Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Luddite Mentality

While I was driving home tonight, I began thinking about one of my favorite shows, Star Trek. I was specifically thinking about how even in this show, which according to its creator is supposed to provide hope about the future through technology, there is a reoccurring Luddite theme.
For example, there was a Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode where a planet "sold its soul" to a devil creature 1,000 years ago in exchange for peace and prosperity. The Enterprise shows up at this planet at the end of this 1,000 years when someone shows up to make a claim on this agreement and claims to be this devil like creature. Ultimately, this individual is proven to be a scam artist. However, the Luddite mentality shows up when the leader of the planet describes how the planet averted a planet wide disaster 1,000 years ago. He describes the process where the planet moved away from a industrial society, to an agrarian society. As if this process of moving away from producing goods must be bad for the planet, and must be stopped. This is only one example.
In the third iteration of Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, there is a group of revolutionaries called the Maquis. This group is fighting a gorilla war against a race called the Cardassians. In several episodes individuals in this group discuss the benefits of their agrarian way of life. They criticize the general view that replicated food is as good as regular food, even though they are supposed to be exactly the same. 
This view is not only shared by the Maquis . A disproportionally large amount of the secondary characters hold a similar view, where the use of replicators, and other forms of technology, is discouraged.
I am writing about this because I think the continued occurrence of the Luddite philosophy in Star Trek is systematic of the general distrust, and disdain, of technology that is prevalent in our society and culture. We see symptoms of this in the distrust of man made chemicals, and the belief that natural means "safe" and "healthy".   

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