Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Voyager

"Repression"

*1/2

Air date: 10/25/2000
Teleplay by Mark Haskell Smith
Story by Kenneth Biller
Directed by Winrich Koble

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Let me get this straight: You've gone to all this trouble to program a three-dimensional environment that projects a two-dimensional image, and now you're asking me to wear these [3D glasses] to make it look three-dimensional again?"
"Great, isn't it?"

— B'Elanna and Tom

In brief: Why make this episode? The story's destination is woefully contrived and completely pointless.

"Repression" is an hour of television that goes to great (and unlikely) lengths of plotting to accomplish basically nothing. It's one of the most artificial, pointless Voyager exercises in recent memory. I'm trying to think what the creators thought they were onto here by putting a story like this into production, but I'm at a loss. When the whole point of a show like this is to be a contrived mechanical exercise and absolutely nothing more, what exactly are we supposed to take from the experience?

I'll tell you what I got: a cynical nod to the existence of a universe beyond Voyager's current mission statement (whatever that is) — specifically, a shallow, retroactive acknowledgement that the Maquis crew members, once upon a time, existed. The trailers for "Repression" alleged that there would be mutiny. I wasn't fooled, but I didn't think even a fake mutiny plot would be this starved for justification.

I've complained in the past that Voyager tends to come up with plots that are at the expense of the characters. Well, "Repression" ranks among the most egregious examples — an episode where the plot steamrollers right through the characters, who are nothing more than hollow vessels to be moved around by totally artificial, manufactured circumstances. Ostensibly, this is a Tuvok vehicle (one of the show's most overlooked characters), but Tuvok is just a writer's toy here — his Vulcan mind powers are used to service an absurd plot while the character itself might as well be wallpaper.

In a nutshell, the premise for the episode is what I'm terming "remote-controlled mutiny by proxy." Please do not laugh (yet). A Bajoran maniac in the Alpha Quadrant sends a hidden message in a letter to Tuvok which subconsciously triggers buried brainwashing that was therapeutically programmed into Tuvok seven years ago when he was an undercover infiltrator of the Maquis. This prompts Tuvok, unaware of his own actions, to engage in a mission to mind-program other former-Maquis members of the crew to seize control of Voyager. Yes.

It begins as an investigation story when members of the crew are mysteriously attacked and left comatose. Doc can't explain the comas. Tuvok takes on the assignment of figuring out who attacked the victims and why. Admittedly, the one thing of value to be taken from the episode is the idea of Tuvok facing the frustration of an investigation full of dead ends. Of course, it turns out he's investigating his own attacks and unaware of it, but that's a "twist" that is surprisingly obvious from the outset. The writers, fortunately, don't keep the "character unwittingly investigates his own crimes" angle a huge mystery for so long as to completely sabotage the show. But not to worry — they sabotage the show with the rest of the plot.

As for the flow of the investigation, I won't get into details except to note that Tuvok's suspicions of Kim, as well as others, are pretty thin: If everyone with any kind of emotions is a suspect, how can an investigation possibly narrow down to find the perpetrator? Another clue involves a stored "afterimage" in the holodeck, which shows the mystery figure attacking one of the victims. I thought this visual clue wasn't nearly masked enough for the audience; I could almost tell it was Tuvok, though I already had my suspicions.

The investigation scenes are actually not badly handled for the most part. But once Tuvok realizes he's the culprit, the plot is pretty much a downhill slide. The question for Janeway is why Tuvok assaulted these people, and what's the significance of all the victims being former Maquis. The plot is obvious to us well before it is to Janeway & Co., and the Idiot Plot syndrome in action here revolves around the fact that once the comatose characters awaken, no one suspects that they might have been compromised the way Tuvok was. Shouldn't they be confined until the captain can get to the bottom of things? (Of course not, because then how could they take over the ship?)

By far the biggest question I had was why in the world the Bajoran maniac, a guy named Teero (Keith Szarabajka), would even want to have the Maquis crew members seize control of Voyager in the first place. Dialog and flashbacks reveal that Teero was a Maquis fanatic who wanted to use extreme, experimental methods to further the Maquis cause. One of these methods was brainwashing/mind-programming. He had discovered Tuvok was a Starfleet officer infiltrating the Maquis. Rather than exposing him, Teero programmed Tuvok to be his secret weapon at some later date. That date is today, seven years later, and mayhem ensues. There are scenes where Tuvok and Teero face off inside Tuvok's hallucinations as Janeway tries help Tuvok regain focus of his mind. Such scenes are marked with plenty of urgent shouting, etc., but none of it can overcome the banality of why it's all happening.

I'm sorry, but Teero's motives here are beyond any sense of a useful purpose and venture into flat-out stupidity. I don't buy for one second that Teero is going to go to the trouble — nearly four years after the Alpha Quadrant Maquis have been wiped out — to send a message to Tuvok, who's on a ship 35,000 light-years away. What can he possibly get out of it? What purpose does it serve that helps any Maquis or former Maquis in any way? The answers are nothing and none, so the story just supplies "he's fanatical" as the lame explanation. No. That's a cheap cop-out, not a motive. Since obviously Voyager's Starfleet and Maquis officers are not going to go at each other's throats under any normal circumstances (despite the trailer's attempts to convince us to the contrary), the only possible reason for us to care about this story is if the motivation of the character pulling the strings from afar has any sort of impact. It doesn't, so we don't care. It's a writer's wave of the hand, and frankly it's pretty insulting.

The other big annoyance here is the writers' presumption that a Vulcan mind meld is equivalent to flipping an on/off switch in someone's brain. Based on what he's able to accomplish here, Tuvok should be registered as a very dangerous weapon. He melds with several Maquis members of the crew, including key people like Chakotay and Torres, and when he "activates" them, they suddenly become pro-Maquis and anti-Starfleet. "He's simply helped us remember who we are. We're Maquis. We've always been Maquis," says Chakotay. Sure. Just like that. (My, how handy a plot device the mind meld is.)

And yet, the way the episode plays it, these people seem to know what they're doing and why. They aren't robots; it's more like their actual attitudes have been changed to make them different people. Unanswered is whether they know right from wrong or are struggling with their sudden change in mindset, or if anyone cares about the betrayals after the madness has been magically set right with reverse mind melds in the lame, simpleminded conclusion. No matter — in reality there are no answers to such questions because the script is just jerking characters around to falsely manufacture a mutiny plot. It's almost as if the trailer about the mutiny was written before the episode, and the writers did whatever they could to concoct a story that would get them to this final act, no matter how implausible and lacking in motivation.

This episode is, simply, a crock. It's an over-plotted, under-thought, meaningless hour-long contrivance — all concept, no content. A hundred things happen in this episode, but none of them matter. It's depressing to watch so much plot written to advance a story to an end point that is so fundamentally false. Really, I doubt a mutiny on Voyager could've rung true in any conceivable form. A real mutiny would've been interesting years ago, but today it would've been just as inappropriate as "Repression" stands. So the question is, why pretend this could actually be a real issue on this series today? The writers must think we're a whole lot dumber than we are. Now there's a surprise.

Next week: Doc vs. an alien HMO.

Previous episode: Drive
Next episode: Critical Care

Season Index

80 comments on this review

AJ Koravkrian - Tue, Dec 11, 2007 - 1:52pm (USA Central)
Another problem I have with this episode it that are the memories of the maquis wiped out by Tuvok's melding with them ? that they are willing to let their friends and loved ones leave behind ? Also, I have an issue with portraying maquis as heartless terrorists in this episode, because the franchise has gone to great lengths to tell us that they had been fighting for a just cause. In one episode, the writers undermine all of that. Shame.
Straha - Sat, Aug 9, 2008 - 4:30am (USA Central)
What an awful, awful episode.
Rob in Michigan - Sun, Nov 16, 2008 - 7:29pm (USA Central)
I don't think you understood the Tuvok "activating" the Maquis scenes correctly. I thought that all of the Maquis had already fallen victim to Teero at some time in the past (like Tuvok had). Teero had reasons to be antagonistic toward Chakotay for "not going far enough for the cause". What better vengeance, than to co-opt his "commander" and the rest of his "cell" by subjecting them to control.

The rest of your analysis is right on though. What in the hell was he trying to accomplish by "activating" his drones (for want of a better word) now? Wouldn't this be something he'd do if/when Voyager returned to the Alpha-Quadrant, perhaps as a way to strike back at the Cardassians in some way? The timing for this story doesn't work.

And, of course, the resolution is so rushed that it's almost funny in how ridiculous it is.
David - Fri, Jul 17, 2009 - 11:59pm (USA Central)
I saw your rating for this and read the first couple of lines of the review, as well as the negative feedback about the episode, before actually viewing it. I was thus braced for the worst, but I didn't find this show to be nearly as bad as everyone else here. The concept of mind control and sleeper agents actually exists in our own reality so it's hardly a far-fetched concept in the sci-fi world of Trek. It's nice to be able to just watch an episode and spend some time in the Star Trek universe, without picking apart every plot thread and character motivation in a desperate search to find something to complain about.
Daniel - Fri, Nov 6, 2009 - 9:33pm (USA Central)
"It's nice to be able to just watch an episode and spend some time in the Star Trek universe, without picking apart every plot thread and character motivation in a desperate search to find something to complain about."

David, you're right. Unfortunately, your above-comment, given the forum you chose to make it, might have fallen on deaf ears.

Fandom and the concept of "fans" both are very fascinating: there is a "trashing that which you claim to love" mentality evident on so many websites "dedicated to" or that serve as "fora" for people presumably interested in a show, created by people who presumably like it. I'm for picking apart an awful episode when doing so is called for as much as anyone else is, but it never ceases to amaze me how some of the people I'm talking about are apparently satisfied with none of the episodes (they've seen them all and are dissatisfied with them all, which begs the question of why they continue to watch the shows).

These critics, I think, must find the criticisms enjoyable exercises in entertaining themselves and in possibly entertaining other individuals.

Once in a while, though, I wish the creative energy behind criticism could be redirected to something else, like, say, writing your own story, or finding a show you really do like (sadly, people get their entertainment more from mockery than from being inspired by something). Or, as Spock might have said (paraphrasing), "As a matter of cosmic history, it has always been easier to destroy, than to create."

Ken Egervari - Sat, Dec 19, 2009 - 8:53pm (USA Central)
Did we really need to see a brief "what if the maquis took over the ship" episode? Did we? Really now?

I thought I was watching a miss episode of DS9 - just for a second. I thought... oh boy! There was a DS9 episode I *didn't* see?! Nope.

One thing I will credit to this show. The beginning has a very different flavour than many voyager episodes... and for a time, I thought this episode might head a in a good direction. At least the whole "voyager is an action series" wasn't present in this episode... and that's a good thing. It seems that every episode is so repetitive in its plotting and action sequences, that this episode felt different.

Having said that, this episode is horrible. To me, it was pretty obvious Tuvok was the person responsible. The blurred out image actually does look like Tuvok - you can see the ears and the bald head. Didn't fool me in the slightest.

However, there was a loophole in the episode where Tuvok not able to commit one of the mind-meld attacks as he was preoccupied with the investigation. I honestly don't know how we did it. Nonetheless... even at this time I figured it was Tuvok, just because I knew the writers were going in that direction.

From here, the episode turns in a horrible direction. The whole Maquis vs. Federation angle just doesn't fit in season 7.... nor does the motivation of why did the Bajoran mind-control lunatic decide to do this now? What is the motivation? The show NEVER, EVER answers for this... which makes an already bad episode worse because we got to see the "what if" just because the writers wanted to... not because it had any sound premise.
Ken Egervari - Sun, Dec 20, 2009 - 1:50am (USA Central)
Daniel,

There are voyager episodes that perfectly good and likeable. In these episodes, it is easy to enjoy it, get lost in it and savour it.

Then there are episodes like this.. and dozens like it. It is very hard to just watch it and enjoy it when the writing is just awful. It is well below the standards set back Voyager's better episodes... or other series like TNG and DS9.

This site in particular is not a "We love Voyager" fan site. It is a review site for all Star Trek series, some of which are reviewed very favourably, such as DS9 or TNG.

The hate comes from loving Star Trek so much... and seeing a series like Voyager rip it to shreds. It's about acknowledging what could have been. There is a lot of frustrating and even anger in long term fans of the franchise when they write crap like this episode.

It's not just the episode - it's the mentality of laziness and the utter lack of desire to make something of high quality.

The real problem with Voyager, as I've said in many other threads, is that the writers cannot create a sound premise for a story to save their life. There are always massive continuity errors, even contradicting episodes from week to week. There are always characters behaving in illogical ways... or behave way out of character. The writers seem to change anything as long as it works to convey the story they want to tell... and this just wasn't done on earlier series. Frankly, it's somewhat insulting, and it frustrates me to no end.
Michael - Thu, Jul 15, 2010 - 4:04pm (USA Central)
Uh, when an episode begins with somebody uttering the words "prophecy" and "holy," you're almost guaranteed to have a boring, trashy episode ahead. When Paris then recreates a 20th-century environment, you KNOW the show is liable to be dumb as a doorknob, too. Well, the first 15 minutes turned out to be quite exciting: A mystery attacker incapacitating crewmembers left, right and center. But then when it becomes evident that some "spirit" has possessed Tuvok, the whole thing goes downhill.

The action parts are fun to watch but they make no sense and are founded on a risible basis. It would've been alright (sans all the mind alternation junk) three seasons back but not at this point. The ending totally sucked, including the theater scene. I'd give it two stars though.
Michael - Thu, Jul 15, 2010 - 4:23pm (USA Central)
Ken: "It seems that every episode is so repetitive in its plotting and action sequences[.]"

In fairness, and this is coming from someone whose comments tend to be caustic and cynical, by Season 7 of Voyager, Star Trek aired 500 episodes plus a number of full-length movie features, so one can forgive the writers for running out of ideas. It IS difficult to make so many interesting episodes featuring the future fou centuries hence in a massive universe. It doesn't excuse the sloppiness and laziness of the scriptwriters but still, Voyager is a damn sight better than, say, the Original Series, which just makes me cringe: Even for the 1960s the lack of imagination is stupendous!
Elliott - Tue, Sep 7, 2010 - 5:54pm (USA Central)
"Why make this episode?" I'm glad you asked, Jammer.

One of the things I take pleasure in the most from Voyager is the way they slap DS9 in the face when they get the opportunity. Obviously, not being marred in the lollipop parades of the Alpha Quadrant, opportunities to use Bajorans and Cardassians are few and far between, but when they do, it's a very smart and biting portrayal. This species just does not belong in a civilised Universe:

The Bajorans' religious fervour and brain-washed, battle-hungry quality is personified in Teero. Think of it this way:

"This is a holy time" etc are catchphrases, propaganda--very common occurrences in our society. People are duped into doing things that only appear to have a motivation or make sense: Chakotay, "So long as we exist, the rebellion exists." That doesn't make any sense, but it sounds like it does. I can't count the number of times I've heard something similar, "we may have some problems, but look at North Korea." What does that mean? Nothing. But, well N. Korea is a communist dictatorship, and we're better so, yeah point made. ??? The foil of course is Tuvok--only a mind as devoted to logic as he (almost religiously) can hope to overcome the mind-control. Teero meant to utilise Tuvok's vulcanness and hidden identity as a weapon, but it turned out to backfire (as it did in "Random Thoughts").

