View Single Post
Old August 7 2011, 02:28 AM   #76
Sci
Admiral
 
Sci's Avatar
 
Location: "Don't blame me--I voted for Jaresh-Inyo!"
Re: The Federation Must Die.

Part One:

cwl wrote: View Post
The Federation once described by the Klingons as a 'homo sapiens only club' is not an alliance of worlds but a Federation of worlds.
True.

Which implies some sort of top down rule.
False! Federalism means shared sovereignty between the central and constituent governments. It means that there are some areas the constituent governments (be they U.S. states, Canadian provinces, German lander, or what-have-you) have exclusive dominion over, and some areas the central government has exclusive dominion over.

That's why in the U.S., for instance, we have a situation where, say, in the State of Ohio, LGBT Ohioans cannot marry, but in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, LGBT Massachusans can.

a lot of the smaller worlds could be seriously impacted by membership in a negative way by policies they dont agree with.
Well, that depends on the world and the policy, and that's why Membership is something that that would would have to apply for after serious consideration as to whether or not they want to yield some of their sovereignty. It's the nature of any form of political association that no one gets everything they want and sometimes the good of one group has to be balanced against the good of another.

The question is not, "Will the Planetary Republic of Zog sometimes find that the Federation's decisions are not always something we Zog always support?" That's inherent. I promise you, the Federation probably makes decisions that Earth doesn't support sometimes. The question is, "Would it, on balance, be better for the Planetary Republic of Zog to join the Federation as a Member State than to stay independent?"

MrBorg wrote: View Post
I admit I over-exaggerated a bit on how the Federation must die. I meant that it needs to be "rebooted".
What does that mean? The Federation is a federal republic of over 150 worlds, not a laptop computer.

About the Federation wanting people to join: While it wouldn't be wrong if they didn't try to force their morals on the members, they do.
I don't think that's necessarily wrong. Let's take the idea of caste-based discrimination being banned, for instance.

We know from "Accession" (DS9) that the Federation Charter bans caste-based discrimination. If a planetary state wants to become a Federation Member State, they have to abolish it. So when the Republic of Bajor briefly instituted caste-based discrimination, its admission to the Federation was endangered.

But the Federation did not actually impose its morals on Bajor. They didn't threaten to invade, nor even to impose economic sanctions. What they did say was, in effect, "Bajor has the right to run its society as it wants. But if Bajor wants to become part of our society, then it needs to conform with our laws. Federation society is constitutionally designed to function a certain way, and no independent society can become part of our society if they violate that way."

That's not a bad thing. It gives Bajor choices, but it doesn't violate Bajor's rights.

They also, as far as I know, take away the cultures ability to have its own military, leaving them under the protection of Starfleet
Sort-of. We know that the Bajoran Militia would be "integrated" into Starfleet, but what does that mean? We know the Vulcans have maintained their own intelligence service. That strongly implies that Federation Member States get to maintain their own militaries alongside Starfleet.

And in point of fact, that's how it works with real-world federations, too. The United States Armed Forces are primarily responsible for defending the U.S., but each state has their own Army National Guard and Air National Guard, plus their own State Defense Forces, under the command of the state governments. No reason that, for instance, the Bajoran Militia can't continue to function alongside the Federation Starfleet in defending the Republic of Bajor if it becomes a Federation Member State.

About the not interfering with internal affairs: If someone is committing genocide, do you just stand by and watch while millions, possibly billions, of innocent people are killed? Of course not.
Oh?

So the United States should invade Syria to stop the slaughter in Hama today? Should we also have invaded Sudan to stop the genocide in Darfur, at the same time we were bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan?

At what point does that switch from wanting to protect the innocent into a new form of imperialism?

I'm not suggesting the Federation has found the right balance. I'd argue that it has not and needs to reform some of its foreign policies towards interference. But I also think that the idea that it's as simple as, "You should always intervene to stop mass murder" is wrong too.

I exaggerated about how they should die. But not about how corrupt they are.
Yes, you did exaggerate about how corrupt they are. The Federation is not perfect, and it has its struggles with corruption, certainly. But it's far less corrupt than any society that has ever existed in real life.

sonak wrote: View Post
I notice that when people try to defend the PD, they jump to the use of military force in a political scenario as an example of potentially bad inteference.
Because that's its primary policy goal: To provide an effective roadblock to keep the Federation from engaging in imperialism.

Leaving aside the question of weighing the costs and effects of military intervention, we see plenty of examples in Trek of planet-wide NATURAL disasters that the UFP refuses to intervene in out of allegiance to the PD. And of course no one on this thread is bringing that up, because then the bankruptcy of the PD is revealed a lot more obviously.
I don't think Federation refusal to intervene in cataclysmic natural disasters of pre-warp civilizations is an indicator that the Prime Directive is inherently bankrupt. Rather, it's an indication that the Federation has become too zealous in its interpretation of the Prime Directive -- that it's become so fixated on this idea that there's a pristine "natural" state for a culture to be in that it's inadvertently falling into the same sort of paternalism that used to justify imperialism.

