Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by The Overlord, Jan 27, 2013.
You are confusing oppression with irritation.
Most people do.
That's the point: one's oppression is another's irritation. And nobody in the UFP or Starfleet seems to be particularly interested in rooting out irritation as a thing. Or oppression as a thing. They just aim for a specific level of discomfort, which excludes killing the carpenters who try their hand at oil painting, but includes throwing into jail those who speak their mind in front of a superior officer.
It's just that the UFP comfort zone is not a particularly narrow one. Duels to the death over possession of females are okay. Whether a benign caste system could come up with something less repugnant than that isn't much to ask...
Really, it would be easy to see some people witness the UFP go to war over caste systems, and deem them savages for such senseless and immoral behavior. Overreacting to irritation is just as bad as underreacting to oppression.
Simply a universal fact. And anybody claiming to act on absolute standards of oppression or equality is simply a mindless tyrant, a threat to his environment, and a prime target for judicious elimination.
The United Federation of Planets is a loosely conceptualized fictional government or political body wherein any aspect of its organization and structure is subject to the needs of whatever storyline it's featured in. Thus, few specific accounts of how it actually functions can be derived.
Given this diffuse presentation it becomes easy for two people to see entirely different things when looking at it and trying to explain it to others. What the Federation is largely becomes a function of one's own personal bias and imagination. It's the profound idea of the UFP, rather than the mundane liturgy of its function, that underpins its depiction. Thus, ancillary concerns such as its voting system, economic structure and minutia concerning new members never rises to the level of importance necessary to be included in the narrative, unless said minutia is specifically relevant.
There is no bible concerning how the Federation works, thus there are no right or wrong answers. There could be dozens more prerequisites for becoming a member other than those (seemingly) stated. Or there could be none. It could be like the UN, where once the very minimal standards are met, you're in. Or more like the EU, wherein the existing membership only lets you in if it's politically expedient.
Hell, every applicant may be required to have a recipe for fried chicken to even have their application considered. Or be a nice vacation destination (as so many seem to be). Or have heard of ABBA. We know they have to be able to quote Shakespeare and/or Surak, at the very least.
Or it could be absolutely none of those things. Until we get a West Wing style series specifically about the UFP, I doubt we'll ever know. But we can guess our asses off.
Those open-minded enough to accept the novels would likely enjoy Articles of the Federation by Keith R.A. DeCandido, a West Wing-style novel about a year in the life of the Federation President.
The mechanisms of Federation government are also explored in the novels:
A Time to Kill by David Mack
A Time to Heal by David Mack
A Time for War, A Time for Peace by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Articles of the Federation by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Destiny: Gods of Night by David Mack
Destiny: Mere Mortals by David Mack
Destiny: Lost Souls by David Mack
A Singular Destiny by Keith R.A. DeCandido
TNG: Losing the Peace by William Leisner
Typhon Pact: Zero Sum Game by David Mack
Typhon Pact: Rough Beasts of Empire by David R. George III
Typhon Pact: Paths of Disharmony by Dayton Ward
Typhon Pact: Plagues of Night by David R. George III
Typhon Pact: Raise the Dawn by David R. George III
TNG: Cold Equations: Silent Weapons by David Mack
A commercial for trek lit? Complete with a detailed list of trek novels? And an ad personam if you don't "accept" the novels?
Isn't that considered trolling here?
A stable, united, peaceful, civilized planet I guess. If we had warp speed I do not think 21st century earth would be a good candidate.
Two valid forms of ID and a credit report.
Go to amigo loans and you're in.
Hey, not everyone thinks the novels are the best thing since TOS. I, for one, don't accept them as an extension of canon. I think many are unimaginative. For instance, depicting the government and politics of a huge, multi-species interstellar polity as being just like the United States, with elections, campaigns, and political talking heads on "TV" debating policy seems implausible to me.
Looking back, I think Roddenberry's idea to keep any depiction of the future Earth out of Star Trek was a great idea. Depicting something that really should be radically different should be avoided if it can't be done justice. The inner workings of the UFP strikes me as something that can't be depicted in any plausible way.