Teero's motivation--well, think about it. The only remnant of the Maquis, the organisation which gave his lunacy purpose, exists solely on Voyager, and the ability to communicate with Tuvok has not existed until now (the Mitas Array, blah blah blah)--there are notes of Captain Maxwell from "The Wounded" here.

Part of the Trekkian brilliance of Voyager is the irony shown in season 7--after being isolated from the Federation, stocked with rogue humans and mired with desperate situations, Voyager holds on to its values, its principals. In the AQ, the war and ass-headed writing on DS9 has literally destroyed the Federation's soul. So when mediæval spores find there way onto Voyager from the motherland, the microcosm reveals just how corrupted home has become. I would have liked to see an episode which dealt with this more directly "Do we really want to go home?"--it would have been more of a direct slap in the face to DS9, which could be problematic for a franchise, but DS9 had no problem slapping First Contact, so, there it is.
Ken Egervari - Tue, Sep 7, 2010 - 6:22pm (USA Central)
Michael: "So one can forgive the writers for running out of ideas."

Here's an idea: Stop making episodes. If they have truly run out of ideas in their own estimation, then stop making the series.

But the truth is, there were tons of ideas to do in Star Trek. New, talented writers could have brought a lot of life to the series.

The problem was the premise of the series. Moving around from Star to Star, or some chance encounter, is actually pretty damn boring. Sure, an episode here and there was interesting, but it's not enough to keep people coming back week to week. TNG pretty much exhausted most of the core ideas this kind of series offered.
Ken Egervari - Tue, Sep 7, 2010 - 8:14pm (USA Central)
"Voyager holds on to its values, its principals. In the AQ, the war and ass-headed writing on DS9 has literally destroyed the Federation's soul"

I actually find this laughable. Voyager compromised on its principles MANY times. In fact, Janeway would argue opposing ideas from one episode to the next.

One episode she would advocate "we do whatever it takes to get this crew home" and another episode she'll say, "We can't violate the prime directive in order to get ourselves home!"

Since the episodes are not fresh in my mind, I can't offer quotes, but if I rewatched this series, I know I could find at least 20 occurrences of this kind of hypocrisy.

As for the part about DS9, I completely disagree about the writing being ass-headed. While it was definitely a deviation from Star Trek's original premise, this isn't a bad thing.

Now that I know a great deal more about philosophy, the Trekkian philosophy does not make sense in practice, and it's actually immoral in many areas. After watching many episodes from all the series later on, I could pull tons of immoral decisions and societal consequences as a result of this "enlightened" philosophy.

To be honest, it's very much a pretend "working" form of communism. But you see, communism IS evil and cannot work. It is very much against human nature of rational, long-term self-interest.

If anything DS9 just showed humans for what they were, and made less pretenses about it. Sure, Sisko made many immoral decisions, but at least he didn't do it in the name of starfleet principles, he did it because he was a man and made choices with his freewill. There's a big difference there.
Elliott - Tue, Sep 7, 2010 - 10:53pm (USA Central)
Don't confuse Janeway's character for the show's philosophy. See that's one of the great deviations between Voyager and TNG--in TNG Picard is virtually always right--or at least becomes right in the end of the episode, thus he is the figurehead for the whole show.

I'm not interested in getting into a debate about communism. It's been done to death. Your comments strike me as rather young--there's no such thing as an "evil" philosophy; you may argue if you wish that the future as depicted in Star Trek is impossible. Well, many physicists, astronomers, philosophers and economists would agree with you, but that's not the point. Optimism is not evil. However, I will agree that economically speaking, the Federation is communist--or at least socialist--the waters are a little muddy on that front. People work to better themselves, not to gain a profit.

DS9 showed people as they are NOW perhaps, but the universe Star Trek inhabits isn't possible if it was created by humans as they are now.

My beefs with DS9 are numerous, but in terms of its place in Trek, here's my biggest problem: if the writers wanted to make a show about their own science fiction philosophy, then fine, more power to them; but how dare they take the creations of another mind and show and insidiously change their qualities to prove a point. People mistakenly believe that DS9 expanded upon Gene's universe to show the reality of the situation; if you watch carefully, you'll see that the things established in TOS and TNG had to be changed (without any explanation) in order to fit DS9's pessimistic philosophy. Take "Emissary"; Picard would NEVER tolerate the kind of disrespectful behaviour exhibited by Sisko (no matter what happened to his wife), let alone twice. It's ridiculous, but hey, Sisko's inexplicably awesome because the Gods favour him--wow, really?

I'm actually working (in my spare time) on a throughline of Janeway's development as a character with regard to her Prime Directive decisions. People have this textbook expectation from TV shows that the characters should DEVELOP in this conventional way, but that really doesn't tell the human story. What is so beautiful about the character development on Voyager is that it is subtle and slow--I will always be angry that the writers on Voyager weren't afforded the same liberties as those on DS9, they were confined to a marketing image that they were able to work in spite of, but oh how wonderful to have been given a long leash like DS9.

Janeway's decisions were also because she was a woman who made choices with her freewill. The fact that she tied her decisions into Starfleet principles makes for a very interesting dichotomy, but it doesn't devalue her decisions.
Ken Egervari - Tue, Sep 7, 2010 - 11:26pm (USA Central)
"there's no such thing as an "evil" philosophy"

I know you didn't want to get into a debate about communism, but I have to analyze this statement. Are you sure? So if I create a philosophy that ends up advocating the death of all human babies and that we ought to prevent all reproductive abilities because I concluded that it was necessary to end our species, is that not evil?

In order for communism to work, you have to steal from those that have productive ability and give to those who do not have it. You have to violate property rights in order to redistribute the wealth. Is not that not evil? In all communist countries, there were mass murders, and all kinds of other atrocities. Were these not evil? This was all brought upon by communism.

Sorry, but philosophies can rationally be judged to be evil, and it's important that we judge them as such.

"Optimism is not evil. However, I will agree that economically speaking, the Federation is communist--or at least socialist--the waters are a little muddy on that front."

Optimism isn't evil, but I don't think Star Trek is really about optimism. Optimism really isn't a philosophy. Truth be told, optimism isn't a rational concept.

Definition: "A tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation"

Notice this definition doesn't say anything about facts and using logic and reason to be optimistic. It is basically being optimistic for the sake of it. It is based on whim.

Anyway, Star Trek does not explain it's model for economics at all. Sure, they have replicators and all of this technology, but where did it come from? Did people build all of this stuff for "the good of mankind?" Altruistically? So even the laziest bums benefit from the achievements of a few? This is actually not just, as they have no right to profit from unearned achievements.

Also, who does all the grunt work? All the messy labour nobody would want to do? I mean, if you don't have to work and everything is provided for you... where is the incentive to slug it out producing all the energy needed by the federation? There wouldn't be any incentive at all, and nobody would do it.

Are you to force them? Well, that's immoral. You can't force people to work. It violates their rights, and is akin to slavery.

"People work to better themselves, not to gain a profit."

This is, unfortunately, flawed thinking. I am all for people striving to better themselves, but I do not think it is immoral to make profit at the same time. In fact, I don't think there's a way to be the best individual you can be without having the ability to pursue your own rational self-interests (i.e., making profit, among other values you may have).

This is why no matter how much I love Star Trek, I am deeply bothered by it's moral and philosophical premises. It just would not work in practice.

As for DS9, I would totally concede to you that it deviated from the premises set in TOS and TNG. Note, I don't think the show is "right" because it showed people as they are today, and I am just saying it is different. There are many fantastically written stories in DS9 that are among my favorites out of all the series, regardless of this deviation. Some of the writing is stellar.

The problem with character development on Voyager is that a lot of it is arbitrary. Kim is the worst example. For 6 seasons+, he is basically the same character. And then the writers to shoe-horn "growth", but it just doesn't work.

I think the writers did a decent job with B'lana, some times. Even then, there's faults.

One of the big problems with Voyager is that massive character changes would happen in 1 episode, and then were forgotten in the very next episode. Some continuity would have made the series MUCH better.

Take Tom Paris for example. There's one episode where he switches bodies with another person, and the whole premise is that he's bored on the ship and is depressed. But the episode before, he's chippy and happy. They had this gradual planning in the first 2 seasons, but totally botched it in seasons 3-7.

I have no problem with Janeway using freewill, but it was mighty convenient for her (and the writers) to alternate her positions on various moral decisions as the story dictated. I think this made her character (and the show) much weaker than it should have been.
Elliott - Wed, Sep 8, 2010 - 12:12am (USA Central)
I'm still refusing to actually debates the merits and faults of communism, but I will point out a flaw in your own logic, as you are wont to do systematically: how many communist countries have there been? 6 maybe? compared with the number of capitalist countries, that's hardly a pool for forming any sort of conclusion. If we were to judge the "morality" of capitalism on the actions of the first few societies to practise it, the results would be FAR more horrendous than even the worst goulag-implementing, tank-rolling regime in modern history. Modern capitalism, for better or worse, has had centuries to develop in myriad ways. Given the same opportunity, socialism could certainly develop into something like the Federation given time and trial. The fact that dictators have been the only means so far by which communism has been practised is I think far more the cause of the "evil" than the economics. Machiavelli, Hammurabi, Trujillo and Hitler were all capitalists, but so were Thomas Jefferson and Queen Elizabeth.

Let me ask you about your own character growth, Ken. When something traumatic happens to you, do you advertise it to all your coworkers? If you have subordinates, do you reveal it to them? In the quiet private moments on Voyager, one sees how characters are affected by experience, but you won't see something like Kira storming around or Sisko shirking Federation values because someone on Voyager had a bad day. In the 60's the "reset button" was seen as a cornball way to pacify the "family audience." In Voyager, there is a striking reuse of the button--take the final scenes in "Prime Factors," "Resolutions," "Scorpion," "Prey," "Nothing Human," "Counterpoint," "Equinox," "Barge of the Dead," "Dragon's Teeth," "Memorial," "Critical Care," "Workforce," "Human Error" and "Natural Law"--all have a reset button, but in each case, it's a matter of preserving face--a necessary sacrifice one must make in a military institution like Starfleet...but it also forces the characters to possess a strength of character and a resilience which allows them to survive and not fall appart into chaos throughout the seasons--which is apparently what everyone wanted to see. I will be creating my own reviews of the 5 Trek series and 11 movies in time, and I welcome your feedback.
Ken Egervari - Wed, Sep 8, 2010 - 12:33am (USA Central)
"But I will point out a flaw in your own logic, as you are wont to do systematically: how many communist countries have there been?"

Actually, there is no flaw in my logic. And let me explain so you don't just take my word for it. I concede that it is not a valid proof that just because we haven't seen a successful implementation of communism that this fact alone can conclude that it is evil.

However, you *can* prove that communism is evil because of how it achieves it's ends, which I already discussed.

It *IS* immoral to take the earned property away from one man and give it to another. You cannot justify this and say that this is moral.

This form of legal theft is a fundamental part of communism. It is based entirely on the violation of man's rights. There is no way this practice can actually further life, but can only seek to destroy it.

It's not just the right of property, but communism violates the right to liberty, and the right to pursue your own happiness. Under communism, you have to pursue the happiness of the state. Pursuing your own happiness would be "selfish" according to communists.

To enforce the violation of rights, you have to use physical force, because you can't force a man to think or convince a man to work against his own self interests. And this is exactly what happened in every communistic country. The government had to use progressively more force to implement it's ideas.

Essentially, you can't practice evil and expect a moral and good society to come about. When you mix evil with good, evil wins. Every time.

I can go into the proof of all of this, but it would take some writing. Nonetheless, if you want me to go through it with you, I will.

Do you really think "modern capitalist countries" practice real capitalism? They don't. They actually mixed economies. There is *some* economic freedom, but there's actually a lot of government regulation, intervention (central banking) and redistribution of wealth (social programs).

The reason "modern capitalism" does not work is because it progressively gets more socialized. Governments continue to violate more rights against the individuals, and puts a stranglehold on individual freedom.

Many of the disasters that we are experiencing today are not the result of capitalism (although our politicians and media definitely want you to believe that... please don't take their word for it!). They are the result of government. They cause the problems, blame business, and then go about "fixing it", only to make the problems worse. Logic and actual history proves this, both under Republican and Democratic rule.

The real truth is that we have NEVER had a free economic system. Not once. It has never happened. The closest thing to it was 1800-1914 United States, and I don't need to remind you that this by far the most prosperous period in all of human civilization.

We continued to enjoy the benefits of capitalism until the federal reserve caused the great depression, and in the 1950-1960's, socialism really started to play a massive part of the United States. Today, you cannot call the United States, Canada, England, etc. capitalist countries. There is no way.

Also, hilter (and others) were not capitalists. In fact, any government that violated the rights of the individual - the right to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness - was not a capitalist.

Real capitalism is freedom, and humanity has not seen it.
Ken Egervari - Wed, Sep 8, 2010 - 12:47am (USA Central)
"When something traumatic happens to you, do you advertise it to all your coworkers?"

No, but why not a private scene in their room? Why not *something* to stress the continuity? The real truth is that the writers didn't work together, and a lot of them were incompetent. They couldn't think bigger than a single story, let alone defining the direction for 1 season or the entire series.

"In the quiet private moments on Voyager, one sees how characters are affected by experience, but you won't see something like Kira storming around or Sisko shirking Federation values because someone on Voyager had a bad day."

I don't see a problem with any of this. Kira's growth as a character was exceptional. The writers did a farely convincing job taking her from A->B->C->...->Y->Z.

I think they did a great job with character development of all the major characters, except for Ezri.

"In the 60's the "reset button" was seen as a cornball way to pacify the "family audience." In Voyager, there is a striking reuse of the button."

I hate the reset button. It is incredibly annoying. It actually insults my intelligence that I am meant to "forget" what I just spent 40 minutes watching when I start up the next episode.

How is it that TNG managed to successfully have some character continuity between episodes... and note that TNG came BEFORE Voyager... and Voyager royally messed up this idea that characters have continuity?

"but in each case, it's a matter of preserving face--a necessary sacrifice one must make in a military institution like Starfleet...but it also forces the characters to possess a strength of character and a resilience which allows them to survive and not fall appart into chaos throughout the seasons--which is apparently what everyone wanted to see."

Who is "everyone"? Not me. I hated this aspect of the show. And no, I don't think people should make sacrifices, especially when it comes to their mental well-being.

"I will be creating my own reviews of the 5 Trek series and 11 movies in time, and I welcome your feedback."

I am definitely good at stating my opinions ;)
Elliott - Wed, Sep 8, 2010 - 1:57am (USA Central)
I will BRIEFLY adress all your points:

1) There is no one formula for how communism, capitalism or any other "ism" works--economics is a system of theories which are implemented according to unique sets of variables, all of which must be taken into consideration when judging a society. People are capable of committing evil actions, but no person, system or idea is inherently evil. There are numerous ways in which capitalism promotes the exploitation of man by his fellow man, but this does not make it evil, just as the state-sacrifice model of communism does not make it evil. "It *IS* immoral to take the earned property away from one man and give it to another. You cannot justify this and say that this is moral." This is based upon the premise that it is possible to earn possessions or other property with one's labour. This is neither true nor false, it is an assumption, one upon which capitalist values are based. Communist values are based upon the idea that there is an intrinsic value to labour which cannot be measured in goods, property or currency. This is also an assumption. There is no proof that one is right and the other is wrong, it is about choices.

