An analysis of The Klingon Empire in Star Trek: Discovery's era

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Discovery' started by INACTIVEUSS Einstein, Feb 19, 2017.

  1. INACTIVEUSS Einstein

    INACTIVEUSS Einstein Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In Star Trek we can identify roughly three eras of Klingon society:
    • Archer's era - the 22nd century
    • Kirk's era - the 23rd century
    • Picard's era - the 24th century
    In each of these eras, the Klingon Empire seems to have a slightly different culture, with distinguishing factors - in Archer's era (22nd century), they seem to be a powerful colonial empire maybe akin to the Mongol Empire, British Empire or Tsarist Russia, but is disorganized and corrupt; their crews wear non-standard armor, their ships are powerful compared to the minor powers of the quadrant such as Earth, Andor and Vulcan, but they are the victim of Suliban terrorism and unsanctioned genetic experiments, and their caste system is a failed social paradigm - in Kirk's time (23rd century) they are an organized and powerful Cold War adversary to the Federation, with standardized uniforms, a fascistic military culture, they are scientifically adept, there is no trace of the older traditions, and the culture is so totalitarian that even their officers are monitored by remote surveillance - in Picard's time (24th century) they have made peace with the Federation, seemingly undergone a cultural counter-revolution, but suffer from reactionary politics and social stagnation; many Klingons have become obsessed with an atavistic cultural identity that never existed to begin with.

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    What might have brought about these changes, if they were a real-world culture?

    I've always seen the possible process as being something like this:

    - 22nd Century: They started out as a colonial empire in space with elements of feudal aristocracy or oligarchic despotism (which had become vastly inefficient by Archer's time - barely held together by coercion - suffering constant instability).

    - 23rd Century: They went through a political revolution of some sort (comparable to the rise of nationalism in Europe) in the time after ENT and before TOS. The Klingon Empire was modernized into a centralized military state, abolishing primitive feudalism/levies/landholders, and replacing it with more modern forms of coercion such as conscription, propaganda, a prison system, a technologically improved military, etc.

    - 24th Century: They reformed after Gorkon's peace initiative, into a more open society, but the old noble families, medieval ideas, etc, came back to some degree. Romanticism for the past was increased due to the stagnation of society.

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    The reason I don't buy the idea of a disorganized empire of biker gang Klingons, is because history will not support this. As I've said before the Klingons cannot leverage others to do their industrial and scientific work for them, they must posses a significant industrial base, and the example I've often used is how the Roman Empire won wars - not through ferocity, but through practicality and discipline, which are far more important:

    Rationality wins wars. Armies are some of the most 'hard rationalist' of organizations. They will make their soldiers do things that might not be glamorous, if it improves the chances of winning and survival. A soldier might have to eat local insect wildlife, in order to survive in conditions where supply lines are poor. Religious dietary requirements and other romantic notions fly right out of the window. They wear practical fabrics, carry practical weapons, and don't do things for glamour. If a Klingon commander tells troops to 'cook' their gagh in order to release more useful protein for digestion, they will have to do it. If they are issued standard bars of field rations, that contain some unpalatable formula, they must eat them.

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    Roman troops were able to construct an 18 kilometer long 4 meter high double-wall around Alesia in three weeks, in order to starve the Gauls out. But that is why they were the greatest fighting force of their age - the ability to dig a latrine is more important than yelling loud and looking fashionable in empire building.


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    The fact of the matter is that for the Klingons to have ever built a colonial empire in the first place, they must have been practical and disciplined, and opportunistic in their search for profit. The Klingon Empire cannot simply "get" aliens to research and build D7 battlecruisers for it; it has to understand the principles of duotronic circuitry, and a thousand other scientific concepts. It cannot coerce Mizarian white collar workers to plan how natural resources get from 20 different planets to one shipyard. It cannot order a third species to simply build these things from a blueprint. It needs an industrial/economic/scientific base of its own.

