The Romulans as "Space Romans"

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by The Overlord, May 15, 2013.

  1. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    I've read that the Romulans actually consider themselves the dominant species of the galaxy and that it's their destiny to eventually conquer all. In that light, comparing them to Romans doesn't really work. How they got that attitude or if it's still the "offical" attitude or what generation is debateable.

    The Vulcanoid species seems to have a tendency towards fanaticism, one devoted to peace and logic the other toward war and conquest. So extrapolate the Vulcan's logic to the Romulan's desire to be overlords and that's a reasonable conclusion.
     
  2. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    They seem to be literally patterned after the Romans. Their home planets are called Romulus and Remus-- the same as the mythological founders of Rome. What a coincidence! Lol

    Their soldiers are called centurians, they call themselves an empire. Even their hairstyle resembles the ancient roman style.

    It was way too obvious they were meant to represent a menacing empire to the Federation.

    It worked in TOS, but TNG toned them down and they seemed more like the mustache twirling villains trope.

    Power and military wise, the Dominion appeared the most Roman-like.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2013
  3. Rulius

    Rulius Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, roman or an empire. The only successor to the western half of the empire was Byzantium.
     
  4. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Dang, now I'm all verklempt.
     
  5. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    Charlemange isn't going to like this. :wtf:
     
  6. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The 'Space Romans' analogy worked better in TOS than in TNG and later. And, it only works if you think of Rome as first century Rome.

    In TNG/DS9 I think they were meant more to be the USSR. A secretive, closed off, militaristic society with secret police who disappear people. In a cold war with the Federation, playing spy games with the Federation and Klingons, portrayed as wanting a war but not wanting to be viewed as the instigators.
     
  7. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    The Romans and the Classical era were still quite popular in film when TOS was made. Sword and Sandal imagery in names and titles would quickly convey a sense of empire, honor, conquest to the audience in quick popular shorthand. Twenty years later, that vogue gone, the Romulans got completely changed from the TOS version, or more accurately perhaps, the patina didn't carry the same imagery for the makers and their audience. I don't think they meant the Romulans to be space Romans, but they did want to convey a verisimilitude to a pop culture image of a people like those in sword and sandal films.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Not every secret police is there to bolster the ego of the head of state. Say, the secret police of 19th century Russia couldn't give a flying fuck about how people spoke of the silly Czar - but they made people disappear all right, in the name of national security and the rest of the usual excuses. The CIA does the very same thing nowadays.

    Why not? CIA controls some resources of its own for conducting aerial reconnaissance in Afghanistan, but apparently they confiscate the rest (say, airspace, frequencies, bandwidth and runways for UAVs) from the USAF, simply by virtue of being a higher authority.

    You already listed some of them. Their methods of operation remain just as horrid as in the bad old days of the Czar's Okhrana, they torture and kill undesirables in the name of <insert virtue here>, and somehow they cannot be eradicated.

    That's got nothing to do with democracies. A sovereign monarch may respect his subjects, and a democracy may torture and assassinate its subjects - indeed, both things are taking place in the 21st century just as much as they have done in the preceding ones.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    +1 this

    And

    +1 this


    There are some very visual and some superficial connections to Rome and Romulans, but we must remember that Romulus and Remus are the Earth names for Romulans\Remans. Romulans and Remans, don't call themselves that in their own language. I also always thought that the 23rd century Romulans were more like the honorable adversary, rather than the enemy, and are almost sympathetic (like in Balance of terror). The 24th century Romulans are less sympathetic, less honorable, and less Vulcan-esk, too

    Also, I had always felt that during TOS, the Romulans were the cold war analogy to the Communist Chinese, and the Klingons were analogous to the USSR, too.

    During TNG yes they became more of a stereotypical villain. During first run, it was hard to compare the Romulans to any power in the post-Cold War era of the late 1980s and 1990s, but in retrospect, I think they can almost be compared to North Korea, if North Korea was an actual empire.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ENT "Minefield" casts that very much in doubt.

