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Ferengi Rules of Acquisition: Cultural Philosophy or Profit Propaganda?

Rules Of Acquisition, a profiteering golden set of directives, govern over the Ferengi race.  Deep Space Nine fans are familiar with Quark and Rom – the two bickering brothers running the bar on the Promenade.  Ferengi obey and even live like money mongering monks according to these rules.  Their leader, the Nagus, a kind of Pope of Profit, enforces these parameters in the hopes that every Ferengi will profit mightily.  Once the prime profit rolls in for the masses, the Ferengi Empire’s coffers will become substantial to overflowing.  

It’s a nifty little financial, cultural arrangement and this colorful society strives to live and operate in business by following this strict code.  But are these rules merely financially savvy propaganda?  Does the Nagus and his profit motivated empire use these rules as a sort of brainwashing propaganda – keeping the hard working masses sniffing for gold pressed latinum at every opportunity?

Quark – The Working Man’s Ferengi

Quark may come across as a flashy entrepreneur.  He’s certainly not poor, but he’s basically a barkeep – running a moderately sized pub and casino.  Yes, his holosuites and various shady side businesses put more gold pressed latinum in his safe than many common Ferengi, but he still has to pull a work shift.  All that, and deal with Sisko and the Federation’s monitoring and meddling.

He dreams of a better life – one where he doesn’t have to put up with the dopey shenanigans of his brother, Rom, who while may be dim on the surface, surprises everyone in the end at just how resourceful and sharp he can be. 

Rules of Acquisition enable the uninitiated to take a peek inside the complicated Ferengi mind.  Here are just a select few of the more choice Ferengi ROA.

  • Ferengi are not responsible for the stupidity of other races.
  • Knowledge equals profit.
  • Home is where the heart is… but the stars are made of latinum.
  • Every so often, declare peace. It confuses the hell out of your enemies.
  • If you break it, I’ll charge you for it!
  • Beware of the Vulcan greed for knowledge.

I actually wrote for Deep Space Nine.  My own contribution to the Star Trek:DS9 galactic mythos is a Ferengi centric episode – Prophet Motive.  In it, the Nagus – influenced by the enigmatic Prophets – becomes charitable, much to the absolute horror of Quark and other Ferengi.  Will the empire become wildly unstable?  Will he give away all the latinum to needy causes?  You’ll have to watch to find out.  

It’s a clear bet that the Rules of Acquisition for Ferengi have molded their society for many centuries.  It’s hard to change, but here’s one rule that may give us hope to make a difference.  Rule #56 – There is no substitute for success.  That could mean many things, and maybe, just maybe, it will translate into a spiritual awakening and be a success for not only the Ferengi – but all who do business with them.