Topics: Commentary, Existentialism, Politics, Star Trek
Star Trek (to me) is a societal metaphor for the perfection we at least see ourselves as a species eventually achieving in civics, equality and technology, an update to Winthrop's "city on a hill." A lot of the scripted claims aren't supported by any known science, the term "technobabble" is now a part of the lexicon. I gave up one night at Motorola trying to explain to a coworker the sound barrier is a lot different than a "light speed barrier" due to the fact we're all composed of matter, which has mass and thus, drag. Some things you just have to let go of.
I do often ask the question in casual Trek conversations: "In the fictional Star Trek universe, what is the most impacting technology?" If you're a Worf-type, it's phasers; if you're a Riker-type, it's warp drive (see my exasperation in the paragraph above).
But no, in this fantastical universe where I'm surprised they haven't yet pulled off a Star Trek/Star Wars crossover, I'd say the technology with the most impact has to be...replicators, those wretched violators of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, right along with transporters that reassemble you just like you started, versus cloning ever-imperfect facsimiles as the physics should work. (See: Jeff Goldblum in The Fly)
The closest thing we have to replicators is 3D printing. Maybe combining that with a phone app would be a facsimile of the classic Picard line: tea, Earl Grey...hot! I know that sounds a lot like Panera Bread...
Wages have been stagnant since the seventies, exacerbating income inequality and leading to not just two Americas, but two societies: one rich, one poor and no middle class bridge in-between. It is a recipe for dystopia. Replicators would be a disturbing disruption to the hierarchical status quo. Suddenly, workers wouldn't have to "work" to feed themselves or their families. Industries would be short of workers that essentially stopped showing up for the Prussian economic model of capitalism. It would scare the piss out of the 1%! They might try to convince everyone of the "dangers" like Edison did AC current by electrocuting an elephant. However, someone's likely to leak the plans to the Internet, then all bets would be off. It would be a middle finger from the Proletariat. It's pure fantasy, but it would essentially eliminate the need for money, economy and thus hierarchies and control of societal "pariahs," which seems - among other things - a consistent critique from the right regarding the Trek franchise.
Mohammad Mosaddegh was the democratically elected leader of Iran. In 1953, oil interests in the United States and United Kingdom orchestrated a coup d'état primarily for the company now known as British Petroleum (BP). The operation was orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency (as new CIA Chief Gina Haspel would opine, "the good guys") and its manipulating British counterpart, MI-6. We then installed the Shah of Iran, by all accounts a brutal dictator that assassinated his enemies until the uprising that started my senior year in high school and solidified the rise of Ronald Reagan, who said to his admirers "our best days are behind us," almost in the same breath as announcing his presidential run blocks away from the site where three Civil Rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi. That eventually had to morph into another slogan born of bigotry, birtherism, jealousy and xenophobia: "make America great again."
From Wikipedia: "An author, administrator, lawyer, and prominent parliamentarian, his administration introduced a range of progressive social and political reforms such as social security and land reforms, including taxation of the rent on land. His government's most notable policy, however, was the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which had been under British control since 1913 through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC/AIOC) (later British Petroleum and BP)." The CIA cryptonym was Operation Ajax.
Like AC current and replicators, Luddites oppose every single innovation that advances society and decreases inequality because it removes their places at the apogee of the hierarchy, and interferes with their addiction to every-increasing profits. I don't use that term loosely. Charles Ferguson, Academy Award winning director of "Inside Job" alludes to it in the film.
An addiction is defined as "1 : the quality or state of being addicted addiction to reading; 2 : compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful"Merriam-Webster
Addiction: What other definition could be so apropos as a small minority of humanity makes insane amounts of money while harming the environment, exacerbating income inequality, encouraging wars along with arms dealing for-profit within the US (NRA), abroad and skating along the precipice of negative climate outcomes, nuclear annihilation to pump up a portfolio, or a trust fund they may contribute to; purchase of a new yacht on a planet no longer able to sustain life...includingtheirs?
Replicators and Mosaddegh have several common threads: economies of scarcity or post-scarcity, energy exploitation and distribution; the intervention by moneyed elites in the evolution of societies, scientific research either supported or suppressed into alternatives to fossil fuels and hierarchical, unequal societies bordering on dysfunction...and demise. The most common thread is choice of direction: either one or the other will sustain the species. Replicators are fiction; Mosaddegh, history.
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." 1 Tim 6:10
And many feigned any "faith" from the beginning to manipulate a bewildered herd to its avarice bidding. When most rain forests burn to the ground, the higher, greener canopies go crashing down with them. It's physics, not fantasy.
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