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Politics of Trek: “A Taste of Armageddon”
Commentarama Films ^ | 5-8-2012 | Andrew Price

Posted on 05/10/2012 1:56:30 PM PDT by servo1969

Politics of Trek: “A Taste of Armageddon”

Today’s episode is my favorite conservative episode. In addition to a bunch of other conservative ideas, this episode cuts to THE key difference between how liberals and conservatives view human nature. Let’s talk about episode No. 24, A Taste of Armageddon.

The Plot
As the episode begins, the Enterprise is en route to star cluster NGC 321 to open relations with the locals. The Federation wants a space port in this sector because the lack of facilities has cost thousands of lives over the years. As the Enterprise approaches, it is warned away by the planet Eminiar VII. Kirk, however, is forced to continue his approach by a Federation diplomat. When Kirk beams down, he discovers that Eminiar VII is at war with neighboring planet Vendikar. However, this war is fought by computer simulation with casualties accounted for in suicide booths. And while Kirk speaks with Anan 7, the leader of Eminiar VII, the Enterprise is “destroyed” in one of these simulated attacks. Now the locals want the Enterprise crew to beam down and kill themselves. Before everything’s over, Kirk destroys the computers that are fighting the war, risking a return to real war.
Why It’s Conservative
This episode starts with several conservative themes. First, Kirk rejects the idea that the Federation is the universe’s policeman. We see this when Kirk makes it clear he believes the planet’s wishes to be left alone should be honored and when he makes no attempt to jump in and stop their war. This is consistent with the conservative belief that one person or society should not impose themselves on another, and it fits the conservative foreign policy view that we should not get entangled in the affairs of others except where our interests are directly involved. Liberals, on the other hand, have no qualms about trying to control countries just like they have no qualms about the government trying to control the lives of citizens, and they believe a benign superpower or similar organization (like the UN) should force peace upon smaller countries for their own good.

Next, Kirk rejects out of hand the idea that some members of society should be killed so the rest of society may continue. This oft-repeated Star Trek idea is expressed here:
MEA: Don't you understand? Our duty--
KIRK: Your duty doesn't include stepping into a disintegrator and disappearing.
MEA: I'm afraid mine does. . . Don't you see? If I refuse to report, and others refuse, then Vendikar would have no choice but to launch real weapons. We would have to do the same to defend ourselves. More than people would die then. A whole civilization would be destroyed. Surely you can see that ours is a better way.
KIRK: No, I don't see that at all.
This goes back to the conservative respect for the sanctity of the individual and individual life. Conservatives simply do not believe that the collective should be allowed to decide who lives and dies for the benefit of the collective. Liberals, on the other hand, do think it is appropriate to let the government (or individuals by proxy) make such decisions. That is why they favor abortion and euthanasia, and why their support for those issues is premised on the idea that the unwanted child or adult would be a burden on society.

Kirk also rejects the idea that Eminiar VII can impose itself on his crew: “My people are not responsible for your agreements.” Kirk is staking out the very conservative position that people can only be punished for their own individual actions, i.e. human beings do not bear group guilt or group responsibility. Compare this with liberals who support group punishments, like reverse-discrimination against innocent whites/males to atone for the prior discrimination of other whites/males, or the banning of speech or guns for all because of the crimes of the few, etc.

But the real conservative homerun in this episode comes after Kirk destroys the computers which are waging the war:
ANAN: You realize what you have done?
KIRK: Yes, I do. I've given you back the horrors of war. The Vendikans now assume that you've broken your agreement and that you're preparing to wage real war with real weapons. They'll want do the same. Only the next attack they launch will do a lot more than count up numbers in a computer. They'll destroy cities, devastate your planet. You of course will want to retaliate. If I were you, I'd start making bombs. Yes, Councilman, you have a real war on your hands. You can either wage it with real weapons, or you might consider an alternative. Put an end to it. Make peace.
ANAN: There can be no peace. Don't you see? We've admitted it to ourselves. We're a killer species. It's instinctive. . .
KIRK: All right. It's instinctive. But the instinct can be fought. We're human beings with the blood of a million savage years on our hands, but we can stop it. We can admit that we're killers, but we're not going to kill today. That's all it takes. Knowing that we won't kill today. Contact Vendikar. I think you'll find that they're just as terrified, appalled, horrified as you are, that they'll do anything to avoid the alternative I've given you. Peace or utter destruction. It's up to you.
Kirk has outlined the conservative view of human nature: our nature cannot change, but we are not slaves to it. Indeed, notice that he says that killing is instinctive, i.e. part of human nature, and it has been that way for “a million savage years.” Conservatives believe that, liberals don’t. Liberals believe that humans are malleable and human nature can change with education. This is the fundamental flaw in socialism, that it relied on the idea that humans could be taught not to covet, not to want. Conservatives know better, and Kirk makes this clear. Had this been Picard instead, he would have lectured Anan 7 how advanced the Federation is now that humans have evolved beyond violence. His solution would be to reeducate themselves to lose their violent instincts (an impossibility). Kirk’s solution is to use their brains and simply decide to ignore the instinct (very doable).

