Tuesday, September 15, 2015


Now listen, Mike. Listen carefully. I'm going to pronounce a few words. They're harmless words. Just a bunch of letters scrambled together. But their meaning is very important. Try to understand what they mean:

"How Star Trek Explains The Decline Of Liberalism."

"This essay appears in the Summer 2015 issue of the Claremont Review of Books."

5092 words.

You sure you have the guts? Alright, buddy, but once we're in we're not coming back till the mission is over.
The best expression of their spirit was John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, with its proud promise to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” 
This could have been declaimed by Captain James T. Kirk...
You weasel, get back to your position! Tie him down, Sliverberg; it only gets rougher from here.

Anyway, the author, Timothy Sandefur, tells us in the beginning Gene Roddenberry and his fellow World War II vets hated the Communists -- the Klingons -- and the hippies -- the Organians -- but then, for reasons no one can explain, in "The Apple"* ("Worst episode ever!" the fat guy cries), Spock spoiled everything by going multicultural:
Spock is more indulgent. “There are many who are uncomfortable with what we have created,” he tells the captain, “the planned communities, the programming, the sterilized, artfully balanced atmospheres.” Spock insists he does not share their views, yet he secretly admires them, and devotes his considerable scientific skills to helping locate their paradise planet. Later, he tells one of the few survivors of the acid, “It is my sincere wish that you do not give up your search for Eden. I have no doubt but that you will find it, or make it yourselves.” The skeptical, spirited Kirk could never utter such words.
Roddenberry, for some reason, was giving Spock the good lines! Had the Reds gotten to him? It could be that Gene and the crew knew it couldn't all be heroic Kirk speeches (especially after they got a load of Shatner), and needed some yang for his yin... but no, none of these trivial dramatic necessities occur to Sandefur, who ties Spock's moral relativism to "the New Left" (probably represented by some radical key grip who altered the script to follow the Stalinist line on his gold-plated overtime) and teleports his narrative in a huff to 1991,"months after Roddenberry’s death," so that Kenneroddenberry may remain in memory pure while beatniks trash his neoliberal legacy.

The weaker members of the crew scream "Nerrrrrrrrrds" as we pass these flaming rhetorical dung-satellites:
The dungeon in which Kirk is imprisoned in this film is on a par with Stalin’s jails.
[“Star Trek: The Next Generation"] featured false equivalency on a grand scale. The show premiered a year after feminist philosopher of science Sandra Harding referred to Newton’s “Principia” as a “rape manual,” and a year before Jesse Jackson led Stanford student protesters chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!”
The Ba’ku would have nauseated Captain Kirk. Here is a species that lives “The Apple” not as captives but as willing participants. They have given up growth for stagnation, which they have mistaken for life. Yet the audience is expected to admire this.
Etc.  In the end, Sandefur is retucking his shirt furiously, lamenting that “'Star Trek’s' romance with relativism gradually blotted them out until the franchise came to prize feeling over thought, image over substance, and immediate gratification over moral and political responsibility." And at no point does he betray any awareness that people watched the show, not because the Statist Overlords forced them too, but because they enjoyed it, and if there were a market for Star Hayek, someone would have made it. But the laws of capitalism never seem to apply to capitalists, and the way of the world never makes sense to a dork.

UPDATE. Comments are thus:

"Wait until Sandefur finds out that 'Laverne and Shirley' debuted a year after feminist author Susan Brownmiller declared 'pornography is the theory, rape is the practice,'" hoo-boys Jeffrey_Kramer.  Kordo sees my Star Hayek and raises with Burke to the Future. (Except Burke's not really conservative, see, because -- oh, hell, I guess I'm just a different kind of nerd.)

Sarcastr0 digs up a Sandefur guest-post at The Volokh Conspiracy in 2014 (pre-sellout), in which  he says the welfare state is unconstitutional and we should make it constitutional by amending the Constitution if we really want to have it, but psych, libtards -- "a constitutional amendment can itself be unconstitutional," because there's nothing in the Declaration of Independence about food stamps for moochers; also, "to the extent that the U.S. government operates contrary to those principles, its actions, too, are illegitimate acts of usurpation, and deserve to be treated as such." Wonder if the Kim Davis tsimmis has got him refurbishing his treehouse in anticipation of a Natural Law uprising.

*A few readers point out that Sandefur mistakes "The Way to Eden" for "The Apple." Gary Farber seems to think it was incumbent on me to correct him, but honestly, why would I fact-check a Star Trek reference? I wasn't arguing with his interpretation, which would require understanding of the references, but with the whole crackpot idea that old TV shows should be torn up for wrongthink by political operatives. I mean, most of the people who used to talk down the "Leave It To Beaver" view of family life did it as a joke, not as a 5,000-word essay.

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