36 votes

Star Trek Into Darkness - A Coded Manifesto to the Soldiers in our Armed Forces. (Spoilers)

Though rare, letters sent to prisoners of war are usually scrubbed clean of any potentially helpful information and sterilized, so to speak, prior to being delivered to the captive soldiers. A useful message may make it through if it is targeted to just the right people and disguised or coded well enough to evade detection.

Many of our men and women in the armed forces are stuck doing a job that they know to be morally deficient and an unjust expense of American treasure, blood and goodwill. They are, however, bound by their oath and service commitment to continue to follow the orders of their superiors - to see the mission through. In many cases, their superiors are stuck in the same position - having to execute a mission that they have no faith in and see as a betrayal of conscience. They are all in effect Prisoners of War.

I am one of them.

If you pay close attention to JJ Abrams newest Star Trek film you will note that he dedicates it to the men and women who have fought and sacrificed in the armed services since 9/11. Not to the victims of the attacks - to the soldiers who have carried out the response. You see Star Trek Into Darkness is a film that contains encoded messages telling these captive men and women of conscience that there is a path to redemption.

The most visible example is the discussion between Kirk and Spock on a shuttle en route to board the Enterprise. They had just been sent on a secret mission to kill a terrorist who just executed an attack on the Federation headquarters. In the distorted morality field of hollywood cinema I didn't even recognize the problem until Spock pointed it out. Captain Pike, Kirks mentor, had been killed in the attack. Many innocent civilians were dead. They knew where the perpetrator was and they had the means to destroy him - movie logic dictates that they proceed to do just that. Spock, however, jars the audience back to reality by pointing out that execution of a criminal without trial is a betrayal of justice. Furthermore, the violation of the sovereign space of the Klingon home-world that would be required in such a mission was itself unjust and risked igniting a full blown conflict with the Klingons. Spock is emphatic and direct - to follow the orders they have been given would be wrong, immoral, unjust and places humanity in even greater danger.

Question your mission. Look at the broader picture. Apply the principles that you hold dear to the execution of your mission. Trust your conscience and be true to your convictions. These are the messages encoded into the scene. They are not the things that our military wants our soldiers to be doing.

Wow. I knew JJ Abrams was liberal, but we haven't heard from the anti-war hollywood liberal camp in a while and it is refreshing to see them back in action. I had assumed they were all sucking on the teat of the Department of Defenses public relations program that grants exclusive access if you promote the right message of American exceptionalism, hubris and intervention (I am looking at you Kathryn Bigelow). It appears that if your movie doesn't require the use of contemporary military sets, equipment or personell with which the military can tempt you then you can say what you really want to.

A second powerful moment is perhaps the scene which has the potential to have the greatest impact of all for service members. Chief Engineer Scotty has refused to sign receipt for weapons on board the Enterprise about which he does not know the makeup, purpose or potential. He protests to Captain Kirk and explains his rationale - that he would risk the lives of the entire crew if the weapons were to interfere with the reactor. Kirk does not share his concern and at a tense moment directly order Scotty to sign the receipt. Pause. This tiff over a seemingly innocuous bit of paperwork is, to me, the most important scene of the film. Scotty has the option here of simply signing the forms and absolving his own conscience. He could simply state that he was ordered to sign the form and so the consequences that may follow would be upon the head of his Captain - not on his own. That is what I expected Scotty to do. That is what we ask our soldiers to do - perform the mission and let the higherups worry about whether it is justified or moral. Brilliantly, Scotty does not just follow the order - After a short pause he states that rather than obey a direct order from his Captain against his judgement he would resign his post. There is an awkward stop where Kirk has to take a moment to consider the fact that his Engineer feels such strong conviction about the matter that he is willing to sacrifice his career for it. Kirk starts to convince Scotty that the issue is not worth resigning over - but Scotty interrupts and reaffirms - "Do you accept my resignation or not?" It was all that I could do not to stand up and cheer in the theater. Kirk reluctantly accepts the resignation - but it is clear that the exchange has taken him by surprise.

You have the power to act on your conscience. You have the power to say no. The armed services are not a collective following the directives of a single commander in chief. It is composed of individuals who each have a spark of humanity and a spirit of conscience which informs them of right and wrong. What ever contract you have signed, whatever obligation you owe - when faced with an order that violates what you know to be right - you can choose not to be the weapon in the hand of the oppressor. There is no way the military would approve of a scene like this in one of it's sponsored propaganda pieces.

