When social media companies do not contain the spread of fascist disinformation, particularly that coming from malevolent states, it results in people dying. Actual death, not some ideological abstraction or jerk-off argument about free speech. Regulate these platforms.
So, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, right? A study in comparative politics and political violence.
You’ve got The United Federation of Planets, a stand-in for the democratic post-war transatlantic order / The United Nations. A fictitious, cultural expression of the liberal notion of ‘the end of history,’ or rather its refinement into a narrow framework as defined by Western power following the second world war.
You’ve got Cardassia, a militaristic stand-in for history’s aggressive baddies (fascist Germany, Soviet Russia, etc.). They are imperialist, but not so much in the Roman sense as in the ‘our polity is a stagnating black hole of self-denial and so we really need your land and your stuff’ kind of situation. Not so much efficient as brutal and determined to satisfy the needs and desires of the upper crusts of its society.
You’ve got Bajor, a civilization that started as an agrarian and deeply spiritual culture, a loose historical stand-in for the real-life Jewish diaspora, or even more loosely for any culture victimized by colonial occupation. These guys spent decades under the Cardassian boot heel and suffered what amounted to a slow genocide under the exploitation and abuse of their Cardassian overlords. Eventually, using weapons bought from outside and some they made themselves, they overthrew their Cardassian masters and fashioned a loose but productive working relationship with the Federation (as a sort of implied guarantor of their sovereignty… maybe there was a memorandum, who knows?). Anyway, these guys (most of them) wanted eventual Federation membership and DS9 is largely the story of that journey, from recovering occupied territory to upstanding member of the galactic liberal order (with luxury space communism which, I guess, was the progress part).
Finally, you’ve got these real characters, the stand-ins for, dare I say it, the Palestinians, the Maquis. Being far from the bones of their ancestors, the Maquis lived in a strip of space between Cardassian and Federation territory known as the demilitarized zone. There had been a previous war between Cardassia and the Federation, and as part of the peace treaty, the Federation gave the worlds on which the Maquis lived to the Cardassians, or in some cases did a kind of joint custody situation (it’s kind of ambiguous and frankly I don’t have all night to dig into it). Suffice it to say, people lived there, they were Federation citizens, and then the Federation government gave their territory away as a measure toward peace, and as all Star Trek fans know, the Federation is all about some peace, so long as they don’t have to interfere in anything to achieve it, right? But, being blue-blooded Federation citizens, these people weren’t cool with being given away to a brutal former enemy, so they, like the Bajorans, took up arms against the Cardassians.
Needless to say, the Federation didn’t like this at all. I mean, first, these are Federation citizens who didn’t just do whatever the Federation government wanted (?!). What is wrong with people who won’t follow galactic HOA guidelines? Earth is a suburban paradise, wtf is their problem?! Except, the places where the Maquis lived weren’t a paradise, because the Cardassians were secretly running weapons in there, arming ‘their’ people, and encouraging acts of genocide against the other species who lived there. Cardassians enjoy some genocide. Anyway, the other thing the Federation didn’t like was that it made things inconvenient for the Federation, and when that happens Federation citizens and dignitaries can’t feel self-righteous and prance around pretending the entire galaxy is a perfect suburban paradise of luxury space liberal communism. Very inconvenient. Unacceptable.
At first, the Maquis were going to leave the Federation out of the fight, because, hey, their former comrades and shared heritage and all that. But, then the Federation decides ‘fuck these lefty radicals, we’re gonna help the Cardassians hunt them down and then peace will be restored to the space suburbs.’ Well, frankly, the Maquis didn’t like that shit one bit, so they started stealing from the Federation and blowing up its shit and basically tearing ass through the demilitarized zone. They almost won, too, against both the Cardassians and the Federation, but a bigger fascist empire called The Dominion backed Cardassia for a while (for a while, they later bombarded the planet from orbit because one ruler decided not to toe the party line…), and so that’s what happened to the Maquis (except the ones in the Delta Quadrant with mamma Janeway, who were also kinda being used because half the Starfleet crew of her ship got eaten by some other space drama… it’s fine… everyone who got eaten was very annoying and Neelix was more than an adequate penance for the voluntary draft).
Okay, so, where am I going with this. Something that has bothered me since I was in my teens was the difference in approach taken by the writers and showrunners of DS9 between the Bajorans and the Maquis. Both were minding their own business on their own planets, until the fascists (Cardassians) came. Both decided to take up arms and resist the fascists. Both even engaged in terrorist campaigns against their would-be fascist overlords. But the Federation swooped in to scoop up Bajor into its hungry root-beer-covered arms following its victory over Cardassia. With the Maquis, it first sold them out without their permission, then when they fought back it worked WITH its former enemy and their current enemy to hunt them down and THEN allowed an existential threat to the Federation itself, the Dominion, another fascist space baddie, to assist in what was thought at the time to be their complete annihilation.