    Now we have more rumors and possible pictures of Klingons from the new series, what possibilities does this present for the relationship between The United Federation of Planets and The Klingon Empire? I think this amazing video by General Chang no less, from the video game Star Trek: Klingon Academy explains the political situation better than I ever could:



    The main weakness (and strength) of the Federation's political structure is it's diversity, which can be exploited by less scrupulous powers, using the age old political tactic of divide and conquer - playing the interests of one member state or ethnic group against another - with only the cooperative spirit of each member preventing their unequal burden from dis-uniting them. The different factions: the Federation Council, Section 31, Starfleet Command, the Klingon Planning Committee, Imperial Intellgence, and the Klingon Defence Force, will have different ideas about what is prudent for their survival.

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    Leading a galactic scientific and cultural renaissance, the Federation is a young, confident and vigorous republic founded 100 years ago from many diverse species, all cooperating in common for scientific research, humanitarian effort and mutual military defense. The Klingon Empire is a huge colonial state that may have recently reformed into a more organized and regimented structure in response to the emergence of Federation.

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    The the two maintain a very fragile balance of power - Bryan Fuller and Nicholas Meyer may have intimated that both "Balance of Terror" and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country" form some kind of inspiration for the series. What might happen should the Klingon state violate galactic treaties by pursuing mass genetic engineering? Would Starfleet be forced to intervene and launch a surgical strike? This kind of situation could be a big source of drama in the series.

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    What about the appearance of the Klingons?

    Already in the Kelvin Timeline, we have seen a reality where Klingons retain their ridges in this era, and where Praxis has already exploded. We have also been presented with aliens which may, or may not, be a reflection of Klingons in this era. How can this be explained?

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    Well, assuming that Star Trek: Discovery is even set in the prime universe, which are are not entirely certain about, it raises some possibilities:
    1. Different Klingon ethnic groups exist, with some looking very alien, others more human
    2. The genetic retrovirus was not 100% endemic to all Klingon populations
    3. The more alien looking Klingons may represent some remnant aboriginal population
    Many empires are very diverse, and while the Vulcanoid Romulans may be more ethnocentric, its possible that Klingons are a very ethnically inclusive empire like the Mongols or Huns, and have been cross marrying with alien nations since the Hur'q invaded their planet centuries ago, in which case they may have developed a plurality of Klingon features just as most of our own human nations have, with the Klingons from Into Darkness perhaps representing a province that was more isolated from the influence of the Empire's cosmopolitanism, and the Klingons of TNG representing a more cultured city-based majority. It is possible different social norms and historical events in the Prime and Kelvin Timelines resulted in different mixtures emerging. Either that, or like audiences did when The Motion Picture came out, we will just accept that they are what the Klingon people have always looked like.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  2. cultcross

    cultcross You're all posters in some kind of neutral zone? Moderator

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    You put some effort into that post! I enjoyed reading it. I think you're right in that it is important to remember that Star Trek had historically been very bad at portraying species as not only monocultural, but largely unchanging. Centuries go by and there don't seem to be many changes in anything other than technology. And when there is, all the fans complain. There is a possibility of portraying the Klingons as you suggest, a society in the throws of a totalitarian fascist takeover, in Discovery. That could certainly be interesting, as well as tying into the way they were portrayed in TOS.
     
  3. INACTIVEUSS Einstein

    INACTIVEUSS Einstein Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    @cultcross - Thanks!

    Yeah for sure on the bad portrayals. The mono-culture thing has become a big problem in Trek sometimes. I would love to see a Klingon culture develop in Discovery that was open enough to interpretation that it could easily encompass all the seeming differences between TOS, The Search for Spock, The Undiscovered Country and TNG/DS9. I don't think it would be that hard either. Including perhaps the ideas that John M Ford came up with in "The Final Reflection". The problem has been that Klingon culture was explained in too constraining and inorganic a way in some Trek; it didn't allow for differences of opinion, so that everything became about blood-wine and honor.

    Thats why I felt the Klingons in that deleted scene from Star Trek 2009 felt like such a breath of fresh air - because they were just talking normally, intelligently, objectively, not in that same rasping tone we became used to:

     
  4. cultcross

    cultcross You're all posters in some kind of neutral zone? Moderator

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    I can see why they cut that scene, the Exposition Klingons (tm) were unnecessary, but you're right, it was a good portrayal of the Klingons themselves. Not one mention of bloody honour!
     
