On Battlestar Galactica
Adama and Fascism
By Adam Roberts
Is Adama a fascist?
You might be forgiven for thinking so. He’s a military leader who takes control of the business of running human affairs. His power is absolute, and he uses it as he sees fit. It’s true he permits democratic elections and gives the civil authorities some leeway to govern; but he has no qualms, if he judges it appropriate, to overrule, to intervene, and even to lock the president in prison. Nobody, I think, is in any doubt where true power lies. He is a deeply conservative figure, suspicious of change and attached to traditional ways of doing things. Like Hitler, or Mussolini, he rallies his people in the cause of a great war upon which the very survival of civilization depends: he does this in part by giving the people a single identity defined by a quasi-mystical quest (for “Earth”). And we are invited, as viewers, to identify with, support, and perhaps even hero-worship Adama.
Okay, I’m being deliberately snippy here. To be serious for a moment: I don’t really think Adama is a fascist. But I do think the relationship between this TV series and the political question of authoritarian militarism is one of the most interesting things about Battlestar Galactica. Indeed, I’d go further than that: in the long and mostly inglorious history of science fictional militarism, BSG is one of the most interesting developments.
SF and Totalitarianism
So–where do you stand on the question of fascism? Good thing? Bad thing?
Yes. Me too.
But where does science fiction, as …