    When Romulans communicate with Hoshi Sato in their own language, she hears them identify themselves as the Rumalin. T'Pol corrects that to "Romulan" - probably because that's the preferred Vulcan pronunciation, as Hoshi must have gotten the Romulan pronunciation right on the first take.

    Once it becomes known that these folks are the Romulans, the rest then probably follows. Earthlings learn (falsely!) that Romulans live on two homeworlds - so those become Romulus and Remus. Earthlings also learn of a system of representation, and apply whimsical Roman names to the various titles in that system. Likewise, they apply whimsical Roman names to the military titles and practices. All of this silliness is all the more to be expected since Earth and Romulus are at war at the time this all happens: the enemy is naturally cast in a silly light.

    The Universal Translator at this time apparently isn't quite as advanced as it is in TOS and later Trek periods, but it may be blamed for some of these translations as well. Eager to satisfy its users, it may start to follow the "Roman pattern"...

    ...After all, it gave Kirk and Spock "troglytes" for a cave-dwelling culture, and it took some time for the heroes to figure this out. They hadn't put the thought in the UT's cyber-mind. And apparently nobody else had, either, because Spock would have known what those putative other Feds would have known about the state of affairs at Ardana.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    Can you provide examples of the CIA making average Americans disappear for criticizing the government? The closest thing you have is drone strikes, which usually doesn't target American citizens. Its not like the CIA goes around killing members of the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street. I am not going to defend the morality of drone strikes, but it is an example of US foreign policy rather then an internal secret police. Generally the CIA can't operate on US soil. So who exactly is making people disappear on US soil?

    That doesn't mean the CIA can threaten members of the military, because the military has its own power base separate from the CIA, the CIA can't just go and kill the family of some military guy that is pissing them off. Its not remotely comparable to the situation between the Tal'Shiar and the military.

    How many people think the Russian monarchy was a democracy? You have to come with more examples of an actual secret police organization making people disappear on a country's home soil. Again I am talking about a domestic force rather then a force that operates internationally. The CIA has done many immoral things, but those tend be on the world stage, rather then in the US itself.

    Except there is a reason why most Democracies have bills or charters designed to enshrine people's rights. In general the Founding Fathers designed many of the rights to protect the freedom of the individual, otherwise you have a tyranny of a majority over a minority. If a majority of Americans declared to be bring back slavery, would that be Democratic, despite the fact it would curtail the rights of the minority? There is a difference between Democracy and mob rule.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Plenty, if the definition of criticize is to join an organization allegedly preparing to oppose the government with force. Which is a commonly used definition in history and, alas, in the current situation as well.

    However, it's the secret polices we're speaking about. They work outside publicity. Even the most brutal secret polices haven't been able to make public people disappear: Stalin had to go another route there, publicly establishing dissidents as rabid criminals who not only could but indeed should be immediately and publicly deposed of.

    Which is a far cry from saying they don't go around killing members in general, based on membership. And not just killing, but generally maiming, dehumanizing, and making disappear. Which is what secret polices do, in secret.

    C'mon, you know what CIA has been exposed doing. Even if that's not the tip of the iceberg but something like 80% of it, you have the inhuman secret police right there. And while these big guys have big budgets and big problems, little guys can join in the action easily enough, as secret police organizations actively cooperate internationally.

    Probably more than think the US of today is one. But this has nothing to do with democracies, as a secret police is the feature of any government regardless of what that government calls itself.

    Why? Secret polices don't operate domestically exclusively, despite possible theoretically relevant legislation. Indeed, the ideal form of assassination of a citizen creates a disconnect between the killing and the citizenship - say, the victim is killed abroad, his identity is lied about, and the identity or allegiance of the killer is lied about.

    Yes, by the very definition. And a few generations downstream, people would sigh resignedly on the immorality of their forefathers who banned slaveholding and upheld those antiquated morals that no longer are relevant in the world of thinking men.

    Laws change, which just reflects the fact that morals change. The new normal settles in. And democracy is the one system that keeps up with the change, with its unique mechanism whereby the voters can punish the people in power for wrong decisions or deliberate inaction by removing them from their position in the next election, without the need for semiautomatic weapons.

