Romulan Society - Totalitarianism?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by cultcross, Jul 24, 2017.

  1. thewanderingjack

    thewanderingjack Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Granted, but I did address his things in

    And, I now submit TNG: Face of the Enemy regarding overlap bet reg military and Tal Shiar.

    I just wasn't sure if he just didn't get what Totalitarian meant technically... some people assume parts of a definition (or a whole one) that's not technically "correct" (Utopian vs Eutopian GRRR).

    By technical definition yes. By Cultural Totalitarianism certainly.

    By his definition, still maybe, probably imo...
     
  2. JRTStarlight

    JRTStarlight Captain Captain

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    These are getting way too long. And so much seems to hinge on a misunderstanding or something I'm asking for and you're not giving me or just two different "facts" we haven't agreed upon yet or won't. But I won't take them point-by-point. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

    I can't get past your certainty the Romulans called themselves Romulans or Rumalins 2k years ago. I don't see evidence for that. They WERE Vulcans then. Most of your assertions seem to hinge on that belief they had their own racial name despite identical appearance.

    I won't equate Spock's lying in the Menagerie to lying about knowing the Romulans were an offshoot. One is disloyal to the captain, the other is loyalty to captain, former and present, in helping one and shielding the other by taking all the blame and even risking his own life. Kirk could easily forgive one, but not the other. And secrets come out, if not right then, then later in hundreds of different ways.

    Though Spock knows of racism, even of a bridge officer who is guilty of this, the vast majority of Earthers seem to have gotten over that small minded pettiness and unimportant difference in light of dozens of new races. You don't like the Rodenberry more Utopian Federation ideal and prefer a darker, grittier take, that's your call, but most things I saw in TOS and beyond has racism in the minority, the majority holding that minority view with disdain, so openly expressing it would likely get you canned, written up, fired, dismissed, etc. I think Spock could live with those odds and stand up for himself.

    I reject the notion Vulcans must know (Romulans are an offshoot), and most everything that follows from that.

    While they don't openly volunteer information about Ponn Farr, they don't hide it as if it is a state secret, either, but just a personal or embarrassing matter to nearly all of them, sharing it with some, but mostly not talking about it.

    Your "fixes" to make your assertions more plausible by having most everyone lie on the official record is just not supported in most cases, even if it's one of those possibilities, and has been done before when they expressly promised to do it in dialogue, it seems an improbability in most cases. As is T'Pol deliberately screwing the UT up with Hoshi gone.

    T'Pol and the UT heard what the Romulans were saying. She didn't recognize it, the UT didn't recognize it, and I have to believe if it was just old Vulcan or a dialect of that well known language, she would have, the UT would have, and later Hoshi would have recognized it for that, too. That is not the case since none of them recognized it. Thus, it's a new language, adopted or adapted or invented by the Romulans or Rumalins, almost certainly after the exodus.

    True, I doubt Hoshi would mishear. So in the language they are using they are called Rumalins, and for all we know that is the correct native pronunciation in their current language. T'Pol has heard it is pronounced "Romulans," so she says this, and it's only particularly dramatic since the audience knows who the Romulans are. Dunt dunt daaaah. That's what is stated in the Vulcan database, and it comes from rumors, hearsay, secondhand information, and common consensus "Romulan" is how most of boys on this side of the tracks are saying it. Even Archer knows that pronunciation from a future look, but that just means that is how the Feds came to produce it, regardless of how the natives pronounce it. T'Pol has heard they are aggressive and territorial. That is all she knows. Since they didn't use that language or have that name or even necessarily paint their ships like that 2k years ago, there is no reason to suspect they are anything other than another unknown species, or little known species, with which they have yet to establish formal contact. This is Vulcan's and the Earthling's first direct contact (Minefield).

    BTW, even here in Minefield, those two war birds did not engage warp drive, as far as I know, but were hanging around there protecting their latest acquisition, that planet. Probably left there by the mother ship.

    The Romulans may know who the Vulcans are, but if so, they wish to keep their secrets, so generally they don't use visual communications, Vulcan languages, and self destruct before allowing any enemy to take home proof and hard evidence, like a dead body. (Although, they did let one go drifting away as a ruse a century later, so maybe it was worth the risk since Deceus already screwed the pooch).

