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The Founder

Section 31: A Necessary Evil In A Utopia?

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Disclaimer: I would please prefer this not turn into a Kobayahi Maru topic. This topic isn't about the CIA or KGB or modern events. Strictly the idea of an agency like that in a utopia.

Disclaimer part 2: This topic is more about Section 31 from the show. The one in Abramsverse is different. They are open about their existence and create wars. Versus the one in the shows that said they dealt with threats quietly.

So - with the upcoming t.v. show Discovery around the corner - I've dusted off the old DS9 Netflix and started watching again from season 1. I ended up watching some clips on Youtube and I have a habit of reading the comment section of any video I am on. :P

But the conversation going on about Section 31 is interesting. For example - the disease infecting the Great Link. I saw overwhelming support for the tactic considering the Founders "started" the war. Then I saw comments about how Earth and the Federation are unlikely to have ever made it to the 24th century with a group like Section 31 ...

The argument was essentially that a peace-at-all-costs society that was tolerant of intolerance was doomed to death as intolerance always streamrolls over those type of societies.

Do you agree that a utopian society can survive without S31? (Essentially, before DS9 aired, that seemed to be the idea)

Or

Do you believe a society like that must have an agency that does the dirty work and have a "tidy arrangement" with them? (DS9 and beyond)

 

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Posted (edited)

Well you probably don't need a Section 31... but you do need to find a way to deal with the inherent contradiction of a pacifist utopia.

When your ideal is that you'd rather die than do what you think is wrong, then those who don't share your values will indeed just kill you. And your ideals won't survive. So if you want them to survive? You have to defend them, even if it means ignoring them in the process. That's tricky, because by doing so, you might lose your ideals and become just like your enemy, and the result would be the same -- the ideals don't survive.

Maybe a Section 31 acting secretly is a kind of personality split... by acting in the dark, it allows the Federation citizens to still believe they're the good guys, which means they do not run the risk of running down the slippery slope of becoming like the enemies they would have to fight in the open, if there was no Section 31 doing that for them. But the price is hypocrisy.

Maybe it's the same kind of mechanism as in case of religious hypocrites -- they cannot acknowledge their dark side, so they push it under the rug and ignore it, to be able to pretend they are good, but then they project all the bad things they unconsciously hate themselves for on other people, such as "infidels", nonconformists or various other minorities they don't like. (You know, just like misogynists blame rape victims for wearing short skirts, just because they are horny but cannot admit it, because that would violate their own ideas of chastity. But hey, at least you can maintain the illusion you're a good Christian, because only those damn hippies with their free love will go to hell.) Or gays in the closet who compensate their self-hatred with especially passionate rants against homosexuality.

Or something like that... not sure if this train of thought still makes sense, the coffee hasn't reached my bloodstream yet. :laugh:

Edited by Sim

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5 hours ago, Sim said:

Well you probably don't need a Section 31... but you do need to find a way to deal with the inherent contradiction of a pacifist utopia.

When your ideal is that you'd rather die than do what you think is wrong, then those who don't share your values will indeed just kill you. And your ideals won't survive. So if you want them to survive? You have to defend them, even if it means ignoring them in the process. That's tricky, because by doing so, you might lose your ideals and become just like your enemy, and the result would be the same -- the ideals don't survive.

Maybe a Section 31 acting secretly is a kind of personality split... by acting in the dark, it allows the Federation citizens to still believe they're the good guys, which means they do not run the risk of running down the slippery slope of becoming like the enemies they would have to fight in the open, if there was no Section 31 doing that for them. But the price is hypocrisy.

Maybe it's the same kind of mechanism as in case of religious hypocrites -- they cannot acknowledge their dark side, so they push it under the rug and ignore it, to be able to pretend they are good, but then they project all the bad things they unconsciously hate themselves for on other people, such as "infidels", nonconformists or various other minorities they don't like. (You know, just like misogynists blame rape victims for wearing short skirts, just because they are horny but cannot admit it, because that would violate their own ideas of chastity. But hey, at least you can maintain the illusion you're a good Christian, because only those damn hippies with their free love will go to hell.) Or gays in the closet who compensate their self-hatred with especially passionate rants against homosexuality.

Or something like that... not sure if this train of thought still makes sense, the coffee hasn't reached my bloodstream yet. :laugh:

 

Sim--

Please remember this is NOT a KM topic.... Yet.