Finally the message that the movie closes with really drives home the point of the film. In a speech at the opening of a new federation headquarters Kirk says something the effect of: "Despite the anger and outrage that we feel when attacked - by abandoning all of our principles, our morality and our conscience in pursuit of the enemy, we risk becoming the very monster that we despise." This is one of the last lines of the films and you are hit with the dedication to our servicemen and women just a few moments later. The close proximity of this message and that dedication are no accident. This film is meant for the military - for the prisoners of war.

There is much more to analyze about the film and it's message to the troops. The transformation that Kirk undergoes as he acknowledges the revenge and hatred that was his motivation and listens to his conscience (Spock), his own decision to disobey orders and take a morally sound path to fulfilling his mission and his willingness to confront his superiors when he knows their actions to be wrong all carry powerful signals to those who are accustomed to command structure and the impulse to follow order without question or introspection.

After the Anti-war film Oblivion and this latest Star Trek offering with a message of conviction and conscience I am eagerly hopeful that the liberal peace loving Hollywood has returned. Before discovering the philosophy of liberty I never thought that I woud be a peace loving hippy. Though I find myself in the armed services now (despite my best efforts to get out) I proudly wear that title.


The films subtitle "Into Darkness" is never directly addressed in the movie, but by the end it's meaning is clear. By abandoning the principles of law, justice and morality Admiral Marcus had brought the federation itself on a pathway into darkness. Only by stepping out of the rigid command structure, acting against unjust and immoral orders, and acting upon their conscience are the brave servicemen and women able to redeem themselves and restore the moral integrity of the Federation.

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Favorite thing about Star Trek

My favorite aspect of Star Trek has always been that it ISN'T ABOUT Star Trek. It was always about something bigger. I mean, Roddenberry wasn't exactly a libertarian, but he sought for the best qualities of humanity to surface and eventually take hold.

Biggest concern about the new series is that it will just be entertaining movies. Having had a week to think about Into Darkness, I feel like there may yet be hope!

www.standardexcellence.net - Bringing you Oklahoma, Texas and national news & opinion that matters for liberty.

Something else I noticed is

Something else I noticed is that Scotty questioned the officer who confronted him in the hangar bay of the USS Vengeance multiple times that he looked like private security, which may have been a reference to the US military awarding contracts to private security firms like Blackwater, Jericho, and others to occupy Iraq with little to no oversight and the dangers that come from that. The fact that all of the crew of the Vengeance also wore different uniforms I thought was supposed to be symbolic that they had forsaken their creed, morality, and philosophy for darker purposes.

It's a shame these political undertones are lost on so many people. For most who actually see the movie, it just bounces off of them. Others would just rather submit themselves to the mindnumbing explosions and physics-defying exploits of fast-driving criminals in Fast and Furious 37.

Go Scotty

Yeah I loved that Scotty stood up for himself and for what all us good liberty lovers saw as good sense.

Now if JJ could just stop SHAKING THE DAMN CAMERA maybe people would pick up on the subtle political messages...

www.standardexcellence.net - Bringing you Oklahoma, Texas and national news & opinion that matters for liberty.

Don't let the style overwhelm

Don't let the style overwhelm the underlying message. I consider it a very well crafted movie.

epic movie

One part I noticed that had some sybolism... the dreadnought class ship when it crash landed, It landed on Alcatraz prison. Kind of saying the corrupt will destroy it's own prisons.

Tools of war are not always obvious. The worst weapon is an idea planted in the mind of man. Prejudices can kill, suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has an everlasting fallout all of its own.

I did not notice that. I'll

I did not notice that. I'll have to see it again in the theater.

good points

those are very good points u made.
I had picked up the one about Spock pointing out about the execution vs a trial, but the other points are also relevant.

Dr.Ron Paul's 2002 Predictions

Great post!

Possible spoilers!!

I have to say, I've been fairly pleased with what has come out of Hollywood this year. I say this not to defend 90% of the disposable wastes of money that come to theaters. I say this because it appears that there still are good messages being stuck into movies (I don't know how many more Expendables/Zero Dark Thirtys/Argos/Django Unchaineds I can take). The messages may be hidden in cloaks of science fiction or grandiose action, but if you pay attention, they are there and I believe they are clear.

