Star Trek, in all its spin-offs and manifestations, has always been one of my favorite entertainment franchises. But lets face it, the world of Star Trek is a Utopian socialist fantasy.
Realizing this fact actually makes watching Star Trek more enjoyable. I get a kick out of watching and pointing out the absurd economic and political fallacies in the show. There are two main aspects to the socialist fantasy of Star Trek, the economic and the cultural. Economically the show is yet another instance of the classic utopian socialist fantasy of a society without money. Culturally the show reflects the prejudices and misconceptions of modern paternalistic liberalism. Gene Rodenberry
imagined The United Federation of Planets
as a society that had moved beyond money.
Supposedly the invention of replicator technology, in which energy can be transformed into any kind of matter, had created a post-scarcity society for which money was now superfluous. We are expected to believe that the citizens of the Federation have moved beyond greed to a higher level of human consciousness. With replicators people are now free to follow a higher purpose than the base acquisition of personal wealth. A couple of quotes form Captain Picard
illustrate the general attitude towards money and wealth
taken by the writers of the show:
A lot has changed in three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of ‘things’. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions.
The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century… The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity.
This attitude towards money is utopian, wrongheaded and naive. Money is not evil or a symbol of greed. It is simply a universal medium of exchange. Money is necessary for any society functioning above subsistence level. Not using money is in fact a step backward towards primitiveness, not a step forward into the future.
...Probably the worst example of present day liberal prejudices coming through is the treatment of the Ferengi
, the only civilization in the galaxy whose society is based on free trade and private property. While Starfleet officers are all depicted as handsome, noble, heroic, and self-sacrificing, a sort of “New Socialist Man”
if you will, the Ferengi are depicted as monkey-like, money grubbing, sniveling little wretches. Many of their physical features as well as their behavior are reminiscent of the worst Nazi stereotypes of Jews. This reveals far more about the bigoted nature of liberalism than it does about how societies with free enterprise look and operate.
The writers get everything backwards when it comes to the Ferengi. The culture is depicted as backward and misogynistic. The government is depicted as bureaucratic and oppressive, while the communist government of The Federation somehow preserves individual freedom. This may be the biggest lie of all peddled by the writers. There is never any reference to rules or laws in the Federation, while the Ferengi supposedly have a huge code of 285 laws known as “The Rules of Acquisition.”
They even have an enforcement agency called the FCA to make sure no Feregi step out of line and accidentally treat their employees well or give a customer a fair deal. Yet contracts are also supposedly sacred to Ferengi.
When the home planet of the Ferengi is visited the bureaucrats are shown to be nasty, venal and greedy — just as we would expect bureaucrats to be. But why aren’t Federation bureaucrats like this? Why is it the society based on free trade that has backward cultural values and an oppressive government when in reality we see the exact opposite? In the real world countries that have a greater degree of economic freedom also tend to have more personal freedoms, progressive social values and gender equality. But this is not how liberals would like to see the world. They dislike reactionary social values, and they dislike capitalism and economic freedom. So naturally they put the two together to please themselves.