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  5. The Impaler

    The Impaler Ensign Red Shirt

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    I was skeptical when I heard that the Klingons were going to feature prominently in the new series. SO tired of the TNG and beyond portrayal. You see this a bit too with all the species. Like, why do Romulans all look the same? Same haircut, clothing, etc etc. ST needs to be a lot better with it's costuming in this manner. I have hope that Discovery won't be the "bloody honor" route, but time will tell.
     
  6. JonVP

    JonVP Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Very interesting analysis. We’ve explored so much of Klingon culture already, especially through the character of Worf on TNG and DS9. I’m really looking forward how DSC will use them as antagonists.
     
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  7. RAMA

    RAMA Admiral Admiral

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    I would add a 4th era: The Post-Gowron Era. From peace, the Empire entered a time of Civil Wars, violence and shifting allegiances, sometimes at the drop of a hat. Finally, the Klingons entered into all-out war with the UFP and then back again to an uneasy alliance against a more powerful enemy: the Dominion.
     
  8. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    Where do the Klingons from VOY "Prophecy" fit into all this? Did their ship leave Klingon space in the TOS era for ideological reasons because they didn't like the direction that the smoothies were taking the Empire?

    Kor
     
  9. Philip Guyott

    Philip Guyott Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I always felt that the Klingon's in that Voyager episode should have been smoothies. It would have made it a more interesting episode.

    For those who have not seen them yet, here are a couple of YouTube videos about the history of the Klingon people. The second video is perhaps more relevant to this discussion.



     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
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  10. STR

    STR Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'd have to disagree with your 23rd century conclusion, and counter with my own plausible (IMO) scenario. Given: At no point has the Empire been depicted as anything other than a fuedal monarchy. However, a monarch does not always have to rely upon vassal levies. Indeed, there is a canon "Klingon Defense Force". That could represent the Chancellor's personal retinue, or it could be a standalone army that is ostensibly apolitical and concerned solely with defending the borders.

    In order to keep an ostensibly apolitical institution actually apolitical, it would almost by definition require interese scrutiny from any and all major factions and families. Monitoring would be the norm at all strategic levels. It would be quite distinct culturally as well, with emphasis on disciplined loyalty to the state rather than earning prestige for one's family.

    A border secured by a neutral professional army might even encourage the frequent civil wars. A faction could commit their entire forces to interfaction battle without worrying about Romulus attacking their rear.

    When there is an invasion (either an attack on the empire or an invasion BY the empire), the fuedal fleets would be conscripted into the KDF as auxiliaries with the Chancellor at the head. Indeed, authority over this force would also be a key reason why so much attention is paid to the rituals of ascension to the throne and why a neutral arbiter is required. Only the Chancellor can issue orders the KDF, and only an exceptional and (relatively) upstanding individual can be trusted with it.

    Just my pet theory. Feel free to discuss and dissect.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
  11. Ithekro

    Ithekro Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I would assume that at the height of the Cold War with the Federation...the point where it went hot over Organia, the Klingon military structure was reasonably competent and a serious threat to the Federation. It likely had been that way for a few decades with occasional battles during that time, perhaps even a war that ended in a stalemate followed by a Cold War while the Klingons tried to come up with an advantage and the Federation tried to maintain the balance of power, or at least prevent the Klingons from gaining an upper hand. Following the Organian Peace Treaty, the Federation and Klingons were encouraged to work in more direct competition for worlds outside the use of military conflict. But Discovery will likely be set a good decade before Organia, so the chances of their being incidents, battles, or a war are high between the Federation and Klingon Empire.

    This potential hot war with the Federation might be what is keeping the Empire more unified and organized than we see it in other time periods. The chance for glory and honor is high, but the observation of even high ranking military leaders is also high, probably to prevent any one house from attempting to usurp power to take over the High Council. There is no time for personal glory, nor glory for one's house. All glory must be for the Empire.
     
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  12. a thousand-yard stare

    a thousand-yard stare Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Hmm. Interesting.
    War, Famine, Pestilence and Death.
    They're always reliable.

    Klingons, like Vulcans, appear to have long lifespans, which is a factor to bear in mind.
    The events to change society to such a degree would have to be momentous.
    I would have said losing a war would have been a prime candidate, but against who was that war fought?
    Also thinking about it, it seems that the Klingons were unable to take advantage of the Romulan War and so the momentous events might already have been in train in Archer's time.
    Is it possible the fallout from the Augment Virus brought down the 'Ancien Regime'?
    A widespread, 'disfiguring' disease.