2) "When you mix evil with good, evil wins. Every time." I'm not sure what to make of this statement. I do find it ironic that you are a fan of DS9 which makes a big huff about how it avoids these kinds of black and white statements. You seem to view good and evil as some sort of ingredients, like sugar, spice and everything nice; such philosophies are doomed to realm of fairytales I'm afraid.

I agree that no country is capable of practising "pure" anything. as I said, these are theories which, when implemented in the real world, must factor in an host of conditions which "impurify" the system. We must, however, make generalisations and "round up" systems to their models in order to make comparisons. China is certainly not a pure communism, neither was the USSR, neither is Cuba, etc. but we can treat them as such to compare with relatively capitalist societies. It is of equal value to compare the ways in which they are impure--but this is a tangent upon a tangent, so I will stop here.

I feel I must point out that no economic system guarantees anyone's liberties or freedoms--these ideas are socio-political and moralistic,--economic systems are mathematical models on the distribution of wealth and the valuation of labour. An economic system is never a guarantee of any social liberties or violations.

3) My point with the DS9 comparison is that we WERE shown character growth on Voyager a lot, but never in the melodramatic, public displays seen on DS9. It is the difference between staged life and real life. In staged life (as in a play) we need to see very strong character changes very quickly in order for the premise to prove itself (in a good play). In a TV series, we have the opportunity afforded no other genre, time. We can have characters who interact more believably because they have time to show character development in little morsels strewn throughout the years. DS9 was always so busy trying to make its point that the characters were often ridiculous and many of the episodes unwatchable. "Threshold," well established as Voyager's worst outing, has a plot which insults even basic intelligence, but the characterisation of Paris is very compelling in spite of it. Now, how in the world could the ship continue to function if Janeway and he were to let that weird little adventure creep into their future interactions? There is no way. We must do this in real life, move on. What we DO see is a change in the level of intimacy. We don't need a dinner conversation where they say, "Hey, remember when we were slugs and made babies? Yeah, that meant a lot to me." What we see is a quiet change in the interpersonal relationship (ie she's much more likely to call him "Tom" instead of "Mr Paris," and he begins to reveal to her more and more about his shady past). THAT is realistic character development stemming from a terrible episode, which is what made Voyager great.

4) You missed my point about the reset button. I'm sorry you hate it, but if we're reduced to that then there's not much more to say is there?
Ken Egervari - Wed, Sep 8, 2010 - 2:48am (USA Central)
"economics is a system of theories which are implemented according to unique sets of variables, all of which must be taken into consideration when judging a society."

Economics is really just the study of how people trade. There are different systems, most being drastically different from one another. And most of them are not a true representation of real human economic behaviour.

"People are capable of committing evil actions, but no person, system or idea is inherently evil."

This is wrong. If a system advocates that the theft of someone's property to give to someone else, then that system is immoral, and is evil.

Why? Because the system is going to cause evil actions. When implementation, that theft really will happen.

Basically any system that requires immoral actions in theory to bring about it's goals will produce immoral actions in practice.

"There are numerous ways in which capitalism promotes the exploitation of man by his fellow man, but this does not make it evil"

Actually, this is truthfully statement, but probably not the reason you think it is.

What is exploitation? There are two drastically different definitions. If you mean it as, "The act of using something for any purpose"... then I absolutely agree. This is not evil whatsoever.

However, if you mean as: "to take unfair advantage of others"... then no, capitalism does NOT do this.

Capitalism is based on the idea that people have complete freedom to pursue their own happiness, just as long as they do not violate the rights of other individuals. If you want to acquire a value, you must trade for it. You cannot take it by force.

Likewise, you can't take advantage of people because they must first consent to buy your products. If your price is to high, they will shop elsewhere. If there are no competitors, it will encourages others to compete with you, as there is no government controls to stop them from competing freely.

Also, workers must agree to the wages that they are getting paid, and if the wages are too low... they will find other work.

There is actually no long-term way for a business under true a free market to take advantage of anyone. It will be against their own relational, long-term self-interest to behave in an unethical way.

Likewise, if a business does harm and violates the rights of an individual, they can be sued and go to prison.

So while I agree with your statement, I hope I clarified it in principle.

"just as the state-sacrifice model of communism does not make it evil."

As I explained above, it does make it evil. To me, this is very obvious. Self-sacrifice is easily proven to be to the destructive to man's life. Just as anything rational that further's man life is good... anything that destroys man's life is evil.

It is not in man's nature to serve others. We are INDIVIDUALS, not some collective. We do not exist to bring about the happiness others. We exist for ourselves. The very idea that man should self-sacrifice is totally against man's nature, just as it's against the mouse's nature to fly or balloon filled only with sand to float in the air.

Yes, someone can choose to self-sacrifice, but this is not in man's best interest. It does not further his life. It only brings about his destruction.

People follow altruism - self-sacrifice - because it's taught to them. They are educated and raised to believe it and practice it, but it is not natural, and that's why it is impossible to live up to, and why nobody has ever lived up to it.

"This is based upon the premise that it is possible to earn possessions or other property with one's labour."

Huh? I'm not following you. If a man owns some wood and tools, and then makes a chair with his own mind, and his own materials... is the chair also not his? Why does anyone else other than the man that produced it have a claim to it?

He may choose to sell the chair, or give it away voluntarily, but if he doesn't, the chair is his own and nobody is entitled to it.

"This is neither true nor false, it is an assumption, one upon which capitalist values are based."

I do not start with the idea of capitalism and then work backwards to justify it. I actually taking facts about reality - the idea that we are individuals, that we have free will, that we have rights to life, property, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.... and then conclude that capitalism would be the only moral system of government to promote human life and freedom. These are not just the values that capitalism is based, but it's the system that is best suited for man's nature.

"Communist values are based upon the idea that there is an intrinsic value to labour which cannot be measured in goods, property or currency."

The labour theory of value was actually debunked before the bolshevik revolution began. In fact, economists of the time debunked it even before Marx died in 1883. The only person who actually believed it was Lenin, and every communist afterwards. It was NEVER based on proof.

"This is also an assumption. There is no proof that one is right and the other is wrong, it is about choices."

Actually, this is really not true. Read above. As for Laissez-faire capitalism, there is actually mountains of philosophers who have proved that capitalism is in fact moral, and would be the the most moral system of government ever devised by man. Ayn Rand would easily come to mind as the fore-front of making the best moral case for Laissez-faire capitalism.

It is, ironically, the only one we have not actually tried.

"I'm not sure what to make of this statement. I do find it ironic that you are a fan of DS9 which makes a big huff about how it avoids these kinds of black and white statements."

Example: If someone comes over to steal $1000 from you, and you negotiate it down to $1, did good win? Of course not. Evil still won, even if only $1 was stolen. In fact, you've just encouraged more theft in the future.

Who's to say more and more people won't come over to take $1 too? And if they could get $1, why not $2? $4? When does it end?

While it's hard to accept, there is compromise between good and evil. Evil wins.

"I agree that no country is capable of practising "pure" anything. as I said, these are theories which, when implemented in the real world, must factor in an host of conditions which "impurify" the system."

The best way to ensure that a country stays true is to limit government's power to only protect the rights of individuals. That's it.

Pure Communism would even be worse than 75% communism, which is worse than %50 communism, and so on. Any system of government that violates the rights of individuals, no matter how small or big, is evil. And yes, that pretty much includes every form of government we ever tried.

But we're working on it. In early United States, they got it *close*. Maybe in another 50 or 100 years when everything goes to hell, perhaps we'll try it finally. It only took 8000 years or so to get there.

"I feel I must point out that no economic system guarantees anyone's liberties or freedoms"

True. Some people will starve. Theft will still happen. Murder will still happen. The real question is... is the system promote immoral behaviour or not. Capitalism is the only system that does not.

And note, under capitalism, people do get sued and go to jail for violating other's rights. When people use force or fraud against others, it should be met with force. That is the only time force is to be used.

I am not suggesting a perfect utopia by any means. This is not possible. But why choose a system of government that is evil by design for? This is stupid.
Elliott - Wed, Sep 8, 2010 - 3:20am (USA Central)
Okay, I'm going to try one more time; if you don't get it, I give up.

First of all, you are operating under another assumption, which is that the way people behave "naturally" is automatically THE GOOD and that if they are taught some value which is different, it is THE EVIL.

I don't agree, but that doesn't really matter. What matters is that this is an ASSUMPTION. It is an axiom for a belief. You believe that capitalism is generally good because it conforms to the aforementioned assumptions ("good" assumptions). All I ask for now is that you admit this much.

Unless you're a bible thumper or something, theft in itself is not an evil action. Robin Hood would never have been written if there weren't doubt about this. It's always about context. A socialist believes that it is actually good to steal from a rich person and give to a poor one because we are not animals in a Darwinistic competition to out-survive one another (or at least we shouldn't be). You don't have to agree, but it is a matter of perspective. There is no simple answer to this. This is why a drama like Star Trek is so powerful when done well, these questions are what propel humanity forward. If there were a simple quick-fix to the world's problems, life would be pretty meaningless.

You state over and over again that it is not "in our nature," etc. etc. Aptly, I am reminded of the myth Chakotay tells Janeway about the Scorpion: "I couldn't help it; it's my nature." Seven of Nine becomes the very test of that truism. Our nature is not fixed in stone, altruism IS a natural state of human existence sometimes, given the right conditions. This is part of the complexity of society, something all other animals (and certainly inanimate objects like balloons) lack. It is humanity's compassion, intelligence and altruism which the Star Trek universe expands upon (it does not invent them out of thin air).

I am NOT advocating communism per sæ. I don't want that to become our debate. You have not come close to proving that communism is evil.

Don't get me started on Rand. She reminds me of DS9--she sings one note over and over again and has to make 2-dimensional characters (all but her übermensch that is) to make her point. People who advocate Rand do so only because they agree with her. This is puerile, reactionary bigotry. I enjoy "The Fountainhead" even though I disagree with its political philosophy, because it contains Rand's only insightful view of a part of the human condition in the artistic impetus of Howard Roarke.

The labour theory is no "debunkable." It may be impractical under most conditions (maybe even all conditions), but it is a theory of value, not a science. It's not as though it must work or not work, it is a principle, a moral.

This "good wins, evil wins" nonsense is frankly a little disturbing. Such a grossly polarised view of anything is certainly immoral if anything is.

What rights do individuals possess? Well that's a question of a socio-political nature. In modern countries, these rights are specifically outlined in constitutions. China has them as well as the USA. They are different rights, so Chinese and Americans have different rights as individuals. If and when the constitutions change or are removed, those peoples' rights will change. So if a country's economic practices violate the rights afforded individuals by the state, indeed the economy is incompatible with the society. This is closer to being called "evil," but it still operates under the premise that the charter of rights is intrinsically "good" which may or may not be true.

I'm vaguely amused at the notion that we keep trying economic systems on like shoes or perfume. Economics are always in flux, over time in difficult and often schismatic ways, humanity's altruistic faculties have overpowered to a degree its selfish ones, but there will always be a tension between them. Star Trek chooses to believe that specifically a major catastrophe and dissolution of structure (Star Trek VIII) will result in a revolutionary degree of change in this same direction. This is a fantasy and contrivance meant to encapsulate the notion of humanity's potential in a single event, thus creating an allegory. And allegories are what drama needs to tell stories and create emotional resonance.

Final note: if any philosopher had ever "proved" anything, there would be no more philosophy on the subject. This has never happened and is unlikely to occur.
Ken Egervari - Wed, Sep 8, 2010 - 6:21am (USA Central)
"First of all, you are operating under another assumption, which is that the way people behave "naturally" is automatically THE GOOD and that if they are taught some value which is different, it is THE EVIL. [...] What matters is that this is an ASSUMPTION. It is an axiom for a belief. You believe that capitalism is generally good because it conforms to the aforementioned assumptions ("good" assumptions). All I ask for now is that you admit this much."

Yes, I am operating under this premise, but I don't take it as an axiom. It is not a primary that my logic is based on, but actually one of the larger blocks.

Let me try to explain in the smallest amount of text possible, as it's my fault not going through the primaries and just starting with higher level conclusions in the first place.

Human beings have consciousness. We have the ability to abstract, to form concepts, to apprehend reality using our faculty of reason. Reason is not automatic, we have to choose to use it.

At every moment in one's life, we can make choices. One of the most fundamental choices we have is life and death, and the most basic tool we have to help us is reason. If we choose life, we do things that we think will prolong it (i.e bring about our surival and our prosperity). If we don't choose life... or we fail in our thought process, than we die.

Life is the rational standard of value, and it's a value that all volitional living orgasms have. Essentially, things that seek to further our life are good, and things that seek to destory or oppose or threaten our life are evil.

Since life is the ultimate standard of value, we must have a right to pursue that value. If we don't have that right, we are essentially forced to act against our own self-interest and our own life. Essentially, we would be forced to do somethign which is evil, because evil seeks to destory our life. Therefore, we must have the right to life (which is the good) and nobody else has the authority to violate this right.

It would be massive contradiction in terms to say, "Yeah, I'm a human being and life is my ultimate standard of value, but I'm going to kill another human being because I choose to not recognize his ultimate standard of value too." This is not at all rational. It's hypocritical.

All other rights, like the right to property, the right to pursue happiness, etc. stem from the basic right to your own life, because these are necessary to support your life. It is the only implementation of your right to your own life.

For example, if you have no food and must go hunting, and then just after you cook the meal someone steals your food... how can you live? If they continually steal your food over and over for days, you'll eventually not have the strength to hunt any more, and you'll eventually die. (Let's just ignore alterantive food sources, and blah blah... they can steal those too). What if they just lock you up in a cage until you starve?

The thieves in this case are Evil, because they're opposing your right to life. So you must have the right to your own actions and productive efforts (whether that's hunting, making a chair, or building a fortune 500 company). There can't be any other way to implement your right to life if you don't also have the right to property.

So, this is what I mean by man's nature. Of course, I'm over-simplifying as it is, because this is a focused crash course in metaphysics, epistomology, ethics and even politics.

Point is, when a socialist claims that it is "good" to steal property and give it to someone else, he is wrong and is evil because he seeks to destory or oppose my right to life. It's really that simple.

------------------------------------

"Unless you're a bible thumper or something, theft in itself is not an evil action. Robin Hood would never have been written if there weren't doubt about this. It's always about context."

I am an athiest.

And I agree, theft is not always evil. I never said it was. But in the context of taking someone's produced goods or earnings, then theft in this case is definitely evil.

If someone were to steal my property through the use of force, I have every right to retalite by force to take it back. Of course, in modern society we give these rights to government so they do it for us, but if there were no government, we would have to operate on this right ourselves.

