Besides, the United Federation of Planets is clearly socialist


Ted Cruz tried to claim Captain James T. Kirk for the Republican party. This is illogical and must be refuted.

I offer two pieces of evidence.

  • William Shatner’s own words.


    Star Trek wasn’t political. I’m not political; I can’t even vote in the US. So to put a geocentric label on interstellar characters is silly

  • Does this sound like a Republican to you?

Case closed.

Comments

  1. microraptor says

    It’s like they completely forget that the Federation was a post-scarcity society.

  2. brett says

    They’re definitely socialist, although they don’t seem to be like the Culture where robots can provide almost everything for you – and the whole “no money” thing doesn’t make any sense unless you’re assuming it’s like the Soviet Union, where there was currency/units of exchange but they weren’t worth anything in trade (which probably explains why they had to trade bars of latinum and stuff like that – rather crude for the 24 century).

    Then again, this was coming from Roddenberry, who believed that 24th century humans had “outgrown” interpersonal conflict. So maybe it all works out!

  3. auraboy says

    Surely the Federation was essentially communist? Everybody shares everything.

  4. Nemo says

    About the only times Kirk ever sounded like a Republican were when he was xenophobically ranting against the Klingons (e.g. Errand of Mercy, The Undiscovered Country), which were also — not coincidentally — about the only times the show/movies ever sided against him, depicting him as being wrong.

    This isn’t the first time I’ve seen a conservative try to claim Trek, but it’s only about the third. Hopefully most of them have more sense than that.

  5. Nemo says

    But if Shatner thought Trek wasn’t political, that’s a level of cluelessness I wouldn’t have suspected of him.

  6. Roestigraben says

    Don’t worry, Ted. You still get Quark, Khan, that treasonous Klingon general from VI, and most of Section 31.

  7. tbtabby says

    If he thinks James T. Kirk would support the war-mongering Republicans, he obviously never saw A Taste of Armageddon, which advocates diplomacy over war even when it isn’t a quagmire. And what about Devil in the Dark? Diplomacy saves the day even when dealing with a monster that’s killed a bunch of people!

  8. tbtabby says

    @Roestigraben

    Nah, Quark wouldn’t support the GOP either. He’d be fine with the utterly ruthless profiteering, but he can get that with the Democrats. And they don’t waste time and money on issues like gay marriage and abortion, which not only provide no opportunities for profit, but close off several legitimate avenues.

  9. fentex says

    Quark rather forcefully refuted the Republican platform in an episode in which he argued against the expenses of exclusion and warfare.

    Though making a claim on Star Trek wudn’t be all wrong – the course of the various teelvision series andm ovies is clearly the evolution of the Empire Of Man.

    Where in the original mythology Earth was asked to join the Federation, did so as just another member and we saw Federation leaders and Starfleet Commanders depicted as non-humans over the course of the franchise humanity was seen to subvert the Federation unitl both the Federation President and Starfleet Commander were human and the Federation meeting on EArth with Starfleet headquarters in our orbit.

    We captured control of it’s military, removed it’s political headquarters to our plant under the guns of our military in orbit and constantly interfered against our own rules in the development of other planets whenever their choices weren’t consistent with ours.

    The Vulcans who were once respected and deferred to (as observed by Sareks treatment in the original series) become by the third movie disdained and sidelined (as observed by Sareks treatment in The Search For Spock) – now that we had absorbed their technology and supplanted their position within the Federation .

    In reality it was the evolution of drama that sought more conflict for stories that took Star Trek away from Roddenberry’s original concepts, but that’s the Republican thing too isn’t it – change relaity by telling a different story?

  10. azpaul3 says

    Good god, I’m getting old. I watched it twice just to make sure I wasn’t trying to fool myself.

    I remember the plot from each and every one of those scenes.

  11. microraptor says

    brett #2

    They’re definitely socialist, although they don’t seem to be like the Culture where robots can provide almost everything for you – and the whole “no money” thing doesn’t make any sense unless you’re assuming it’s like the Soviet Union, where there was currency/units of exchange but they weren’t worth anything in trade (which probably explains why they had to trade bars of latinum and stuff like that – rather crude for the 24 century).

    The general explanation I’ve seen has been that resources are so plentiful on Federation planets that a unit of exchange isn’t necessary for them. Latinum is used for exchanges outside the Federation (like Deep Space Nine) because it can’t be replicated.

  12. Adam James says

    I hate to disagree with Mr. Shatner (and I think he was trying to be diplomatic and avoid further stoking the flames) but if ever there was a TV show unafraid of social and political commentary, it was Star Trek.