Not every Member species in the Federation would necessarily want the identical rights. And some species wouldn't want certain right for others, because they don't want that particular right for themselves. So each species civilization would have it's own separate rights, responsibilities and restrictions. Unique to each species needs and wants.
For example, the majority of the species in the Federation might have the "right" to genetic engineering, to alter and change themselves and their children as they see fit. However the Human species have a prohibition on such engineering and the other Members of the Federation respect this and don't (legally) engage in the genetic engineering of Humans. One Federation species guaranteed right, is another Federation species illegal act.
In order to achieve equality, either you are pushing me forward to your level, or possibly I'm retarding you back to mine. At what point does this effort at equality became oppressive inequality for both of us?
It's like in grade school, does the entire class hang back for the benefit of the slowest kid in the class. Or are all the student require to keep up with the smart kid. We might all be equal in the eyes of the law, but in reality none of us is truly the same.
Given the number of Federation Member species, and the likely sizable number of individuals and groups from worlds outside the Federation living within it, applying absolutes is a ridiculous concept. They can't realistically be applied to such a diverse assemblage.
Oh, we just might be. While there are still wars, the majority of the planet is (currently) at peace. While the various governments are not united, increasingly the people around the world are, we communicate with others internationally. I see civilization on this world, the "uncivil" people are the exception. Stable is the variable requirement, our cultures and technology are obviously in flux.
Today, I think Humans would make excellent Federation members.
Or, the next time we have a Presidential election, just fly into one of the states that doesn't check photo identification and vote to your heart's content.
Well of course they're not an "extension" of canon. "Canon" in the context of derivative works is "the work the derivative work is based upon;" this by definition precludes the derivative work from being canonical.
The neat thing about Articles is that it does not depict Federation politics as being like U.S. politics. Not even structurally -- the Federation government is very different from U.S.-style Presidentialism. It doesn't have the strict separation of powers the way the U.S. does; the Federation President serves ex officio as the presiding officer of the Federation Council, and as the presiding office of the Council's committees if she chooses. Members of the Council's committees are appointed by the President upon ratification from the full Council, and the President is required to work closely in forming executive actions with the relevant committees, either in closed committee sessions or by seeking the constant advice of the committee leaders. And there are no Federation-wide political parties.
Very different from the American system.
"We're nothing like the Klingons. We're a democratic body." - Kirk, TOS: "Errand of Mercy"
"You would overthrow the legitimately-elected Federation President?" - Sisko, "Paradise Lost"
The canon has already established the existence of elections in the Federation. I for one am at a loss as to how you could possibly hold an election without a campaign; one automatically entails the other.
And unlike modern elections, there is, again, one major difference: No political parties.
Which part? The idea that people would analyze, debate, and comment upon public policy, or the idea that there is audio-visual mass communications?
The first sounds inevitable in a society with freedom of speech. The latter was already established canonically in VOY's "Endgame, Part I."
Look, my opinion is that the inner workings of the UFP as depicted are rather unimaginative. Frankly, the UFP government you described isn't radically different from the US system, just a little different. I find it difficult to believe that many other alien societies would agree that the US system is best for them, too. But that's because most of the aliens in Trek aren't very alien, either, being mostly human in both looks and beliefs, with just some funny bits on their foreheads and some exaggerated psychological trait to distinguish them. For me, to be plausible, the aliens of Trek would have to be more alien, and their alien psychologies would have to influence the style of government of the UFP. Not to mention the realities of distance and time in an interstellar society like the UFP; even with warp drive and subspace communications, the UFP shouldn't be treated like the US in size and scope.
Trek literature has the chance to be more different than what can be depicted in TV and films, with time to explain any radically different aspects that are introduced. Science fiction stories should have elements that are both familiar and very unfamiliar. Trek stories in my experience are too timid and use too many familiar elements that don't really enhance the story, but merely make it boring to me.
I really think you're overstating the similarities. The alienation and adversarial relationship between the presidency and the Congress is a defining feature of American-style presidentialism; it sets the American system apart from any other democratic system. If the system described in the novel Articles were to be compared to anything, it would be to the relationship between a Prime Minister and his/her Parliament in the Westminster system -- except that the Federation President is not the leader of a majority party or faction in the Council, and therefore cannot control the Council and its legislative agenda the way a PM can.
