Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Politics of Trek: “Space Seed”

Let’s continue the Politics of Trek series with the issue of eugenics. Eugenics is the applied science of using various practices to improve the genetic composition of a population. Although widely popular and widely practiced in the 20th Century, Eugenics fell into disrepute when it became associated with the Nazis. Star Trek reflected this moral opposition in Episode No. 22: “Space Seed.” Khaaaaaaan!
The Plot
As our episode begins, the Enterprise comes upon an ancient spaceship slowly making its way through space. This is the Botany Bay, which was launched from Earth in the 1990s, the era of the Eugenics Wars. The Eugenics Wars occurred because a group of scientists tried to breed the perfect soldiers by making them faster, stronger and smarter than ordinary people. But these “supermen” were arrogant and egomaniacal, and they rose up and conquered one-third of the Earth, over forty nations. It took a world war for the rest of humanity to defeat them.

The most power of these genetic supermen was Khan Noonien Singh. And when his empire was about to fall, he and 84 of his fellow supermen fled the Earth aboard the Botany Bay cryogenically frozen in stasis. Kirk does not know who is aboard the Botany Bay, however, because historical records from the relevant period are fragmented and incomplete. But Kirk soon learns who Khan is after Khan awakes out of stasis. Unfortunately, before Kirk decides what to do about Khan, Khan awakens the rest of his followers and they seize the Enterprise. After a struggle, Kirk defeats Khan and decides to banish Khan and his followers to a harsh but habitable planet, Ceti Alpha V, where they can build their own world, just as the British convicts at Botany Bay tamed a continent. As the episode ends, Khan quotes Satan from Milton’s “Paradise Lost”: “It is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.”
Why It’s Conservative
As with most Star Trek episodes, there are many small philosophical and ideological moments. For example, Khan compares Kirk to the people of his era and in the process makes the point that humanity hasn’t changed:
Khan: Captain, although your abilities intrigue me, you are quite honestly inferior. Mentally, physically. In fact, I am surprised how little improvement there has been in human evolution. Oh, there has been technical advancement, but, how little man himself has changed.
This is consistent with the conservative belief that human nature is fundamentally fixed. The fact Kirk still manages to defeat Khan adds the conservative idea that despite human nature being fixed, human nature does not equate to destiny, i.e. we can overcome our genes, our instincts, and our poor starts in life to excel.

There is also a fascinating debate between Khan and Spock, where Khan tries to defend dictatorship on the basis that dictators bring the world order. Spock rejects this.
Khan: There was little else left on Earth.
Spock: There was the war to end tyranny. Many considered that a noble effort.
Khan: Tyranny, sir? Or an attempt to unify humanity?
Spock: Unify, sir? Like a team of animals under one whip?
Khan: I know something of those years. Remember, it was a time of great dreams, of great aspiration.
Spock: Under dozens of petty dictatorships.
Khan: One man would have ruled eventually. As Rome under Caesar. Think of its accomplishments. . . We offered the world order!
Notice that Spock rejects the idea that order is superior to freedom, and he equates living under a dictatorship with being part of a team of animals. This idea is reinforced when Kirk and Scotty try to explain to Spock why Khan was the best of the tyrants:
Scott: I must confess, gentlemen. I've always held a sneaking admiration for this one.
Kirk: He was the best of the tyrants and the most dangerous. They were supermen, in a sense. Stronger, braver, certainly more ambitious, more daring.
Spock: Gentlemen, this romanticism about a ruthless dictator is—
Kirk: Mister Spock, we humans have a streak of barbarism in us. Appalling, but there, nevertheless.
Scott: There were no massacres under his rule.
Spock: And as little freedom.
McCoy: No wars until he was attacked.
Spock: Gentlemen!
Kirk: Mister Spock, you misunderstand us. We can be against him and admire him all at the same time.
Spock: Illogical.
Spock is appalled that the others could even consider the simple lack of massacres or aggressive wars as positive justifications for dictatorship. To him, the lack of freedom is the defining criteria of right and wrong, and it cannot be legitimately traded for order. This is the classical liberal belief in the moral superiority of the individual and individual freedom. And as we’ve noted before, classical liberalism is the foundation of modern conservatism. Unfortunately, modern conservatives have in recent years failed to maintain this principle in light of rising crime rates and Islamic terror, nevertheless it does remain a fundamentally conservative principle and the growing influence of libertarian conservatism suggests a return by conservatives to this principle. As for modern liberals, they invoke this principle only as situational rhetoric. Hence, things like liberal opposition to Guantanamo Bay under George Bush evaporated under Obama.

