Do the ends justify the means? This six-word statement has been around for centuries as people use this phrase to decide whether or not their actions are justifiable for the result. We have discussed this phrase in great detail throughout my Poly-Sci 101 class this semester. We have discussed Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince and the Machiavellian belief that when faced with a decision of whether or not the ends justify the means, there are five options to choose: cooperate, negotiate, compromise, cheat, and murder.
Last week I decided to go see the new movie Interstellar. The premise behind the movie, for those of you who don’t know, is that the Earth is dying, and the human race must find a new home. NASA (which is now a secret underground organization) has devised a plan to send four people on a mission to find a new livable world. They were told there were 2 plans: plan A and plan B. Plan A got everyone on Earth off and on to the new planet while plan B left everyone on Earth stranded to die and set up a new civilization with cryogenically frozen eggs on our new planet.
The leader of this new NASA organization knew that only one man, “Coop”, could lead this mission safely. However, in pure Machiavellian tactics, he lied to Coop and the rest of the crew that included his own daughter in telling them that plan A was feasible. In reality, he knew the only option available to the crew was to leave Earth and never return home, leaving families, friends, and everything behind for good. Unaware of this information, the crew accepted the mission and embarked into outer space.
When devising this plan, the leader of NASA had to ask himself, “do the ends justify the means?” He decided that it was more important to find a new planet and restart the human race than to figure out a way to keep everyone on Earth alive. He lied to his own daughter, and to a man who loved his children more than anything in order to do what he felt was best. But the real question becomes was it worth it? How could one man be responsible for wiping out the entire human race in hopes of finding a new planet and starting a new race on it?
The simple answer is he felt the ends justified the means. At the end of the day, he felt that Earth was a lost cause. This man acted selfishly and chose to lie and deceive his crew and members of his own family in order to put into action the plan he thought best suited the situation. He did not negotiate, compromise, or cooperate; but rather he cheated and murdered billions of innocent people living on Earth. His Machiavellian ideals were portrayed through his deceit and deception. However, I personally believe he had the best interest of society in mind. Although he lied to his crew and left everyone on Earth to die, at the end of the day he was trying to repopulate and salvage civilization anyway he could. The NASA leader’s ideals and plan in Interstellar perfectly demonstrate not only Machiavellian tactics to get what you want, but also is a perfect example in deciding whether or not the ends justify the means.