the good choices or do them because we must to get along in the world (internalization).

OK - that's a long ramble... done now.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I think we're talking about two different things on hate crimes. You're talking about "crimes of hate", I'm talking about criminalizing hate itself.

The types of laws the federal government imposed in the 1870 through the 1960s were attempts to stop things like murders, lynchings, arson, rapings, turning a blind eye to these kinds of crimes, and later discrimination. These weren't attempts to reshape minds, they were an attempt to put an end to the crimes and to make it clear that anyone who engaged in them would be severely punished.

Today's hate crimes laws are different. Under prior laws, if I murdered someone, the punishment was the same no matter what the reason -- jealousy, revenge, economic motive, hate, etc., all got the same punishment because it was the murder which mattered, not the motive. The new laws are trying to add an ADDITIONAL penalty if the motive is considered "hate." Thus, if I kill someone for economic reasons, I might get say 25 years. But if I also showed that I hated them (usually for race, gender or religious reasons) then I might get 25 years plus 5 years for the hate.

That is an attempt to criminalize the thought itself. And that is the same impulse as speech codes, where it is the fact you have the offending thought which matters, not whether or not you act on it. And where the punishment is usually re-education (sensitivity training) rather than restitution for the act.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I'm glad I helped clear that up for you! :)

I'm not well-versed in all the psych theories today, but I have noticed a tendency among liberal theories to believe that ideal environments create ideal people. But we know this isn't true. Indeed, one of the first clear examples of this to me was when I went to college and I discovered how many kids who came from rich families and the best private schools were such rotten people. They had all the things which are supposed to make us good according to liberal educators, but they lacked any sense of the value of what they had so they took it all for granted and they let their darker sides run free. By comparison, us middle class kids who had seen our parents struggle and knew that life can be very unpleasant were much more likely to have learned the kinds of behaviors it takes to control our darker sides.

And the point is that you can't just change people by fiat. We are complex creatures with all kinds of motivations, and we will always have out darker sides -- no amount of training will eliminate our darker sides. The best we can do is learn why and how to control them.

Anonymous said...

I said give me the brandy!!

Nice exploration of this episode. You can find echoes of it in ST V, when Kirk pointedly tells Sybok that he doesn't want his pain taken away. He **needs** his pain.

-- Big Mo

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I agree about the Chicago thing. But I see that kind of thinking far too often from our political class. They seem to think that if they can ban a symptom, they will cure the disease. It's bizarre thinking, but they keep trying it over and over.

The classic example right now is banning 16 oz. drinks. They actually think this will achieve something, when the reality is that people will just work around it to get the same amount of soda. In fact, I can't imagine anything to work around more easily, yet a large number of people really think that will make a difference.

T-Rav said...

They're trying not only to criminalize "hateful" thought, but to socially coerce the guilty parties into changing their beliefs. I read over the weekend a Heritage report on some of the goings-on in CA during the Prop 8 furor. It was pretty horrible; in some areas, anyone who had a "Yes on 8" bumper sticker was getting rocks thrown through their windows or even directly assaulted, by people who, amazingly, said to them, "Get out of our neighborhood, we don't want your hate." (facepalm)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Mobs and peer pressure are the real tools of political correctness. The idea is to make it so intolerable to go against the tyrannical few that everyone simply surrenders to them and goes along.

ellenB said...

Excellent article Andrew. I do agree that liberals seem to want to use the government to change the person, whereas conservatives only want people to behave.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ellen! I think that's true. Conservatives know they can't "fix" other people, they only want them to follow the rules of good behavior. Though, as always, there are some conservatives who don't fit that pattern and do want to regulate everyone's behavior. But they aren't the norm.

Michael K said...

In a way the JJ Abrams reboot takes on this topic. One sees the young Kirk without growing up under the influence of a strong father figure as a big jerk. But when a strong male role model appears in his life, Captain Pike played by Bruce Greenwood, and he starts to assume more and more responsibility you see him becoming the Kirk we all know and love.

T-Rav said...

Uh-oh. Is the Star Trek reboot secretly insinuating that one-parent households aren't a good thing? Someone better alert the PC police!

