Happy New Year!
For some reason, I decided to spend the last two days watching an old two-part episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9 called “Past Tense.” It has been on my mind as 2024 approached probably because I have spent the last few days thinking and making my own predictions about 2024.
In the episode, a freak transporter accident sends Captain Sisko, Dax and Doctor Bashir back in time to San Francisco in the year 2024. Neoliberal capitalism has run wild in the United States. The have nots who have lost out under our economic system have been incarcerated in “Sanctuary Districts.” Homeless people, common criminals and down on their luck Americans have been swept up off the streets and put of sight in San Francisco. American society has moved on and forgotten about these losers.
Captain Benjamin Sisko leads an uprising in Sanctuary District A in early September in what history remembers as The Bell Riots. It is a turning point in American history. The Sanctuary Districts are closed and the Federal Employment Act is reinstated. A shocked America has its conscience stirred by The Bell Riots and turns away from neoliberal capitalism and toward economic justice where every American is guaranteed the right to a job. It is a key progressive stepping stone toward the world of the Federation. The whole timeline is temporarily erased when Gabriel Bell is killed and event doesn’t happen.
Anyway, I am bringing up this cultural artifact from the mid-1990s because its shows how Progressivism has changed over the past thirty years. There isn’t a single accusation of “racism” in the two episodes. No one is “woke.” The protagonist Captain Sisko is a black man, but race is muted and the focus is entirely on class conflict. The Bell Riots are about economic justice, not racial justice. There is no obsession with gender or culture either in “Past Tense” and the happy ending is envisioned as guaranteed employment.
The writers of the episode got some key things right about the future: San Francisco is a shithole in 2024 and neoliberal capitalism has indeed created a huge gap between the haves and have nots there. At the same time, they got some major things wrong: the criminals and the working poor aren’t locked up together with sympathetic people in Sanctuary Districts. There are no drug addicts in the episode. Instead, the criminals, drug addicts and homeless people have been allowed to overrun the city and drive out the middle class. It is inconceivable that Gov. Gavin Newsom would ever launch an authoritarian crackdown on homeless people in San Francisco that changes the course of American history. The lumpen proletariat is coddled and glorified by the Left, not shunned by it in favor of the forgotten man.
Where is the Left in 2024 in the fourth year of the Biden administration? Is it going anywhere?
It is inconceivable that anything like the Federal Employment Act will pass Congress in 2024. Also, while we can all imagine riots in the summer of 2024, it is difficult to imagine the Left rioting over economic justice. Instead, the Left riots over things like accusations of “racism,” police brutality, Trump rallies, monuments of Christopher Columbus, which ultimately fizzle and amount to nothing like the Summer of Floyd. Endless rounds of backlash politics against what the Left has become is propelling Trump back to power. Rich people in America are also doing better than ever as we close in on Dow 40,000.
The Star Trek timeline that the Left imagined in the mid-1990s has been erased. We are clearly on a trajectory to a very different future. What happened?