In any event, the main purpose of this episode is to criticize eugenics. The word eugenics remains in disgrace today because of its association with the Nazis, who practiced forced sterilization and mass murder all in the name of achieving racial purity. But its history is worldwide. The term eugenics was actually coined by Britain’s Sir Francis Galton in 1883, where it was advocated as a means of stopping “undesirables” in the lower classes from bearing offspring because they were viewed as lacking genetic worth. Eugenics was particularly popular among socialists and the labor party. In 1913, Britain under a Liberal government passed the Mental Deficiency Act, which proposed segregation of the “feeble minded” from the rest of society. Forced sterilization was proposed, but not implemented.

In the United States, the eugenics movement got laws passed in many states to prohibit the marriage of undesirables, such as people with epilepsy and “the feeble-minded”, and allowing the states to forcibly sterilize the mentally ill to prevent them from passing on mental illness. These laws were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1927 in the Buck v. Bell decision, wherein Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famous said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Holmes, by the way, was a favorite of progressives, particularly for his recognition of union rights, and his decisions are credited with creating the judicial support for the economic regulation imposed by the New Deal. According to the Buck Court, the forced sterilization of the mentally retarded “for the protection and health of the state” did not violate the individual’s due process rights. Between 1907 and 1963, more than 64,000 people were forcibly sterilized in the United States.

Following the defeat of the Nazis, the idea of eugenics fell into disfavor around the world as the word eugenics came to be associated with mass murder and attempts to perpetuate racial purity. This was the period during which “Space Seed” was written, and throughout this episode, Kirk and Spock and McCoy make it clear in their tones that they find the idea of eugenics morally repugnant, although the episode does not address this in the dialog. Instead, the episode makes the point that eugenics is a bad idea. First, Kirk disputes the assertion that supermen can actually be created through eugenics.
Kirk: Would you estimate him to be a product of selective breeding?
Spock: There is that possibility, Captain. His age would be correct. In 1993, a group of these young supermen did seize power simultaneously in over forty nations.
Kirk: Well, they were hardly supermen. They were aggressive, arrogant. They began to battle among themselves.
Notice that Kirk rejects the label “supermen.” He points out that these individuals were aggressive, arrogant and began to battle among themselves. These are hardly the actions of advanced human beings. They are instead the actions of psychopaths. And what Kirk is saying is that he doubts it’s even possible to improve human beings because these so-called supermen turned out to be anything but actual supermen. This is an attack on the very idea of eugenics, which is premised on the belief that humans can be improved. And the fact that Kirk ultimately defeats these supermen suggests that the writers too rejected the notion that these were actual supermen.

Spock then adds that the problem was that the eugenics scientists failed to understand that giving these individuals superior abilities would also give them superior ambition, and that this is what made them arrogant and aggressive.
Kirk: Well, they were hardly supermen. They were aggressive, arrogant. They began to battle among themselves.
Spock: Because the scientists overlooked one fact. Superior ability breeds superior ambition.
Kirk: Interesting, if true. They created a group of Alexanders, Napoleons.
This is an interesting point by Spock, but Kirk does not discuss it. Instead, he dismisses it as “interesting, if true.” The reason Kirk says this is to let the audience know that the specific reason for the failure of these scientists is not relevant. What is relevant is that the scientists were unable to predict the result of their genetic manipulation. This is the same point already made in Episode 8: “Miri,” where attempts to make humans resistant to disease wiped out all the adults on the planet. The message here is that attempting eugenics is simply a bad idea because it’s impossible to foresee the consequences of such an attempt, and the consequences can be such that all of the human race will pay the price. Here a group of scientists created super soldiers who tried to enslave humanity and caused a world war. In “Miri,” they wiped out the population with a super virus. The consistent message is that mankind is not smart enough to tamper with nature.

Unfortunately, modern liberalism has slowly returned to the ideas of eugenics, if not the word. Modern liberals support abortion, which is being used to eliminate children with bad genes or medical conditions, and now has a several decade history of leading to sex-selection. They support genetic tampering, which many speculate will lead to the creation of two classes of humans – those who can afford to give their children superior traits and skills and those who can’t. They also support cloning, euthanasia, and population control. Each of these are ideas originally encompassed by eugenics. Star Trek would warn against each of these on the basis mentioned above, that humans simply aren’t capable of foreseeing the negative effects of such tampering. And in that, Star Trek remains conservative.

