Star Trek and Colonialism...

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Ferengi Prime 5, Jun 28, 2022.

  1. Ferengi Prime 5

    Ferengi Prime 5 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    You know if you believe we should leave our planet and colonize other worlds in our solar system and galaxy. You are a colonialist like 18th colonialism. You want to go somewhere and claim it as yours and have a reason why...Star Trek is all about colonizing other worlds thought-out our galaxy. The Federation is a colonial power in Star Trek just like the Klingons and Romulans. The Ferengi Alliance is more like the Hanseatic League in Germany.

    Here the Star Trek fans the imperial Star Trek...

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    [SIZE=4]Similarities between "Star Trek's" Prime Directive and Postcolonialism[/SIZE]
    "Star Trek" is one of the most popular science fiction series. What does it say about colonialism and its effect on the native population?

    The Prime Directive’s failure to protect against colonial instincts is most obvious in the original series episode “The Apple,” where Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew visit Gamma Trianguli VI, and find a society of scantily clad “primitives,” with no technology, living in huts.

    Just like the colonialists before him, Kirk thinks that he has the right to impose his way of life on the Feeders of Vaal. He takes the Prime Directive’s instruction to not interfere with the development of pre-warp cultures to imply that, if a culture is not developing, then he can do whatever he wants

    Second, Kirk’s actions are colonialism at its worst: he appeals directly to the Western values of creation, production, and thinking, and concludes that he has a right to impose these things on the Feeders of Vaal. But why do the Feeders of Vaal need to do these things? Their life is already as convenient as it can be.

    It is true the Feeders cannot have sex, but Kirk imposing his moral views regarding sex on these people is just as wrongheaded as Pope Innocent imposing Christian sexual norms on Native Americans. Kirk destroys Vaal and their entire way of life. This action will likely have the same disastrous result as colonialism.
     
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  2. Ferengi Prime 5

    Ferengi Prime 5 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Think Federation shows up to societies that just invented warp and offers them a better way. The Federation offers technology and civilization to these unprepared worlds like European powers did in the 19th century to the lands they acquired.

    Eddington's great rant points out the Federation a colonial power... just like the Borg...

     
  3. Arpy

    Arpy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What is the virtue in staying in one place?

    Humanity arose out of Africa. Could we fit 8 billion people there? What’s your plan to get them back?

    The Vaal followers were ignorant followers of a murderous machine god and subject to the whims of whatever starship came their way.

    Eddington was manufactured drama. Right, the Federation is worse than the Borg. Go get your entire community killed why don’t you? Gold star.
     
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  4. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, I mean, Star Trek is fundamentally a liberal fantasy about benevolent space colonialism. It's just built into the show's DNA -- it's about a society that's looking to expand its boundaries and absorb new territory.

    As a fantasy, it's justifiable insofar as Star Trek generally presents the Federation as respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other cultures and as only colonizing and absorbing uninhabited worlds with no native cultures to exploit or enslave. But, yeah, thematically Star Trek is a fantasy of benevolent space colonialism.

    I mean, on the one hand, I think the Prime Directive is as a general rule a really admirable anti-colonialist/anti-imperialist concept: "No, you may not interfere with the sovereignty of a foreign culture, even if their technology is inferior to yours." The problem comes when the need to create dramatic tension leads the writers to find ways to rationalize violating the Prime Directive and ergo rationalize colonialism.

    "The Apple" is pretty irredeemable in its depiction of the imposition of Kirk's cultural values upon a foreign culture. I think a better example of "violating the Prime Directive" would actually be the SNW pilot,
    in which Pike violates General Order One by revealing the existence of the Federation to the aliens and telling them about Earth's history -- but then very distinctly refuses to intervene any further in their politics and leaves it to them to decide how to proceed. That's a version of the "hero must violate the Prime Directive" trope that still emphasizes the agency and equality of the alien culture rather than rationalizing the imposition of "our" cultural values onto them.

    I don't think that's what's happening. We know from TNG "First Contact" and from INS that the Federation will make first contact with cultures that have recently developed warp technology, but that's as much because it's impossible to hide from them at that point, and because that culture will need to integrate itself into the interstellar political scene by necessity. We know from INS that the Federation entered into a treaty agreement with Evora to provide for their defense, but we don't know if that's a standard practice -- INS implies it may be in part a response to the crisis of the Dominion War. "First Contact" contains no provisions implying the UFP generally gives advanced technology or otherwise tries to dominate newly warp-capable cultures the way Vulcan dominated Earth after First Contact.

