Federation is inhumanly benevolent

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Terran_Empire, Mar 6, 2013.

  1. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
     
  2. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    You fail to understand the post-WW2, Cold War era optimism of Star Trek (something others have given up, but which was the thinking for the people of the era). That thinking essentially being this:

    Slavery was with humanity from the beginning, and we came to understand it as wrong, we morally declared it wrong, and we made it illegal. If we can overcome that, we can overcome all our other evils like greed and violence and racism and bigotry, and we are constantly evolving to social perfection and evolving closer to utopia with the end product being utopia. So in centuries to come things will continue to be more and more utopian.

    It actually is a bit like the Borg in narrative. Closer and closer to perfection, always evolving towards perfection. Except man's perfection is not malicious in the way of what is essentially a rape on the part of the Borg towards individuals and species with their assimilation process; forcing the will of a mass and their idea on a people, and forcibly stealing people from their own self determination and very soul in what is a cruel torture of making someone themselves but not themselves. Or, you can make Federation utopianism malicious by saying the Cold War era thought had those same properties: coming out of WW2 and going through the first half of the Cold War, government was big and intrusive (to some opinions at least) and did things like pay farmers to plant certain crops and banned them from planting certain crops (to avoid flooding the market too much with a commodity; fear of economic depression for want of regulation was high), and socially during that era people kept there heads down and didn't make too much of a ruckus because they didn't want to rock any boats and they wanted their utopia with a house in suburbia with a white picket fence, a wife who cleaned and cooked and knew her place, and 2.5 kids with crew cuts for Billy and a nice dress for Susie, and Billy would go join the army or work in a factory or office like his dad, and Susie would know her place as a good wife when she grew up, and things would go great forever with better living through chemistry. And woe to whoever made a ruckus during that time, like the blacks asking for Civil Rights or the Beatniks, because to those people wanting their utopia, how dare these people cause havoc to our perfection? And so they disliked those people, to varying degrees from calling them lazy good for nothings to beating them up or beating them to death, and that just got worse as then women wanted equality, and there was a war effort in Southeast Asia these longhairs were protesting and they were being unpatriotic for protesting, and so on. Mind you, I'm speaking not of personal opinion but in the voice of how these people thought. Persecution of anything different was big. And these are people who later voted for Nixon (not the whole of the voters, but the "I want my 50s back" segment was big). So for those reasons, you could take the view of Federation utopianism as malicious because it is based on that post-WW2, Cold war utopian and because in that thought process, deviation from what is declared the norm, deviation being free will, is persecuted and not ideally allowed and everyone lives in houses made out of ticky tacky and all look just the same and go to college and they all come out the same and get married and the marriages are all just the same. You could also take the view that that version of utopian optimism is a naive and malicious one and that the type of Cold War era optimism that went into Star Trek was not that version at all, and welcomed differences and promoted them. You could alternately take the view that all utopianism demands lack of difference and lack of free will and conformity, and utopia is inherently malicious. This is a fruitful area for debate.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
  3. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yo dude, they're called paragraphs!
     
  4. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Paragraphs are for sufficiently differentiated thoughts. I give you brilliance in bulk.
     
  5. Avon

    Avon Commodore Commodore

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    'I Give You Brilliance in Bulk' sounds like the name of a specialty porn film starring obese persons
     
  6. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    A few things here, a small thing first, but you might have meant "interstellar." Also, as depicted on the show the Federation actually doesn't seem to be very well respected by others in the interstellar community, I mean not in general.

    Starfleet debateably a maybe, however the Federation is made up of a mostly non-Humans (as point out previously) and Human are a likely a minority of less than one percent of the Federation's population.

    The Federation's policies concerning "benevolence" is likely a variable that changes through the years as new Member are incorporated into the whole and the composition of the Federation Council itself changes over time. The policies in place during Kirk's era would be distant history by the time of people like Sisko and Janeway.

    The Federation isn't exactly a total push over, they're shown multiple time fighting others for territory they desire to hold or expand into. They have little respect for other species established territories, unless the other species can defend it.

    At the same time (or perhaps different times) there is a directive to largely leave "primitive" people alone. It would seem obvious that this directive is subject to modification, but it is there. The people of the Federation made a collective decision to have this directive.