So, what was the difference? Well, my honest opinion is that, at the time, the Israeli cause was seen as more legitimate than that of Palestine, so there was some bias there. I don’t know that the audience would have accepted much more sympathy for a collective protagonist who was basically telegraphing a group of people commonly vilified in the news media of the time. The ‘established’ group of freedom fighters (Bajor), integrated into the multinational system, was safer to favor.
And this brings me to my next point. From a narrative standpoint, the Bajorans were favored over the Maquis because, from the Federation’s perspective, first they were cooperating (at least at the highest levels of government) as a subordinate of the Federation’s multinational arrangement, of its established system. They were needful, hands out, and compliant. They also lived on a pretty planet, sang spiritual songs, and had pretty ladies, which I’m sure didn’t hurt. The Maquis, on the other hand, had needs that ran in direct contradiction to the goals of Federation leadership (those goals being to not fight anyone who was dangerous and to continue pretending that the galaxy was perfect under Federation guidance and rule). The Maquis also chose to disobey the Federation, which is the worst crime possible in the eyes of the Federation because why would you question what is obviously space perfection? Finally, the Maquis were bedraggled, lower on the space development index, angry, and their ladies were still struggling daily and fighting, so no kissy kissy Federation representatives among the endless streams and forests of Bajor. Just ‘we have needs and if you guys don’t listen to us and help us we will lose everything we have built and we and our families will die.’ Major Kira would understand, I think.
The point being? Earth and Starfleet valued one of two very similar groups, in very similar situations, over another because a) it was more politically convenient, b) because it added to their sense of dominance and self-righteous complicity, and c) because one wasn’t struggling with desperate immediacy and therefore wasn’t as likely to go against the Federation’s every whim. In other words, the Federation lapsed on its principles because it was convenient to do that and because it was, at least on the surface, morally prettier and neater to do that. And tons and tons of Federation policymakers and commentators and even members of Starfleet went along with it, because it was easier than admitting that the Cardassians were still an enemy that needed to be dealt with decisively rather than a minor diplomatic obstacle to be avoided.
Man, I sure have thought about this a lot. Especially recently, with the Russia-Ukraine war and all. Like, you know, the people who were supposed to be the good guys promised to take care of a place against a fascist aggressor, and then they started talking about letting some of it go because that’s more convenient and anyway there are so many other, shinier, not-presently-entangled places they could include with little to no risk, right? Comparatively speaking, the transatlantic bloc is paradise. Not everybody lives in paradise. And those who do enjoy the luxury and safety of living there don’t get to set the practical or moral parameters for the safety and liberation of those who do not. Remember who and what the real enemy is. Insecurity, insincerity, oppression, and injustice, as ever, and wherever.
Anyway, I don’t really cry over stuff anymore. I think I’m too old. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve cried over a lot, a lot of things in life but my tap’s dry. Presumably it’s an evolutionary signal for distress or getting help, but our society made that obsolete. It’s pointless now😭🤎
Although, the comparison of the populace to livestock, as offensive as it might be, isn’t totally off-point, as the response to tragedies or crises is always Pavlovian. Concern signal, virtue signal and blame (what is within sight, usually an individual or single issue… the ‘disturbed monster’ or ‘guns’), then sign a petition or carry a sign for all of five minutes, or just post the tears emoji with a heart, then when the social capital tap runs dry the herd moves on to whatever comes on the television or scrolls across their social feed next, all of the good parasocial water wrung out of that particular cloth. Mass media has turned human beings into ambulance chasing dogs. As soon as the siren cuts, they’re distracted by the next thing. If you ask them if they wanna really get down to fixing things, to think and act systemically and get to the root causes of problems, the ones who don’t feel threatened by the very idea of that either recoil in a weird sort of conformity-driven revulsion or their eyes glaze over and you get a blank stare because we don’t teach people to think critically. We teach them to consume what is placed in front of them, and then to react in predetermined ways. We teach them to perform, to dance the same, and then to ignore what they are told cannot be changed. And you know what? That’s exactly how bad, powerful people like it. Because then nothing changes.
See, it’s all the same soup, right? We don’t have collective security or peace or social stability or tranquility because those are not our society’s goals. Never have been. We live in a big machine that breaks people so that a few folks can be rich and live like pretend gods. ☺
What neoliberals call ‘stability’ is always purchased at another’s expense without their consent. You see this in colonialism, WWII, the Cold War, the present Russia-Ukraine war, & the political culture here in the US. In this way neoliberal capitalism is always fascism adjacent.
I mean, sure. The U.S. has a series of bilateral agreements, including security agreements, with Taiwan. And to say that Taiwan is important to us from an economic standpoint is a tremendous understatement. And there’s the whole ‘democracy in the region’ argument. But look at it objectively. These things are also true of Ukraine. We agreed (even if only in a memorandum) to protect them after they gave up their nuclear deterrent for the sake of world peace. Economically, THEY PRODUCE THE FOOD THAT KEEPS US ALIVE. Not everybody thinks farming is sexy work, but without it everybody dies. And there’s the whole ‘democracy in the region’ argument.
