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Old August 5 2011, 03:07 AM   #6
Rush Limborg
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Re: The Federation Must Die.

Sci wrote: View Post
MrBorg wrote: View Post
[rant]
The Federation is corrupt. It needs to be destroyed, and started over again. This time without that Prime Directive bullcrap, without their holier-than-thou attitude, and with a little less pacifism.

[/rant]
You know, I think the Federation is flawed. I agree that it tends to turn a blind eye in the name of not interfering with other cultures' internal affairs, I agree that it's arrogant about its value system, and I agree that one of its goals is to persuade that other cultures should join it.

But to sit there and say that that makes the Federation unworthy of existence?

Please. That's being worse than the Federation itself has ever been.

No culture is perfect; every culture is going to have flaws, some big and some small. It's just part of life.

When we look at the United Federation of Planets, we're looking at a fictional society that is of interstellar scope, yet has universal personal liberty and self-determination; in which there is either no class system or a very weak class system; in which there is no poverty; in which nobody is hungry; in which nobody wants for basic necessities of life; in which civilization and the natural environment co-exist in harmony; in which there is freedom of speech and of the press; in which there is no racism, nor, apparently, speciesism; in which there is no religious bigotry or religious domination; in which diversity is a valued principle, and homogeneity is not seen as superior; in which there is no caste-based discrimination; in which there is an incredibly strong democratic tradition; in which the right of the individual to protection from self-incrimination is venerated; in which there are no giant corporations to dominate the government and subvert democracy; in which there are, however, privately-owned businesses with genuine equality of opportunity; in which people who stand accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty; in which the accused are entitled to a trial by jury of their peers on indictment from a grand jury; in which those found guilty are afforded rehabilitative care rather than the systematic torture we find in most developed countries today; in which local governments have much more forms of guaranteed autonomy than we often find in modern federations; in which the commitment to egalitarian foreign policy is so strong that it bends over backwards to avoid any tendencies towards imperialism.

Does the Federation have major flaws? Of course. All societies do. But the vast majority things that most cultures today get wrong, the Federation gets right -- while not giving up the things we get right today. To say that its flaws, which are modest in comparison to those suffered by the United States and its allies today, mark him as fundamentally corrupt, is just disgusting.

Meanwhile, on the astropolitical scene, it's surrounded by a feudal dictatorship (the Klingon Empire), a aristocratic oligarchy (the Romulan Star Empire), a plutocracy (the Ferengi Alliance), and a military dictatorship (the Cardassian Union). It is clearly superior to its neighbors if someone values liberty, democracy, equality, and justice.

By any reasonable standard, the Federation is a wonderful, amazing society that manages to find a much better balance between personal freedom and egalitarianism than societies in real life do. Does it have flaws? Sure. There will be no society without flaws. But it's a damn sight better than anything that's ever existed in real life, and a damn sight better than its fictional alternatives. I would love to live in a society as free and egalitarian and just as the United Federation of Planets.
While I agree with the essence of Sci's post here (yes, I know--shocking...)--that no society is perfect, and that what the Federation has done right makes it frankly infinitely preferable to the stated alternatives...

Still, there's certainly a challenge to be made here:

there is no racism, nor, apparently, speciesism; in which there is no religious bigotry or religious domination; in which diversity is a valued principle, and homogeneity is not seen as superior; in which there is no caste-based discrimination;
I'm not frankly convinced that this is the case, that the Federation trully has shed bigotry or prejudice. We've seen it in many forms in the Federation and Starfleet--not just in "rogue" villains, but even in our heroes.

We've seen hostility towards Spock because he looks like a Romulan; we've seen Solok taunt Sisko--and are informed as to his mindset that Vulcans are inherently superior to humans. Also, Quark was certainly on to something in "The Jem'Hadar" about human/Federation prejudice towards Ferengi (dramatized fully in the novel The 34th Rule).

While there is no religious "domination"--we see in Picard, and Keiko and Jadzia and Bashir and Jake, a kind of snobbish attitude towards religious beliefs--from Picard's describing the Mintakans' initial abandonment of religion as progress, to Jake's initial description of Bajoran religion as "dumb".

The Federation pays lip service to "diversity"--but, as even Sci says--

I agree that it's arrogant about its value system, and I agree that one of its goals is to persuade that other cultures should join it.
(Frankly, I'd describe the last point as, to be blunt, "imperialism".)

In other words...for all the talk about promotion of "diversity", it is decidedly intolerant about value systems that disagree with its own.

Now--I know, this brings up the classical debate of "Should we tolerate the intolerant? If so, isn't that promoting intolerance--and therefore self-defeating? If not...doesn't refusing to tolerate the intolerant make us intolerant--and therefore, isn't such a stance self-defeating?"

(As it were, this is a reason for my being highly critical of the concept of IDIC--but that's a debate for another time....)

But, all those questions aside--the point is...the Federation is, as Ezri Dax would put it, "A society that is in deep denial about itself."

Now...the "alternatives" to the Federation are frankly brutal, savage, cutthroat--and otherwise immoral. But the UFP has a much deeper problem, in its denial of its own flaws.

It points to all the good in itself--and passes that off as an excuse to behave as though all is well--that it is a paradise, that its has "progressed" beyond the sins of its neighbors. In fact, it hasn't--such problems have merely changed their form, adapting to fit into the society the members of the UFP have built for themselves. The fact that corrupt rogues such as Layton and Norah Satie and Dougherty and Cartwright were oftentimes able to pursue their destructive ends and nearly succeed points towards that.

Has the Federation "progressed"? Yes--to a point. But its problem has been to accept that point--and allow the work not done to remain not done. Therefore, the problems of prejudice (racial, religious, and philisiophical) and corruption simmer under the surface. Because these problems are not out in the open...the Federation tends to turn a blind eye, and tell itself that things are fine--that it is a paradise.

And that, to be honest, is the most disturbing problem of all.
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