Thursday, 17 April 2014

On X Wings and Shuttlecraft

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Star Trek one of the most well known and successful science fiction franchises in the world.Even if you've never watched the show or the films chances are you're familiar with the basic premise, a big ship with a crew flying around battling aliens, or trying not to battle aliens. But despite its popularity and the dedication of its large fan base to analysis and remember every trivial detail there's quite a few myths about it.

One has clearly been pushed by the shows creators and money men and it concerns its record on Civil Rights. For the record I think the show has done some good in this area just nowhere near as much as it would have us all believe. It's also at times been counter productive, but that's for another day. The Second myth I've addressed briefly but apparently not well enough so I'll try again this time going back to basics and the source.

People believe Star Trek is some sort of Marxist message show. Now when I first heard this I honestly thought it was a joke, I'd been watching the show since I was a little kid and while not exactly a biographer of Marx I know enough of what he wrote to know that simply wasn't possible. But nevertheless the myth gets around. I think a lot of this disinformation comes from an essay written in 2000 called The Economics of Star Trek which when I first encountered it I dismissed it as a very funny joke. I did that because it was hosted on which is a Star Wars fansite and the Star Wars and Star Trek fans don't get on very well, so I just assumed it was a jab at the Trekkies.

But no apparently its serious, so I'll give a serious revaluation it's only fair after all. The objective of this essay is to

The primary goal of this document is to show that the writers and producers of Star Trek are promoting the values and ideals of communism. I should note that this has not always been the case; the TOS Federation was clearly a free market, and I can only imagine that some sort of coup occurred during the intervening period between TOS and TNG. One could theorize that radical left-wing activists took control of the government agenda.

 The bolding is mine, here's the fundamental flaw, the author doesn't actually know what the values and ideals of Communism are. Instead of comparing events in episodes to Marx's actually works most of it is comparing it to the Soviet Union which just shows that they don't know what Communism is. Another critical flaw is that the author hasn't done much in the way of research. They only cite the Manifesto which is a serious problem. Despite the name the Manifesto is not a summary of the fundamentals of Communism, most of the work is dedicated to criticism, criticism of Capitalism, and criticism of rival ideologies. The rest is a brief outline of an action plan for several different Communist groups.

Another problem is that Marx soon changed his mind about many parts of the Manifesto. He and Engels wrote it in 1848 during the great turmoil and discontents of Europe, the Manifesto was to gain support for Marx's ideas at the time. It makes several predictions about the unfolding Revolutions which turned out to be wrong. For example the Manifesto urges German Communists to support the Bourgois Revolution, this was because he thought the Bourgeoise would seek to displace and overthrow the Feudal aristocracy and would welcome the aide of the other Revolutionaries. Instead most wealthy citizens supported the established government with the exception of Idealistic students, as did many peasants. 

Because of this Marx viewed neither sections of society to have any real value to the Revolutionary process.

Communism: A society without a state, and without a class system.

Now the Soviet Union, had a state (officially it had dozens) and had a class system so it isn't Communism. To be fair the Soviet Leaders themselves called there society Socialist (when it wasn't) and on the way to Communism.

This is what the author thinks Communism is instead, 

As most people are vaguely aware, communism was first popularized by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels, in the mid-19th century. In February of 1848, they published their "Communist Manifesto", which eventually became the inspiration for Communist revolutions in Russia, China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Cuba, and numerous other nations
It starts of ok but then deteriorates, the Communist Manifesto is not the inspiration for any of those revolutions. Marx believed revolutions in those nation were impossible because they were to underdeveloped. The inspiration for the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917 was Lenin's works including the State and Revolution. In China the People's Liberation Army followed Mao's ideology which included un Marxist ideas like an alliance with Peasants and the "Progressive" Bourgeoisie both of which Marx believed to be impossible and inadvisable. From the Communist Manifesto

 Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes, directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.

North Korea didn't even have a Revolution it was occupied by the Soviet Army who installed its regime, just like how South Korea was occupied by the United States who installed its regime.
And again the North Vietnamese regime came to power via the Viet Minh which was a coalition of Ho Chi Minh's Communists (they violently crushed rival Communist groups) and Nationalists opposing French Colonial rule. A similar event occurred in Cuba, Castro didn't align his government to the left until 1960 after his broad coalition of anti Batista forces crumbled. 

The premise that the Manifesto inspired these acts is simply not possible since those revolts deviated from both the Manifesto and each others experiences. But ultimately the biggest flaw in the argument is this, the Manifesto does describe a Communist society it describes a method of which a group Communists may eventually achieve Communism. In the Manifesto as part of his program of action he supports French Communists working with Social Democrats against the Conservatives. Lenin in contrast led the Bolsheviks in armed opposition against both of them, as did Mao so in addition to fancy theories we have practical contradictions to consider. And the very end even endorses German Communists working to support the Bourgeois Revolution of 1848 as part of this program because he believed the feudalist tendencies within the Germanic states needed to be abolished first.

Let me repeat that, this supposed blueprint for a Communist society ends by endorsing a Bourgeois Revolution. This would mean that the American and French Revolution where Proto-Marxist since Marx not only references these events in the manifesto but gives a thumbs up for the German version of them.

The Communists turn their attention chiefly to Germany, because that country is on the eve of a bourgeois revolution that is bound to be carried out under more advanced conditions of European civilisation, and with a much more developed proletariat, than that of England was in the seventeenth, and of France in the eighteenth century, and because the bourgeois revolution in Germany will be but the prelude to an immediately following proletarian revolution.
If you accept the premise 

 The Manifesto, as the name makes incredibly obvious, is a political Manifesto outline the Communists beliefs and proposed actions its a means to an end not the end. In fact its spends most of its pages criticising other competing groups then talking about its own program.

I'm not even sure I believe the authors claim to have read the Communist Manifesto, because of the following disclaimer.
(I suppose I should note that neo-Marxists deny any connection to these communist states, claiming that they were "perversions" of the lofty, wonderful, perfect Marxist ideals that would have created a paradise on Earth if we had only given them a chance. Of course, they are reluctant to acknowledge that Marxist ideals defy implementation for numerous reasons of practicality and human nature, so a real-life communist state will always be a perversion of the "ideal").
Note the usually strawman about "human nature" and the repetition of the phrase "Communist State". Anyone who uses that phrase doesn't know even the basics of Communism. It's impossible to have a Communist state, the whole point of Communism is to abolish the state. They haven't grasped the basics and yet smugly declare what is and what isn't really Marxism. And this is just the introduction.

