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Deep Space Nine What We Left Behind, we will always have here.

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Old March 1 2013, 03:47 AM   #16
indolover
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Dal Rassak wrote: View Post
I certainly wouldn't want to live in the Cardassian Union!
But to me that's the whole point. I'm human, they're not. Obviously there are still more similarities than differences between the two races, but I like it when the differences are stressed. (Same as with the Ferengi, which is why I love the scene at the end of the series where Quark makes his little impassioned speech in the bar in defence of "traditional Ferengi values").

I find it makes those people more believable as being truly "other" in some respects, and that in turn makes them more interesting - otherwise they're nothing but humans in disguise. I mean, even among my own species there are ways of living and of organising a society that I find totally incomprehensible; how much more so therefore must that be the case with another race altogether?

(Human society in the 24th century appears rather uniform, basically Federation culture seems to be an embodiment of today's Western European/American ideals - a generic statement that ours is the best possible culture...?)

I think of Cardassian ideals and society as being shaped fifty-fifty both by outside circumstance AND inherent inclination. There were those great hardships which are often hinted at, which made expediency in all things a guiding principle of necessity, and which required strength, aggression and endurance in order to survive.

I also tend to think that Cardassians as a species may well be more aggressive and more suspicious by nature than, say, humans (even their courtship overtures are based on aggression, and if you're not behaving instinctively in that situation, when are you?), and may be more group-orientated and so have a naturally lesser regard for the preservation of an individual life.
I'm therefore working on the assumption that the adverse circumstances they experienced in their history served to underline and exaggerate certain natural tendencies which were species-specific. Their state ideology then built on this, encouraging the people to cultivate and exalt those qualities to the virtual exclusion of all others. That's my basic take.
This. We even see amongst individuals different behaviour based on different neurology. If this can occur between persons, then this must be vastly different amongst species.

It's like Worf saying that Klingons possess an instinct to see if somebody wants to kill them. To us in the real world this seems odd, but to Klingons it's the norm. I think in the case of Klingons, their warrior culture builds on their naturally aggressive nature.
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Old March 1 2013, 05:36 AM   #17
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Strong patriotism does not inherently need to nationalism, but executing people without a real trial inherently leads to the murder of innocent people.

Can we really make any definite statements about nature versus nurture within a culture that has been under a totalitarian regime for centuries? If Germany was a little more successful in World War II would we all think Aryans were just that awesome? How would North Koreans respond if you asked them about democracy?

Maybe the Cardassians are inherently more submissive to authority, more arrogant and conspiratorial. Maybe they're that way because they were raised under a dictatorship, who really knows? But even in the show the average Cardassian civiliian exhibits more fear of their government than respect for it.
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Old March 1 2013, 03:04 PM   #18
WesleysDisciple
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Your statement on how not every sympatheticly cast Cardassian needs to Aspire to be like the protaganists is poignant... but Im afraid, this isnt the way I read things.

Cardassian society, is the way it is now, because of desperation, they DESPERATELY wanted peace and stability.

in a lot of expanded universe stuff its generally agreed the cardassians outlawed any form of organized religion... which helps to suggest their animousity towards the bajoran's.


just pointing out that cardassian society was not ALWAYS the way it is now, and thus could change genuinely.
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Old March 2 2013, 09:15 AM   #19
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Exactly! The fact that it once was something different shows that it does not have to be the way it is under the rule of Central Command and the Obsidian Order. As I said before--I think you could easily set up another system that neither oppresses nor copies the US Constitution or the Westminster Rules. Something alien and special to them, but that does not cannibalize its own people.
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Old March 3 2013, 02:08 AM   #20
indolover
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
Strong patriotism does not inherently need to nationalism, but executing people without a real trial inherently leads to the murder of innocent people.

Can we really make any definite statements about nature versus nurture within a culture that has been under a totalitarian regime for centuries? If Germany was a little more successful in World War II would we all think Aryans were just that awesome? How would North Koreans respond if you asked them about democracy?

