Friday, April 25, 2014

Civilization Endgame or Endless Cycle

A recent program on the Military Channel showed computer animation of the new Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier sailing the open ocean making it look undeniably majestic and powerful. The steel gray color of its hull cast a sharp, dominating contrast compared to the peaceful blue seas. While the array of sleek jet fighters sitting on the flight deck were only a slightly veiled threat promising a high-tech retribution if anyone dare go against the interests of the United States. All told, the carefully crafted images were meant to create both a sense of safety and strength for an American public who are assaulted almost daily with chilling news that there are evil people all over the world who wish to do them, their families, and truthfully most of all, their precious lifestyle harm.

Along with the simulated images was a male voice giving an authoritarian but ultimately fatherly narration touting the benefits of the new thirteen billion dollar mega-toy. Beside some honestly amazing technical advances the official voice of the military/industrial complex pointed out that the ships of this new class would in a way save money since it could be fully operational with a much smaller crew compared to the older types of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. When put up against the mindless parade of reality shows airing on the now misnamed “History Channel” a person could almost overlook the obvious elements of propaganda inherit to the show exclaiming how peachy keen these new naval vessels are going to be.

This might seem a betrayal of my commie pinko, liberal tendencies but I did agree with the program that there was a real case for building the Ford-class aircraft carriers. Mainly because the Nimitz-class ships are getting older, which requires even more money for refurbishment and general upgrades. On another level, undoubtedly appealing to the reptilian part of my brain, I have to concede that the world is a dangerous place which will require that the United States maintains a reasonable level of offensive military capacity. However, there was a comment made by the unseen fatherly narrator that did bother me greatly.

As the show was reaching a crescendo of both martially inspired music and patriotic fervor the narrator gleefully mentioned, to the point his voice began to take on a malevolent tone, that this new class of aircraft carrier would meet the defense needs of the United States well into the twenty-second century.

Call me a bastard child of the 1960's forever corrupted by leftover utopian dreams and Star Trek reruns but I somehow found it perverted and insane to contemplate that humans could still be pursuing armed conflict in the twenty-second century.

In my admittedly semi-deranged mind by that time we should be heavily engaged in repairing the damage we have done to our planet, expanding the possibilities of development for all peoples, while cruising the outer limits of our solar system and dipping our toes into the depths of interstellar space. Yeah, my preconceived notions for the proper direction of human civilization reeks of rose-colored and impractical expectations. Humans are largely brutal, irrational, and dull creatures with only the rare exceptions who, often at great danger to themselves, seek to expand the species knowledge of the universe and themselves. I wish I could rationalize the shows conclusion as just a self righteous prediction of a far too powerful special interest intent on preserving its privileged status.

The problem is that from my observations the general public rarely thinks beyond the next holiday or even weekly paycheck. Even worse are the people who have accepted the current limits of human civilization and have no concept that something could exist outside it.

Years ago one of my truest best friends, Brian Smith, and I stumbled into a discussion on the state of the world. This took place in the early 1990's amidst the collapse of the Soviet Union. I had gotten caught up in the belief that we were at the beginning of a new era with the Cold War coming to an end. It was of course naive on my part but I was in the company of some major intellectuals who had proclaimed nothing less than the “end of history.” I somehow saw the political conditions of the 1990's as the chance to build a better world that so many people had dreamed about back in the 1960's. 

Brian on the other hand saw the 1960's in a very different light, to him it was a decade on internal American conflict so extreme the very foundation of the nation was threatened. In his view the 1990's was just a brief respite between the ending of one struggle for global domination and the beginning of another that would go on indefinitely. I can only speak for myself, but to this day I believe if that is the actual state of human civilization I have no fear of Hell because we're already there.


Pixel Peeper said...

I wonder if in the twenty-second century we'll be busy building sea walls instead of aircraft carriers.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I say we should keep on hoping for the best. Humanity's gonna learn how to live in peace someday. Right? Right.

Rose L said...

I like to think that positive and good things will happen. There is good in humanity, and good can make a big difference.