by James Corbett
August 22, 2020
Whether you’re a die-hard Trekkie or someone who would never be caught dead watching one of those silly sci-fi shows, if you were around in the ’90s you will remember the Borg catchphrase:
“Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”
For those not in the know, the phrase “resistance is futile” was introduced to popular culture via “Q Who,” a 1989 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which the crew of the Enterprise encounter the Borg, a collective of cyborgs connected to a hive mind via cybernetic implants. The Borg went on to become one of the most iconic antagonists of the Star Trek universe, but it wasn’t their fiery passion or their over-the-top villainry that made them so chilling. Quite the contrary. It was their cold, calculating, machine-like intelligence and their singular aim of assimilating all new species into their collective that made the Borg so creepy.
The Borg weren’t out to kill humanity, only to “add [humanity’s] biological and technological distinctiveness to [the Borg’s] own.”
Now, you might not think this has much to do with our present predicament, and up until a week ago I would have agreed with you. But then I found myself reading a Trekker’s earnest reddit post on why “Resistance is Futile was always a lie.” In this surprisingly thoughtful post, reddit user “67thou” notes that the Borg’s iconic boast that “resistance is futile” was really just a bluff:
“The Borg know full well that not only are their targets able to put up resistance, and in some cases even pose a threat to the Borg directly (Species 8472); the Borg know that resistance jeopardizes their true goal: Assimilation.
“The fact that the Borg track ‘Resistance Quotients’ suggests they have a scale at which they measure a species willingness and ability to resist assimilation. Not their ability to fight back per se, but rather their ability to change the cost/benefit for the Borg in the effort to assimilate.
“The Borg are clearly powerful and able to destroy entire worlds on a whim.