  13. leerudolph says

    Next you’ll be trying to deny the DIRECT LINE OF DESCENT from Shatner’s hairpiece to Trump’s whatever-the-hell-that-thing-is!!!

  14. latveriandiplomat says

    @15: Evolution may be blind, but nothing is that blind.
    @14: I agree, and I think you have Shatner’s motive correct.

    There were little bits of capitalism here and there in the original series (e.g., mining for profit). But the series regulars were portrayed to be people who had chosen public service and were quite dedicated to it. It was later series that went with the “we don’t even use money any more” stuff.

    Also the original series was shot through with cold war metaphors, but usually in an enlightened fashion. (The Vietnam justification episode, “A Private Little War” is one example where the show wasn’t all that enlightened). That’s one of the reasons for doing those sorts of stories in a science fiction show. You can say things in metaphor that a direct “US vs. USSR” drama could not say on network TV at that time.

    Lastly, if the young, bold, charismatic Kirk resembled any American political figure, it was the young, bold, charismatic Democrat JFK. And I say that as someone who doesn’t care for JFK all that much (but I like Kirk).

  15. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re 6:
    *chiming in*
    I, too, gotta say: “sorry Shat, Star Trek WAS political. (me thinks the Great Bird of the Galaxy would like to have a word with you.)”
    .
    however, it was political in a “commentary” sense, it was not political in the “active” sense of advocating particular stances versus others. Other than pure militarism of Klingons versus negotiating Federation.
    ugh
    regardless of Shat’s lame defense, Cruz trying to claim Star Trek for the Rethuglican party is gross repugnant. IDK, I only assume he chery picks bits of plot to make his case, while disregarding the whole story; that maybe the cherries were there as blatant satire that all the Trekkies thought were obvious satire.

  16. says

    I think by “not political” Shatner meant it wasn’t about picking a US political party to side with. How could Kirk be a Republican or Democrat (a “geocentric label”) when such categories wouldn’t have existed on his one-government, post-scarcity Earth that was a member of an interplanetary federation? I don’t for a moment imagine that he meant “devoid of political commentary, in general, or on specific current issues faced by the writers and audience of the show.”

  17. treefrogdundee says

    I’m just waiting to hear who gets the coveted Ewok vote before I make up my mind.

  18. sebloom says

    Does this sound like a Republican run society?

    Mark Twain: What about the poor? You ignore them!

    Deana Troi: Poverty was eliminated on Earth…a long time ago, and a lot of other things disappeared with it — hopelessness, despair, cruelty…

    MT: Young lady, I come from a time when men achieved power and wealth by standing on the backs of the poor; where prejudice and intolerance are common place. Power is an end unto itself. And you’re telling me that isn’t how it is any more?

    DT: That’s right.

    MT: Hmmm.

  19. says

    As with many christians, Cruz is in the habit of imagining his imaginary heroes to hold all the same opinions that he holds. It is great that Shatner is a living person who can tell Cruz to suck it.

  20. unclefrogy says

    Cruz is right about Kirk of course it is so clear with all of the Captains outward and obvious expressions of religious piety! no wait that’s wrong

    uncle frogy

  21. mykroft says

    And the search for intelligent life in the Republican party continues….

  22. What a Maroon, oblivious says

    I always thought of Quark (and pretty much all Ferengi, with the possible exceptions of Rom and Nog) as a libertarian.

    And IIRC in Star Trek they had something called “credits”; those disappeared from the later shows.

    The Federation may have been socialist or communist, but the notion of private property didn’t seem to have completely disappeared.

  23. Sili says

    Nemo @ 6,

    that’s a level of cluelessness I wouldn’t have suspected of [Shatner].

    FTFY

  24. robro says

    A religious conservative confusing fiction with fact…what a novel concept.

  25. Reginald Selkirk says

    auraboy #4: Surely the Federation was essentially communist?

    Surely not. Don’t you remember them pumping coins into the replicator every time they ate a meal?

  26. robro says

    And in other Ted Cruz news, he called Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor yesterday or today. Maybe he’s apprenticing to you-know-who. Republicans seem to be in total disarray.

  27. Reginald Selkirk says

    leerudolph #15: Next you’ll be trying to deny the DIRECT LINE OF DESCENT from Shatner’s hairpiece to Trump’s whatever-the-hell-that-thing-is!!!

    Who would notice one tribble missing from the prop inventory?

  28. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    No Republican would ever set his phaser to stun.

