Elliott's Reviews > Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek

Trekonomics by Manu Saadia
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it was ok

There were some excellent pieces of analysis here: namely on the evolution of Ferengi society through the run of Deep Space Nine. Overall though while it was certainly thought provoking I found myself in disagreement with the text as it carried on so that by the conclusion where Saadia literally throws out that line: "A rising tide lifts all boats..." I thought: this is not Star Trek's economy. For one I can't imagine Data, or Spock looking through the computer records on late 20th/early 21st century history and saying: "It's true Captain, a rising tide raised all ships." ignoring the rising tide of the West and the extreme poverty of the Global South. For another Saadia seemed to me to ignore a lot of mentions within the show that are really critical for understanding the economics of its universe.
I am no economist, but I've literally been watching Star Trek since birth-no before birth- because my Dad and Mom watched the season 4 premiere of The Next Generation (The Best of Both Worlds Part II) four days before I was born. When I was three I met Scotty and told him my favorite episode was The Doomsday Machine. Plus, on top of that I'm pretty reasonably acquainted with Keynes and Marx- no expert mind you, but I think combined it shall suffice.
Anyway, my credentials out of the way, Star Trek is not a Utopic Keynesian society. By The Next Generation Star Trek is at the endpoint of Marxist socialism. The state has begun to wither away, everyone has a right to food, shelter, education, a remunerative job, people live and work communally and what government exists is very attentive to every citizen regardless of species, or career.
There is certainly some level of meritocracy, but it's not based on social currency as Saadia insists over and over. Rather there's more discussion on self-improvement and accordingly group improvement. Captain Picard for instance is not ever concerned with the Picard family legacy. He is proud of his heritage which Saadia confuses with legacy, rather Captain Picard is devoted entirely towards the furthering of The Federation's legacy of humanity, equality, and freedom. I doubt Picard cares very much whether he is personally remembered by history, but he always is extremely concerned with how the Federation will be remembered or what it will be known for. Service towards the Federation and especially those within the Federation is paramount and that is more the drive of technological progress than what Saadia identifies.
The 'how?' in my own analysis the world of Star Trek is by a hybrid Catastrophic-Fabian progression towards socialism rather than Keynesian left of center capitalism. Saadia mentions a scene in First Contact where Picard explains how financial incentives have vanished. But aside from some later mention of the Borg he is silent on Star Trek's WWIII and this is hugely important. Will Riker states that the conflict left 600 million dead, and most governments similarly destroyed. My interpretation is that rather than the Marxist-Leninist method of the proletariat actively overthrowing the government, the bourgeois governments across the world destroyed themselves creating a vacuum whereby the proletariat simply created a better government in their stead after throwing out the varying tyrants that usurped authority as alluded to by the Pilot of The Next Generation and The Savage Curtain from the Original Series. In so doing the proletariat ushered in a world whereby social class no longer exists and technology replaced the need for manual labor except in voluntary circumstances.
While Saadia certainly provides an in depth analysis, I feel that he spends too much time on social currency which in my opinion never plays any role in the series, and not enough time on a class based analysis. A decent read perhaps for some Star Trek fans, but one that didn't suffice for me.
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Reading Progress

June 10, 2016 – Started Reading
June 10, 2016 – Shelved
June 10, 2016 – Finished Reading

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