    Later, when the Romulans are using drones, Archer fights the Romulans again, but does not see them, or learn of their Vulcan heritage. Not long after, the Humans, the Vulcans, the Andorians, and the Tellarites go to war with the Romulans for 4 years. They learn things, like they paint their ships with birds of prey, and they'd rather go boom than surrender. But they do not learn of their Vulcan heritage since they don't visually communicate, use old Vulcan languages, don't surrender, and don't allow themselves to be captured. Even the Vulcans don't get a clue these are Vulcan offshoots. Just a warlike race called Romulans or Rumalins. So now we know about the Romulans in many ways, except for that heritage thing. So far, there is still no reason to make the Vulcan connection (apart from the head guy in the old Vulcan high command, but that was kept secret).

    100 years later, most any cloaking tech we've seen up to this point is easily seen by modern sensors now, and even the ship's main viewer doesn't just transmit only natural light, like a window might, but false color images of things outside normal human visual range that it detects. This is standard stuff in 2265. Spock knows of no current cloaking tech that can get around current sensor tech, since to bend all the selective signals required would cost an enormous amount of energy. God-like beings notwithstanding, he's never seen or heard of anything that can do that via known tech, so in the arms and defense race with all known species that use tech comparable to their own, it's still a pipedream. The Feds tried it but couldn't make it work. Apparently, the Romulans may have solved that problem (BoT).

    Q calling them Romulans now to a Fed just means he's aware of what the Feds call them on this side of the tracks now, even if they were pre exodus, that is the best way to describe the group in a familiar term. But we're not sure when this was, and what Q knew or when he knew it is hardly relavant.

    The eventual Romulans need not have roughed too much when finding a new planet(s), since they may have had replicator tech. You can build quickly with that. The thing that likely held them back was in-fighting and the struggle for control, which seems to be on-going even in Kirk's time.

    I'm not even going to dignify some of your other analogies /:=|

    I seriously doubt these guys have UT surgery and nobody mentions it, but maybe that's the case. I still don't see how that works so quickly, flawlessly, or easily such that a primitive native without a UT implant wouldn't notice something weird going on, like the UT user's struggle to pronounce unfamiliar words. Shibboleth. And didn't we see often enough post TOS people trying to accommodate native languages by learning it and speaking it?

    Why would anyone have diesel and nuclear in a sub? But they commonly have impulse and warp drive in a starship.

    You say the Klingon surprise attack in Errand of Mercy was from a cloaked ship? No it wasn't. Automatic Deflectors snapped on, they saw a body approaching, it fired magnetic pulses, they fired phasers back (again looking like photon torpedoes). And it was after BoT anyway.

    Styles speaks of bird art since that's what was famous, and not cloaking in the 4 year war, since by then Archer already clued everyone in how to beat the cloaking they had in the Minefield and they hadn't improved on it until now, 100 years later.

    No natural phenomenon travels faster than c, so magnetic storms being blamed for sweeping the Valiant light years off course is iffy. But I'm not convinced Kirk thought any human ship being there was impossible - just that finding anything that old in the huge volume of space would be nigh impossible, and yet . . .

    Well, Jimmy crack lithium and I don't care.

    I revise my opinion of when to declare a ship lost since relativistic effects may still come into play. Never. It's listed as missing and it stays that way until it's found. Though you probably can legally declare somebody is dead after 7 years, so everybody on Voyager got home just under the wire.

    BoT ship is not called a scout ship, but the praetor's finest and proudest flagship. Also, space vessel of some kind, IIRC.

    The tactic of flying right past them would possibly leave them open to a hit with a plasma bolt they would have time to react to. Better to keep your distance and spray and pray those areas with proximity phasers where ever sensors detect accelerations.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  3. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    When I compare The Romulan Empire with the Cadassian union, I find the Cardassians a little more interesting. The Romulans came off as a little too much as mustache twirling villains-- 'Hah Haaah! Here is our genius devious plan to conquer Vulcan with only 2000 troops!"

    The Cardassian Union did the same type of things, but it was more secretive and involved things like weapons and re-arming the DM zones in violation of their treaty with the Fed.


    The Cardassian Union seems more like a police state where every word a Cardassian speak is monitored, and their military controls a lot of government institutions,but it looks like most Cardassians have learned to adjust to it. After all, the military "feeds" the people they say.