    That’s because they think the setting says “nuts”.

  29. Gregory Greenwood says

    You just know that Republicans like Cruz look at the Federation and, with their customary lack of perspicacity or attention span, see what they want to see – American ‘manifest destiny’ that has transcended our planet and solar system, and is writ large on the galactic stage. They assume that it is Right wing, probably christian behind the scenes, and otherwise conforms to their world view, and don’t let the writer’s implied or actually openly stated intent trouble them anymore than they let reality in general trouble them.

    What is before them is an (admittedly flawed) attempt to depict a progressive, inclusivist vision of a better tomorrow; a world without poverty, fear, violence or bigotry. What they choose to see, however, is a vision of christo-fascist empire where their fellow travelers in the fiction bring supposed ‘enlightenment’ (read enforced servitude and plenty of opportunities for gross profiteering for the oppressor) at the point of a phaser to everyone they meet, much as they have sought to do so at the point of a more conventional firearm for decades. This is unsurprising – their god is largely a reflection of their own drives, desires and ambitions dolled up as an allegedly supremely moral being and shoehorned into their interpretation of the universe around them. Similarly, they are superimposing themselves and their toxic value system onto their favoured fictional works, and so the clearly Left wing Federation is re-imagined as a Right wing Republican society, which at least proves that, contrary to all initial impressions, the recent Star Trek reboot movies could indeed have been much, much worse then they were…

  30. Mrdead Inmypocket says

    Federation is essentially socialist. What it does is ensure a minimum standard of living, thus doing away with extreme poverty. Food, water, shelter, health care and education are provided for at a basic level. Roddenberry did this via Deus ex machina, replicators and whatnot.

    However, there is still an economic credit system in place in the Star Trek universe. A socialist society doesn’t mean that anyone who wants a starship gets one. Just the basic social safety net is there. Picard explained in one of the movies that the economic system of the future is somewhat different. The aim is to better oneself.

    Let me explain it this way. In THIS video Goodman essentially explains what a “safety net” is, a position to fall back on. In the fictional Star Trek universe everyone in society is working from a position of “fuck you”. They have food, water, shelter medical care, education already. Once those basic needs are met it is then up to the individual to better themselves. Do you want to try and have the best restaurant in New Orleans like Sisko Sr? Then you can try and build that dream. Do you want to be an archeologist, a wine maker, an inventor, a holo programmer. With a basic level of sustenance to fall back on any of those possibilities are open to you, without having to worry about you and most especially your family sliding into poverty and hunger. Every individual is open to explore their full capacity to better themselves and society.

    It doesn’t mean that if you want to own a restaurant that one will be replicated for you. You would still have to work and strive to build that and succeed.

    So in the Star Trek universe the Federation is really a “what if” scenario. What if we raised everyone’s standard of living to a basic level that eliminates deep poverty.

    Let me be perfectly clear that society is not “giving” something for free either. Republicans/conservatives would qualify this as welfare or charity. But it’s not. If you’re familiar with the principles put forward by Paine in Agrarian Justice, you know that because of the basic fundamental structures of society, of having civilization, that each and every one of us has their share to the ‘commons’ taken from us even before birth. If not for civilization we’d all be able to sustain ourselves by hunting, fishing etc. But because we have systems of civilization it necessitates farming/cultivation, land ownership and all those institutions that accompany that. Therefore we are owed by that system of civilization a basic level of compensation for taking from us our natural rights/ability to sustain ourselves as we would if said civilization did not exist.

    So nothing is being “given”, in the Star Trek universe it’s merely being given back. The commons, that’s everything, the land, water and air, belongs to all of us equally. But you’ve been denied your share of that inheritance because of the invention of civilization. Essentially the Star Trek universe is a “what if” scenario where those inequalities are again equal. You’ve got that basic level of sustenance. What you do with it from there is up to you. In that way society/civilization is actually a construct that allows us to better ourselves rather than being a structure to accumulate wealth at the top.

    Conservatives as a whole are a pretty cynical bunch. They’ll say “Nothing would ever get done. People would just lay around because they’re lazy”. But I think that is untrue. See video on what motivates us HERE

    For example “Who waits tables in this Star Trek utopia? Who wants that job when you don’t have to work to support yourself?” Well, that’s why the economics of the future are different. But also the very core concepts of society would be different also. Even though someone has the basic needs of life to support themselves, if they wanted to open a restaurant of their own they’re going to have to earn credits to do so. Also they need to learn the trade. Working with a master craftsman used to be the standard way people learned trades. So in this ‘what if’ universe perhaps people seek placement in restaurants to learn the trade and to earn those credits. It could be they don’t even earn very much. After time they would create what is called their “master piece” at which time the master they were working under signs off on their craftsmanship. At which point the student has enough credits and experience to go it alone and is then a master craftsman.