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, I'm sorry, your comments keep getting caught by the spam filter for some reason. That's why your comment was delayed.

That's a great point about Star Trek V, and that is a truly insightful moment when Kirk says that. It shows again that he understands that we need all of our parts, not just the good parts, to make us who we are. And I think that's very wise. Our failures and our pain define us positively as much as or more so than our successes. They teach us right from wrong and how to improve, how to overcome, and how to relate to others. Without those, we really lose our way.

AndrewPrice said...

Michael, That's very insightful actually. It does show how Kirk grows to become the Kirk we all love and respect because of the strong father figure in his life, and how his life would have been wasted without that. :)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, LOL! Hollywood does sometimes let these messages get through. It is an interesting angle to consider the movie from rather than as a pure action flick.

PikeBishop said...

When discussing economic theory and history With my students, I told them that Adam Smith, Ricardo and Malthus felt economic laws were inexorable and that man was helpless against his dismal (far distant) future. The Utopian socialists and John Stuart Mill said that "The System could change to benefit man, but that would have to come from the top-down, from the educated elite (sound familiar boys and girls)" and then the Marxists said that man would have to BE changed for the benefit of the perfect system.

BIG MO said...

Andrew - no problem!

AndrewPrice said...

Mo, The system will eventually recognize you. Sometimes it just catches people for whatever reason. That happened to Joel and it took a couple weeks of repeatedly telling it he wasn't spam before it fixed itself.

(P.S. Your excellent article will be Next Tuesday! :) )

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Excellent analysis! That is exactly how the philosophical thought went.

I think a lot of people have now forgotten just how much the Marxists were into remaking man, with the idea being that the new socialist man would no longer be subject to his worst instincts and would instead work toward the greater good of all. They really did believe this and they worked to make it happen. But it never worked.

These days, a lot of liberals are trying the same thing only on a smaller scale and they are not as honest about it. To the contrary, they hide behind the rhetoric of freedom and individuality as they seek to impose conformity.

Mountain Man said...

It is interesting that Christians believe a man needs to be changed by God, while liberals seem to think they can do it themselves.

AndrewPrice said...

Mountain Man, I think that difference is actually the reason why socialism has such hate for religion and has tried to stamp it out, because they see it providing a contradictory message.

Tennessee Jed said...

If I were trying to argue the liberal side, I think I'd try and run with this: "Liberals do realize that man cannot totally change their darker side. This is why centralized government programs are required to insure necessities like health care are available to all. It might be nice if charities picked up the slack for the needy, but in a pinch, the greedy side takes over, so government has to step in and force the action." ** this is not a quote, rather I put it in quotes to a composite liberal! :)

This was one of my absolute favorite shows. Shatner did a fantastic job of playing both halves of Kirk's personality with only the minimal amount of "overacting" necessitated. I loved it because I don't think I had ever really considered how true the show's premise was. You really do need both your better and darker half to be complete.

Anthony said...

T-Rav said...
Uh-oh. Is the Star Trek reboot secretly insinuating that one-parent households aren't a good thing? Someone better alert the PC police!

---
I just think that is embracing the standard movie cliche of a young, fatherless guy finding his destiny with the help of a wise mentor. Think Star Wars, Karate Kid, Hellboy and countless other films.

I don't think Hollywood is as committed to liberalism as they are committed to using commercially successful formulas ad infinitum.

PikeBishop said...

Also a lot of people forget that Marx is often classified as a "romantic" philosopher. He beleived that everntually labor saving devices woudld allow man to pursue pasttimes like art and literature and not worry about fighting for survivial. Of course in between that rosy future and the present an awful lot of eggs would have to be broken.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's a pretty good approximation of the liberal justification for government. Man may be good at times, but his evil side will come out in a crisis, so we need a government to make sure the evil stays in check during the crisis.

