Enterprise & Initiative

Star Trek is liberal bourgeois to the bone.

Show me more of this Earth thing called “shopping” 

The Federation is supposedly post-capitalist, post-money, etc., yet it has many of the important hallmarks of advanced capitalist social organisation. A highly organised and stratified division of labour, a deep separation between workplace and home life, work shifts, career promotion, private nuclear families, a socially-separate education system providing training and qualifications, a professional liberal media, massive military expenditure (of resources if not money), hierarchical political and military arrangements combined with liberal ideology, a separate political class, etc. In one of the films, someone even mentions “opinion polls”.  So, the Federation clearly has what looks like a capitalist state, capitalist superstructure and capitalist social arrangements.  What of the economy?  Well, they still have privately owned and run restaurants, for example, though supposedly people run them for the love of it… and in DS9, the Federation people mesh perfectly into the economy of Bajor, with its Ferengi businessmen, etc… to the point where you have Federation officers trading goods and paying credits for booze. When they want to make a ‘darker’, grungier version of their utopia, they take characters from the utopia and cast them amongst the money-using barbarians on the frontiers. But the Utopians have little difficulty dealing with the money-users in a natural way, whatever their occasional disdain.  The facile nature of the pretence that the Federation is post-capitalist is revealed by the ease with which the Federation types merge into Quark’s bar. 

Meanwhile, capitalism is turned into a kind of quaint pathology, espoused as a blatant and impudent ethic of acquisition, by a race that it’d be easy to mistake for a bunch of submerged Jewish stereotypes (even down to ballbusting mothers). The utter misunderstanding of capitalism – indeed, of all human history – is best expressed in the scene where Quark, tired of being endlessly patronized and insulted by the holier-than-thou humans, compares his culture with the culture of Earth, pointing out that Ferengos (or whatever the silly place is called) has no history of things like concentration camps.  The implication is that humans must blame their own species-nature for the horrors of the 20th century… which fails to notice the role of competing capitalist imperialisms and fascist reaction (against socialist challenges to capitalism) in creating the wars that lead to concentration camps.  Capitalism itself is absolved, since it has been practiced by the Ferengi and lead to no comparable horrors, merely social eccentricities.  Even the sexism of Ferengi culture is seen as a mere cultural malformation, with DS9 repeatedly showing female Ferengis achieving liberation through their equal ability to participate in ruthless trade, etc., whenever they manage to trick or force the men into giving them a chance.  Capitalism is thus so entirely acquitted of any involvement in patriarchy that it is instead offered as a way of defeating it.  This is entirely consonant with the heavily peddled ideas that free markets will eventually result in populations of free individuals, that the liberty of trade is the liberty of people, that liberalisation of market economies brings liberalisation of societies, that personal self-promotion is the best way to overcome cultural disadvantages. …

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