The same is true if you kill someone is self-defense. Once a man uses force, you can only respond with force. If he's trying to violate your right to life, and you have to end his life to perserve your own, so be it. His irrationality to attack you in the first brought it on himself.

Anyway, so I am not context dropping in my earlier discussions about theft. The context was communism after all, and it would be equally true if one person refused to work and watched TV while still collecting welfare checks from his productive fellow citizens.

------------------------------------

"A socialist believes that it is actually good to steal from a rich person and give to a poor one because we are not animals in a Darwinistic competition to out-survive one another (or at least we shouldn't be)."

I would argue that the socialist is wrong because what gives him the right to steal from the rich man in the first place? Did the rich man do anything wrong? Why is he being punished? Why does he not have the ability to give his consent?

Also, even if you ignore that, why is it even desirable to make sure nobody out-survives anyone in the first place? Are you saying everyone must live to be the same age? Are we really 100% equal regardless of merit, productive achievements, intellect, effort, etc? Of course not. This is absurd. It is completely contrary to idea of justice.

You see, socialistic ideas simply fall apart. They don't make any sense at all. The socialist can believe it all he wants, that doesn't make him right or his ideas good.

------------------------------------

"You don't have to agree, but it is a matter of perspective. There is no simple answer to this."

I guess we'll have to disagree here. I think it's pretty clear-cut honestly.

------------------------------------

"This is why a drama like Star Trek is so powerful when done well, these questions are what propel humanity forward. If there were a simple quick-fix to the world's problems, life would be pretty meaningless."

I agree with this. Debate is definitely healthy, especially if we can come to a truth. This is ultimately the most important thing - to seek truth. It's how I come to a lot of the ideas I am advocating.

I used to think altruistically in many cases... and I used to completely believe in the vision projected by Star Trek at one time. I was heavily abused as a child, which really muddled with my thinking as an adult, and so did education systems and a variety of other experiences. I now think differently because evidence and logic has given me new truths to replace the old ones. I choose to think.

------------------------------------

"You state over and over again that it is not "in our nature," etc. etc. Aptly, I am reminded of the myth Chakotay tells Janeway about the Scorpion: "I couldn't help it; it's my nature. Seven of Nine becomes the very test of that truism."

I actually 100% agree with what you said here. An animal's nature is pretty simple and predictable. The reason, in a nutshell, is that they don't have free will. Since the Borg didn't have free will, I think it is fair to postulate, does a severed borg retain their nature as well? This was a fantastic episode by the way ;)

However (like the episode concludes), humanity is very different because not only are we not pre-programmed with lots of knowledge and behaviours like animals, but we were given free will too. We were also given the ability to think and learn, and the ability to use logic and reason to achieve our values.

Ironically, logic and reason must be a conscious choice. We also have no idea what values to pursue either. We must choose those as well.

This is the essence of what it means to be an individual. And ironically, for a show that is very collectivist, Voyager made some fantastic cases for individualism (See, I said something good about Voyager!)

------------------------------------

"Our nature is not fixed in stone, altruism IS a natural state of human existence sometimes, given the right conditions."

No, altruism is a choice, just as anything else. Not only that, it was an invention by man. Man had to make it up... and ever since, it is proven time and again to be destructive to one-self and to others.

And I do want to be clear, I don't think generousity and charity is equivalent to altruism. Absolutely not! A man can be 100% rationally selfish and still decide to give his money or his time away to charity or to someone he cares about.

If I had cancer and I was a billionaire, do you not think I may choose to donate money to cancer research, which may actually help thousands or millions of people? If my wife died to cancer, do you think I might have a selfish desire to make sure cancer doesn't take the life of anyone else? I very well might.

I know a woman who is very generous, and she may even say she's altruistic... but I know she wouldn't do these things if it meant that she had to sacrifice herself, her property, her well-being, etc. She just wouldn't.

When I say altruism, I really do mean the sacrificial part - the part where a man believes he can only live for other people and not himself... because if he does, he will then feel massive amounts of guilt and shame. This entire line of thinking is 100% educated and taught by churches, schools, parents, governments, etc. A child out of the womb does not know any of this.

------------------------------------

"It is humanity's compassion, intelligence and altruism which the Star Trek universe expands upon (it does not invent them out of thin air)."

I agree that Star Trek takes these ideas and expands upon them, but all I am saying is that the form of government and way of life in Star Trek has no logical basis, and in principle, is proven to be immoral.

Simply, the writers made it up. It's not like they hired the top philosopher's in the world to build them a philosophy that made sense (not like they actually did when it came to explaining the science aspects of the show)... because if they had, their form of government and type of society would be totally different than what is actually presented in the series.

Basically, Star Trek really is fiction and it is not something to hope for because it really cannot exist as presented. If it were attempted, it would just end up as communism.

------------------------------------

"I am NOT advocating communism per sæ. I don't want that to become our debate. You have not come close to proving that communism is evil."

Okay, I give up on this then. To me, it makes perfect sense.

------------------------------------

"Don't get me started on Rand."

I don't agree with everything rand thought. I think her ideas on intectual property were probably wrong. I actually think most or all of her ideas on sex and relationships were wrong too. Clearly wrong.

Still, her books are art, not reality. She wanted to communicate concepts easily and clearly, because this is what she defined art to be. A lot of her characters represent different ideas and how they will play out, but her books on actual philosophy had much more depth and information than the novels.

------------------------------------

"The labour theory is no "debunkable." It may be impractical under most conditions (maybe even all conditions), but it is a theory of value, not a science. It's not as though it must work or not work, it is a principle, a moral."

Just as a thought, what good is a theory if it has no practical basis in reality? To me, if you can't prove a theory in the realm of reality, then it's debunked. I mean, what use is it other than to say, "Yeah, this is how we NOT do it."

------------------------------------

"This "good wins, evil wins" nonsense is frankly a little disturbing. Such a grossly polarised view of anything is certainly immoral if anything is."

Not really what I said. There is NO compromise between good and evil. If such a compromise happened, evil would win. If someone is seeking to destroy your life, even a little, does it not succeed?

On the other hand. there can be compromise between 2 rational ideas. This is perfectly fine.

------------------------------------

"What rights do individuals possess?"

First the right to life, then the right to property. all other rights like the right to pursue happiness, the right to liberty, etc. stem from those.

------------------------------------

"Well that's a question of a socio-political nature. In modern countries, these rights are specifically outlined in constitutions."

I do think we have inalienable rights that surpass whatever government wants to give us. I also don't think government can add rights - like the right to have a home - either. It works both ways.

Is it not convenient for a government to say, "Well, it's in our expert opinion that you have a right to property..." That is immoral. You can make any evil policy legal, but that doesn't make it moral.

This is why a moral government will outline a constitution that is actually 100% consistent with the rights that man actually has, and not anything different.

------------------------------------

"China has them as well as the USA. They are different rights, so Chinese and Americans have different rights as individuals. If and when the constitutions change or are removed, those peoples' rights will change. So if a country's economic practices violate the rights afforded individuals by the state, indeed the economy is incompatible with the society. This is closer to being called "evil," but it still operates under the premise that the charter of rights is intrinsically "good" which may or may not be true."

Frankly, I don't disagree with any of this, but I don't government is in a position to say what is good from what isn't. It's proven to be an evil institution from day one in all cases of human civilization, some more than others.

------------------------------------

"I'm vaguely amused at the notion that we keep trying economic systems on like shoes or perfume."

I never said this. I said we come up with lots of different systems to explain human economic behaviour, but we don't practice what these systems say. The systems just attempt at modeling what acutally happens in reality. Kansian economics, for example, is completely messed up and austrian economics has many good ideas.

------------------------------------

"Star Trek chooses to believe that specifically a major catastrophe and dissolution of structure (Star Trek VIII) will result in a revolutionary degree of change in this same direction."

And that's fine, but I disagree with their premise. If such a catastrophe were to happen, just like our recent financial collapse or how both of our world wars were funded, we'd see that government intervention, government regulation and governments violating the rights of individuals were the problem in all of the cases - not capitalism.

What I don't understand is that the fictional people in Star Trek choose a form of government that is entirely consistent with the evil governments that have already existed and have been proven to be evil.

It's pretty hard to "live long and prosper" when your form of government is opposing some individual's right to life.

Okay, time for bed. LOL.
Ken Egervari - Wed, Sep 8, 2010 - 6:32am (USA Central)
Oh, I meant to say:

Is it not convenient for a government to say, "Well, it's in our expert opinion that you DON'T have a right to property..." That is immoral. You can make any evil policy legal, but that doesn't make it moral.
Elliott - Sun, Sep 26, 2010 - 1:54pm (USA Central)
Against my better judgement...

"At every moment in one's life, we can make choices. One of the most fundamental choices we have is life and death, and the most basic tool we have to help us is reason. If we choose life, we do things that we think will prolong it (i.e bring about our surival and our prosperity). If we don't choose life... or we fail in our thought process, than we die."

I'm sorry but the contradictoriness of this is glaring; at both ends of one's life, the ability to "choose life" is nonexistent. As very old people, we can choose all we like, and we're still going to die (if not sooner in some accident), and of course as infants we are ENTIRELY dependent upon the charity (call it altruism, whatever) of others. Now, everyone has heard about the theory that parents sacrifice for their children because it ensures the continuation of the species. Fine. But it is still a selfless act brought on by a natural, uncoerced or taught, simply acted upon.

Your hunting allegory is preposterous; of course if the hunter's food were stolen in its entirety day after day, they would die. However, what if the hunter's EXCESS food were "stolen"? In other words, let's say the hunter caught more food than he needed; all he and is family need is left them, but the excess is given to a family which could not hunt enough to feed itself...

I'm going to stop pin-pointing here...I just realised it's pretty useless with you--the point is, you are of the opinion that certain there are certain absolutes about the Universe and our species, etc which you can never prove, simply state that they "are" and leave it at that--this is akin to a religious belief, which I will not attempt to argue with you.

TNG was able to give us a realistic (at least socio-politically) picture of what society looks like in what cynics today call "Utopia," and VOY showed us what that life would mean outside the safety of a powerful infrastructure. You don't have to like it, but to say it's "been proven evil" is absurd. There are numerous examples in all the Treks which show people who are misfits, as is impossible to avoid in any society, but misfits, even many of them does not justify labeling the system as evil. There is nothing innate in a right to property. We aren't born with it, it is given to us by someone, we have no natural rights to it. There is no ground on which you can say that a property-uncentred society is implicitly immoral.

Governments (good ones, and certainly the Federation) don't lay a claim to "good" or "evil"--simply what is legal. In all cases those laws are based on principles. In the USA, those principles are based on a free-market, individual-centred conception of the world, the Federation is based on the notion of mutual coöperation, work-centred existence and esoteric fulfilment. Neither is evil or immoral, they simply differ from one another.
Paul - Mon, Jan 17, 2011 - 8:59pm (USA Central)
"This is wrong. If a system advocates that the theft of someone's property to give to someone else, then that system is immoral, and is evil."

This is simply question-begging nonsense. It's only true if you already accept that property exists, and that owning property is good. You have to accept a capitalist world view from the get-go to accept this point as valid.

What if your belief system has an axiom that states that "property is theft"?

From that viewpoint, naturally, any system which posits the accumulation of more and more property as a goal will be seen as clearly evil.

But then, I wouldn't expect anyone to concede the argument before they had begun.
Ken - Mon, Jan 17, 2011 - 9:16pm (USA Central)
"This is simply question-begging nonsense. It's only true if you already accept that property exists"

Existence exists, and we have consciousness that perceives what exists. These are the 2 basic axioms of philosophy. What else is more basic than that?

"and that owning property is good."

Owning property for the sake of owning property is not automatically good. Who said that? However, if one is to have the right to their own life, they must also have the right to property as they need keep the productive efforts of their actions to sustain and self-actuate their own life, which IS good.

"You have to accept a capitalist world view from the get-go to accept this point as valid."

No. The capitalistic world view comes after man's rights. Politics is an advanced concept in philosophy, well after Metaphysics, Epistemology, etc. and the capitalistic world view is even more advanced as it's built on top of politics. It does not work the other way around.

"What if your belief system has an axiom that states that "property is theft"?"

It was never an axiom, and that is not what was said. If you steal property from someone, and they have deemed that property to further their own life (food, water, clothing, money, etc.), it is wrong to deny them the right to sustain and self-actuate their own life.

"From that viewpoint, naturally, any system which posits the accumulation of more and more property as a goal will be seen as clearly evil."

Statements are not in a vacuum. You must understand the context.
Michael - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 5:16am (USA Central)
"'This is wrong. If a system advocates that the theft of someone's property to give to someone else, then that system is immoral, and is evil.'

"This is simply question-begging nonsense. It's only true if you already accept that property exists, and that owning property is good. You have to accept a capitalist world view from the get-go to accept this point as valid."


Paul: A world without the existence of property is impossible in practical terms. That kind of world would mean that anyone could choose to sleep in "your" bed tonight because, hey, the bed doesn't belong to anyone! They might choose to not do that because it would mean that YOU could sleep in THEIRS, which they would probably equally not like. But ultimately it all reverts to YOURS and NOT YOURS.

Not only, therefore, is such a world impossible; it is also undesirable. We acquire property by and large to make our lives more comfortable. If there is no notion of acquisition, then what exactly would be the motivation for doing anything other than surviving? To improve the whole humanity? But why would I work my skin to the bone and then have someone who did nothing enjoy the fruits of my labor as much as I (as would inevitably happen)? Capitalism is castigated as being "unfair," but would THIS kind of system be fair? It seems to me it would be much more iniquitous than capitalism has ever been.
Ken - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 7:05am (USA Central)
Michael, I agree with much have said.

I would also contend further that nobody could even survive let alone be comfortable without the right to property, as it is necessary to own property to self-sustain and self-actuate your own life.

For example, if you had no rights to property but still had the right to life, people could constantly take your food and you would starve to death, thus violating your right to life. That is why the right to property comes after the right to life philosophically.

As for capitalism, it is the most just and fair social system I can think of, because it's based on merit and productive output. In order to succeed in capitalistic society, you have to produce things of value to others. Obviously the looters and parasites in society who think they have a right to food, a home and a well-paying job would not do well in this type of social system. But it would really be just and fair if they should perish in it.

As long as people profit without violating the rights of others, it is just that they become rich if they deserve it. After all, justice really is just getting what you deserve. If you kill someone or steal, you should be punished... and if you invent a computer or an airplane or build a massive skyscraper, you should be rewarded. I can't think of any fairer social system.

A lot of people think America is a capitalistic society, but it isn't. Without getting too much into today's politics, America hasn't lived under anything close to real capitalism in about 100 years since the Federal Reserve was created... and slowly but surely, it's become highly socialized and a borderline police state. What we have now is not capitalism... but a sort of crony capitalism... and in some cases, outright fascism.

It's really too bad Star Trek tries to link the Ferengi ideas of acquiring wealth and property as immoral. The writers do such a blatant job to poison the viewers about what capitalism really is. They writers go out of their way to link making profit with slavery, paying low wages, treating women badly, bribing people, plotting and scheming just to make a buck, etc.... and that's not at all what capitalism is about.

