FNS foreign affairs reporter Flynn Dupond concludes his two-part editorial series about the Klingon Empire, bringing attention now to its social and civil problems.
Last time, I touched upon the Klingon Empire’s thirst for violence and the threat it poses, even to those who were once its allies. Today, we’ll see that the Klingon Empire also suffers from injustice within its own borders and ranks.
It is clear that while the Empire consistently fights against outsiders and seems to seek enemies where none exist, civil war is an almost constant fact of life within its ruling body, the High Council. In a society where family honor and glory are sought above all else, power is held by the strongest and most aggressive. Individual houses can form alliances and wage war with other houses, separate from the Empire’s other affairs.
While the chancellor and the High Council maintain control over the military, individual leaders are granted control over large swaths of the Klingon Defense Forces. Worse yet, houses can claim ships and other lethal weapons to fight internal wars. This is generally kept out of sight of the rest of the quadrant as such fighting can appear to weaken the Empire on the whole. Nevertheless, it is rare to find a moment in Klingon history where one faction of the Klingon people was not battling another.
Such common and unceasing interstellar warfare poses a grave risk to neighbors. Unrestrained starship commanders can accidentally cross the wrong border or destroy a neutral starship, and innocent lives can easily be lost. It is difficult to understand how a society as constrained as the Klingon Empire can allow this to go on unhindered, but it is an even greater mystery as to how the Federation can still call the Empire an ally when civil war and attempted coups by some Klingon houses over others is so rampant.
Inequality for Woman
This may not be as obvious as some of my other observations made thus far, but it is no less valid. It would seem at first glance that Klingon women are seen as equals in their society. Both male and female warriors are common sights on warships, and there are virtually no restrictions regarding their conduct that do not apply to men as well. Yet the two glaring exceptions to this regard the most powerful positions anyone can have in the Empire.
The Khitomer Accords celebrated this year were signed a century ago by a female chancellor. Today, women are summarily barred from sitting on the High Council. Likewise, a woman may not lead a Great House, except in the case of extenuating circumstances, which are carefully addressed by the High Council before rendering judgment on whether or not to grant special dispensation.
The Federation is based on the belief of equal rights for all sentient life forms. To deny women the opportunity to lead the Empire is both sexist and discriminatory–mindsets that must be avoided at all costs–and policies embracing them must be denounced in any and all ways possible. And speaking of discriminatory, that brings my next point.
As stated above, when the Empire expands and takes control of a world, the natives living on that world are quickly put to work for the benefit of the Empire. These conquered people are known to the Klingons as Jej’puwi, which literally translates into “conquered.”
These people are considered to be more than slaves but less than citizens, and usually end up working for the Empire through any number of arduous and labor-intensive ways, including farming, shipbuilding, and crystal mining. Information regarding the exact treatment of these people is difficult to gain, due to the secretive nature of the Empire on these matters. However, the very principle is repugnant to the ideals of the Federation. This type of discrimination is precisely what the Articles of Federation attempt to avoid.
Dangers of Validation
I, for one, try to embrace the ideals of the Federation every day. One must do so when living on the biggest space station for parsecs, and the beliefs held in the Federation come in handy in my line of work. I therefore find it incredible that such an astounding organization as the Federation would deign to become allies with such a barbaric people. By calling them our allies, are we not validating their discrimination, their expansionism, their brutality? Are we not, in fact, encouraging this behavior?
I won’t pretend to understand the complexities of interstellar politics. But I know that as long as the Federating abides this threatening ideology, we are all possible targets. My daughter could one day be killed in a Klingon attack or sent to work in the mines of Rura Penthe if the Accords should fall through again (not an unprecedented possibility). Would it not be better to distance ourselves from this most offensive state? One thing is certain: danger will dog our steps until we do.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of the Federation News Service. We welcome readers to comment below or send us letters for publication.
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