The Cloud Minders & The Federation

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Methuselah Flint, Sep 20, 2019.

  1. Methuselah Flint

    Methuselah Flint Captain Captain

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    I was always struck by how Ardana is a member of the Federation, with its use of torture and the caste system.

    Did the High Advisor or his predecessor maintain a display of false equality and enlightened philosophy all the while, during the planet's application to join the Federation? This seems a bit unrealistic; membership isn't just filling in a form, but sharing, understanding and respect for other peoples. True, crime may still exist within society, but I hardly think the Federation is naieve, or would approve of a leadership of oppression and inequality.

    I also hardly think it is a recent setup, as Droxine indicates:

    DROXINE: The complete separation of toil and leisure has given Ardana this perfectly balanced social system, Captain. Why should we change it?

    So we could speculate, that at least since Stratos was constructed, this separation has existed, and it is implied by the High Advisor that Stratos has been around for a while.

    So... I struggle with the planet actually being a Federation member....

    Thoughts?
     
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  2. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    My impression from TOS is that the Federation was more of a loose alliance of very different worlds, each with their own cultures and ways, than the more centralized organization we saw in the later movies and TV series. Note that the average human aboard Kirk's Enterprise seems to know little or nothing about Vulcan society.

    Space was bigger then and the Federation less cohesive.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I've always assumed that the Federation rushed Ardana's membership through because they needed its mineral resources. That's reinforced by what we now know from Discovery -- they were hit pretty hard in the Klingon War a decade or so before, and may have loosened their admission requirements or streamlined the membership process out of the need to recruit worlds with abundant resources. Maybe that's also why they openly contacted the pre-warp Capellans so they could mine their topaline.
     
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  4. Methuselah Flint

    Methuselah Flint Captain Captain

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    I forgot about Friday's Child. In that particular case, I also assumed that they knew the Klingons were on the case as well, so had no choice but to try and "get there first".
     
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  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    What also appears significant is the lack of Federal powers of intervention. Plasus does not merely provide idle philosophical justification for the ways of his world. He outright tells Kirk that Starfleet isn't entitled to interfere in any fashion, and that he's going to tell Kirk's superiors and then there will be consequences - to Kirk.

    Indeed, when Kirk leaves the planet, there is no sign that anything much is going to change. Kirk at first feebly suggests some sort of mediation, then washes his hands of the whole affair, saying he has neither the time nor the desire to return to it; Plasus in turn agrees to drop his charges of abduction against Kirk but nothing else beyond that.

    Is the local social setup really news to the Federation, or did Kirk just browse through the records on the place a bit too hastily? Zenite has been shipped "all over the galaxy", but perhaps not to Federation worlds before this? Or perhaps the couple of previous times were hasty affairs as well, with a quick in-and-out not complicated by a Disrupter uprising and therefore revealing nothing. It's not as if there would be a steady output of the stuff, or else the heroes would not need to depend on this single barrelful.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I suspect any previous Federation visitors saw only what the ruling elite wanted to them to see.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Or else they were contacted by some other starfarers first (perhaps the Klingons) and already knew about life on other worlds.
     
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  8. MAGolding

    MAGolding Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In many episodes of the television series Cannon (1971-1976) contemporary detective Frank Cannon would visit an isolated western or southern town ruled by a corrupt sheriff or a tyrannical political boss. Even though those towns were all part of the modern, freedom-loving USA.

    I think that counts as examples of the trope "town with a dark secret": https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TownWithADarkSecret

    And see the real life examples of that trope.

    In another trope, a town with a dark secret is often ruled by a corrupt hick:

    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CorruptHick

    And in real life the southern states maintained slavery in the USA for a long lifetime until the Civil War, and after slavery was abolished instituted Jim Crow laws to oppress the freed blacks as much as the federal government would allow (which was a lot) for another century until the Civil Rights era. And of course oppressing the blacks made the poor whites in the South feel like members of a master race and so lessened their desire to improve their lot in life, thus enabling the upper classes to keep on oppressing them.

