Three weeks into the research for my Star Trek The Next Generation article, I am already in Season Five. That’s 79 episodes viewed—in order, of course, to watch the development of the philosophy—and only 15 pages of notes.
My memory of the scads of script pages devoted to the exposition of our future society and economic structure was overblown. Rather, I am finding there is much spying and intrigue and battles and turf wars. There is, too, much about human growth and moral development (though it seems we have to learn the same lessons over and over) which indeed does say something about this future society Roddenberry was constructing. I suppose the humanists would say that the stories of moral development strictly address their own humanist philosophy; it is my job in this article I’m writing to prove that the real development and evolution of our species can only happen under a socialist structure. It’s hard to prove that directly from the TV series, as there were many writers with differing viewpoints and Roddenberry phased in and out of tight control over storylines and themes. So, I find weeks and months where the show is all about battles for political control or border skirmishes which, according to the mission of the Enterprise and of Starfleet, should be immaterial and non-existent in this future society.
So, how do I frame the article? I still believe that Roddenberry was describing a post-capitalist society, although he doesn’t hammer on this theme in every episode. Overall, the one feature that distinguishes a humanist vision of a capitalist world made gentle and the socialist’s vision of a socialist world is that labor does not appear on the market as a commodity; and it is on this that I will need to focus in my article. In the 24th century, no one has to go looking for a job in order to have food, shelter, medical care, education or culture. Everyone does a job they love and are qualified for. Everyone is entitled to technology assistance, to food and to doctors. Wesley never pays a cent to attend the Academy. No one is worried about unemployment. There is no despicable, murdering HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY. There my notes are leading me.
More next week.