And I really have no desire to move it either, as it is a legitimate ST-themed thread.  Let's avoid any talk of current Christianity, the or anything else that might bounce this into the KM.

Thanks. 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Sehlat Vie said:

 

Sim--

Please remember this is NOT a KM topic.... Yet.

And I really have no desire to move it either, as it is a legitimate ST-themed thread.  Let's avoid any talk of current Christianity, the or anything else that might bounce this into the KM.

Thanks. 

 

 

 

Oops! Sorry, I didn't realize that.

But yeah, take my first two paragraphs and ignore the third, that should suffice.

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Moving on, the way ST has setup its utopia?  It's not entirely a land of milk & honey.  It's still a place where ships are heavily armed, negotiations to contain hostilities are constant and war still happens as well.   So perhaps my question is: is the Federation a true utopia?   Or maybe it comes down to one's personal definition of utopia.

For me, I think (nee: believe) that wherever human beings are present, there will be conflict.   Now add aliens into the mix, and that increases exponentially.   Granted, human beings by ST's time have more or less gotten their act together, but there are still conflicts.   "The Pegasus" in TNG illustrates that there is still a hard-right constituency within the Starfleet that is constantly looking for ways to 'bend the rules' a bit to the military's favor.   And DS9, esp. with the "Paradise Lost" two-parter, reinforces this as well. 

It seems that the Federation can BE a utopia for long periods (in TWOK, Carol Marcus states that "Starfleet has kept the peace for 100 years") but whenever a new threat comes into the picture (the Borg, the Dominion, Nero, etc) they can lapse right back into 21st century paranoid, fearful, typically human behavior. 

So is the Federation a true utopia, or is it a 'fair-weather' utopia?  Is such a utopia even possible in a universe where the only absolute constants are change and relative uncertainty?  I wonder...

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17 minutes ago, Sehlat Vie said:

Moving on, the way ST has setup its utopia?  It's not entirely a land of milk & honey.  It's still a place where ships are heavily armed, negotiations to contain hostilities are constant and war still happens as well.   So perhaps my question is: is the Federation a true utopia?   Or maybe it comes down to one's personal definition of utopia.

For me, I think (nee: believe) that wherever human beings are present, there will be conflict.   Now add aliens into the mix, and that increases exponentially.   Granted, human beings by ST's time have more or less gotten their act together, but there are still conflicts.   "The Pegasus" in TNG illustrates that there is still a hard-right constituency within the Starfleet that is constantly looking for ways to 'bend the rules' a bit to the military's favor.   And DS9, esp. with the "Paradise Lost" two-parter, reinforces this as well. 

It seems that the Federation can BE a utopia for long periods (in TWOK, Carol Marcus states that "Starfleet has kept the peace for 100 years") but whenever a new threat comes into the picture (the Borg, the Dominion, Nero, etc) they can lapse right back into 21st century paranoid, fearful, typically human behavior. 

So is the Federation a true utopia, or is it a 'fair-weather' utopia?  Is such a utopia even possible in a universe where the only absolute constants are change and relative uncertainty?  I wonder...

I'm inclined to agree about conflict and human nature... but one interesting observation is that mankind can make progress insofar the "us" definition can be expanded to include even former enemies... in the past, first clans fought each other. But then they united into tribes, but different tribes kept fighting each other. Then formerly hostile tribes were united in religions, then entire nations. Today we see at least some attempts to even unite different nations into larger alliances, even when it's not certain whether this will succeed.

Star Trek is an utopia insofar that at least today's divisions of mankind have been overcome. Mankind is united, and beyond that, even mankind with certain other alien races. The in-group has become much larger. But at the frontier of that in-group, the old conflict game is the same.

Can human nature even reach a state where we don't require a "them" anymore at all? I don't know. Maybe we just need the other to even know who we are?

But back to Section 31: If it didn't exist doing the dirty work, maybe the Federation in general would have to be more militaristic to be able to stand the challenges by its adversaries. And if it did that, it might lose much of its idealism in the process?

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1 hour ago, Sim said:

I'm inclined to agree about conflict and human nature... but one interesting observation is that mankind can make progress insofar the "us" definition can be expanded to include even former enemies... in the past, first clans fought each other. But then they united into tribes, but different tribes kept fighting each other. Then formerly hostile tribes were united in religions, then entire nations. Today we see at least some attempts to even unite different nations into larger alliances, even when it's not certain whether this will succeed.

