Had we ever seen imperial democracies in Trek?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Lt. Cheka Wey, May 6, 2013.

  1. Lt. Cheka Wey

    Lt. Cheka Wey Commander

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    A democracy that has colonies where they treat people as subhuman...

    A democracy that is waging proxy wars against peacefull nations...

    A democracy that gives financial aid to bad dictatorships...

    This sort of thing. I cannot recal any from the top of my head. It would be nice to see some more complexity in Star Trek's politics.
     
  2. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Romulans come to mind. Sure their formal title is Romulan Star Empire, but by all accounts have a democratically elected Senate and a guy like Neral who stated he was a low ranking guard at one time is able to assume Proconsul and Praetor titles.
     
  3. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    For the last 2, maybe, if you count "Tomorrow is Yesterday" and "Assignment: Earth".
     
  4. Lt. Cheka Wey

    Lt. Cheka Wey Commander

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    They kind of remind me of Sparta. Had e ever see a romulan civilians?
     
  5. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, tons of em in Unification. "Eat your soup. Courtesy of a -loyal- establishment."
     
  6. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I dunno, Romulus reminds me of a certain line from the show Yes, Minister.

    Sir Humphrey Appleby: East Yemen, isn't that a democracy?
    Sir Richard Wharton: Its full name is the Peoples' Democratic Republic of East Yemen.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Ah I see, so it's a communist dictatorship.

    Romulus is the People's Democratic Republic of Romulus.

    I'm not sure we've seen any governments where a true democratic vote has resulted in invading another planet.
     
  7. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ There was the two person Federation invasion of Organia.

    Except we've never seen the Federation Council democratically vote on anything.


    :)
     
  8. TheRoyalFamily

    TheRoyalFamily Commodore Commodore

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    Basically all non-war Federation dealings with the Cardassians fall into this category :cardie:

    Heck, the Klingons aren't exactly the nicest dudes around, and they are ALLIES with the Feddies.
     
  9. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    There was no Federation invasion of Organia, and not even an attempt at one.
     
  10. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^Disagree, and then there the events of The Enterprise Incident, while not an invasion of a planet, a ship did deliberately invade Romulan territorial space. It was the correct thing for the Federation to do in order to protect themselves, but it was still an invasion.

    Then there is the TNG episode The Outrageous Okona, the Enterprise Dee entered the the Omega Sagitta system seemingly without the permission of either of the two governments of that system. These were not a technologically primitive people, but rather a species with interplanetary travel and the ability to communicate.

    The Enterprise Dee sailed in like the locals had no say in who could enter their system.

    :)
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2013
  11. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Would the Andorians count? They had an Imperial Guard and seem democratic.
     
  12. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Obviously, but I think you're wrong and that that position is absurd.

    Events never got beyond negotiation. Kirk was authorized to take "whatever steps are necessary" to stop the Klingons from using Organia as a base, but he only took certain steps. Namely, he laid it all out to the Organians when he spoke to council. Kirk was inflexible and insistent in the negotiation about a Federation presence on Organia only because the Klingons would have invaded in the true sense of the word. In fact, the Organians agreed that Kirk was genuine in his concern, while at the same time denying that Federation involvement was necessary. Then, the Klingons arrived.

    We'll never know how things might have played out if the Klingons hadn't arrived when they did. I'll concede that one of the possibilities might have been invasion in true sense of the word, but only with the Enterprise and/or other Federation ships safely in orbit at least long enough to beam down troops (infantry).

    Now, if you want to argue that Kirk and Spock engaged in guerrilla activity on Klingon-occupied Organia, that's a different question, and they did, and, by the way, with phasers returned to them by the Organians. But that's not "invasion", either.

    On the other hand, if, in the first place, Kirk had beamed down with a platoon of armed red shirts, "invasion" might have been the thing to call it. But Kirk was sensitive to that, and only he and Spock came. Kirk made peaceful proposals to the Organians devoid of euphemism, and again, the Organians regarded him as genuinely concerned, even if misguided.

    "Invasion" is much more apt in The Enterprise Incident.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2013
  13. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    I don't think it makes sense to throw these two notions together. If you lead wars and use slaves you are not a democracy. Democracy without the rule of law is mob rule. Not that the mob ever has much interest in waging wars or owning slaves. Such societies are always oligarchic, ordinary folks are not rich enough to own slaves and gotta die in the wars.

    Let's take Romulus. The little we saw in Unification indicates that it is an authoritarian society, ordinary people fear those who wield power. In addition to that it is probably very dogmatic like Vulcan society, strong emotions gotta be channeled and the Romulans do it via conquest. If you want your society to be stable the method of channeling of emotions, be it Romulan imperialism or Vulcan orthodoxy, must not be questioned.
    Whether the Romulans have a Senate or not matters little. Having formal democratic institutions doesn't make you a democracy yet.
     
