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I've written about Star Trek in this context before, but I feel I was neither precise, nor particularly analytical about why a guy like Gene Roddenberry would even make a show like this, so I'm going to attempt to do so now, given that the questionably-socialist magazine, Current Affairs--which often advanced a misunderstanding of Trek as a model for non-Marxist utopian socialism-, is imploding.
By his wife's admission, Roddenberry heavily identied as a Maoist towards the end of his life, and frankly, it makes a lot of sense: The utopia of the Federation was one always depicted as not only full of poverty and violence and corruption, particularly from within Starfleet, itself. The captains (most notably Kirk, Picard, and Sisko) often being the ones to uncover a superior's malfeasance and either go rogue to correct the matter, or speak to a larger injustice about the role of military, state, and democratic principle in a free society.
It wasn't a model of utopia, it was a Maoist critique of the role of ongoing revolution in forming a propsperous society– declaring the Federation post-scarcity because it was post-currency is an example of declaring the war fought and won, rather than a perpetual struggle against imperialist, and by extension, capitalist tendency. Examples of this include Sisko uncovering a coup attempt in the early days of the Dominion War, Picard in "Conspiracy" or in the So'na subplot of Insurrection, even Janeway (who is conflicted more than most, because of the nature of that spin-off's setup) in deciding to unilaterally avoid aligning with foreign powers that might benefit the Federation but not the balance of the quadrant they are withdrawing from simply by improving material conditions for parties opportunistically.
I believe some of this reflects the true experience of its creator itself; Roddenberry, at one time an LAPD officer during a notoriously corrupt time in its long and violent history, believing rhetorhic about meritocracy and public service as a function of material security and learning that none of these things reflect American life in any real way; he decides to pursue show business. We're talking about a disillusioned former cop, making a show about a future where western liberal democracy somehow prevails in a post-nuclear holocaust, and [time elapses] becomes a utopia in name only. Starfleet, time and again, fails to uphold its founding principles, a revolutionary (or a maverick at the very least) must reorganize the people to uphold any purported theory of justice.
In the original piece I wrote on this, I talk about the role of Sisko stepping in for a modified timeline where he must claim he is Gabriel Bell, the leader of an open-air prison uprising in post-millennial San Francisco, who was accidentally killed before he could fulfill his role in history; this episode, of course, was written and produced after Roddenberry's time in leading the franchise had passed, but best demonstrates his point, that struggle is perpetual in the face of corrupt, corporatist autocracy that needs to starve and imprison masses for consensus, rather than have those masses dictate terms to the elite's prevailing order, which sometimes is Starfleet itself.
One such example, one I alluded to earlier, is Sisko's response to attempted Starfleet coup of the Federation president using a false flag to justify declaring martial law. Kirk and Starfleet Commodores on many such occasions, Picard notably in Season 1's "Conspiracy" and again and again virtually anyone at the Admiral rank or above. The Maquis storyline demonstrates this excellently; Federation colonists aren't bargaining chips, but they're not treated as people in the negotiations with any number of parties the Federation cuts deals with regarding ceded territories following any number of wars (of which there are many throughout the chronology, in many cases where the Federation is an equal participant, if not a willing agitator). Roddenberry's vision concludes that conflict is not always war, which need not necessarily be offensive to be unjust, which is separate from revolution.
It's almost combative of the perils of context collapse; not every circumstance is viewable through a familiar lense, and justice isn't always the western liberalized (Federation) justice counterrevolutionaries might assume, and intervene. That, even within the Federation, planets like Tasha Yar's "rape gang"-dominated colony exist, war is near perpetual, and these are wars of conquest and territory, but only when colonists militarize to defend their interests when their government will not, are they branded terrorists and indiscriminately violent, is a highly variable societal narrative depending on how you choose to view these things. Love or hate the Maquis, it's the most post-Roddenberry plot element that spans all 3 TOS spin-offs that best represents what he was all about: What if we don't know what we think we know about justice and peace and prosperity, and how these things are accomplished?
That the Star Trek universe is described as utopian, and it's meant as a good thing, is typically evidenced by the fact that it's post-currency (but not post-scarcity) and that it's post war (which it's demonstrably not), despite being openly hostile to populism and any class of citizen it seems subhuman (thus why they can say it leaves no one behind, when ideologically, those it does cease to qualify); it misses the critique inherent to the very existence of most conflict between the protagonists and the establishment. This is classic utopian framing, and Roddenberry's critique first and foremost attacks this notion; much like the social model favored by Fourier, where the phalanstery, when viewed practically through other facts inherent to Fourier's belief system, must be sustained by someone and who else but a serf class populated by someone the theorist deemed subhuman (in Fourier's case and that of most progressive-coded social models advanced by the French, Jews and African slaves). In the Federation's case, this mean there was rampant scarcity for supplies from worlds it would neglect to visit for decades, rampant gangsterismo, and mass death because, frankly, it was an imperial project that wrote checks its policy couldn't cash, and to watch a series like Deep Space Nine you realize there are many who believe that, perhaps, these people were not saving to preserve their own way of life. It's all subtext and metaphor for contemporary, not historical, events.
I won't litigate plot points much further (ever Trek fan in existence has done so ad nauseum), but the recent revisionism of the franchise as a complete, wholesale endorsement or vision of a possible utopia is a false one, drawn perhaps by the marketing for it itself, but the content speaks to anything but. I find it frustrating because, in the wake of a certain leftist publication's recent flame out, one that promotes a non-Marxist utopian ideal (shocker why a worker co-op misunderstood to be "doing socialism" failed to topple anything, let alone its leader who I don't even think was necessarily wrong in rejecting this proposition), this was a framing of the series many of its staff would cite as cause for hope for a future of fully-automated luxury utopia. My point being that this sort of conflation with worker organizing or ownership inside capitalism with socialism, or socialist organizing, finds few better examplars of this tendency as this interpretation of Star Trek. Interpretting media matters because it is a reflection of the society that produces it, much more so than the society that consumes it; I won't even saw it was unclear in its framing of issues, it's literally what happens on screen, in dialogue, etc. it's an audience hellbent on misunderstanding aesthetics for materiality, and misunderstanding it may validate, logically, their beliefs but advances it 0%, which is perhaps the point of denying a piece of media's true intention and nature.
See you in orbit.