5 Ways Star Trek's Federation Was An Evil Empire
In Star Trek, the Federation is a fleet of heavily-armed ships sailing out to tell everyone else what's moral. It works about as well as that ever does. We're told that they're the good guys, but that's because we've been watching hu-man propaganda. But no matter how bad the movies got, it was the various TV series which really showed that the Federation was an evil empire.
Blatant Human Elitism
Starfleet serves the United Federation of Planets, and one planet is way more Federated than the others. Starfleet headquarters are on Earth, most of the Admirals are human, most of their captains are human -- even their flagships have only one token not-exactly-human-looking alien per bridge crew (and even then, only when they look pretty human). In our universe, we know that makeup is expensive and that actors are generally human-shaped. But in their universe, the effect is clear: The closer you are to perfect Homo Sapiens, the better the job you get.
"Bzzit-damn, but you look expensive. Don't get too used to the camera."
Starfleet doesn't hang street signs in space, but they named everything else after Earth, just to make sure nobody forgets who's in charge. Their starships are all named either for aspirational concepts or Earth locations, with the clear implication that those are equivalent. It's fine when you're naming a ship after a heroic cosmonaut, but by the time you're down to Terran rivers, all the other Federation species must be feeling the middle finger. Imagine Andorian scientists at the Utopia Planitia shipyards.
"We've built a new starship, and my homeworld's greatest explorer-scientist and peacekeeper would be would perfect ..."
"Don't get bluer balls, antenna-boy, we've still got a few cities we haven't used. Saratoga."
"Eat a large number of mid-sized American towns, Borg!"
Doctor McCoy demonstrates that constant anti-alien rhetoric is welcome at the higher levels. Earth is "Sector 001" while the other federation founding members are in sectors 005, 006, and 007. Humans invented warp drive, met entire alien worlds, and resurrected the geocentric model of the universe just to spite them. The worst offender (but best Star Trek series) is Deep Space 9. It's all about a Federation outpost to an entire quadrant whose name is incredibly insulting to the locals. They might has well have called it Starbase Arse End of Nowhere, But Only After Eight More Important Arses. That's gotta be rough on the Bajorans. "We live here, asshole. You guys even give your unmanned probes big fancy mythical names, don't you? And we're Faraway Numeral."
Bajoran nose-creases are caused by the constant stench of Federation bullshit.
Starfleet Military Vessels Hoard Resources
The starship crews fly around like they're enjoying a post-scarcity utopia, but the fact is that the Enterprise has a gas tank. That big shiny warp core is just a reaction chamber. Annihilating a half-kilogram each of matter and antimatter releases two hundred billion percent more energy than a kilo of gasoline, but it's the exact same idea. The warp core isn't a magic energy source; it's an Internal Annihilation Engine. And it burns fuel. Which has to come from somewhere.
Deuterium gas guzzler
It's hilarious to note that the Enterprise was originally intended to use lithium, so that the starship of the future was just working on an immense battery. But here's the thing: It still is. The batteries are just antimatter storage pods. Don't even mention the backup fusion reactors, which are crumbs compared to the main power; a few thousandths of a percent compared to the 100 percent mass-energy conversion the ship is designed to use. The TNG Technical Manual mentions an "Antimatter generator," but it's an extraordinarily inefficient device designed only for emergency use. Fueling the ship with that would be more nonsensical than claiming the Enterprise-D is powered by a hamster running in a little wheel. And in the ship's official on-set Master Systems Display, that's exactly what they do.
The Enterprise is approximately 250 microHorsepower
This explains why a universe with replicators and holodecks isn't an infinite utopia, and why they keep meeting people who are struggling and starving. When replicators run off antimatter supplies, they're not infinite food, but an obscene luxury. That's how you can have a Klingon restaurant right next to a replicator on the DS9 promenade. Those who haven't signed up can't afford the fancy Federation machine. Eating whenever you want is a Starfleet signing bonus.
That's what the "Prime Directive" is really for. They're not shielding developing species from undue influence. That would mean not going near them at all, and definitely not repeatedly beaming down and having sex with the natives, like in several episodes. They're freeing themselves from the guilt of not helping thousands of underdeveloped worlds while squandering their limited supplies on immense military vessels. Speaking of those vessels ...
Starfleet Is A Bunch Of Idealistic Suicide Bombers
Starfleet captains proclaim themselves peaceful ambassadors while standing on immense antimatter suicide bombs. Every Federation starship stores years' worth of the stuff in "antimatter storage pods." They make the Exxon Valdez look like a water balloon, and the Enterprise experiences terminal warp core breaches more often than it experiences same-sex relationships.
The White Steam of Death
In the original series, Kirk bluffed that his ship was made of "Corbomite," a fictional substance which would detonate and destroy pretty much everything if it was fired upon. He did this for two reasons: to analogize the Cold War, and because even he knew that no one would believe that all Federation starships are really beds bolted to the biggest bombs in existence.
Even if the antimatter pods are somehow safe -- and they'd have to be, or power-damping fields would be the most lethal first-strike weapons in the galaxy -- at any instant, the power system is filled with enough antimatter to at least explode engineering. The dilithium crystals preventing this depend on extremely high-frequency field emitters. This on a ship where the keyboards explode, and they they're not even filled with antimatter. They don't even have keys!
