Cardassian society - enforcement or preference?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by Dal Rassak, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. Dal Rassak

    Dal Rassak Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    Location:
    Terok Nor
    Hmm, something strange happened with the principality of Lichtenstein a few years ago. The prince decided he was tired of just being a nominal ruler and he'd much rather govern. He put this in front of parliament. The parliament took a democratic vote deciding to abrogate their democratic powers!!
    Basically, parliament abolished itself - voluntarily. Thankfully a tiny tax-haven of a princedom doesn't have any influence and it matters nothing much either inside or outside of it whether it's ruled by a prince or by a parliament. But I was still stunned when I heard that particular item on the news - it seemed such a retrograde step.

    Now I can see perfectly well where at some point in their history, the Cardassian people voluntarily decided to give over all ruling powers to the military - who then refused to ever relinquish it. (Nothing knew in terms of Earth history, at any rate!)
    By that point you're no longer volunteering for the system, that doesn't alter the fact you freely chose it at one point.
     
  2. SoM

    SoM Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    Humans share 98%+ of their DNA with a chimp, 90% with a baboon, 80% with a cow and 50% with a banana.

    How's yer banana/human comparative ethics essay going?
     
  3. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    I for one do not recognize a legislature's right to do so. The legislative authority by right belongs to the people at large; the people then delegate this authority to the legislatures they convene. If a body of legislators decides they no longer wish to exercise the legislative powers which have been delegated to them, then those powers by right return to the people at large (who would then likely wish to convene a new legislature in some form), not to any executive officer such as a prince. Thus in my view such a vote by definition is a violation of the natural rights of the people of the Principality of Lichtenstein.

    If a parliament choose to dissolve itself and hand over the legislative powers to an executive officer, does it stand to reason that the people have actually chosen this? I think not.
     
  4. Gul Re'jal

    Gul Re'jal Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Location:
    Gul Re'jal is suspecting she's on the wrong space
    Sci, I think the point Dal Rassak is trying to make is that someone could reject democracy and prefer other ways of ruling, not your personal view on political procedures of Lichtenstein, or anywhere else.

    In times of great famine and other kind of great crisis, the Cardassians could have chosen a rule of one or few war heroes/strong leaders/good demagogues/whatever over warring and ineffective political parties. It could be a universal referendum for all we know. Whether it was a right move or a mistake, that's another story.
     
  5. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    Yes, I understand that. And I am arguing that doing so, even if it seemingly has the consent of the populace, is still an act that violates the natural rights of the people -- and that it lacks the consent of those generations who come later, since the establishment of such an autocracy does not require later generations' consent.
     
  6. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Location:
    California
    I agree that democracy is the best thing going. Ironically, though even democracy doesn't automatically guarantee freedom.

    The Roman and Greek republics were democracies but the wealthy controlled everything and legalized things like seizing individual lands and slavery.

    Even the US with its constitution in tact had lots of abuses of human rights. One minor example is prohibition, where alcohol was banned across the country.

    You can even take an issue with the Federation for violating basic individual rights, like;

    --not allowing women to attain the rank of captain, blatant legalized sexism.

    --ordering a Starfleet officer to submit to a dangerous experiment regardless of his refusal.

    -- later attempting to take away his daughter to a research facility, without his or her consent.

    I wouldn't trade the Fed's democracy for anything, but it's still interesting to point out. Democracy has to be tweaked a lot in order to truly work.
     
  7. TheRoyalFamily

    TheRoyalFamily Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    If future people don't like the situation, they can change it. But they aren't in the present, so they don't get a choice. The dead don't get a choice in the present either - just those present. Heck, those that aren't present don't get a choice, when the choice is made. Only those present, temporally and spatially, get a choice. As humans (and Cardassians) aren't 4d beings, we don't really care what the future thinks - and it's not like they could let us know anyways. All we can do is predict what they might want, and that's more than a little tricky, other than very basic things - just look at any past predictions of the future.
     
  8. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    We seem to be operating with different definitions of "democracy." For my money, you're not a democracy unless every adult gets a vote. So, for instance, the United States was not a democracy until the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965; prior to that, either women or minorities or both (at varying points, it would be one or the other) were disenfranchised.

    So, no, I don't think it's fair to call ancient Athens a democracy, even if that's what it called itself. It wasn't rule by the people; it was rule by a certain segment of the male population.

    I think we're all aware of the fact that democracies can be flawed and can have human rights abuses; indeed, that's why liberal democracy is preferable to illiberal democracy.

    Well, no, they can't -- that's why it's called a dictatorship, because they don't get a choice!