Star Trek is an utopia insofar that at least today's divisions of mankind have been overcome. Mankind is united, and beyond that, even mankind with certain other alien races. The in-group has become much larger. But at the frontier of that in-group, the old conflict game is the same.

Can human nature even reach a state where we don't require a "them" anymore at all? I don't know. Maybe we just need the other to even know who we are?

But back to Section 31: If it didn't exist doing the dirty work, maybe the Federation in general would have to be more militaristic to be able to stand the challenges by its adversaries. And if it did that, it might lose much of its idealism in the process?

But if it has a dark underbelly with Section 31, is it truly that idealistic?  Or is it hypocritical? 

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6 minutes ago, Sehlat Vie said:

But if it has a dark underbelly with Section 31, is it truly that idealistic?  Or is it hypocritical? 

Maybe both? Of course it's hypocritical... on the other side, the Federation can at least internally maintain a free utopic society, when its average citizens believes in an idealistic illusion -- if it was more militaristic in general, the population would become more cynical too and sacrife its inner idyll?

So maybe Section 31 is useful after all ... it puts a distance between the idealistic society on one side and getting the hands dirty on the other...

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I have a hard time seeing the difference between the Federations 'legitimate' intelligence agency and Section 31. What line will 31 cross that Starfleet Intelligence wouldn't? 

From a purely out-of-universe entertainment point-of-view, I think it's interesting to have this morally ambiguous agency running around and pulling strings and playing a long game.

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26 minutes ago, Hammer said:

I have a hard time seeing the difference between the Federations 'legitimate' intelligence agency and Section 31. What line will 31 cross that Starfleet Intelligence wouldn't? 

Judging from Sloan, I'd say that things like assassinations aren't off the table, or falsifying evidence, falsely implicating/extraditing people you want to have out of the way, etc.  Basically the kinds of things that Starfleet would say it never does. 

The legitimate arm of Starfleet intelligence is probably more concerned with undercover spy work, reconnaissance and surveillance (like the Argus array).   S31 does the dirty work.  Interesting that we live in this gray moral time where we've learned (with some genuine reasons) not to trust anything that appears too pure or noble.   Even the vaulted Rebel Alliance in Star Wars is shown to have a dark underbelly as seen in Rogue One (they too, commit assassinations, and other bits of dirty business that the fighter pilots and 'heroes' don't have to).

I guess in the information age, it's just too hard to believe (even in our fiction) that a seemingly above board agency like Starfleet has no dark side.   Gene Roddenberry probably wouldn't approve, I'm sure.   Doesn't make it wrong; it just means that Gene Roddenberry's 'vision' was out of step with humanity as it really is, and as it will be.    We all have a dark side... even the best of us. 

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Posted (edited)

It depends on what you mean by a utopia. I don't believe that people really change, but cultures can change. 

I have a ST earth's history in my head. Earth continues on the path we are on where the extremes take control. People start fearing outsiders more and more. There is no real WWIII but when the big countries like the U.S. effectively break up into hundreds of smaller countries, there are thousands of smaller wars. The world divides into two basic types of government. The center vs the extremes. People who don't fit their groups, change, are driven out, or just leave.  Mass migrations and sorting out. 

Most of the small countries follow various extreme policies based on the extremes we see today. They are against anything that contradicts their beliefs so they eliminate most education.  Their infrastructure breaks down because no one knows how to repair it. They of course blame outsiders and start wars. Billions die. 

The middle of the road area's start to band together to help each other because if they don't they will be overwhelmed by the extreme countries. They educate all of their people and poverty as we know it starts to disappear within the middle of the road countries. The Vulcans land in one of the middle of the road countries. The humans learn from the Vulcans to make their decisions based on logic, not emotion. The extremes kill each other off or die because of their poor decision making. The middle of the road people vow, never again. 

Now getting to section 31. Earth looks back to the time of trouble in horror. They would never use something like Section 31 on Earth because it is not needed. While there are still liberals and conservatives and religion and all of the other things we have now, people with really extreme views that are based on emotion rather than logic don't exist on Earth. They do however still exist on some of the colonies, some of which were founded by extremists who left Earth because they didn't fit in anymore. 

Section 31 is viewed by people who think about it as a necessary evil when dealing with the extremes of the galaxy. Earth learned from bitter experience that you cannot reason with extreme people. If years of discussions get no where and the enemy is extreme and violent, it is better to use section 31 then to start a war. Section 31 is looked at as an alternate, less destructive type of warfare. It's the price you have to pay to keep your utopia. 