We've already had Oblivion and now Star Trek into Darkness (which, btw, the OP was able to elaborate on the good messages that the movie presented that I knew were there after seeing it, but couldn't put my finger on to put into words) but I don't want the message from Iron Man 3 to be forgotten. The idea of a fabricated war was made abundantly clear in that movie. Whether people look at the film as just some action popcorn summer movie or not, there still remains the fact that an idea has been planted in the public's minds. The film seems to metaphorically imagine, to a hilarious degree, the possibility that the entire War on Terror was and has been a farce. A farce so ubiquitously believed that not even Tony Stark and the Avengers knew about the deception until Stark saw it for himself. I mean maybe the writer/director was merely toying with the idea of "what if Osama Bin Laden was just a manufactured lie, a myth, a deception, a tool of seducing us into war for the benefit of the few" but either way, the seed was planted in millions of people's minds because of that movie. I'd say, so far, and with the addition of last year's underrated Cloud Atlas, that either the liberty movement is winning hearts and minds of even the most elitist in Hollywood, or Hollywood is pandering to a liberty-loving, government-skeptic crowd like it hasn't in years maybe because there are so many more of us now. Maybe.

Another review along similar

Another review along similar lines in the new yorker.


Gr8 piece! Will see the movie, just for this. B-B-B-Bump!

See subject line.

their oath demands the exact opposite (IMHO)

RE "They are, however, bound by their oath and service commitment to continue to follow the orders of their superiors - to see the mission through.":

Upon joining, their primary oath was to uphold/defend the USC. So it's their duty to refuse orders which violate it (that's what "defending it" means).
Those who take part in UNdeclared (and hence UNconstitutional) wars are directly violating their oaths by undermining that which they swore to defend.

It's complicated

This is an important comment and an issue which I have struggled to understand in the context of my own service.

Most soldiers who havent given much thought the the ethics or morality of what they do subscribe to the "Just following orders" mentality. I have discussed this with many of them. They feel an abundance of faith that what they are doing is just and right and that their superiors would not ask them to do something illegal. That is also the end of their evaluation - whether something is illegal or not. The issue of whether something is moral or not, despite its legality, is not frequently examined. Clearly the precedent established at Nuremberg demonstrates that this line of reasoning is flawed - each of them can be held accountable for their actions - even if they are just following orders.

The subtle chains which hold their minds in place can be described as compartmentalization of moral justification. The principles of Just War, which much of the US and international military ethics and law are based upon, are generally divided into two separate spheres - Jus in Bello or "the law in waging war" and Jus ad Bellum or "justifications for entering into war". Both of the elements make up the character of a nations participation in warfare.

It is reinforced at all levels that the introspection and evaluation that the low level soldiers may engage in is confined solely to the sphere of Jus in bello. That is to say that a soldier is limited to assessing the legality of his or her actions in the conduct of war - but has no business in evaluating whether or not his government was morally justified in engaging the war in the first place. In this way a soldier will be complacent in following orders to occupy a village, go street by street searching homes and arresting suspicious persons or those fitting a profile - if the orders are given with the justification that there is an enemy that they must pursue. In the course of that action, if the civilians respond by defending their homes with arms, then the soldier feels completely justified in defending their lives with lethal force. The soldiers believe that their conduct in war is justified because they stayed within all the parameters of the appropriate conduct of war that the military trained them with.

Low level soldiers do not get training in the Jus ad Bellum principles of Just War - or if they are exposed to it, they are told that it is the upper level military and government leaders who are responsible for evaluating whether or not the war is justified in the first place. Notions of state sovereignty, proportionality, right intention, reasonable hope and last resort are beyond the simple minds of the grunt and besides - if we let soldiers determine whether or not they believe that the war is justified and act on those believes then the command structure will break down and the military will lose effectiveness.

So the grunts are given a limited scope in which to evaluate the morality of their actions - and as they do so they are duped i nto believing they are following their oaths to support the constitution. I mean - the president and his military advisors have determined that the war is justified (that's their job, not the grunts), Congress has provided an Authorization for Use of Military Force, which is just as good as a declaration of war, so I am not in violation of the Constitution if i simply make sure that I stay within the laws of warfare in conducting my mission.

I would have no problem with this compartmentalization if it actually worked. But it doesn't. The top level military commanders are political beings who are motivated by their desire to further their careers and that means making the commander in chief look good and executing his vision as efficiently as possible, covering up any blemish and whitewashing any potential moral pitfall.

