Is Captain Kirk a communist?
According to a July 24 essay in the New York Times - and despite such an idea seeming, as Mr. Spock would say, illogical - the answer is yes.
M. Gittlitz, “a writer from Brooklyn who specializes in counterculture and radical politics,” argues that the space adventure “Star Trek” was inspired by an Argentine communist named J. Posadas. In an opinion piece titled 'Make it So': 'Star Trek' and Its Debt to Revolutionary Socialism, Gittilitz lays out his theory.
In the midst of the worldwide worker and student uprisings in 1968, the Argentine Trotskyist leader known as J. Posadas wrote an essay proposing solidarity between the working class and the alien visitors. He argued that their technological advancement indicated they would be socialists and could deliver us the technology to free Earth from the grip of Yankee imperialism and the bureaucratic workers’ states.
Such views were less fringe and more influential than you might think. Beginning in 1966, the plot of “Star Trek” closely followed Posadas’s propositions. After a nuclear third world war (which Posadas also believed would lead to socialist revolution), Vulcan aliens visit Earth, welcoming them into a galactic federation and delivering replicator technology that would abolish scarcity. Humans soon unify as a species, formally abolishing money and all hierarchies of race, gender and class.
Sadly, writes Gittlitz, utopian dreams were dashed by the the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, which “signaled a return to late-capitalist dystopian narratives of the future…Two of the most popular sci-fi films of the ’90s were ‘Terminator 2’ and ‘The Matrix,’ which both showcased a world in which capital had triumphed and its machinery would not liberate mankind, but govern it.”
The essay is one in the Times’s series Red Century, “about the history and legacy of Communism 100 years after the Russian Revolution.”
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