    That's why democratic mandates come with expiration dates.
     
  9. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    Mr. Laser Beam is in the visitor's bullpen
    I'd be more likely to believe that if the character who said it in the episode wasn't a batshit insane lunatic.
     
  10. WesleysDisciple

    WesleysDisciple Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2013
    You talking about the girl from the last episode of the original series, didnt get past the first 8 minutes.


    I think it was an informal, bias, rather then a regulation.
     
  11. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    ^More likely the ravings of a lunatic denied a chance to serve in Starfleet and command a starship because she's certifiable.
     
  12. WesleysDisciple

    WesleysDisciple Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2013
    Hey they let, Archer, the Guy from "The wounded" And, Katherine Janeway be starfleet Captains, whys this girl any different?
     
  13. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    She was crazy before she got into Starfleet, perhaps?
     
  14. TheRoyalFamily

    TheRoyalFamily Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2005
    Actually, Athens was a democracy. Rome wasn't, Britain isn't, France isn't, the USA isn't; in fact, I don't know of any democracies today. Democracy just means that every voter gets an equal say in every decision made. Athens had that. You may not like how voting was limited, but suffrage is a different thing. Democracy didn't, and doesn't, protect anyone's rights at all; it's the rule of the mob, writ large. As long as a certain percentage of the populace wants something, it happens, no matter how wrong or previously illegal it is.

    Every "democracy" today is actually a republic. The voters elect representatives, and the representatives make the decisions. Because of the nature of a republic, there needs to be some sort of overriding law that exists outside of current politics (or else representatives would immediately chose to become elected for life, and other naughty things). Republics are better at protecting rights than other forms of government, because the representatives depend on the voters for their jobs, and said representatives can't go past the overriding law, which often also deals somewhat with the rights of voters.
    There's always a choice. Sometimes that choice is hard, or hard to carry out, but there is a choice.

    Where do they do that? Only if a particular law says it expires at a certain time. You could say that any particular representative has some sort of time limit, one way or another, but most laws don't.
     
  15. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2011
    Location:
    At star's end.
    A liberal democracy is not characterized merely by elections.

    It must have two features
    -first, the law and its enforcement represents the will of the majority of the population (hence, the elections)
    -second, this law applies to everyone; no one is above it, not even the current rulers.

    There's a relatively recent term - anocracies (or crappy governments).
    It includes states that call themselves democratic, but really aren't. Why?
    Because, in such states, the ones that win an election are no longer bound by the law; they can pretty much do whatever they want, much like the princelings and kings of history.
     
  16. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    Mr. Laser Beam is in the visitor's bullpen
    Bingo.

    You can't take anything Janice Lester says at face value. She was violently jealous of not only Kirk, but all of Starfleet, which rejected her - NOT because she's a woman (indeed, in the perfect utopia envisioned by Gene Roddenberry, it is inconceivable that sexism would be the one thing they'd leave in), but because she's simply NUTS.
     
  17. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Location:
    California
    True, Lester was definitely nuts, and shouldn't have got that position in any case, no matter what.

    The main problem is Kirk agrees with her that the situation (whatever it was), was unfair, which suggests there was some type of sex based restriction in place.

    Otherwise everything else seemed normal to Fed citizens--they considered their government the ultimate in freedom.

    BTW, Star Wars had The Republic, which was called a democracy. It was sort of like the Federation, prosperous, freedom--the main words thrown around was freedom and democracy.

    Ironically, that one got manipulated into turning into an Empire with a dictatorship, through the so called democratic process.
     
  18. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    May 10, 2005
    Location:
    Mr. Laser Beam is in the visitor's bullpen
    I think he was just being nice to her. If he contradicted her, it might have set her off even more. So Kirk did the "smile and nod" thing.

    If there is anything 'unfair' about this situation, it's that even in such a perfect society, people like Janice Lester still turn out to be cuckoos.
     
  19. Dal Rassak

    Dal Rassak Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2013
    Location:
    Terok Nor
    One more point about Athens - our modern definitions also mean that slavery cannot be practised in a truly democratic society. Therefore does it change our perspective if we recognize that Athens was a slave-owning democracy?
     
  20. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2002
    Location:
    Montgomery County, State of Maryland
    No, it was not -- not by a reasonable modern definition of the term. It certainly called itself a democracy, but no society that excludes women from the franchise or includes slavery is a democracy in a realistic, non-self-aggrandizing sense of the term. A democracy is a society in which every adult member of that society has an equal vote; Athens was not a democracy.