I like Star Trek, but this entire philosophy that we do without money and property has caused me to stop loving it like I used to - back before I understood these things. I only wished the writers actually challenged this premise... but I guess that wouldn't be very "Star Trek" of them :/
Elliott - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 11:27am (USA Central)
@Michael

Your analogy is very simple-minded and hardly something on which to base a theory of impossibility. There have been many cultures in which there is no such thing as "my bed" and "your bed". They simply slept where they slept that night. It's hard to imagine for us because the idea of mine v. yours is so entrenched. I'm not necessarily advocating either viewpoint, simply pointing out that your conclusions stem from close-mindedness and don't really adress the issue.

@Ken
Seriously, you talk about your educating in capitalism like an epiphanic moment...it's disturbing. Education and economics operate on a continuum and are always in flux. Try to step out of your narrow little corner once in a while.
Michael - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 12:02pm (USA Central)
Ken: That's Star Trek for you. I like the entire franchise and I still remember skipping school to watch Next Generation when I was about 7 years old. Never cared much for the Original Series (which I saw later) or DS9. But anyway, the thing has always promoted wooly, liberal dogma, most of which I never had much of a problem with.

What I find amusing is that the pursuit of riches is usually decried either by those who are filthy rich (such as the liberal Hollywood elite a la the Voyager scriptwriters) or by those who are dirt poor (for whatever reason but usually because they either screwed up somewhere or because they're still in education and never did much real-world work). Those who have spent at least a year or two working are quite happy with the "evil" capitalist (or pseudo-capitalist, if you will) system system, even if they may have had more radical, quixotic notions back when they were in college.

----------------------------------------

Elliott: "Your analogy is very simple-minded and hardly something on which to base a theory of impossibility. There have been many cultures in which there is no such thing as "my bed" and "your bed". They simply slept where they slept that night."


Yes, usually on the ground by a fire; they didn't have anything--individually or communally--TO sleep on or in. As soon as societies advanced enough by discovering or inventing items of worth vis-a-vis the quality of life, the notion of property closely followed.

My chosen example is simple on purpose. If the system being advanced fails at the "where-do-I-sleep-tonight" hurdle, then any further discussion about it is not worth pursuing.


"[I am] simply pointing out that your conclusions stem from close-mindedness and don't really adress the issue."

What IS the issue? I hardly think it is closed-minded to rejec a philosophy, which appears to not have even theoretical merit.


And now if you will excuse me, I will go watch Escape From Alcatraz on my Dell Inspiron One touchscreen, which IS mine, for which *I* worked, and which I do NOT want to share with the rest of the world.
Ken - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 10:35pm (USA Central)
It's rather funny that I should come across this today considering the discussion we are having:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6J730PqBik&feature=player_embedded
Ken - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 10:43pm (USA Central)
"What IS the issue? I hardly think it is closed-minded to rejec a philosophy, which appears to not have even theoretical merit."

Exactly. I think the fact that I have come to the conclusions I have is because my mind was active in the first place. I do not think all philosophies have merit or can be true - we have the ability to reason and apply logic... we need to use it to figure out which is valid from what isn't... and most of the philosophies (fascism, socialism, communism, etc.) are proven to be wrong.

I will not "open" my mind to taking things on faith like Elliot seems to imply that we should. Logic is the only way of obtaining knowledge, and proper use of logic says the fantasy told in Star Trek would never work, as it has never worked in the past and doesn't work in theory either.
Elliott - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 10:54pm (USA Central)
Bear in mind if you would that

1) property, law and liberty existed before Locke and his co-philosophers in market economics

2) all philosophies to some extent are borne of their respective ages

what your goofy little video fails to point out is that the ownership of property assumes that men work for their survival. In Locke's time, for example, this was more or less true (although ironically his time also saw a class of regal decadents who never worried about it, as well as a much larger class which could hardly guarantee its survival even working their very lives out of them). In our time, we certainly have similar needs to men of any other time, but in the 21st century, our technological abilities actual allow us to feed and house the entire over-populated planet without expecting an hour's work from more than a relative handful of people. Now, I'm not suggesting that the remainder of the populace be permitted to sit around and do nothing with their lives, but the game has changed: we no longer NEED to look out for our survival, it's guaranteed by virtue of our genius.

Our political systems however circumvent this fact by establishing and enforcing what are now out-moded archaic ideas about property. Locke's philosophy (and those of this cohorts) made sense for their time and represent the fruits of a particular age, but it is naïve and self-defeating to conserve their application to a time whose contexts and realities are different.

Going a step further, the hypothesis of Star Trek is that continued technological advancement, along with intellectual enlightenment, along with political revolution would eventually force the issue into a philosophical change in political discourse wherein our technological abilities service a social behaviour which does not centre around survival. Thus, man's work becomes a means to a different end, or perhaps an end unto itself. Either way,

I do not imply or suggest that you, Ken, take anything on "faith." I suggest you step away from the position that your philosophical "discoveries" (which as your video points out were made by better men hundreds of years ago) have presented your with an absolute and irrefutable Truth. Such things do not exist, there is a always a moment of flux, an unseen dimension, an uncharted corner of the universe, both physical and mental, which we must explore. Trekkian ideals are not the end of intellectual evolution, simply the next (theoretical) phase of it. After it, who can guess what should follow? I would wager that a science-fiction author would be the first to think of it though.
Ken - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 11:08pm (USA Central)
Stop right here:

"In our time, we certainly have similar needs to men of any other time, but in the 21st century, our technological abilities actual allow us to feed and house the entire over-populated planet without expecting an hour's work from more than a relative handful of people."

Are you volunteering? Should we force them to feed the whole population? Who decides on who produces food from who plays video games or develops computer software?

"Now, I'm not suggesting that the remainder of the populace be permitted to sit around and do nothing with their lives, but the game has changed: we no longer NEED to look out for our survival, it's guaranteed by virtue of our genius."

Wrong again. It wasn't YOUR genius. YOU had nothing to do with whatever you are talking about. We are a group of individuals responsible for our own failures and accomplishments... not collective takes credit for the accomplishments of everyone.

And I have to ask... what caused humanity to be in a position where more of its population can focus on other things besides the production of food? Oh... that's right! It was man's ability to create new technologies to earn profit and accomplishment! Without that incentive, we wouldn't have what we have in the first place. It seems odd to abandon it so easily now that we "have" it.

As for Locke, I never heard of him until today, nor do I claim that he was right or wrong because I have not done any research. However, Ayn Rand and many others have discussed property and I their conclusions are not "archaic". They make perfect sense and completely rational.
Elliott - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 11:16pm (USA Central)
Why am I not surprised that Ms. Rand came into this discussion...

Look, that ugly woman wrote one book over and over again which touts bits and pieces of others' philosophies into a poor excuse for drama. The philosophies on which she bases her characters are not meritless by any means, but arguing Ayn Rand as a philosopher is like arguing Brandon Braga as a physicist.

You seem to be implying that because a certain individual or group over time created the technologies which allow for social change they are entitled to...I don't know, get MORE MONEY!!! HHAHAHA

That's like saying that if I cook a meal for a group of people, buy the ingredients and serve them I should get to eat more than anybody else. Most would call this tactless and strange. I would also call it archaic and unnecessary. So long as I, like everyone else eat my fill of the meal, I don't need anything else EXCEPT that in turn, everyone I serve treat me courteously, and offer of their own geniuses with generosity, even if they could never hope to feed a group as large as I have. My selfish impulses may desire a recompense, but those can be taught out of me, just like good manners should.

If you're going to respond, maybe do a little bit of research, my friend. While I admire your tenacity and honesty, you cannot expect to be taken seriously if you don't know what you're talking about.
Ken - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 11:28pm (USA Central)
"Look, that ugly woman wrote one book over and over again which touts bits and pieces of others' philosophies into a poor excuse for drama. The philosophies on which she bases her characters are not meritless by any means, but arguing Ayn Rand as a philosopher is like arguing Brandon Braga as a physicist."

So attacking her looks and her character is the first place you start a rational argument?

While she did build one some aspects of Aristotle, etc., it's not as if she didn't understand it. On the contrary, she built an entire philosophy from the ground up from the 2 basic axioms of philosophy, and proved everything. She was the first to solve many philosophical problems that have not been solved and have not been solved since, like the is-ought dichotomy and many others.

And she did complete a philosophy. Atlus Shrugged was not her philosophy, but a work on fiction with many aspects of her philosophy built in.

"You seem to be implying that because a certain individual or group over time created the technologies which allow for social change they are entitled to...I don't know, get MORE MONEY!!! HHAHAHA"

What? I don't know where to begin when you say things like this. I implied no such thing.

I simply stated that it wasn't YOUR genius that was responsible for the technologies people have developed to make it possible for more and more people to pursue other forms of productive work.

"That's like saying that if I cook a meal for a group of people, buy the ingredients and serve them I should get to eat more than anybody else."

What does this have to do with ANYTHING I have said? It has nothing to do with it.

However, if you bought all the ingredients and you cooked the meal, it is your choice whether you want to share it with anyone or not. If you want a bigger portion, it's certainly your right. Nobody has a say on what you can and can't do with your own food. If you don't want to give it to anyone else, then that's perfectly fine.

"My selfish impulses may desire a recompense, but those can be taught out of me, just like good manners should."

Are you assuming that being selfish is somehow bad or immoral? It isn't. Human beings must do what is in their rational, long-term self-interest for their own survival and happiness.

The very fact that you admit you have selfish desires is perfectly normal, because it is part of human nature. There is absolutely no need to "rise above it" - this is foolish.

"If you're going to respond, maybe do a little bit of research, my friend. While I admire your tenacity and honesty, you cannot expect to be taken seriously if you don't know what you're talking about. "

On the contrary, most of you posted is jumping to conclusions and making incorrect assumptions... not to mention character assassination without really using facts or logic to back up your points.
Elliott - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 11:48pm (USA Central)
A person can be of the highest order of physical attractiveness and still be "ugly." I did not criticise her appearance, but her character as a human, which was ugly.

Scientific theories can be proved (some of them). Genealogies can be proved. Mathematical theorems can be proved. Philosophies by their very nature cannot be proved. They are a series of rationalisations based on a context, a perspective or a principle. I don't know what it means if she "solved philosophical problems" that no one has since also solved...

Atlas Shrugged is a poor resource for absorbing her philosophical points (weak though they are); try "The Virtue of Selfishness." Brandon Braga also understands something about physics, but when put to the test of utilising his knowledge, his knowledge falls short.

Your opinion that it is my right to demand more of what is "mine" is exactly my point to you; yes it is natural and normal to be selfish. It is also natural and normal to desire sexual intercourse with many people, strike people with whom I have an argument, ignore my responsibilities, etc. Without learnt behaviours of social conduct, I would fall prey to these instincts. It is possible to survive in such a manor if society allowed room for it, but the rules dictate otherwise. There is no reason a different set of rules could not demand different behaviours. We must "rise above" many natural instincts if we are to make progress as a species. In fact, we already have risen above many of our natural instincts to the betterment of man. This is not to say we don't lose something in that evolution: no one including myself is implying that anything is free, but species that do not change die.

You never did answer the implied question about the developments which "make it possible for more and more people to pursue other forms of productive work."

It is NOT perfectly fine that I selfishly keep my food from others for no reason other than my whim. Rationality can mean many things. Long-term can mean many things. One can easily argue that rationalism would lead one to devote one's resources to the creation of a society in which one can pursue fulfilment without paranoid fear in losing one's property to others.
Elliott - Tue, Jan 18, 2011 - 11:55pm (USA Central)
and for the record, I believe consciousness, existence and self-identity are three axioms of Objectivism, not two.
Ken - Wed, Jan 19, 2011 - 12:08am (USA Central)
"A person can be of the highest order of physical attractiveness and still be "ugly." I did not criticise her appearance, but her character as a human, which was ugly."

Sure, but if you have come to conclusion that she's wrong, how relevant is her level of attractiveness then? It has no relevance. So why bother mentioning it? The only reason I can think of is to move away from the facts - a debate tactic.

Even the fact that we are now talking about Ms. Rand and not the real issues of this debate is somewhat of a tactic to derail it.

"Philosophies by their very nature cannot be proved. They are a series of rationalisations based on a context, a perspective or a principle."

This is incorrect. She starts with 2 axioms. The first is that existence exists, and the second is the one has consciousness that perceives which exists. From there, she proves everything in metaphysics, epistemology, etc. all the way to politics and capitalism.

She wasn't right about everything (her conclusions about sex and relationships didn't make a whole lot of sense), but her fundamentals are incredibly well thought out and I haven't heard of a single argument that disproves them.

"Atlas Shrugged is a poor resource for absorbing her philosophical points (weak though they are); try "The Virtue of Selfishness." Brandon Braga also understands something about physics, but when put to the test of utilising his knowledge, his knowledge falls short."

I agree, It is fiction, not a philosophy book. I actually ALREADY said this... so why bother bringing this up for? What made you think that I had read only Atlus Shrugged? There we go with the assumptions.

I have read most of her work, especially Virtue of Selfishness and many others. I've also read Leonard Peikoff's book on Objectivism as well.

"Your opinion that it is my right to demand more of what is "mine" is exactly my point to you;"

It is not my "opinion" or "belief" - it is fact. If you buy a hamberger at mcdonalds, you absolutely do not have to share it through the use of force. However, you CAN decide to share it if sharing that hamberger is in your rational, long-term self-interest. Only YOU can decide this. No government or individual can decide this for you.

"yes it is natural and normal to be selfish. It is also natural and normal to desire sexual intercourse with many people, strike people with whom I have an argument, ignore my responsibilities, etc."

You're doing some leaping here. If you have responsibilities that are in your rational, long-term self-interest to do, then you should do them. It is not natural one way or another to ignore or do them - this is a matter of free will.

Free will is in our nature - laziness is not.

"Without learnt behaviours of social conduct, I would fall prey to these instincts. It is possible to survive in such a manor if society allowed room for it, but the rules dictate otherwise."

The measure of whatever an individual should or shouldn't do something can only be determined if it is in their rational, long-term self-interest.

Having sexual intercourse with lots of random people is probably not in your rational, long-term interest... simply because more than half of the population has a disease of some kind, there is the chance of pregnancy which would go against your long-term self-interest, and many other consequences that would seek to have a negative impact on your life.

Being selfish is actually really hard, because it does not mean being impulsive or making decisions based on emotion, which I am guessing is your assumption. This is simply not correct.

"It is NOT perfectly fine that I selfishly keep my food from others for no reason other than my whim. Rationality can mean many things. Long-term can mean many things. One can easily argue that rationalism would lead one to devote one's resources to the creation of a society in which one can pursue fulfilment without paranoid fear in losing one's property to others. "

Only YOU can determine what you want to share and who you want to share it with. Every man determines their own values, and cannot leave beyond their own means.

If is perfectly rational to not share food if you are poor. It is also perfectly rational to note share food or money with complete strangers whom you do not value in the slightest.

On the other hand, it is perfectly rational to share food with your spouse, children, friends and family if you value their company, their well-being, etc.

"You never did answer the implied question about the developments which "make it possible for more and more people to pursue other forms of productive work."