This is a key difference in how liberals and conservatives see humanity. This is why liberals believe in reeducation, because they think they can brainwash away your worst traits. Conservatives know better. They know those traits can only be controlled. That’s why they advocate laws to contain those traits or make them unprofitable.

And Kirk goes further too. He notes that despite human nature not changing, it can be controlled: “We can admit that we’re killers, but we’re not going to kill today”. . . the coolest quote in the whole series. This is again a highly conservative understanding of human nature. Conservatives understand that all of our actions require conscious effort before we can take them. In that moment, we have the power to overcome what our instincts tell us and to act rationally. . . “that’s all it takes.”

Liberals actually don’t believe this. 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 speak of cycles of violence and root causes and why they consider those excuses to crimes, i.e. because they think it is beyond our control. In other words, if you were beaten as a child, then you will be forced to beat your child by your instincts, and we should not hold you responsible because it was beyond your control. Conservatives reject this because we understand that humans are perfectly capable of controlling their actions.

There you have it, a highly conservative message: human nature cannot change, but it can be controlled, and we are all responsible for our own actions, but none of us should be responsible for the actions of others. Every piece of that is fundamentally conservative and complete anathema to liberals. Indeed, this belief is the very building block from which all other conservative ideas will sprout. And that makes this my favorite conservative episode.

TOPICS: Government; Politics; Society; TV/Movies
KEYWORDS: armageddon; conservatism; genecoon; star; startrek; trek
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To: GeronL


21 posted on 05/10/2012 2:59:02 PM PDT by CatherineofAragon (Time for a write-in campaign...Darryl Dixon for President)
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To: cripplecreek

Fritz Weaver, the Chancellor is/was a real life Socialist, I believe.

22 posted on 05/10/2012 2:59:09 PM PDT by unkus (Silence Is Consent)
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To: unkus

As Wordsworth told him. “You never learn”.

23 posted on 05/10/2012 3:00:57 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: servo1969
Roddenberry was a JFK-LBJ liberal in his own time and by the standards of his own time. Maybe even by the standards of our time: "benevolent" imperialism, a world state, and a post-scarcity economy.

Sure, Kirk was rougher and tougher than Picard, but that was the difference between the Kennedy-Johnson era and the Carter, Clinton or Obama years. That "tough-minded" liberalism (which got us into Vietnam) withered away, but you can't claim it never existed.

The prime directive of noninterference? Liberal or conservative? Who can say? Those things change when the party in power changes. Today's interventionists in power are tomorrow's isolationists in opposition.

And the party in power will always say that it's not interfering "too much" or expecting "too much" change in human affairs. Countries don't admit to being "world policemen" even when they act like it (and that goes for Kirk and the Federation as well).

24 posted on 05/10/2012 3:04:30 PM PDT by x
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To: cripplecreek

Dutch Van Kirk is the last survivng member of the first A-bombing. When asked if he would do it again he said,

“Under the same circumstances — and the key words are ‘the same circumstances’ — yes, I would do it again. We were in a war for five years. We were fighting an enemy that had a reputation for never surrendering, never accepting defeat. It’s really hard to talk about morality and war in the same sentence. In a war, there are so many questionable things done. Where was the morality in the bombing of Coventry, or the bombing of Dresden, or the Bataan death march, or the Rape of Nanking, or the bombing of Pearl Harbor? I believe that when you’re in a war, a nation must have the courage to do what it must to win the war with a minimum loss of lives.”

So after five years of war against an enemy who won’t give up...we nuked them.
Now that’s a lesson that needs teaching in today’s world.

25 posted on 05/10/2012 3:06:06 PM PDT by RavenLooneyToon (Tail gunner Joe was right.)
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To: CatherineofAragon

I was pretty surprised. All I did was make an anti-Romney remark amidst a bigger attack on Obama. I even linked my facebook and FR homepage for them to see I wasn’t pro-Obama.

26 posted on 05/10/2012 3:06:24 PM PDT by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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To: RavenLooneyToon

Consider what would have happened had we not dropped the bomb.