The peace loving hippies used to say "imagine if they put on a war and nobody showed up." I have a different vision. Imagine if the president called for war and his generals stood up and said "Sir, with respect to my oath to uphold the US Constitution and in deference to the rule of law, I cannot in good conscience follow your orders to engage in war. As such, I tender my resignation effective immediately." and then the next general who took that ones place stood and uttered the same phrase and resigned. And then the next, and the next and so on.

What if the state attempted to wield it's weapon of oppression only to find that it refused to be engaged.

This is a utopian vision that will never happen because the president gets to pick and choose his military advisors and will surround himself with costumed adorned sycophants with no independent moral compass. If one of them steps out of line -they will rapidly find a pressing need to retire, only to be replaced with an aspiring up and comer who is willing to play the game. The military is full of them.

Bump and thanks for the thoughtful review

enjoyed it thoroughly.

"Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern." ~~C.S. Lewis
Love won! Deliverance from Tyranny is on the way! Col. 2:13-15


You are a good wordsmith...
well done/great analysis.
Print this and mail/spread to troops far and wide!

Isn't Star Trek a fascist

Isn't Star Trek a fascist vision of the future?

Is this sarc?

Fascist? Life on Earth in the Star Trek universe seems to be the liberals' utopia of plenty for everyone, no need for money, and a strong military willing and able to use force against 'abuse' of liberty. The governments in the Star Trek universe follow the rule of law, and the Federation captains even get all preachy about it as they interact with other cultures. I'd call that statist rather than fascist.

Star Wars' Republic is fascist, having corporatists and trade unionists engaging in belligerent military-like activities, and thuggish Jedi 'keeping the peace' unbound by the rule of law. The galactic Empire was simply despotic totalitarianism.

Changing gears back to the article--I agree with the OP's point. The crew of the Enterprise are excruciatingly moral, and it lead to good ends.

A person might wonder, does moral behavior lead to success because of karma, because of luck, because God favors good deed doing, because the laws of nature are predisposed to rewarding good deed doing, or some other reason?

Take back the GOP and Restore America Now.

If you liked the concepts in this movie

I recommend taking a look at Star Trek: Enterprise with Scott Bakula. The events of the show take place one hundred years before the events in The Original Series with William Shatner as Kirk. It is a good introduction to Star Trek for fans of the new movies. It is the first warp-5 ship and it is an experimental design. They don't even have shields and aren't sure if the transporter room is safe to use for humans. I'd highly recommend it, because you really learn the heart and soul of what Star Trek is. The Federation is a loosely knit coalition of planets that have aligned themselves for common defense in their sectors of the galaxy. To put down space piracy, safely transport goods, etc. The leadership of the Federation and Starfleet, typically, do not dictate to other societies, unless the society is deemed to be stagnant (having gone hundreds of years without improving only to find some lost alien space probe is being worshipped as a god). Lots of episodes deal with this "Prime Directive" of non-interference, even though it doesn't exist yet at the time of Star Trek: Enterprise. It is a good primer for Star Trek and an interesting show to watch. Much like the original show cloaked controversial topics of the day in heavy science fiction plots and characters, so did Enterprise. It was a good show and its unfortunate the show was cancelled. Largely because of the long story arcs which most prime time viewers started to get confused by. All seasons of the show are streamable on Netflix. (Section 31 is also in this show)

Give me a break

Its a science fiction story.

One that happened to be

One that happened to be penned by none other than Bob Orci, who was a Ron Paul supporter. How do I know? He said so!


I agree that Star Trek is a fascist fetishists wet dream. However the military today is the same. These are the people that the message is targeted for and so it's not surprising that that is the context in which the message is delivered. I don't think it diminishes the validity of the points that are made.

Well Said

Thanks for the great analysis. I do believe there is a mass awakening of consciousness taking place. It's a race between the rapidity of those awakening versus the efficiency of the warmongering obedience propaganda machine operated by those who would benefit from a population just wakeful enough to blindly do their bidding, but no more.

~ Engage in the war of attrition: http://pacalliance.us/redamendment/

beautiful and poignant commentary.

George Lucas actually tried to get the notion of "False Flag" into the public consciousness in his revamped Star Wars Ep 1~3 series... but I don't think it truly hit a crescendo, until Dan BiDondi of InfoWars.com confronted the statist whores at the press conference, and for almost a full week, "false flag" has been googled more than any other term!

whatever the vehicle/agent of change/impetus leading to an internal reflection/catharsis/eureka moment, etc., whatever the medium of change that will eventually crack open the Red-Pill seed sowed, but left dormant and unattended, I commend and welcome them ALL, be they overt or covert, or even subversive 'inside baseball' communicae to the 'Resistance!'

