Are monocultures actually the rule?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Shik, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. Shik

    Shik Commander Red Shirt

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    Right, so we all know the arguments about monocultures in Trek, about how there's seemingly no diversity: one religion, one language, etc. Conversely, humanity has thousands of languages, regions, subcultures, & the like.

    Now, I'm a pretty big proponent of diversity my own self. My thoughts wandered as they're wont to do to some of the books I've read recently with neurolinguistics as main plot elements. Of course, I always start thinking about Snow Crash then, & I started wondering: what if monocultures are the norm? What if all these other species never had a Babel event that forced them to diverge & separate? Could this be why a large cooperative effort was never done before? That humanity--because of its diversity--was forced to learn how to deal with "other types" & that's what they brought to the party? We hear of the occasional "dissidents" who are usually political but only rarely cultural (the v'tosh ka'tur most readily come to mind); is this why there's such an acceptance problem?
     
  2. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Part of it is down to the nature of storytelling. There is not a lot of time in a typical ~42 mins episaode to expand much beyond the scope of the story being told, esp in the more episodic shows where we are at new place each work.
     
  3. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It would simply be way too much to show.

    Just imagine if we find ONE single alien culture that is at our level of development. Our minds would be blown at the complexity. TWICE the information overload we already have on our own planet. Scholars', linguists' and scocial scientists' brains would explode. We have roughly 6,700-6,900 spoken languages on this world, for example.
     
  4. Shik

    Shik Commander Red Shirt

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    Forgive me. I did not make this clear. I was not talking about this in the aspect of the show, as a storytelling device. I meant this in the in-universe form, as the "actual world", as it were.
     
  5. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah well in-universe all those societies should be incredibly complex.
     
  6. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    While language is a big factor in culture and cultural separation, it is not the only driving force. Just look at the diversity of cultures within the United States, and we all speak the same language. Throw in the other English speaking countries such as Canada, the UK and Australia, and you have quite a diverse culture that speaks the same language (well, almost).

    You also need to take into account climate, geography, local food sources and even religious beliefs. All of these go into the creation of unique cultures and civilizations.
     
  7. viconia

    viconia Cadet Newbie

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    So what you're saying is that monocultures are more likely to survive the millenia it takes for a culture to advance far enough for space flight, as opposed to diverse cultures which are likely to fragment and have civil wars or kill themselves off?
     
  8. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Did we?
     
  9. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Commodore Commodore

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    The mono-culture norm certainly does help make the rest of the Galaxy more "alien," I suspect. On Earth, there has been much less cultural diversity than ever before, since, oh ... probably the World War II era. Then, you could go to many parts of China, for example and actually see people living much as they'd done for over a millenia. Some parts of Africa still had tribes living much as they'd done for over a mellenia. Even Native Americans have lost so much of their cultural distinctiveness. That kind of diversity in this world is almost gone. You go to Japan and what's there? Skyscrapers, McDonald's, business suits, Tshirts with cartoon characters, American music. The only real difference is alot of Japanese writing and that there's a lot more Asians than we're used to in the states. Even England is losing its Britishness. Whether by accident, or design, it seems as though STAR TREK was right, all along.
     
  10. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The production reason we seem to see monocultures is to make the storytelling simpler. But we do often get hints that there's more variety to a planet's culture than is dealt with in the central story.

    For the Klingons and Romulans we only ever see them in a military or diplomatic context. But in Sins of the Father we see hints of diversity when Picard visits the slums, in Rules of Engagement and House of Quark we see Klingons who put social status or political gain before honor and violence. In Unification we see a lot of Romulan dissidents and regular civilians who have no love for the government but are terrified of it and in Face Of The Enemy we see the relationship between the military and the government.

    In DS9 we see hints that there was growing progressive sentiment on Ferenginar for a long time. The only Ferengi we ever see who aren't presumably in the wealthiest 1% are related to or working for Quark. And in Suspicions we see a Ferengi scientist and in Magnificent Ferengi a Ferengi hitman.

    It's also a good argument that technological advancement begets cultural homogeneity, as is happening currently on Earth.
     
  11. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Arguably Vulcan may have at least three separate religions. There is the polytheistic religion of Spock's family, there is the temple faith of Tuvok's family, and there is the religion that created the Vulcan monasteries. True they could all be one faith, but they could possible be separate faiths.

