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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Resistance is futile

The most popular villains on the Star Trek TV shows of around 1990 were the Borg. They were a fictional pseudo-race of cybernetic organisms.

The goal of the Borg is assimilation. That means destroying individualism by merging everyone into a collective consciousness. Before taking over, they say, "You will be assimilated" and "Resistance is futile."

The Borg seem like a parody of modern efforts to create social dependency, such as It Takes a Village, and to break down individualism, such as by promoting empathy.

Steven Yates wrote a 1997 essay on how the Borg is a metaphor for collectivism:
Star Trek nevertheless presents perhaps the most disturbing example of full-fledged collectivism currently available. This depiction occurs in four episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG), the paperback novel Vendetta, and the movie Star Trek: First Contact, released last November. These all feature encounters between the Enterprise and a race known as the Borg, the deadliest foe yet faced by the Federation.

The Borg are a race of cyborgs, the product of a technology that hardwires artificial intelligence directly into the brain and central nervous system. Immediately after birth, Borg infants receive neural implants, which provide physical nourishment as well as information from a network connecting all the Borg brains and nervous systems with the rest of their technology. The Borg grow completely dependent on the implants, with every Borg brain in contact with every other Borg brain at all times. They share a group mind—a kind of organic Internet accessed with thoughts instead of computers.

Thus, their vast spaceships automatically go where the group mind wills, and if damaged, the craft repair themselves. There is no hierarchy or chain of command in any normal sense. Significantly, this group mind was eventually labeled the Borg Collective. The Borg have numerical designations instead of names and a repulsive physical appearance. Surgically implanted mechanical devices often replace their eyes and limbs. Individual Borg have extreme difficulty initiating action or even reacting to immediate surroundings without a cue from the group mind that can see through their eyes and communicate through their implants. ...

The Borg conform well to the notion that collectivism is essentially parasitic. The Borg subsist by assimilating other cultures, adding new technologies to their own. The Borg are the ultimate users, ...
Collectivism usually means an economic system that puts the group ahead of the individual. But that would not be enough to be an evil force on Star Trek. On the show, the good guys are economically collectivist anyway, and no one has any money.

The Borg are much worse than that. They destroy the human spirit. Today's Borg wannabes are brainwashing your kids at every opportunity. Their main enemies are family and religion. Without those ties and loyalties, your kids will be assimilated.

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