What implied question?
Ken - Wed, Jan 19, 2011 - 12:11am (USA Central)
The law of identity is a corollary to existence. Existence is identity and consciousness is identification.
Michael - Wed, Jan 19, 2011 - 4:42am (USA Central)
Elliott: "That's like saying that if I cook a meal for a group of people, buy the ingredients and serve them I should get to eat more than anybody else. Most would call this tactless and strange. I would also call it archaic and unnecessary. So long as I, like everyone else eat my fill of the meal, I don't need anything else EXCEPT that in turn, everyone I serve treat me courteously, and offer of their own geniuses with generosity, even if they could never hope to feed a group as large as I have."

So, you DO expect something in return. You expect them to reciprocate with something, even if it's not food or cooking a similar meal in turn. You would like to use something they are, have or create. That's bartering. That's acknowledging the existence of assets and ascribing relative value to them. That's capitalism.

Or are you saying that you would be happy to "cook a meal for a group of people, buy the ingredients and serve them" continually? If these are infants, elderly or the infirm, I can understand that. But would you REALLY invest whatever you create or "earn" (insofar as earning is possible when there is no property) over and over again to feed someone who sits under a tree every waking hour while you're digging up the potatoes to feed them later?! Somehow, I doubt that very much.

So, I dare assume you would argue that there would need to be some kind of control at some level of who does what. Now: Who exercises that control and on what basis? In any case, that is called a command economy where a more-or-less central entity determines how resources (e.g. manpower) are distributed. I think much of the world tried that in the latter half of the last century, to none too salutary an outcome.

The bottom line is this: Are you happy to take any toothbrush lying around to brush your teeth with and are you happy for anyone who so pleases to take "yours"? Yes, it IS that simple! If the answer is no, then you acknowledge the existence and the importance of the existence of property. If yes, then, well, you are part of a tiny minority, which I seriously doubt will ever gather pace for rather obvious reasons.
Paul - Sat, Feb 19, 2011 - 9:33am (USA Central)
The law of identity is a corollary to existence. Existence is identity and consciousness is identification.

What? Have you ever seen any, even basic mathematical proofs in semi-group theory? Field theory?

It's possible to prove that there can only be one identity element in any semi-group - because if you posit that there are two, it's easy to prove that i_1 and i_2 are in fact the same element.

But it's certainly possible that there are semi-groups without an identity element - and proving the existence of something within a mathematical structure is often a much harder task than proving stuff about the properties of that thing should it happen to exist in the first place.

"Existence is identity" reads like suspiciously woolly thinking to me.
Jay - Mon, Mar 7, 2011 - 1:28pm (USA Central)
but arguing Ayn Rand as a philosopher is like arguing Brandon Braga as a physicist.

OMG...that was so awesome.
Cloudane - Sun, Apr 3, 2011 - 5:46pm (USA Central)
Finally found something worse than the episode - some of the comments.

Star Trek (except perhaps DS9 or parts of it) is based on a very optimistic/idealistic world where we have become an "enlightened" species who genuinely are all self-motivated and gain real enjoyment from working for the betterment of ourselves / the species / Federation / etc and helping others.

It may be difficult to imagine because actually we are NOT enlightened - for one, many are lazy (as strong capitalist advocates are quick to point out when they feel welfare is getting a little generous), and on the other side of the coin many are greedy and selfish (as strong communist advocates are quick to point out when one guy is living in luxury and others are dying of starvation)

In their world these things do not exist. We have evolved. It may not seem realistic, but there's nothing wrong with optimism especially in fiction.

In an ideal world like Star Trek where everyone is self-motivated (i.e. where the problem of lazy people benefiting from the work of others doesn't arise or if it does it's a very rare exception and possibly considered a mental illness) I see capitalism as the more "evil" system (I'll not get into defining good and evil, but suffice to say it seems to vary between religious and/or socialist views) as the whole thing basically then revolves around deception and tricking others into giving you more wealth because you are more arrogant than the next guy.

Don't get me wrong, I don't see capitalism as "evil" in our present form. I actually see our system of mostly capitalism with government regulation as the most fair, though it's a tricky balance that no government so far has really got right (instead one tends to go too far in a particular direction and the opposite government gets voted in for 10 years or so, rinse and repeat - at least in the UK). Without ANY intervention greed would take over and people would be left to die in the streets (not all of them necessarily get there through laziness either and I don't see it that lazy people deserve to die). Not to mention less fortunate countries. At the other end of the scale when it gets overly "left", people sit there taking welfare while everyone else does the hard work. It's all in balance, and fanaticism on either side is stupid IMO.

This thing about "stealing" property: to be fair, that is only applicable if you had a concept of property in the first place. This seems to me like a problem that stems from trying to convert a capitalist country into a communist one, which does tend to require these acts of "evil". Star Trek's world developed through World War III, an apocalypse of sorts that destroyed everything and led them to having to rebuild human society from scratch, which is perhaps the only "fair" way it could occur. As it stands capitalism is already the world's foundation, and it can't really be converted.

Now then, I've forgotten what the episode was even about! Oh yeah, a very worrying form of mind control where people seem to act perfectly normally, it's like Kes's syndrome in Fury - these people are conscious of their decision to turn "bad" as if it's perfectly rationalised in their own minds. It's not like normal mind control where it's obvious to anyone they're being controlled and opens up a huge can of worms (how many others may have been controlled like this throughout the Marquis or even the Federation?). I prefer not to think about it. It's an episode that wasn't thought out (no surprises there) and is trash.

Oh yeah to address an even older point, why we complain. It's not all complaints, sometimes it's high praise! But go and look up what critics do and come back. I'm just participating in comments, maybe a rough amateur critic of sorts, but of course Jammer is a professional critic (well that's how I view him anyway) and this is what they do. Why? Well what are people's motivation for other things: entertainment for others, self enjoyment, perhaps a living. In the case of criticising fiction, perhaps to encourage better quality - many are not consciously aware of what makes good or bad quality fiction, and so the critics speak for them.

At the same time I do personally value the views of those who don't think about things so much (even our beloved action junkie :)) as sometimes one tends to over-think things when they're just intended for light entertainment or casual action.

For me adding to the comments and adding my own criticism and nitpicks (as well as high praise where it applies) is just something I enjoy doing. If others appreciate my views or offer a reasonable great, if not, fine.

If I do complain it's mostly because I know Star Trek's creators were capable of so much more than what they sometimes mindlessly churned out for Voyager. They got complacent in Star Trek's success and became a bit lazy I think, and it's sometimes frustrating. I also think that it became a bit too much of a brand related profit generation exercise instead of all the obvious heartfelt passion that went into most of TNG and DS9.

I still watch it though - partly because I'm a Star Trek fan and want to see all of them (when DS9 and Voy first aired Sky One messed up with the schedule too much and I never managed to keep up). Partly because it's actually had some damn good periods, and all in all the first few seasons were good enough to get me hooked and caring about the series as a whole and its characters that I am in for the full ride. Thankfully nothing has been bad enough to put me off completely.
Cloudane - Sun, Apr 3, 2011 - 5:58pm (USA Central)
In the third to last paragraph I meant "offer a reasonable debate, then great". Not used to these non editable systems these days :)

Just FYI so you can judge any bias, my political compass is approximately central but very slightly to the top left.
Michael - Mon, Apr 4, 2011 - 9:46am (USA Central)
I'm not a passionate fan of capitalism, but believe it be the best system the world has thus far "invented"/evolved into and the most suitable to the world as it is.

I am skeptical about the possibility of a truly self-motivated society EVER emerging. That would require not just langor and avarice to be eliminated (or considered a mental illness), but a shift in people's perception of the meaning of life. Self-motivation would entail perceiving the good of the society as worthwhile--and not just as worthwhile but as the highest goal to aspire toward.

That may be difficult to accomplish and sustain. Right now people are driven by greed, religion or some other self-fulfilment, i.e. for their own benefit here and now or in the putative afterlife (by and large). It would require a seismic shift in perception of self, society AND one's role in spacetime for us to move to a more altruistic people. For us to want to work for the benefit of the society first, we would have to believe in that society, its continuity through time and its value through time. Given that societies last centuries or a few millennia at the most, which is nothing compared to the posited infinity of spacetime, would many not feel their lives being wasted if they put the transient society first? (Of course, the same applies to self, as opposed to the society. However, we want to benefit ourselves because the benefit is more readly obvious. That is the reason we prefer a higher paycheck to paying taxes even though the latter, ultimately, benefits us just as much if not more as the former.)

Oh I don't know; I lost my train of thought! LOL!
Cloudane - Mon, Apr 4, 2011 - 3:32pm (USA Central)
I can agree with those comments (first time for everything hehe!)

Suppose the point, as far as I'm concerned, is that it's about as feasible as anything else in Star Trek: not very. But it doesn't stop me enjoying it, or dreaming. I think the original comment that triggered this huge debate was a complaint that it exists in the Trek universe - well it's highly optimistic fiction that features many things about as likely as pixies and magic so whilst this episode is a bit of a stretch in many ways... I don't think this is one of them.
Tim - Sun, Nov 6, 2011 - 5:05pm (USA Central)
Okay, far too many comments with too much in depth analysis on this episode. This isn't a serious episode. That established, it's actually no where near as bad as made out (and this isn't the only review site to mark it so bad).

Watching this yet again just now, it's not brilliant, but it's not awful either, and is enjoyable to watch if you just disengage Trek geekness and forget the logical flaws. On average it works as an okay mystery for a fair bit of the episode, then gets a bit daft but still passably enjoyable with the takeover of the ship.

The only thing that irritates me is the thing that irritates me in so many Trek episodes (new and old), and that's the last scene "Everything is back to normal" scene. Extremely common in Star Trek where the episode climax comes up and next scene everything is fixed without showing what happened. So many times have I almost kicked the TV when we get "Captain's Log, everything fixed". Aghhhhh!

Maybe this is because of the way American TV places the last ad break before the epilogue scene any many people switch to another channel or leave the room at that point so the last scene is generally inconsequential (odd concept as a Brit I should add).

Anyway, in general, nothing brilliant, but a slightly memorable episode and enjoyable enough. Doesn't achieve much, but it's Trek. Unlike episodes like 11:59 which are truly utterly pointless episodes. Nothing at all to do with Star Trek and really does achieve absolutely nothing (and not really enjoyable either!).
Nathan - Sun, Nov 13, 2011 - 12:08am (USA Central)
Holy crap. For anyone else reading these comments, it's all capitalism vs. communism until Tim just above.
V - Fri, Feb 10, 2012 - 2:11am (USA Central)
Wow. I agree with Ken and Michael. I usually don't bother reading Michael's posts but these clearly show we have something in common. There are some posters here that don't quite understand "finding common ground". Case in point, I don't always agree with Jammer's review or rating but we both love Trek and value it's thought-provoking episodes (science and characters both) as well as enjoy some action. If I can't find this common ground, I wouldn't be making comments on his website...
Eric - Sat, Feb 18, 2012 - 9:42pm (USA Central)
On that note Elliot, can you at least find common ground with Ken that Trek's concept of "there's no money" wasn't really thought out?

Its funny, from my experience, but I somehow was a Star Trek fan for a really long time without knowing about the no money thing. They don't mention it that often, honestly. I managed to miss the episodes where they did. I knew the Federation/Starfleet seemed to have much higher ethical/moral standards than many people/nation states today have, and things seemed generally more utopic. I just assumed that there was a monetary system, even if the system wasn't really capitalistic, until I saw Star Trek: First contact. I was actually incredulous when I read that. I was like: "What? Since when!?". Why did I believe there was money? Well, obviously I have assumptions from my own experiences - I come from a world with money, but there's also scenes from the show itself:

Never really "got into" DS9, but I from what I've seen of it, that show is full of money (Latinum).

1st episode of Voyager, Quark is trying to sell Kim cufflinks. If Starfleet officers aren't paid, why is he bothering?

1st episode of Voy again, Chakotay accuses Tom of betraying them: "What did they offer you? Freedom? Latinum?"

I guess Star Trek writers aren't very consistent with their universe.
Captain Jim - Wed, May 23, 2012 - 11:19pm (USA Central)
Tim said, "This isn't a serious episode. That established, it's actually no where near as bad as made out...

Watching this yet again just now, it's not brilliant, but it's not awful either, and is enjoyable to watch if you just disengage Trek geekness and forget the logical flaws. On average it works as an okay mystery for a fair bit of the episode, then gets a bit daft but still passably enjoyable with the takeover of the ship."

This is pretty much the same thing I was thinking. Still, I have to agree with Jammer that Teero's motives are indeed inexplicable.
Rosario - Sat, Jun 16, 2012 - 3:10pm (USA Central)
Solid debating Ken. Held him until Michael could deliver the finishing blow. 100% in agreement with you fellas and V. Never seen Elliot routed so nicely. You had him reduced to name-calling, baiting, etc but everytime he stuck his nose up, you snipped it off. The main problem I see today and Elliot is a prime example of it, is that we teach people not to JUDGE. That every value system, economic system, moral system, justice system, cultures, religions, sexual identity etc etc, everything, all have the same merit and we should just be glad to have such diversity in the world. This is wrong. Completely wrong. Now, I'm not saying we go around being... asshats, as Ken said, that's not in our long-term self-interest. Anyway, we all determine OUR own worldview, our perspective, who WE are, and we come to who WE are by judging whether A, B, C etc; is right or wrong? is it good or bad for me? To teach that judgement is wrong and that everything has merit, we end up with people that will believe anything and everything. Elliot, you yourself said that communism might just not be able to work in any realistic scenario. You're arguing that it could exist in fantasy. Take away star trek context and this is what every communism v capitalism argument sounds like.

But I would say, that I really think that if we ever really get into space, find alien species etc, that our people can get it together. We're explorers. How many of us dream of something greater? Our movies, novels, television, everything caters to our deep-seeded desire to just drive off into the unknown. The dark spots on the map these days are far and few between. Humanity (or generally, western secular humanity - religious folk got God) has sunk into a sort of low-key malaise. Boredom with where we are in life. Hundreds of years from now though, when you and I are no more than dust, the maps will have more dark than not on it and we can explore and expand again... so I don't think Star Trek is a total implausibility. As Michael said, it would take a shift of seismic proportions and in the Star Trek universe, we have this in World War 3. A point Ken should have made would be to quote Zephram Cochrane (since I won't), who didn't build the Pheonix to usher in a new era but so he could make money, island with naked ladies etc. Greed gave us warp drive - and it probably will! Then greed could fade away in just the scenario Troi suggested in First Contact. Not implausible at all for the star trek universe to evolve along those lines.

Socialism/Communism I think could definitely work in a far off implausible future in which Humanity explores the galaxy, wages war and peace with alien species and has access to technology to just *snap* make ANYTHING! (rar!)

Of course, watching these episodes of the "future" I feel like it's just a bunch of silly selfless nincompoops traipsing through space with their shields down and falling for every cardboard con man in the quadrant... getting themselves into trouble time and again... Shields up, Warp 9.whatever and just get home, don't stop to help anybody unless they got something you need. Home. Go!