Maybe the Cardassians are inherently more submissive to authority, more arrogant and conspiratorial. Maybe they're that way because they were raised under a dictatorship, who really knows? But even in the show the average Cardassian civiliian exhibits more fear of their government than respect for it.
Well how would the values of 21st century Western society apply to fictional aliens? If we ever meet real-life aliens, we certainly cannot apply our thinking and reasoning to them, or think there would be some commonality in such.
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Old March 3 2013, 08:53 AM   #21
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

While I can see that argument to some extent, I would also remind everyone that there is known to be shared genetic material between some of the Alpha Quadrant races. Humans, Klingons, Cardassians, and Romulans/Vulcans are specifically known to share genetics. This means (IMHO) that their motivations, while varying somewhat, are not going to diverge anywhere near as (for instance) a Founder's or a Tholian's. Some commonality should be expected. That's why I do not think that Cardassians desire abuse, and DO want their inherent dignity respected, even while wanting order.
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Old March 3 2013, 10:25 AM   #22
Deranged Nasat
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

I hope this won't seem too much of a non sequitur, but in considering how an "ideal" Cardassian society might work I find myself thinking of elephants (largely because I've been reading about them). Elephants are very hierarchal - both in the mainstream herds consisting of females and offspring, and in the looser male groupings that form outside of these. Elephants are also generally peaceful; bullying isn't tolerated in the herd, and elephant calves are used to a highly supportive environment, apparently making them rather psychologically vulnerable when they aren't getting one. I was reading recently about bonding in adult male elephants, which has historically been less understood (since following the dynamics of the permanent female herd is a lot easier, of course) but is now thought to be a lot more complex than used to be believed. While males in musth buck the rules and challenge older elephants for status (and usually succeed, since no-one wants to stand in the way of a guy in musth), relationships between males in a community are usually smooth and amicable, because everyone knows their place in terms of the hierarchy, knows where they stand in relation to everyone else. Relationships among members of both sexes are supportive and generally healthy. Young males seek out elder males for support just as females follow their matriarch.

I think Cardassians could be considered akin to elephants; perhaps they too naturally have (or seek) an instinctive understanding of where they stand in relation to everyone else, and their society is stable (and supportive/nurturing of children) because of that inherent respect for hierarchy. Cardassians are quasi-gerontocratic, competitive and seeking dominance, but respectful of elders and community-orientated... perhaps when Jellico compared them to wolves, he should have compared them to elephants (particularly male elephants)?

As for what went wrong to transform this obedient, functional hierarchal society into the Union we know and mourn, where those instincts are twisted into a dysfunctional, oppressive nightmare, I suppose the pressures of planetary environmental chaos would have a highly negative effect on such a structured society. I'm reminded of what happens when adolescent male elephants leave the female herds and there aren't any elder bulls around to "mentor" them (having all been culled, for example); the young bulls become unusually aggressive, their musth cycle is abnormal, they're known to rampage around killing rhinoceros or humans for no real reason...but they calm down when older bulls are introduced and they perceive themselves as part of a healthy, supportive hierarchy again. With the collapse of the spiritual Cardassian society of old, and the loss of faith in the old ways, the gods, the leaders and their philosophies - and the rapid rise of a militant philosophy to replace it - are we seeing a form of civilization-wide trauma that Cardassians are particularly vulnerable to?
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Last edited by Deranged Nasat; March 3 2013 at 10:39 AM.
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Old March 3 2013, 04:32 PM   #23
Iliana Malek
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Deranged Nasat wrote: View Post
As for what went wrong to transform this obedient, functional hierarchal society into the Union we know and mourn, where those instincts are twisted into a dysfunctional, oppressive nightmare, I suppose the pressures of planetary environmental chaos would have a highly negative effect on such a structured society. I'm reminded of what happens when adolescent male elephants leave the female herds and there aren't any elder bulls around to "mentor" them (having all been culled, for example); the young bulls become unusually aggressive, their musth cycle is abnormal, they're known to rampage around killing rhinoceros or humans for no real reason...but they calm down when older bulls are introduced and they perceive themselves as part of a healthy, supportive hierarchy again. With the collapse of the spiritual Cardassian society of old, and the loss of faith in the old ways, the gods, the leaders and their philosophies - and the rapid rise of a militant philosophy to replace it - are we seeing a form of civilization-wide trauma that Cardassians are particularly vulnerable to?
This is always the theory I've subscribed to. When looking at historical example on earth, when climate change has devastated a region, it tends to throw things into chaos, leading to political and cultural revolution. (Just look at how the Little Ice Age affected France and led up to the Revolution, or how the loss of the yearly floods for an entire generation brought about an end to the Egyptian Old Kingdom.) With a highly hierarchical society like Cardassia, climate change and the subsequent chaos could lead to complete social collapse. The militarization of Cardassia probably started out as a general effort to restore order in a chaotic world, and once that had been reestablished, the military had the room to take over the entire political system.
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Old March 4 2013, 05:08 PM   #24
Dal Rassak
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