Oh and just before we move on one more point on the author is using terms they don't understand. Neo-Marxism, its a real term and its quite a broad and loose term at that. Unfortunately it's not loose or broad enough to cover our authors definition. They're using to refer to supposed Marx purists, aka traditionalists. The problem being actually Neo-Marxists are the opposite of that, again the name is kind of a clue. They took Marx's basic ideas as there foundation and then adapted an updated them, and even came up with there own ideas.

The argument

The argument as you will see is all over the place and contradictory, as a result my counter argument will also become disjointed. To help clear up confusion try to keep the following in mind. The Author
believes Star Trek is Marxist. The Author believes Marxism is what the Soviet Union, People's Republic of China etc became, so the author believes Star Trek is the USSR. In addition there's three main problems, the authors assertion that the Soviet Union et al is textbook Marxism is simply false. Then the author compounds the area by ascribing virtually every action by those regimes to Marx even if plenty of other nations have done similar or the same things. And finally a lot of those details are just simply in accurate or incorrect.

Abolition of property rights. Government intervention in the buying and selling of goods increases by an order of magnitude. Investments are verboten. The concept of private property is virtually destroyed. Neo-marxists are quick to point out that Marx only wanted to eliminate "exploitative" capitalist property, rather than the personal property of the "artisan and craftsman". However, Marx never explained how to preserve one while eliminating the other.
The above is simply false, the Communist manifesto actually does cover this, and the author apparently wrote a whole other essay on that book so must have read it. Property becomes exploitative when used in a class context, i.e. boss and worker.

Or do you mean modern bourgeois private property?
But does wage-labour create any property for the labourer? Not a bit. It creates capital, i.e., that kind of property which exploits wage-labour, and which cannot increase except upon condition of begetting a new supply of wage-labour for fresh exploitation. Property, in its present form, is based on the antagonism of capital and wage-labour.....
 a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piece-meal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition,
Those who do not own property are forced to become workers, those that become workers are a commodity. Property that is part of the economic system is exploitative, property which is not part of the economic system is not exploitative.

For example, at what point do Grandma's savings become exploitative capitalist investments?1 How do you criminalize one without criminalizing the other?2. The result of his half-baked idea is a proposal which is impossible to implement, so real communist states have historically abolished all forms of private property3 (thus creating a vacuum which black marketeers sprang up to fill).
1: When they become part of the economic system, like say investing in a company. The Manifesto is not subtle about this.
 The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. But modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few.

2: Well I'd imagine the same way its done now, in the UK there are laws limiting the amount of businesses you can own at one time and in what manner but no laws restricting things like personal posessions or money.

3: This one is not only an explicit example of the author substituting the USSR et al for Marx, it's also just plain wrong. None of those regimes outlawed all forms of private property. In the Soviet Union Collective farm workers still had private plots and in all of them their citizens owned private possessions including cars. And this author is claiming that even private possessions were outlaw because there's no distinctions between property.

 Here's what Marx actually said
Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of the petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that;
 State seizure of transportation services. Emigration is criminalized,1 and the state seizes control of all means of transport (note that this state monopoly should not be confused with modern public transit systems, which must compete with private companies and personal vehicles)2. This has the effect of eliminating freedom of movement, since citizens become dependent on government services in order to travel. Again, neo-Marxists claim that Karl Marx only had the loftiest of goals in mind (getting the vital transportation services out of the hands of greedy capitalists), but they forget that he failed to explain why a government would be a better service provider than a free market3. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and the state seizure of transportations would represent a vast increase in government power. Do you remember the old adage about how power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely? Karl Marx didn't4.
1: Again this is an example of poor research, Communism is about abolishing all borders, so technically emigration as we understand (travel between nations) would cease, there's nothing in Marx's writings to say we'd be kept in one place. Even if we assume they're talking about the USSR again the author has problems. Emigration was not actually outlawed, it was heavily restricted but it was possible for citizens from the one "Communist State" to go to another "Communist State" and even third world allies. Yes these regimes did not support emigration and the ability to do so was heavily restricted but that's also the case in plenty of other nations that absolutely no one considers Communist. It's heavily restricted for American citizens to go to Cuba for example, and most Arab nations won't allow travel to Israel.

In addition Yugoslavia a Nation controlled by the Communist Party, which according to author means it was directly inspired by Marx had a very open emigration policy that allowed its citizens to emigrate to both east and west.

2:  I don't really understand what they mean by "Modern public transport system's" if its not part of the state monopoly, or why there should be a difference for personal vehicles. In the point directly before this one the author was claiming there was no difference, especially not in a "Communist State".

But again why is this a Marxist thing? In Britain most forms of transportation including the modern ones like planes and trains and even car manufacturers after WWII were owned by the state, even when the Conservative party was in power. Does this make Britain up to the 80's a Marxist and even "Communist State"?

3: Actually Marx did explain it, he did so in other works but he also briefly touched upon it in the Manifesto. But even if he didn't I find myself asking "so what"? the argument you're supposedly countering isn't "Marx said this" to which you can reply "oh no he didn't" they're (apparently though I doubt they exist) saying Marx didn't say what you're claiming he said and in response you've just changed the topic entirely.

4: Exactly, which is why he was such a staunch advocate for a system that abolshied all hierarchy and thus all potential means for one person to have power over others....

You know this is actually a legitimate criticism of Marx, but only if you're an Anarchist or Left Communist. They also didn't think Marx's ideas would work but unlike this author they thought it would fail because it wouldn't lead to the Communist society he wanted. The author however bizarrely thinks that Marx's ideas do actually lead to Communism, but we've already established the author doesn't know what Communism is.

  1. State seizure of communication services. Insurrectionist activities are criminalized1, and the state seizes control of all means of communication. This has the effect of limiting or removing freedom of expression, since the state can easily muzzle anyone they wish. Again, neo-Marxists are quick to point out that Marx only intended to take vital services from greedy capitalists, but as before, his cure is worse than the disease2.

 1: ? An insurrectionist activity is one that aims to overthrow or disrupt the current system. Every nation criminalises insurrection for that reason, are we now to assume that every regime on earth is Marxist?

    • Remember that true freedom of expression is not merely the right to express yourself at the government's forbearance; it is the right to express yourself even when the government is offended by your remarks. It is the right to express yourself even when many in the government fervently wish you would shut the hell up. How can this kind of freedom possibly exist when the government controls all the means of communication? How does Karl Marx solve this problem? He doesn't! He assumes the government will voluntarily restrain itself from abusing its newfound absolute power!(3) "Naiveté" is a gross understatement.

2-3:  I'm doing these two together to highlight a serious problem in the authors argument. It's contradictory, on the one hand they believe all "Communist States" put Marx's ideals into practice but on the other they did reinterpret Marx to do things he never intended.So which is it? If they came up with their own ideas then how are they examples of Marxism in action? The author is arguing in absolutes with no exceptions, when Communists do things that Marx (supposedly) advocated its Marxism, but when they do things he didn't say it's... still Marxism.

