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Old August 10 2010, 06:38 AM   #24
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Location: Montgomery County, State of Maryland
Re: Worldbuilding: New member integration in the UFP

Penta, I'm usually on the same page as you (even if I quibble at details here or there), but I have some fundamental disagreements with some of the ideas you're presenting here.

Penta wrote: View Post
[They may think they're ready. You may think, for a minute, they're ready. Truth is, no species is ever truly ready to find out they aren't alone in the cosmos, and it's doubtful any ever would be.]
The problem with this notion is that real history defies it. The world's cultures spent most of history coming into contact with strange and alien cultures whose common humanity they did not immediately recognize. The cultures that exist today are the descendants of cultures that were routinely making first contact with cultures that they considered the equivalent to what we would call extraterrestrial today.

And guess what? It didn't shatter any society to come into contact with cultures it believed to be non-human or otherworldly.

Penta wrote: View Post
10. Limit how much they have to take in: Don't use a transporter, use a shuttlecraft if you can, to transport personnel. Don't use a replicator when you can cook real food. In short: When dealing with the target species, limit to the best extent possible how much they have to get used to (at one time) beyond the facts of "there are other species out there" and "those species have FTL travel too". That's plenty to get used to. [I fully imagine that, where the UFP intends to make the first move, they deploy ships that are capable of everything modern operations require, but that can also, for example, not use replicators (and not suggest the existence of same). This helps limit the shock the utterly bewildered locals have to experience, and lets the Federation personnel "ease them in" to the idea of higher technology over timeframes longer than a First Contact.]
I really don't think this is an issue at all. A species that has developed warp technology is going to have already speculated about the possible existence of aliens, and they're inevitably going to have developed the idea that many different technologies far in advance of their own may exist. The only real threshold is finding out with certainty that aliens exist; everything else is just a matter of degree.

Penta wrote: View Post
Okay, still going.
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"),
That's not necessarily an accurate definition of a cargo cult, though. Most cargo cults in 20th Century Pacific island cultures emerged because they believed that the "cargo" (an English translation of a term referring to the advanced technology of the industrial societies) was granted to American and Japanese cultures because they had been blessed by gods or ancestors, and that thus by imitating the actions of American and Japanese soldiers -- copying their morning drills, for instance, or building imitation airfields -- they would be pleasing the gods and thus gain the blessings that had been given to the industrial cultures. In other words, they didn't worship the industrial cultures, but instead believed that the industrial cultures' behaviors were forms of worship of the islanders' gods.

And while there will always be a small minority of nutjobs, it seems highly improbable to me that a society that's already reached industrialization, and then presumably nuclear technology, would contextualize extraterrestrial life as divine.

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.<SNIP>

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.
Pardon me, but at what point does that cease to be about helping an interstellarly inexperienced culture and become a matter of neo-imperialism? Does the Federation also force them to privatize state industries if they want loans?

And why would this be unofficial rather than official, if First Contact has happened and the public knows about it? Surely it would be a violation of the basic principles of democracy and self-determination and political sovereignty for the Federation to make a planet a protectorate without its full, open consent in the form of a treaty with its legitimate government(s).

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;
I don't buy that last part. If there are some conflicts still out there barely under control, then the planet is by definition still politically unstable and disunited, and a flare-up of a local war is inevitable without Federation mediation.

4. Economically, hunger and deprivation may not be eliminated, but there aren't any regions that are outright suffering.
.... how can you logically claim that there are no regions that aren't outright suffering if there's still hunger and deprivation?

Surely whatever else the Federation can do, it can do the simple work of ensuring that no one on the planet is going hungry anymore.

3. Technology-wise, transporters and other technology of roughly 2200-era Earth are in use on a planetary scale;
Erm, the Federation itself wasn't established until 2161. Are you saying that a world isn't ready to even consider Federation Membership until it's progressed beyond the levels Earth had reached when it co-founded the UFP?

Penta wrote: View Post
I agree - there'd be a briefing as to who's in the area, but I also think that the UFP would be very careful in the speed at which it lets the information out. I can only imagine the planetary freaking out that occurs when people learn about the Borg!


Absolutely. Poor choice of words on my part. My intent is that local knowledge is melded with Federation knowledge (for example in the sciences), with Federation knowledge (and just as importantly, access to UFP databases like Memory Alpha - because my God, it'd be a planetwide case of learning too much, too fast, of "Too Much Information" if you just gave out full access in one move!)
You keep returning to this theme of "Don't tell them too much or else they'll freak out." I find that entire concept really disturbing. Governments in real life have a habit of relying on that kind of secrecy as a result of a combination of arrogance and paranoia -- "We can't let the little people know too much, they're not as smart as we are and they might screw everything over." So why's the Federation adopting that attitude?

