How are the Bajorans behind the Federation technologically?

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by Enterprise1981, Apr 28, 2014.

  1. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Much of what was established on TNG and DS9 suggested that the Bajoran civilization predates human civilizations by many milenia.

    That would suggest the emergence of homo erectus as much as 1.9 million years ago. Yet, they seemingly chose to remain in their little corner of the galaxy. At some point, they achieved a limited means of space travel during Earth's 16th Century AD and eventually interstellar travel.

    Based where humanity had progressed in terms of space travel as seen on Star Trek: Enterprise, the Bajorans achieved a 22nd Century level of technological development with regard to interstellar travel. Yet, seemingly they went no further based on Dukat's retrospective appraisal of the Bajorans at the beginning of the Occupation.

    And by extension, the Federation is technologically at least a century ahead of the Bajorans.

    So what are everybody else's thoughts on this.
     
  2. The ABehrration

    The ABehrration Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Is it the same reason why the Italians and the Dutch did not become the first industrial powerhouses: because development is not linear and high efficiency traps make it difficult to reform?
     
  3. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's a good point about the first industrial power houses. Even today, there are hunter and gatherer tribes here on Earth. They have content with their way of life all this time while the rest of the world nearly revolves around technology. The same could be said for the Bajorans. But what factors would draw towards interstellar travel after a million years being seemingly content with their own isolation? That's the really odd part of the equation.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Technological evolution, like biological evolution, follows a pattern of punctuated equilibrium. Long periods of stability give way to surges of rapid progress when the environment changes to create a need for innovation. And not every set of circumstances calls for the same type of innovation.

    And progress isn't always in a single direction. Societies can turn inward as well as outward -- see, for instance, Ming Dynasty China, which explored the world using fleets of the most advanced oceangoing vessels on the planet, but then abandoned exploration altogether and lost interest in the world beyond its borders, because its rulers felt they already had everything they needed. I've always taken Jaro's line to mean that Bajorans spread their civilization to the stars during an earlier space age, then retreated to their own world for millennia, then began turning outward once again. After all, modern Bajorans are a spiritual people, which suggests a focus on more inner-focused and philosophical pursuits rather than material and technological ones. (Cf. the Deltans: According to Roddenberry's TMP memos, Deltans long ago abandoned their space age when they chose to turn inward to more spiritual pursuits, and they see human starfarers as a reminder of their "primitive" past.)

    Anyway, Picard's "standing erect" line cannot be taken literally, because it's based in deeply outdated assumptions about hominid evolution. Hominids were standing erect as far back as Australopithecus afarensis four million years ago -- very, very long before anything that would be called a human being. That means Picard's line is basically gibberish. If we assume he meant "before human beings evolved," that could mean anything from 500,000 years ago, when Homo sapiens diverged from H. neanderthalensis, to 200,000 years ago, when anatomically modern humans first appeared.
     
  5. Jirin Actin Kinda Sus

    Jirin Actin Kinda Sus Admiral Admiral

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    It's hard to say what Bajor was like before Cardassia destroyed all their infrastructure. But it seems like their culture was mostly agrarian with small concentrations of technology. What little we see of the Bajoran surface is stone and wood structures. The d'jara system probably kept technological knowledge concentrated in small circles.
     
  6. The ABehrration

    The ABehrration Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think Christopher is spot on with his reference to the Chinese treasure fleet, which seemed to bring to a close the era of Chinese global exploration rather than open up China to being a world power. Another reference might be lunar travel, something which hasn't been repeated in over forty years. The fact that a civilization might achieve a high degree of success in exploration doesn't guarantee that it will keep building upon that success.
     
  7. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Perhaps there were Holy Wars on Bajor in the intervening years that took long for them to recover from? Prior Pah Wraith attacks?
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'd rather go for such an extended period of peace that all dynamism has been pruned from the society...

    And I'd grant Picard the opposite-of-poetic-license to differentiate between "humans standing erect" and "hominids/hominins standing erect". :devil:

    In any case, we have the intriguing tidbits that Bajorans

    a) have not explored all the mountains on their planet yet and
    b) had not settled the habitable fifth moon before the Cardassians came, despite certainly being capable of that almost a thousand years before and quite possibly ten thousand.

    It appears to be deep in their psyche not to explore or expand at all. They simply aren't humans, and only display humanlike traits when driven to extermes by the likes of a brutal occupation.

    That Bajoran reputation and influences spread across the galaxy does not mean that Bajorans did. Earth influences are all over the place, too, mostly from distribution conducted long before humans had starflight, spaceflight, or even technology beyond iron age. Visitors can accomplish that, and in Trek they are legion, with varying motivations.

    Seeing Bajorans outside Bajor may well be a unique artifact of the Occupation, in which Cardassians were in favor of some of the rabble fleeing in whatever ships they could get hold of. OTOH, possibly the earlier, more benevolent Hebitian civilization on Cardassia was starfaring and had close ties with old Bajor, helping distribute their civilization or at least its accomplishments and reputation. That is, the putative discontinuities and backsliding in history may be on Cardassia, not on Bajor.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Smellincoffee