Elimination of religion and traditional families. Karl Marx predicted that religion would fall by the wayside with the advent of the Age of Reason. To be fair, he was hardly alone in this belief, and he didn't explicitly advocate the forcible elimination of religion1. However, since he described it as a mandatory aspect of a communist state2, real communist states have inevitably attempted to meet his expectations through force3. As a result, his recommendations tended to result in the elimination of freedom of religion. The situation is simpler with the elimination of the family, which he did explicitly call for (most specifically in the areas of marriage and inheritance). Again, he claimed to have only the noblest of motives, insisting that the family structure was conducive to capitalist exploitation and was therefore harmful to society. Of course, he provided no evidence to support this attack on the family4 and no explanation of why noncommital sex and state-raised children would be an improvement over the status quo, but that was typical of his modus operandi: make questionable attacks on capitalists and then recommend state ownership as the solution without bothering to show how the state would do a better job.
1-2-3: Here we have not two but three contradictions in a row.

4: That's because Engels did most of the work regarding family, so not only do we have an author who read only one work by Marx and Engels, they didn't even bother to look to see if they tackled a subject in detail elsewhere. If the author was just critiquing the Manifesto the complaint would just be gratuitous, but since they're railing against "Marxism" in its entirety its just lazy.

State seizure of industry. Naturally, if you're going to seize services such as communication and transportation, you might as well seize every other industry as well. In Karl Marx's collectivized utopia, monopolies are good, and competition is bad1. All food and manufactured products come from only one supplier: the government2. If they don't make a product the way you want it, then you're stuck because there are no competitors. If they don't make it at all, then you're SOL. If they don't make enough supply to meet demand, then you must line up for whatever they have made (remember the Soviet bread lines?). The effect of this proposal is greatly decreased consumer choice (why have thirty brands of breakfast cereal when there's only one supplier and no competition?)3, poor product quality (why improve the product when the "customer" has no choice but to take whatever you've made?), and chronic supply shortfalls (the inevitable result of production being managed by government bureaucrats rather than the self-corrective free-market supply and demand mechanism)4.
1: I could just say read Capital and leave it there, but even with just the Manifesto this is an absurd statement. If the author thinks Marx thought monopolies were good then I don't believe they read the Manifesto.

The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation.

2: The Manifesto did state that it wouldn't advocate the abolishing of small producers like
Hard-won, self-acquired, self-earned property! Do you mean the property of the petty artisan and of the small peasant, a form of property that preceded the bourgeois form? There is no need to abolish that;
So really he's only talking about mass production but the author argues for an absolute 100% scenario.

3: The reason why I don't really believe the author has read the Manifesto (not in its entirety anyway) is because the manifesto says all that is already happening under Capitalism and yet the Author is arguing that the economics of the Manifesto is some kind of polar opposite. If they acknowledged it and disagreed like they do elsewhere that would be one thing but this is just building a strawman.

4: You see, terms like self corrective and free market are thrown about and are credited with many great achievements, but the author never bothers to substantiate them. I wouldn't have a problem with this in general but here I do because they have criticised Marx for supposedly doing the same thing. This is just hypocritical.

Citizens are forced to work. Since citizens no longer have an economic incentive to work,1 there is no way to keep all of the populace working without resorting to the threat of punishment. Karl Marx describes it as the "equal obligation of all to work" rather than explicitly naming the use of force2, but as with many of his other proposals, it is a half-baked and half-formed idea, lacking the courage to explicitly name the unpleasant mechanisms required for implementation. How is this "obligation" supposed to be enforced? Marx never explained, and neo-Marxists are quick to gloss over the subject3.

1: Again the Manifesto says that workers are being forced to work now, and again the author won't address this even to dispute it, so I can only assume they didn't read it.
 a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital.
 2: ? I could of sworn the author had just said there was no alternative but force, but now concedes that Marx did have an alternative, so what is this alternative?

3: Oh I see, the author doesn't actually know (or is intentionally withholding the information) and is glossing over the topic. I would be more lenient and give the benefit of the doubt but the author has already made clear how little research they've actually done.

Space the Final Frontier

Now we finally get to show itself, credit were its due, while the effort put into the Marxist side was pretty lack lustre the Trek side is pretty good, its a shame such trivia has been used in such weak arguments.

Abolition of property rights: 100% implemented in the TNG era Federation. While Ferengi traders and various others outside the Federation still retain property rights, the Federation seems to have eliminated them.
  • No wealth1: Counsellor Troi and Captain Picard have both boasted about how the accumulation of wealth is no longer an incentive. What they don't explain is why. Humans have always been territorial2 (and so have our evolutionary ancestors), so our desire to accumulate more assets seems more like a basic facet of human nature than a temporary cultural phenomenon3. It can be suppressed or modified through education and social conditioning, but such methods are hardly 100% effective. Some greedy people should remain, but not in Star Trek. So if humans in the future no longer desire wealth, then why not? Do they use extremely advanced brainwashing techniques, so sophisticated that no one can resist them? Or have they made the accumulation of wealth illegal, as Marx advocated? The latter seems more plausible.
1-2-3: Well for starters the author has lumped territory with wealth, ok that's debatable but I'll assume this is correct for arguments sake, territory van be used to facilitate wealth creation. If that is the case then how can you seriously argue that wealth has been abolished in Star Trek? The Federation quite clearly has territory, it has borders, it negotiates colonisation rights and resource access. By the authors own twisted logic the Federation isn't Marxist.

No money: All external transactions are performed with a precious substance known as latinum1. No more wire transfers or electronic asset tracking in the 24th century; vast interstellar trading organizations have reverted to something like the primitive "gold standard" that was abandoned long ago! It sounds like Troi wasn't kidding when she said the Federation no longer used money. They have "credits",2 but they don't seem to be as widely recognized as precious metals, which indicates that Federation credits are not easily converted into other assets (ie- not liquid). Poor or nonexistent liquidity is typical of communist currencies in real life3. However, it is not typical of capitalist currencies, all of which can be easily transferred and exchanged between nations without the need for precious metals as an intermediate conversion4.
1: ?So there's no money, except there is actually money its just a bit different to what we use for money.

2: ??The Author says the Feds don't have money, then explains that they have "Credits" AKA money, oh and they prefer to use Latinum a substance that is used exactly like money is.

3: ??? Is this a joke, "Communist have no money and neither does the Federation"... "the money the Federation does have is just as poor as the real Communists money".

4: You heard it here first folks, the Gold Standard is a Communist conspiracy, I guess that makes Ron Paul a Manchurian Candidate?