    I like this idea.
    Janissaries or elite guards
     
  13. INACTIVEUSS Einstein

    INACTIVEUSS Einstein Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Like I've said in the past I'm not a huge fan of the idea that Klingons are in any way a nomadic state or feudal state - I'm not even sure such a state could survive in the space age, for reasons I've outlined before regarding organization and modernity - of course my ideas about the 23rd century are completely un-canonical though; just speculation, rather than a firm conclusion.

    Here is what I wrote:

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    Sometimes what is unsaid matters more than what is said; it's better to leave possibilities open than to close them - so the idea that we must fill in every gap in Star Trek history, and explain every part of a culture, can be a destructive impulse, that closes down speculation, exploration and opportunity.

    Often, in attempting to describe an alien society, people fall into the trap of over-describing it, over-simplifying it and ossifying it - I think Klingon culture became this way in the later eras of Star Trek.

    Writers did not leave enough room for opportunity - they tried to fill in absolutely every question about Klingon culture with the type of answer that closes all further speculation. You can consequently find more interesting examples of Klingon culture in older books and games, from before the time when Klingons became like this. In Star Trek: 25th Anniversary for example, the Klingon government subjects one of it's own colonies, Hrakkour IV, to lethal doses of radiation, in order to put down a rebellion - something that fits perfectly with the fascist period of their society seen in TOS, but which does not jive with the technologically inept barbarians that are sometimes presented:

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    In some works, every avenue of Klingon culture was explained away systematically and obsessively - but not in a very naturalistic, practical or organic way - leading to a really monolithic and simplistic society, which even the smallest nation on Earth, would seem diverse in comparison to. Take a tiny culture from the Caucasus on our own planet, and it has a hugely diverse history. Sometimes, with the Klingons, it was like the Wikipedia outline article on a culture had been taken as the law on how to write for that culture.

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    I really like what little we have seen of JJ Abrams Klingons - going back to a less comprehensively understood society, which acts more naturally like TOS Klingons. They are not obsessed with honour, glory and religion - no society on Earth, not even the most obsessive theocracy, would have citizens or military servicemen constantly drop Kahless, honour, bat'leths, etc, into every conversation - it's not natural.


    Rationality wins wars. Armies are some of the most 'hard rationalist' of organizations. They will make their soldiers do things that might not be glamorous, if it improves the chances of winning and survival. A soldier might have to eat local insect wildlife, in order to survive in conditions where supply lines are poor. Religious dietary requirements and other romantic notions fly right out of the window. They wear practical fabrics, carry practical weapons, and don't do things for glamour. If a Klingon commander tells troops to 'cook' their gagh in order to release more useful protein for digestion, they will have to do it. If they are issued standard bars of field rations, that contain some unpalatable formula, they must eat them.

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    Roman troops were able to construct an 18 kilometer long 4 meter high double-wall around Alesia in three weeks, in order to starve the Gauls out. But that is why they were the greatest fighting force of their age - the ability to dig a latrine is more important than yelling loud in empire building.


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    There is a very good reason that Japan had to abolish feudalism and the samurai in order to become an empire capable of inflicting the biggest military defeat in British history.

    The fact of the matter is that for the Klingons to have ever built a colonial empire in the first place, they must have been practical and disciplined, rather than relying on culture or martial arts. So TOS Klingons were quite realistic, whereas some later episodes that tried to depict them as being strong out of ferocity were missing the mark. Empires are inherently quite opportunist, but even discounting that, like Rome, which would dig a trench round a town and starve the enemy rather than rush in, it requires organization rather than fanaticism.

    I know modern culture has sorta acclimatized people to the idea that martial cultures must be inherently ninja-like in their skill, but Star Trek takes the more realistic historical view - which is that there isn't much difference between trained soldiers - other than equipment and discipline.

    The only time when martial cultures might be slightly better is if, like the Rajputs or Gurkhas or Scots, they are engaged in low-level endemic warfare, and therefore are able to withstand the psychological rigors of a battlefield situation a bit better, due to a courage-based culture developing. But even then, the difference can be negated entirely by "discipline" - hence how time and time again, the British Empire were able to drive off large numbers of attackers from such cultures.

