The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (In 300 Years)

In his essay, Sarantakes recounts the Star Trek episode “Tomorrow the Universe” wherein the Star Trek gang has the opportunity to end Hitler before the rise and fall of the Third Reich would take place. In this case, the allegory of “fascism” is more so a direct reference. There is no stand-in for communism or Red China; Hitler and the third Reich are actually in the episode. In one scene, for example, Spock and Kirk talk in the (depiction of) real NSDAP headquarters. However, the key message of this particular allegory is the moral righteousness of democracy. Upon reflecting on their intervention in the course of history, the Star Trek gang realize that “intervention – no matter how well intentioned – is a mistake.” This realization bolsters the “supremacy of democracy over other forms of government.”

The Star Trek series gives insight into the effectiveness of using fiction to comment on contemporary and current social issues. The notion of fiction is fakeness and for this reason, works of fiction tend to carry less sobriety than those of actual historical research or analysis. But the message present is arguably just as salient towards the reader. For example, Robert Jordan did not actually exist, but For Whom the Bell Tolls imparts an unavoidable disdain in the reader for the fascista regime of Francisco Franco. In the same way, Star Trek carries a moral weight with the watcher. The shows, while seemingly mundane, subtly champions democracy as the supreme and most righteous form of government.

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4 thoughts on “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (In 300 Years)”

  1. I found the more explicit allegories like this one to be more surprising. The clear reference to Nazis gives this episode a definite enemy. Yet in spite of the fact that the enemies are unmistakably evil, the directors send the message that the other side still must uphold moral standards. In this case, intervention is the morally superior option. While intervening might appear tempting, a critical factor in victory over the enemy is to actually perform in a way that reflects superior values.

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  2. I found it interesting that you discussed how works of fiction carry less sobriety than analysis of real events. I think this key element is a reason why ideas and concepts are so easily conveyed and imparted on the audience in science fiction and fantasy; viewers are able to form judgements of topics without the weight and complexity of real world examples.

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    1. This also allows viewers to entertain different ideas on topics more readily because their preconceived values and beliefs are absent when events are presented anew.

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  3. In addition, I think that fiction, which can include anything that the artist can think up, is often more honest than non-fiction events or works, in addition to being less sober as you noted. Real world events often have secrets or ambiguities, and non-fictional works often use evidence to make a particular argument. On the other hand, fiction can be thought of as a true “experiment:” simply creating a situation and seeing how it would reasonably play out. In this way, the full situation can better be known.

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