The Obvious and Horrifying Truth of Star Trek No One Talks About

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Last Updated: Jul 27, 2016 @ 10:23 pm

Star Trek promises a future of peace and scientific exploration. It’s a world where humans live without internal warfare and are armed with nothing but a list of directives that supposedly encourage human advancement. There’s no money or want; replicators provide all the sustenance anyone desires.

It all sounds terribly nice, and somewhat far removed from the world of war, corruption, and institutionalized surveillance we currently thrash about in.

But what made the tomorrow people of Star Trek put aside their differences so humans could live long and prosper without hindrance? Certainly, the draconian practices we see governments employ today, in real life, are not noticeable in the Star Trek canon. Or are they?

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra

The position of power we see most often in the Star Trek world is that of commanding officer (like Picard and Kirk), and they act with total impunity and without any boundary. For example, there are many instances where officers override locks to enter personal quarters, without any judicial process, warrant, or, sometimes, even cause. Privacy, it seems, is not a concern in the 24th century.

There’s also the blind devotion that is expected to be shown a captain. A commanding officer’s every whim must be followed, for fear of court martial or death, even if said whim places people directly in harm’s way.

As already mentioned, there’s no money in the Star Trek world or any need for a reward — the replicators see to that. Which means people must follow a captain’s orders for no other reason than the fear of repercussions if they don’t.

And what repercussions there could be. A starship is a weapon of total destruction, more than capable of disintegrating an entire planet, should the captain deem it necessary. Is it any wonder that the masses play ball, then?

And as if succumbing to the complete authority of a captain weren’t enough, there’s also a secret organization that exists purely to manipulate, control, and ensure the continuation of the Federation. And no, it’s not ‘just like the NSA’. Oh no, it’s far, far worse than that.

future-privacy
Set your phasers to ‘ruin the fun’.

Section 31 Is the NSA at Warp Factor 9

Section 31 is an autonomous and clandestine organization entrusted with protecting the security interests of Earth and the Federation. They operate separately from Starfleet and are officially-nonexistent, with very few having even heard of them. The organization is not accountable to anyone, and has been described as having granted itself the powers of judge, jury, and executioner.

Section 31 has existed at least as long as Starfleet and has a license to kill anyone they deem “a threat to Federation interests”. That’s quite some power, more so than anything proven to exist in the real world, though it’s certain some governments would very much like such an all-seeing dissident truncheon at their disposal.

Temba, His Arms Wide

Don’t be fooled into thinking Section 31 exists just to “protect” humans from aliens. “Federation interests” is an incredibly broad term, and has often been interpreted as a means to allow the organization to subjugate even those they are supposedly protecting.

Notably, Starfleet Doctor Bashir was taken, tortured, and interrogated by Section 31, so that they might ascertain his loyalty to the Federation. The organization was able to acquire the use of a holodeck for a few days to test Doctor Bashir, uninterrupted, and no one questioned how they managed to do this.

It seems that despite the general lack of awareness of Section 31, they are still able to command vast resources within the Federation. This hints at a presumably thorough network of spies, or absolute authority over their domain.

Whatever the source behind their power, one thing is certain: anyone Section 31 deems a security threat is dealt with “quietly and quickly”. Indeed, Section 31 is known to act with such brutal force they have been compared to the notoriously nasty Romulan Empire’s secret agency, the Tal Shiar.

That’s right, there’s more than one clandestine, authoritarian regime in the Star Trek universe, and humans don’t have the monopoly on them.

Unhappiness and Murder: The Tal Shiar Make It So

The Romulans are a warmongering species within the Star Trekverse. ExpressVPN doesn’t want to say they’re aliens. But they’re aliens.

The Tal Shiar is the highly feared intelligence agency of the Romulan Empire. Though created to guard the security of the Empire, Tal Shiar also deals with traitors in the Romulan population.

“Traitor” is the go-to excuse any time a regime wants someone to be punished or disposed of and is as ambiguous as it is terrifying. Who’s to decide which acts, even the innocuous, are treacherous? It’s a term created by power, to keep power.

The secretive Tal Shiar keep the Romulan people in a constant state of paranoia, and dissention is met with immediate and severe punishment. Worse, some dissidents are known to disappear completely.

Unpleasant as they seem, though, the Tal Shiar are a box of kittens compared to the Cardassian order of manipulation and control.

picard-four-lights
Five lights.

There Are Four Lights! The Obsidian Order

The Cardassians are a humanoid species, known for being particularly ruthless and controlling. What might their interpretation of a ruthless regime of control be, then?