There is no system in the world where the independently-elected head of government nominates members of legislative committee members with the full legislature's ratification, and serves as the legislature's presiding officer. This creates a fundamentally different political relationship between the legislature and the head of government.
This is a problem you have with Star Trek itself, then, and it seems unfair to criticize the novels for following the canon's lead (which they are required to do by their status as media tie-ins). Perhaps you would enjoy original political science fiction more? Iain M. Banks's Culture series comes to mind.
It isn't. Just check out A Singular Destiny, the "spiritual sequel" to Articles by the same author, for a depiction of intra-Federation relations where Members are markedly more powerful and autonomous (due in fact to the very practicalities of interstellar distances) than U.S. states.
I'm very sorry to hear that, although I'm curious what Trek novels you've read. If you haven't read them, you might want to give certain novels -- among others, the Destiny trilogy and S.C.E.: Wildfire by David Mack; Crucible: Provenance of Shadows by David R. George III; Hollow Men and The Never-Ending Sacrifice by Una McCormack -- a try.
Media tie-in, unfortunately, does have to work within the parameters set by the canon upon which it is based. But it is my firm opinion that the current crop of Treklit authors have been able to create some really moving, beautiful works of art within those parameters.
But I digress. Back to a discussion of Federation governance?
In general, I don't read tie-in fiction anymore because it is constrained too much for my tastes. Film and TV Trek is OK, because it can be original, but tie-in is just lacking in originality.
As for being on topic - I stand by my assertion that only humanoids are allowed to join the Federation, and I'll add that the member society's government can only join if they keep the secret that Starfleet is the real authority in the Federation, because the UFP is really a secret military dictatorship.
I'd be curious to see more detail to that argument. For instance, what about a novel that is not "original" in the sense that it closely follows the developments in the series, but which brings new depth and insight to it? The Never-Ending Sacrifice, for instance, essentially runs parallel to the events of Seasons Two through Seven of DSN, but does so on Cardassia, through the eyes of Rugal, the Cardassian orphan who had been adopted by Bajorans and then sent back to Cardassia in the show. It's a rich exploration of Cardassian history and culture, and a deeply moving coming-of-age story -- yet it hews to the events of the series. Is something like that, which adds depth to the extant story, worth your time?
I don't mean this as a criticism -- I'm genuinely curious. What, exactly, constitutes "originality?"
Okay, but before we can proceed in examining this idea, we have to define:
What does "humanoid" mean? Does it just mean bilateral symmetry, with a trunk, a head, two ventral ambulatory appendages, and two dorsal manipulatory appendages? Or does it require a subject to adhere more closely to a Human-like body plan and Human-like proportions?
For instance, the Selay and the Antedeans may be said to broadly follow the pattern required by the former, but they're obviously different in terms of average bodily proportions when it comes both to their appendages and important external organs -- in addition to being apparently non-mammalian. Both were in the process of becoming Federation Members in early TNG.
Then there's the question of the clearly non-Humanoid Medusans; the biologically Medusan ambassador in "Is There No Truth in Beauty?" certainly seemed to be an Ambassador of the Federation, was attended by Federation aides, and travelled in a Federation ship. From what I can tell, it wasn't explicitly stated that he was a Federate and that Medusans are a Federation people, but that seems to be the implication of the available canonical evidence. (The novels have explicitly made Medusans a Federation people.)
Then there's the question of cetaceans. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home established very explicitly that, at the very least, Humpback Whales are sapient beings (who have apparently been in contact with extraterrestrial intelligences prior to the 23rd Century). Once Kirk and Spock brought their species back from extinction, does this mean we should presume that they are discriminated against, denied Federation and United Earth citizenship, not allowed democratic representation in government, not guaranteed certain protected civil rights and liberties?
(BTW, you might enjoy the Star Trek: Titan series. It's based on the idea that the U.S.S. Titan, on a mission of long-range exploration beyond Federation space, is crewed by a much more biologically diverse mixture of crew than we see in the canon, with quite a few non-Humanoid crew members.)
The whole of DSN's "Homefront" two-parter argues against this.
Separate names with a comma.