Wouldn't have made for a good show but that's what my present-day-bored-realist logic says to do! :)
Rosario - Sat, Jun 16, 2012 - 3:23pm (USA Central)
Just wanted to add it took me longer to read the reviews than to watch the episode and I was MUCH more entertained by the former than the latter. Thanks all
Jay - Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - 8:55pm (USA Central)
Damn...I assumed that from the size of the Maquis ship in Caretaker, that the Maquis were maybe 15-20 of the total crew of 150 on Voyager. But from the number of Maquis in comas in sickbay and then the number of other Maquis in the next scene, they seem to be more like 40-50. Voyager must have been quite undermanned on its maiden voyage...
Justin - Sat, Jun 23, 2012 - 10:27pm (USA Central)
@Jay, Voyager lost 7 confirmed crew in "Caretaker," but it's assumed that it was quite a bit more than that. No body count was ever given in that episode, so it is conceivable that the Maquis were that numerous.

That being said, this episode is a steaming pile of shit. Its only redeeming feature is that the Maquis are treated as something that's actually real for a change. It's almost astonishing to see Chell and Tabor again. At this point in the series, seing any Maquis that's not Chakotay, Torres, or the ubiquitous but mostly silent Ayala is practically shocking.

And here we have yet another episode where characters who are supposed to be smart are reduced to the level of dimwits in order to advance the plot. In fact, this may be the worst example of all.

Tuvok: Tuvok to Chakotay.
Chakotay: Go ahead.
Tuvok: Pagh'tem'far. B'Tannay.
Chakotay: Understood.
Janeway: Janeway to Chakotay...Commander? Duh...what did that mean, Tuvok?
Jelendra - Mon, Jun 25, 2012 - 4:07pm (USA Central)
Absolutely awful. The kind of bad, poorly written and realized episode that seems to have haunted all of Voyager's 7 seasons. By this time I had thought the really poor episodes would have been a thing of the past...On par with "Threshold", The Fury" & "Spirit Folk".
Jelendra - Mon, Jun 25, 2012 - 4:12pm (USA Central)
Oh and as Jammer points out, just how underused are any Tuvok led stories that when we get one as awful as this...makes ti worse that it is...
Elliott - Sat, Jun 30, 2012 - 10:09pm (USA Central)
@Rosario : I don't want to open up this can of worms again. If finding yourself in alignment with a Objectivist cipher and a neo-con, torture-loving bigot (and you thought I was taught not to JUDGE people...hahahaha) makes you happy, I wish you the best.

You think the "problem with the world" is our being led not to judge things, ideas, people as anything other than "alternative." Of course, you don't mention that starting any thought with "the problem IS..." is the inevitable prologue to utopianism. If only people thought more like YOU, things sure would be better!

If you were to bother looking up the origins of your philosophy, you'd find yourself nodding approvingly of men like Nietzsche. Nietzsche disagreed with the idea that anything exists outside ourselves and therefore there is no basis by which one may come to collective ideas of ethics. Therefore, each must live according to his self-interest. Now, this is fine except the way in which he dismisses Kant in order to do this is laughably inadequate: he criticises *Hegel* for being idiotic (which he was); Hegel was considered to be the forebearing disciple of Kant, but he was not. He was a fraud. So Nietzsche debunked a fraud to make his point. He could never debunk Schopenhauer except to denigrate his poetry about the metaphysical as "dangerous wishful thinking." At any rate, Nietzsche's late philosophy is the cornerstone of Objectivist theory in the modern age and is remarkably flimsy.

I NEVER argued that one should be communist or that communism is better than capitalism or that one is good and one is bad--there was never a Communism v. Capitalism debate to be had in this thread. I simply stated that to throw out a philosophy as just "evil" is dangerous as it is useless. Hitler and Stalin weren't taken out of power for being "evil", they were removed for being enemies of other states or their own people. Calling a belief, a theory or a lifestyle "evil" has only ever resulted in evil things, things as gross and sweeping as the Crusades to things as personally tragic as teen suicides.

You're entitled to your opinion about space-travel and communism or whatever else, but Ken's obstinate refusal to acknowledge the holes in his arguments to not constitute "solid debating," and Michael's nihilism is not a "final blow" to anything.

I'm always amazed by those who look at something like the technology of the future--in many ways, though derived from existing science, equally implausible as the economic and social theories which inhabit the same universe--without the sickening skepticism and abject hopelessness with which they view an optimistic future.
Rosario - Thu, Oct 11, 2012 - 2:50pm (USA Central)
@Elliot: Frankly I can't remember what this thread was about. It also seems like you're arguing with Nietzsche, not me.
Actually Elliot, a stray thought just flitted through my mind. I recall a thought that must have been thought while reading this thread, that the continued use of the word, "evil" was the only thing I disagreed with. "Bad" "Doesn't work" "poor" etc. are fine but "evil" just invites an arguement that would most likely distract from any point trying to be made. Terrible word choice.
Also, you normally seem rather cool and measured in your responses but your opening paragraph and the vitriolic labels dispensed therin strike me as kind of beneath you.
And frankly if the world did think like me it might just be a better place. You see Elliot, I'm a rare gem - I don't care about myself at all. Not in the slightest. All that matters to me is the greater good, what strengthens my people, what makes them greater, keeps them strong and vital and self-reliant. I say self-reliant even though that may seem at odds with the "greater good" but if someone can take care of themself, they should - and leave the state entity with more time and money to spare on things that are more important than me and the other folks that can take care of themselves. Secondary impulses to humanity should not be a matter of law but a matter of personal choice.
I could go on but I just have a feeling that no matter what, your thought process will stop at, "Hitler would have loved a nation of this guy!" :)
Rosario - Sat, Nov 17, 2012 - 4:19pm (USA Central)
@Elliot: I've read a lot more of your posts since that last one and I sure had you pegged wrong. While I still don't agree with you 100%, I find myself in agreement with you more and more and even when in disagreement I find myself reading your posts two or three times and sometimes re-evaluating my thoughts based on your insights. Anyway Elliot, just wanted to apologize for sub-consciously pegging you at all.
Elliott - Tue, Jan 29, 2013 - 1:51pm (USA Central)
@Rosario:

Thanks for the apology! I'm glad what I've had to say held some meaning for you.

Best,
E
azcats - Wed, Aug 21, 2013 - 2:35pm (USA Central)
pretend you know nothing about mindmelds and maquis and what not and it is an enjoyable episode

2.5 star episode.
T'Paul - Sun, Sep 29, 2013 - 12:10pm (USA Central)
While I have a certain amount of trepidation about getting involved in this "debate", there are certain things that must be said, and I'll try to say them while remaining civil and respectful to other points of view.

Firstly, there is a huge and very unfortunate amount of confusion about what "communism" is. A basic reading of Marx will clarify that communism is the when the State has withered away. In this regard, in fact, the most radical liberalism (what is mistakenly called "capitalism" or free market philosophy), anarchism, and communism actually have a huge amount in common.

Therefore, communism in its true state has never existed. Socialism is what existed throughout the cold war, which according to Marx is when the State owns or controls the means of production, distribution and exchange.

Correctly using these terms is so important in this debate, but unfortunately is exceedingly rare.

So. Communism is when the state has disappeared. Socialism is when the state owns the means of production, distribution and exchange. Liberalism is not "left wing" or communist ideology, or anything like that. Liberalism is when the economy is free from the control of the State. This is yet another misuse of terms in current political debate.

Now. What about Capitalism? Capitalism, as the name suggests, is an economic system based on the ownership of capital. Capital refers to the goods that may be used to produce more goods.

The nature of this ownership is not based on merit. The ownership of capital can come from inheritance, theft, confiscation, or it can indeed also be the result of merit. But it is certainly not only accumulated by merit.

This explains why some of the wealthiest people or highest salaries are the result of simple speculation on stockmarkets or currency markets. Unfortunately, as of yet, we have no way to measure merit. In many cases, "merit" is considered to be a person's professional or educational background, which is fair enough, but in many other cases, "merit" is considered to be how much money a person is able to generate, whether this makes the world a better place or net.

In turn, some of the poorest salaries go to people such as nurses, teachers, police, whose impact on our society is very tangible. As is that of doormen, cleaners, people who work in the service industry.

No man is an island. And no success story happens in a bubble. We drive on publicly funded roads, we are protected by publicly funded police, we interact with people often educated in public schools, who are tended to in public hospitals. We benefit from good government, or suffer due to bad government. The business world (the famous capitalists) functions because of a publicly provided legal framework, overseen by a public legal system. And even though Ayn Rand might wish to ignore it, any real or imagined John Galt or any other 2 dimensional character created by her or some other equally uninspired philosopher is part of a society, and has benefited from being so, and is what he or she is because of the people around him or her.

So, under our current system, while nurses help to heal us, police protect us, and teachers form young minds; speculators on the markets gamble on chance, and even create the sort of circumstances that lead to the economic collapses we've seen in recent years, whereby the value of companies and goods are based on imagined rather than concrete value - leading to collapses when reality meats the fiction. But it is the latter who gain most spectacularly, and the former who live in poverty. A broker is paid millions for gambling with imaginary money, in the same investment company a janitor or cleaner earns a pittance, although he (or more likely she) ensures the broker doesn't get sick from germs in unclean places, to name just one example.

Moving away from the concepts, and to address another issue that has come up on this debate, what motivates people to investigate, discover, invent? Without wanting to offend Zephram Cochran, not all inventions are driven by the thought of tropical islands full of naked women. I would hesitate a guess that recognition is a key driver, or simple curiosity.

And this leads me finally to the Gene issue, which sparked this lengthy discussion.

I think what Gene was imagining was just that. A world where people are inspired by their curiosity or a thirst for recognition and acknowledgement or simply in order to better their world and to advance science and society. Someone has asked who does the grunt work? The way I see it what technology doesn't do, people do as part of their training or to learn more about their field, to gain expertise. People have also asked, well, what if everyone wants to have a restaurant like Papa Sisko - well, interplanetary emigration has probably opened up some space on Earth, and replicators and a replenished environment would take care of the rest. As for why there is latinum on DS9, well, that's probably because it's on the frontier dealing with other, less enlightened societies.

Unfortunately in a "capitalist" system, the struggle to stay alive means that many people cannot follow their passions, as they have to leave them aside to simply survive. Not to mention, the millions and billions of people who cannot pursue their interests just due to being born in the wrong place, or into the wrong family.

I do agree that communism in its true theoretical sense is an ideal, as is true liberalism or anarchism, and so is Gene's imagined universe. But let's be realistic about the system we have now. How many brilliant people who could make our world a better place cannot reach their full potential because of the restrictions created by the dog-eat-dog world that we live in... because their parents can't afford to give them a good education, because their life has led them to uninspiring jobs or insufficient pay has given rise to insufficient nutrition, shelter or whatever else blocking their potential.

And yes, shelter and food are human rights, ALL are entitled to. I don't care whether someone is lazy or not, but no fellow human being deserves to starve. THIS is why we are not animals. There is merit in merely BEING a human being. And if we are surrounded by people who are starving or driven mad by hopelessness, we're going to be living in a far worse world than a world where there are a few "looters" (to use Ayn Rand's charming turn of phrase) or bludgers. In that sort of world we really will have to fight to stay alive. However, if as seen so often in Star Trek, we show compassion and understanding for our fellow human beings (or aliens, forehead of the week or not), then maybe we can help them be better people, and become better people ourselves at the same time. That is the heart of Star Trek, and that has been Gene's gift to science fiction.

Jo Jo Meastro - Wed, Oct 9, 2013 - 12:05pm (USA Central)
When I saw the star rating, read the plot summary and took a peak at the review; the temptation to just skip this episode was pretty strong. But since this is the final season and a rare Tuvok centered story, I thought I might as well give it a fair chance.

All I can say is it really wasn't worth the effort, and the embarrassingly naff second half of the show reduced it to an unintentional self-parody that sabotaged any possible merit in the plot set ups.

Jammer covered everything I wanted to say, except that this is such a lame and depressingly unintentionally hilarious murder "mystery" that I'd consider this an ugly descendant of TNGs' "Aquiel" spiced with the shittiness of "Sub Rosa".

Seeing Tuvok in action (not *that* kind of action!) and a decent first half was what only just barely kept me from hitting the off button on the TV.

I only managed to scrape out enough entertainment to give it an extremely lowly half star.
Petrus - Sun, Oct 20, 2013 - 6:52am (USA Central)
Hopefully T'Paul and the other members of this debate will possibly still see it.

The Federation, however, is not a Communist society. It is, very specifically, provisionally Post-Scarcity.

What this means is that technology (whether replicators, or robotic automation, more realistically) is sufficiently advanced, that most (if not all) of the staple commodities which individuals need to physically survive on a daily basis, are reproducible to the point where they are, for all practical intents and purposes, limitless.

At a superficial level, this appears to be similar to Communism; however, as well as potentially deviating from several of Marx' other planks, there is one key difference. Communism still recognised the existence of material scarcity, and theoretically tried to assign everyone an equal *ration* of that scarcity. Post-scarcity, on the other hand, operates on the assumption that most (not necessarily all) resources literally are limitless, in which case, there is no need for any individual's share to be rationed; they can have as much as they want.

Now, here is where the "provisional," part comes in. You will notice that being outside of Federation space, Voyager still had to mine, trade, and scrounge for various things. It is highly likely that even in the 24th century, certain rare minerals, and certainly specialised ship parts, could not be replicated completely out of either thin air or monomolecular raw material, in which case for them, a Capitalist/currency based economy would still need to exist, whether latinum or whatever other currency was used.

This also explains, as T'Paul pointed out, how Quark was able to earn latinum on DS9. Not every alien species has replicator technology, and those that don't are still going to need an exclusively conventional economy, for all of their resources.
Rosario - Tue, Dec 10, 2013 - 10:22pm (USA Central)
@T'Paul - I must respectfully disagree with your statement: "Therefore, communism, in it's true state has never existed." Let me quote at length from Will Durant's "Story of Civilization Volume I: Our Oriental Heritage." The basic gist of this is that all primitive man existed in a state of communism. I find the footnote a very interesting thought as well and probably more interesting in its theory than the rest of this.

"Trade was the great disturber of the primitive world, for until it came, bringing money and profit in its wake, there was no property and therefore little government. In the early stages of economic development property was limited for the most part to things personally used; the property sense applied so strongly to such articles that they (even the wife) were often buried with their owner; it applied so weakly to things not personally used that in their case the sense of property, far from being innate, required perpetual reinforcement and inculcation.

Almost everywhere, among primitive peoples, land was owned by the community. The North American Indians, the natives of Peru, the Chittagong Hill tribes of India, the Borneans and South Sea Islanders seem to have owned and tilled the soil in common, and to have shared the fruits together. "The land," said Omaha Indians, "is like water and wind - what cannot be sold." In Samoa the idea of selling land was unknown prior to the coming of the white man. Professor Rivers found communism in land still existing in Melanesia and Polynesia; and in inner Liberia it may be observed today.