56 comments:

shawn said...

Yeah, liberals ought to rethink their love of eugenics. Designer babies, just imagine what it will do to "diversity".

Parents go their geneticist and he asks, "So, boy or girl? Gay or straight? Tall or short? Fat or skinny?"

You get the idea. No one is going to want their child to be content with being a janitor, they are going to want some super smart, super strong and super sexy to become captain of the football team, top-of-his-class future president of the world. And that can't possibly end well.

ScottDS said...

Even though I'm pro-choice, I've always been against the idea of human cloning. I remember telling people, "Most people can't even program a VCR! How would they react to a clone!"

(My VCR reference should tell you how long I've held this opinion.) :-)

Ah, one of the classic episodes. The antagonistic relationship between Kirk and Khan is literally there from the first time they meet. And Montalban is, of course, excellent. And you have to remember this episode spawned a feature film 20 years later - it wasn't an arbitrary decision. Producer Harve Bennett sat and watched every episode and decided this was the one worthy of a follow-up.

Greg Cox wrote a couple of novels detailing the Eugenics Wars and Khan's exile. I know you don't care about the novels but they're... okay. I was disappointed that Cox didn't make the Eugenics Wars bigger - instead, he tried to "graft" them onto real history. Instead of taking the idea and running with it, he'd have Khan and Co., say, destroy something, then Gary Seven would cover it up (Seven is on their tale from the beginning), and the media would attribute it to something else entirely, like an IRA bombing.

If I recall, one of the events that leads Khan on his path of world domination is the Bhopal disaster. He assumes that such an event would never occur under his watch.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

Modern liberalism never left eugenics. All they did was change the name to Planned Parenthood and left out the reasoning behind it.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, That's exactly what's going to happen. And the interesting thing here is that it's not even going to be a policy created by scientists or the government "to improve the stock," it's going to be the individual decisions of millions of parents trying to do the best for their children. But the results will be the same.

And as it progresses, there is a real concern that you're going to end up with the species basically breaking into two groups -- those with perfect abilities and the rest. That's a recipe for disaster in the long term.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yeah, I don't really care about the novels. I'm fine with other people enjoying them, but I don't really consider them part of the series.

In terms of abortion, abortion is a crude instrument in the eugenics game. It's kind of a way to kick start things while genetics is in its infancy because it allows people to get rid of children they don't like. Hence, the problems in China and India with the birth ratios.

The bigger issue will be when genetic manipulation comes along. That's when millions of people will start designing their children and that's when things will go really, really wrong.

Human cloning is disturbing as well as we don't fully understand the potential consequences yet. Not to mention, cloning is likely to lead to organ harvesting, which strikes me as very, very wrong.

In terms of the episode, I totally agree, this is a great one and Khan is easily one of Kirk's greatest, most memorable adversaries.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, For a brief moment after World War II, they did drop the idea of eugenics entirely, and you see a lot of science fiction written by liberals at that point which attacks every aspect of eugenics. It wasn't until feminism took up the cause of abortion in the late 1960s that liberals began to drift back into the world of eugenics.

DUQ said...

Excellent breakdown Andrew! I'm amazed at how political these shows really were. I really need to go back and watch these.

BIG MO said...

Yes - and Margaret Sanger was a supporter of eugenics.

You've done a fascinating (ahem) exploration of this episode, which is easily in the top 10 of all Trek series.

More later. Well done!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks DUQ! I totally recommend re-watching the series. It's much smarter than people give it credit for.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, That is true.

Nice use of the word fascinating! This is definitely one of the best episodes and it has such a strong message, but interestingly, it gives that message without using much dialog at all -- it's all in the actions and expressions of the characters. It's interesting, for example, how Kirk and McCoy both object to Spock calling it "your Eugenics War," getting the point across that they find the whole thing disgusting, but the dialog never actually says so directly. And then the fact the "inferior" Kirk beats the "superior" Khan.

I await your further comments. :)

ellenB said...

Very nicely done. I didn't know eugenics had that kind of history! 64,000 people sterilized in the US? Wow. That's obscene!

AndrewPrice said...

