Do political systems evolve with economic progress? In a lot of sci-fi movies you don't see government evolve with technology and economy, but in Star Trek, I believe, the political system ended up turning into a socialist system given that economic limitations slowly disappeared with technological advances such that they became socialist although private property exists. Was there any theoretical framework made to understand the relationship between economic progress and political development?

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    It may be helpful to know that some folks in this philosophical area distinguish between personal property and private property. As I understand this world view, owning a picture of your family is personal property and is ok, but owning a factory is private property and is not ok. Commented Jul 17, 2021 at 3:52
  • @JoelHarmon Yes. People think many strange things.
    – puppetsock
    Commented Jul 19, 2021 at 19:35

3 Answers 3


Of course things evolve with economic progress. I'll give two examples: Slavery and education level.

Regarding slavery: Until three of four hundred years ago, slavery was a very widely accepted practice. Economic progress made slaves a burden rather than an asset. Slavery is universally denounced nowadays (but it still does exist).

Regarding education: Until two or three hundred years ago, having a ninth grade education meant one was well educated, and a having twelfth grade education meant one was extremely well educated. Economic progress has made those count as undereducated and barely educated nowadays (but high school dropouts do still exist).


The current economic system has many elements which require faith in the rule of law.

  • Consider currencies. It used to be that the king's minting of coin was a promise that the coin had true weight and purity. Today there are fiat currencies. That's necessary since limiting the money pool to the supply of specie is crippling for an economy.
  • Consider joint-stock companies. The idea that there can be a partnership where one partner can sell the shares without consulting or even informing the others. Startups collect venture capital to try fresh ideas, from people who can trust that their money might be mis-invested, but not outright embezzled.

That is difficult with a system which depends on personal, feudal ties to a king.


Different forms of governments have appeared historically in correspondence with the prevailing economic conditions and technological advances of the period. For example, after the Romans reached certain level of economic, technological and military development, they entered an expansionist phase for which the Roman senate was inefficient as compared to the dictatorship of Caesar and the emperors. Also, after the industrial revolution, the emergence of the bourgeoisie lead to the modern liberal democracies. The failed socialist republics of the 20th centuries didn't achieved the level of technological advances required to realize the socialist economy, and they brought highly oppressive forms of government in order to establish socio-political stability (which still happens in Cuba and China irrespective of their economic disparities).

There is no socialism if the prevailing economic relations derive from private properties according to Marxism. Thus, the fictional social order you see in Star Trek is neither socialism nor communism.

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    yes, private property over the means of productions (according to Marx, Proudhon, etc.) and personal property should be considered different. I hope Star Trek society isn’t socialist/ communist, for then, I’ll looking for political asylum with the Klingon.
    – ajbg
    Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 18:25

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