Edited by scenario
clarification

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On 4/10/2017 at 2:17 AM, Sim said:

Well you probably don't need a Section 31... but you do need to find a way to deal with the inherent contradiction of a pacifist utopia.

When your ideal is that you'd rather die than do what you think is wrong, then those who don't share your values will indeed just kill you. And your ideals won't survive. So if you want them to survive? You have to defend them, even if it means ignoring them in the process. That's tricky, because by doing so, you might lose your ideals and become just like your enemy, and the result would be the same -- the ideals don't survive.

Maybe a Section 31 acting secretly is a kind of personality split... by acting in the dark, it allows the Federation citizens to still believe they're the good guys, which means they do not run the risk of running down the slippery slope of becoming like the enemies they would have to fight in the open, if there was no Section 31 doing that for them. But the price is hypocrisy.

Maybe it's the same kind of mechanism as in case of religious hypocrites -- they cannot acknowledge their dark side, so they push it under the rug and ignore it, to be able to pretend they are good, but then they project all the bad things they unconsciously hate themselves for on other people, such as "infidels", nonconformists or various other minorities they don't like. (You know, just like misogynists blame rape victims for wearing short skirts, just because they are horny but cannot admit it, because that would violate their own ideas of chastity. But hey, at least you can maintain the illusion you're a good Christian, because only those damn hippies with their free love will go to hell.) Or gays in the closet who compensate their self-hatred with especially passionate rants against homosexuality.

Or something like that... not sure if this train of thought still makes sense, the coffee hasn't reached my bloodstream yet. :laugh:

Really good points. Odo said almost the same thing about the Federation, in the open abhors Section 31's tactics, but when they need dirty work done they look the other way. A "tidy arrangement" they have.

The thing about the contradiction/hypocrisy is an interesting point. I honestly wonder if it helps that most of Starfleet/UFP doesn't even know S31 exists. So that probably helps a lot too. An out of sight, out of mind type of thinking process. It's a lot easier to accept the Federation can survive on pacifism and kindness without shady dealings.

You also make a good point that maybe something not as extreme as S31 is needed but there does need to be some group of "patriots" (as they see themselves) that are willing to do the things regular humans will not.

I recently re-watched the episode where the DS9 crew crash landed their captured Jem'Hadar ship on a planet. The injured Vorta, desperate to live, told the DS9 crew the battle plans so they could ambush the Jem'Hadar easily. Kill them all before they knew what hit them. The officers debated it and Garak was like "Let's just kill them and be done with it. This is war." while O'Brien said "There are rules in war." and Garak replied "Human rules." It is interesting to think there are probably humans that think more like Garak than they would Picard for example.

On 4/10/2017 at 11:23 AM, Sehlat Vie said:

Moving on, the way ST has setup its utopia?  It's not entirely a land of milk & honey.  It's still a place where ships are heavily armed, negotiations to contain hostilities are constant and war still happens as well.   So perhaps my question is: is the Federation a true utopia?   Or maybe it comes down to one's personal definition of utopia.

For me, I think (nee: believe) that wherever human beings are present, there will be conflict.   Now add aliens into the mix, and that increases exponentially.   Granted, human beings by ST's time have more or less gotten their act together, but there are still conflicts.   "The Pegasus" in TNG illustrates that there is still a hard-right constituency within the Starfleet that is constantly looking for ways to 'bend the rules' a bit to the military's favor.   And DS9, esp. with the "Paradise Lost" two-parter, reinforces this as well. 

It seems that the Federation can BE a utopia for long periods (in TWOK, Carol Marcus states that "Starfleet has kept the peace for 100 years") but whenever a new threat comes into the picture (the Borg, the Dominion, Nero, etc) they can lapse right back into 21st century paranoid, fearful, typically human behavior. 

So is the Federation a true utopia, or is it a 'fair-weather' utopia?  Is such a utopia even possible in a universe where the only absolute constants are change and relative uncertainty?  I wonder...

An interesting point. I have read that utopia is not something that can ever be reached, but is an idea that should forever be strived for. Maybe the Federation is as close to utopian as it can get, but there can always be improvements.

I think 24th Earth is a utopia from our point of view, though. There really isn't any conflict except, as you pointed out, the occasional corrupt admiral. There really are no problems on Earth as we understand it. Which makes me wonder how they can even be equipped to handle conflicts emerging from outer space. It's why Sisko gave that speech about how it is easy to be a "saint in paradise".