    No, it does not. "Every voter gets an equal say" is a tautology; your definition is so vague that it as easily describes how the Pope is chosen as it does how the Parliament of Iceland is chosen. The question of whether or not a society is democratic lies in the question of who constitutes a voter.

    Democracy is defined by suffrage. Indeed, anything other than universal adult suffrage is not democracy, but it some degree of oligarchy.

    Oh, not this tripe.

    First off, we're not talking about the protection of civil rights and liberties; we're talking about the definition of democracy. Democracy is defined by the protection of one particular right to all adults in society: The right to vote. Anything other than this universal extension of the suffrage is not democracy.

    Secondly, there are two kinds of democracy: liberal democracy and illiberal democracy. In a liberal democracy, everyone has an equal vote, but there are strong constitutional protections for the rights of the individual and of minorities against abuses from a majority.

    The notion that democracy is inherently "rule of the mob" is just absurd.

    Oh for goodness's sake. Open up a political science textbook; this is pure nonsense.

    A republic is a form of government in which the state and its affairs are considered a public concern (it is from the Latin term res publica, meaning "the public thing"), rather than being the private property of the ruling elite. A common simplified version of this definition, therefore, is that a republic is any state that is not a monarchy.

    A republic may be a democracy, or it may be a non-democracy. Republics encompass everything from direct democracy ("town hall" meetings where everything is put to a popular vote), to representative democracy (e.g., the Federative Republic of Brazil), to apartheid states (e.g., the Republic of South Africa before Mandela), to oligarchical dictatorships (e.g., the Third Reich and the Soviet Union).

    In other words, the term republic is unique from, but not exclusive from and often overlapping with, the term democracy.

    What you describe -- the populace voting for elected officials -- is a particular brand of democracy called representative democracy. This and republicanism are, again, not mutually exclusive.

    Not in a world where the government literally possesses the capacity to wipe out all life on a planetary surface while removing itself from said surface. Cardassians quite literally did not have a choice in their form of government, as the state possessed an overwhelming capacity for violence which literally does not exist in the real world.

    Terms of office expire.

    Not really. The prequel trilogy made it very clear that the Galactic Republic, in spite of its rhetoric, had long since been subverted from its democratic principles. I mean, this was a state that literally gave seats in its legislature to giant corporations like the Trade Federation. Obi-Wan Kenobi notes in Episode II that Galactic Senators are far more concerned with the will of the rich who fund their campaigns than they are with the will of the people; Mace Windu notes that Chancellor Palpatine's political influence at the end of the Clone Wars was so extensive that he controlled the entire judiciary, which is a violation of one of the principles of liberal democracy. And then, of course, the Galactic Senate -- a body that, again, represented the will of the people only in name, not in practice -- was the body that voted to declare Palpatine Emperor and to transform the Republic into the Empire -- a clear violation of the limits placed on governmental power in a liberal democracy, and of the legal limits placed on the Senate by the Galactic Constitution.

    The Republic was transformed into the Empire by greed, corruption, and a willingness to disregard the constitutional limits imposed by liberal democracy. At no point do we see a popularly-elected legislature answerable to the people (rater than to campaign contributors) transform their state into a dictatorship by genuine democratic, or liberal democratic, processes.

    I think this is one time where we just have to accept that things are ret-conned and disregard what Janice says in "Turnabout Intruder" as being no longer in continuity with the rest of Trek.

    Sorry to say, but TOS was rife with sexism. Don Draper from Mad Men, with his sexist beliefs, would fit right in if he were dropped down into the TOS version of Starfleet. In the context of the episode, her lines are perfectly plausible, and there's no reason at all to think that the version of Starfleet envisioned by the creators of TOS didn't exclude women from command. That audiences and producers later recognized how oppressive such a concept is and decided to retcon it out of continuity does not mean that it is not what the producers of TOS intended at the time.

    We can safely assume that, in the revised version of Starfleet's history, women have always been able to become captains. But we shouldn't ascribed greater progressivism to Roddenberry and company at the time of TOS's production than was actually present.

    It means that we now recognize that Athens was not a democracy, even if that is what it called itself, because its self-conception was based on the decision to deny the obvious humanity and equality of most of the population. It is as absurd to call ancient Athens a democracy as it would be to call North Korea a democratic republic (North Korea having no real democracy, and having a hereditary dictatorship that would be more accurately described as a monarchy rather than a republic -- even though its formal name is "the Democratic People's Republic of Korea").

    And, no, the United States was not a democracy for most of its history, either -- not when it denied the franchise first to anyone other than rich property-owning white men, and then to women and minorities, and then to women, and then to women and minorities again, and then to minorities. The United States was not a democracy until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.