Ellen, It is shocking isn't it? And it gets ignored in the history books because it doesn't fit very conveniently with the story liberals like to tell of history, with the Nazis being right wing and liberals always being on the side of good. I also suspect they are uncomfortable with the closeness of their current positions on many of these issues with the historical precedents.

And like I say above, for a brief point in time they were opposed to all of this as a reaction to the Nazis, but they have since begun to creep back into the practices, even if under different names.

Anthony said...

I thought everyone knew about the US's history of eugenics. Recently NC agreed to pay some of the survivors (they only found 72) $50K person.

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http://abcnews.go.com/Health/WomensHealth/north-carolina-compensate-victims-eugenics-program-sterilized/story?id=15328707

Last year, ABCNews.com interviewed Elaine Riddick, a poor, victim of child molestation who was robbed of her ability to have children.

Pregnant by rape, young Riddick went into a North Carolina hospital in 1968 to give birth to her son. Years later, she learned she was sterilized.

The decision was made by the North Carolina Eugenics Board, a five-person state committee responsible for ordering the sterilization of thousands of individuals in the name of social welfare.

Deemed "promiscuous" and "feebleminded" by a social worker at the hospital, Riddick, who came from a black family on welfare, was recommended to the state for sterilization shortly after arriving. Riddick's illiterate grandmother, was told that they were doing a "procedure" that was necessary to help the young girl and signed the sterilization papers with an "X". The state authorized and paid for the procedure, and without her consent or even her knowledge, Riddick was sterilized shortly after giving birth. She was 14 years old.

"They didn't have permission from me because I was too young and my grandmother didn't understand what was going on," Riddick, now 57, said. "They said I was feebleminded, they said I would never be able to do anything for myself. I was a little bitty kid and they cut me open like a hog."

-------

Anthony said...

I think messing around with genes is a bad idea, but I'll be deeply shocked if it doesn't become commonplace.

Honestly, I worry more about some unintentional new genetic problem being created (Your son is eight feet tall, but his kidneys don't work properly. There must be a linkage we missed. Sorry!) more then I worry about genetic supermen seeking to take over the world or what have you.

More likely than not the new mutants will behave like current mutants (nods towards Shaq) and just used their special abilities to get wealthy within the current system (and spread their genes among lots of ordinary but attactive women).

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, You would be surprised. When we reached this decision in law school, almost none of my classmates had heard anything about it and they were shocked the court would allow forced sterilizations.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I agree with you for the most part.

First, I agree that messing with genes is a very bad idea, but I also agree that it's going to happen because there's too much potential for good and too much demand for that potential. So the best answer is probably to try to find a way to limit the bad.

Secondly, I agree that in the short term, these perfect mutants will basically just use their abilities to get ahead -- they won't try to take over the world. But I'm wondering about 100 years down the road after several generations of cumulative genetic manipulation. What will the human race look like then?

I'm also concerned with the unexpected, like the creation of a superbug that could wipe out huge chunks of humanity.

BIG MO said...

It is interesting how Marla McGivers, who was not a product of eugenics, stands up to Khan and decides to join him in his exile. Khan approves and calls her "A superior woman."

I think Khan liked when people stood up to him, because it made his victory so much sweeter. He seemed to like the challenge of people who refused to cower in fear before him. For example, in one of my favorite scenes in all the Treks, Khan wakes up in sickbay, sees McCoy, grabs his neck with one hand and puts a knife to McCoy's neck with the other. Knowing full well what could happen, McCoy merely says "Well either choke me or cut my throat. Make up your mind." (Old country doctors don't ruffle easily.)

Khan's appreciation for worthy adversaries fits perfectly with his older but no wiser self in Star Trek II. He becomes obsessed with Kirk not merely for revenge, but also because Kirk was the only one who had beaten him. Early in the movie, Joachim tells Khan that:

"We're all with you, sir. But, consider this. We are free. We have a ship, and the means to go where we will. We have escaped permanent exile on Ceti Alpha V. You have defeated the plans of Admiral Kirk. You do not need to defeat him again."

But Khan can't merely beat his most worthy adversary's plans: "He tasks me! He tasks me, and I shall have him! I'll chase him round the Moons of Nibia, and round the Antares Maelstrom, and round Perdition's flames before I give him up!"

