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Star Trek, would Earth ever really form/join the Federation?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Scalenex, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I like Star Trek but I am still bothered by the flaws in it. The flaws don't bother me enough to ruin the franchise for (though there are a few individual episodes I skip or fast forward to the end). The best thing Star Trek did is popularize the notion of a sci-fi futuristic setting that is more or less optimistic. I don't believe Star Trek is the first sci-fi story to do that, but it's the sci franchise that made that popular.

    Once in a blue moon, I write a dab of science fiction myself and I created a very similar (although smaller) organization to the Federation, there are only about 1000 worlds that can sustain life and only about 10 sapient species. The more I know about politics, the less I think the idea of every planet acting like an independent faction is plausible.

    Requirement One is almost a requirement for interstellar sci-fit stories. Scientifically impossibility/implausibility aside, this is not a problem.

    Requirement three would be difficult, but not impossible. Martin Luther King said "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice." For all my negativity I don't find it implausible that various forms of discrimination will be less prevalent and extreme in 200+ years. At the very least, I find social justice of this sort at least as plausible as faster than light travel. When Star Trek tells a story about racism or some other prejudice they usually use this trope, sometimes they do it artfully. Sometimes they are (accidentally?) offensive.

    Requirement two is the one that strikes me as the thing that would keep Earth out of the Federation.

    I don't think it's possible for Earth to unify under one government. I don't think Earth would peacefully unit under one government. I don't think we could have one world government imposed by violence would work either. Maybe you could write a controversial backstory where some ruthless dictator brutally conquers the world and the government he or she sets up creates reforms to make things nicer so 200 years after WWIII ends, the unified world government turns into something pleasant.

    Could you have a brutally installed world government that lasts for 1000 years constantly maintained with an iron fist. No. This sort of government style requires an external foe to rally the populace against. If such a force conquered the world, said empire would split into competing factions within a generation or two.

    I don't that would work because real world historical conquerors, even when they win, have not been able to set up lasting governments. The closest we got was Ancient Rome which at it's peak, 25% of the world's population owed fealty to Rome before it began to decline.

    Whether you have a peaceful utopia or a dysoptian nightmare, I think differences between religion, ethnicity, philosophy, language, haves/have-nots, and a gazillion other things would prevent true world unity. Even if a peaceful cultural homogenization occurs (everyone listens to the same pop songs and wears the same jeans or to go sci-fi universal translators) or a non-peaceful cultural homogenization occurs (genocide), I think a large enough group would create new splits.


    My conclusion is the planets have unified governments because it's easier for the writers that way. It'd be hard to keep track of Russia and Germany were allied with each other and Klingon Nation A and Klingon Nation B and were fighting an alliance of Brazil, Canada, Scalenexland, Nepal, and Klingon Nations C and D.

    That's just a headache.

    I do think that the knowledge of life on others planets would create more human solidarity than we have now. Humans living outside of Earth would probably be more prone to overlook differences with other humans than humans on Earth. Me against my brother, my brother and I against my uncle, my uncle and I against the stranger.

    I also am not saying that Earth would keep warring amongst itself for the end of time. You could have world peace (or at least relative peace), but I don't think enough people would give up their sovereignty to form one collective.

    What do you guys think? Do you agree with me, or do you think a universe where interstellar space travel would lend itself to planetary governments?
     
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  2. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning

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    Well... hard to say. Humans tend to form unlikely alliances when facing great threats from outside. Sometimes those stay.

    As a German if I look at my country I see over hundred small nations who at some point formed (or were formed) together and despite cultural differences stay together. So... maybe.
    Especially when poverty like we have it now is eradicated (in Star Trek that happened because technology).

    But generally speaking... I think real humans are much more like Klingons or Cardassians or Ferengi than like Star Trek humans. :(

    I think stuff like planetary governments may work on colonies, but not on Earth.
     
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  3. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    All three of these places had a unified government. They frequently have petty small minded leaders who put their own needs above their citizens, but they all have a single government at least in Deep Space Nine which I binge watched over the last month.

    Most Star Trek aliens take a single trait or concept that humans value and turn it up to 11.

    Vulcans hold logic as the greatest value to aspire to. They are the simplest and basically the first alien the series created.

    Ferengi embody capitalism. Depends on who writes the episode they are either laissez faire capitalists or crony capitalists. Though it should be noted as the last season of DS9 came to a close, Ferengnar is in the infant stages of becoming a regulated capitalist system with modest environmental protection, worker's rights, women's rights, and a social safety net....Bribes are still rampant but they are tax deductible now.

    Klingons value an old school machismo version of honor. By the end of Deep Space Nine, they get some decent leaders that could implement some reforms to smooth out their rough edges.