This is just really, really stupid, first they say the Federation is Marxist because neither use many, then they give a description and evaluation of the money they apparently do use.

Buy and Sell: What was the last time you heard about someone buying or selling something from another Federation citizen? People give one another objects, and they might even barter, but they never use their credits to buy things from one another (at least, nothing substantive such as a vehicle, a cottage, a boat, etc). Kirk talked about Scotty's "pay" and Scotty "bought a boat" in ST6, but of course, that was in the good old days of TOS. Ahhh, memories ... when men were men, women wore miniskirts, and nobody drank synthehol.
Again more confusion here, £they never buy anything, except for small things", so then they do actually buy things right? Oh and a minor speculative note, maybe the reason we don't see anyone buy anything substantial on Star Trek is because their all crew members in a Space Navy with limited space, and no actual use for say a cottage or a boat on duty. Scotty bought a boat in ST6 I assume because he was effectively retiring.

Spartan lifestyles: Even on the mixed civilian/military spaceport DS9, no one seems to have anything but a handful of room decorations and sentimental momentoes1. Quarters are quite clean and barren even when children live there (and anyone with small children knows how silly that is)2. This could arguably be described as a lifestyle "choice" rather than the result of government edict, but it is also quite consistent with the growing list of evidence that the Federation is communist.
1: DS9 was a space station, it had limited available space and prioritised trade and traffic, also all of the Federation citizens we see that live on the station are part of Star Fleet and were assigned there. The only exception I can think of was Keiko O'brien(she was a botanist but might have worked for star fleet, certainly the Federation) who was married to the chief Engineer.

2: The author just doesn't know what they're talking about here. My family lived in Gibraltar while my Dad was stationed with the Navy in the 80's. My family and every other servicemen's family lived in cramped housing with very little in the way of consumer goods (it was too expensive).

Goodbye, Wall Street: The concept of an investment portfolio is so alien to them that when a frozen 20th century tycoon was thawed out in "The Neutral Zone", Picard was completely dumbfounded at the man's desire to check on his portfolio. He couldn't even understand the concept, and complained that he couldn't understand what the man was talking about!1 Obviously, this is typical of a communist state2, but hardly typical of a capitalist state. Even before modern stock markets and investment vehicles, the concept of investment still existed. Businesses started with the aid of financial backing, loans, etc. Banks and other financial institutions existed long before NASDAQ. But according to Star Trek, they didn't last into the 24th century3.
1: The author appears to have trouble grasping that Star Trek takes place in the future and that over the course of time things do change.

2: Actually the Soviet Union had investment banks, all they had to do was to do a word search to check. They even invested quite heavily abroad, with banks established for that purpose.

3: That's not actually true banks do exist, off the top of my head I can think of the bank of Bolias, and Boliarus is part of the Federation (there the blue skinned guys).

State seizure of transportation (leading to reduction or elimination of freedom of movement): 100% implemented in the TNG era Federation. Vehicles in Star Trek are either government property, or they travel outside the Federation (eg. Ferengi vessels, ships from non-member systems,1 etc).
1: This is pure speculation, they never address this issue one way or the other, its also not accurate I can remember a TNG episode were Picard goes to a hologram of a Parisian cafe dated in his past where we see in the background what look to me like civi hover cars

I could be wrong but I'm not the one advancing an "half baked" theory

They're all company cars: What was the last time you saw a privately owned personal starship? Starships are either government warships, diplomatic vessels, or transports1. The only one-person vehicles (apart from non-Federation vehicles such as Quark's ship or Bajor's spacecraft) are runabouts and shuttles, and they are always government property. Some might argue that starships must be very expensive or difficult to operate and therefore impractical for personal use, but Quark's ship disproved this idea2.

1: ? Of course they are, this is a show about members of a space military. This is not an argument, its fan whinging that a show didn't do episodes about stuff they really wanted to see.

2: Really? Quark was a business owner and had been operating for years running all sorts of legal and illegal business ventures, is it really that out of the ordinary that an occasional thief and smuggler would prioritise obtaining transport in case he needed to escape? Also if I remember correctly he got the shuttle from his cousin for cheap (because his cousin rigged it to explode).

Some claim that Kasidy Yates' ship was a private ship, but it was a transport rather than a personal vehicle, and it was probably part of the thriving black market that is endemic to communist states1 (how do you think everyone gets their illegal Romulan ale?). Remember that she paid the crew with latinum rather than Federation credits, and she was imprisoned in a "re-orientation centre" for using it to ferry supplies to the Maquis, even though the act in question occurred outside Federation territory and jurisdiction2. Some might object that Sisko would have reported her if she was a black marketeer, but in real life, it was quite common for black marketeers to operate quite brazenly, often forming "wink, wink, nudge nudge" relationships with government officials3. She wasn't prosecuted until she dared violate the Federation's policy of inhumane neglect toward the Maquis4.
1:? I take back what I said at the beginning of this section, I now strongly doubt the author bothered to watch the show. Two thing's Cassidy Yates was the love interest of Sisko the station's Federation commander, a man so moral that doing underhanded things in a war that could cost billions of lives caused him personal anguish. Even before the romance started he seemed to have no problem with her so probably not a black marketeer. Also she was working for the Bajorans and other non Federation planets. 

2: Actually the territory in question was a border area between the Federation and Cardassia, the two powers had a treaty that obligated both sides to police there own citizens in the area. The Maquis were Federation colonialists who refused to be relocated when the borders changed after a war with Cardassia. So it actually was there jurisdiction.

3: ?? The author has apparently not even read their own argument, they've just said that Sisko arrested Yates and sent her to a "re-orientation centre" but now apparently he's formed a mutual relationship of the business variety?

4: Possibly because that was the first time they had evidence she had violated there laws? Nah, probably Communism.

Empty skies: Where are all of the ships in the skies over Earth? Even over major metropolitan centres such as San Francisco, we see almost no air traffic whatsoever (certainly nothing like the thick swarms of traffic over Coruscant in Star Wars). In fact, in "Paradise Lost", the USS Lakota was the only starship in orbit around the entire planet! Even in that time of crisis1, we didn't see anyone leaving Earth to hide out at a safer location until everything blew over, because none of them had any ships!2 The same is true of all crises through Star Trek history. No mass exodus of  personal vehicles even when the populace had early warning and lots of time to prepare.
 1: I'm going to spoil a pretty good two parter here, Paradise Lost is about a conspiracy by military hardliners in the Federation to bring in martial law to prepare for a war that seems on the horizon. The leader of this conspiracy is an Admiral who not only has control of the Earth's Defence's and a network of loyal officers at other installations, he also has the ear of the President. Is it really that absurd to think that maybe the Admiral had used his position and authority to get ships and personnel he isn't sure of out of the way?