It also fits well with actual history. No dictator or tyrant is content to rest on his laurels. He must always seek out an adversary to fight and destroy. It's why Napoleon couldn't just "stop" in 1807 when all of Europe except England bowed before him. It's why Hitler went after Stalin. It's why, according to legend, Alexander died young because he beheld no more adversaries to conquer.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, That's very true. History has shown that people like Napoleon, Hitler and Khaaaan just can't stop because they feel a need to defeat anyone who is seen as a worthy challenge. And I think there is something in "the warrior code" (for lack of a better word) that makes these people respect anyone who is willing to stand up to them.

And we see that played out perfectly in Khan's character throughout the episode and throughout the movie. And that makes him a fascinating villain. It also makes him as excellent an adversary to Kirk as Kirk is for him. Indeed, there are very few other villains in Kirk's world who present a stronger challenge for him.

Anthony said...

Big Mo said:

It also fits well with actual history. No dictator or tyrant is content to rest on his laurels. He must always seek out an adversary to fight and destroy.
----
I disagree. There are lots of tyrants who failed to display much of an interest in the outside world (nods towards the 'stans). Some men just want a little world to use as their personal fantasyland/piggybank.

Also, while I don't know much about Napoleon, I haven't heard of too many modern(ish) tyrants (including but not limited to Hitler) who treated those who resist them better than those who didn't resist them.

rlaWTX said...

Anthony, I am regularly surprised by what people should but do not know.

I think that much of the modern avoidance of this topic has to do with the fact that MSanger was such an ardent eugenicist, and the powers that be liberal wish to avoid bringing her name up at all.

There's an article at PJMedia about "putting a dollar value" on children and people who spend wads of money to attempt to choose a gender (pre-fertilization, from what I understood). Not eugenics exactly, but certainly allowing the idea to take a deeper root in modern "parenthood".

I think (from your various descriptions and what I remember) that Khan and Kirk saw a little of themselves in one another. Both are strong, action-oriented, problem-solving, take-charge kind of guys. While Kirk manages to admire the admirable and abhor the abhorrent, Khan seems more offended by this ordinary person having characteristics so similar to himself - and why he can't let go and take the win he has instead of chasing after Kirk.

tryanmax said...

Not much to say about the episode. I would venture that I'm not too worried about eventual genetic tampering creating two classes of humans. As has already been stated, we don't understand the full ramifications of such tampering. I suspect enough of those ramifications are bad enough to maintain as level a field as has always been known.

As to eugenics itself, it's the practical result of an obsession with evolution. I don't care to argue the science of evolution, I only wish to point out how outmoded the obsession is. Life progressed past the need for evolution before humans even came about. Only the simplest lifeforms depend on evolution as a means to survive. Higher order creatures cannot evolve quickly like bacteria in a peitri dish, so they must adapt their behavior, and even behavioral adaptation is outmoded by social adaptation which is further trumped by technological adaptation, and I still haven't reached anything unique to humans. So, case in point, for all the dressing in the trappings of "science," eugenics is a backward looking philosophy aimed at moving forward. It cannot succeed.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, That's true. There are just small time tyrants too. But they don't make the history books. ;)

BIG MO said...

Anthony - sure, many small-sh tyrants are content to stay within their sphere and loot the land. But within that sphere, many also rule their people with an iron fist and bloody sword. Examples: Pol Pot in Cambodia (he of the "killing fields"); and Herod the Great, who ordered the slaughter of all children under 2 in Bethlehem to kill the "king of the Jews", who he believed to be a threat to his earthly throne.

And I didn't mean to imply that modern tyrants treat worthy adversaries better than those who don't resist. After all, Khan killed many people just to get at Kirk, whom he wanted to suffer and then die in utter humiliation and ruin.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, It is surprising what people don't know, even well informed people.

I agree that liberalism has largely gone silent on the issue of eugenics (by name) and I think that's because they're going back to many of its practices. They've just changed the names and slightly modified who is in control. Thus, rather than having a government trying to manipulate who lives and dies, they are letting millions of people make those decisions instead. I fear the results will be bad either way.

I think what Khan and Kirk saw in each other were very similar "commanding" personalities and challenges worthy of themselves. I think there was a real respect there, which is why the ending is strangely happy as Kirk challenges Khan to build a better world and then gives him a planet.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think you're right that eugenics came out of the theory of evolution. Historically, eugenics followed the development of evolution and philosophically, eugenics uses the theory of evolution and early work on genes to conclude that we can shape species (including humans) the way we want to make them better. At the time, this was limited to breeding issues, but today it's moved into direct genetic manipulation.

