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Old August 6 2010, 12:48 AM   #6
Re: Worldbuilding: New member integration in the UFP

Okay, still going.

After First Contact

After First Contact, the situation really becomes specific to the people who FC was made with. If planetary leadership decides upon limited knowledge, that is maintained by the Federation until: A. It becomes impracticable to maintain (for example by the advance of local sensor technology); B. The population finds out somehow; C. The local leadership decides to reveal things.

The Federation prefers option C and tries to slowly, gently, and understandingly encourage it, albeit at a local pace - it really does help everybody involved. There are extremely rare cases where First Contact was made with planetary governments in the early days of the UFP and the planetary public still has not been informed (or gained knowledge) as of 2383, over 220 years later. These and similar cases drive the Federation nuts in private, especially Starfleet Command, but the decision always winds up the same: It's the local leadership's choice. Nobody wants to really imagine what would happen if a planetary population under such conditions, especially where the deception had lasted longer than a local generation or two, had the reality "shoved in their face"; social instability would be a given, societal collapse and worse a real possibility. [Some cultures will simply never be ready for the general population to learn of the existence of extraterrestrial life, despite having FTL travel as a possibility. It would simply upend everything to no good.] The Federation thus works with the local leadership to give them a fighting chance at maintaining plausible deniability for as long as possible, preferring to ease a world into the knowledge of extraterrestrial life's existence.

That said, most planetary leaderships that choose not to reveal things to their public do so for a rather more limited time, or at least manage to do so only for more limited times. If Option C isn't picked, eventually Option A becomes inevitable for most planets, and the local leadership has to admit they knew since limited FC was made, resulting in some level of public distrust. The Federation plans and prepares for this option with every culture that chooses to limit knowledge of First Contact. They don't like it too much, but they can plan and be ready for it, often they'll have a degree of warning before the reality becomes apparent to the population, or if it's possible, they'll warn the leadership and the situation becomes a forced Option C.

Option B, though, nobody likes. Not the UFP, not the local leadership, and especially not the population. The population, at first, doesn't take it seriously. (If it were you, would you take it seriously?) Nonetheless, distrust builds. Eventually, the truth becomes impossible to deny and the population either turns on the local leadership (and sometimes the UFP as well), or just plain loses it. What's worst is that Option B tends to come out of the blue, in ways nobody can plan for. (In at least one case, public knowledge and confirmation of First Contact only occurred because of a political sex scandal on the target world. Cue the species equivalents of a facepalm among Federation officials, and a hurculean effort to rescue things on the part of FDS and Starfleet.)

However it resolves, though, in the vast majority of cases First Contact becomes publicly known and confirmed within a few Earth-standard years.

The Federation, in confirming their existence (whether in a planned or unplanned fashion, and whether upon initial FC or the "rollback" of limited First Contact later), tries for a few objectives:

1. Not overturning local society if they can avoid it. This is taken extremely seriously by Federation personnel involved in First Contact - those who don't at first, who're assigned thinking they can just make everybody like them or the Federation because they're 'more advanced', are "encouraged" to imagine what it would be like on their homeworld had the knowledge of ET life not be handled delicately. (Answer: It's been surprisingly rarely, in the overall scheme of things, that First Contact has not occurred both when a society is ready and with extreme delicacy on both sides. When that has not been the case, well...See the Pakleds for an admittedly extreme example of how all hell can break loose. Nobody, not even the Ferengi, really wants to repeat that - hence why most spacefaring cultures tend only to bother/conquer/interfere with societies that already have FTL travel. Sure, societies that don't are easier to slurp up - but the hell that it creates is considerable.) The point is usually made.

2. Not creating a cargo cult: Religion is okay. Most societies in the UFP have a majority or at least a sizable minority who still hold to religious beliefs and practice. Cargo cults, though (defined imprecisely for our purposes as "Worshiping people who are not deities, know they aren't deities, and are not necessarily trying to be or impersonate deities"), make everybody involved with First Contact in the UFP (whether they personally believe in a higher power or not) squirm. The line the UFP presents to newly contacted species (and tries very hard to practice with newly contacted species, so as not to cause point 1) is basically thus: "Religion, believing in a deity or deities or a higher power or whatnot, is totally okay. Lots of Federation citizens hold to religion, and that's fine. Practicing religion is okay; lots of Federation citizens practice religion with varying degrees of fervor, and all of that's okay, too. We don't try to say whether there is or is not a God or Goddess or plural of either. People believe or not as they will. But, and this is really important, we are not deities. We are not trying to be, we don't want to be. No other civilization we know of is or (except for one civilization far away that we'll get into explaining later) wants to be, even if they might try to make you think they are because they think you're suckers. Please do not worship us...Or anybody else who might come by in a spacecraft, either. That's a quick clue they're not God, actually: God would have no need of a starship."

3. Not freaking out the locals (any more than they're inevitably going to anyway): Kinda obvious, ties in with points 1 and 2.

Importantly, they do not try for specific political, social, cultural, or other objectives. It never works the way you intend when you try, it'll often produce something even worse than the starting condition if you try, and when the locals find out or figure out what you're doing (as they inevitably do), it seriously angers them, basically without exception, even if they agree with you.

What will the UFP do then, after First Contact?