On 4/10/2017 at 11:54 AM, Sim said:

I'm inclined to agree about conflict and human nature... but one interesting observation is that mankind can make progress insofar the "us" definition can be expanded to include even former enemies... in the past, first clans fought each other. But then they united into tribes, but different tribes kept fighting each other. Then formerly hostile tribes were united in religions, then entire nations. Today we see at least some attempts to even unite different nations into larger alliances, even when it's not certain whether this will succeed.

Star Trek is an utopia insofar that at least today's divisions of mankind have been overcome. Mankind is united, and beyond that, even mankind with certain other alien races. The in-group has become much larger. But at the frontier of that in-group, the old conflict game is the same.

Can human nature even reach a state where we don't require a "them" anymore at all? I don't know. Maybe we just need the other to even know who we are?

But back to Section 31: If it didn't exist doing the dirty work, maybe the Federation in general would have to be more militaristic to be able to stand the challenges by its adversaries. And if it did that, it might lose much of its idealism in the process?

Wow ... really good observation about our progression and if we will always need a "them" to stand as our counter. I think, considering the bio diversity of the Trekverse, there will always be a "them". Unless the destiny of all races is to one day reach a Q-like status and all races turn into "gods"?

Well - the thing I am trying to consider is this - remember pre-DS9 days? When we watched TNG, did any of us really think there was a shadowy clandestine group behind the scenes advancing the cause of the Federation? Or did we all assume that Starfleet/Federation ideals were enough to ensure the progress of said organizations?

On 4/10/2017 at 1:39 PM, Sim said:

Maybe both? Of course it's hypocritical... on the other side, the Federation can at least internally maintain a free utopic society, when its average citizens believes in an idealistic illusion -- if it was more militaristic in general, the population would become more cynical too and sacrife its inner idyll?

So maybe Section 31 is useful after all ... it puts a distance between the idealistic society on one side and getting the hands dirty on the other...

That it does. S31 absolutely lets Starfleet/Federation off the hook. It makes the hard choices the Federation will not. Which kind of robs the UFP of any agency.

You know - that is one thing I am not a fan of with the novels. Ever since S31 came into being - suddenly every bad act done in TNG/TOS was a S31 member. Which, I didn't like because it essentially made everyone "bad" the fault of S31. Can't there be bad people?

Maybe, despite the books, we are looking at this the wrong way. There is a way to keep the old idea of Federation ideals being enough to survive and reconciling it with S31. We often think of S31 as a group that is constantly active. Maybe it isn't, though? Maybe it isn't sacking anti-Federation politicians to ensure membership of an alien world? Maybe they aren't constantly developing bio-weapons to infect an enemy? etc. Maybe they are only active on extreme threats and normally are dormant?

On 4/11/2017 at 4:36 PM, Hammer said:

I have a hard time seeing the difference between the Federations 'legitimate' intelligence agency and Section 31. What line will 31 cross that Starfleet Intelligence wouldn't? 

From a purely out-of-universe entertainment point-of-view, I think it's interesting to have this morally ambiguous agency running around and pulling strings and playing a long game.

I'm not sure Starfleet Intelligence would engage in genocide. As others stated, I think we're supposed to assume S:I just did a lot of spying and information gathering. Not actively engaging in sabotage or deposing leaders or creating secret weapons, etc. They were essentially an extremely benign group.

Bashir ever asked Sloan if Section 31 was Starfleet Intelligence. Sloan says something about them being a competent department but "limited". S31 gives them free reign to do whatever they want, no matter how morally ambiguous.

I wonder who approved Sisko's little plan in "In The Pale Moonlight". S31 or Starfleet Intelligence?

On 4/11/2017 at 5:10 PM, Sehlat Vie said:

Judging from Sloan, I'd say that things like assassinations aren't off the table, or falsifying evidence, falsely implicating/extraditing people you want to have out of the way, etc.  Basically the kinds of things that Starfleet would say it never does. 

The legitimate arm of Starfleet intelligence is probably more concerned with undercover spy work, reconnaissance and surveillance (like the Argus array).   S31 does the dirty work.  Interesting that we live in this gray moral time where we've learned (with some genuine reasons) not to trust anything that appears too pure or noble.   Even the vaulted Rebel Alliance in Star Wars is shown to have a dark underbelly as seen in Rogue One (they too, commit assassinations, and other bits of dirty business that the fighter pilots and 'heroes' don't have to).