You raise an interesting point that genetic improvement may ultimately prove impossible because unforeseeable side-effects will make everything implode. That's very possible. But I don't think that will deter people from trying. Then we'll see what happens.

And some things are already happening, like sex selection using abortion, which has warped the populations of China and India. It will be interesting to see how they react in the coming decades as this problem becomes acute.

AndrewPrice said...

MO, Thanks for the clarification, but I didn't see your comment as pro-dictator. I just saw you talking about the psychology of these guys and how that matched well with Khan's character.

Tennessee Jed said...

always an enjoyable episode. The notion of unintended consequences rises up to bite us in the ass again and again. Put differently, just because we can do something doesn't necessarily mean it is a good idea.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's a very wise statement... just because we can do something does not mean we should do it. Unfortunately, that is one thing humans are not good at learning.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, the side-effects of some things are obvious, like the gender selection you mentioned.

If I'm understanding what I've read about genetic code, it sounds like a significant amount of it reads like "if-then" statements, meaning that many traits are dependent on other traits. That implies some built-in trade-offs, though of what sort, I couldn't specifically say. However, it is enough to posit that one cannot "have it all," genetically speaking.

Also, a matter of great practical concern that has not yet entered the popular understanding is that there are no actual genes for certain things, such as a blonde gene or a gay gene or anything like that. Again, this is because of the "if-then" nature of the genetic code. If genetic code were structured as though 1 gene = 1 trait, it would be orders of magnitude larger than it already is. All this is to say that building better football players at the genetic level is much more complicated that most people probably realize.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The side-effects are obvious, but rarely foreseeable apparently. Or at least, people pretend they don't know what's going to happen... though many of these consequences strike me as very foreseeable.

On the issue of trade-offs, everything in life seems to back that up. I think it's a matter of certain traits simply throwing stuff in the way of other traits. For example, to be strong requires muscle mass, but that adds weight which slows you down. So you can be strong or fast, but not both. You can have endurance or speed, but not both. Everything from people to nature to machinery requires trade offs.

On genes being "if-then," I'm not up on my genetics enough to agree or disagree with that, but I do agree that it seems like there must be a lot of genes working together to create traits. So maybe it will be impossible to include certain good traits without imposing bad traits? Hard to say. But I can say that I suspect it will take more knowledge than humanity possesses to work it out.

tryanmax said...

That's a good assessment. As I hinted, I could be wrong or overly simplistic with that understanding.

AndrewPrice said...

Life is about tradeoffs. I can't imagine that the genetic code would be any different. Which is not to say people couldn't still try to get blue eyes or a third buttocks, but you may have to give something up to get those luxuries. ;)

Commander Max said...

Very good take Andrew, one more step toward the book(Conservatism of Star Trek).

Margaret Sanger there is a true loon, publicly stating she wanted to eliminate the black race.
Her legacy is alive and doing the job. I hope she is enjoying her seat in Hell.

It occurred to me that one thing doesn't make sense(other than Chekhov). Kahn talks up how superior he is(more of less). But he takes up with a native girl, which would go against the superior attitude. Perhaps it was available opportunities, or he doesn't like superior women(from experience).

I always thought Montalban did a really good job as Kahn(in Space Seed). He came across as an arrogant dictator with power over millions. Perhaps it has something to do with his Latin blood, LOL.

PikeBishop said...

@ Ellen: Believe it. About twenty years ago I saw a documentary series, "The Occult History of the Third Reich" and was shocked when I heard that the Nazis got a lot of their foundations for the Final Solution from the US. Over 30 states had mandatory sterilization laws on the books before Hitler came to power.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Max! I'm actually thinking of multiple books now, rather than waiting to get them all done, we'll do a series.

I thought Montalban was excellent. He was easily one of their better guest stars and he gave the character real life. It's hard not to believe that Khan exists.

It didn't bother me that Khan fell for McGivers because I think it shows that he takes the things he wants and he wanted her. Plus, I get the sense he was using her at points. Plus, she's a groupie basically and he probably liked that she worshiped him.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I almost mentioned that. The German sterilization laws were copies of the American sterilization laws. Nice, huh? That's not something you get in most American History classes.

Koshcat said...

It has been awhile since I watched that episode and you have prompted me to re-check it out.

