In Defense of the Borg
Who are these Borg anyway? According to Wikipedia “The Borg are a fictional pseudo-race of cybernetic organisms depicted in the Star Trek universe.” They were cleverly designed to be an extremely powerful and evil race to fight against Star Trek’s “virtuous” Federation of Planets. Could it be that the powers-that-be have created a Boogeyman in order to place all the attention upon him, whilst avoiding any of it upon themselves?
In all honesty, the point is not to defend The Borg, for they are an effective science fiction arch villain character. Instead, I intend to use the character’s subtext to show that The Borg represent a viable and even desirable future for humanity. This is particularly true in light of major planetary problems which the human species is now confronting.
The fundamental conflict between the Borg and humans is that of the Collective versus the individual.
Furthermore, we are told that it is only throughout the power of a few chosen man-of-courage, genius and virtue that humanity has advanced. But is this not a wholehearted myth? I do not deny that by means of incredible efforts and initiative many individuals have indeed achieved and contributed a great deal to civilization. But the question remains. Have any of these individuals achieved anything solely, uniquely and truthfully on their own? The answer is a resounding no!
Human beings are individuals, of course. But they are first and foremost social beings; totally dependent on one another. At birth, humans are already born into a family unit of at least two; the mother and the baby. But even the mother belongs to a larger social group which provides food, clothing, shelter, health care, etc.
In short, humans are so frail at birth and their development takes so long, that it makes them entirely dependent on society to survive. Just about anything a human being does throughout his or her life will be done in concert and with the help of others.
Ironically, the more we become isolated from each other by accentuating our mythical individualism, the weaker we become. It is throughout the aggregated power of others that our individual power increases exponentially.
In light of these arguments we see that the conflict between the Borg and humanity is not that of the collective versus the individual but instead between lower forms of human collective and the collective of a truly advanced civilization. Nevertheless, many of you would argue that the Borg are evil. There is no denying that the creators of this fictitious character did add some nasty traits; to wit:
- They are ugly, dark-grey and zombie like
- They are mindless drones
- They are not individuals
- They conquer and assimilate other species by force
It is inconceivable that such an advanced civilization could not have solved beauty…
The Borg are called mindless drones. Again this doesn’t seem logical since they have achieved huge technological progress in order to connect to the hive-mind. In addition, the rate of learning once plugged-in is probably enormous. Once again the “mindless” moniker doesn’t fit.
How, to conquer and forcefully assimilate other species is truly evil. It is somewhat ironical that in real life human civilizations have done precisely that. However, it is more likely that instead of conquering and assimilating different species; the Borg would actually have to deliberate on countless civilizations desperately wanting to join in.
It is unlikely that when the chasm between two distinct civilizations is so large, that the advanced civilization assimilates the backward one. There are other characters in the Star Trek universe that are a lot more developed, such as the Omnipotent Q. And this extremely advanced civilization simply doesn’t accept anyone else in their club: Such behavior is more realistic.
Let us enumerate some of the many qualities exhibited by the Borg.
- There are no secrets, therefore truth reigns supreme
- They are probably extremely democratic
- They will of the people always rules
- They have the ultimate form of mental communication
- They make ample use of enhanced cybernetic parts
- They have a decentralized command-and-control network
- They synthesize nutrients at the cellular level so they don’t eat
- They are extremely adaptive and respond incredibly fast
- Their thoughts and emotions are preserved for ever
And lastly, they operate solely toward the fulfilling of one purpose: To add the biological and technological distinctiveness of other species to their own in pursuit of perfection.
“Adding the distinctiveness of other species” means that when they do assimilate another species, their entire cultural heritage is preserved forever. Contrast this Borg behavior with our own and we come up short. How many cultures have been lost, forever, to conquest? I have heard that these days an entire language is lost forever, every two weeks!
In parting, thinking about the Borg reminds me of the old quote from the Roman author Phaedrus: “Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.”