When you touch these pads, THEY TOUCH BACK
The littlest interruption to the dilithium system would set off a chain reaction that would kill everyone in the area. The first time the ship gets hit by an energy-dampening field, the bridge should suddenly go dark, then suddenly go bright 1.3 microseconds later, as the expanding gamma ray wave plasmafies everyone's retinas. And it doesn't matter what kind of magic antimatter storage pod you have; this would open them to the total annihilation of the entire supply, and the obliteration (or EMP-induced chain reaction) of every ship in the area. And the crews keep climbing into these deathtraps to spread their message to new worlds. No wonder everyone acts friendly to the Federation. So much as bending their fender could get everyone in the sector killed!
They Use Children As Human Shields
The galaxy of the future is filled with terrifying starships. The Doomsday Machine destroying worlds without thought or purpose like a runaway Roomba. The Romulan Scimitar, with a Thalaron weapon which can evaporate entire populations. Borg cubes, which don't just enslave but absorb the innocent. But by far, the most evil vessel in the 24th century is the Federation flagship, the Enterprise-D, because of their chosen defense technology. Klingon vessels use Klingon shields. Cardassian ships use Cardassian shields. But only the Federation uses human shields.
Every frontline ship needs a complement of photon torpedoes, puppies, and children.
Only the Enterprise-D ever flew into combat zones with a cargo of children. And they made sure that everyone knew it! The ship looked like a Travellers Inn which had wildly misplaced an apostrophe, or a floating Apple store from a future where they've shifted from white to beige, and they filled that saucer section with as many families as would fit and flew them straight at every threat in the galaxy.
Now you know why Picard lets kids on board, even though he hates them. It'll be his final revenge.
The Federation preaches morality to every other species in the quadrant, but only to use it as a weapon against them. Romulans, Klingons, Cardassians -- they might be manipulating, brutal, or both, but at least they only ever send soldiers into starship battles. The Enterprise advertises its civilian status, and wedges crew quarters between the phaser arrays, photon torpedo launchers, and antimatter mine systems. The Klingons must have convinced themselves that this disqualifies Federation civilians from honorable consideration. And for the Borg, it's just bringing appetizers to the assimilation table. (It doesn't work against Romulans, who consider it an investment in the long-term victory, or Cardassians, who've carefully practiced exactly this kind of conflict advance).
Brutally Enforced Class System
How many egalitarian utopias have people standing to attention and shouting "Yes sir!" and doing things they disagree with because they were only obeying orders? Multiple episodes show that all you really need to fly a starship is a computer and clear enunciation. Runabouts and (sigh) "Delta Flyers" prove that everyone could have their own vessel. But every ship is stuffed with low-level ratings running around doing chores. Why volunteer for decades of grunt work? The small chance of promotion? It's because even with antimatter reactors, what some people really want is more power. In the past, people have used things like religion or royalty. In Starfleet, they use rank.
Rank is the only reason Picard is still standing in this scene.
The home of the elite officer class is the holodeck. The Enterprise-D has a crew of over a thousand, and by a rough estimate, holodeck usage should be "every single person not currently on duty or asleep." But every time a command crew member wants a holodeck, there's one free. The greatest research and entertainment tool ever built is just sitting idle. Which means that the command crew have priority access, even though they already have the most interesting jobs. You think the ensign continually cleaning all those carpets doesn't want to log in to the deck the instant they're off-duty? Humanity hasn't evolved past such shallow pursuits. Even captains would rather indulge in bullshit like reenacting Jane Austen novels than spend their spare time on their own super-futuristic space ship.
Federation technology is explicitly designed to demand unnecessary human labor. Once you see it, you can't unsee it. Transporters could automatically maintain everything, but they force grunts to crawl through pipes and do it by hand. Even the captain has to read out the Stardate for their own log, when even Instagram automatically time stamps things for us right now.
The most brutal side of this class system was shown in The Next Generation episode "The Nth Degree." When Lieutenant (junior grade) Barclay built an intelligence-boosting system, sacrificing his autonomy to complete their mission by merging himself with the computer system, Captain Picard's first and only reaction was "Tear his brain out and kill him." Even after being told disconnection could be fatal.
"THANKS FOR SAVING EVERYTHING!"
No moral debate. No diplomatic reasoning. Picard has played it softly when aliens have commandeered the ship, imprisoned his crew, even sexually assaulted senior bridge officers. He's let Cardassian gun-runners escape for political bonuses. But when an utterly loyal junior rank starts acting above his station, the first and only option is lobotomy and death.
No wonder Cardassians think the Federation is hypocritical. At least Guls are honest about being an evil empire.
Starfleet is pretty Earth-centric for an intergalactic federation. Perhaps this is why Robert Evans argues that Star Wars is better than Star Trek in 4 Reasons Star Wars Is Better Than Star Trek? Eh, it's probably the glowing laser swords. Either way, Star Trek Federation is still worse than the Evil Empire. At least TIE Fighters had seatbelts. Read 5 Horrifying Implications of The Star Trek Universe and see how Starfleet lacks the most basic safety features.
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