I guess in the information age, it's just too hard to believe (even in our fiction) that a seemingly above board agency like Starfleet has no dark side.   Gene Roddenberry probably wouldn't approve, I'm sure.   Doesn't make it wrong; it just means that Gene Roddenberry's 'vision' was out of step with humanity as it really is, and as it will be.    We all have a dark side... even the best of us. 

Good points here. Especially about media beyond Star Trek showing the darker side of heroes.

You're right about Roddenberry likely to not respond well to this idea. Again, he probably wanted us to assume that intelligence groups no longer act with that kind of deviousness but rather solely for the benefit of the whole.

9 hours ago, scenario said:

It depends on what you mean by a utopia. I don't believe that people really change, but cultures can change. 

I have a ST earth's history in my head. Earth continues on the path we are on where the extremes take control. People start fearing outsiders more and more. There is no real WWIII but when the big countries like the U.S. effectively break up into hundreds of smaller countries, there are thousands of smaller wars. The world divides into two basic types of government. The center vs the extremes. People who don't fit their groups, change, are driven out, or just leave.  Mass migrations and sorting out. 

Most of the small countries follow various extreme policies based on the extremes we see today. They are against anything that contradicts their beliefs so they eliminate most education.  Their infrastructure breaks down because no one knows how to repair it. They of course blame outsiders and start wars. Billions die. 

The middle of the road area's start to band together to help each other because if they don't they will be overwhelmed by the extreme countries. They educate all of their people and poverty as we know it starts to disappear within the middle of the road countries. The Vulcans land in one of the middle of the road countries. The humans learn from the Vulcans to make their decisions based on logic, not emotion. The extremes kill each other off or die because of their poor decision making. The middle of the road people vow, never again. 

Now getting to section 31. Earth looks back to the time of trouble in horror. They would never use something like Section 31 on Earth because it is not needed. While there are still liberals and conservatives and religion and all of the other things we have now, people with really extreme views that are based on emotion rather than logic don't exist on Earth. They do however still exist on some of the colonies, some of which were founded by extremists who left Earth because they didn't fit in anymore. 

Section 31 is viewed by people who think about it as a necessary evil when dealing with the extremes of the galaxy. Earth learned from bitter experience that you cannot reason with extreme people. If years of discussions get no where and the enemy is extreme and violent, it is better to use section 31 then to start a war. Section 31 is looked at as an alternate, less destructive type of warfare. It's the price you have to pay to keep your utopia. 

I completely agree. DS9 beautifully stated this very thing. When Quark says that humans are wonderful as long as we're well taken care of. But when we are part in a dangerous position or are threatened over a long period of time, our old cave man selves comes right out. No matter how much you've grown up in a perfect heaven-like world.

Very interesting about it being the "price" one pays to have their perfect world. Sounds like a Rule of Acquisition lol. That everything has its price ....

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By the way Founder?  This is a really good topic.  Very challenging. :thumbsup2:

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Do all species in the Federation have the same moral values? One of my favorite book series has an alien species that solves their problems by assassination. If two groups have an ongoing dispute, they have the option of filing intent with the assassins guild. The guild then negotiates between the two parties to get an agreement. If the guild determines that one side is not negotiating in good faith and they determine that that party is not good for the stability of society, they rule in favor of the other party. Then they send out assassinations to kill the leaders of the party. The other party is required to hire assassinations to protect themselves. Really extreme views in that society never take over. 

The point is that assassinations is something that is against humans values. But if another species has assassination as a basic part of their legal system, is it immoral for them? What if section 31 uses a lot of tactics that are immoral by human terms but perfectly moral by other species rules? So an Earth company has a dispute with a company from another species that uses assassinations to solve problems. Section 31 supplies the assassins. Section 31 plays the game by other peoples rules when it seems appropriate. 

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1 hour ago, scenario said:

Do all species in the Federation have the same moral values? One of my favorite book series has an alien species that solves their problems by assassination. If two groups have an ongoing dispute, they have the option of filing intent with the assassins guild. The guild then negotiates between the two parties to get an agreement. If the guild determines that one side is not negotiating in good faith and they determine that that party is not good for the stability of society, they rule in favor of the other party. Then they send out assassinations to kill the leaders of the party. The other party is required to hire assassinations to protect themselves. Really extreme views in that society never take over. 