    Friends have point out that the Vulcan language spoken in TMP, and what T'Pol speaks in a episode of Enterprise seem to be different, so the Vulcan people may have multiple languages (really just various writers not keep track of what came before, but still different).

    The custom of bonding children at a young age for future marriage isn't ubiquitous to all Vulcans. Spock was bonded as a child, T'Pol had a arranged marriage later in life, and Tuvok apparently selected his own wife.

    Not really, just going from place to place inside of American the culture does change significantly. Yes there are many of the same business chains, but the people are very much different, clothing styles, the way people speak, increasingly a wider range of languages spoken, different mentalities, ways of looking at the world.

    Seattle (where I am) is hardly the same as New Orleans where I have family. And Brasil, where I also have family and lived as a child is almost a separate world from America.

    The fact that all three of these places possess McDonald's restaurants indicate nothing about the local cultures.

    Sure we did, Genesis Eleven Seven.

    :)
     
  12. Timewalker

    Timewalker Cat-lovin', Star Trekkin' Time Lady Premium Member

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    There is no verifiable evidence that we had a "Babel event."

    Canada has two official languages, and much of the official business in Nunavut is conducted in Inuktitut. Here in Alberta, I recall conversations with some of the college students from the Hobbema reserve, who speak Cree. One of the students told me she had trouble with some of her assignments simply because some concepts are expressible in Cree but not in English.

    And then you have the regional differences just among the English-speaking people... accents can differ widely. A lot of people from the Prairie provinces have trouble understanding people from the Maritime provinces, even though they're all speaking English.
     
  13. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Further, some of the languages we have today are the result of drift over time. English is an amalgam of Latin, German, etc... We've borrowed words from other cultures. Try to read the original Beowulf sometime and you'll see how English has changed over the centuries.
     
  14. maneth

    maneth Captain Captain

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    Cultural diversification is very deeply rooted in humanity, in fact it predates humanity. Differences in tool use (not just which tools are used, but how and for what purpose) have been noted among the great apes, particularly chimpanzees.

    I don't believe any of the Trek humanoid civilizations are as monocultural as we've been shown, with the exception of the Borg (although I'd argue neither culture nor civilization applies in their case) and the Bynars. Non-humanoids are a different matter, it's hard to judge crystalline entities or energy beings.
     
  15. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Rama and Sita would like to have a word with you about that assertion...

    Exactly. widely spread peoples without easy contact would likely lead to linguistic drift. Peoples who sail off across the sea and are cut off from their parent cultures for centuries or millennia are very likely to end up speaking something very different, unless, of course, all these aliens have a very different brain structure than we do.
     
  16. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Just for reference, the trope mentioned in the OP is often referred to as the Planet of Hats.
     
  17. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So would Starfleet Security. You can't just go around spouting off about Genesis, you know.
     
  18. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    OK, I need to be a major jerk, because the same error reappears throughout this thread. Language is not culture. The two influence one another, no doubt, but they are not interchangeable concepts, and language is most certainly not a subset of culture. Indeed, trying to measure diversity by assuming that they are the same or a subset of one another leads to contradictory conclusions. The period of greatest linguistic diversity, the Paleolithic, probably had the least cultural diversity, owing to the simplicity of culture itself: basic tools, basic ornaments, basic vestments, etc. Conversely, English has a huge influence on the contemporary world, introducing new loan words and becoming secondary and tertiary tongues (though it should be conceptualized as Englishes), its relative ubiquity doesn't undermine cultural complexity in and of itself. English is not among the strongest homogenizing forces in the world.

    FTMP, JirinPanthosa hit the nail on the head. Star Trek focuses on people in uniform, or at least people at the highest levels of government and administration. In their manners, practices and beliefs, they would tend to converge toward one another. Indeed, they would tend to look less diverse than the people they represent.
     
  19. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    love to discuss it with them.


    .
     
  20. Commishsleer

    Commishsleer Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In a 'Private Little War' there were 3 sorts of people - the Hill People, the Villagers and Nona's people.. In the Cloud Minders there were the Haves and the Have Nots. Also in Spock's Brain there was a great difference between the 'cultures' of the women and the men. In 'The Omega Glory' there were the Comms and the Yangs. In 'Bread and Circuses' there were the Christians and Romans. Even in 'Let That Be Your Last Battlefield' there was that obvious difference between Lokai and Bele.
    In ENT in 'The Cogenitor' there were the elite and the sort of slave race.
     

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