    Cardassians are sort of space Romans maybe space Nazis. In any event their greatest cultural value is obedience to the state even when the state is being iron fisted. By the end of Deep Space Nine, they too seem on the cusp of reforming into a kinder gentler state.

    Romulans seem to be in the same mold of Cardassia but they have a "more surveillance" state going and Cold War sneakiness.


    The only one that actually seems human like to me are the Bajorans. They actually seem more human than the humans. You have idealistic revolutionaries have to come to terms with a new world as they go from rebels to being "the man." They are the only Star Trek alien that's religious views cannot be summarized by agnosticism (Federation), atheism (Romulans), deism (Klingons), or statism (Cardassians, Ferengi) or Kimism (the Dominion).

    Cliff notes version.

    Agnosticism: Neither confiirm nor deny the existance of greater beings
    Deism: One or more greater beings got the ball rolling with creation. Once creation was underway, they stepped back or died.
    Statism: The government is always right
    Kimism: the Dear Leader is always right.

    Going back to before. One world-one government seems to be done for simplicity for the writers. Bejor is about the only non-unified planet and after seven seasons of focusing primarily on Bejor, they still aren't unified (though the planet has one religion, one language, everyone wears the same earring, etc).
     
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  4. pendrake
    Skar-Veteran

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    @Scalenex

    It’s Bajor & Bajorans rather than Bejor. They were a planet United under one government prior to being invaded by Cardassia. In DS9 they are one government, supported by the Federation, but not a member world! with political factions (which are often opposed religious sects as well).

    I would characterize the Cardassians as being analogous to Imperial Romans and also the Persians. If the Bajorans have a human analog I would go with the Greek Civilization that both the Romans and Persians made it their business to try and conquer.

    The Romulans are the Roman Republic (they have Senators!) with a healthy dose of modern police state in the mix.
     
  5. pendrake
    Skar-Veteran

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    I don’t see it happening in my lifetime. Or yours. Or your spawn (if you have any) or that of my nieces/nephews.

    The Trek backstory such as it is, goes thus: there were a series of massive wars on Earth. (Possibly some were the Eugenics Wars, But these were global conflicts.) Somehow at the end of these the surviving populations of humans (too depleted and war/weary to carry on fighting) led by Z. Cochrane developed a warp 1 spacecraft. This brought Earth to the attention of Vulcan. The Vulcan influence helped forge a single planetary authority.

    The Vulcans did not operate with all three of the requirements listed in the initial post. They had a simpler (logical?) rule. No contact with pre-warp civilizations (observe only) make first contact only with warp-capable civilization (and attempt to keep it peaceful).


    I concur with this. But I feel it worth noting that several times a writer has included planets in show plots. that were not united. All of the different Enterprises encountered this at least once.

    However,

    I don’t think such situations were ever allowed (written in) as Fed member worlds.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
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  6. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I have given up on my world domination ambitions a few years ago. I'm not planning on working towards a world government under my benevolent rule any more. I guess I want to discuss the pros and cons of using unified planetary governments as a fiction trope. Are planetary government a staple trope that should usually be used in most sci-fi unless you have a compelling reason not to? Is a hack cliche that should be phased out? Is it somewhere in between (like 90% of tropes?

    Oh yes, lots of times. But these planets are very episodic. They usually have one episode based on dealing with the conflict, they have exciting adventures related to navigating the conflict, there may or may not be a moral of the story, then the Enterprise flies away and they never come back to that planet or people ever again.

    Tangent time!

    I guess I am looking for new directions to write stories. When I was about 12-14 or so I created a simplistic homebrew RPG to play with my friends. Actually one of my friends did that first, and I followed suit, than my game became more popular than his because said friend would rather play a game than run one. I'm thinking I might be better off writing fantasy than sci-fi but the idea hasn't died in my head yet, especially since I prefer my protagonists to have tails or scales.

    Anyway I took my futuristic setting to write stories in. It was basically clear good guys versus clear bad guys vaguely mimicking WWII at first. As I got more educated and more mature, I opted to revise my setting over and over again as opposed to scrapping it and start something new though I'm concerned that my setting is growing more and indistinguishable from Star Trek with each modification. The main difference is that my aliens, while they are humanoid, they are more like Star Wars cantina aliens in appearance as opposed to Star Trek aliens which are basically humans with forehead ridges and funny looking ears. My aliens are similar enough to humans that they shouldn't give you nightmares but I really hope no one would want to sleep with them.

    The two stories I tend to fall back towards have the basic premise

    In about 2100ish Current Era, Earth is contacted by an alien race (the Appotanians, my first and favorite alien race) for the first time. Earth is the first sapient race that this alien discovered. Interstellar travel is still new and dangerous for the aliens. It takes about two years to travel between Earth and Klodorex and costs the equivalent of billions of dollars to send a dozen Appotanians over and get them back alive.