Evolution or natural selection is fascinating. It is always ongoing all around us and in us. The primary impetus is to survive. This drive generally leads to trade offs many that may not be overtly obvious. An alteration in a gene that improves the immune system as a child might later lead to leukemia as an older adult. But, in reality, your body the organism doesn't care if it gets leukemia at 60. It has made it to and through the age of ability to produce offspring. This is the theory behind why most cancers significantly rise as we age, especially past age 60.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshcat, That's an interesting idea and one that sounds like it might be correct. I know that an overactive immune system can cause diseases later on in life, so maybe that is what is going on genetically?

The idea of the trade off actually fascinates me because it suggests that whatever we do ultimately achieve in terms of genetic manipulation could well backfire quite severely.

Commander Max said...

Andrew, I figure if you buy into the whole master race idea, the ordinary people would be below you. Reproducing with them, forget it.

It doesn't bother me either, I was looking at it logically.

A friend had a book on the subject of "Self Power", it was about the power of dictators. Mainly how they manipulated others, after I read the book(back in the eighties) the Kahn character looked like it came from that book.
That's all I remember about the book, it would be fun to read it today. I have no idea of the title or author.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, That's true. But maybe Khan assumes his genes will carry through no matter who he does the nasty with? I'm not sure, but you are correct that it does seem odd if you think about it.

Khan is very much a charismatic dictator figure and he's very well drawn. I love the anger just lingering under the surface at all times and the expectation that everyone will bend to his will. Very well done!

Koshcat said...

Doesn't matter, eugenics or not, 1/2 the population will always be below average (except Lake Wobegonne of course). So, when do you stop?

AndrewPrice said...

You are such a cynic! I'm sure if we work hard enough at it, we can get everyone above average. ;)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Outstanding post, Andrew!

I was wondering when you would get to this episode. :^)

"To him, the lack of freedom is the defining criteria of right and wrong, and it cannot be legitimately traded for order."

I would only add: a perversion of order. Or, "ordered" chaos.
This is what leftism does. It perverts what is good and denies it.

For example, since we are talking about freedom and how eugenics will necessarily take that away in some form, there's this chilling quote from Obama:

"Implicit... in the very idea of ordered liberty was a rejection of absolute truth, the infallibility of any idea or ideology or theology or 'ism,' any tyrannical consistency that might lock future generations into a single, unalterable course, or drive both majorities and minorities into the cruelties of the Inquisition, the pogrom, the gulag, or the jihad."

Kind of makes me wanna puke. Oh yeah, let's get rid of the idea of absolute truth and replace it with absolute relativism and invert everything our Founding Father's fought for and said.

That worked so well for Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or any of the hundreds of other minor dictators and tyrants in our recent history.
And the millions of people they slaughtered in the name of "progress."

Our rights and liberty are...and must be from absolute Truth or they don't mean squat.
Anything else is destined to fail and the side effects are anything but good.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

IOW's, Obama is calling the freest form of government on earth, ever, a tyranny, and he calls our Founding Fathers tyrants.

He's saying that only a relative, state-given rights and state-given liberty, based on relatvism (which means whatever who is in power wants it to mean) is ideal.

He literally doesn't see that his way is the way of all tyrants and fascists.
Or that he is calling good, evil and evil, good.

Good God! We hafta get rid of this malignant narcissist with delusions of grandeur!

As Reagan said, we are only one generation from tyranny.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ben! It's all a matter of time Ben! When I originally started, I thought I could write one or two of these per day, but they end up taking several days each actually. Arg.

Great point on the perversion of order. Order at the point of the gun to impose the will of a tyrannical government is not order, it is control. Order is when the people decide the rules they wish to live by and then enforce them justly.

On Obama's quote, I think he's largely right EXCEPT for the "absolute truth" part. I understand what he's trying to say. He's trying to say people who believe ideology is truth and try to force their ideology on others are evil. But that's not "absolute truth" and mixing that in was an ideological point which ruined his whole statement. Like it or not, there is truth in the universe and that truth must underlie order or it's a false order... as you say, our rights and liberties derive from absolute truth or they mean nothing.

Well said Ben!

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I don't think he's actually thinking about our Constitution or our Founders when he said that. I think he's talking about people who fight in the name of ideology or theology.

BUT..., as you note, his statement does implicate that through the suggestion that there is no truth and the suggestion that only moral relativism is right.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Andrew, implied, yes, but his actions are in line with his implicite words.

