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From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

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From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

Photo caption: William Shatner as James Kirk in Star Trek © 1969 CBS Photo Archive/ IMDB). Article by Douglas Mann.

Star Trek and the Liberal Utopian Dream

When Gene Roddenberry first pitched Star Trek to NBC, he framed it as an epic voyage of rugged space pioneers akin to the westerns that then dominated the airwaves. What we got over the next three years was a deep exploration of two separate but linked phenomena: modern liberal politics and utopian technologies. By the former I don’t mean what now passes for liberalism. Instead, it was a more robust sense of a future where, at least within the boundaries of the Federation, material need was largely overcome, people worked for pride or glory instead of money, and racism had disappeared from human cultures. […]

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