Only less widespread was communism in food. It was usual among "savages" for the man who had food to share it with the man who had none, for travelers to be fed at any home they chose to stop at on their way, and for communities harassed with drought to be maintained by their neighbors. If a man sat down to his meal in the woods he was expected to call loudly for some one to come and share it with him, before he might justly eat alone. When Turner told a Samoan about the poor in London the "savage" asked in astonishment: "How is it? No food? No friends? No house to live in? Where did he grow? Are there no houses belonging to his friends?" The hungry Indian had but to ask to receive; no matter how small the supply was, food was given him if he needed it; "no one can want food while there is corn anywhere in the town." Among the Hottentots it was the custom for one who had more than others to share his surplus till all were equal. White travelers in Africa before the advent of civilization noted that a present of food or other valuables to a "black man" was at once distributed; so that when a suit of clothes was given to one of them the donor soon found the recipient wearing the hat, a friend the trousers, another friend the coat. The Eskimo hunter had no personal right to his catch; it had to be divided among the inhabitants of the village, and tools and provisions were the common property of all. The North American Indians were described by Captain Carver as "strangers to all distinctions of property, except in the articles of domestic use... They are extremely liberal to each other, and supply the deficiencies of their friends with any superfluity of their own." "What is extremely surprising," reports a missionary, "is to see them treat one another with a gentleness and consideration which one does not find among common people in the most civilized nations. This, doubtless, arises from the fact that the words 'mine' and 'thine,' which St. Chrystostom says extinguish in our hearts the fire of charity and kindle that of greed, are unknown to these savages." "I have seen them," says another observer, "divide game among themselves when they sometimes had many shares to make; and cannot recollect a single instance of their falling into dispute or finding fault with the distribution as being unequal or otherwise objectionable. They would rather lie down themselves on an empty stomach than have it laid to their charge that they neglected to satisfy the needy... They look upon themselves as but one great family."

Why did this primitive communism disappear as men rose to what we, with some partiality, call civilization? Sumner believed that communism proved un-biological, a handicap in the struggle for existence; that it gave insufficient stimulus to inventiveness, industry and thrift; and that the failure to reward the more able, and punish the less able, made for a leveling of capacity which was hostile to growth or to successful competition with other groups. Loskiel reported some Indian tribes of the northeast as "so lazy that they plant nothing themselves, but rely entirely upon the expectation that others will not refuse to share their produce with them. Since the industrious thus enjoy no more of the fruits of their labor than the idle, they plant less every year." Darwin thought that the perfect equality among the Fuegians was fatal to any hope of their becoming civilized; or, as the Fuegians might have put it, civilization would have been fatal to their equality. Communism brought a certain security to all who survived the diseases and accidents due to the poverty and ignorance of primitive society; but it did not lift them out of that poverty. Individualism brought wealth, but it brought, also, insecurity and slavery; it stimulated the latent powers of superior men, but it intensified the competition of life, and made men feel bitterly a poverty which, when all shared it alike, had seemed to oppress none." - *

* - "Perhaps one reason why communism tends to appear chiefly at the beginning of civilizations is that it flourishes most readily in times of dearth, when the common danger of starvation fuses the individual into the group. When the abundance comes, and the danger subsides, social cohesion is lessened, and individualism increases; communism ends where luxury begins. As the life of a society becomes more complex, and the division of labor differentiates men into diverse occupations and trades, it becomes more and more unlikely that all these services will be equally valuable to the group; inevitably those whose greater ability enables them to perform the more vital functions will take more than their equal share of the rising wealth of the group. Every growing civilization is a scene of multiplying inequalities; the natural differences of human endowment unite with differences of opportunity to produce artificial differences of wealth and power; and where no laws or despots suppress those artificial inequalities they reach at last a bursting point where the poor have nothing to lose by violence, and the chaos of revolution levels men again into a community of destitution.

Hence the dream of communism lurks in every modern society as a racial memory of a simpler and more equal life; and where inequality or insecurity rises beyond sufferance, men welcome a return to a condition which they idealize by recalling its equality and forgetting its poverty. Periodically the land gets itself redistributed, legally or not, whether by Gracchi in Rome, the Jacobins in France, or the Communists in Russia; periodically wealth is redistributed, whether by the violent confiscation of property, or by confiscatory taxation of incomes and bequests. Then the race for wealth, goods and power begins again, and the pyramid of ability takes form once more; under whatever laws may be enacted the abler man manages somehow to get the richer soil, the better place, the lion's share; soon he is strong enough to dominate the state and rewrite or interpret the laws; and in time the inequality is as great as before. In this aspect all economic history is the slow heart-beat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of naturally concentrating wealth and naturally explosive revolution."
Bb - Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - 5:27pm (USA Central)
Wow, it's like middle school debate all over again.
Nick - Sun, Feb 2, 2014 - 8:21pm (USA Central)
Poor episode, even by Voyager standards.

Now, as for this 'debate' I give kudos to Petrus for FINALLY mentioning that the Federation exists in a POST-SCARCITY society. Complete energy to matter conversion, replicators, transporters... in other words, unlimited energy and resources.

What is left when you don't need to waste your precious time fighting for resources? Fight for an ideology! The ideology of the Federation is the one we all know, spoken by William Shatner some 45 years ago now. Those in the Federation can join this crusade for peaceful pursuit of knowledge of the universe, or they can choose to be a regular citizen to pursue their own ideas; within the bounds of civilized norms.

I think, to be a good citizen in the Star Trek universe, one would need a heavy dose of empathy, patience, tolerance, and an innate disposition to accept and/or try new ideas. Perhaps they were all heavily medicated? ;)

Lastly, the problem with Communism is that there's never been a true communist country. So called communist countries are usually totalitarian police states.
Peremensoe - Mon, Feb 3, 2014 - 5:49am (USA Central)
At the largest scale, the Federation is not post-scarcity. They do not have unlimited energy and resources. Replication may be super-efficient precision manufacturing, for example, but it still needs inputs.
Nick - Mon, Feb 3, 2014 - 7:32am (USA Central)
I suppose, if we go by what we see in the various TV shows, the Federation still needs to source dilithium crystals to run their ships. This necessitates the need to constantly find new suppliers. On one level this makes a good hook for many storylines, but it doesn't make much sense logically. What about solar/fusion/any other number of power generation technology?

Indeed, humanity as depicted in the 24th century is surprisingly UN-advanced. Where is the army of automated robots? Why aren't there millions of 'Data' clones doing menial tasks? So much of what is depicted in the Federation should be completely automated. Why are the computers in starships less reliable than 'manual control'? In modern aircraft, the pilot's role has essentially been reduced to babysitting the auto-pilot.

If we extrapolate our current rate of advancement with space exploration robotics (ie. Mars and lunar rovers), we'll have the solar system teeming with automated robots with sophisticated AI in two hundred years - probably a lot sooner!

Back to post-scarcity, the big assumption one must make about the Federation is that people have moved beyond the NEED for material possessions. It's like everyone is living the life of a billionaire, able to procure anything on a whim, so all that is left is their individual motivation to improve one's self, and/or work with other like minded individuals to push the boundaries of awareness - whether it be through scientific, artistic, metaphysical ect...

This is why I find DS9's big baddies, the shapeshifters motivation to wipe out all 'solid' life forms more than a little silly. The universe is infinite right? Why not just construct generation ships then head to an unpopulated part of the galaxy? No need to perpetrate mass genocide. Indeed, in post-scarcity societies, the motivation to push one ideology upon another looks rather pointless.

IMO, the best of Trek strives to pit the ideals of the Federation up against other competing visions (ie. Romulan domination, Klingon war-mongering, Ferengi runaway capitalism, Borg suppression of individuality)... these 'conflicts' makes for compelling human drama.

I'm just not so sure about the realism of the outcomes most of the time.
DavidK - Mon, Feb 3, 2014 - 8:39am (USA Central)
@Nick

You can tell the whole moneyless future, limitless resources thing really writes them into a corner. They have to make replicated food "not as good as the real thing" to justify people sourcing fresh ingredients, or even cooking at all. The list of unreplicatable goods is kept long and vague so the Enterprise can be rushing some random medicine to another planet as a plot device. In a world where you could replicate anything, the only really valuable objects would be the spare parts for when the replicator breaks down (maybe all colonies have two as a failsafe).

The replicators do have to build things out of something though, so I suppose the very act of collecting raw matter would be enough to drive an economy of a sorts (just a really efficient one where you can turn anything into anything). And the process of replicating itself requires energy, which isn't limitless, so there's that I suppose.

It does keep it all relatable too. It'd be hard to really comprehend or relate to the dilemmas facing a society that can create food, medicine, anything at a whim.

But yes as you point out, it's interesting that Star Trek barely touches things like mass-producing robots or genetic engineering or cybernetics (beyond Data, Bashir and Geordi, respectively). It's like these things just...didn't happen, in *any* of the major societies, as far as we can see. Even if it's not the "Starfleet way" and there's some Treaty of Shortsightedness that blocks it, I imagine someone like the Romulans would *love* an army of vision enhanced cyborgs. The Cardassians could have used drones in the labour camps mining dilithium, made the occupation much smoother!
Peremensoe - Tue, Feb 4, 2014 - 5:10pm (USA Central)
"Back to post-scarcity, the big assumption one must make about the Federation is that people have moved beyond the NEED for material possessions. It's like everyone is living the life of a billionaire, able to procure anything on a whim..."

No, this assumption is false. Federation citizens, and especially Starfleet personnel, may have a 'rich' median compared to our Earth, but they are assuredly not all billionaire-equivalents. Poverty may have been eliminated on Earth, but not everywhere. Work is still necessary for survival. Resource exploitation is still necessary: for example, there is mining, and the relative efficiency of different mining methods is significant ("The Quality of Life"); this wouldn't make any sense at all if replication equaled unlimited free stuff. And THERE IS MONEY.
Steinway - Thu, Feb 6, 2014 - 10:17am (USA Central)
One thing that I thought really helped set up this episode was the beginning with the Tom and B'Elanna in the movie theater watching the cheesy horror movie. I looked at the whole thing through the lens of a schlocky horror movie, and it actually worked pretty well.

I thought Tim Russ was great in this episode – I really liked his acting. He got to show a bigger range and it was nice.

I didn't mind that I could guess early on who did it. I appreciate that there are some episodes where the audience is surprised and it's not revealed until the end, and that's fine. But there's other episodes where the audience is "in on the secret" and that can be fun too. You're watching, knowing what's going on, and waiting for everybody else on TV to catch up. I don't have a problem with that.

One nitpick I just have to point out is the goofy scene where they're looking at the images in the holodeck – Tuvok asks the computer where he was at a certain time. Wow! That's handy! Why didn't they just ask the computer in the first place who is in the holiday at that time? So the computer stores the locations of every crewmember at every moment?

And, just to chime in on the political discussion, I'll add another viewpoint to the mix. I am a Catholic who would love to live under a monarchy! Ha ha. It seems like many of us have the same experience – we watched Star Trek originally when we were young and idealistic. We didn't have a problem going with utopian ideals that were presented. Then, we got older and formed our own opinions and were influenced by our surroundings. Now, we like Star Trek for other reasons – and mostly overlook the utopian stuff. I watch Star Trek for the human virtues – loyalty, courage, friendship, wonder and awe at the universe, etc. Those are the things that keep me coming back.
Josh - Thu, Feb 6, 2014 - 10:53am (USA Central)
Just to agree with the above, I do find that my "utopian" Trek-based idealism has faded over the years, and really did so a long time ago. That being said, I still prefer an optimistic future to a dystopian one, and one thing that I was always wished we saw more of was 24th Century Earth. How do regular people live? Are only Starfleet people routinely in space? If Sisko had left Starfleet in "Emissary" as he planned, what would he have done?

We can have a better society while acknowledging that a few hundred years isn't going to fundamentally change people. We do respond to our environment tremendously, but the oft-derided "anti-Trek" on DS9 reacted against the idea of the New Federation Man, putting it in the context of a post-scarcity society that maybe isn't all that lacking scarcity. Or politics. But we had a lot of that on TNG too (Hello Admiral Satie!).
Chris P - Sat, Feb 8, 2014 - 1:59am (USA Central)
"One nitpick I just have to point out is the goofy scene where they're looking at the images in the holodeck – Tuvok asks the computer where he was at a certain time. Wow! That's handy! Why didn't they just ask the computer in the first place who is in the holiday at that time? So the computer stores the locations of every crewmember at every moment?"

The five minute version of this episode:

Janeway: "Computer - who was in this holodeck concurrent to Ensign Tabor?"

Computer: "Tuvok, Paris, and Torres."

Janeway: "Security - escort Mr. Tuvok to the brig. We'll try a novel new approach to apprehending suspects this time: don't allow the suspect to retain his comm badge and don't give him a phaser with which to escape. Oh and also put him behind bars instead of a force field, since our ship loses power almost every week due to some anomaly or Hard Headed Alien. He'll work his problems out from within his cell, having only mindfucked one of our crew."

*End credits roll eight minutes into the episode*
Ric - Sun, Jun 1, 2014 - 2:14am (USA Central)
I fully agree with Jammer on the emptiness of this episode. It was really pointless and not even entertaining.

Actually, the whole debate on Communism in the comments above was far more entertaining than the episode. Although just as pointless in the most part, since a priori Manichean ideas of anything do never serve any good purpose. A shame that we are still so 21st century-ish.
The Professor - Sat, Jun 7, 2014 - 5:51pm (USA Central)
"A Bajoran maniac in the Alpha Quadrant sends a hidden message in a letter to Tuvok which subconsciously triggers buried brainwashing that was therapeutically programmed into Tuvok seven years ago when he was an undercover infiltrator of the Maquis. This prompts Tuvok, unaware of his own actions, to engage in a mission to mind-program other former-Maquis members of the crew to seize control of Voyager. Yes."

This ranks among the greatest statements in all the internet.
Nic - Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - 5:59pm (USA Central)
I find this episode is comparable to TNG’s « Genesis »: it opens so many cans of worms that the series is not willing to address (in this case, how easy it is for the Maquis crew members' minds to be manipulated and then de-manipulated) in order to devote 5 minutes of screen time to events that we weren’t interested in seeing in the first place. WHY?

The only worthwhile thing to come out of this episode is that we finally learn the name of Chakotay’s Maquis ship: the Val Jean. I thought this was a nice bit of continuity with DS9's Maquis arc (Eddington mentioned he was a fan of Les Misérables in "For the Uniform" and that he saw himself as the Val Jean to Sisko's Javert).
Sean - Tue, Jul 29, 2014 - 11:42pm (USA Central)
This episode is trolling. I swear. It's trolling people who actually wanted Voyager to be good. It had so much promise. But it settled for mediocrity.

This episode not only has the long wanted mutiny that would have been fantastic near the beginning of the show, but it also has a line by one of the Maquis that would have made a good story in its own right: Starfleet telling Janeway to arrest the Maquis. It's basically just saying "Hey look at the plot threads we could have done to make Voyager a good show! Are you happy now?" Ugh.

I wonder if Voyager's writers actually had a long leash they could have made something good like DS9. Although the way Berman and Braga write, I highly doubt that. Perhaps if Moore and Piller had been in charge.
Elliott - Tue, Jul 29, 2014 - 11:58pm (USA Central)
@Sean: plots don't make a show good. Any story can be great or terrible, it's about the execution. The writers were under no obligation to play fan service and please the base.

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