Thing is, the problem is Obama and his minions (I don't include every leftist but the movers and shakers) don't think about our Constitution.

One can't possibly think properly in that kind of mindset but every word is apriori distorted and perverted when one's foundation is absolute relativism (and moral relativism).

That foundation in three words is "might makes right" or in one word: Force.

What left has done to language is reprehensible. They destroy meaning in the name of political expediency.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I agree. His actions have very much been consistent with his words, and that's not good. Also, moral relativism has become a liberal rallying cry for "all values are equal except the values we don't like," which becomes an attack on conservative values.

I agree too that they don't respect the Constitution. The whole "living document" garbage proves that. The constitution is a large contract and how can a contract change on it's own over time?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Getting back to eugenics, Andrew, would you say that Roe V Wade provides the legal framework to make cloning legal?

I can see the argument now: "It's my genes, I have a right to do with them as I please, and if I want to grow a clone for body parts or organs it's my right. It's in the Constitution, just like abortion for convenience. It's legal to abort my zygote so why cant I farm my own cells."

Whatever arguments are used, I would bet that a liberal SCOTUS would back it up in the name of "choice."

However, I would think that most folks would consider that morally disgusting since a clone would have it's own mind and, in all respects be a different person than it's "owner."

Of course, most folks are morally disgusted with abortion for convenience, sex selection of babies, etc., too but that's still happening, so I predict it's possible, perhaps even probable that cloning and genetic modifications will become legal in the near future.

I would like to think our present SCOTUS would shoot it down but after Obamascare I'm not so sure they would.

Scary. It goes without saying a civilized society should not go down that road.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"The constitution is a large contract and how can a contract change on it's own over time?"

Evolution? (Ducks). :^)

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Evolution. LOL!

On your eugenics question, I think the answer is that it depends on what they do. If you make another human and then try to kill it to get the organs, the court would rule that they are human and would not allow it. But if you only create separate parts, then I think the court will decide that it's not a life and will allow it -- especially if it's created from your own cells.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

That makes sense. Although I'm sure a liberal majority court could find a way around it somehow. Depends on how far out there they are I guess.

I get the sense that most of those on the left would oppose cloning an actual person, at least presently. In a few decades who knows?

But if they could grow bady parts and organs then that wouldn't be a problem, other than possible unforeseen problems that is.

But it would only affect individuals if something went wrong...unless...we advance enough to do brains and find a way to transfer information from one brain to another, like The Man With Two Brains.

Hey! It could happen.

Individualist said...

Eugenics in these episodes are taken from the aspect of the state controlling the genome through collectivist power.

I find the story of Gattaca to be eaully compelling. What happens when the option is available but left up to individual choice.

At first the science may be dangerous and distrubing but as it becomes well understood and the major drawbacks worked out it will become mainstream. When a parent has the choice of making a child that is "still you but the best of you" that is when the true nature of the genie comes out of the bottle.

The interesting point that Gattaca makes is that superior genetic output is not the only factor to success. Drive and determination can cause an individual to excel. And in the end this is what is lost when one relies only on a DNA sequence to determine success.

Seems to me there are common themes to this episode but from another view of the issue.

Individualist said...

USS Ben

From what I have red using embryonic stem cells to create body parts is problematic because they cause cancer growths.

As I understand it the reason we age is the the growth hormones that replenish cells are turned off. If they were not we could keep our bodies young but the chance of cells becoming cancerous would increase greatly. Thus aging is a defence against cancer.

For this reason the scientists have been using adult stem cells to perform this research because they are more in line with the body.

I am not sure but this leads me to think that the cells that create an organ might be different than the cells that create a clone.

I know that there is a lot of talk about stem cell research issues but that is mostly political. It could be the scientific articles I read discussing this were political as well but it was in Scientific American and Discover magazine so if anything I'd think political articles there would skew left not right.

Voz said...

This series on the Politics of Trek inspired me to watch all the episodes in order...I'd never seen all the episodes so I'm seeing most of them for the first time and am amazed at how good they are/were. I am currently in the middle of season 2.

AndrewPrice said...

Voz, I'm glad to hear it! This series has very unfairly been dismissed as "Wagon Train in Space" when it's really so much more. The writing is very, very strong, especially when you know what to look for. I absolutely recommend that everyone re-watch the entire series. It's well worth the time!

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