After watching episode 7 in season 1 of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”, it again dawned on me how the political left is so invested on selling the “we’re all in one boat together’ mantra. This episode featured another internal struggle between Mr Spock’s human and Vulcan sides. One of the characters, a pirate captain played by non-binary actress Jesse James Keitel, tried to get Mr Spock to see that he was not beholden to putting himself into any box; that it was more important to know who he was as opposed to what he was.
Star Trek was always meant to be not just an exploration of how 20th (now 21st) century man would navigate in a 23rd century world, but also an exploration of self; of the human consciousness.
As a side note, this was my first time seeing Jesse James Keitel perform. It didn’t take long for me to pick up on the messaging that she would share just based on her body language and her dress. She gave an excellent performance and given how the episode ended, I am sure we will see her again.
My question is, can America navigate an increasingly competitive global economic space as a socially non-binary nation-state? Does the big tent approach make the United States stronger or is the narrative just a way to get sub-cultures to strip themselves of their own identities and submit themselves to the dominant culture, whatever that culture may be?
My answer is … that depends.
My initial instinct was to say no. The big tent approach means clashing cultures and mores. If America is to project a nation-state voice that is to be trusted, it cannot be seen as talking out of both sides of its mouth. It cannot afford to be seen in cultural disarray. No other country will want to trade or politically align with a nation that doesn’t know who it is.
On further reflection, is it really necessary for a nation to be splintered while held together by some dominant culture? The United States splintered into political factions almost from the start with the factions coming to a head during its civil war. The war settled the discourse on whether the US would remain agrarian or venture full throttle into the industrial age.
But prior, during, and post civil war, there was always a dominant white/wealthy, Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture to hold the country and later nation-state together. That ethnic group’s hold on American culture started to wane after World War II and well into the 1960s. Immigrants from Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia have changed the political fabric, meaning that political power would have to cater somehow to these groups in exchange for their votes.
As an immigrant myself, I have witnessed over the last 42 years the waning of WASP influence. I am not going to sit here and say that I love WASP culture. I will always be Caribbean. I will say, however, that you don’t have to like the aesthetics of an anchor to appreciate the stability and certainty that comes with it. As long as I live in this country and recognize that my economic success lays in large part with the success the United States has globally, then I prefer to see the United States go back to its old anchor, WASP culture.
Yes, the culture is bland. Its philosophy attempts to divide the natural world into physical time, economic yield, and race. I acknowledge that, but it doesn’t mean I have to play in it; to walk around like a chocolate or caramel covered cracker. I engage it and trade with it where there is value to be exchanged. If there is no value to trade, I will not force myself on it and I will not allow it to force itself on me.
As the Christians say, I am in the world not of the world.
WASPs when dealing with the world around them need to take on this approach. For example, when it comes to China, you can’t look at the Asian Tiger as an adversary or at best a factory state existing only to spit out cheap goods. Nor can the US threaten to use its military stick to beat back China from reclaiming Taiwan on the pretense that it is about preserving Taiwan’s democracy when Taiwan’s only benefit is as a source of electronic components.
With these tweaks, America can speak with a clear voice abroad. This voice has to be clear and unified here at home first. And for that to happen, a WASP culture updated for a global 21st century, needs to be who it is and take America back.
17 June 2022
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