Hmm. Re-reading that post of mine from 2009, I've got to say that I've reconsidered some of my opinions about the Federation. I still think it's often ethnocentric and patronizing to foreign cultures, but I'm less inclined to be as judgmental towards it as I was. I don't necessarily agree anymore that it's a fundamentally sinister culture -- but it I do think it has some very sinister elements.
Uh, Riker was right in "The Last Outpost" regarding the Ferengi as idiots. Don't romanticize diversity. Their whole society is based on swindling those they couldn't steal from or conquer or oppress or, well, eat -
Riker barely knew anything
about Ferengi culture in "The Last Outpost." He'd interacted with the Ferengi crew for all of a half-hour, and knew only the briefest of brief summaries of how their culture worked and what they believed. He didn't know about their belief in the Great Material Continuum. He didn't know about the role of the Ferengi Commerce Authority. He didn't know about the role of Ferengi dissidents and Ferengi feminists; he didn't know about the roles of Ferengi Socialists, or about the inner conflicts of Ferengi society. He didn't know that for all the oppression caused by Ferengi Capitalism, the Ferengi had never had a history of mass violence or genocide. He didn't know the ups or the downs of their culture.
Riker has every right to be weary of extreme Capitalism, but he has no business passing judgment on a culture of billions
based on a half-hour's interaction with a few guys. That's like deciding you can pass judgment on all of Brazilian or Arab culture because you once stood in line behind a guy from there at the bus station. It's absurd.
And it's just fucking creepy hearing him tell the Tkon that the Ferengi shouldn't die "because then they would learn nothing." Not because their lives have intrinsic value -- no. They should live so that we can spread Federation values to them. Disgusting.
Just because they managed to develop warp doesn't make them equals any more than Nazi Germany was just as valid at mid-century America.
But that illustrates my point perfectly -- by what right would someone pass judgment on all of German culture based on the Nazis? What about the role of German dissidents during the Nazi era? What about understanding that the Nazi era is one historical era
in German history, not the defining historical era? What about understanding the role Germans played in the Enlightenment? In developing social democracy and the welfare state? Etc.
It would be unfair to judge all of German culture based on a half-hour's interaction with a Nazi. It is unfair to judge all of Ferengi culture based on a half-hour's interaction with the Ferengi crew in early TNG.
If you're saying that it's just their way to be...basically assholes, and they can't change being that way, I find that a perverse interpretation of cultural diversity. Is there something special about us humans that we can let go of slavery and treating women like property that other beings simply can't come to?
No. What I am
saying is that a half-hour with a few guys is not enough time to get an adequate -- or even honest
-- sense of what an entire culture is like, and that even if you object to some of their philosophical values, you shouldn't act like they themselves as unique individuals are necessarily inferior or that their lives only have value insofar as you can convert them to your beliefs.
I mean, hell, I'm a leftist in real life. I think unregulated Capitalism is pure evil, and I like that Star Trek
depicts Capitalism as an oppressive era in Human history -- because it is. But if I'm Riker on that away mission? I'm gonna be weary of Ferengi Capitalism. I'm gonna stand up for the equality of my female crew members. I'm gonna defend my people and Federation property against Ferengi incursions, and I'm gonna make sure the Ferengi don't take control of Tkon technology or have the upper hand in influencing the Tkon sentinel. But I'm also gonna stop myself from coming to any final judgments about the nature of a society I've only just encountered and do not truly understand. I'm gonna stand up for the equal rights of those Ferengi crew members when the Tkon offers to kill them.
And I'm gonna bear in mind that, hell, maybe the Ferengi might have something to teach us
, too -- because the whole point of exploration and seeking out new life is understanding that we don't know everything, and that wisdom can come from sources that defy our prejudices.
Charles Phipps wrote:
Thus, genocide against the Founders is merely a legitimate act of war
There is no such thing as legitimate genocide. Ever. Species have a right to exist, full stop.
since their entire race (but Odo) is involved.
Except that we know both from the canon, which established the existence of Founder infants, and from novels like The Dominion: Olympus Descending
(which established the existence of Founders with minds not fully-developed and unaware of the outside universe) that the Founders are not
all involved in the Dominion decision-making process, and are not
all guilty of war crimes. There are in fact, what can only be described as Founder civilians, just like any other society. And we don't know that there aren't Founder dissidents who opposed policies but didn't carry the day.