Work, Wealth, and Purpose in Star Trek

From Alec:

While the topics of work and wealth are not directly discussed within the latest film, the previous Star Trek installments reveal a great deal about these subjects.  When compared with our modern society, it is clear that money in Star Trek plays a very different role. At one point in The Next Generation series, Captain Picard says,

“A lot has changed in the past three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We’ve eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We’ve grown out of our infancy” [1].

While this statement explains why currency plays such an unimportant role throughout the Star Trek saga, it still raises the question, “what is society’s new purpose?” In other words, if humanity is no longer striving to acquire wealth, then what is the motivation of any of the characters in Star Trek? In the 1996 movie Star Trek: First Contact, Captain Picard explains: 

“The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity” [2].

In this way, it is clear that society in the Star Trek universe has become less focused on personal benefit and wealth, and more focused on further advancing humanity. At the end of Into Darkness, this goal is made clear when the Captain’s Oath is recited:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.


[1] Conway, James, dir. “The Neutral Zone.” Star Trek: The Next Generation. 16 May 1988. Television.
[2] Star Trek: First Contact. Dir. Jonathan Frakes. Paramount, 1996.

Featured image taken directly from the movie.