The Borg, a defence

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by john titor, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Which is all well and good, except that there is literally nothing to support that concept whatsoever. In fact, VOY's "Infinite Regress" established that individual cubes' drones are controlled by a device called the Vincuulum, not that there's a "mini-Collective" that the Queen supervises for the larger Collective.

    Like it or not, the Queen is, well, the Queen. The Borg have gone from being depicted as a genuine collective to a telepathic dictatorship, and that's all there is to it.

    ETA:

    Bear in mind also that VOY's "Survival Instinct" established that the creation of a mini-Collective within the Collective was something that the Borg simply did not do, and which in fact drove those drones crazy -- it undermined the Collective's/Queen's control over them and allowed them to escape.
     
  2. rahullak

    rahullak Commodore Commodore

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    I happen to agree with parts of what counsels for the Borg have stated and also to agree with parts of what the prosecutors have established.

    1. The Borg are a force of nature? Agreed. It is in their very nature to assimilate, just as it is in the very nature of sentient individuals to try to survive.

    2. The Borg are sentient? They have free-will either acting on the commands of the Borg queen alone or through the thoughts of the collective insofar as their actions are concerned. However, their one grand goal of assimilating all species for their own technological advancement is something they do not question, and cannot change.
    They thus represent a breed that's right on the boundary between sentience and non-sentience, their mindsets little different from rapacious predatory animals, with a need that's insatiable. Sentience does imply the ability to have free-will and to contemplate and plan for the consequences of one's actions, but not necessarily morality or ethics (Armus and Nagilum are a case in point).
    I would imagine this apparent ambiguity this way:the borg, a species that evolved in such a manner as to be able to control its environment through the application of a single collective consciousness which obviated the need to "consider" the "feelings" or "rights" of "others", since it/they basically took what it/they wanted with force and were/was nearly always unopposed. And its/their wanting never ends and it/they have no way of changing said behavior. (this is also in-tune with Destiny's interpretation of the Borg). They never needed to consider the ethics/morality of what they were doing and it was thus always considered irrelevant. The Borg remove/suppress all traces of individuality and retain only the knowledge of drones assimilated of which only certain "relevant" parts are used.

    3. From the POV of most of the other sentient beings in the galaxy, such behavior is simply unacceptable. Entities such as armus, nagilum and other "misfits" could at least be reasoned with to some extent. The Borg don't reason. They assimilate. Which is a direct threat to the "way of life" of most of the rest of the galaxy. Thus the Borg have been variously described as evil, mass-murdering, callous, sociopathic, genocidal, enslavers etc. etc. all of which makes sense from the general perspective of almost all other sentient lifeforms that value individuality.

    4. The Borg must thus be stopped at all costs? Perhaps. But even Picard was unwilling to do so by implanting Hugh with a virus that would give all drones in his "company" a taste of individuality, a decision he rued in later years in light of the terrible cost that the quadrant had to pay.

    5. All of this presents a particularly interesting character dynamic in the Trekverse. On the one hand you have a "high-minded" civilization that abhors genocide but values individuality, and on the other a most intractable and "genocidal" species whose only evolved goal is assimilation, all else being irrelevant.

    Are some ideals (such as avoiding genocide at all costs) truly worth dying for? (echoes of Shinzon).
     
  3. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Survival Instinct also explicitly stated that the Collective's mental transmissions to the drones was "white noise." White noise carries no information, which makes it impossible for the Collective to exercise any control over drones whatsoever.

    Survival Instinct also explicitly shows that drones can escape when transmissions from the Collective are blocked, when the distance and "storm" allow the drones to escape at the beginning of the episode. The mini-Collective has nothing to do with their escape. The mini-Collective retcons Seven as a mini-Borg Queen, a piece of nonsense gently mocked in Muse, I do believe. The Collective in this episode is just a symbol for Communism, not a real concept.

    The Vinculum in Infinite Regress appears to be chaining the unconscious impulses of the drones. It appears to be why the Collective doesn't manufacture id monsters like in Forbidden Planet.

    The key episode in understanding the Borg as a genuine science fictional concept is Unity.

    Dark Frontier makes perfect sense when interpreted as the Borg Queen attempting to recruit Seven as a willing agent to infiltrate the Federation. That's why the sudden reappearance of Seven's father is so dramatic. And which reappearance should have reminded us that the Borg don't actually commit genocide.

    Making the Borg look weak is as objectionable as the Ewoks beating Imperial Stormtroopers. Which is to say, not at all.
     
  4. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    I don't recall that description. Could you point us in the direction of that sequence?

    I'm referring to the mini-Collective being described as driving the drones mad because of having to process incoming information from both the Collective and one-another.

    I really don't think that's an accurate assessment, and I haven't since the Queen was introduced in First Contact.