    Furthermore, the USA contains over five hundred tribal governments, which are considered dependent nations, and have powers roughly analogous to those of the 50 states. And no doubt those tribal governments have varied considerably in how efficient, honest, and democratic they have been. During the first century of the country many of those dependent tribal governments warred upon each other and the federal government.

    Of course the USA has a federal system with a strong central government and a mandate for higher levels of government to keep state, county, and municipal governments honest and of a republican form. A mandate that the higher levels of government often neglect.

    The United Federation of Planets in the era of TOS seemed to function more like a somewhat more centralized United Nations, where all the members have signed various agreements and treaties promising to be good in various ways, but many do not keep those promises and consider them empty words.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
  9. BillJ

    BillJ History's Greatest Monster Premium Member

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    I just don’t care about Discovery’s rewriting of TOS history. I prefer the interpretation that the Federation was a loose alliance, which is supported by TOS.
     
  10. Henoch

    Henoch Commodore Premium Member

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    Exactly my thoughts. The episode reminds me of South Africa during the sixties (and beyond). Perhaps this was the moral message here.
     
  11. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I like that analogy.

    And again, space was big back in those day. There were plenty of remote planets and colonies that might only see a Federation starship once every few years or. We're talking the Wild West here, or Hornblower's seven seas. It's not as though Federation bureaucrats were routinely swinging by Stratos on a regular basis.
     
  12. Methuselah Flint

    Methuselah Flint Captain Captain

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    Indeed. Plasus clearly distinguishes 'Starfleet' from 'the Federation' , suggesting Starfleet (in the form of Kirk) is the interference - not the Federation, of which Plasus/Ardana is in fact a member.
     
  13. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    This is where I shamelessly mention that the Trogytes figure into the plot of my most recent Trek novel, The Antares Maelstrom.
     
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  14. Orac

    Orac Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I always figgered it was allegorical to the USA maintaining alliances with totalitarian regimes for their resources.
     
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  15. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    Well, we don't know the details of Federation membership requirements in the TOS years. The Federation itself was not some unified utopia under one central government where everybody held hands and sang Kumbaya as strangely depicted in later Trek. It was a loose coalition that engaged in mutual trade, defense, etc. When Coridan applied for membership, the debate had more to do with who could benefit from the planetary resources, and costs/benefits of defending the planet, than the cultural values of the Coridanians (or whatever they're called).

    For real-world comparison, and without getting into too much detail about contemporary geopolitics, look at the UN and ongoing disputes about human rights issues in some of the member states.

    Kor
     
  16. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Federation maybe allows the planets to join it's union but looks into the politics of said worlds afterwards and then tries to change them! A bit like the Klingons but without the back-up of their disruptors! :klingon:
    JB
     
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  17. Spot261

    Spot261 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Dunno, I've never seen the Federation as being particularly a direct allegory for the US. In some cases what we see on screen could be taken as commentary on real world affairs but in terms of what is consistent about portrayals the Federation looks and acts nothing like the US.
     
  18. Henoch

    Henoch Commodore Premium Member

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    Any world that has Droxine and Vanna can't be half bad... :adore:
     
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  19. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    Marsden is very sad.
    I thought I heard the Federation had some kind of directive about not interfering in other people's cultures.
     
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  20. Cutie McWhiskers

    Cutie McWhiskers Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^^this

    It's been done enough times, the old trope of "therein the society lies a nasty secret", often by shows or books that start out with "It was a dark and stormy night". "The Cloud Minders" interestingly bypasses all that, clearly letting the audience think all they want into it (either by accident or design, either way it works), and has Kirk and Spock tripping over an incident - violence that likely hadn't existed at the time of Stratos being initiated in. Sadly, the ending is a bit loose as well but TOS had worse in that regard.
     
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