star trek socialists

I found this article questioning when the Federation in Star Trek became socialist. In a lot of ways the author complains how such a system being portrayed might give people the wrong idea of where the future is headed and even goes as far as stating that if a pop culture icon had portrayed a fascist government that did not show loss of personal freedoms or oppression, it would have been ridiculed. It becomes clear that the author really has no understanding of what a socialist system is and how it operates. I'm not even clear if the Federation is a true socialist system, since of all the topics Star Trek covers, politics is one it rarely goes into.

The author is under the impression that state controlled industry constitutes a socialist system. Socialism is a bottom up political system, where production, industry, distribution and land are owned by the people. Industry is controlled by workers, and decisions are made through councils in which representatives can be instantly recalled if they are not acting in the will of the people. Systems in the Soviet Union, Cuba, and most other "socialist" countries are really systems of state capitalism, where a small group of individuals who control the government control business and industry. Both these nations started with socialist revolutions that quickly turned into state capitalist systems for reasons I won't get into here. The truth is it's difficult to criticize a capitalist system for not working because there has never been a functioning one for any lengthy period of time. Of course a functioning socialist system has the same problems as a functioning democracy in where it relies on an educated populous to keep the power so it does not get consolidated into the hands of an elite few.

In The Next Generation Jean Luc Picard states that humanity has evolved beyond money. All needs are provided for the people. No one is homeless or poor regardless of their situation. The thing that was never made clear is if industry is worker controlled. The show only focuses on Starfleet, a military organization, which is top down in its structure very much like our current military system. The show rarely goes into civilian aspects of life and to my knowledge doesn't address the political structure of the Federation. How are leaders chosen? How is industry controlled? All that is known is that resources are plentiful so everyone gets what they need. It could be a representative democracy, where similarly to our government, politicians are elected by the people, who in effect make decisions on industry and production. Or maybe Starfleet itself controls these things. All that is known is that the corporate capitalist system that is responsible for much of the worlds problems today has been eliminated.

Even before being exposed to Marx and Engels I adopted their view that society would eventually evolve into a socialist system. Through a historical view the average citizens standard of living and education has risen and their freedoms increased. If this trend continues eventually citizens will take power of their government and a socialist system will be created. I do not know when humanity as a whole will be civilized enough for this model to work, but I see it happening one day. If the author of this article really had an understanding of socialism maybe he wouldn't be complaining so much how a TV show can show such an example of this system.

1 comment:

Max said...

Interesting thoughts!