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The United Federation of Planets: The Truth at Last!

By now many will have seen the above political meme. It's all true. At long last people are starting to speak out after decades of fearful silence. At last we can discuss the long, dark nightmare of Earth's 25th century. For Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China, Ceaucescu's Romania, Khmer-Rouge Cambodia and North Korea were exactly like the United Federation of Planets.

Even now, few people fully appreciate the monstrousness of the Federation's failed economic experiment and appalling human rights record, so much having been erased from the public record and from the minds of its citizens via selective lobotomy. But the lives lost due to malfunctioning transporters, phasers that could overload and blow up, and ridiculously primitive and accident-prone warp drives powered by the most dangerous substance in the universe, all speak to the lack of innovation or safety standards typical of a centrally-planned dictatorship. Worlds were drained into poverty in an effort to meet quotas in the production of a vast fleet of insanely huge starships. These futile monstrosities (fake as movie-sets, covered with unnecessary lights and mostly hollow on the inside, hence the frequent, misunderstood references to the "Hollow Decks") were then crewed with entire cities of indentured peasants. The sight of weeping families being loaded onto these interstellar coffin-ships still reverberates in the folk media of Earth, even today. Launched at random into the deep black to seek out "New Life and New Civilizations" and bring them the benefits of socialism (and in no way to build a brutal interstellar empire centrally administered from Earth, oh no, no, no) these unfortunates knew they would likely never return home.

Conditions on these star-faring slaveships were appalling. The only sustenance available was produced in food synthesizers from recycled waste, (thankfully tasteless most of the time), but despite this the ships still managed to support infestations of tribbles and other vermin. Improper quarantine procedures meant that away-teams would frequently bring back some dangerous alien pathogen to infect the entire crew. There were constant malfunctions in the ships dumb AI or flakey life-support or inherently unsafe anti-matter-fueled warp engines and regular encounters with lethal navigational hazards that all other civilizations generally knew to avoid. Under this constant battery the morale and mental well-being of the crew usually collapsed. Overfamiliar with the experience of sitting helplessly in mess halls waiting to die together, crews all too often succumbed to space-madness and mutiny. Alcoholism was rife, and Federation crewmembers on shore-leave at space-stations were infamous for starting drunken brawls and then blaming everyone else.

Poorly trained and ignorant of the practices of other cultures the crews had to learn on-the-job, and fatal accidents and encounters were the norm. Disaster and misadventure rolled around with horrific frequency, as though on some weekly schedule. Missions to the surface of the newly discovered worlds were particularly dangerous, always resulting in multiple fatalities. Equipment and kit was non-existent or malfunctioning: phasers would suddenly prove ineffective against an approaching threat, or tricorders would show 'no life signs', moments before the away team were eaten alive by some vicious local predator. Clothing suitable to different environments was rare, and most crewmembers only had one uniform, suited to a temperate climate, and had to make do with that wherever they were going. Due to resource deficiencies women's uniforms were often indecently short and had plunging necklines to minimise the use of precious fabric, but at least they were robust. Men's uniforms showed an alarming tendency to come apart during conflict. Being assigned to away-team security was a virtual death-sentence, and was used as punishment detail for those who had fallen from favor or were considered politically unreliable. If the transporters, the alien environment or the local fauna didn't kill you, then the barely-trained and poorly equipped doctors likely would. These draftee no-hopers would often declare "he's dead, Jim" even of crewmembers who were still visibly breathing, rather than expose their own incompetence. (All starfleet captains were called 'Jim' because they were the result of a cloning program intended to produce a standard, unquestioningly loyal, product. It was a success: all of 'James Kirk' model were uniformly reckless, psychotic and power-mad. Loyal to the Federation, yes, but not to the countless crewpeople they sent to their deaths, and nor to the string of abandoned women and fatherless children that they left behind them wherever they went). All this, of course, explains the massive crew-contingent: these people were a near endless supply of disruptor fodder.