    Smellincoffee Commodore Commodore

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    It's not unusual, historically speaking, for a wealthy and developed nation to become stagnant and prey to small, poor, but ambitious peoples. Look at the Germans against Rome, or the Mongols against greater Eurasia. That's been going on since nomads were raiding the first farmers.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^"Stagnant" is something of a value judgment, though, and often an ethnocentric one, the assumption that just because our civilization does things a certain way, that makes it the only healthy path. A society that isn't driven by innovation and exploration isn't necessarily stagnant, just stable. Expansion or innovation comes from need, from the society (or some segment of it) having a real or perceived deficiency to be filled. But a society that has its needs met, that's found an effective and workable system and is economically prosperous, may be content to continue existing that way. After all, why rock the boat when the system already works well? Societies that lose interest in exploration, like Bajor and Delta, may not be "stagnant" so much as simply mature. They've already learned what's out there in the universe, gained what benefits they can from it, and reached a comfortable plateau of knowledge and advancement and propserity, so they redirect their energies as a society to less material pursuits, to enriching their minds and spirits and seeking a higher meaning to existence.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ^^Those stagnant empires only managed to be stagnant for a couple of decades before starting to crumble. And in Trek terms, Bajor is not as much a "civilization" as it is a "city state", a single planet that would fall in one unique invasion event, possibly in a matter of hours.

    So the real question is, if Bajor hasn't achieved technological singularity, divine status or whatever because it is stagnant and subject to outside threats - why is it still standing? Why were the Cardassians the first to occupy it (within memory and history, apparently)? If the civilization is several hundred millennia old, why haven't there been tens of thousands of successive occupations already?

    We still lack evidence that Bajor would have been "superior" to Cardassia until shortly before Cardassia overran her. Culturally, perhaps, architecturally, spiritually, or whatever - but not in the sense that Rome triumphed over Germanic tribes until it no longer did. A century of technological difference has been quoted in the Cardassians' favor, which would certainly allow for a "TOS-level" or at least "ENT-level" Bajor, that is, Bajoran transporters, warpships and death/stun rays. But there's no sign that those fields of competency would have devolved, or evolved for that matter, due to the Occupation; either could have happened, or then neither.

    If Bajor was "always" a century behind Cardassia, then she must have evolved apace with Cardassia, and we don't have evidence that Cardassia would be a slow evolver. But Cardassians probably lack depth of vision here, and may only have been capable of subjugating neighboring star systems for a tad over a century.

    One really wonders what a society looks like when it has been "effective and workable" for 10,000 or 100,000 years! There'd probably be zero need for legislation, say, as every possible contingency would already have been encountered and the appropriate remedy written down.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. Jirin Actin Kinda Sus

    Jirin Actin Kinda Sus Admiral Admiral

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    Also we should also consider a nation need not be expansionist to be flourishing. For all we know, Bajor went through all the problems Earth is going through now, it nearly destroyed them, and unlike Earth, didn't happen to discover warp right before solving their social problems in the recovery.

    Bahala was buried in a cave, how did that happen? Was it always an underground city or was it buried in some kind of WMD attack?

    The Bajorans must have discovered warp only a couple hundred years before humans, and by then they were so ingrained against expansionism all they wanted to do was say hi to their neighbors. And they were so used to the peaceful state of their own planet they didn't think another country with more advanced weapons technology would just come and enslave them because they could.

    I think it's also reasonable to blame the D'jara system for stifling technological, scientific and economic development. Any system that promotes people based on lineage and not based on talent and merit will never lead to economic prosperity. Just, maybe enough prosperity to keep everyone fed and fund a few interplanetary expeditions.
     
  13. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks for all your thoughts, everyone. It seems the same is true the Vulcans. According to Soval, the Vulcan people did not achieve interstellar space flight until 1500 years after Surak's time (300 years prior to ST: Enteprise). And by that time, the Vulcans seemed like the technological powerhouse up until the groundwork was laid for the Coalition of Planets.
     
  14. Dr. San Guinary

    Dr. San Guinary Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    We don't know how B'hala was destroyed, but it was not an underground city. Link
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    As Sisko said in the episode, "You're looking at twenty thousand years of sediment here." B'hala wasn't in the cave, it was buried beyond the wall of the cave, entombed in earth that had been deposited over millennia, and later excavated by archaeologists. Ancient Earth cities have been buried in similar ways in far less time.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...Open water seems to be a major element in the matte paintings of urban Bajoran landscape. From this it should follow that deposition of silt would be a likely event once the city is abandoned or work to keep the water away ceases.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Yanks

    Yanks Commodore Commodore

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    Probably because their science was blocked by the religious in power. That's the impression I got with the Bajorians. Also why their acceptance into the Federation was not made until the wormhole popped up.
     
  18. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    An example of which might be the city of Pompeii, in that case buried under ash and pyroclastic flow but it was lost for 1500 years.
     
  19. DeepSpaceWine

    DeepSpaceWine Commander Red Shirt

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    I'm wondering if Bajoran space exploration was more of an individual push rather than a global push or if, as others noted, that kind of exploration went out of favor for a time and it went out of favor a long time ago. We don't know how recent some of the colonies were established. Some of that might have been an impetus to escape the Occupation early on or perhaps Bajorans who noticed Cardassian expansionistic ambitions pre-Occupation (kind of like Einstein and others leaving Germany in the 1930s).
     
  20. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That is one very strong possibility. It's possible that Bajor never experienced anything as dramatic as the fall of the Roman Empire. The idea of the political leader and spiritual leader being the same person continued in the eastern empire while that wasn't feasible in the former western empire. In Bajor's case, a member of the Vedek Assembly can sit in on council sessions. And the Kai can serve as interim first minister and eventually assume that position permanently.

    Of course, that lack of a period similar to the Dark Ages doesn't necessarily follow that scientific progress would have been further ahead. Sci-fi writers have used the notion that if not for the Dark Ages, we'd be five hundred to a thousand years more advanced. The lack of separation of church and state that continued on in the Byzantine Empire could still have held back scientific progress.