    The Romulans however seem outright oppressive.


    Face of the Enemy was one of the best, most bad ass episodes about the Romulans. The Cardassian government made sure their Intel Agency didn't have control of the military or owned military vessels, while the Tal Shiar was plugged into the government and military. It seems like a foolish and dangerous idea, but Tal Shiar did survived the failed attacked on the Founders and the Obsidian Order didn't.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed, and sorry about that. Also, I agree on everything I don't disagree with, as default, 'kay? I'll at least try and start with a summary this time.

    That's just it - they don't even have an identical appearance...

    I feel it natural to proceed from the assumption that Vulcan was split into factions back when it was irrationally violent. The factions had names, identities and agendas, and possibly sometimes also racial characteristics. They also had flags or other imagery, and there was that one bunch with the birdie flag.

    I then appreciate that this just plain fits with the idea that T'Pol would remember this bunch by their name and ill repute. After all, she clearly is remembering them, down to the point of pausing and basically stammering: "Romulans... Romulans."

    And that is the whole motivation for the interpretation here. The dramatic scene displays intent and message. The writers wanted us to think T'Pol knows who the Romulans are/were, and isn't telling. This doesn't dictate what we have to believe - we can ignore writer intent, and indeed often writers ignore writer intent, that of their predecessors or even that of their own, if that better serves storytelling. But here I feel the intent is fine. Vulcans demonstrate their consistent secrecy, Romulans are a blast from the past, and the mysterious ignorance central to "BoT" is given an all-encompassing explanation by likening it to all those other dirty secrets the Vulcans so successfully manage to keep for centuries.

    If we disagree on that one scene, then we necessarily disagree on everything, because consistency demands disagreement along the whole line. I choose to believe in the faceless war as the result of a pact to actively keep the secret. You can choose to believe in the faceless war as the result of the stars just aligning right. Both interpretations are fine.

    Spock never counted on Kirk forgiving in "The Menagerie", though.

    Yet a conspiracy at least is an active step against entropy. A laissez-faire reliance on the identity of the Romulans or the existence of pon farr remaining secret on itself IMHO takes much more suspension of disbelief.

    Quite possible. It's just that I feel Romulan ships in this particular size range would be entitled to warp drive because the holocamouflage drones have it. (FWIW, they are explicitly just heavily modified Warbirds of the day, but since we don't know whether the "Minefield" ships or the "Balance of Terror"/"Deadly Years" ships count as Warbirds, this is neither here nor there.)

    I also imagine infighting in the early centuries meant fighting between multiple Star Empires - the Debrune who were called Romulan offshoot rather than Vulcan offshoot would likely have been interstellar foes of the Romulans. This would shape the Romulan psyche further.

    That's the fantastic bit all right. Works a bit better with primitives who have radio or television or the like, as the UT can then eavesdrop in advance...

    I can't think of examples beyond Sisko learning ceremonial Bajoran?

    Oops, brain fart. Electric motors and nukes. That's common, and you certainly can't assume there's a fission reactor aboard if you hear electrics and nothing else. Diesels can be shut down for diving. Nuclear reactors cannot. So nothing but electric engine diving noises -> diesel sub by conventional wisdom, and the enemy has to move slowly and surface often. (And that's where Scotty might err, as the sub might have Walther cycle engines or something, being in fact quick underwater and air-independent, and the Walthers might indeed be turned off at the time. But Scotty would first have to believe in Walthers, when he in fact didn't even know subs can exist in the first place.)

    Discommendation marks to the crew, then, for not spotting the approach in time despite their high alert status. The Klingon case is consistent with the classic Klingon cloaked attack from every movie and series (can't actually fire with cloaked so a couple of seconds of warning), and in fact is more a case of "appears out of nowhere" than the Romulan ship ever was (less warning time).

    And after the 2150s examples of various adversaries cloaking, too. Nothing surprising about it, which is fine. What is not fine is the surprise in "Balance of Terror" - the only time in TOS when anybody is amazed by invisibility. Perhaps we could just pretend the episode was never made?

    Cloaks would have been equally famous, and of some relevance to all those Styleses of old fighting and dying. It's not as if the bird paint would have "improved", either - that part, of being up to date or not, would be of no relevance to anybody.