The point is that assassinations is something that is against humans values. But if another species has assassination as a basic part of their legal system, is it immoral for them? What if section 31 uses a lot of tactics that are immoral by human terms but perfectly moral by other species rules? So an Earth company has a dispute with a company from another species that uses assassinations to solve problems. Section 31 supplies the assassins. Section 31 plays the game by other peoples rules when it seems appropriate. 

^
We don't even share the same values on this world; I can only imagine the multitude of ways life is 'practiced' throughout the universe.   And that's really what a value system is to me; it's a means through which we all 'practice' life, the way a doctor practices medicine or a lawyer practices law.   Sometimes we fall from our own imposed values (self-malpractice?) but we cling to them nevertheless; they act as our morality beacons.   I imagine other alien cultures will have shockingly different value systems, and once an understanding is ever reached between humans and an alien species (assuming it's even possible) we will no doubt shock, offend, or even frighten each other.   Some of the deepest offenses may come from the simplest things.  In our culture, holding up a middle finger is a terrible insult.  In Arab cultures, the throwing of a shoe is worse.   Also offensive in certain cultures is the 'thumbs up' gesture which, here in the US, signifies confidence and readiness.   And this is all within one species on ONE planet...

I love the old 1976 record (that I later found on CD; as part of the ST-TMP 20th anniversary soundtrack) that had 'interviews' with Gene Roddenberry, the actors of the show and even an interview with Mark Lenard in character as "Sarek"; Sarek explained how the human release of emotions in public that his half-Vulcan son displayed in his youth were shocking and 'grossly offensive' to his classmates.   I found that fascinating; how something so 'everyday' to us would be such a vile offense to an alien culture.   There was also that great prologue sequence in ENT "Vox Sola" where an alien race was deeply offended by the fact that humans eat in public with each other, "You eat like you mate."  

It kind of makes one apprehensive about what commonalities (if any) we can expect if we ever encounter alien life...

I apologize for the divergence, but to get back on point?   There are, as scenario pointed out, many alien cultural norms (possibly legitimized assassination, or perhaps even condoned murder) that will be perfectly acceptable to an alien race.   A S31 type organization does what is considered 'dirty work' for humans, but it'd be another day at the office for a Romulan, or a Klingon...

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On 4/14/2017 at 11:03 PM, Sehlat Vie said:

By the way Founder?  This is a really good topic.  Very challenging. :thumbsup2:

Thank you! Glad to see Star Trek still brings this out of us even after all these years.

On 4/15/2017 at 9:15 AM, scenario said:

Do all species in the Federation have the same moral values? One of my favorite book series has an alien species that solves their problems by assassination. If two groups have an ongoing dispute, they have the option of filing intent with the assassins guild. The guild then negotiates between the two parties to get an agreement. If the guild determines that one side is not negotiating in good faith and they determine that that party is not good for the stability of society, they rule in favor of the other party. Then they send out assassinations to kill the leaders of the party. The other party is required to hire assassinations to protect themselves. Really extreme views in that society never take over. 

The point is that assassinations is something that is against humans values. But if another species has assassination as a basic part of their legal system, is it immoral for them? What if section 31 uses a lot of tactics that are immoral by human terms but perfectly moral by other species rules? So an Earth company has a dispute with a company from another species that uses assassinations to solve problems. Section 31 supplies the assassins. Section 31 plays the game by other peoples rules when it seems appropriate. 

This is a really good point. It's doubtful that the Federation has matching values .... or maybe it does? Eddington implied the Federation was insidious like the Borg and was taking over. Maybe Eddington and that Klingon daughter of Gorkon was right - it's a Homo Sapien's Club and to join the Federation you have to acquiesce to Earth values?

Remember the episode where Voyager was trapped in some pocket dimension or something? And they created this loose alliance with alien ships - like a mini Federation. To join - you have to agree to the rules laid out by Janeway. Perhaps the UFP is something akin to that?

On 4/15/2017 at 10:44 AM, Sehlat Vie said:

^
We don't even share the same values on this world; I can only imagine the multitude of ways life is 'practiced' throughout the universe.   And that's really what a value system is to me; it's a means through which we all 'practice' life, the way a doctor practices medicine or a lawyer practices law.   Sometimes we fall from our own imposed values (self-malpractice?) but we cling to them nevertheless; they act as our morality beacons.   I imagine other alien cultures will have shockingly different value systems, and once an understanding is ever reached between humans and an alien species (assuming it's even possible) we will no doubt shock, offend, or even frighten each other.   Some of the deepest offenses may come from the simplest things.  In our culture, holding up a middle finger is a terrible insult.  In Arab cultures, the throwing of a shoe is worse.   Also offensive in certain cultures is the 'thumbs up' gesture which, here in the US, signifies confidence and readiness.   And this is all within one species on ONE planet...

