Sunday, 1 February 2009

The Cult of Progress Rears Its Ugly Head

Or perhaps one of its ugly heads. This might be a hydra. In fact, I betcha it is.

I have a book entitled SciFi in the Mind's Eye: Reading Science through Science Fiction, edited by Margret Grebowicz. (Uh, Chicago: Open Court, 2007, if you're interested.) In it are a series of essays about a critical reading of science fiction. I read a passage from Harvey Cormier's "Race through the Alpha Quadrant: Species and Destiny on Start Trek" (note to people I spoke to this evening: I mistakenly said it was from the ecofeminist article; that was incorrect). Here's a quotation from that passage: "This throwback to the jungle adventure comics and movies of the 1930s ends when Tasha kills Lutan's original queen, Yareena, in a ritual fight. It may be the future, but though quasi-Africans are beaming themselves through space and making medicines a galactic civilization can't produce, they are still fighting ritual hand-to-hand combats to the death" (18).

Seriously? The author equates technological progress with moral or philosophical progress? I mean, don't get me wrong: I don't think that there is such things as progress one way or another. But I think it's even more ridiculous to say that what passes for technological progress is in any way connected to what passes for moral or philosophical progress. Case in point: the European conquest of North America. Ancient Rome. Ancient Egypt. I seem to recall them committing atrocities against more peaceful and harmonious groups, who also had less technology. And as far as the advancement of pacifist values goes, I think the Amish are pretty "advanced." (I'm going to avoid tripping up on Godwin's Law here, but we all know it.)

Stupid liberalism. Stupid technologism. Stupid stupid-heads.

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