I really enjoyed this episode for the same reasons, and I think it stuck with me for the same reasons. This was the first (and still possibly the only) show I've seen that suggests that we need both of our halves. I think it's a brilliant observation and I still think back to this episode whenever anyone tells me that they wish they could eliminate people's darker sides.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I agree with that. I think commercially proven formulas trump politics 90% of the time in Hollywood. And the father/son dynamic has proven its worth since Ancient Greece.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, What I always found interesting about Marx was the idea that ultimately he envisions a world without government, but that he thinks an all-powerful government is the tool to getting there.

In terms of him being a romantic, much of what he said indeed sounds good to idealists. He's talking about utopia and better people and a happier world. So a lot of people fall for what he's selling. The problem is that his methods are twisted and wrong and won't achieve the goals he's trying to achieve.

T-Rav said...

Andrew and PikeBishop, there's a quote from Trotsky that falls in line with what Marx envisioned. He believed that once the world had achieved true communism, mankind would evolve to the point where the average man would be an Aristotle, and some even greater. It's not the battiest thing ever dreamed up by a utopian, but in terms of the means Marx advocated and his far-flung influence, it's certainly the most destructive.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The thing is, that's what Marx's goal was. He was trying to create a world where basically everything runs so smoothly you no longer need a government or anything else. The government was supposed to simply cease to exist because it wasn't needed anymore and everyone would be these evolved people who were completely unselfish and everyone would work together to benefit everyone equally.

That is what Marx and the others thought would be the ultimate state of the world after everyone was a communist. And that's the idea that has drawn people to Marxism for so long -- the idea of ultimate equality and everyone being happy with it.

But as you and I know, that is crap -- to say the least. It flies in the face of human nature and it assumes that everyone has the same goals, needs and desires. It's an idea a child would come up with because they've never met people outside their little protective bubble.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Outstanding post, Andrew!

This is a great episode. You're right, they really pack a lot into a 45min show. ST had a phenominal group of writers.

"AndrewPrice said...
T-Rav, The thing is, that's what Marx's goal was. He was trying to create a world where basically everything runs so smoothly you no longer need a government or anything else."

Like a bee hive or ant hill. Or like the borg.
And no one would be happy so lobotomy's would be required or some kind of genetic "modification."

On the way to that "utopia" the government will be required to take away everyone's liberty (except for the elite, of course) and money/property so they can equally dispense it back to the owners (govt. is so benevolent!) minus virtually all of it (except for the elite rulers, of course. Afterall, they need more money because they have more responsibility running our lives, plus, they work harder).

Envy is a major cornerstone of leftism. Whether it is socialism, communism or fascism (or any combination of the three) there must be envy and class warfare to ensure everyone but the elites are equally miserable.

Where there is envy there is bitterness and greed. This enables "the people" to rat on anyone who has more than they do.
Any luxuries or black market items/dealings will also be reported to their elite masters.

This is encouraged (it's the law) and rewarded.
Ain't the government benevolent?

Without envy, thievery and force there would be no leftism in any form.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben!

Isn't it amazing how much they could pack into these episodes? And it's done so cleverly that you never notice the politics unless you stop to really think about the message. Very impressive!

On Marx: Yes, just like a Borg. I can tell you that I would never be happy living in a world like that, but the utopians really thought they could make people be happy that way. I can't imagine how anyone could believe that, but they really do think it -- at least, they used to. Today the left is all about envy, as you say. It's not about building anything up so much as it is about taking from those who have and giving to those who have been loyal.

Good point -- without envy, thievery and force, the left wouldn't exist.

Mycroft said...

"I need my pain" from ST-V always reminds me of Heinlein's novel Starship Troopers where the Moral Philosophy teacher lectures his students on the value of pain as a mechanism for survival. Pain teaches us caution.

AndrewPrice said...

Mycroft, Excellent point! These negative feelings people seem to want to wish away really are there for a reason -- they teach us valuable lessons which help us survive and grow. Without them, we probably wouldn't even survive as a species.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Now, I'm not saying some conservatives don't choose to envy, steal and force people to do what they want , but this is in direct opposition to conservatism/classical liberalism.

Conservatism, classic liberalism, by it's very nature discourages this and supports laws severely punishing this (except for envy and greed, because these are behaviors, not actions).

Liberty is the cornerstone of conservatism.