    That's a Trek staple all right - heroes of every era stubbornly claim that nothing natural can go to warp, often after having had three or four encounters with natural things traveling at warp...

    Indeed, there's no Trek show where natural phenomena would not move at warp. Archer met a high-warp storm ("neutronic wavefront") back in "Catwalk" already, setting a nice precedent. That is, it's precedent only if we don't want to believe in some humans a century before him already surviving their many encounters with high-warp natural phenomena ("gravity ellipses", "what we used to call black holes", whatever displaced the Charybdis, etc.) to tell the tale.

    [quiote]But I'm not convinced Kirk thought any human ship being there was impossible - just that finding anything that old in the huge volume of space would be nigh impossible, and yet . . .[/quote]

    That's possible. But why does Kirk then muse about the possibility of somebody probing out of the galaxy before? If that wasn't the impossible bit, then why haven't hundreds done it already?

    Sounds good.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. cultcross

    cultcross #NotAllMods Moderator

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    While the dictionary definition you posted certainly is the beginning of what totalitarianism is, there are a great many nuances and details to it which separate it from a mere dictatorship, or military government. I gave a few examples in the OP of factors which Hannah Arendt argues in her work on the subject are found in the truly totalitarian regimes we have had on Earth to date (which are pretty much limited to Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany and, after she was writing, Kim North Korea). Some aspects are demonstrably present in the Romulan society, most prominently the all-powerful secret police, but others are either missing or we don't know enough about their society to make a fair judgement. I personally think the Romulans are the closest we have to a true Totalitarian society presented on Star Trek so I was interested in others' thoughts on the matter. The Cardassians in some guises end up pretty close to the line too.

    Klingons are definitely not totalitarian, we probably know most about their political structure among all the races of Trek (including the Federation - what do we really know about them apart from the existence of a President? We've never heard mention of an election). They operate a system of what they define as honour, with leaders coming and going based on a feudal 'claim' and a lot of fighting for position. Different 'houses' wield political and military power of their own which would never be present under a totalitarian system, and they are surprisingly lacking in expansionist ambitions for most of the TNG era. Arguably, the TOS Klingons may present a different society, but we know little about how this society functions. They are at the very least more openly Imperialist than their descendants.
     
  6. thewanderingjack

    thewanderingjack Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    @cultcross As you were using an expanded definition of totalitarianism (which I get and got and addressed), I also pointed out I was using a few slightly different ones as well. Just for different perspective. Otherwise aren't you just asking "Are they by this definition which I say they don't fit (thus making you wrong if you say yes)?"
     
  7. cultcross

    cultcross #NotAllMods Moderator

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    No, I'm just asking to what extent we think they fit it. Little is 100% one thing - Britain is considered a democracy, but has an unelected and partly hereditary upper house. I'm just interested in the telltale signs of a totalitarian state that the Romulans showed us, and what the writers intended us to conclude about their society.

    I thought the Remans were an interesting retcon into their society that adds something of a slave class/Other group, something which Starfleet would presumably want to address at some point.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If the upcoming spinoff show is to be taken in the Prime Universe context, it would appear the Klingons are a very diverse empire morphologically, too - they have a distinct lack of "slave species" (unless one considers Rura Penthe as being a "public window" into species otherwise repressed into total invisibility), but they might well have a racially stratified society.

    The Romulans, with their two racial strata, might come off as "poor man's Klingons" here, with a smaller and less diverse empire nevertheless striving to be led by a racially uniform front against possible internal pressure of diversity.

    Or then Vulcanoids and Klingonoids naturally have more variation than humans, and a specific facial geometry doesn't fix an individual in a racial group after all... Although it may gravitate the individual towards a group nevertheless.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. thewanderingjack

    thewanderingjack Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Good point... I always get a bit annoyed at the lack of racial diversity in alien races (the ones you mentioned specifically), but I guess I am looking for external markers (color, morphology, etc)... how human of me :D.

    With the Klingons in Disc I could go with your explanation, this would go with my theory of "Klingons used to be more diverse (at least culturally) until the warrior class took over everything."

    Alternate explanation: Disc is set after ENT, before TOS... those crazy looking Klingons are the result of more genetic experimentation into making "augmented" Klingons (or trying to cure those that got the augment virus).
     