    But it's not anything unique to democracies.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    True, on screen that is correct. I was going by the Diane Duane Rihannsu books.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, quite.

    It might be interesting if both takes were correct in the same universe - the Carrizal could have been one of the older ships operating out of contact with home base, visiting the twin worlds and coming up with the frivolous name for them at the same time that Archer's much more modern ship actually contacted live Romulans in deep space and learned and then perverted the name Rumalin in a more direct manner.

    "Rumalin" isn't the Romulan (or Vulcan) name for the twin-world pointy-ears in Duane's universe, of course, so the juxtaposing probably isn't worth the effort. But we could always argue that Romulans, representing the particularly argumentative and factionated element of Vulcans, would have a dozen different names for themselves. :devil:

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Captain Captain

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    Neither of which are remotely a threat, and may even still be considered as being within the confines set by a bourgeois establishment - as they hardly advocate class war or violent revolution - and to put it bluntly, have zero power (i.e. leverage).

    I'm not saying the CIA have assassinated US citizens, I'm just pointing out that using some toothless middle class advocacy group as an example in a debate on freedoms is very far off the mark - using something like the Black Panther Party, would be more pointed.

    Or the bloody history of unions in the USA...

    [​IMG]

    Textile workers being confronted with fixed bayonets, at a strike in 1912.

    Union membership by country:

    [​IMG]

    We have no evidence, but it's likely that the intelligence agencies, or parts of the military, have done some underhanded and unconstitutional things over the years. I admire the USA pre-WW2, and the ideals of the founders of it's constitution - for all it's mistakes. But since then, it has become a highly militarised society, largely because WW2 level production could not be ramped down without massive unemployment, and people made too much money out of weapons sales - so for the first time in it's history, the USA gained a standing militarised state, where previously, high states of readiness were raised if-and-when.

    We do know about human experimentation, such as the deliberate infection of patients with syphilis, as well as project MKUltra, and other disturbing breaches of personal liberty by the central government. Granting immunity of Nazi and Japanese scientists such as Dr Shiro Ishi - a man who infected humans with bubonic plague, conducted vivisections on people, etc. Here is one poor sod who was involuntarily used in the testing of mustard gas - a serviceman, given no choice:

    [​IMG]

    See more here.

    Some people, famously, compare the modern USA to the Roman Empire. Obviously they have some features in common. A multitude of ethnic groups united in a diverse continental empire, including asiatics and africans. A system of outposts spread across the frontiers of the world, patrolled by legionaries, again of many ethnic groups. A need to justify foreign campaigns as defensive actions. But also, obviously, there are many differences. The US military does not practice 'decimation', where one in every ten soldier from a failed campaign is executed. It has abolished slavery (although some would argue wage slavery is a more productive form anyway). It grants all citizens rights that only patricians would have had in Rome. It's capable of becoming more or less like Rome, with the requisite suffering that would entail, depending on the choices of it's rulers and people.

    The Romulan Empire, as an imperial democracy, bears many of these features too. But during TNG the added mystique of a totalitarian state was added - because it lent itself to fanciful Tom Clancy type romanticised fantasy Cold War situations between the Federation and Romulans. And that worked. Maybe the Romulans went through some kind of cultural revolution between TOS and TNG - I've always thought the Klingons of TOS must have adopted a fascist system, explaining their sudden penchant for modern militarism, as opposed to feudal culture.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2013
  16. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yep. I imagine Schneider simply used the Roman stuff to avoid having to use prosaic contemporary political and military rank and references yet maintain some intelligibility.
     
  17. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    To refute a common myth, none of the participants in the infamous Tuskegee experiment were "deliberately infected" with syphilis.

     
  18. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    So who is a legitimate protest group who advocates a force as a means to oppose the government and which ones are not?

    Was it wrong of the government to arrest the right wing activists behind the Oklahoma bombings? If a Neo Nazi group uses violence to oppose government, should the government do nothing?