I love the old 1976 record (that I later found on CD; as part of the ST-TMP 20th anniversary soundtrack) that had 'interviews' with Gene Roddenberry, the actors of the show and even an interview with Mark Lenard in character as "Sarek"; Sarek explained how the human release of emotions in public that his half-Vulcan son displayed in his youth were shocking and 'grossly offensive' to his classmates.   I found that fascinating; how something so 'everyday' to us would be such a vile offense to an alien culture.   There was also that great prologue sequence in ENT "Vox Sola" where an alien race was deeply offended by the fact that humans eat in public with each other, "You eat like you mate."  

It kind of makes one apprehensive about what commonalities (if any) we can expect if we ever encounter alien life...

I apologize for the divergence, but to get back on point?   There are, as scenario pointed out, many alien cultural norms (possibly legitimized assassination, or perhaps even condoned murder) that will be perfectly acceptable to an alien race.   A S31 type organization does what is considered 'dirty work' for humans, but it'd be another day at the office for a Romulan, or a Klingon...

Excellent points. This reminds me of how Worf tried to kill Kurn in a ritual and Sisko argued that he gives a lot of lee way to alien cultures/traditions but there is a line.

You're right when you say that even on Earth - we all don't agree. I guess we're supposed to assume Earth has a mono-culture now with shared values that have little to no deviation. Perhaps that is what Earth looks for in other alien races? One world societies and then those societies have to match the values of Earth.

Or ... the alliance of the UFP is much more loose than all of us think?

I figure in regards to S31 - Earth might accept that their tactics are ok on alien worlds but not their own.

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14 hours ago, The Founder said:

Thank you! Glad to see Star Trek still brings this out of us even after all these years.

This is a really good point. It's doubtful that the Federation has matching values .... or maybe it does? Eddington implied the Federation was insidious like the Borg and was taking over. Maybe Eddington and that Klingon daughter of Gorkon was right - it's a Homo Sapien's Club and to join the Federation you have to acquiesce to Earth values?

Remember the episode where Voyager was trapped in some pocket dimension or something? And they created this loose alliance with alien ships - like a mini Federation. To join - you have to agree to the rules laid out by Janeway. Perhaps the UFP is something akin to that?

Excellent points. This reminds me of how Worf tried to kill Kurn in a ritual and Sisko argued that he gives a lot of lee way to alien cultures/traditions but there is a line.

You're right when you say that even on Earth - we all don't agree. I guess we're supposed to assume Earth has a mono-culture now with shared values that have little to no deviation. Perhaps that is what Earth looks for in other alien races? One world societies and then those societies have to match the values of Earth.

Or ... the alliance of the UFP is much more loose than all of us think?

I figure in regards to S31 - Earth might accept that their tactics are ok on alien worlds but not their own.

I have to be careful not to turn this into a KM topic...

But yeah, there is this contradiction between enlightened/liberal universalism on one side, and quasi-pacifism and cooperation on the other, in Star Trek. It seems that the creative minds behind Star Trek deliberately ignored this contradiction and kind of blurred the topic, in order to please idealistic viewers of all stripes. But maybe that's why Star Trek indeed is an utopia -- because something is possible there (to the most part), which isn't possible in the real world?

Because in the real world, you usually cannot have both, enlightenment/liberal values AND peaceful union with other cultures. Alliances à la Federation are, in its embryo form, only possible with nations that share a good number of values (such as the European Union -- but even here, we see how fragile this commonality is, these days), or perhaps even NATO (though here, it's perhaps even more a matter of common strategic interests than shared values?).

But for all others? Either you have peace with them, but then you have to accept that they do things we consider terrible crimes, because they simply do not share our values. Which means we have to walk a thin line and accept the accusation we are complicit in these crimes. Or you insist on our enlightened/liberal values, but then, you won't be able to truly have peace with such nations.

Not so in Star Trek -- at least all of mankind are apparently Westernized liberal Americans, culturally, by the 24th century, perhaps even most Federation alien races. So it works. :laugh:

It's really not a question easy to answer -- how many violations of the things you consider right and just are you willing to sacrifice for peace? People find very different answers these days, which perhaps contributes a lot to our current political turmoil.

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