    First off, nonsense. Forcibly relocating and enslaving an entire population -- thereby ensuring that the totality of its population will never be able to reproduce -- is part of the definition of genocide.

    Article II of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as:

    Amongst other things, the assimilation of an entire population fits the definition of genocide by forcibly transferring children of the victimized species into Borg society, inflicting upon the victimized species group conditions of life that bring about the physical destruction of their species (they cannot reproduce and so will go extinct when the last drone of their species dies), preventing production of the victimized species, causing series bodily and mental harm to the victimized species (assimilation is described as being both physically and emotionally traumatic to all of its victims, especially since Picard makes it clear that a part of the victim's original personality remains intact and suffering while assimilated), and, yes, by killing members of victimized species, a practice which the Borg do engage in (e.g., the Battle of Wolf 359).

    Then, of course, there's the fact that the Borg do all this to deliberately end other cultures' ways of life and forcibly transfer them from their own territory.

    Defining "genocide" in 1943, Raphael Lemkin, the man who first coined the concept, wrote:

    Relevant parts in bold.

    Make no mistake, this is exactly how the Borg Collective operates. It seeks to annihilate entire cultures by causing them to no longer be their own cultures. It replaces cultural identity with Borg identity, and forcibly so. It annihilates other cultures' ways of life, including political and social institutions, language, national feelings, religion, and economic existence. It steals from members of other cultures their personal security, liberty, health, and dignity - if they don't kill them first.

    And, yes, the Borg Collective was established to kill members of species it deems unworthy of assimilation in "Mortal Coil."
     
  5. barnaclelapse

    barnaclelapse Commodore Commodore

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    Sounds like a genocide to me.
     
  6. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Although the Borg may deem the Kazon unworthy of assimilation, they are not running around killing the Kazon. Certainly the Kazon would have no ability to resist the supposedly genocidal efforts of the Borg. All efforts to portray the Borg as homicidal maniacs are contradicted when they are repeatedly shown to allow nonthreatening strangers to run around their ships!

    The notion the Borg are relocating the populations of whole planets is contradicted by the glimpse of Borg Earth in First Contact.

    The notion that the Borg are preventing reproduction is contradicted by the maturation chambers shown in Collective.

    These fictional allegations are inspired by rage, I think, precisely because the Collective is a symbol of Communism. The charge of genocide is a justification of remorseless war, up to preemptive genocide. The Borg are fictional of course, but the in universe justification for their annihilation (and implied real annihilation in Endgame!) is a very satisfying dramatization of real world feelings. Hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of lives have been sacrificed by the US in the crusade against Communism. Some people are outraged at the very thought it was all a crime as well as a waste.

    The notion that genocide also covers forcible replacement of a culture is not the standard notion of genocide. Shoving people into gas chambers is the usual notion, for good reason. As for Raphael Lemkin's extension? US policies toward the Black community might be argued to be genocidal, with deliberate starvation of their schools, redlining their neighborhoods, destroying their culture with CIA imported drugs, jailing young men for drug offenses while still allowing gangs to prosper and so forth. I might not agree with that argument, but it could be made. That should make it clear how problematic Lemkin's version really is.
     
  7. rahullak

    rahullak Commodore Commodore

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    1. The Borg do not have the same intent as homicidal maniacs. They simply wish to assimilate and do not ask permission. This does not mean the overall effect of their actions are not genocidal (as most of the rest of the galaxy defines this term ie. forced mutilation/control/enslavement of large populations).

    The point that the anti-Borg people here are trying to make here is that the goals of the Borg (namely forcible assimilation) of individuals is genocidal, even if their intent from their perspective is not. Maybe some of the Borg's actions do not fall under some neat profile of a homicidal maniac or socipath or genocidal megalomaniac dictator, but the devastating (upon most other sentient lifeforms) effect of their most significant actions relating to their goal of assimilation cannot be denied.

    2. The apparent non-relocation of drones from Earth is not evidence enough either that they do forcibly relocate or they do not do so. Some drones may have been transported out, others may have been brought in. For all we know the entire human population in drone-form was kept as is on Earth, or the entire population was replaced for some unknown Borg efficiency reason. We cannot say or we can assume either way and still be right.

    3. The Borg are repeatedly shown to allow nonthreatening AND technologically irrelevant individuals to roam about their ships. How long do you think a Kazon with the Omega particle in tow would last in his tour of a Borg cube? Starfleet individuals have also been given free reign precisely because their tricorders or simple weapons are irrelevant (even if they are "dangerous"). If they had some miniaturized version of transphasic torpedoes (which the Borg have not assimilated) as a hand weapon, I'm sure they would have been confronted and would have to fend off assimilation.

    4. I draw no parallels between Borg and Communism. Such a thing is always open to opinion, discussion and debate, and I did not even consider such a connection until it was brought up in this discussion.
     

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