But I think it actually goes deeper than this, on a historical, political, and even anthropological level. If you think about it, in some ways history is going full circle. We started with small tribes, and then god kings, and then city states, and then empires, and then nationalism, and now we’re back to god kings again (oligarchs) and with the onslaught of climate change and the deterioration of the multinational order we will soon be back to something like city states or tribal arrangements. But the core of this is that history, until now, has been a story about removing people from the why of what is happening, right? Other people, grand people, made decisions and proclamations and agreements representing millions of people on the grand stage, and they could get away with doing such things with little relative pushback because there was a fictitious ‘why’ inserted in place of the practical material ‘why’ that existed in early human history. Religion, lineage, loyalty to the crown, nationalism, patriotism, all of these things became the stand-ins for the ‘why the fuck should we do what you say or honor your agreements for you’ material component of human social organization.
So, and this isn’t my idea, a lot of intelligent people have started to express similar sentiments, particularly over the last twenty years, my belief is that the twenty-first century, and probably the subsequent one if we cannot alter our sociopolitical, economic, and environmental trajectories, will be defined by the question of ‘what can you actually practically deliver,’ and the answer ‘what you need to live and what you want to make it worth living at all.’ Full circle, right? You get to be chief of a tribe because you’re not a lying fuckup who can’t deliver. And all these grand alliances and notions of nationalist statehood from the twentieth century? They’re dinosaurs, growling angrily while a meteor streaks across the sky. And that meteor is a combination of collapse, human needs and desires, and a general availability of knowledge unequaled in the history of the human species.
In other words, the stakes are higher than they have ever been, for everyone, and those who have no principles and who cannot deliver to those they would call friends, and those who cannot practically impede their enemies, will quickly find themselves irrelevant in the coming national and global situations. To put it simply and with a degree of necessary illustrative vulgarity, those who are full of shit are going to end up in it.
achrilock plays – Stellaris | Earth Custodianship #4 (last part)
Stellaris: Overlord gameplay. What do you mean ‘in breach of galactic law???’ ☹
achrilock plays – Stellaris | Earth Custodianship #3
Stellaris: Overlord gameplay. The beginning of the end for humanity’s robotic guardians.
achrilock plays – Stellaris | Earth Custodianship #2
Stellaris: Overlord gameplay. The wars continue. Lots and lots of fleet battles.
Part 1 |
A god is just another living thing that can do something you can’t, and there are already plenty of those for you to pick from if you have a psychological need to be a groupie. Or, on the darker side, it is another living thing who, with its influence or power, denies you the right or the ability to do something you should otherwise be able to do, and there are already too many of those. If you’re looking for demons, I’d suggest starting in the halls of economic and political power, ‘cause that’s where you’ll find most of your malevolent super-beings, and the scariest ones at that.
MSNBC just had an extensive discussion about Christian nationalism (and I’m not ripping on them for it, I’m glad they did). There seemed to be a belief, however, that Christian nationalism is somehow different from the ‘normal’ Christian evangelism we have seen over the last several decades. I find this conclusion dubious. Since the earliest years of my childhood, I have heard the same dark rhetoric and sentiments now being espoused and acted upon, from people who you would believe were just the sweetest, most down-to-earth folks ever. Neither the ideology, nor the sociopolitical objectives have changed. They are simply braver now, as they have been politically mainstreamed.
Look, maybe God’s real, maybe she’s not (I’ve seen some strange shit, so I’m not gonna go full non-believer). Let’s just say I have my doubts. And I don’t believe that a state has the right to tell you what to believe and then to compel you to believe it (because, practically, that never works anyway). But there is a reason that in authoritarian states, like Russia, the church becomes a tool of the regime, and in democratic countries it typically tries to destabilize the government or to consume it (and this is any religion, not just Christianity). Religion and its various institutions are centers and sources of sociopolitical power, separate from the agreed upon decree of the community, whatever form that takes. And the state must either absorb that power or repress it in order to survive.
So, I wouldn’t pull a Stalin. That’s cruel and immoral (hell, I used to be one of the brainwashed people as a child). And there are good and decent people who have a giant imaginary friend made of clouds. He helps them get through it, and I respect that. People should be allowed to believe what they wish and dress how they wish and intermingle and sing songs and talk about the intricacies of life and the universe. That’s very human. But, until God shows itself, I propose the following. It should be a serious crime to indoctrinate children with these ideas (children still believe in the Easter Bunny, right?). And the policy niche in our society that allows the psychopathology, the mental disease, of religion to spread should be revoked. Further, people who already believe in the Easter Bunny in the sky and who believe it has a plan and that in order for that plan to be fulfilled they have to take up arms against their fellow citizens should be denied the right to vote, as believing these things is an objective sign of mental illness.
To summarize, we should not oppress these people for being crazy, or for the disability that they were burdened with as children, but we are also under no collective obligation to indulge them, for if we continue to do so they may be the end of our polities and of the future of the species, as religion is one of the primary historical drivers of colonialism, genocide, and climate change. It’s time to grow up, and the children who refuse to do so should be relegated to their chosen role in society.
Haha, a blog is just a fun hobby ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 😙