    Who is a freedom fighter and who is a terrorist? How do you answer that age old question?

    But do you evidence that the CIA kills US citizens on US soil? The point of a secret police group is to promote terror among the population so they don't oppose the country's regime, is that atmosphere of terror present in the US?

    Disappearing usually is killing and unless the CIA create the atmosphere of terror among the general public, they are not really a secret police organization.

    Again I am not arguing whether the CIA is moral or not, I am arguing whether they fit the definition of a secret police organization or not? Do you think the CIA will come and personally kill you for your opinions if you express

    Okay, then what is Canada's secret police organization, what is France's? Or any other democratic country I can name? You said all Democracies have secret police organizations, so I can ask for examples of that from every one. You have not provided much in the solid examples, just rather vague incrimination. Let me ask you this, do you think the CIA will personal kill you if you criticize the government? If not, then they really an effective secret police organization are they?

    Because having a group that operates almost solely on the internaionall stage doesn't create the atmosphere of terror that most secret police groups wish to inspire in their local population?

    To go back to star Trek, would those people at the restaurant in Romulus have been afriad to defy the government, if the Tal'Shiar operated mostly outside of Romulus.

    Look at the CIA's bizarre failed attempts to kill Castro, those plans are so silly, I don't find the CIA scary, they seem rather incompetent.

    Except a lot of people would say that Democracy needs rules in place to protect people's rights.

    When someone's rights are violated, they often say its fascist and undemocratic, they don't just throw up their hands and say its okay because the government won an election last year.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2013
  19. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    No. That it is not all what criticize means. Criticism is a form of speech, period. To use force, or to prepare to use force, in addition to openly expressing criticism, is to do more than merely criticize. In the US, criticism of the government is Constitutionally protected; using force to oppose it is not. You've got a conflation, there.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    My answer is of no particular interest. In different systems, different parties provide the answer; say, in a representative system, people voted into power answer the question, and if the voters don't like the answer, they vote these people out.

    Yet this discussion is about secret polices - and the fact that they don't care what the answer is. They have one of their very own, and they are not obligated to tell us what it is. That's the very point of having them in the first place.

    The organization runs prison camps operating outside the boundaries of the law, imprisoning US citizens among others, and the end result may well be execution - so yes, I'd say all the above criteria are well met.

    That's a matter of googling, and you can do it yourself. Ours is called Supo for short, literally "Protection Police". Hardly worth having torture chambers in our little paradise of mere five million, but Supo is still participating in the currently fashionable outsourcing of torture, predominantly by cooperating with the more bloodlusty services internationally.

    Stating generally accepted facts hardly calls for more.

    Even the Okhrana wouldn't have bothered to come all this way to kill me for writing an article against the Czar. Crushing of dissent in detail isn't an effective way to curb it. You have to go the TNG "Justice" way and terrorize in small, affordable amounts...

    That aside, I don't think you or I have any reason to doubt that the CIA does travel abroad killing people without a trial.

    Just about everything done on the international stage after 9/11 (the 2001 event, not the 1973 one where CIA actually directly participated) has been done to create an atmosphere of terror, and very well at that. CIA plays a central role in that. Efficient trumps traditional.

    "Outside" is too difficult to define in an interstellar empire...

    ...But I guess the answer has to be yes. After all, Tal'Shiar controls the military when it wishes, and thus no doubt also controls any forces operating within the Star Empire.

    Well, so is Tal'Shiar. This isn't much consolation for those who actually do get tortured and killed by the organizations.

    Sure. And since morals change, these rules change as well. At some point, it might well be that rules would be created to protect the right to own slaves again.

    The very point of democracy is to create a dynamic rather than static system, one where the people can punish the leaders for wrong decisions by bloodless means; the soft punishment of removing them from office is ideal as it can be easily accepted by the leaders, too. Static laws that prevent the creation of new laws are a major antithesis to democracy. Which is why even constitutions can be rewritten by democratic means, in most systems going by that name anyway.

    Timo Saloniemi