August 2004


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The politics of Star Trek

I was reading this over at Frizzen Sparks, and one of the comments got me to thinking. The commentor stated that ants, bees and the Borg are socialist, but this is wrong: they are hive minds with the queen as dictator. He wasn’t too far off the mark though, since in ST:TNG, they opennly proclaim that they have no need of money, that each individual’s needs are taken care of, freeing them all to work for the betterment of mankind.

Yup. Socialists.

This is made possible by replicator technology. After all, if you can press a button and replicate anything, what’s to keep you from making gold, diamonds, or simply funny money? Nothing. This completely invalidates the economy from the bottom up. How? Well, the economy is based on supply and demand: something only has value if people want it. If people want something, there is a demand for it, and if you have a limited supply, then it’s value increases. By the same token, if demand ebbs, then it’s value decreases. If there is no demand, then it becomes worthless.

The only things that a replicator cannot directly create on it’s own are the power it uses and the generic matter it uses to create things. Since it can easily replicate a decent set of solar power units, that takes care of energy needs. As for the ‘seed’ matter? You’re standing on a planet, right? So, to get the process rolling, you need to plug it into the wall for the first few minutes to make your solar collectors, then you have a free source of energy and all the matter you’re standing on to work with. Hungry? Make a sandwich. Cold? Make a jacket, then make some tools and materials to build a shelter.

Aha! You say – where ya gonna put that shelter? Someone owns the land! Well, buy him off. Point the replicator at a bag of Kingsford briquettes and turn ’em into a diamond the size of his hand. You now have everything you could ever want (materially), for the price of a couple kilowatts and a bag of charcoal.

One reply to “The politics of Star Trek”

  1. Tom Says:

    This does not take into account the power of the RIAA. In the future, Star Trek Replicators will have powerful DRM built in to prevent users from replicating copyrighted music CDs. So there will still be an economy based on those.

    See my full reply here: