Economic Literacy in Fiction
| Peter Klein |
I blogged previously about the silly and boring political economy of the Star Trek universe (quoting Tim Cavanaugh’s brilliant line about Captain Kirk as “an interstellar Gen. Tommy Franks”). For those nerdy, libertarian sci-fi fans out there I offer now this analysis of the economic organization of Star Trek: Deep Space 9.
Speaking of high culture, what about that community in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village? It’s a small town in the wilderness, completely cut off from the social division of labor, and yet the inhabitants have decent (19th-century) technology — buildings, tools, clothing, etc. (If you’ve seen the film, you know that the inhabitants actually have more advanced technological knowledge than they pretend to have, but still….) There is specialization within the village, and a little private property, but no evidence of money, prices, or exchange. How do they survive? Don’t these villagers know that trade is better than autarky? How do they solve the calculation problem? I can willingly suspend my disbelief only so far.