Frankly, until you worded it that way, it didn't truly 'hit me'-hit me, that some of our volunteer servicemen/women actually saw themselves, as "prisoners of war," as well.

That, is a blunt of a reality characterization, as it gets...

moi, a work in progress to be sure, but truly, regardless of how corny it may seem, only if, just if, we can all deal with each other like loving human beings, and communicate to each other that way, 99% of all human-caused conflicts will cease to exist, no?

such 'simple' realization and solution of simultaneous, concurrent critical mass of non-compliance to tyranny...yet the interim ugly manifestations vast contradictions in human will, before getting 'there,' has always been the main source of frustration with our entire human condition, IMO.

Hope the 'awakening' comes sooner...'cause the Big Storm commeth.

Glad to have you on the right side of history, my friend.

Predictions in due Time...

"Let it not be said that no one cared, that no one objected once it's realized that our liberties and wealth are in jeopardy." - Dr. Ronald Ernest Paul

Rod Serling

Was a master at this using Sci-Fi as a vehicle to get his message out without the censors catching on (like Roddenberry, "too cerebral") through his masterpiece TZ episodes.

American Masters Documentary:


"I, __________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."


There is no duration defined in the Oath

Bump, bump, bump

This thread should be on the front page. It was a great movie - much better than the last - despite the overuse of Trek references, a few minor plot holes, and the almost unforgivable rehash of an iconic Trek death scene. (They had a clean slate to boldly go anywhere they wanted to - is there no originality in Hollywood? Maybe for the next film, they could have an alien probe sucking up the freshwater springs in Nevada and Arizona because there has been no response from the Relict Leopard Frogs, and Kirk, et al, can go back in time to get a few.)

But in addition to its entertainment value, it gives us an opportunity to discuss the moral issues beauxcphus mentioned above.

"Have you seen Star Trek yet? Did you notice the dedication at the end? Did you notice Kirk didn't kill the bad guy in this one - and why? Did you notice officers questioning orders instead of blindly obeying? Did you notice how often corruption is found at the highest levels?"

With the movie-going public we have a chance to initiate some thought provoking discussion about the moral aspects of current events, which is what Star Trek always was: Morality plays disguised as science fiction. Shall we begin?

No King but Jesus, no President but Ron Paul



it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--

Great analogy

Our troops are prisoners of war,never thought of it that way before!
I'm thankful there are troops like you out there.

I did not get the anti war message from Oblivion, until I read the post on here about it. Makes total sense now though.

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
-Thomas Paine

"Despite the anger and outrage that we feel when attacked -

by abandoning all of our principles, our morality and our conscience in pursuit of the enemy, we risk becoming the very monster that we despise."

But, but, but... they hate us for our freedoms!

Now which one of those sentiments sounds more rational?

Thanks for the heads up beauxcphus! Wow... Now I gotta see that film!

Can't say I trust Hollywood so, the only thing I can think about it is that maybe we are more ahead in the game than we think we are.

“It is the food which you furnish to your mind that determines the whole character of your life.”
―Emmet Fox

Liberal Peace Loving Hollywood?

That has never been the case as much as it gets purported. Hollywood smoothed WW2 over with the masses, made it 'romantic' and was cartooned in Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, etc etc.

I have worked in Hollywood most of my career (just now leaving to start my own biz in Montana this year). From my experience, peace loving hollywood is and has always been a farce. Every community has people with different views so I am not saying Abrahms isn't peace loving per se, but this 'Hollywood' community of peace you speak of is non-existent.

What hollywood is, is Fascist. They love the idea of a social system where everyone is equal except them, whereas they are above equal. Like the people from the Capital in "Hunger Games", everyone is equal to be treated like animals while they wear funny costumes as apparel and paint/tattoo their bodies like clowns and proclaim the sophistication of it.

All that said, I will probably see the movie. I like the first one. :-D

This is a great post and a good analysis

I'm glad someone in Hollywood still has a shred of a conscience. This is exactly the type of film that is needed desperately right now.

I've been out of the Military since the start of Iraq when I resigned over the war. There were a lot of good officers that left over that fiasco, especially at the beginning. I'm hopeful the rest have learned some valuable life lessons since then.