    So, reasonably well-intentioned, not implausibly well-intentioned.

    Drafting has the exact same difficulty as electing. Draft the right person for the right job and all is grand, draft the wrong person and the effect is the same as electing the wrong person.

    And he was realistically nailing Mary Tyler Moore on a regular basis when she was 25, I mean come on!!!

    :)
     
  7. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    There is actually a lot of benevolence in the Star Trek galaxy.

    The Orgainians can conquer all to combined empires we ever see, but they just want to be left alone.

    The Metrons might be able to as well, but they don't really leave their system.

    The Talosians are less "benevolent" but they show the ability to project convincing illusions over light years distance and could certainly carve out quite an empire with that ability.

    The First Federation really didn't seem aggressive, the Fesarius seemed like it could conquer quite a bit, and we don't know how many there are like it.

    The Thasians could be very dangerous, but they only seemed to be concerned with other's saftey, saving Charlie and then saving everyone else from him.

    Trelane wasn't benevolent, but his parents were. If their "kid" could create planets and drive them around, I think they would have serious power potential.

    I haven't even gotten out of the first season, but I think I made my point.

    And I agree, the Federation seems exceptionally "nice" to almost everyone, the Haulkans, Capellans, and Organians (before they reveal their true nature) case in point.
     
  8. thesadpanda

    thesadpanda Commander Red Shirt

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    I have always found Star Trek's view of human beings in the future to be realistic, though certainly an optimistic projection. There are four basic reasons why I find Star Trek's vision of humanity's future realistic.

    1) Human beings were much more barbaric 300 years ago than they are today. Star Trek assumes the trend will continue in that direction. We are already making "rapid progress," as Captain Picard once said.

    2) The Federation has apparently renounced materialism. This seems outlandish and unimaginable to us, since materialism seems as natural to Americans and Europeans as breathing air. But materialism is not an innate human trait -- it's a relatively recent development in human history, and it's by no means universal on Earth today. One interpretation for modern materialism is that it points to a spiritual emptiness. Although the Federation isn't particularly religious, Star Trek characters seem spiritually fulfilled by their humanist belief that the purpose of existence is to improve oneself. Once people stop taking comfort in material possessions, the material needs of the whole society are much less, and the society no longer has as much cause of conflict with others.

    3) Speaking of material needs, technology and space travel have eliminated most of the remaining material needs in the Federation. Food and basic goods are produced by replication. Power is produced by fusion, antimatter reactions and renewable sources. Weather disasters are preventable. Colonizing other planets has lead to unlimited land and natural resources. No one is hungry, no one is uneducated, everyone's basic needs are met.

    4) For all the advantages provided by the Federation's philosophy and technology, Federation morality is not a fait accompli. Especially on Classic Trek, we see that it is a standard the characters are holding themselves to and are constantly struggling to reach. Human nature hasn't changed, just human values.

    Ultimately, I think that whether you find Star Trek realistic is going to depend on a personal belief: do you believe human beings are basically good or basically evil. If you believe that people are basically evil, then you will also believe that a utopia like the Federation would free human beings to be even more diabolical. If you believe that we're basically good, then a utopia like the Federation would give us the opportunity to be angels.

    To me, there is no doubt that we're basically good. If we didn't intrinsically value goodness, we couldn't even have even created the concept of goodness. Maybe my belief in human goodness is what draws me to Star Trek, or maybe it comes from the fact that I grew up watching Star Trek. I couldn't say. But that's what I believe that that's why I find Star Trek's future believable.
     
  9. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    utopianism doesn't demand conformity, and there is no such thing as "free will."
     
  10. Mysterion

    Mysterion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There's some serious stuff brewing under the surface of the Federation we see in TOS.

    Commit a crime and they send you off to an asteroid someplace to make your mind right. Okay, the guy we saw using thew machine was kind of screwed-up himself, but still. Someone somewhere in the Federation government thought this was a good idea to begin with. That's pretty freaking scary if you ask me.
     
  11. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    ^And apparently Ambassador Fox had the power to send Scotty to a penal colony, with no mention of trial or court-martial.
     
  12. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Not to mention Ambassador Sarek's contention the Tellarite ships were caught carrying dilithium mined on Coridan. The Rigel miners withholding dilithium from a starship that was spiraling down over some women. The plan to conquer Organia before the Klingons could.