Quite a jolly one! At least to its members. Agents of the Order are equipped with a cranial implant that releases a substance called promazine, which is designed to allow Obsidian agents to better resist torture. In fact, the drug makes the experience of torture pleasurable.

On top of reveling where most would be repulsed, the reach of the Obsidian Order is undeniably absolute. It’s been said that a Cardassian citizen couldn’t sit down to a meal without each dish being duly noted and recorded by the Obsidian Order.

The practical omnipotent surveillance of the Order has led to the swift elimination of numerous “traitors”, and all Cardassians live in constant fear of the organization.

What a time to be alive.

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night… Can We Avoid Star Trek Dystopia?

Well, the future sounds like a thoroughly nasty place to live. It’s a universe where people are expected to toe the line or be disappeared.

Massive government organizations control everything and don’t even reward people for being part of it. The universal motto is do or die. It’s less dangling a carrot on a stick, and more hammering sharpened sticks into people’s brains.

But how do we stop such a nasty future of control and oppression befalling upon us, here in the real world? Perhaps it’s time to act. ExpressVPN works with many organizations that fight for privacy and stand against governmental tinkering.

Most recently, ExpressVPN sided with the EFF to curtail Rule 41 amendments. A directive that could increase government’s powers to hack thousands of computers, anywhere in the world, all with a single warrant — which seems like something Section 31 would be proud of.

Time to step up, before your descendants are trapped in a hellish prison floating through the darkness of space, at the whim of a fighty dictator in possession of an unfathomably powerful photon cannon.

What do you think, how can we avoid the terrifying future of a Star Trekesque regime of fear and terror? (Or has Johnny 5 got this all completely wrong? – Editor). Would a Star Trek VPN solve everything? Leave your comments below!

Featured image: Steph_Zieber / Deposit Photos
Phaser: s_bukley / Deposit Photos

6 COMMENTS

  1. You blithering idiots. Likelihood is we are already living in a computer simulation. We are already deluded and utterly shafted. Star Trek is bollocks anyway. Cheers.

    • Thanks for commenting, Rich! There is a school of thought that reckons we are almost certainly living in a simulation. Very interesting stuff.

      I take it you aren’t looking forward to the new Star Trek series? 🙂

  2. I have to say, I find the original Star Trek almost embarassingly obvious and 1950-ish. That being said, loved DEEP SPACE NINE, esp. Avery Brooks and despite the wuwu stuff about the Prophets. The interstellar wars began to drag–not another bloody battle!–and that dragged down Star Trek Enterprise, too, which–since I could never get through the original series–seemed the most like what your describe. What I did find interesting was the science that went into the two later series–the whole idea of certain kinds of propulsion which have been seriously considered by out scientists (will we ever achieve WARP?), the multiverse, etc. If those series are a reflection of a dystopia, we are already in it, since the war and torture and mayhem does come out of present human imagination. One might better ask how out imaginations got so violent, though that could be a chicken or the egg question.

    There was a well-known psychiatrist/psychologist who, when asked about the rather brutal aspects of childrens’ fairy tales (Hans Christian Anderson, for example) argued that it let the audience blow off imaginary steam and also experience a sense of safety because the nasty things that happened turned out ok at the end. Seems a bit pat, but possibly has some truth….

    So, despite it all, yes, I am looking forward to a new series.

  3. Well good analysis, however we have to keep in mind that Starfleet is a military institution, if you don’t sign up, you won’t have to follow those orders

    • This article is a plodding and labored attempt at forcing a nonexistent point through constant name dropping. The premise is flawed and the authors futile attempts to justify it make me wonder how he ever got a job writing.

  4. The author has completely missed the point. You have confused starfleet with the federation and the still independent government of earth. Starfleet is the voluntary enlistment military/science/exploration branch of the federation. So yes of course a captain is in charge on ships and does in many cases have near absolute power, but multiple episodes through all the series have shown that given the situation, the captain can be over ruled, or even killed if justified. The government of earth is still an autonomous government separate from starfleet. The only overlap is the since earth joined the federtion, founding member obviously, but this goes for other member planets, see Bajor, earth is protected by starfleet and reaps the benefits from membership with the rest of the federation. The show enterprise explored the concerns the author brings up, xenophobia and isolationism, but the overall series has shown that joining with the federation has been.a beneficial endeavor that has brought lasting peace and security to a world that is not alone in the galaxy.

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