  10. JRTStarlight

    JRTStarlight Captain Captain

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    First, I'm colorblind. I have a red and green deficiency, and I'm the first to admit, some color variations simply fly by me without notice, particularly when dealing with subtle shades of colors made by mixing red, or green, with other colors. Was there some huge skin color change that escaped me in TOS's BoT? And if so, why would Styles think badly of Spock since they don't have an identical appearance?

    If you're talking about ENT and a more pronounced brow, it's possible, also given ENT, those developed after the exodus, not likely due to normal evolution, but perhaps a forced change due to radiation or gene therapy to make their limited gene pool more viable, to survive an accident, or any number of other Trek reasons. I don't really wish to be saddled with such facts since some make up artists wanted to make them look different in ENT, but if I must, it can be explained as happening after the exodus. Or are they first different in TNG in some significant way? I don't really recall where they don't look like Vulcans, except ENT they did seem more made up.

    Do Klingons have green blood? From a movie. It was never shown as red? Klingons and Romans are a close blood match? So I assume Romulans have green blood, too.

    Another possibility is to assume there were, possibly even still are, several races or subspecies of Vulcans and we just haven't seen them all, and they may have a few subspecies with variations in appearance. This could be true on Romulus, or maybe one of the subspecies were more prevalent in the exodus. But they all would be still likely be considered Vulcans 2k years ago. Aren't Vulcans and Romulans pretending to be each other in these stories, or does that now require the ubiquitous plastic surgery that is effortless, quick, and free and that requires no healing time? I wish I had a dermal generator.

    Easily explained when she realizes who they are. Not just some random alien species, but one whose reputation proceeds them - the sort who would kill you just as soon give you the time of day if you're caught in their territory. And they are. T'Pol instantly recognizes they are in grave danger. Romulans... Romulans. Dunt dunt daaaa.

    Unless you have some interview with the writer of that episode, aren't you assuming their intent? I just assumed they wanted to surprise the audience we contacted the Romulans - dunt dunt daaaa. And the Enterprise and crew just stepped into grave danger.

    It hardly requires a string of cosmic improbabilities. ENT relied heavily on what was in the Vulcan database in many episodes. It was comprised of what the Vulcans already found, and what information others shared with them. The Romulan Star Empire is in there (I mean you can assume it's not, too, but first you have to assume the massive secret, which you told me is really only important after the 4-year war, and this is before that, so I think it's most probable the RSE is an prominent entry in the database, and that is goes well beyond "Mostly harmless." DANGER! Beware the leopard-like aggression. Dunt dunt daaaa. And I don’t see any support for a writer deciding on his own this is already a state secret, T'Pol knows it, she's going to lie about it, and everything else that follows from that.

    I didn't say he did count it. He had served more years with Pike than he had with Kirk at that point, and probably felt greater loyalty to his old captain, and desired to do what he could to ease his now expected lifelong suffering, and totally undeserving fate, when he could do something about it. He was willing to risk death. He was willing to risk Kirk never trusting him again, too. But Kirk did. And it may in large part be why he has always been, and ever shall be his friend in the future. Not because he's lying his ass off to Kirk and constantly getting away with it since Kirk is such a chump, he couldn't ask for a better sucker.

    I don't think ponn far is as big a secret as you do. That information has likely been shared with all the close comrades of off world vulcans who have gone through it, and out of respect they don't advertise it, which is not the same as saying they lie about it, or have sworn secrecy over it, or even falsified reports. Like their vulcan comrade, they do not openly discuss it.

    Those latter ones must have warp drive by then, lest it wouldn't take warp 8 to escape when warp 1 would suffice. But those bolts they were throwing were either a far weaker weapon, or Fed shield tech really advanced since the last time (at least tuned to that specific weapon). Oh yeah, the bolts do travel well at warp, for a time. Still. OK, I guess I can't prove they had warp, though I did assume it by then.

    Picard was learning some native greeting, too, IIRC, but I'm not hunting for it.

    Swinging over a magnetic pole of the nearby planet, and warping toward the enemy while firing, is hardly something you can blame the crew for. Automatic deflectors gave them their best warning. It could happen with a carefully laid ambush that doesn't require a cloak. But in the original, they never show the ship or debris, but in the remastered, they show a D7 (I assume) and debris, and it does not de-cloak. I never really asked – do the remastered effects count as canon? I guess most are but some few are not, I now read. Hmmm.