    The British Empire ruled 1/4th of humanity - but among 40 million Britons (vs 400 million Indians) - still 99.9% of Britons were workers. Qo'noS will undoubtedly be the same as England was, with industrial bases like Manchester or Liverpool were in those times.... Except in the 20th century power became even more dependent on science and industry in organized coordination. Modern states cannot survive without a scientific base of researchers and white collar workers.

    If Klingons are in fact 8 billion warriors, why haven't they overrun the galaxy? So if they are basically a complete parody of a warrior society, like Orks in Warhammer 40,000 - with an army of billions - the Federation would literally not stand a chance, with its few million servicemen. Not to mention it would be inappropriate to the setting, and boring (another prosaic mindless character-less alien horde, like something out of Halo).

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    The Klingon Empire cannot function like a Z-canon parody of a biker gang, through extortion alone (thank god no official source has ever suggested this). It cannot simply "get" aliens to research and build D7 battlecruisers for it; it has to understand the principles of duotronic circuitry, and a thousand other scientific concepts. It cannot coerce Mizarian white collar workers to plan how natural resources get from 20 different planets to one shipyard. It cannot order a third species to simply build these things from a blueprint. It needs an industrial/economic/scientific base of its own.

    I would like to point out that the Empire is led by a Chancellor, rather than Emperor, so isn't a monarchy most of the time we see it - its an oligarchic despotic state. When Kahless is cloned, he resumed as a ceremonial Head of State after centuries without an Emperor, but the real power resides with the High Council still. We have no idea what form of government they had during TOS.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
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  14. Longinus

    Longinus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    @USS Einstein, while the Chancellor is not technically a monarch, he is elected by leaders of the great houses (and usually tends to be such a house head himself.) This is situation similar to Holy Roman Empire, where the Elector Princes elected the Emperor.

    Furthermore, I really do not see feudalism as fundamentally irrational or incompatible with high tech level. Personally I like the anachronistic aspects of the Klingon culture, it makes them more alien to us modern humans and better contrast to the progressive Federation.

    And whilst all Klingons cannot be warrior nobles, they can all be rather privileged. It is an interstellar empire controlling vast areas of space, presumably containing several alien civilisations, yet all their ships and all political roles are filled exclusively by Klingons. Unless the Klingons just exterminate all aliens they conquer (and they don't as we see alien prisoners in Rura Penthe, and of course the Feds would never form an alliance with them is they would) there will be billions of subjugated aliens living in the Empire. So I see it perfectly possible that lower class jobs are done almost exclusively by these aliens, leaving the Klingons free to pursue careers as warriors, politicians, scientists or opera singers.
     
  15. cultcross

    cultcross You're all posters in some kind of neutral zone? Moderator

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    I'd always rationalised the 'everyone's a warrior' thing in a very similar way - the Klingons we actually encounter and our heroes interact with are part of the aristocracy - the lords and Knights to continue our medieval theme. They get to spend their lives warring, leading, drinking and dueling because there is an underclass (either conquered aliens or peasant Klingons) who toil away on their homeworlds doing all the things necessary to run an empire other than fighting. This would include highly skilled individuals from our perspective - engineers, scientists, doctors, teachers - but because they aren't the Warrior Class they are seen as subordinate on a culture that values something else. Naturally an outside perspective who largely meet KDF officers and high ranking officials would see very little of this underclass and the Federation probably feel better pretending they don't exist as it may make their close alliance rather problematic.
     
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  16. INACTIVEUSS Einstein

    INACTIVEUSS Einstein Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I suppose something that allowed for modern institutions to exist in a feudal society, would mean that feudalism in space wouldn't be entirely impossible, but it seems closer to space fantasy than science fiction, and indeed medievalism in space is a staple of space fantasy. Feudalism can in history result from a breakdown in society, so that people are forced into ties of loyalty to a lord, for example. Theoretically it could happen in a developed society ala Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

    I just don't like the idea much.