If it hasn't been revealed to the public, not much. They don't even advise the target world's leadership to set up a planetary defense force (especially in space), because it's too difficult to explain if it's found out without revealing everything in a very unpredictable way. They mostly keep the planet under watch (with the leadership's knowledge), they inconspicuously assume a defensive posture around the planet to keep out intruders/invaders/raiders/space amoebae, and they keep communications with the leadership going.

If it has been revealed to the public, there are standardized plans, including that:

1. Every national (or supra-national) government gets diplomatic representation from the UFP of some sort, including consular representation.
2. UFP advisors work with governments on humanitarian and economic aid projects, the projects carefully controlled so that no region outpaces others by too much in terms of technological adoption. The pace will still probably be dizzying, but everybody will be mostly even.
3. Federation diplomats very discreetly help settle conflicts and keep settled conflicts peaceful - the emphasis on discretion is key, as nobody likes the idea of "the aliens" even remotely seeming to interfere with "our problems". Even more rarely, as when criminal elements wage guerrila warfare (see narco-traffickers, FARC in Colombia, or the Taliban in Afghanistan for Earth examples), Starfleet will help government maintain the peace (not by putting "boots on the ground", but by providing things like orbital surveillance) to allow diplomatic or law enforcement efforts to work once areas are under control.
4. Federation educational advisors, working extremely slowly (often over generations), help integrate Federation knowledge into local education.
5. As the planet is readier (ie, so nobody freaks out or gets suckered by the Ferengi), contact with the galaxy is slowly expanded with Federation help.

These efforts are classified bureaucratically as "short term", but what "short term" means can vary tremendously in timelines. It's not unknown, or uncommon, for "short term" efforts to last decades.

During this time, the planet is (sometimes officially, but just as often implicitly and unofficially) a Federation protectorate - it has total control "internally", over its own species, own governments, own societies, but looks to the Federation for everything to do with spaceborne defense (it's the rare planet without FTL that has a space defense force), interstellar relations, and generally everything else to do with the wider galaxy. They can pull out of this relationship at any time, but it basically never happens at this point - the planet is too dependent on Federation help, and knows it.

This phase is wrapped up with when:
1. Politically, the planet has (ideally) a single stable government with authority over the entire territory held by the species on planet and beyond the planet, or an intergovernmental organization that can do the same thing. There might still be conflicts here or there, some perhaps barely under control, but no wars breaking out;
2. Technologically, all of the planet's inhabited regions are at roughly the standards held by Earth's most recovered regions in 2100;
3. Socially, the planet is still getting used to the existence of extraterrestrial life, but isn't going to collapse or go bonkers; [to use the layman's term]
4. Economically, hunger and deprivation may not be eliminated, but there aren't any regions that are outright suffering.

Medium term projects are mostly an advancement of short term projects.

In the medium term:

1. Starfleet works with the stable world government (or IGO with the power to be as effective) to establish a defense force for the system, with native starship design and construction under Federation tutelage, and local training of crews; [The idea is that they can fend off pirates and other small threats on their own, and enforce governmental authority throughout the system; anything bigger is still a Starfleet issue]
2. FDS works to "firm up" the existing structures into a single world government - this rarely takes less than 50 years if a single world government does not exist when First Contact is made, and Earth's 80 years (from First Contact in 2067 to the completion of United Earth in 2150) is doing exceptionally well when compared;
3. "Higher level" technologies such as phasers, matter/antimatter reactors for planetary use (as opposed to "infrastructure-level" fusion reactors, or M/A reactors for space use only) and transporters are very slowly and cautiously introduced over time, with the idea of allowing the population to get used to the technology at their own pace; [You don't want to overwhelm people, lest there be a backlash.]
4. Trade is, with Federation assistance, begun with nearby systems;
5. The educational system more fully melds local knowledge and traditions and customs with Federation knowledge, including a local base for tertiary-level education;

During this phase, the Federation works very slowly and deliberately to integrate the planet with the local interstellar community; There are ample cases of worlds that tried to do too much too fast in this phase and were overwhelmed societally, sometimes backsliding from achieved progress as a result...sometimes disastrously so.

Politically, this is when FDS starts to talk, very experimentally, about the world, "at some future point", possibly considering Federation membership, or becoming an independent member of the galactic community. Basically, this is when Federation answers to the planetary leadership's questions on the matter become more than "We'll talk about that when you're ready" and start to talk about the general idea as something that, in generations, might happen.

Militarily, this is when Starfleet works on establishing an embryonic space defense force, capable of short-range operations in small ships that, nonetheless, are warp capable. Basically, they aren't about to implode politically or societally unless something goes very wrong, so Starfleet is willing to think about training them to do basic tasks themselves. Officers and command crews may come from planetary military forces on an internationally-integrated basis (the most common scenario), or they may be trained from civilians by Starfleet (a lot harder and far less common); Enlisted personnel are generally trained by Starfleet directly.

Medium-term wraps up when:

1. There's a single world government, capable of commanding a small space fleet that can exercise authority over the solar system, fend off pirates, and so forth;
2. Trade is regular with local systems, and beginning over longer ranges;
3. Technology-wise, transporters and other technology of roughly 2200-era Earth are in use on a planetary scale;
4. Crime is controlled and rarely a threat to governmental authority except in localized areas;
5. Society is used to extraterrestrial life as a general rule;
6. There's the beginnings of a local education base of Federation quality;
7. Hunger and outright poverty are still possible for individuals, but rare on larger levels.

Next post will deal with long-term stuff.
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