    NEVER! Despite its flaws, it's one of my favorite TOS episodes. I think I'm fine in assuming Spock was up on all the latest cloak tech and sensor tech, and knew no cloaking tech in any competing known species could beat their sensors. And they were dealing with a known species, however little is known about them, so the assumption stood.

    Not if they weren’t used in the 4-year war since Archer tech could beat them and both sides knew it. So cloaks weren't fitted into Romulan war ships since they knew it was useless at the time. So Style relatives saw war birdies and did not see cloaked ships (and I don't mean because they were cloaked, but because they weren't used then. Why use something so expensive to run when it doesn't help? Why even install it?).

    So inconsistencies, and I blame ENT since they were supposed to avoid those. Now what? We just accept Kirk knew not of what he spake? I suppose when Kirk said that, he meant assuming all the exceptions we both know, but which he won't tell them since they know it as well as he does, and this isn't those, so it would look stupid him telling them that, like he's explaining it to the audience or something who are, clearly, not there.

    He didn't expect it, and there were no reports about it. And why? It's off the beaten path – even the ore ships only come once every 20 years, and we're farther than that, so it's not well travelled, this bit of space so close to this edge of the galaxy or whatever it really is, so for all he knew the 1701 was the first human to get this far and yet . . . HEY!
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2017
  11. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Captain Captain

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    I find the Romulans an amazingly interesting society, and along with the Klingons, are my favorite Star Trek state. Thought I would cross post this summary I made for a Discovery thread, for anyone who is interested:

    [​IMG]

    The Romulan Star Empire is led by the Vulcanoid Romulan people from the twin planets Romulus and Remus, and is a organized, fascistic and warlike state positioned close to Federation and Klingon space. The Romulan government seems to consist of a social system similar to the Roman Empire on Earth, with positions analogous to senators, tribunes, praetors, consuls, proconsuls, and perhaps an emperor at some points in it's history - as well as all the developments in statecraft since. It is possible that the conquests of Romulus's legions, and it's alien auxiliary armies must be justified to the senate in terms of national security, profitability and opportunity - the citizenry may enjoy some freedoms, but are subject to a thought police and surveillance state that keeps them ideologically pure.

    [​IMG]

    Like Rome, which was huge, diverse and encompassed many nations, the Romulan state appears extensive - at least one of the larger empires of the galaxy, but possibly as large as the Federation itself, representing a rival social system based on principles at odds with the Federation; nominally an imperial democracy, fixated on order and security, that believes it's social system is superior, but to a greater or lesser extent totalitarian, perhaps depending on the political climate. It is unknown how many alien worlds are subjects of the empire, but the Romulan state may employ auxiliary armies and legions composed of subject species. It has extremely powerful state institutions such as the Tal Shiar and a scientific capability on par with the Federation.

    [​IMG]

    The Empire's strategic behavior probably mirrors Roman policy within it's sphere of influence - targets are encouraged to become protectorates and vassals, but if they are deemed to threaten the strategic interests of the Romulan Empire, or hold an important resource, they are incorporated as full member provinces, under the pretext of order and stability. The Romulan Commander and Centurion in "Balance of Terror" mentioned they had fought over a hundred campaigns together - testament to the bloody reality of the Romulan military's conquests and police actions. Outwardly, when dealing with other empires, the Romulan state's policy is more akin to the brinkmanship of 20th century Earth nation states such as China or Russia - a strategic rivalry the Federation, Klingons, Breen and other neighbors, trying to maneuver events clandestinely or overtly into their favor. In 2266, they perfected plasma torpedo and cloaking technology and tested them against the Federation in a suprise strike, and in 2268, they conducted a catastrophic test into Polaric Ion Weapondary, which almost destroyed their colony of Chaltok IV, and led to the Polaric Test Ban Treaty - a testament to Romulan scientific ambition and attempts to continually find a form of strategic advantage for their star fleets.

    [​IMG]

    During the Romulan War, possibly launched as an attempt to prevent the birth of the Federation by conquering the Alpha Quadrant before individual planets had chance to sign a union, the Romulans launched the most aggressive campaign in their history. It was the most bloody conflict the quadrant had ever witnessed prior to the Dominion War - the Romulan state was analogous to the Empire of Japan or Nazi Germany - launching surprise strikes and pursuing unrestrained expansionism in order to bring about a new order and rule unopposed.

