Re: Humor/Star Trek linguistics

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Tue Feb 26 2002 - 18:55:23 MST

"Dickey, Michael F" wrote:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mike Lorrey []
> >
> >
> "WHich is all rather BS. I'll buy that Starfleet operates
> communistically, much as many military organizations do today to a
> limited extent..."
> -----------------------------
> If you check out the site, he addresses things like the Abolition of
> property rights, State seizure of transportation services, State seizure of
> communication services, Elimination of religion and traditional families,
> State seizure of industry, Citizens are forced to work. Just some examples:
> No wealth: 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 territorial (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 phenomenon. 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.

No, it doesn't. The advent of replicator technology has eliminated the
drive for fulfillment of basic needs through labor. Furthermore, the
federation citizens you generally only see in TNG are Starfleet
officers, trained at Starfleet Academy. These are scientists whose every
need is supplied by Starfleet from the moment of their induction. If
they need personal items, they are replicated, so the concept of 'cost'
for personal items and consumables is obsolete.

However, it is far more telling to watch the future life of the TNG
teleport officer, who is a non-commissioned officer, who worked his way
up through the ranks, and later works at Deep Space Nine, where we see
his wife and child on a regular basis. There are a number of
conversations about whether they can 'afford' certain perks, like
vacations, as well as paying for the damages incured by their child's
pranks with his Ferengi friends.

> > US Navy ships are even more so.
> 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 transports. 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
> idea.

Yes, and Quark is a Ferengi, and the Ferengi ARE part of the Federation,
ergo there IS private ownership of starships.
Furthermore, what of the Maqui? Their ships are all privately owned,
converted from privately owned freighters, yachts, or transports, and
they were all formerly in the jurisdiction of the Federation.

Now, you may claim: but any world that joins the Federation must adopt
communism. This claim is directly contradicted by the Prime Directive.
Individual worlds are free to develop as they wish.

> 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 communications. 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 system.

Deep Space Nine is located in Bajoran space, which is treated as a DMZ
or UN Protectorate equivalent following the Cardassian War. Furthermore,
it is a station that is owned by the Federation, so it is obvious that
they would control their own communications systems. You only see the
federation logo on comm screens because the only comm screens you ever
see are federation owned screens.

> Nietszche Wins- God is Dead: 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 all. 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 me. Also, while "Bones" McCoy often
> mentioned Jesus and God, we never hear the name "Jesus" on TNG, DS9, or
> Voyager. 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 species; I
> guess aliens aren't very imaginative in Star Trek).

Note that Picard's brother makes a number of references to God. That
being said, it is possible that the public exposure of the Q culture
likely contributes to significant doubt (as well as the result of
ST:TFF, where 'God' is a bully).

Actually, there have been heretical religions in several cultures (note
the heretical Klingons encountered by Voyager who thought B'lanna
Torres' unborn child was their savior.

Now, lets say that God has either been proven to be non-existent, or
else federation technology has allowed private individuals to have a
direct comm line with the universes sysop. In either case, chapels would
be unnecessary, but what, exactly, does this have to do with capitalism?

> etc. etc.
> He also gives qualitative estimates of how fully these various things are
> implemented (not all are 100%)
> Mike Lorrey - "A Captain living in the world of Starfleet would have little
> need of
> money if all of his/her needs were met by the starfleet replicator
> technology. However, we rarely see in Star Trek anyone who isn't in
> Starfleet who ISN'T engaged in private enterprise."
> -----------------------------------
> He was referring to the federation specifically, how often do you see any
> member race of the federation engaged in private enterprise?

Rarely do you meet anyone who is not wholly starfleet or otherwise
employed in a government position. Tell me, how many people do you think
would be found in a drama set aboard the aircraft carrier Enterprise who
were not either military or government personnel? You might see some
when the ship is in port, but how many times do you see that? In such
cases, you always see private individuals who are either scientists,
contractors, or other business people.

> Mike Lorrey - "Most of all, what is the point of naming the flagship of the
> fleet
> "Enterprise" if it is a communist society?"
> Because the writers were merely idealistic english majors who had no concept
> of economics or physics, and catered to the Whim's of roddenberry and
> berman. Just cause the ship is named 'Enterprise' does not mean that the
> federation supports free enterprise.

Hand waving.
> Mike Lorrey - "There are many incidents in Star Trek history of businessmen
> operating
> openly, even if some are depicted in a rather typically
> biased-Roddenberry fashion (Harry Mudd, of "Troubles with Tribbles" and
> other episodes of ST:TOS featuring him, including the one with the
> beauty pills and dilithium miners, and the one where Harry meets his
> apparent end at the hands of an android that appears as his ex wife....)"
> --------------------------------------
> If you check the site out, he starts off (at some point) by saying that TOE
> was mostly a free enterprise system, and joked that there must have been
> some kind of coup in the intervening years.

Note that replicators did not exist in the TOE period, but did exist in
the TNG era, supporting my theory.

> Mike Lorrey - "In ST:TNG, Capt. Picard's brother owns his own vinyard in
> France, which
> he labored to keep "in the family" while Picard went off to the stars.
> Furthermore, the Ferengi ARE a part of the Federation, even if they are
> looked down on by snooty starfleet types."
> -------------------------------------
> Interesting point, checking the database on his site I referenced above I
> find
> Season 4, Ep# 78: "Family"
> (looking out over the vineyards)
> LOUIS: One man's idea of paradise.
> PICARD: Two men. Robert's. And my father's.
> LOUIS: Never did I know anyone less interested in grapes than you, Jean-Luc.
> PICARD: No, I was interested, Louis. And I was proud that my family helped
> to preserve the traditions. But I did not feel bound by those traditions as
> they seemed to be.
> His comments on the episode are...
> Culture: not once in the entire episode do we hear talk of sales, but we do
> hear of traditions. It seems as if the Picard family vineyard exists simply
> to provide scenery for the local community.
> This isn't unprecedented in real life. In certain European countries, some
> farms are deliberately maintained despite economic unviability strictly for
> reasons of aesthetics, so that tourists will see the quaint "old world"
> agrarian lifestyles they've read about in books.
> If you watch this episode you may notice that their agricultural techniques
> are strictly primitive: everything is done by hand, as it was done centuries
> ago. This contradicts the common Trekkie argument that the Picard farm is
> proof of capitalism in the Federation, since a capitalist farm would be much
> more profitable using modern technology (never mind the advanced technology
> they would presumably have in four centuries).

This is inaccurate. Note how farms in Japan still use primitive hand
labor, hand polishing apples while still on the tree, etc and as a
result command a far higher market price than mass produced American
products, even of the same species. Note that 'authentic' french
champagne produced using traditional methods commands higher prices than
mass produced American "champagne" which is produced by the same method,
but automated, though is not allowed to be called 'champagne'. Note also
the organic farming movement, which commands higher prices for its
produce than non'organic' produce.

I would imagine that wine that is certified to be hand made by human
labor would command a very high price to certain snobs and luddite
types, who would look with distain on 'replicator food' as plebian and
possibly bad for you, as many modern luddites claim about BGH milk, Bt
corn, and golden rice.

> -------------------------------------
> Mike Lorry - "Furthermore, in ST:DSN, there are numerous incidents of
> private
> businesspeople, including the Ferengi Quark, who owns his own bar/casino
> on the space station, as well as the Cardassian tailor, who owns his own
> shop."
> Are the Ferengi and the Cardassians actually MEMBERS of the Federation?

The cited individuals live IN the federation, as resident aliens live IN
the US.

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