It's an indication that the Federation needs to reform and change its interpretation of the Prime Directive, but not an indication that the idea that you shouldn't interfere with another culture's internal affairs is inherently bankrupt.

MrBorg wrote: View Post
sonak is also correct that the Federation will turn a blind eye to a natural disaster even if it would wipe out the species. Specifically if it was a pre-warp civilization. We see this in "Pen Pals" (TNG). Picard does not want to help the civilization, even though billions of people could die.
Interestingly enough, both times the Federation comes across a pre-warp culture about to be destroyed by a cataclysmic natural disaster, it ends up breaking its own laws and intervening... and the officers who do so suffer no consequences. To me, this strongly implies that that provision of the Prime Directive is highly controversial and likely to undergo change as more and more Federates come to oppose it.

And we have yet to see the Federation actually not intervene in a pre-warp culture's natural disaster. They keep saying they won't and then doing it anyway.

Nerys Ghemor wrote: View Post
I do not think the Federation needs to be destroyed, but I think some internal political turmoil--some serious self-examination--is in order to flush out the immense amount of political detritus (bad precedents, bad politicians, possible unconstitutional decisions and legal code). Some unrest may be very beneficial.
VOY's "Author, Author" seems to imply that there's a growing unrest within the Federation, at least with regards to its use of sentient holoprograms for slave labor.

Actually, I think the best thing that could happen to them would be a credible rival. Not another "we want to conquer the galaxy" type rival, but a political and trading adversary that offers a different but legitimate point of view. Something that has to be given serious thought and cannot just be dismissed out of hand.
You might be interested in the Typhon Pact arc in the current novels. That's just what the Pact is -- an egalitarian alliance of states both previously hostile to and allied with the Federation: The Gorn Hegemony, the Tzenkethi Coalition, the Breen Confederacy, the Tholian Assembly, the Romulan Star Empire, and the Holy Order of the Kinshaya.

cwl wrote: View Post
with the Federation you get the vision that it's Earth's empire. Dominated by Earth and set up for earth.
What evidence do we have that the Federation is dominated by Earth? Out of four Federation Presidents we've seen so far -- Jonathan Archer (established on the computer screen in "In A Mirror, Darkly," -- this is questionable but I'll use it for the sake of argument), the President in TVH, the President in TUC, and Jaresh-Inyo in DS9's "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost" -- only one is confirmed to be from Earth. Two of them aren't even Human. One appears Human -- though he may have been Ardanan, Betazoid, Risian, or any number of other Human-looking aliens that are part of the Federation.

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
Even if there are occasional instances of personal speciesism, it seems pretty clear that the Federation's institutions do not engage in institutional speciesism. There's no reason to think that a Ferengi immigrant to Earth would be mistreated by officials, or that you'd have any trouble catching a cab in New York City if you're green, or that you'd be paid a lesser, unfair wage for being a Andorian chan.
Perhaps not. However, my concern is that, frankly--one would think that such speciesism would be actively discouraged in a society valuing diversity.
And it probably is. Sisko moved to squash Jake's emerging speciesist feelings about Bajorans at the end of DS9 Season One, for instance. No society is perfect, and there are inherently going to be deviations from the social ideal, but the idea that Federation society as a whole doesn't try to fight speciesism just because we've occasionally seen Federates misbehave is silly.

This is what I mean by "deep denial". The Federation assumes that, since speciesism is not "institutional", it therefore is not a problem within the Federation.
I don't agree. And, further, I think you're overlooking something:

Institutional racism (or speciesism, if we're speaking in-universe) is actually much worse than personal racism. Institutional racism creates the environment that provokes personal racism. When institutional racism against a group no longer exists, personal racism tends to diminish.

And sure enough, what do we see in the Federation? Well, some Humans have some speciesist feelings against Ferengi, but the institutional anti-speciesism of the Federation gives Nog a chance to prove himself -- thereby directly countering feelings of anti-Ferengi bigotry within Federates, and thereby lending institutional weight to the battle against anti-Ferengi bigotry.

I believe Nog himself noted in "Homefront" that it was very difficult for him to find acceptance among the other cadets--due to his being a Ferengi.
Yet within a few years, he had become one of the most valued cadets, and then officers, in the entire Federation Starfleet, and instances of anti-Ferengi bias against him virtually disappeared.

And we see in Sisko's insistence that it is not dumb a counter-weight to Jake's attitudes. And we see in Kirk's professed faith in a monotheistic God in "Who Mourns for Adonis?" what sounds like Christianity.
Interestingly enough--Kirk's line said "We find the one quite adequate." While I admit it was a relief, considering Roddenberry's...misgivings...still, to this day, I'm not entirely sure exactly what he was trying to say to Apollo.
Seems pretty obvious that he's referring to the Judeo-Christian God to me. It's a bit arrogant of him to speak on behalf of all Humans, though -- he's ignoring numerous polytheistic Humans, such as Hindu Federates. But it was the 60s, so I'll forgive.