2: Perhaps because we spend most of the episodes with Sisko and Odo and most of the action takes place at the heart of the conspiracy a maximum security place, and the inside of Sisko's fathers Creole restaurant. There's also the little problem that Martial law has been declared as part of the evil plan.

  • Big Brother is watching you: All movements are tracked in the Federation1. Since no one has personal starships, everyone must book passage on state-owned transports in order to get where they want to go. You've heard it countless times: "I've booked passage to Mars," or "I'm going to try to book passage to the frontier". You never hear "I just bought a ship and I'm going to head off to the frontier" or "I'm renting a ship next month so I can go planet-jumping". The result of this monopoly is that Starfleet officers can easily track every movement of any citizen within the Federation. Any security officer can easily rattle off a list of all the places any citizen has gone, how long they were there, etc. Contrast this to real life, where the bus driver wants exact change but he couldn't care less about your ID. Unless you leave the country, nobody asks to see a passport or identification.
1: This is simply false, if it were true I can think of at least a dozen episodes that would be five minutes long. The only time we see constant monitoring is on Starships and DS9, you know things under the control of the military and deemed to be very important.

The rest of this paragraph and the other points in this section are just more whining that Star Trek isn't like there personal favourite shows.

State seizure of communications (leading to reduction or elimination of freedom of expression): 100% implemented in the TNG era Federation.
  • Ma Bell is back: The entire subspace relay system is owned by the Federation government, as described in the DS9 tech manual. There is no private competitor. Since all interstellar communications must use this relay network, this effectively gives the Federation government total control over long distance communications1. Furthermore, it appears that local communications systems are government-operated as well, since the government was able to effortlessly impose a complete local news blackout during the attempted coup in "Paradise Lost." As another monopolistic Microsoftian measure, all communications start and end with the ubiquitous Federation logo, even on mixed civilian/military stations like DS9. Quark once ran afoul of this monopoly when he wanted to broadcast advertisements for his bar, and had no alternative but to break into DS9's communications system2.
 1: This is actually true, however there's something the author is missing out, you can use this system to directly communicate with non Federation worlds very, very easily. Including foreign and hostile governments, seems more like a practical concern to me. The USA and USSR only had one direct phone line to each other in the hands of both nations leaders. Again if this is evidence of Communism then the USA must also be Communist.

2: ? No he had plenty of opportunities to advertise outside of these channels. In several episodes Quark is shown to have connections to Bajorans on Bajor and many different ship captains and fellow Ferengi. Quark was on a Space Station in a backwater system, he's only market were those already on the station, so why would he need to use the communication system? His only potential customers either already know him, or were going to dock at that station anyway.

Phil Zimmerman would be pissed: High-ranking officers can use secure communications, but no one else seems to be able to encrypt their personal information or communications because any Tom, Dick or Ferengi seems to be able to break into personal files and communications at will1. Furthermore, even "secure" communications use such weak encryption that they can be cracked in a matter of hours by a single starship's computer2. It is important to remember that no matter how far computer technology increases, encryption strength can always be increased simply by adding bits, so this is not a case of technology overcoming encryption. In real life, the US government tried to force everyone to use weak encryption (or adopt Al Gore's infamous eavesdropper "clipper chip"), but they were foiled by the constitution. Apparently, there are no such restrictions on the Federation government's power.
1: All the cases I can remember included either security overrides (because they're somewhere run by Star Fleet) or the person actually hacking into them. DS9 had several episodes detailing how dangerous and sophisticated encrypting software could be.

2: A starship computer, the most advanced computer that runs an entire star ship is able to figure out a password, shocking!!!!

This ... is not CNN: The Federation nearly became a military dictatorship once ("Paradise Lost"). In real life, such a near-coup would be accompanied by an enormous flood of negative news reports1, both from television and radio stations and across the Internet. But in the Federation, there appear to be no independent news organizations or reporting mechanisms (or at least, none which can function when the government turns off the spigot)2. In other words, the meek citizens of Earth sat quietly in their homes and waited patiently for the benevolent Federation to tell them what had happened, because they had no other information source3. This illustrates the danger of putting all communications facilities in the hands of the government; if they have control of all communications, then in the blink of an eye, they can eliminate public knowledge of their activities.
1: Err example please? I can't think of a successful coup before the rise of the internet that had suffered mass condemnation by its own press outside of fringe political groups and isolated incidences that were quickly suppressed. Maybe Spain in 1936, but that Coup failed and lead to a Civil War.

2: ? The Coup lasted about one episode and caught everyone including the hero's who foiled it by surprise. And just before the coup the elected President had fully endorsed most of the Admirals plans and trusted his entire security to the very person who replaced him. Then there's the whole "Changeling sabotage" hoax that had everyone believing an invasion was imminent.

3: Assuming this were real I'd think the armed troops that were already in the streets (before) the coup kicked off would have dissuaded any mass dissent.

Elimination of religion and traditional families. 50% implemented in the TNG era Federation.
  • Nietszche Wins- God is Dead1: While the TOS episode "Balance of Terror" began with a wedding in the ship's chapel, no TNG era ship seems to have a chapel at all2. Christianity appears to have been purged from society. One of the most extreme examples of this deliberate suppression can be seen in a recent episode of Voyager, the holographic Doctor actually portrayed a Catholic priest and conducted a ceremony, but somehow avoided mentioning the names "God" or "Jesus" entirely! How someone can portray a priest and avoid mentioning God or Jesus is beyond me3. Also, while "Bones" McCoy often mentioned Jesus and God, we never hear the name "Jesus" on TNG, DS9, or Voyager4. This situation exists in stark contrast to every other civilization, such as the Bajorans, Klingons, Ferengi etc. which all have their own curious religions (always precisely one religion per species5; I guess aliens aren't very imaginative in Star Trek).
1: Nietszche wasn't a Communist. In fact given that the man hated the masses he was a staunch anti Socialist.So I wouldn't exactly say he "wins" in Star Trek.

2: Christianity does not equal religion, this argument is just more moaning.

3: Well lets see, One even in the show its not real. Two he's a hologram and so probably doesn't believe in God or Jesus since his creators were humans and he really doesn't like the way they treat him. Three, how does this actually in anyway prove Christianity has been purged? Many American Christmas films and episodes contain no mention of Jesus and focus solely on the fat bearded man. Is Christianity purged in the USA? Four if Christianity had been purged then why would they dress up like priests and role play as them? 

4: No but we do hear plenty of references to a "creator" and all kinds of spirituality. Both TNG and Voyager show Native American religious practices(well sort of), there is clearly Religion in the Federation, the authors just bitter that a fictional show doesn't give their religion prominence.

