Thursday, April 23, 2015

Among the Borg, laughing

I learned a few interesting things this week, and I'll burden my fatheads with them because, well, you're there. They are important things, too.

First, on his radio show Mark Levin broadcast twenty-year-old audio from Barack Obama, only released on YouTube this week although Levin had used the transcript in his book Liberty and Tyranny, in which the future president describes a personal, youthful revelation: that his salvation must be linked to everyone's. "My individual salvation would only come from collective salvation," Obama remembers marveling about his even younger self, speaking, probably he thought humbly, to a small public television audience in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1995.

Levin digests this from-the-starting-gate monomania for what it is. It's neither religious nor humble. It is the thinking of a despot, he says, the light-blinded keening of a "god on earth" convinced "the entirety of society must go through what you think you need to go through" to achieve personal salvation. Free people, or even unfree people, can fight over what personal salvation is; but in a world governed by a god on earth who must achieve his salvation through the collective, nobody will even do that. 

Then from Hillsdale College's monthly Imprimus pamphlet came a short article by Professor John Marini, who writes of the films and the world view, or rather the America-view, of Frank Capra. Capra arrived in the United States from Sicily as a boy in the early 1900s and spent his career making films about individual Americans working hard, raising their families, and being very much aware what personal freedom is. Jefferson Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington says "I'm free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn't. I can, and my children will." George Bailey works like a dog (It's a Wonderful Life) to help one immigrant family at a time get a loan to buy a house and carry on living their lives, while Mr. Potter purrs about administering "a discontented, lazy rabble instead of a thrifty working class." Professor Marini notes that in his movies,
Capra rejected social or economic theories based on progressivism or historicism—theories in which the idea of natural right is replaced with struggles for power based on categories such as race and class (emphasis mine).
Needless to say, Capra's "star declined after World War II," when a new generation of filmmakers decided getting on the right side of the struggle for groups' power was much cooler than fuddy-duddy individual freedom, which never changes or grows in itself and leaves no scope for purring elites' administering of classes. Frank Capra's name became synonymous with light, trite, daisy-chain movie fare. With lies, almost. I remember professors who hated him. He ignored Problems.

Anyway the idea that the opposite of natural rights is the struggle for power over human categories -- power in the collective -- combined with Mark Levin's broadcasting of an old audio of Barack Obama basking in the god-light of collective salvation, was in my mind; then I opened the April issue of Food and Wine.


I saw beautiful people laughing. I read the word sustainability endlessly, plus phrases like "farm to table," or "locovore," or "forward-thinking" or "campaign to end hunger" or "organic" or "unlock the potential in all of us." And I wondered. Campaigning to end hunger for example is a fine thing by all means, but why does no one in these glossy spreads breathe the heresy that agribusiness with an incentive to earn a profit could help end hunger? And why can't I see Mark Levin in these same glossy pages, enjoying a glass of Muscadet Sevre et Maine? Or Professor Marini savoring a caramelized fennel tart? Okay, so they do politics and Food and Wine does not -- except it does. Ferociously.

And then I decided. Liberals are the Borg. They are the laughing, beautiful, food-festival-going, wine-drinking Borg, but they are still the Borg.


 Image from a defunct science fiction geek blog. They stole the bandwidth first. 

Don't know the Borg? Learn Star Trek, post-William Shatner, post-Leonard Nimoy era. Collective thinking, policed speech, unquestioned dogma, the march toward conflict-less perfection, and the absolute determination that all shall join salvation's virtuous hive all define this fictional species, which of course looks very much like humanity at its worst. They are everywhere they think it's important to be. Everywhere they are seems important -- or becomes so, because they take over. Resistance is futile. Do you think Food and Wine has ever printed a picture or penned a word about Barack Obama's tastes in food or wine, or his wife's? I'm guessing, um, yes.


The upshot being that if I go to the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen and say to anyone who will listen, "I'm mad because personal freedom is the most important thing in life and in all your glossy pages you say nothing about it and you associate with no one who says anything about it -- quite the opposite," I surely wouldn't endear myself to any of the beautiful, forward-thinking people there. Maybe that's good. Maybe we should thank God this Borg have a species weakness that the fictional Borg do not. Imagine them, Locutus and all, too comically paralyzed by snobbery to really assimilate, um, everyone.

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