    I think there's a strong case to be made that the Federation genuinely treats newly warp-capable cultures as equals, and that it does not interfere with or dominate their politics or internal affairs.

    Is that realistic? Well, it's probably not how things would work in the real world, no. But like I said -- Star Trek is a fantasy of benevolent space colonialism.

    Well, I think Eddington's argument has more truth than Sisko wants to admit. But he's also exaggerating. The Borg assimilate without consent. The Federation assimilates with consent.

    I think a good example of this paradigm is the Ferengi. Only about 12 years after first regular contact with the Federation, the Ferengi Alliance was completely transformed -- its women were granted equal rights, social welfare programs were established, workers' rights were recognized, environmental protection programs were created, progressive taxation was enacted, and a democratically-elected legislature was created. This almost certainly happened in part because many Ferengi came into contact with Federation citizens and learned about Federation values and the successes of Federation society. But, this revolution was also led by Ferengi -- so far as we know, the Federation government and Federation citizens were not involved in this wholesale transformation of Ferengi society.

    Is there a level of cultural imperialism at play? Yeah. Did that change in Ferengi society mean Ferenginar was no longer as distinct a culture as it once was? Probably -- there's a necessarily conflict between the idea that your culture's distinctiveness is valuable and the idea that some values (such as women's equality) are universally applicable, and that means there's a trade-off between embracing certain universalist values and maintaining your cultural distinctiveness. But by the same token, the Federation hardly conquered Ferenginar.

    Eddington compares the Federation to the Borg because he's a Maquis separatist making the case against Federation hegemony over Maquis settlements. He's not wrong to point out their cultural imperialism, or that they are somewhat self-deceiving about their own desire to unite the galaxy under the Federation flag. But he's also not being fair to the Federation by acknowledging the emphasis the UFP places on equality and consent.

    I mean, I think the issue becomes when the desire to colonize means displacing, exploiting, and/or dominating people who already live there, right? That's what makes Star Trek's version of space colonialism benevolent: the fact that the UFP does not colonize worlds already inhabited by intelligent life. There's no version of Space Rhodesia in the Federation.

    The metatextual problem is if Star Trek puts a positive spin on some colonialist tropes without acknowledging the real-life harm colonialism actually caused (such as in its depiction of Kirk's imposition of his culture's values on an alien world as a positive thing in "The Apple").

    Maybe, but that doesn't mean it was Kirk's right to impose his culture's values on them.

    "If I don't impose my culture on them, they won't be able to prevent another world from imposing their culture on them" is a hell of an argument.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2022
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  5. Arpy

    Arpy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Exactly.

    Trek could do stories about other cultures with more familiar forms of colonialism...different forms and flavors of it through different species...but I rather like the seemingly transgressive nature of the Federation – a legitimately fair and just society – inconceivable and "unrealistic" to many.

    Yes it does. They weren't "his" culture's values. If the Vaalians decided to rebuild Vaal, then they were simply Kirk's values. But I doubt they did.
     
  6. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    As David Gerrold wrote in The World of Star Trek (written when Star Trek was TOS and only TOS):
     
  7. Ferengi Prime 5

    Ferengi Prime 5 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Many scientist believe man must leave the planet to survive as a species?... You are a space colonialist... Steve Hawkins is a space colonialist...

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nbcnews.com/mach/amp/ncna81892

    Stephen Hawking has boldly claimed that humans will need to eventually leave Earth in order to survive. In a recent statement, Hawking amended previous estimates of this timeline by saying that humans must leave Earth within 600 years.
     
  8. Ferengi Prime 5

    Ferengi Prime 5 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Have you ever ask why the Federation waits until a world invents warp drive before first contact?

    I want you to think about the 1950's movie "The Day the Earth Stood Still"... Remember the plot and how it ended...

    Once a world invents warp drive it becomes a threat to all Federation worlds. The Federation shows up to co-op that world into the Federation way. It is like they once said about Greeks: "beware of Greeks bearing gifts"...
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2022
  9. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Is it still colonialism if the area is completely devoid of other life?
     
