J’mai Osen pushes back against the notion that the spirit of the Federation has anything in common with the Borg hive mind.
It has recently been suggested that the Federation and the Borg Collective are, at their most basic, far more alike then they would appear on the surface. One columnist has gone so far as to argue that Starfleet’s mission of exploration is comparable to the Borg act of physical and psychological sequestration known as “assimilation.”
These claims are deeply odious, inflammatory and wildly offbase, so much so that this columnist feels the original article should be mounted on a plaque on the original columnist’s stasis pod shortly before it’s launched in the direction of the Delta Quadrant. Let us discuss these matters point by point until reason can once again prevail.
Explorers versus Predators
The first malformed concept we must discuss is the article’s comparison of Starfleet’s exploratory and first contact protocols to that of the wholesale usurpation employed by the Borg. Somehow, it is suggested that Starfleet vessels, who are “not knowing what they’re getting themselves into,” deploy landing parties to examine and catalog new worlds and peoples, and that this behavior can paint them with the same brush as the Collective. While I agree that our contacts with other cultures have not always been entirely without calamity, I would suggest that the differences of intent, and that of our stated non-interference directive, place us in abjectly different moral territory.
The Federation, as a people, do not take by force, nor do we consume without consent. We do not suborn cultures to our will and turn them against their fellows, or to whomever our most recent target for conquest may be. We have a long and well-documented history of collaboration and peaceful coexistence with our fellow sentients which speaks plainly of our values. The Borg also have a long and well-documented history, and it is one that will, eons after their scourge has been removed from the galaxy, mark them as one of the most heinous predators to have ever climbed the long ladder up to the stars.
Diplomacy versus Domination
The second pile of journalistic excrement, that our diplomatic efforts are alike to the Borg’s “philosophy” of forced assimilation, would be laughable were it not so dangerously uninformed. The brave men and women of the diplomatic corp spend years studying the fine arts of cultural sociology and anthropology, along with countless hours spent perfecting a negotiation style that has carried the Federation from its nascent days, through its darkest periods, to the titanic power it is now. These people have, repeatedly, risked and lost their own lives in the pursuit of the dream of mutual coexistence, and to have their efforts slandered in such a way should be an affront to every sensible Federation citizen who lives within our borders.
To suggest the Borg, who have slaughtered countless billions in the pursuit of their version of “perfection,” conduct anything resembling this type of diplomacy is sickeningly farcical. The Borg have no such compulsion and similarly, no concept of self-sacrifice, as the very nature of the Collective doesn’t allow for it. Their external “diplomatic” efforts, when they haven’t simply deployed their fleet in overwhelming numbers, have been uniformly self-serving and of convenience to them only.
In the incredibly rare cases we’re aware of where dissension occurred within the Collective, their tactics were more akin to a surgeon removing diseased tissue. They quite simply have no belief in the vision of collaboration that the Federation stands for, and it is that very weakness and shortsightedness that has hindered their progress as a people and corrupted them into the foul abomination we know today.
The Self-Imposed Limits of the Prime Directive versus the Collective’s Insatiable Hunger
The final point, that if the Borg were to institute a Prime Directive of their own, contrary to their entire history, stated aims and cultural drive, suggests the author himself neither understands the Borg or the Prime Directive itself. Time and time again, we have seen with our own eyes, or through records found on dead worlds, what the Borg thinks about “non-interference.”
To quote their typical refrain, “Non-interference is irrelevant.” The Collective functions more like a virus than it does as a culture, as it is one explicitly designed to consume and expand itself at any cost. We even have evidence that their aims are so vast, our galaxy itself could not sate their hunger and they have looked into other shards of reality for new resources, to their great and lasting folly.
The Federation, in comparison, has gradually grown, through fits and starts, because of how delicately we seek to strike a balance between our aims, and that of our neighbors among the stars. It has limited our expansion in a way the Borg would simply see as inefficient. To them, morality is a net loss logistical issue and nothing more.
The Federation Charter is an astonishing document because it codifies a philosophical worldview that, unlike so many similar documents before it, allows for the peaceful and benevolent collaboration of all peoples, of all worlds, to whatever end they, and not the document’s signers, see fit. It is a living document which has been revised, amended, debated, expanded and refined through the work of centuries. The Collective does have this one similarity to us, in that it refines itself over time to be greater than it once was. A greater menace. A greater engine of pain and loss. A greater monster to all those who would not willingly give of themselves. A greater plague.
In this writers opinion, the Federation and the Borg are more alien to one another than any other species or lifeform we’ve ever attempted to interact with. They are the very antithesis to what we are as a people and the anathema to what we consider most precious in life. For any rational adult to think otherwise is the most literal definition of insanity, and we should pity, and seek to educate, any soul that profoundly confused.