  14. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Commander Red Shirt

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    Star Wars arguably paints the picture of an imperialist democracy better. The all encompassing Republic in which people are ground underfoot by the billions, resembles what it must have felt like for the average peasant to live in the Roman Empire, or what it does still feel like for many to live in the global capitalist empire. The notion of inter-state rivalry (such as in Star Trek), and foreign powers being a threat is less realistic, as the ruling classes of different states usually just collude. The only problem with Star Wars' depiction being that it glorifies these backward paternal institutions, so that some people watching it often leave with the impression that it would be cool.

    But onto Star Trek:

    The Romulan Empire has a senate, and it's politicians behave like those in an imperial democracy, as far as we can tell - spin, double talk, etc, as seen in Unification Part 1/2. They probably use the age old justification of national security to launch imperial wars, expand the Romulan Empire, and justify it to the paranoid Romulan citizenry. The Romans did as much, with their justification of the Gauls being a threat, etc.

    The Klingon Empire probably operated similarily at it's height in the Original Series, as even a oligarchic dictatorship requires some way to justify it's wars to the common military servicemen and servicewomen of the Klingon Defence Force. The later notion that Klingons are an unthinking horde who love war is ridiculous and racist, and belongs in a parody setting like Warhammer 40,000, not a rational and thinking show like Star Trek.

    I'm sure the Federation's opponents would also classify it as one too:

    - Various original series era antagonists complained that the Federation encroaches on their empire's interests and resources. This may indicate competition for rare minerals (essential in advanced technology like transporters, warp cores, etc?)

    - The terrorist leader in The High Ground told Beverly Crusher that the Federation continues to trade with his planet's government, despite them fighting a protracted war against his people's continent. This may indicate a certain degree of cynical 'ends justify the means' politics in some circles of the Federation, even if many citizens like James Kirk and Jean Luc Picard are extremely just and idealistic men.

    - The existence of Section 31 as well as the militarists of Admiral Cartwright era, suggests that even if the Federation is beyond the idea of the 'rat race', and no longer exploits it's citizens as labourers, using romantic notions like work and duty, it may still have a long standing reactionary/militant undercurrent that can burst out when good men like Jean Luc Picard are not looking.

    It's clear that the United Federation of Planets is a much more moral and equitable society than any we have had on Earth so far - it may even be something like a post scarcity communal society, or incorporate elements of anarchism in terms of people's rights and liberties. But it is not without it's critics. Perhaps we can assume that certain rare minerals still exist in the 24th century, not found abundantly, and that the rivalry between states is largely focused on the control of these natural resources - the Federation using culture, trade and diplomacy to achieve them. Every planet that the UFP seduces into membership is one less source of vital isolinear chip minerals for Romulan Warbirds.

    The fact is we don't have a consistent picture. Sometimes the Federation seems almost Utopian (and a society to be admired) - one cannot see what problem the Romulan Star Empire or Klingon Empire would have with it..... other times, it seems to suffer from some of the darker reactive elements of current society. Probably it's institutions are less inherently corrupt than our own, due to the absence of the profit motive, wage slavery, and need or want. It can therefore never be as appalling as current states. But even a post-scarcity society where money is optional, can suffer from fear and reactionary politics, and competition for natural resources.
     
  15. Lt. Cheka Wey

    Lt. Cheka Wey Commander

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  16. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Or simply that the Rutian planetary government isn't as evil as the Ansata separatists say they are.

    We've been conditioned to believe that groups like the Ansata are always right because they're "underdogs" trying to fight against The Man. But what if it's the Ansata who are in the wrong?
     
  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    We aren't provided with enough information really to know, either way.

    We witness a bombing and the attempt to blow up the Enterprise, so we know that Finn's group's hands are dirty.

    On the other hand, by Alexana's own admission, her predecessor violated the civil rights of suspects, by disappearing them during interrogation. She claimed to have put a stop to it. However, at the episode's end, she summarily executed Finn by shooting him in the back, so it's not like she's really above throwing rights under the bus in the name of expediency, either.

    Neither side on the planet exhibited the moral high ground; being ambiguous in order to challenge any and all preconceptions was the episode's point, I think.
     
  18. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Except you can have an society with an elected government at home and rights for citizens at home and have a imperial policy that doesn't extent that policy to its colonies. The British Empire was a democracy for a lot of its history, the monarchy slowly lost power and the elected Parliament gained more, but they still had an imperial policy. I don't think anyone would say the UK was a dictatorship, but it certainly did not grant the same rights to the people in their colonies as it did people at home.
     
  19. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah... so long as you're British it's a great deal. Sucks if you're an Indian, Zulu or anyone else in their colonial empire.
     
  20. horatio83

    horatio83 Commodore Commodore

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    True, in this case it would make sense to call of imperial democracies. Yet in my eyes you are not a proper democracy
    if you have democracy (meaning the rule of the people plus the rule of the law plus actual justice as the worst crime in history have always been legal) at home but not abroad. This is of course problematic as it makes the term democracy more of an ideal like justice.