The basic problem with that entire idea is that it's built on the implicit premise that the Federation is inherently superior to the culture being contacted. More specifically, that its people are inherently to the contacted cultures' people.

I'm sorry, but I really don't see any reason to think that an introduction of knowledge about the galaxy at large would cause social collapse. If anything, it would only increase the likelihood that the populace would start to trust the Federation.

Think about it. They're going to find out at some point that the Federates have been hiding things from them. How is that going to make them trust the Federation? How well will that play?

If the people of the Planet Zog discover that there are these creatures out there called the Borg, and Zog lies within the last two Borg cubes' paths when they tried to assimilate the Alpha Quadrant, and that the Federation tried to hide that fact from them, why exactly should the Zoglians trust them ever again?

It would turn the stomachs of many here on TrekBBS, myself included to a point (I like the idea of knowledge being free), but I'd see knowledge being introduced only with the consent of those "in control" such as planetary governmental and religious authorities - not an "all or nothing" thing, but very carefully delineating what can be introduced to a population over time in what areas. I could see most religions, for example, having no problem with knowledge of warp physics or astronomical knowledge...But they might want to hold back on letting knowledge about the Q filter out, while theologians figure out a response. (Yes, I am saying that the Federation would reluctantly assist in censorship. Not because they like it, but because it would be a necessity.
Why? Because the elites are ever so much cleverer than the masses?

Could you possibly be more elitist?

The simple fact of the matter is that to unleash everything at once, on principle, would rip most societies apart. Censorship of anything may often be distasteful to "liberalized" minds such as ours, but the Federation has no interest in seeing First Contact (or the introduction of new things after FC) cause revolutions or societal upheavals. That rarely ends well for the planets that undergo them, and, purely self-interestedly, it probably leads the locals to blame the Federation for introducing everything.)
When Gandhi was demanding that the British leave India, the British response was often that if they left, it would tear India apart. It would be war and chaos and death. It would be a mess.

"Yes," Gandhi said. "But it would be our mess."

The Federation shouldn't be in the business of holding information back that doesn't itself threaten Federation security. If it isn't classified, it should be available to the Zoglians. It has no particular need to volunteer everything, and maybe they don't hook up everyone to the Memory Alpha database, but if Zogvard University asks for a copy of the Encyclopedia Federationea, it should be given to them. If the University of Zaggit-Zagoo wants to send an exchange delegation to the Vulcan Science Academy, Academia Andoria, and Oxford University, then they should be welcomed.

And it should be up to each society to figure out for itself how to assimilate that knowledge. If they're treated with respect, as equals, I doubt it would cause the sort of social chaos you're describing.

Like I said, the big thing is just finding out that aliens exist (and even that won't be that big an issue, since the Zoglians will have had the experience in the past of geographically isolated Zoglians discovering one-another and thinking of one-another as un-Zoglian at first). Everything else is just details.

being introduced first in and through universities, then secondary schools, then primary schools
? Aside from the basic fact that aliens exist, I really don't see why primary education would need to be altered all that much. The primary influences would be on secondary and tertiary education systems.

T'Girl wrote: View Post
1. Every national (or supra-national) government gets diplomatic representation from the UFP of some sort, including consular representation.
When Humanity first traveled into space, Humanity didn't, Russia did. When Humanity first traveled to the moon, Humanity didn't, America did. If the breaking the light barrier is analogous to breaking the sound barrier, it not hard to imagine a world with a wide diversity of technological levels and (I'm sorry) civilization levels. So why would the Federation contact the entire world?/QUOTE]

Can you imagine the reaction (politically, diplomatically, strategically) if you only let some nations on Earth have contact with Extraterrestrial Life, while denying the rest of the species knowledge of that fact, or contact with the ETs?

Come on, T'Girl. I don't generally call out a fellow poster directly, but while I know you enough to trust that you mean well, that sounds more than a little disingenuous. You and I both know that if that were done or even suspected to be occurring, and it were even suspected that there was "preferential treatment" happening (as it inevitably would be suspected), all hell would break loose. Not even because of the fact of contact, but because of the possibility of advantages to be gained in a political/military sense.
I'm with Penta on this one. The Federation would need to treat all polities equally.

(I really disliked First Contact (the movie)'s depiction of Cochrane as basically a guy working out of a garage - the development of FTL travel would require national-level resources at a minimum.
Cochrane was working out of a United States Air Force missile silo with converted ICBMs. It seems pretty obvious to me that he probably at least started the project out with government backing. Indeed, the First Contact novelization and, later, the Lost Era novel The Sundered establish that Cochrane began working on the project with federal backing; the project was sidetracked when World War III broke out and the U.S. government became nonfunctional, but with help from asteroid colonies established twenty years before the war and financial backing from Indonesian investors, he eventually got the warp project back on track, albeit without a government to back it.
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