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  10. oberth

    oberth Commodore Commodore

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    what is life? when archer allows reed to blow up that asteroid he has it checked for anything that might become sentient in 10 billion years (or somesuch) - so if you colonise a planet with a non sentient fauna and flora ...
     
  11. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Baby don't hurt me
    Don't hurt me
    No more.

    *Rereads post*

    Oh, wait. That's not what you wrote after all...
     
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  12. Jedi Marso

    Jedi Marso Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm hearing the not-so-subtle beat of political drums and a grinding axe in the OP... but okay, I'll bite.

    If we are to define mankind as moving off planet and colonizing others as 'colonialism', then I am a die hard colonialist. Sign me up! :nyah:
     
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  13. urbandefault

    urbandefault Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So that whole "to explore, to seek out, to boldly go" thing is nothing more than colonialism?

    Okeyfine.
     
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  14. Oddish

    Oddish Vice Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Because one they have warp drive, they're entering the greater universe, and encounters are inevitable. So, the Federation decide to ensure that the initial contact occurs on their terms: with a selected contact team and a selected contactee (usually a well regarded member of the scientific community).


    Regarding Vaal, that was Federation interference at its worst: imposing Federation norms on a culture that had no capacity for living under those norms. We see something similar in "Spock's Brain". By TNG, the writers were starting to realize that waltzing in and smashing a culture to pieces was not always a good thing.
     
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  15. Qonundrum

    Qonundrum Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    That depends. Some want to leave Earth but build something new on a new planet and stay there. Others will leave, start something, leave to build elsewhere, rinse and repeat.

    To each:

    yes.

    As easily as every person can be shoved into the land the size of Texas, noting the huge slew of issues that make that realistically and technically impossible.

    Vaal was just using the people to feel it, and saw a new shiny power source up above. It also was its own immune system, killing those who interfered on the planet. The whole story is a glossy mess, of which the obligatory Spock/McCoy scene proved by its brevity (when they could have gotten a lot more out of the discussion but, oops, 5 minutes are left in the story so it's time for Kirk dump his values yet again... had the people of Vaal's planet developed warp travel, Star Trek II would have had more than just Khan out for revenge.)

    ^^this

    Eddington also was running around, responsible for poisoning planets and killing untold millions, long before Sisko put a stop to him. Of course, DS9 would not try to shift the draaaaaaaaaaaama so much as to make the actual Federation bad - which would be impossible to do as then there'd be no show anymore. The Federation did have a few rotten apples over the years, but that was it. Even "Insurrection" says later in the movie that it's not the Federation but a group within, since the old turnip of a trope of making some of the goodies into baddies had already been squeezed dry long before then.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2022
  16. Arpy

    Arpy Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What?

    You can also fit 80 billion people in my backyard if you build high enough, but neither are realistic.

    Calling a murderous robot's defense mechanism an immune system doesn't change the fact that it's a murderous robot interested in its own, not the Vaalians', best interests. Cut to 1,000,000 years in the future when the Vaalians have devolved into literal lemmings. In no way is the situation beneficial to the Vaalians in any real regard.

    Discussions like this really boil down to people didn't like Kirk's swagger. To that, I say that I can't wait for my AI to let me replace Admiral Jameson with Admiral Kirk in TNG's "Too Short a Season."
     
  17. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Some would want to settle down in a new colony permanently, while others might want to make a life or career out of going around and repeatedly helping to start new colonies on different worlds while not really settling down themselves.

    Kor
     
  18. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk Garth of Algar Premium Member

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    Most of the colonies in Trek seem to be devoid of sentient life. When there is sentient life, you get stories like Devil in the Dark, The Man Trap or Arena. Trek tends to lean more towards Devil in the Dark where the colonists and the natives learn to respect each other and work together.
     
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  19. BillJ

    BillJ Former Democrat Premium Member

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    Leaves out the whole "Vaal is trying to kill the landing party and destroy the Enterprise portion of the story. Kirk tries to leave before interfering with Vaal, who blocks their attempts to return to the ship.
     
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  20. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    No doubt Picard would have let his ship get pulled into the atmosphere and crash into the planet with his whole crew dying horribly, rather than risk affecting the development of Vaalian society.

    Kor
     
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