So hopeless, hardened, and inured to death did the crews become, that crewmembers killed in these near-kamikaze expeditions would be forgotten by the time the away-team returned to the ship, and logs show that banter, ribaldry and laughter were the norm during debriefing, as though they had not just seen their comrades horribly vivisected before them. Much of this high-spirits was theatre for the watchers, for the ships' AI computers (all of the obsolete 'nsa' line even on starships bearing 'ncc' designations) acted as on-board political officers, and the crew were constantly monitored through quantum implants in their brains. Laughter and high-spirits were mandatory to show the crew understood that human lives were disposable, and that they were happy, even honored, to wind up as elevenses for some hungry alien carnivore in the service of socialism and the state. This duality of external merriment and hidden pain lives on in the form of the dark institution of the don't-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry "Federation Joke". But for all their forced, hearty laughter, these people were crying inside.

Defections were frequent, and we can only hope that many of the reported deaths in the captain's logs were really fabrications to conceal those fortunate crewmembers who managed to strike out for a better life in the Klingon or Romulan empires. Single women in particular were prone to jump ship at the first opportunity, because, (despite some robust bedroom practices among the Klingons), gender equality was massively more advanced in the Klingon and Romulan empires than in the patriarchal Federation. For instance, female captains were nothing unusual on Klingon or Romulan vessels, as attested to by their appearance in the Federation's own propaganda media (where, of course, they were always portrayed as lustful and incompetent, a description that would have been accurate for the boorish Kirks). Female officers in almost any capacity were rare in the Federation (communications, considered "women's work", being the major exception). It would be almost a century before the Federation, trying to ape more progressive and advanced societies, would see its first female commanders (another disastrous line of clones, the Janeways: much better at decision-making and diplomacy, but completely unable to read a map, resulting fleets being lost to wander deep space until the crews fell to cannibalism). Because Federation women were so ready to switch their alligence to a society that could appreciate them for their talent and ability, they were very rarely allowed to leave the ship, and so lived and died in a kind of interstellar purdah. Thus we have the reoccurring leitmotif in Federation media, where we see a young woman gazing wistfully through a porthole into the vast expanse of space. This was the director getting a message past the censors, for the huddled masses on federation worlds and ships would understand that what she was seeing when she looked into the cold, vast blackness of space was, one way or another, freedom.

Racism and Xenophobia were also rife. Federation crews had no training in other languages, and simply expected everyone else to speak Terran stanglish. They had no understanding of or respect for other cultures, and in fact were expected to display open contempt for "regressive" alien societies that had not yet "socialized". Non-terran crewmembers serving on Terran ships were frequently the butt of insulting, speciesist jokes, particularly the Vulcans (less so the few Klingons, as most Federation bigots mocked a Klingon only once). Yet, despite the obvious moral bankruptcy of their own society many Federation crewmembers, their brains brimming with neurally-programmed propaganda, would deliver insulting lectures on "Social Justice" to anyone unfortunate enough to cross their paths. The attitudes and behavior of Federation crews soon earned them the open hostility of the entire galaxy. The 'shoot first' attitude displayed by other spacefaring peoples in Federation propaganda had a grain of truth to it: nobody liked the Federation.

But if ship-board life was bad, life on the many barely-viable colonies was worse. Despite paying lip-service to a non-interventionist 'prime directive' the federation embarked on a vast campaign of colonialism. After all, the overblown might of starfleet required a never-ending supply of di-lithium crystals, and someone had to mine it. Unlucky families were 'reassigned' in their millions to worlds that could barely support human life. Starfleet spent most of its time engaged in mercy dashes delivering emergency rations to prop up failing colonies full of people who just wanted to go home.

Most people remember only the joyous scenes of the end. Crowds pulling down the Monumental statues of Pike and Zefram Cochrane, smashing them to bits with hammers, and burning starfleet academy to the ground. The monster starships finally found a use doing something that made people happy: flying them back to the home-system of worlds they had grown up on, to be reunited with their extended families. But the ruins of this evil empire remain, in abandoned outposts on a thousand unhabitable worlds, and in the minds of the former subjects of this brutal regime.