    [​IMG]

    Since their defeat, principally at the hands of Earth and it's allies, their policy has become more circumspect - the establishment of the Romulan Neutral Zone, a border region several light years deep in which neither side is permitted to establish any kind of military presence, has served to contain the empire's westward expansion in the galactic disc.
    • Earth Romulan War (ends with the signing of the peace after Battle of Cheron) (2156-2160)
    • [Long Isolation] (2160-2266 - 106 years)
    • Balance of Terror attack tests the Federation and deploys functional cloaking device (2266-2268)
    • Attempt to disrupt the Federation-Klingon peace by supporting Chang and Cartwright (2293)
    • [Short Isolation] (2311-2364 - 53 years)
    • Reemergence in TNG in response to Borg attacks on Romulan and Federation bases (2364)
    • Attempt to disrupt the Federation-Klingon peace through regime change on Qo'noS (2367)
    • Attempt at re-unification of Vulcan and Romulus via a coup led by Romulan troops (2368)
    • Tal Shiar and Obsidian Order launch a first strike on the Founders of the Dominion (2371)
    • The Dominion War (ends with the signing of the peace after Battle of Cardassia) (2374-2375)
    The Romulan state in the era of Discovery is nearing the end of almost a century of isolationism - Discovery is set during the last ten years of the longer period of isolation. We don't really know what might have brought about the sudden change in Romulan policy. The appointment of a hawkish Praetor? Perceived provocation by the Federation? The development of practical invisibility screens being deemed an overwhelming enough tactical advantage that the Romulans might be able to win a direct conflict? The machinations of the Klingon Empire, attempting to set them against the Federation by proxy?

    [​IMG]

    What we do know is that the Klingons and Romulans briefly allied around this time and exchanged starship designs and cloaking devices - this two against one situation was of grave strategic importance to the Federation, but didn't last - and decades later the situation was permanently reversed with the Federation and Klingons being aligned against the Romulans - a situation that preoccupied them for the next 70 years, as they tried to destabilize relations between the two and shift the balance of power back to a Romulan-Klingon entente via the House of Duras.

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    Romulans are biologically stronger than humans, like their Vulcan cousins. Romulan military figures generally maintain a clean cut appearance, but their working classes, such as the miners of the Romulan mining platform Narada, have demonstrated that there are probably many sub-cultures, geographical differences and social classes - with this particular one being seen to wear tattoos as a sign of mourning for the loss of their planet. In this diversity of Romulan everyday life, it is possible that not all Romulans feel the same antagonism toward the Federation that their leaders do. It is currently unknown if this isolationist power will appear in Star Trek: Discovery, but they remain Earth's oldest adversary.
     
  12. USS Einstein

    USS Einstein Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2013
    Location:
    NCC-0500
    I don't know whether this fits the scholarly definition well or not, but my idea of what separates totalitarianism from dictatorship, is that an idea - an ideology - is promoted in totality; it is elevated to that status of a "total" way of life.

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    For example, say in a Leninist totalitarian state, the selected idea would be permeated into all aspects of life - the classrooms would have to dispense it as the legitimate world view, the art would be informed by it and present it in metaphor to the masses - the citizen would, in essence, be encouraged to approach and analyze every aspect of their life through the lens of the ideology - even personal life. History is interpreted through "dialectical materialism", art must be "socialist realism", architecture must educate symbolically - everything must educate. Everything becomes proof for why the idea is right. Everything is a metaphor. Say they went on a trip to another country, and came across a scene of a man pulling a cart out of a muddy road, and his hands were blistered - every aspect of the scene would take on meaning under the "total" world view - meaning that re-affirmed the ideology - the man's blisters would come to represent the damage done to the working classes under his social system, the muddy road represents capitalist neglect, the man's class is his chiefmost form of identity. At least ideally - the reality is Russians and Poles got sick of it.

