Our future is Lord of the Rings, not Star Trek

Summary: While we frantically prepare for the arrival of our worldly goods in our new Heartland home, here is another brief sketch with my impressions about America today — and the future we are building. It is bleak. But we can still change course.

The Future in our hand
© Siri Wannapat | Dreamstime.

My previous post — Star Trek Enterprise was a mirror. We hated what we saw. — looked at our future through the lens of the Star Trek stories. After WWII, America built a new world order. It was an idealistic vision of a coalition of worlds bringing peace to the galaxy — much as the United Nations and regional defense alliances brought peace and law to our world. Star Trek’s shows, from the original series through “Enterprise,” described how humanity worked to overcome its ancient sins.

My post described how “Enterprise” aired after 9/11 while America was tearing down that geopolitical order. Its low ratings showed how Americans have abandoned that vision.

We are not on the path to the Star Trek universe. Twenty-first century America will be more like the Lord of the Rings world. The Fellowship wanders through a Middle Earth amidst the decayed remnants and ruins of a greater civilization (the first film of the trilogy perfectly portrayed this). We live among the ruins of past accomplishments and the dreams of even greater progress in the future.

The Argonath statues in the Lord of the Rings

Trump (leading the Right) and Social Justice Warriors (leading the Left) are turning back the clock, unwinding generations of progress. Our foreign policy is the traditional America First, might makes right. Rather than seeking to prevent or end wars, we start them.

Inequality has returned to its Gilded Age peaks. The Right supports a policy of starving the nation of public investment, selling off public resources to the rich (cheap), cutting taxes for the 1%, and massive fiscal deficits.

The Left has made racism and sexism respectable again. The hopes of the Civil Rights Movement and feminism have turned toxic, ending a century of slow progress.

Overseas, trade wars replace commercial peace and prosperity. America wages war around the world, bereft of strategy or rational goals.

Social cohesion is fraying, during a long economic expansion. Things might get ugly during the next recession.

These are the results of fecklessly wrecking projects and institutions built at great cost over generations. They represent a loss of hope, replaced by alienation and cynicism. This might be our greatest problem. Fortunately, there is still time for us to change course.

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If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about ways to reform America, about Star Trek, and especially these…

  1. Why Americans should love Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – we live there.
  2. The Shiny, Sexy Seduction of Star Trek Into Darkness.
  3. Star Trek reboots to give us simple stories, the cartoons we like.
  4. The neocons captured the Star Trek universe, as they’ve captured America.
  5. Our future will be Jupiter Ascending, unless we make it Star Trek.
  6. A philosopher looks at Star Trek and sees our dark dreams.

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Our future is Lord of the Rings, not Star Trek

  1. It is hazardous to make brash predictions in the early stages of a transition. The movements from Clinton to Bush or from Bush to Obama, were not nearly so drastic as the current transition from Obama-Bush-Clinton to Trump. I suspect that it is too early to make strong predictions as to the ultimate outcome of the ongoing multiple phase changes.

    It is tempting to maintain that the system is too firmly entrenched to be perturbed into new orbits or to alter pre-existing trend lines appreciably. Perhaps. Certainly Trump’s clownish approach does not inspire confidence in the likelihood of deep and well-planned transitions. But then again, surface appearances can be easily cultivated to misdirect, as in a magic show.

    Life is full of surprises, as a wise man once told a neophyte when the world was still young.

    1. Shark,

      “It is hazardous to make brash predictions in the early stages of a transition.”

      No, it is not hazardous. There is no risk if wrong. I’m not suggesting that you make bets on this prediction.

      These forecasts are the most effective way to help us, as individuals and a nation, see where we are going — and decide if we like that.

      “The movements from Clinton to Bush or from Bush to Obama, were not nearly so drastic as the current transition from Obama-Bush-Clinton to Trump.”

      That’s probably quite false. Bush Jr. was one of the major presidents in US history in terms of the magnitude of the changes he made (see an explanation here and here). If that were the sole criterion, they would chisel off Teddy Roosevelt from Mt. Rushmore and carve in Bush.

      With a few exceptions (eg, Obamacare), most of Obama’s major policy actions were to embed and extend the policies of Clinton and Bush (eg, normalizing assassinations as a tool of US statecraft, authorizing assassination of US citizens without charge or trial).

      So far, Trump has done nothing more significant than Clinton or Obama. That would change if he ignites a trade war, attacks Iran, or any one of the many other mad things he tweets about.

      “Certainly Trump’s clownish approach does not inspire confidence in the likelihood of deep and well-planned transitions.”

      True.

      “Life is full of surprises, as a wise man once told a neophyte when the world was still young.”

      Do you believe that anyone disagrees with you about that? But the possibility of surprises is no excuse for ignoring trends. Trends shape our world. We prefer to ignore them, which is why we are so often surprised.

  2. While I agree completely with your sentiments, I am not hopeful that it can occur before trouble starts raining down on our heads. There’s just too much pent-up desire for conflict. I am stunned by the emotional disunity of the US public, it is almost as if they are shouting, “Let the good times end!”

    In a very minor way the tenor of the times reminds me of 1914 with the public almost begging for war while cooler heads in the government tried to prevent it (except that nobody, to the best of my knowledge, has ever accused the Trump administration of trying to defuse any major conflict).

    Short term I’m not happy about the likely future of the US although I’m doing everything I can to make sure that the 2018 elections give us the best candidates. I have more hope beyond 2022 because people tend to forget how amazingly destructive modern conflict can be and I still have faith that the US people will shy away from practicing this level of conflict against themselves.

    A little sample of that destruction will either be the major rally point for the forces of emotional reintegration or the complete collapse of the ideas the US was founded on. I’m still betting on the former but I may be naive.

    1. Pluto,

      “I am not hopeful that it can occur before trouble starts raining down on our heads.”

      Me, neither. Bin Laden succeeded, perhaps beyond his wildest dreams, in destabilizing America. Perhaps it would have happened anyway. But we were so easily manipulated into hysteria after 9/11. I wonder if this was seen by powerful interest groups in America.

      Whatever the cause (something for future historians to debate, beyond our ability to clearly see today), I fear that as a people we are too shattered and disoriented to act effectively.

      We are in the Crazy Years.

  3. Don’t forget even in Star Trek – everything was rebuilt after world war 3 – don’t forget, in Star Trek Q shows Picard the grizzly past where another holocaust had occurred

  4. Trump just calling em out on their bullshit behavior. They are doing just fine turning back the clock on progress without his help. Personnally, I’d ignore their stupidity or come out with my own line of ties listing the names of the 72 human beings shot over one weekend in Chicago two weeks ago. Randy Moss would receive a free one. The United States seems to be suffering the effects of a countrywide gas leak.

    1. Gute,

      The Left and Right each clearly see what the other is doing, but are blind to the effect of their own side.

      “They {the Left} are doing just fine turning back the clock on progress without his help.”

      Too bad that the Right is helping. Defunding education, crushing unions, waving thru mega-merger, unleashing big banks (and excusing their misdeeds), reducing any recourse by people to corporate misbehavior, slashing IRS enforcement of rich people’s tax fraud, etc. Plus the big one: slashing taxes for the rich and sending the fiscal deficit skyrocketing for the third time (while their useful idiots complain about fiscal deficits).

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