So I was talking with a friend earlier about utopias. I'm going to be running a one-shot story set in a Battletech-ish world in a few weeks. It's based on a Civilization game I played. I conquered the world so world peace is on the menu.
But my friend wasn't convinced. "There are always extremists," he said. "There are always crazies."
It implied an old saying about how there will always be people who will resort to violence. I've heard it a lot. I've said it a lot. The inevitability of violent, bad people and the necessity of violence to put them down. I've heard those words coming from a lot of guys. Maduro. Ahmadinejad. Bashar al-Assad.
There are real threats. Threats that need to be engaged and stopped, but there are never as many as we're told. The presence of a threat drives people to pool their power. It justifies violence towards a foe, clearly identified or not.
Even if we were to put aside our fear and mistrust—if we were to recognize that people are different but still people—then there's still a lingering fear that someone would rediscover violence and we would be defenseless against them. You've seen Demolition Man, right?
It's a ridiculous idea. Humanity is no more going to forget how to apply violence than we will forget how to breed. There will always be bad seeds; broken people and folks obsessed with getting everyone else to live according to their plan. Society will always be capable of stepping on such violent vermin.
We should never be able to prevent them. Monitoring the thoughts of every member of our society and tackling them to the ground before they can do any harm would be as effective as it would be unconscionable. Relieving all individuals of the power to step out of line and harm others is another way.
Y'see, if society's defenders are empowered to stop all harm, they are also empowered to stop all dissent. Stagnation benefits the powerful, justice has little use to the strong, and truth is what people will believe.
The alternative is trust and sacrifice. The alternative is a society in which people are empowered to harm others, but, being possessed of reason, have no reason to. The alternative is a society that, when told to release their grip, the powerful confess their sins to the public and slip into the humble life of a citizen, unafraid of their future. The alternative is a society which finds enemies and never speaks when it could listen, never harms when it could speak, never destroys when it could harm, and never destroys without remorse.
And so we come to Star Trek and The Federation.