I never quite got the climate change angle, because as a race they're so obviously shown to be a species adapted to desert conditions - it's emphasized several times in the series as well as in some books that they like it dry and hot. This suggests they have evolved in just such conditions. Of course species can change and adapt, but this takes a lot of time, and if they're meant to have been living in some sort of lush green environment a mere couple of thousand years or even less ago, then their physiology doesn't make sense.
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Old March 4 2013, 05:15 PM   #25
Deranged Nasat
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Dal Rassak wrote: View Post
I never quite got the climate change angle, because as a race they're so obviously shown to be a species adapted to desert conditions - it's emphasized several times in the series as well as in some books that they like it dry and hot. This suggests they have evolved in just such conditions. Of course species can change and adapt, but this takes a lot of time, and if they're meant to have been living in some sort of lush green environment a mere couple of thousand years or even less ago, then their physiology doesn't make sense.
Maybe Cardassia was always desert-like, only not quite so desert-like? Maybe Cardassians thrived in an arid environment that was ultimately dependent on a delicate ecological balance and something (natural, artificial or both) pushed that biosphere over the edge, turning things from "life is hard here but we get on well enough because we evolved here" to "we're in dire straits, help!"?

I'm reminded of the drell from Mass Effect; superbly adapted to arid conditions, but still experiencing massive death rates when their planet just couldn't cope anymore with their exploding population.
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Last edited by Deranged Nasat; March 5 2013 at 12:41 AM.
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Old March 4 2013, 06:12 PM   #26
Iliana Malek
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Agreed. My own theory is something similar to DN's, that Cardassia was largely arid beforehand, but climate change took away the few places that were good for farming and raising livestock, and it devastated the population.

I never heard that Cardassians like it dry. I always had the impression that Cardassians like it hot and humid.
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Old March 4 2013, 06:25 PM   #27
DalekJim
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
I am having a hard time conceiving that anyone could actually want a dictatorship.
Well, if you agree with the dictator entirely then it's an ideal scenario. Rather than a democracy putting in place somebody you don't agree with, or putting in place somebody you do agree with but is too ineffectual to do anything because of the democratic process.

Mr. Laser Beam wrote: View Post
I've always viewed democracy as an absolute right, something that everyone wants - even if they don't yet know they want it.
I uh, don't like or trust the public. According to a poll, most of Britain would like the death penalty bought back. I wouldn't like that to be put to democracy.

In an asylum of the mad, the majority rule need not apply.
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Old March 4 2013, 06:45 PM   #28
Dal Rassak
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

As to climate again, I take my inference from what the writers say, as well as remarks made in the series. For instance, in the DS9 Technical Manual the Cardassian climate is specifically referred to as being dry and desert-like; official literature (such as the Terok Nor trilogy) takes this up.
Besides, if you live on an arid planet you do by definition not have high humidity - you'd get that if you were living in a tropical clime. The environment can't very well be both at once! There's that one scene with Garak and Ziyal in a sauna on the holodeck; that's nothing to do with environmental preferences. I go to the sauna to relax now and again but I couldn't stand living somewhere with permanently high humidity.
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Old March 4 2013, 07:13 PM   #29
Iliana Malek
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

I never said the climate was both humid and dry at once. Cardassia may be dry and desert-like now, but it may not have always been so. Just because a climate is one way, doesn't mean the species doesn't prefer it another. There are plenty of people here on earth that live in desert climates, but it's certainly not the ideal environment to live in. They simply work with what they have.
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Old March 5 2013, 12:10 AM   #30
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Dal Rassak wrote: View Post
I never quite got the climate change angle, because as a race they're so obviously shown to be a species adapted to desert conditions - it's emphasized several times in the series as well as in some books that they like it dry and hot. This suggests they have evolved in just such conditions. Of course species can change and adapt, but this takes a lot of time, and if they're meant to have been living in some sort of lush green environment a mere couple of thousand years or even less ago, then their physiology doesn't make sense.
While I always suspected Cardassia, pre-cataclysm, was hotter and more arid than Earth, imagine if we humans had lived during the times of a mass extinction event such as the P-T extinction.

Something that severe would gut the entire ecosystem too quickly for natural adaptation to save most species. The most sensitive species go immediately, and those first extinctions start a devastating chain reaction traveling through the entire biosphere.

At least, that's what I've based what I call the "Cataclysm" on, in my own universe.
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