The Future Under Trump

As we watch the PEOTUS assemble his cabinet of dissemblers bent on improving their positions to the detriment of all other people on earth (this might be hyperbole, but only by a rounding error after seeing the nominee for SecState), I cannot help but see the potential of this country being torn down around us.

None of this shit passes the Star Trek Test.

None of it.

What’s the Star Trek Test? It’s, essentially, the place from which I begin my ethical deliberations: if X action moves the human race closer to making Star Trek real, I begin in favor of X. If Y action moves the human race further away from making Star Trek real, then I begin in opposition to Y.

For those of you who haven’t thought about it like this before, let me assure you this isn’t a baseless chasing of technology or fantasy. It’s a north star. A vision of how humanity could be if we could stop tearing ourselves down in fits of myopic self interest.

Can you imagine citizens of Earth in the Star Trek universe:

  • Fighting over religious superstitions?
  • Fighting over racial tensions?
  • Being victims of wage slavery?
  • Losing their homes because they couldn’t pay medical bills?
  • Choosing to raise their own taxes so a handful of absurdly-wealthy grandees could buy a third mega yacht?

If you can, your imagination is better than mine and you haven’t been watching.

The world of Star Trek is a vision of the world I want my great grandchildren to have. It pushes me to plant trees in whose shade I’ll never have a chance to sit. It pushes me to imagine what could happen if we were to stop falling to our greater daemons.

Human history is the story of us tearing ourselves down around ourselves.

I see the history of humanity as the history of our greatness trying to break free. Like a rocket straining to break free of Earth’s gravitational pull. Sometimes we get a good run at it and nearly break free, but then we falter and the planet pulls us down in a fiery hailstorm of debris and broken dreams. Other times we barely have liftoff before the rocket is swarmed, toppled, and hit with shoes.

The Rome of Marcus Aurelius and the Antonines fell victim to the Rome of Caesar Augustus:

Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom. — Gibbon

And now, as then, we are squandering our upward momentum in the service of building a small man’s ego and filling the coffers of immorally-avaricious plunderers who only differ from their predecessors in that they are respectfully assuring us they’re not, in fact stealing from us. That they’re helping us.

Helping us what? Oh, helping us eek out a precarious subsistence living in the margins. Helping us by dropping breadcrumbs from their high tables.

And We’re Buying It

I’m new on Twitter (@growoutside) and I have been shocked.

Upton Sinclair said:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

Saul Bellow, perhaps more poetically, wrote:

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.

And Aesop:

The smaller the mind the greater the conceit.

And, finally, Thomas Paine:

It is the business of little minds to shrink.

These men all knew something, the depth of which I never fully appreciated. So when I saw the following Twitter retort, I was without words:

Well, obviously not 100% word-free, but stunned to be sure.

To make the contrast, let me just write out the numbers:

62 = 3,700,000,000?

How anyone, a reasonably well-respected journalist no less, be so fucking dismissive of something as pernicious? How could someone so ostensibly well-educated be so ignorant of the issues here. To rattle off just a few of the things Ben Shapiro seems not to care about:

  1. The simple, verifiable psychological effects of such inequality.
  2. The historical analogues and the things that followed.
  3. The simple morality of those numbers.
  4. The political effects of having so few people in a position to influence so much.
  5. The lack of actual class mobility (one of the Right’s favorite go-tos)

In Essence: This does not get us to Star Trek.

This is the same myopic self-interest that not only robs half the planet of its dignity, but robs all of our children, the whole human race, really, of its chance to really and truly live among the stars.