    There hasn't been WWIII or anything like that between now and 2100 but Earth is suffering because insert Scalenex's least favorite ideologies or movements have grown to terrifying heights. Whatever my least favorite two or three things happen to change every few years.


    In about 2600ish Current Era. A mining colony was set up on a world barely able to sustain life. The colonists signed up for a five year contract, at which point they'd rotate out and new miners would come in, but they didn't know that their world was actually the interstellar space prison for the Appotanian Satan-analog. After interstellar ships landed on the planet, the ancient safe guards imprisoning the evil super powered being kicked in to make travel to or from the planet NEARLY impossible. Now the protagonist found a way off the planet but he is opposed by the super powerful evil being who wants to escape, the petty dictator of the planet who wants the world to remain isolated, and a third party faction of a well-intentioned extremist.


    My problem is that the more I learn about science the more plot holes I find.

    The Baldarvi and the Manoans are two very similar looking species that have lungs and gills (loosely based on The Creature from the Black Lagoon). The Baldarvi are fresh water dweller and the Manoans are salt water dwellers. The two groups have been warring with each other over the land for centuries. When one side is losing they would retreat into their respective water. Then after they were brought into the interstellar community and jumped from Bronze Age to Star Trek level technology in two generations, their wars got a lot more brutal reaching genocidal levels with the Manoans mostly victorious and the Baldarvi an exiled people forming a large minority on nearly every other inhabited world.

    Then it was pointed out to me that salt water fish don't have insurmountable problems when swimming in fresh water. Oops.


    The second story has two problems. If you have interstellar space travel, mining asteroids makes a lot more sense than mining a world that supports life and that's assuming you literally don't care about strip mining a delicate ecosystem. The second is that my villain, the Satan like figure, was able to cheat death over and again. I kept it vague but basically if he murders five people he can come back from the dead once. He could also use the power of his murders to let him fly, teleport, shoot fire from his hands and do all sorts of magic tricks. He killed tens of thousands of people, so he was basically impossible to kill conventionally. How did the heroes win? He was tricked into an airlock and jettisoned into space where he was killed explosive decompression about 10,000 times in a row.

    It runs out 14 year old me was misinformed by movies. You don't instantly explode if you are in the vacuum of space. Oops. Said being would be just be like "This is cold and I wish I had air, I'll teleport back on the ship."
     
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  7. Aginor
    Slann

    Aginor Fifth Spawning

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    Rule 34!! :D
     
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  8. pendrake
    Skar-Veteran

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    This is the problem with Science Fiction. The Science will either lag behind or overtake your Fiction.

    First Case in point: we (as in the civilization of us humans) failed to develop and pursue genetic engineering in a fashion that would lead to Genetic Supermen and Eugenics Wars.

    We lagged behind Star Trek. (Hurrah!)

    Second Case in point: we took computers and communication Tech further and faster than anyone ever dreamed: the Flip Phone (Kirk era communicators); Smartphones (the ubiquitous PADD™️ devices from Picard on); desktop computers, particularly The Mac (nearly duplicated the ubiquitous computer terminals on Enterprise 1701).

    We exceeded Star Trek in all ways except having Nurse Chapel (or a voice as pleasant as hers) be the voice of talking devices. AND (more importantly) true AI remains out of reach. (Hurrah?)
     
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  9. Warden
    Skink Priest

    Warden Well-Known Member

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    Big fan of Star Trek here, and this is a very interesting discussion!

    I want to add this point real fast:

    When the series was made, it served as a vessel for the writers to critique the political world they saw around them, but in a fantastical (science fiction) setting. The Original Series Klingons got their original background in the form of a "Soviet Union" for the Federation to counter on the galatic stage, while the Romulans weren't given much more than an air of mystery behind their neutral zone (North Korea?? China??) that was never flesh out due to budgetary constraints (too many pointed ears). I am glad they got fleshed out more as the series spawned its sequels, especially the Klingons!


    That being said, in terms of humans achieving a global governmental body? Not likely in the near term, or likely the long-term future. Maybe as technology progresses it will allow humans to have the logistics and the mechanisims to achieve a united government (for we can see the fruits of globalization everywhere in our economy nowadays, just look at our own humble forum able to tap into computer all around the globe!).

    However true unity is unlikely due to one of the driving forces behind most human conflict: self interest. While humans often espouse lofty values, true motivations are often much simpler, those being survival, security, and comfort, among others. These often comes at the expense of other human beings, and if the history of the last few centuries is to believed our track record doesn't show much hope for such a utopian system as the Federation of Planets the Star Trek universe gives us. If anything, a united Earth government would look more like the kind seen in one of the Mirror episodes... albeit not quite as extreme.


    Despite their dastardlyness, I enjoyed the Ferengi in DS9, they were a lot of irreverant fun in a universe that could be a bit "stiff" at times.

    Such a travesty :D
     

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