Anarcho-Futurism and Why Star Trek Is Not A Socialist Utopia

star trek is not a socialist utopia

I had originally conceived of the two topics in the title as separate articles, but since both of them will explore similar themes, I eventually decided that they might work better if presented together. I will first explain what Anarcho-Futurism means to me and why I use that label to describe my ideology.

Many anarchists tend to base their ideologies on historical premises. They use the past to project optimal forms into the future. But since we are rapidly and exponentially evolving alongside technology, not considering the future and incorporating the potential new paradigms that will reshape everything we know into our thinking seems ignorant and dogmatic. Anarcho-capitalists are correct in the sense that their economic strategy offers us the maximum amount of freedom and liberty in this very moment of human history. Yet they do not offer the most of those qualities in potential. Technology will either further enslave us or give us new opportunities to experience freedom and liberty by removing some of the basic limitations that currently are used to define it. The moment we reach non-scarcity technology, industrialist economics in general will become irrelevant and obsolete. So anarcho-futurism is an adaptive anarchism that keeps one eye in the present and one in the future, whereas most other anarchist ideologies have one in the present and one in the past.

That being said, I am also a voluntaryist, which means that regardless of the kind of society that I desire, choose and consent to live in, I accept the right for others to similarly self-organize through voluntary associations and create whatever sort of society they want to live in. If others want to attempt to make a go of socialism or facism, I am okay with that, so long as the only people participating in or effected by it are there out of their own informed volition.

At the same time I am also a huge fan of Star Trek, a fictional universe which is often taken to be the authoritative demonstration on the awesomeness of socialism. So when recently asked how I deal with this dissonance, I gave the following reply…

For me it (Star Trek) shows how impossible a utopian government is. The Prime Directive, the central tenet of that governing body, often becomes a critical obstacle for the logical and moral issues faced. It illustrates that the idea of an altruistic state is fraught with inconsistency and gobs of self-refutation. The best things always happen in Trek when someone puts the truth of the individual above the truth of the Federation. Besides that, the technology is actually inspiring technology that will help free us from the restraints of the state, as well as others forms of centralized authority and monopolies, like industrialist economics.  I have written specifically about Star Trek and the post-scarcity reputation economy that will replace industrialist-statism and it’s oligarchies. Another funny part is that people refer to the Federation as socialist, but since it does not meddle in private affairs and exists only as a protection agency for its citizens, it more closely aligns with the minarchist utopia of libertarians. The Federation is not a geographical government entity. There are no mandatory memberships and its member-states are sovereign, with only the central tenets of the Federation applying to its member-states. So really it is just like a constitutional republic.The Borg can be seen as socialist or communist, though. The extreme of collectivism. And it works well to illustrate what the conclusions of collectivist logic must always be.

As an anarcho-futurist I believe there is a high degree of probability that we will one day develop a reputation economy as a result of technological forms and post-scarcity. This is not wishful thinking because I am also quite convinced that there is just as much potential for the reputation economy to produce a groupthink idiocracy dystopia. This is why I find it crucial that we explore the possibility so that we can create public information and discourse that helps us to steer it in a more favorable direction.

Star Trek has given us a place to begin that discussion. By deconstructing that fictional future and labeling its parts correctly we can dispose of unexamined assumptions and build a vocabulary that aims at future paradigms. It is not that I want to live in the Star Trek realm, it is that I find it endlessly useful for exploring our humanity and for dispelling suspicions and expectations about the future that are irrational or unfavorable. I have always grokked fiction as a great lens through which to view reality through different angles. Science, or speculative, fiction is often the most condensed form of truth in fiction we can use to unpack our thinking and take a look at it. And it also trains one to look ahead into the future and not to live in the limitations of the past. The future is unwritten, but it is being written in every present moment. And so those who are working towards a better present or future should keep both in mind simultaneously at all times.

Those who only learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Live long and prosper.

Is Anarcho-Futurism the only possible anarchism or hope for humanity?

written by Joshua Scott Hotchkin, January 28, 2016

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