    Klingons have been compared to Vikings, Samurai, the Soviet Union, and they seem to have elements of nomadic steppe or mountain culture (especially their mountain cities and furs in Enterprise), but for some reason painting them as some kind of Star Wars Hutts, bound by ties of direct loyalty or kinship, doesn't sit well with me. We have not particularly seen any evidence for this - the appearance of nobles supports an aristocracy, but not necessarily actual feudalism - but also I admit there is no evidence to specifically deny it either.

    At the very least Klingons need modern state institutions (even if it's with feudalism).

    Say that Klingons were a non standardized military - how would they cope vs a well disciplined modern force? How would they successfully suppress a subject that had a scientific academia while they did not? Would they have to raise levies? I suppose you could have a feudal state with the trappings of a 20th century society - where the CIA was a private organization of paid spies - where by treaty the Army adopted common standards - where subject species knew the secrets of antimatter but were kept from employing it by divide and conquer - but I guess I just like the Cold War paradigm better, with it's centralized liberation of vast forces of organizational power - Apollo Programs, Manhattan Projects, Baikonur Cosmodromes, Closed Cities, etc; leave crime to the Orions and feudalism to some other species like the Kzin - I imagine Klingons as Cold Warriors flying constant patrols.

    What about what we know?

    Well, we have Commander Kor being monitored by surveillance in "Errand of Mercy" and giving Kirk a speech about how each Klingon is a unit, part of a greater whole. Then with the High Council, as I said, they seem to be an oligarchy of the rich, rather than Holy Roman electors. None of them were styled prince or doge or count or duke. The uniforms are standardized. The Klingon Defence Force bears a nationalistic sounding name. The Empire has military ranks like Brigadier and General, instead of just Earls, Knights and Housecarls.
     
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  17. INACTIVEUSS Einstein

    INACTIVEUSS Einstein Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It sounds a bit like John M Ford's idea - but one of the reasons I never fully liked his concept of the Klingon Empire was that I don't like the idea they keep slaves - maybe I should get over it in preparation for whatever we end up seeing in the new show. I always liked the Klingon Empire as a kid, and found it respectable in many ways (such as equality of the sexes), so if Klingons were now destined to become a sort of empire where exploitation is the stated goal, and the Klingon people don't do their own work - I don't know how I feel about that. I guess it shouldn't shock me since an empire was always going to involve exploitation, but does anyone else feel we are constantly lowering the bar in our expectations of what civilized societies can be these days?

    Out of interest, here is Wikipedia's description of his society:

    Particular aspects of Klingon society depicted include:
    • A strong Klingon emphasis on battle-related games. The title refers to a move in klin zha, a Klingon game with similarities to chess; in this particular variation, the "reflective" game, both players take turns playing one set of pieces.
    • Games played with living players.
    • Military strategy is the particular province of a military class known as "thought admirals," who hone their skills in "the game with living pieces." They also seek to learn how other societies think militarily by studying the games of those people.
    • The distinction between empire-building races—such as the Klingons, the Humans and Vulcans with their Federation, and the Romulans—and less driven races, whom the Klingons use as servants (kuve).
    The novel concerns an intergenerational conflict within the Klingon government, between a faction wanting war with the Federation and a faction desiring accommodation for fear of Klingon defeat.
    We will have to see what the new show holds. If they move toward John M Ford, or slaves, or feudalism, or some kind of Ottoman system with slave or Janissary armies, I wonder if it would be a coincidence that they have suddenly stopped being modeled on a highly organized "statist" superpower in the 1960s, and instead become a "medieval" slave state in the 2010s?
     
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  18. Longinus

    Longinus Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think you take the reference to feudalism too literally. It of course couldn't be exactly like medieval feudalism on Earth (things like titles are arbitrary English translations anyway), it would be a society with some elements of feudalism (mainly political) mixed with some modern elements. I do not see societal development as linear path which automatically leads to certain structures; there are many alternative paths and it gives verisimilitude to the setting if different species have followed different paths.

    And even if these elements you seem backwards would be ineffective and harmful for the development of the society as a whole, it still doesn't mean that they're unrealistic. Look at human history, hell, look what's going on in the world today. Societies do not always behave in optimised and rational manner. Maybe feudalism indeed is not most effective way to run things, but if you happen to be a feudal lord who personally benefits from the arrangement, you're going to do your damndest to maintain that system!