5: This is a accurate criticism of Star Trek in general but not with the Bajorans. A major plot point for DS9 was that the Bajorans had two faiths, and many DS9 episodes showed many different sects and even tensions within the dominant Bajoran religion. But that was only shown in the pilot right up to DS9's final episode so it's understandable that the author didn't notice...

New Age mysticism: Oddly enough, while Christianity has apparently been wiped out, popular New Age ideas such as transcendental meditation, seances, tribal superstitions, pseudoscientific1 quasi-religions and Eastern spirituality are all acceptable in the Federation. This would seem rather contradictory until you ask yourself what kinds of spirituality are popular today in Hollywood2. Apparently they don't believe that God made Man in his own image, but they do believe that Hollywood should remake mankind in its image3.
1: Are you really sure you want to be throwing that term around?

2: Ah yes, the notorious People's Republic of Hollywood.

3: Again, they prominently show (with many mistakes) Native American religious practices, so unless Back to the Future was a documentary and Hollywood possesses time travel this is just bitter ravings.

Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am: Karl Marx's "free love" idea seems to have taken root1. Pleasure planets like Risa, whose economies are based entirely on the sex trade2, are stark proof that the Federation has decriminalized prostitution and encouraged a casual attitude toward sexual promiscuity3 (an attitude displayed by numerous characters on TNG, DS9, and Voyager). However, to be fair, the institution of marriage still exists in the Federation. As with all real-life communist states, the Federation probably found Marx's call for the total abolishment of marriage to be unworkable4.
1: Not even close.
Two Federation Citizens getting hitched.

2:? Its a holiday planet with a care free atmosphere, its built on tourism not sexual tourism. This is like arguing that the Costa Del Sol is built on the sex trade because its a popular destination of 18-30's.

3: And yet the exact opposite happened in every single "Communist State" the one's the author spends the bulk of there essay claiming were fully compatible with Marx's ideas. The only regime I can think of that even came close to 60's style hippy love was East Germany, and funnily enough the rest of their allies didn't approve.

4: Hold on, so the family still exists? So then Marx's "free love" hasn't taken hold then has it.
Behold the "Marxist" Picard family

  • They don't play Pink Floyd in the future: Karl Marx advocated state-run education. Enlightened free-market societies also provide state-funded education1 for their citizens (the principal reason for the growth of the middle class), but not to the exclusion of alternatives such as private schools, learning centres, and home schooling. It would seem self-evident that private schools and learning centres are not permitted in the corporation-phobic Federation, but to be fair, there is no evidence that home schooling has been criminalized. In fact, it has been suggested that Jake Sisko must have been home-schooled before Keiko arrived as DS9's lone teacher2, but his father was a single-parent and the station commander, so he hardly had time to moonlight as a schoolteacher! Jake must have been educated by computer with standardized programs and tests, so it's hard to tell either way.

1: Gasp! not creeping Marxism anything but that.

2: ? Keiko set up a school on here own initiative, the only other schools we see in the whole of Star Trek are on the Enterprise, and Starfleet Academy, (both of which are run by the military) Keiko's school had the full backing of Sisko the Federation commander and was open to all station children regardless of origin, the only evidence the author cites directly contradicts there own assertion.
Not all these children are from the Federation
State seizure of industry. 50-100% implemented in the TNG era Federation. The situation with the agriculture industry is unknown1, since people seem to prefer real food to replicated food2 but the Federation lacks the infrastructure to efficiently deliver real food to all its ships and starbases. We would presumably see real food (and agriculture) planetside3, but the show rarely strays from starships and space stations so we can't be sure. However, the situation with regards to manufacturing and research is much clearer.
1: ? What about the Picard family vineyard? you know from the episode Family which as the name suggests was about Picard and other members of the crew spending time with their families.

Or how about Sisko's fathers Creole restaurant, he even had at least one employee that wasn't related to him.

 2: What's that got to do with who owns agriculture? I prefer protein to diary products that doesn't tell you whether I get my milk or my meat from a Government outlet.

3: Again the author can't have watched DS9, due to its proximity to Bajor and placement on a trade route it regularly received "real food" shipments to the point they had several restaurants and fast food vendors.
"Ethnic" food survives in the "Marxist" future

No logos: In hundreds of televised episodes and numerous feature films, we haven't seen a single Federation product which bore the trademark of an independent manufacturer, either in military or civilian situations1.
 1: You wouldn't see that in a company town either, oh I forgot the author doesn't believe a monopoly can exist in Capitalism.

No corporations: There are no known privately owned corporations in the Federation1. We never hear a single corporate name, or a complaint about a corporate supplier, or any news of bidding for government contracts. It goes without saying that no one has investments in any of these corporations2. And finally, in the DS9 episode "Prodigal Daughter", we found out that Ezri Dax's parents formed a mining company, operating out of New Sydney. Lo and behold, we also found out that New Sydney is a city on a non-Federation world. What a shock. And would you be surprised to hear that their financial dealings were handled with precious substances instead of Federation credits? Gee, I wonder why they left the Federation and moved to New Sydney to set up their company3 ...
 1: Bank of Boliarus, oh that's right the author doesn't know what that is moving on.

2: What corporations? their weren't any a sentence ago.

3: Well since its a mining company I'd imagine abundance of the resource they mine would be a big factor in determining location.

You can have any colour you want, so long as it's beige: In the Federation, all starships look the same, and feel the same. They have the same colour scheme. The same interface. The same mind-numbing monotonous style. The same basic design features. According to Star Trek, the future really does look like Microsoft. Of course, some of Star Trek's defenders claim that the unbelievable uniformity of Federation technology is not necessarily proof of monopoly, but these people probably don't think Microsoft is monopolistic either.
??? The author has complained repeatedly that every Federation ship we see belongs to the government and yet is surprised that they're all uniform? Oh and do you remember Quark's nice privately owned shuttle? It follows the same colour scheme and design aesthetic of other Ferengi ships too.
One Ferengi Shuttle
Another Ferengi Shuttle

And a Ferengi Marauder, see the pattern?

No patent office: There is no patent office. We know that none of the scientists in Star Trek perform research for the purpose of obtaining lucrative patents, because everything they discover instantly enters the public domain. There are no royalties to be collected. No fees for the use of someone else's invention. No one ever has to seek permission to use or abuse any form of intellectual property. There are no trademarks or copyrights. In short, intellectual property rights must have been completely eliminated, since the state claims ownership of all research1.
 1: Actually there was an episode of Voyager where the Doctor was in a major dispute over the rights to his "Holo Novel". Specifically over who had the rights to it and to change or alter the work. If the Doctors actions are proof of State Atheism then they must also be proof that ownership and rights in some fashion still exist.

