There was an awful lot of whispered dialogue and I only caught every other word, so I had to resort to the Wikipedia summary to fill in the parts of the plot that simply passed me by.
It was pretty much as expected. It’s the year 2174, planet Earth is dying and an enormous spaceship is launched to carry 60,000 colonists to rebuild mankind on the distant, Earth-like Tanis. Then things start going horribly wrong.
In between the whispered dialogue and people clambering about the very industrial-looking set, I began to wonder what would happen if, in the future, such a spaceship might be launched not because the planet is dying, but because the people of the political left and right have become so polarised that they can no longer share the same space. Two spaceships, in fact, one carrying 60,000 right-wingers to Planet Conservative and the other, 60,000 bleeding-hearts to Planet Liberal.
How would they fare if each planet was populated solely by people who think and feel exactly the same you (or they) do?
I imagine Planet Conservative would establish an authoritarian government. The religious-right would demand a link between the state and the church and all other religions would be banned. Next, they would vote on a constitution based on 400-year-parchment and authorise a standing army that would, well.., stand, apart from the regular Friday night internecine special forces punch-up.
Some economic conservative would corner the market on the new planet’s natural resources, but particularly oil, coal and gas, and the factories would be compelled to churn out as much greenhouse gases as they possibly can since everyone knows that global warming and climate change are myths put about by east coast liberals. And windmills are yesterday’s news.
The family unit would follow the traditional patriarchal model (no same-sex marriages) and women will be homemakers by law and produce many, many children since between the outlawed childhood vaccination programme and accidental shootings, most won’t make to adulthood. (Vaccinations cause autism, you know, and the right to bear arms is compulsory)
Conservative ‘scientists’ will spend most of their time proving that God created the planet and only about two weeks before the spaceship arrived, so they won’t have much energy left for any of that enlightenment nonsense. As a result, all kinds of technology will stagnate and the word ‘philosopher’ will pass into disuse.
And the population is subdued by watching CBN (the Conspiracy Broadcasting Network), prepper documentaries and proselytising evangelical programmes preaching to the converted, although, since no-one could get their heads around inventing tv, they are performed live at rodeo shows, in between country and western music and recorded speeches by Ronald Reagan.
Meanwhile, on Planet Liberal, many lives would be lost in the weeks and months after the spaceship lands as the colonists argue over how to hold free and fair elections rather than focus on the basics of food and shelter. Then they would argue over what should and shouldn’t be in the new written constitution, in the end agreeing to compromise and include every single idea in the 1,354-page document.
Finally knuckling down to the job of surviving, private ownership of the means of production would be outlawed and replaced by collectivism. All those employed in each industry would have an equal say in production plans and, as a result, not much would get done. Especially as the compulsory trade unions more concerned with pay and conditions, which would be extremely generous, of course. (A three-day working weeks, forty weeks holiday a year and indefinite maternity, paternity and because-I-can’t-be-arsed leave)
Heat and energy would be a major problem. Despite an abundance of fossil fuels, these are banned because they are bad for the planet, especially fracking, and the deep liberal suspicion of nuclear energy and its potential misuse for weapons of war.
Although there is an initial plan to bar religions of all kinds, these would be dropped under pressure from the Jedi Knights, Pagans, Satanists and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It would then be agreed that anyone can worship anything, including bits of string, as long as all anythings are given equal respect by all anyones.
There would be no such thing as a typical family, in fact, the liberal colonists will take great pride in there being no two families alike in terms of the sex, roles and number parents, nor any agreement how to raise children who for the most part will be left to raise themselves. Sadly, in an ironic twist of fate, lots of children die because of a breakdown in their immunity as vaccination is rejected as an ‘unnatural’ practice and rejection of GM foods.
In time, the entire planet will be populated by scientists, academics and thinkers. As a result, energy will be wasted as science flies off in every conceivable direction, and despite a multitude of great ideas, not much will actually get done. Oh, and the very many tv producers of Strictly Come Dancing, hippie documentaries, cake baking programmes and obscure arts programmes.
Which is all good. While Planet Conservative develops weapons of mass destruction, namely chemicals, napalm, barrel bombs etc, it would lack the scientific wherewithal to launch them on Planet Liberal, whereas Planet Liberal will have the know-how to transmit vegan, pilates and colonic irrigation propaganda to tv sets on Planet Conservative that are black and white and only capable of receiving re-runs of The Beverley Hillbillies, I Love Lucy and Fox News.
I hope you take my point. The political polarisation that we see happening before our very eyes is most worrying, because the right needs the left and the left needs the right if only as a reality check on the madness of the other.