This may be inflammatory to leftists but leftism also requires immorality. Because it's immoral to envy, steal (liberty and property) and force everyone to do what a few elites decide they must do for the helath of the hive.

Sure, there are many "good" intentioned folks who think leftism is a great idea, and who never think it through.
They still gotta be immoral (in a big way) to help make it work.

Thing is, most leftists don't consisder envy of the "rich" (and only those they don't like) a bad thing, assuming they even admit they are envious.

Mycroft said...

I agree with Mountain Man about Christians believing that only God can change a man.
The symbolic death and resurrection of baptism. Being born again in Christ.
The Apostle Paul describes salvation as a circumcision of the heart.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, For me, that goes without saying. These are generalize opinions, not things which you will absolutely find 100% on each side. I'm not sure there's any trait which we could say is 100% on either side. So don't read this to mean "all liberals will be like this" or "all conservatives will be like this." Instead, see this more generally.


I think liberalism is highly immoral. It's premised on one group of people deciding what another group should be allowed to own and then taking the rest so they can spend it as they see fit. That's incredibly immoral, especially when you realize that money and property are nothing more than a way to store the value of a person's labor. That makes this slavery.

AndrewPrice said...

Mycroft, I think that's true about Christians. I do think we can make some "changes" in ourselves, but they are really just controlling our impulses. We can't eliminate the impulses.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Andrew, aye. I'm speaking about the leftist philosophy itself, not all individuals that are leftist or lean that way.

There are various degrees as well to include proregressive republicans or some libertarians.

Essentially, those who believe in these immoral philosophies give in to their dark side to various extents (or are simple ignorant and shortsighted).

A communist regime is made up of millions of evil Kirks or Kirkettes.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, LOL! "millions of evil Kirks or Kirkettes"!

I agree with you on all points. Not all individuals fit the mold, and there are certainly people who accept a little bit of both.

And I definitely agree that those who give in to their darksides end up getting progressively worse over time. It's like all addictions.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It would be like the Mirror Mirror loonyverse, Andrew, with maybe a few decent Spocks and Spockettes in the mix.

I was also impressed with Shatner's performance.
He sure seemed to relish playing the evil Kirk, LOL.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I was particularly impressed with his good Kirk, because he manages to play the guy as very nice and kind, but still give you the creeps.

I need to think about Mirror Mirror, I'm not sure what the political message is there (haven't really examined it yet).

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

BTW, Scott probably already posted this before but just in case:
Shatner and Nimoy at Dragoncon 2009
It's very funny!

The only downer part was a few minutes near the end of part 6, IIRC, where Nimoy Bemoans the inflammatory language coming from conservative talk radio.

Not that it's never inflamatory, but apparently Nimoy has never watched MSNBC, or listened to Err America, Media Matter, Debbie Wafflewhatever of the DNC, Bill Maher, or several other leftist sources or politicians.

He mentioned it after Shatner said he had interviewed Rush and Larry Flynt on the same day for his Raw Nerve show.

Speaking of inflammatory, Nimoy had nothing to say about Flynt.
I can't think of a conservative talk show host that even comes close to that scumbag, or anyone else I listed.

Other than that the entire series is hilarious!

PikeBishop said...

My apologies for the numerous typos and spelling errors in my posts. My keys are sticking and I am not proof-reading enough.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, Don't worry about it. I'm making millions of typos myself these days. It's sadly part of the territory of being online so much.

Koshcat said...

Too bad I missed (or was late) to a great discussion. I had just watched this episode about a week ago and was thinking it would be a great topic. I only wish we could call the two sides different names than good and evil. The "evil" was aggressive and selfish but the "good" was too passive and indecisive. Neither was an effective leader or even an effective human being. Like the yin and the yang, you need both sides in perfect balance to achieve the best possible person.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, It's never too late. :)

That's an interesting point about not labeling them good and evil. I think the reason we do that is because the "evil" side includes all the traits which can be used for evil -- violence, aggression, selfishness, lust. Whereas the "good" side includes the traits we need to relate to each other in a positive way -- loyalty, selflessness/altruism, kindness.

But in any event, it's clear we need them both.

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