Once again, friends and fans of the written word, if you have missed either of the first two parts of this essay…. you really ought to remedy this.
And now…. for the Conclusion: Where then do we turn?
Star Trek: The Utopia of the Final Frontier
One of the distinct advantages of fantasy and science fiction is the ability to break ourselves from the tedium of what “is” and imagine instead “what might be” – this is particularly useful in trying to solve problems – can we even imagine a viable solution to the world’s problems? What does the ultimate endgame of human society lead to?
Gene Roddenberry detailed a phenomenally successful answer to that question in his series Star Trek, wherein humanity has completely evolved past the need for petty squabbles for power. (Well, mostly).
In this vision of the future, humanity is united under the banner of The United Federation of Planets. This organization, founded as an idealized version of the United Nations- features a tripartisan government modeled closely after the United States government, consisting of an elected President in an executive capacity, a legislative body (the Federation Council, which features representation of all member planets), and a Supreme Court.
What truly sets this government organization apart, however, is its economic capacity. The entirety of the Federation is made possible by the use of Replicator technology – which allows for raw materials to be recombined at a subatomic level to create just about anything. This leads to the ultimate achievement: a post-scarcity society. This technology is made freely available to member planets, and allows for an ascension from the need for currency. As we saw with the Shire, true Utopia seems to be plausible only in a space devoid of greed, and greed can be overcome by overwhelming supply outstripping demand.
Free from squabbling over resources, science, exploration, cooperation, and education become among paramount among ideals, along with the ideals of liberty, justice, and peace. The Federation has largely overcome issues of racism – in a controversial move for the time, the original Star Trek series featured representation of Asian (Sulu), African-American (Uhura), and Russian (Chekov) – groups that, at the real-world present time – were actively persecuted, resented, or considered political rivals.
The Federation bypassed all of that – characters retained their accents, but were never treated with deference or mockery, and notably, speaking accents were retained, indicating that despite the hegemony of the Federation, independent cultural groups were still permitted to thrive – a stark contrast to the singular [British] accent of the Star Wars Empire. #binarysunsneversetonthetrueempire
That’s not to say this utopia is devoid of all troubles – ethical dilemmas and rivals do at time appear to challenge the Federation – but such enemies are met with a unified front of scientists, explorers, and politicians who strive to reach ideals that only seem attainable because of the secure government they have backing them up. There is little question whether or not the Federation are “the good guys” – campy though it may seem, the vision of a humanity unified and cooperative is one that I think is inspiring, and well worth examination.
The question for us 21st century humans, then, is what steps can we take to help build towards a future that looks like an ideal? What can we do to help guide the course of our species in an upward trajectory to that final frontier?
Well, for starters, I would argue that we need to actively combat and vilify greed -identified in these examples as the antithesis to political harmony. Greed transcends parties or policy affiliations – greed is the true enemy of politics. Whether that means combating lobbyists, exposing dark money, or changing the tax code to punish those who exploit lower classes for personal gain – greed is the enemy of the people.
“For the love of money is the root of all evil” – Paul to Timothy.
(And Don’t forget your Chaucer).
The second great takeaway I’d encourage you to consider is that, across fiction, the “good guys” are made up of diverse cultural groups – whether they be aliens, elves, dwarves, or tribes of slaves fighting oppression – and the trademark of the “bad guy” army is its facelessness and lack of unique cultural distinctions. I think we can learn a valuable lesson here as well- look for the groups that draw diverse tribes, and be wary of groups that appeal to a singular base, be that ethnic, religious, or other. Echo chambers are dangerous, and empathy with others dissimilar from ourselves is a huge step in the direction of utopia.
Thanks for reading, and stay geeky.
And as Always, Amigos….. Keep the Greasy Side Down