Should the United Federation of Planets be renamed the Alliance of Planets?

Asked by: juminrhee
  • It is not a federation

    I am a recovering trekkie - one whose solution is not cold turkey (replicator kind). While watching a few episodes of TNG, I became aware of one fatal flaw in the Star Trek universe (transporters? Time travel?) - the main governmental organization, the United Federation of Planets, from which Kirk, Picard, Earth, and Vulcan are members. When I was younger, the governmental structure didn't even cause me to bat an eye, but as a political scientist I cannot let this blatant disregard go unnoticed. In a federation, there would be no prime directive - the law that prevents the federation from interfering with member planets, among other things. That has more of a sounding of a loose confederation or close alliance/coalition. A federation is, for example, Canada, US, and Germany. Each country has an overarching power at the national level and other powers belonging to the state/province/territory. This means that if a member planet were, for instance, preventing their planetary citizens from voting, a federation would and be legally bound to assist the planetary citizens. In some cases, depending on the constitution and its interpretation, if the member planet/state would not agree to such dealings, they could leave. The flag of the United "Federation" of Planets is telling as well. It closely resembles that of the UN flag, which is a coalition of member nations that meet and complain about things (General Assembly). The Security Council of the UN has more of a bite, being able to issue sanctions and such, and even military intervention in some cases. I think a UN-style alliance is what Gene Roddenberry was going for, but United Planets didn't sound cool enough. On the other hand, the "Federation" had a president, which could imply either the US-style executive, German-style executive (figurehead), or presiding officer over the legislature (like a speaker or chairman). In Star Trek VI, however, the "Federation" president is shown consulting with advisors as if he has the authority to make an executive decision - which leans me to the US-style president. Further, there is an absence of a prime minister or chancellor, meaning the president was the executive (again US-style). There seems to be some mish-mash, but then again it is fiction.

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