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    Ideologies that promise a better world in the future, seem to be particularly susceptible to totalitarianism, since the promise of infinite goodness in future, renders enemies of the process infinitely bad for opposing it, and justify infinite means to achieve these infinite ends. In the case of Leninism, the promise of a future utopia of full communism, whereupon salvation would be secure for all time, was used to justify sacrifice in the present. Hence why apocalyptic religions lend themselves so easily to totalitarianism, and why we only liberated ourselves upon being suspicious and dismissive of religious dogmas. Europe was totalitarian for a millennia, with every act and thought being interpreted every Sunday as a parable for why it's ideology was true. ISIS and others would like to have the world think only in terms of how everything proves the Koran right; no unapproved art, music, literature or any way of life that does not reinforce the idea - every western failing is evidence of the decadence of the west, every middle eastern failing is evidence of the duplicity of the west.

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    Under this definition of totalitarianism, the Romulan state in my view would not be totalitarian, but perhaps the Cardassian state, with it's "Never Ending Sacrifice" type ideological literature, obedience to family, and giant TV screens broadcasting show trials full of metaphor, rhetoric, etc, would fit the bill. It is like something straight out of 1984; it's people traded their liberty for Central Command, to escape the grinding poverty that had apparently existed on Cardassia prior to this. Even in a totalitarian system, you cannot control all thought, so in practice, the majority of people are normal in behavior, even given what they may have internalized.

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    In my head canon, the Romulans are extremely nationalistic, but not totalitarian - "Unification" did indeed portray a state which looked totalitarian in some ways, but it never presented any discernible ideology. That for me, is key. It suggests to me either an ideology that we have seen the Romulans display in their actions (nationalism? militarism?), or that they don't have one.

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    The way I see the Romulan state is an "Imperial Democracy" like Athens with the Delian League, or The Roman Republic. They have a senate of some kind, even if the vote is a limited franchise to those who hold wealth/estates/citizenship, or else is a universal franchise for the planet Romulus, but with elections heavily favoring establishment candidates. They apparently fight hundreds of military campaigns. Looking at history, the type of state that I can imagine having a senate, at least nominally, and being highly militaristic is one that fights constant wars as police actions for the sake of national security. When Rome went to war with the Gauls, the reasoning behind it was basically national security and a civilizing mission; they had been attacked by Celts before, and so the long term strategic defense of the Italian peninsula rested in the destruction of any force capable of launching a campaign into Italy. The Celts had sacked Rome before, in it's early history, so the campaigns were justified as a long term strategic maneuver designed to foreclose any possibility of a future Gaulish warlord uniting the tribes against them. Carthago Delenda Est - Carthage Must Be Destroyed - was the policy Rome took against the Carthaginian state in the Punic Wars because while ever another maritime power equal to Rome existed in the Mediterranean Rome would never be safe - not to mention the monopoly owning the Mediterranean would give on trade and tax. The entire Roman policy was built upon securing strategic resources and defensible frontiers and profit for it's richest private citizens.

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    What I think the Romulans believe is that "order and stability must be provided or civilization will decay, only the Romulan culture is sophisticated and far sighted enough to ensure order is maintained". I also think a fair number of the Romulan population must also believe this for their regime to have survived; it is popular, possibly due to it's profitability for the average Romulan, who might be able to secure estates on new planets after military service, and so on.

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    They conquer the quadrant out of a belief they are on a civilizing mission, that they are the only ones capable of seeing the bigger picture, and in fact, the presence of a large empire may very well reduce crime, facilitate trade, and provide stability - a leviathan is usually an improvement over pure anarchy; a state's monopoly on violence means ethnic violence is suppressed and dealt with in the courts - so there may be some truth to the Romulan Star Empire being a civilizing force, which is why the Romulans are the longest lasting antagonist of the Federation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
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  13. velour

    velour Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2014
    Location:
    USA
    That was a very interesting and insightful analysis of the topic. :rommie:

    I find the Romulans to be the most intriguing of all the Federation's adversaries. They definitely come across as a well cultured society especially when compared to the barbarian-like Klingons.

    And the Romulans do appear to be relatively progressive when it comes to the role Romulan women play in their society. We have seen Romulan women as commanders of their warbirds, since the TOS era (The Enterprise Incident). During DS9, we were shown numerous female Romulan senators, and other female soldiers who acted as Romulan liaisons with Starfleet.

    In many respects, the Romulans are more similar to humans than the Cardassians, the Klingons, the Borg, the Dominion, or the other Federation adversaries.
     
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