  1. Citizens are forced to work. Probably 100% implemented in the TNG era Federation.
    • Even though everyone is guaranteed a comfortable standard of living by the state, everyone works hard. There are no beach bums1. Therefore, since laziness is an innate human characteristic, we can infer that such penalties probably exist, even if we never explicitly see them in action2. An alternate explanation for this conundrum would be the possibility that citizens are conditioned to work through brainwashing techniques, but brainwashing would be no better than the use of force. Some have argued that it's "close-minded" to assume that laziness is innate rather than cultural, but nothing could be further from the truth. In nature, no animal does any work unless it's necessary for survival or reproduction3 (what's the last time you saw a bird building a nest for anyone but its own offspring?). In society, we are bombarded by constant propaganda pushing us to work to help strangers4, but most people still don't do it in spite of all the pressure5. Laziness isn't unnatural; it's one of the few natural things left in our society6.
1: Unless Beach Bums is an ugly little Americanism referring to something else that isn't quite true, and I know the author know's that too because they use the character I'm thinking of further down. Dr Bashir's father whom just flits from job to job barely lasting a month before switching.

2: Here the author plays the assumption game. They assume, that hard work outside of Capitalism is impossible without force. The Federation doesn't have Capitalism (which is another assumption) and we see hard work ergo they must be using force in the shadows.

3: Then is someone paying the author to write this essay? It seems like a lot of work that won't in anyway aide their survival. Writing this rebuttal certainly isn't aiding my survival. So both pieces are in effect disproving the authors own argument with every word typed.

Also why does the author watch Star Wars and run a website about it, those do actually involve time and effort and yet don't in any way aide their survival.

4: And how could this be possible if by our very nature's we are inherently lazy and do nothing beyond our extremely narrow self interest? Seems like a lot of work on behalf of the "Propagandists".

5: The author must live in a very cold and miserable town then.

6: Left in society? So that would mean the majority of human society with all its conventions and relationships are not natural. So then why is this appeal to nature treated like such a trump card? Apparently we've already moved beyond the majority of our natural impulses, so why not the rest especially within four hundred years with even greater technological advancement?

In addition to Karl Marx's stated goals, we have seen the following side effects every time communism has been implemented:
Reorganization of Class structure. 100% true in the Federation.
  • It is a popular misconception that communism eliminates class distinctions1. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Any group of individual human beings will eventually tend to arrange themselves into strata, simply because people are not all alike. Some are smarter, some are more ambitious, some are more hard-working, etc. One way or another, some people in any group will find a way to have more than others2. It amazes me how many fans of communism have never even bothered to speak to a Soviet emigrant. Before the fall of communism in Russia, some people did have much higher standards of living than others3.
1: No it isn't, but again the author doesn't know what Communism is.

2: Ignoring the incorrect assumptions on hierarchy, I don't believe the author really thought this part through, since it's actually endorsing the Oligarchy in the Soviet Union. If the  author is correct here then its perfectly natural and justified that the CPSU should dominate Soviet society since it was apparently smarter and better then the ordinary Soviet Citizens.

3: Well that's not what Marx would call Communism so by the authors own logic they disprove their own assertion that the USSR was Communist. A shame the author is completely unaware of their own thought processes.

  • In a capitalist state, upper classes are populated largely by industrialists, entrepreneurs, and certain types of professional (eg. doctors). Parasites like lawyers and politicians find their way in there by manipulating the system, but their numbers are dwarfed by the former group. In any case, they have money, and they use it to purchase lifestyles far more extravagant than those available to ordinary workers.
  • A communist state is different; its upper classes are populated largely by politicians, high-ranking military officers, and scientists. It is they who use their status and relative wealth to purchase upper-class lifestyles. Sound familiar? In Star Trek, no one has any prestige or perceived value to society unless he's either a soldier, a researcher, or a politician.
These two points remind me of the "No true Scotsman fallacy" they've basically described the exact same system but have somehow reached different conclusions thanks to an arbitrary difference. The author has said that in a "communist state" everything is nationalised, that would mean in effect that the politicians are also the industrialists. So unless the author is also opposed to Capitalist business men running for office or holding influence over the "Parasitical" politicians there is no argument here just emotional indignation.

It's also highly amusing to see someone go straight from "It's good that some people have a higher standard of living" to "its bad that some people have a higher standard of living because I don't care for there chosen careers". Reminds me of an Aristocrat thumbing their nose at the Nouveaux Riche.
Industrialist = Good

Soviet Political Industrialist = Bad

The military gains increased influence. 100% true in the Federation.
  • In real life, the aftermath of a communist revolution is invariably massive transfers of resources to the military1. In Russia, Lenin and Stalin both subjected rural farmers to unspeakable famines by ordering the military to seize all of their winter foodstores for their own use2. They died by the millions as a result; Stalin's winter famine holocaust actually killed more people than Hitler's death-camp Holocaust.
1: Unless the author is daft enough to be arguing this is exclusively a "Communist" phenomenon then this is just more out of context blather.

2: Actually it was to feed the cities to carry out the Industrialisation plan.

  • In the Federation, the concentration of government assets in military hands is almost total: there is very little distinction between "Starfleet" and "Federation". In fact, the terms seem to be used almost interchangeably on the show.
  • Military posts hold enormous prestige in the Federation. Think about this: how many names of real-life sea vessel captains do you know? Do you know the name of the captain of any military vessels? Unless you're in the military, I would doubt it. Admirals make press, but captains don't. But in Star Trek, Captain Picard is known far and wide, even among civilians1.
1: That's because he's in charge of the Flag ship and handles many important things like peace negotiations, scientific exercises, and on more then one occasion saved the Federation from total destruction. In one episode he was even nearly the cause of the Federation demise, sure no reason we should know his name.

In "Paradise Lost", a Starfleet admiral nearly assumed control of the entire Federation, and no one could stand in his way but another Starfleet officer (Captain Sisko).1
1: Again I don't think the authors looked at a real life coup, that is how coup's usually work. The only way to stop them is with another force like the police or another faction of the military. The only other alternative is for a mass uprising by the population before the Coup has consolidated like in the Soviet Union and Venezuela, but in both cases the coup was successful in removing the leadership they just didn't have the confidence to move against the opposition in the streets.

  • When Doctor Bashir's parents were charged with violating the Federation's anti-genetic engineering laws, they wanted to fight the charge but they eventually decided to capitulate and offer themselves up for the sentencing decision ... of a judge wearing a Starfleet uniform! Only an exceptionally influential military would have the ability to try and sentence civilians!
Not seeing a Communism link, I know that China and the USSR tried civilians in criminal courts so not even a tenuous link here.
This is a Soviet show trial, the three judges are in civilian uniform.