    That being said, I like your idea of TOS Klingons being a result of some sort of a revolution or at least an attempt to modernise. Klingon Empire is pretty damn old, much older than Federation, so I can imagine that it was rather stagnant in its past. Sure, maybe things were not run most effective way possible, but as they were the biggest players around, they could brute force their way into dominance any way. Only when they met their match in Federation were they forced to modernise somewhat.

    Not necessary slaves, but there is no way there is any sort of equality of species in the Empire; at least no de facto, and probably not de jure either. All the leaders and all the military are Klingons. It is an empire of warriors and conquerors. Whilst you can show individual Klingons in positive light and show that their culture has some admirable characteristics, I don't like sugarcoating imperialism. It's not nice. I'd prefer this to be shown more explicitly than it has been in past. And again, good contrast to Federation.
    Sure. And in real world this is highly worrying. But I would not call Klingon Empire a civilised society, and it doesn't need to be depicted as such. Show them as brutal conquerors, who justify the unjustifiable with their legends of glory and the hollow code of honour. And maybe some day they can evolve past that, but that is a matter best handled in a show set into a later era.
     
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  19. INACTIVEUSS Einstein

    INACTIVEUSS Einstein Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
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    Location:
    NCC-0500
    Maybe then the Romulans, if they appear at all, can be the enemy that is an unrepentant fascistic state, if they take the Klingons in the direction you indicate. I might write an analysis of what I think they are up to during DSC, but it might be a little useless since we don't know that they will even be in Discovery (i.e. due to Tokugawa-like isolationism). Romulus is after all based on Rome (with hints of Germany, Japan and China depending on the era), and the "fasces" was a Roman symbol. I've always imagined them as being very ethnocentric and basically an "imperial democracy", similar to the Roman Republic, that has to justify all it's aggression on the basis of national security - it makes imperialism more complex and entertaining when the state must justify itself to a senate, in terms of profitability, security, survival, suffering - the Klingons being gung ho for conquest to begin with might not need to.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. STR

    STR Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2009
    Location:
    Out there. Thatta way.
    Back up a second. Nomadic is in no way the same thing as feudal. And feudal doesn't necessarily mean Western European feudalism. Byzantine pronoia were fundamentally distinct from Catholic European fiefdom, and Islamic Iqtas were distinct from both.

    The emperor in Constantinople effectively owned all land within the borders of the ERE (aside from some noble estates) and granted people the nontransferable and noninheritable right to use *his* land, resources, or trade routes. That grant could be rescinded at any time for any reason. In the Muslim world, so long as you paid taxes to your muqti (lord), you were allowed almost free reign within your territory and owed no further allegiance.

    Both of those models were stable enough to support empires for a thousand years, and were subject to constant reform (e.g. the Theme system abolishing the separation between civil administrators and military governors in the ERE). They lasted from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance. Pronoia and Iqta even merged under the Ottomans, and was still in place until the Tanzimat reforms of the mid-late 19th century.

    Also, please do not block quote a massive post that is literally a few posts up on the same page. That is neither a proper response nor polite. If you want to emphasize a particular point, quote that passage and elaborate.

    By all accounts, the chancellor is a monarch. The chancellor can dispense law and punishment on his own. Nobody is allowed to veto the chancellor, indeed disagreements can be viewed as a challenge to the chancellor's authority. And when you challenge his authority, you have to either kill him or be killed by him to solve the impasse.

    I'm not even sure you could call it an elected monarch (sidenote: the Pope is an example of an elected monarch as is the Supreme Leader of Iran) as the high council never directly votes on the chancellor. It's more Roman than Holy Roman. Factions pledged allegiance to the head of a family, and either that person assumed the office by being the sole qualified candidate after going through the rites of ascension, or a rival block formed around another candidate and civil war ensued.

    However, like all monarchies, even if the statutory power is unlimited the actual power is limited by politics. You can't fight everyone all the time or you end up dead. You'll probably end up dead anyway, as the term of office is life, which makes assignations necessary. You can't always wait 20 years for someone to die naturally. The council seems like more of a rubber stamp or a privy council than a proper voting body. You don't see anyone whipping for votes for example.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
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