What’s New In Politics? – TOS

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Each series in Star Trek comes with its own, unique political setting. The original series depicts problems and questions relevant in the 60s and so on. Gene Roddenberry himself once stated: “[By creating] a new world with new rules, I could make statements about sex, religion, Vietnam, politics, and intercontinental missiles. Indeed, we did make them on Star Trek: we were sending messages and fortunately they all got by the network.”

And indeed many political questions have been raised. Some of them were answered – how the makers of Star Trek imagined the ideal future – some remained for the spectators to answered them. While “The original series” stays relatively short and straight, political plots get more intricate over the course of “The next Generation” and reach a peak in “Deep Space 9”. “Voyager” turns back to less politics involved in the storyline, while Enterprise offers another very political megaplot.

But let’s start at the beginning. In the world of our original series, the “political megaplot” is relatively simple, probably because of the relatively few species that are deeply involved in the plot. There is war with the Klingons, until peace with their Empire is established in 2293 with the signing of the Kithomer Accords – thanks to the efforts of Klingon chancellor Gorkon and a human Starfleet officer, James T. Kirk.

During their time at odds with Earth and the Federation, the Klingons had an alliance with the Romulans, but over the years, a number of incidents – including the Kithomer massacre (which ultimately led to the Kithomer Accords), caused the Klingons to develop a fierce, deep-seeded hatred against the Romulans.

The relationship between the Federation and the Romulans can be called “tense” at best. Even after the Romulan War (2156 – 2160) the first visual contact between Humans and Romulans was established in the 23rd century. A neutral zone – or rather “the” neutral zone – is dividing space into the Romulan Empire and the Federation basically. A series of violent conflicts around the neutral zone often led to some sabre-rattling from both sides during this era, but all in all the Federation and the Romulans remain separated by the neutral zone, both sides trying to keep to themselves as much as possible.

The last notable species involved in “political megaplot” during TOS is the Vulcans. Having watched over Earth from the late 1950s on, they initiated First Contact, and act very much like a “big brother” to Earth during the entire series. Vulcan itself however is known to have problems with their neighbors, the Andorrians. Not enough for an open war to develop between the species, more a general dislike of one another.

The above political setting obviously was complex enough for “The original series”, which developed episode by episode, rather than having a plot span several seasons. There’s plenty of political “goodies” that allow for exciting adventures. Even more interesting however are those political questions relevant in the 60s. Women in leading positions, black people in leading positions, interracial kisses and so on. It is all there, sometimes hidden, but more than once very obvious. Sometimes those topics seem to us “politically incorrect” and I will leave those messages to the eyes and opinions of the spectators of the series.

 

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Dani Gutsch
Dani studied human biologies and majored in biochemistry, microbiology and tumor pharmacology. In 2008 she started working as a scientific assistant for Marburg University as well as starting her then "secret" career as an artist. Since 2012 she is fully working as an self-employed medieval bathing maiden, firedancer, stilts-walker, musician and writer.