Enforced social uniformity in outward behaviour and clothing patterns. Unknown.
  • In real life, it was dangerous to stand out in a communist society. The police would often come and take someone without warning, and neighbours would never know what happened, or why. Such an environment creates fear, and fear creates a reluctance to "rock the boat".
Again I don't see a connection, plenty of non Communist societies do this too, the free market loving United States had laws mandating decency and what was acceptable dress.Homosexuality was illegal in most of the "Free Market" West until recently, and it's still socially acceptable in many areas to ridicule, harass and discriminate against them. Then there's Western societies treatment of Trans people.

Moving away from sexuality, I honestly can't think of a single youth sub culture that wasn't demonised in the West and potentially susceptible to repressive legislation.  Even something as mainstream and innocuous as video games provoke a backlash from the establishment.

  • The cultural conformity in recent Star Trek is astounding. Among humans, all citizens share the same tastes in music, food, entertainment, and clothing.1 They all listen to erudite music (no rock, rap, dance, or alternative music in the future)2. They all enjoy Shakespearean plays (you never hear anyone say they hate Shakespeare, do you?3 One must wonder if dislike of Shakespeare is punishable by death in the Federation). Even outside the military, they all have similar clothing and hairstyles4. They all use the same formal dialect5.
1: No they don't, actually watch the show.

2: What about Vic's? There's a big difference between Classical music and Frank Sinatra tribute acts, then there's the times we see alien music enjoyed by the crew etc.
3: How do you know they all like Shakespeare? I've only seen Shakespeare brought up on TNG. And Sisko really like Baseball which in DS9 had become an obscure past time due to lack of interest.

And then there was Bashir's love of spy novels particularly James Bond

4: It's almost like in the future fashion comes and goes in some sort of gimmick, wave, or trend.

5: Oh dear there are many problems with this. First it isn't true, Picard not only speaks with an English accent he uses Yorkshire Idioms, second O'brien uses both an Irish accent and Irish expressions, then there's Worf's Russian family etc. Furthermore the show has a universal translator that enables everyone to speak to one another so its hard to say what their speech patterns are really like.

  1. Thriving black market in international currencies. Most likely 100% true in the Federation.
    • Federation "credits" are often mentioned, but never used to buy anything of significant value. In real life, rubles were similar: they were used heavily throughout the Soviet Union, but they were not very useful for purchasing foreign-made goods or bribing public officials1. As a result, a vast black market in foreign currency (especially American dollars) appeared, funded largely by money from tourism and illicit activities2. This black market was so widespread that authorities were known to turn a blind eye, for the simple reason that they were often its beneficiaries3.
    • The precious substance known as latinum is used for all major transactions with outsiders (and even some shady transactions inside the Federation). In fact, the more illicit a given activity is, the more likely it will be paid for in latinum. This indicates that Federation credits are not useful for such purposes, which would be consistent with typical communist currencies4. Much as a large part of the Russian economic infrastructure was fueled by black-market foreign currencies, there is probably a heavy black-market trade in latinum, since it is so much more useful than the Federation's communist credit system.
1: As we all know no Capitalist nations currency struggles on the exchange market.I live in the UK and have been paid in dollars for some jobs, because its easier for international businesses to deal in that currency overall.

2: And as we also know no market economy has ever been blighted by a black market, in fact none of them know the scourge of organised crime at all. Full disclosure I used to make money selling pirated Play station games, and I wasn't doing this in the People's Republic of China, it was my local school.

I knew dozens who did the same with games, VHS and DVD's and none of us were Al Capone types.

3: No Corruption in the good ole U S of A!

4: Ok I was joking before but this really is a shocking level of ignorance for someone who claims to know the in's and outs of two economic systems, and a made up one for a Television show. Dollars are the preferred currency in criminal activities regardless of nation or whose in charge, by the logic presented this would mean all nations apart from the United States operate under a "Communist economy".

The Allowances

And thus ends StarDestroyers argument, but perhaps I've been a little too hasty to judge, they graciously permit a space for a counter argument. Let's take a look.


Naturally, some object to these conclusions. The knee-jerk reflex is to say that the Federation cherishes individual freedoms, and I must be wrong about the reduction or elimination of freedom of expression, movement, and religion. But expectations don't necessarily translate to realities1. The Federation claims to cherish individual freedoms, but until we see evidence of those freedoms being used (and abused), we have no reason to believe that the reality matches the rhetoric2.
Many also claim that the Federation is actually a free-market society, in defiance of the Federation's own claims and all of the above evidence, by mentioning things such as "so and so character has a nice collection of wine glasses in his quarters," or "Picard's family has a farm," etc. However, real-life communist citizens also had personal possessions,3 and multiple generations could live in a single house. Therefore, this would hardly prove that the Federation is a free market!4 The distinction between property and possession is critical: you can possess a house or a car without owning it (the terms "rent", "lease", and "company car" come to mind), and you can command a ship or direct a company without owning it.5
So how does one distinguish between property and possessions? Two ways:
  1. You can legally sell property. You can't legally sell a rental car despite the fact that you possess it. The captain of an Exxon tanker can't legally sell it, despite the fact that he commands it and calls it "my ship." The CEO of a company can't sell it unless he's also the majority shareholder.6
  2. You can charge others for the use of your property, whether it be rent money or interest on loans.7 Communism strictly forbids this because it allows you to investments of all kinds, while capitalism is based on it8. Investment is the sharpest dividing line between communism and capitalism, and as I pointed out earlier, investment is so foreign to the Federation that in "The Neutral Zone", Picard didn't even understand the meaning of the word.

1: Self awareness where have you gone?

2: The author is correct, actions speak louder then words, which is why I can confidently recommend that Star Destroyers argument be ignored until they get around to providing some evidence of their assertions. That or just watching the show.

3: Then why did you claim they didn't, also is an entire farm and vineyard really in the same league as " a nice collection of wineglasses"? It seems that you're not really giving these imaginary voices a fair representation there.

4: Woah waoh woah, you're entire argument is built on "Federation does this, so did USSR, therefore Federation equals USSR" you can't all of a sudden change the rules when it's used to present an answer you don't like that's just childish.

5: True but you've no evidence what soever what the relationship vis a vis ownership actually is, you just assume for the sake of your tortured argument.

6: But Federation citizens give things away all the time, so according to you they do in fact own those things and thus ownership does in fact exist.

 7: You mean like how Sisko had the right to charge rent on the station but chose not to because he had no need of the money. And also used the fact he could demand payment at any time as leverage over the station shop owners.

8: Again the Soviet Union had loans and investments, that wasn't a state secret you could go to them for a loan.

And that's it, the authors conclusion has little to do with the rest of the essay, it merely says they are right, no arguments and then launches into a rant about other topics.

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