But, it is striking what a conservative movie Serenity is. In the 1930s, when ideological content was deliberate and ideological deviationism was denounced, Serenity would be villified [sic] as "fascist" for its opposition to social planning. The upshot: a capitalistic freebooter opposes the egalitarian—democratic—"Parliament." [...] Indeed, to the extent Mal Reynolds has an ideological agenda it is merely to stand in the way of Utopia and the desire of tyrants to impose happiness on people whether they like it or not. Beyond that, he simply believes in people living their lives as they see fit, so long as their interests don't collide with his.
There are so many errors in this post, it's difficult to know where to begin. The best place to start, perhaps, is to note the one thing Goldberg gets right, namely the description of Malcolm Reynolds' basic socio-politial beliefs. But here, on Earth-That-Will-Have-Been, especially in present-day America, the word "conservative" is entirely inappropriate for describing such viewpoints; "libertarian" or "classical(ly) liberal," yes, but "conservative," most certainly not. As I pointed out in an earlier post, "[r]egular conservatives and neo-conservatives alike claim their moral values are 'absolute'," which not only justifies, but practically requires ramming those values down others' throats. It is almost superfluous to point out that this is antithetical to allowing people to live their lives as they themselves see fit.
This brings me to the notion that Serenity's message "would be vilified as 'fascist'." Goldberg's point would be more comprehensible had he bothered to state by whom it would be vilified, but unless the persons in question (whoever they are) have a serious misconception of what fascism entails, Goldberg's point is a straw man. Fascism, like all totalitarian ideologies, involves a massive amount of "social planning." In The Doctrine of Fascism (1932), Mussolini himself states:
If the XIXth century was the century of the individual (liberalism implies individualism) we are free to believe that this is the "collective" century, and therefore the century of the State. [...] If liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government. [...] The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporative, social, and educational institutions, and all the political, economic, and spiritual forces of the nation, organized in their respective associations, circulate within the State.
If anything, Serenity celebrates individualism, and warns against collectivism and the power of the state; it is difficult to imagine anything more diametrically opposed to the fundamental tenets of fascism. There are the film's supposedly anti-democratic tendencies, but these are hard to credit, given that the Alliance's credentials as a democracy are dubious at best. For starters, Reynolds' nemesis, the Operative, is an agent of Parliament—presumably a legislative body—but carries out functions properly reserved to the executive, in a manner which indicates he is above the law. Furthermore, it is obvious that the Alliance does not have universal suffrage. Most likely, the system resembles that of the Roman republic (or the early United states), with different levels of citizenship and the franchise restricted to "full" citizens only. But most importantly, the fact that Reynolds needs the help of Mr. Universe to disseminate the information he has uncovered indicates that there is no free press, no free flow of information, allowing the government to keep the voters in the dark about its activities. So we have an imperfect rule of law, flawed separation of powers, and a government which is de jure answerable to only part of its citizens, and de facto actively attempts to dodge that responsibility as well; in short, the Alliance is not a democracy.
The best indicator of Goldberg's tenuous grasp on reality (and that's putting it charitably), though, is that he thinks Firefly/Serenity's socio-political message is unambiguously black-and-white. There is plenty of nuance to be found, both in the background and in the characters themselves, if one bothers to look for it (a seemingly rare trait in present-day America, I admit). The Alliance's motives are ultimately benign; the problem is that the road to Hell is, famously, paved with good intentions, including the Alliance's. For that matter, it seems plausible that many of the Independent worlds were ruled by dictatorships which only fought Unification because they didn't want to lose their spot on the gravy train. Reynolds' disapproval of prostitution, and authoritarian tendencies aboard ship make him an imperfect poster boy for libertarianism. One of things which made Firefly a great show is that it did not present the viewer with prefabricated "truths," but allowed him to form his own opinions. The value of this is obviously lost on someone who subscribes to "absolute moral values."