    At present when you’re born you’re already in debt. You can’t just walk into the world and sustain yourself. Civilization has allowed our numbers to grow far beyond the lands ability to sustain us all via hunter gathering. But still because that system is entrenched you’ve already had your rightful ‘wealth’ taken from you by the institution of civilization, with nothing given back in return. At it stands now everything you require must be earned by you or, according to conservatives, you’re a lazy good for nothing. So you’ve had your ‘commonwealth’ taken with nothing given in return. Where did it go? The short answer is to the rich. All wealth is funneled upward.

    I’ll paste this part of Agrarian Justice:
    “Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.’

    It is a portion of the accumulation of wealth which is owed back, that will be used to fund the basic level of sustenance that is owed to everyone by civilization. Therefore, when someone dies a portion of that wealth should go back to society from whence it came. Allowing those that come after to enjoy their rightful inheritance of the commonwealth. In Star Trek that means you get access to food, water, shelter, medical care and education.

    Anyway, that’s how I imagine the economics of the future are different in Star Trek and why the Federation is socialist. Kirk was not only part of that but a vehement proponent of the Federation. To try and compare that future society and James Tiberius Kirk to the Republicanism of today is not even laughable, it’s delusional.

  31. unclefrogy says

    @ 35
    that is what I thought it was about and it is why for me the latest star trek movies were duds
    it was the federation that was the center not what ever hero was up front
    uncle frogy

  32. randay says

    # 1 Microraptor. We live in a post-scarcity world today. Only the ruling powers organize scarcity for billions of people to accumulate more that they don’t need for themselves. Another event in Star Trek was the famous “kiss” between Kirk and Uhura. There was also the kiss between Spock and a blonde white woman which didn’t seem to cause as much controversy, which I find curious.

  33. caseloweraz says

    Yes, that scene is noteworthy for being (AFAIK) the first interracial kiss ever seen on network television, and for the outrage it evoked in certain souls. What’s remarkable is that it evoked outrage even though Kirk and Uhura were forced to kiss and clearly would not have chosen to kiss on their own. I surmise that Roddenberry set it up this way to get it past NBC’s Broadcast Standards Department, which — as I know from reading The Making of Star Trek by Stephen Whitfield — epitomized up-tight political correctness.

    Incidentally, I discovered yesterday an even better resource for Star Trek history: These Are the Voyages by Marc Cushman (San Diego: Jacobs/Brown Press, 2013). It covers the original series in great detail, one volume for each season. In an Amazon customer review, Robert J. Sawyer describes the first volume thus: “OMG, this is amazing. It’s like Stephen E. Whitfield’s classic THE MAKING OF STAR TREK on steroids. The level of detail is astonishing. The book covers the conceiving and making of the first two pilot and all the episodes of the first season, quoting hundreds of memos from Gene Roddenberry, Robert Justman, John D.F. Black, and others, and providing a wealth of information that I’ve never seen anywhere before.”

    Disclaimer: I have not read any of these; I only glanced through Volume 1 at a local library. On Amazon, some insiders say that V1, at least, is full of errors.

    It seems to me that the huge influence of Star Trek on popular culture is shown by the number of non-fiction books written about it. Has any other television series inspired so many?

  34. Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened says

    William Shatner narrating Common People is just fantastic :)

  35. davidnangle says

    tbtabby @#9… Devil in the Dark… it was an aboriginal single mother Kirk chose not to kill! Very un-Republican.

  36. caseloweraz says

    Indeed; Kirk did a lot of un-Republican things. He broke the Prime Directive numerous times. Breaking a non-interference directive is something today’s Republicans would probably do. But I submit that they wouldn’t do it for the same reasons. When Kirk did it, his aim was to stop a war (or at least make the odds more even), or to break up an authoritarian regime (e.g. the petty tyranny of Platonius (in the episode from which Randay’s clip is taken)).

  37. caseloweraz says

    Viewing Kirk’s record, today’s Republicans might be moved to organize a Committee on Un-Republican Crimes. By analogy with HUAC, the acronym for this would be CURC. You can guess the pronunciation.)

  38. fatpie42 says

    Have they forgotten that Captain Kirk killed God?

    I’d have thought that was a big no-no in the Republican party…