How many Japanese (soldiers and civilians), along with US soldiers would have perished had we invaded Japan?

Something else to think the Soviets wouldn’t have been involved? And you think the Soviets wouldn’t demand something in return for their involvement in defeating Japan?

Japan most likely would have been divided, like Germany and Korea. And then you would have had a Civil War, just like Korea. And no doubt, the US would have been involved in that as well.

27 posted on 05/10/2012 3:10:17 PM PDT by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: RavenLooneyToon
Indeed. The Japanese were contemplating a mainland defense house to house and fighting to the last man woman and child. The atomic bombs showed the futility of that option.

When warfare was thought to be organized and civilized and ranks of men lined up to shoot ball and powder rifles at each other - warfare was a constant occurrence.

When war became brutal beyond imagining with entire cities being laid waste - suddenly the appetite for war diminished.

I read a story about India that made me sad - an “untouchable” ran a successful leather business and got a nice home in a “nice” neighborhood and a new well and satellite dish. His neighbors didn't like it and got together and beat him up and poisoned his well and burned down his house - dish and all.

That would be a lot less likely in America - where people are armed. “Then it would just be an armed conflict” someone told me - but no - being part of a mob enacting social “justice” on some uppity guy you don't like has a certain appeal to the internal animal - while bullets whizzing past at a couple thousand feet per second tends to be a real ‘weenie shrinker’.

28 posted on 05/10/2012 3:15:50 PM PDT by allmendream (Tea Party did not send GOP to DC to negotiate the terms of our surrender to socialism)
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To: dfwgator

I fully support the nuking of an enemy who will not surrender.
Like Dutch said, a country has to have the guts and determination to win.
We can use robots to pump oil under sea, we can use them to pump oil from and pit of blue glass just as easily.

29 posted on 05/10/2012 3:16:29 PM PDT by RavenLooneyToon (Tail gunner Joe was right.)
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To: servo1969

This is all well and good as far as things go. But I would hazard to guess this is what would happen after Kirk & company go.

Eminiar VII and Vendikar do indeed sit down to talks. The Eminiar VII delegation explains how these aliens burned up their computers, so there will need to be an armistice while those computers are replaced, then upgraded to Windows 8 (beta).

This enrages the Vendikarians, who use Linux, the reason for the ancient war in the first place.

30 posted on 05/10/2012 4:00:51 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy
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To: cripplecreek

I recently saw the Hitchcock film “Rope”, and it dealt with the same kind of thinking. In that film, two young men who are clearly modeled on Leopold & Loeb plot to kill a friend of theirs, inspired by the Shaw-esque philosophy of their former professor, played by Jimmy Stewart.

31 posted on 05/10/2012 4:17:16 PM PDT by Boogieman
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To: allmendream
All I have to say is: Thank God for the USA. Were we like every other victorious empire in history, we would have taken over all of the conquered land and made everyone bend to our will.

If you look at the map of 1945 post-war, the Allies (us) we could have OWNED Europe, Scandanavia, Japan, the Korean peninsula, and the top 1/3rd of Africa.

What did we do? The Marshall plan, so that the Europeans could rebuild their OWN countries, and then go on to hate us.

In retrospect it would be fascinating to see what would have happened had we been hard-asses who kept what we won with our blood. Japan would have been fine. But imagine a prosperous, democratic Africa? A grateful republican France, no commie Vietnam, etc.

32 posted on 05/10/2012 4:25:52 PM PDT by boop (I hate hippies and dopeheads. Just hate them. ...Ernest Borgnine)
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To: cripplecreek

Keep in mind that this was in the middle of the Cold War, the peacniks and the rise of the counterculture.

Yet Hamner and Coon as well as D.C. Fontana were astute observers of humanity.

33 posted on 05/10/2012 5:33:07 PM PDT by Ouderkirk (Democrats...the party of Slavery, Segregation, Sodomy, and Sedition)
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To: cripplecreek

As Wordsworth told him. “You never learn”.

The whole thing was very, very well done.

34 posted on 05/10/2012 6:04:31 PM PDT by unkus (Silence Is Consent)
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To: servo1969

This is also why I am against forcing people to take vaccines.

35 posted on 05/10/2012 6:33:27 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: servo1969


36 posted on 05/11/2012 8:45:30 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler ("The best diplomat that I know is a fully-loaded phaser bank." - Montgomery Scott)
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To: Jeff Chandler

bump to amend tagline

37 posted on 05/11/2012 8:49:26 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (The best diplomat I know is a fully-activated phaser bank. - Montgomery Scott)
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