    I never got the vibe in TOS that the Federation or its citizens were all that benevolent.
     
  13. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    Yeah, that was terrible when Scotty was gone to prison for all those years.

    Sending two men to negotiate with the ruling council is "conquering"?

    The Tellerites were criminals, hence the "illegal" activity.

    The miners were secluded and didn't feel beholden to Kirk showing up. Mudd complicated things, I think they may not have had a problem selling to Kirk if Mudd didn't start promising women.

    So, based on about 400 people the billions of Federation citizens don't seem benevolent? I think your sample is too small for any judgements.

    If you want something not benevolent, look at the institutionalized racism employed by the Stratos City Dwellers agains the Troglites. That, for me, hurts the Federation's image as a nice place to live more than anything you mentioned.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2013
  14. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If the Organians were the country bumpkins they originally appeared to be, what would've been their choices exactly? Either way they were going to be forced to give up their way of life as a strategic piece of real estate in a Federation-Klingon war.

    Kirk was using the Klingons as a chip to force the Organians to side with the Federation and be "host" to Federation forces.

    All Tellarites everywhere are criminals?
     
  15. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    Only the ones taking Coridan's crystals without paying any money to the Coridan government. Sarek's use of "Tellearite ships" is a standard monolithic/bigoted use of the word, as in all Tellarites are blustering fools that like to steal from someone. Not all Tellarites are thieves, but the Tellarite government may have been making enough on the crystal smuggling to look the other way. It's impossible to determine from the allegation as presented. My mistake is I should have said "The Tellarites in question were criminals, hence..."

    What kind of occupation were you expecting the Orgainians to suffer from the Federation? Thousands, or even hundreds of red shirts wandering the alleyways forcing the Orgainians to give them ale? I disagree. I don't think the Organians were to be conquered. Offering a primitive people assistance would change their life, but their life is already changing due to the Klingon invasion.

    However, if they (the Organians) were who they actually appeared to be it would have been a violation of the Prime Directive, as I don't think those sheep carts were warp powered.

    Alternatively, if the Federation was only keeping Organia from the Klingons, the Enterprise could simply have bombarded the entire planet with photon torpedoes and possiblely fabricated cobalt bombs to rip away the atmosphere, thereby rendering it uninhabitale. And Kirk wouldn't have to negotiate that.
     
  16. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    First let me say that is one of the most concise postings I've ever read.

    I do think you get into a difficulty when you say that "The Federation," an organization with a population of upward of a trillion people and (with colonies) over a thousand inhabitable worlds, as apparently having done this, or really anything cultural as a collective group. The Vulcans as a group have embraced emotional control, but we see little sign that the Federation as a whole have copied them.

    That one of the Federation's millions of societies may have renounced materialism, or that a certain idealogical group spread thinly across the Federation has turned their backs on materialism would be more reasonable.

    Did James Kirk really need a large beautiful house for just himself and a female companion? On a piece of property big enought that no neighbors could be easily seen?

    And that stolen warp driven yacht at the beginning of Way to Eden must have belong to someone.

    The degree that the member people within the Federation engage in materialism likely runs the spectrum from basically non-existent through to all consuming purpose of life. Even Picard has that non-replicated first edition of Shakespearean plays in his ready room.

    I believe the point Marsden, is that Fox should not have been able to credibly make the claim at all. Some government flunky shouldn't, on their personal say so, send a Starfleet officer into the prison system. Or even be able to make the threat, regardless if it wasn't carried out.

    :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013
  17. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    I apologize for my flippant remark. I do not remember that, but I shall rewatch that episode shortly and will make a more proper remark. I simply do not remember him doing anything but trying to boss Scotty around.
     
  18. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    From www.chakoteya.net:

     
  19. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    Thank you, BillJ!

    I realize why I didn't remember, bluster doesn't impress me, and that's what this is. Anyone that interprets those statements as legitimate legal power to imprison someone is a fool. It was a threat and nothing more. He could have brought charges against him once they reached starbase and a trial may have occured. Depending on the outcome of the trial, he may be sentenced to a penal colony, that is the meaning of the threat. He has authority to bring charges.
     
  20. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You can interpret it any way you like, that's the beauty of Trek. But Scott didn't seem to disagree with what he was saying.