“Where No Man Has Gone Before”
As economic inequality has continued to dominate our society, I am constantly reminded of the original Star Trek series, and more specifically a particular episode. This essay has really nothing to do with the future of space travel or exploration (a word the precedes exploitation). Instead I use that series to address what is going on Earth in the present as the original series did.
As the wealth gap widens the result is that humans are becoming divided into something akin to two species. The wealthy have become so far removed from our reality that they see themselves as the apotheosis of humankind. We mere mortals are expendable.
In the fourth episode in the series, the Enterprise encounters a barrier that causes two crew members to acquire telekinetic and telepathic powers that increase over time. As their powers become stronger, Spock realizes that they are losing their affinity to their fellow crew members. He councils Kirk to maroon them on an uninhabited planet where they can do no harm. But because Kirk hesitates, one of the two has already begun to consider humans to be inferior. Kirk, a landing party and the two dangerous crew members go down to the surface of the chosen planet.
Because he telepathic the first to be affected learns of the plan to leave him and the other affected crew member behind, he resists being confined. He kills one of the landing party and escapes with the other affected crew member whose powers are becoming stronger. That person is able to keep him at bay until the rest can escape to the safety of the Enterprise.
So I keep thinking about the wealthy who seem to regard themselves as apart from the hoi polloi as those two crew members whose powers made so dangerous. Of course the wealthy are actually still human since their power derives from their wealth. But their wealth gives them control of the narrative and that is a terrible power indeed. Further, they can essentially buy the government and have enacted whatever laws benefit them no matter how those laws hurt the rest of us.
So billionaires, multi-millionaires and corporations-are-people-too can do things with impunity that impoverish and harm the majority. You know, those very legal tax laws that allow their wealth to grow while the rest of us languish behind. They can engage in activities that destroy the ecosystem, poisoning the land and water while spewing billions of years of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a couple of centuries. And so far we have been powerless to stop them.
And why should they let us? Aren’t they wealthy because they are better than the rest of us? Wealth=intellectual superiority in their view. And being good at becoming wealthy means, to them, that they are good at everything. Once in a while you can really see the absurdity as when Trump suggested introducing chlorine bleach into humans to combat Covid.
The wealthy are killing not just us, but much of life and earth, and have been for some time now. I have believed for some time now that they fully expect to survive us and what they have done to the planet. Their religion is technology and they surely believe they can invest enough in it to ensure their survival. If they have any other beliefs, it’s that they are god-like, proven so by their lofty stature. They are dangerous to us and even themselves although they’d never believe it. Where is a distant uninhabited planet when you need one?