We see Christianity confirmed in Kassidy Yates noting that her mother would prefer to see her daughter married by a minister. It's never been confirmed beyond any doubt, but I'd bet you dollars for doughnuts that McCoy's a Protestant.
Well...while books aren't canon--and the Crucible trilogy is out of synch with the normal TrekLit continuity--still, in the McCoy Crucible book, he notes to the girl he comes to marry (in the alternate timeline where he saves Edith Keeler), "Don't you know I don't believe in a heaven?"
I don't remember that scene, but I'd point out two things:

1. Not believing in an afterlife is not the same thing as not believing in God.

2. I don't agree with that characterization for McCoy. I'd bet you good money the man goes to church every Sunday when he's back home in Georgia.

Still, your point about some instances of Christianty being seen/mentioned is fair enough.
Thanks.

Fair enough. But what of Picard's remarks in "Who Watches The Watchers?"
I take that in the same spirit I take references to women being more emotional than men and unfit to command a starship from TOS: I creatively re-interpret it, since it's obviously not in line with Star Trek's egalitarian spirit, and since it also contradicts other episodes.

My re-interpretation: Picard wasn't upset that they had a religion per se. Picard was upset that they had revived a religion that did not previously exist anymore in response to Starfleet's presence, and did not want them worshiping him or his crew as gods. Throwing off religion wasn't a sign of advancement, but adopting a religion once discarded in response to contact with a more technologically advanced culture is a backslide, since it denies the adopters the ability to recognize that they have merely come into contact with a different set of mere mortals.

And "Who Watches the Watchers?" is literally the only instance in Star Trek where we find our heroes advocating the idea of religion itself being a bad and unevolved thing. We see numerous instances of Federates throughout the Trekverse practicing religion -- from Vulcan mysticism and prayers at Mount Seleya to Native American religious practices by Chakotay.

Meanwhile, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Federation has any form of religious domination or discrimination. There's no evidence that it forces Atheist Federates to support having "In God We Trust" on Federation Credits, or that there are Federation Days of Prayer. There's no evidence that Federation Councillors hold hearings of the Federation Security Council on the threat of Prophetic law against the Federation Constitution from Bajoran immigrants. There's no reason to think that there's widespread social pressure to belong to any religious organization, no reason to think that anyone's religious beliefs are used to justify denying equal access to civil marriage, no reason to think people are beaten up for professing their belief in God or for being Christian, no indication that there's any inhibition whatsoever on freedom of, or from, religion.
Institutionally, no. But again--though the law does not discriminate, the mindset still exists.
Again, the institutional bias is more important than the personal. When the law is for egalitarianism, the culture will shift. When segregation was outlawed, the segregationist mindset began to die out.

And, again, Picard's was the only time we've ever seen a truly anti-religion mindset in Star Trek. So I don't think it's fair to attribute that to the entire Federation culture.

Again, if the Federation truly valued diversity, would it not make a constant effort to educate its populace on the values and importance of such?

Again, my concern is simply that the Federation as a society prefers to tell itself that everything is fine--because it doesn't want to have to do the hard work required for such education.
You know, we saw the Federation go from viewing the Klingons as its implacable foes to reaching out the hand of friendship to the Klingon Empire and negotiating a peace treaty with them that lasted for the better part of a hundred years.

We've seen the Federation work to broker peace between itself and its neighbors numerous times, and between warring factions on numerous occasions.

I really, truly do not think that it's fair to say that the Federation does not make a constant effort to encourage diversity.

In the end, the problems of a society come from the culture. Institutional problems are merely a symptom--not the disease.
No, institutional practices create the foundations for cultural problems. And institutional practices tend to reflect preexisting cultural mindsets -- it becomes a vicious circle. If the Federation institutions are anti-racist/anti-speciesist, doesn't that imply that Federation culture is anti-speciesist/anti-racist, even if individual Federates aren't always living up to that?

I mean, seriously, why wouldn't the Federation Starfleet institutionally discriminate against Ferengi unless Federation culture at large is biased towards the idea that diversity is a good thing?

But that is the key difference: The Federation wants to persuade other cultures to join it. It does not want to coerce them. And if another culture says no, the Federation will accept that.
And I'm not against that. I'm simply pointing out the contradiction in putting "diversity" on such a high pedestal--and then saying that one's own way is superior.
To a point, certainly. No culture is 100% free of contradictions. I mean, hell, up until the 1960s, the United States was a culture based on the twin pillars that all men are created equal and all blacks are inferior to whites.

But by the same token, I don't think a belief in diversity is incompatible with a belief that certain values are superior to contradictory values. If I'm running a company that values diversity, I may well want to recruit people from different backgrounds -- people who have different ideas about economics, people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, people who have different ideas about the best way to conduct business, people who have different ideas about the morality of how to relate with other cultures and how to use the natural environment. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to be unwilling to say that some values such as feminism are superior to other values such as patriarchy; it doesn't mean I'm going to hire someone who mis-treats my female employees or who thinks that my Latino employees should be afforded lower status than my white employees.

It's about finding a balance. About recognizing that homogeneity is not a virtue and diversity is, while also recognizing that no group can function if it is not willing to say that these are the values it holds dear and that those values are superior to contradictory values.

CONTINUED
__________________
"Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it." - George Orwell, 1946
Sci is offline   Reply With Quote