An excellent quote from an article by Usha Alexander on the near-utopian vision of Star Trek and the importance of imagining alternatives to capitalism if we are to make progress in the real world.
The world of Star Trek is so widely appealing, I think, because it presents us with something colorful short of a utopia, a flawed human attempt toward a just, caring, and individually empowering social order. He imagines a society based on a shared set of human values - equity, cooperation, political and economic egalitarianism – where basic human needs are fairly met so that no one has to compete for basic subsistence and well-being. As the venerable Captain Picard said, “We have conquered hunger and greed, and we are no longer interested in accumulating things. Some Libertarian Trekkies have been outraged to realize that Star Trek actually portrays a post-capitalist view of society.
But the world of Star Trek relies on the existence of a cheap, concentrated, non-polluting source of effectively infinite energy. Obviously, no such energy source has ever been discovered (despite the dreamy landscapes with solar panels). And the replicator, which eliminates both waste and scarcity of materials, is magic technology. Star Trek’s vision is also an image of human chauvinism and pride, assuming H. Sapiens as the only relevant form of earthly life. It is therefore below a living and plausible imagination of an ecologically sustainable, technologically advanced and egalitarian human civilization.
It is, of course, too much to expect the creators of Star Trek alone to fully and flawlessly reimagine our global human society. Indeed, it has become an aphorism of our time that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. Yet, while it might sound like a joke, at this point the question is far too serious, and reimagining human civilization is a project we all need to engage in, within our means.
There is an urgent need to expand our imaginations of possible savings, social structures, value systems and more, as our current way of life is causing the catastrophic collapse of the biosphere, potentially precipitating the demise of humanity. In this context, we have everything to gain by risking new paths, which could offer better chances of ecological balance and survival. And as our suicidally fossil-fueled extractive civilization draws to a close, we must finally answer the question: What will we build in its place? Can we build a more benevolent, more just, more sustainable world?
To manifest any desired result, it is first necessary to imagine it: a real and living world – not a utopia, but a human world – in which fairness, generosity, cooperation and care are the animating values that guide collective human behavior and social institutions. We know that such a vision is possible – without the simplification and cleansing of Star Trek – because these values really guided some of the oldest social orders that actually existed, including those that preceded the Rise of the Cities. – States and fostered human flourishing for the greater part of our time on Earth. Indeed, rather than starting from science fiction, we might recognize that our past might show the way, with real-world principles – or at least inspiration – to imagine alternative economies and social structures that may allow more human flourishing through the challenges of climate instability, which has shaped human history for so long.
Read the rest of the article, and even the entire series so far, on 3 Quarks Daily:
Stories of wealth and distribution
Of related interest:
Star Trek Discovery trailer for next season has appeared
Babylon 5 is restarting. J. Michael Straczynski explains why this is necessary.
Doctor Who season 13 trailer appeared
Boba Fett Book Arrival Date Announced
I started to watch Foundation. Have you got?
Everyone is waiting for Dune. The final trailer is here. Denis Villeneuve thought his career was over with Blade Runner 2049. Jason Momoa talks about working on the film.
The trailer for the next season of The Expanse is here
So much science fiction to get excited about!