Section 4

Ethics and Morality in the 24th Century

 In circa 48315.6 the Starship Voyager was commissioned and given an initial mission to locate a missing Marquis Raider with an undercover Starfleet officer onboard. (Cartekarer, Relativity) Said ship [Maquis Raider] had disappeared in the Badlands, as it transpired the disappearance was due to the intervention of an alien sporocystian energy form known as the Caretaker. The ship and later the USS Voyager were stranded some 70 years from home in a distant part of the Galaxy where the laws of the Federation are not enforced and the moral structures are very different. The captain of the Federation star ship Captain Kathryn Janeway decided to return home following the laws and teachings of the Federation. To do this she incorporated the crew of the Maquis ship into her own. 

During the five [+] years since the initial incident it can be argued that the Captain’s decisions often exceed the boundaries she would try and live by were she still within the Federation boundaries.

The main adversary Janeway faces is not the collection of alien races that may oppose the ship. Moreover, her main opponent is her own self doubt, the time she has to reflect on the incidents and the lack of constraints of the new environment. In “civilised” society there are consistently external checks against which Janeway can measure her self. With these removed her actions begin to veer from the norm. This idea was discussed by Joseph Conrad in the early part of the previous [twentieth] century. When people leave for adventure in other novels they return having learnt something new but Conrad rejected this notion in writing Heart of Darkness and this is why it has been classified as the first modern novel.

Conrad’s novel was not so much a journey up a river as it was a journey into the soul of “man”. Joseph Conrad explorers the fear of the absence of civilisation in the African wilderness based upon experiences the author acquired after spending many years at sea exploring areas not dissimilar to those experienced by Marlow in the book. While describing the journey of a seaman who travels into the depths of a remote and distant jungle, Conrad evokes this fear with descriptions of a primordial world:

   “going up river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted the earth and the big trees were king”

Conrad’s description of the forest with references such as “impenetrable”. That form of imagery creates a feeling of isolation and alienation which is used throughout the novel as a basis for the questioning of a person’s views on existentialism relative to the world and universe in which we live.

In the wilderness with the removal of the normal social constraints Conrad argues the frailty of “man” who sees how fragile he really is in relation to the world. There also exists a message that we can find alienation even within developed cities. We see in the novel a fear from Kurtz of return to civilisation. This parallels a certain fear demonstrated by members of the Voyager crew. This is most notable in the actions of former Borg 7of9. In the season conclusion for the fourth year, “Hope and Fear” she expresses fear of the impending return to Earth, via the Dauntless’ Quantum Slipstream. She does not believe that she can take a place in a human society after so long away from Earth. There is also a realisation among the Maquis that there exists no place for them in society and especially as the crew of a Federation ship. However, as stated by Chief Engineer B’Elanna Torres [Hope and Fear] she would rather face the court martial at home than remain in the Delta Quadrant.

Towards the end of the book, Conrad contrasts the mysterious and perplexing world that makes up the wilderness with that of the alienating effects brought upon from the strains of living in isolation once re-entering civilisation. On the level of the plot, the character Mr. Kurtz, “hated the idea of being taken away.”  It is not easy for someone to go back to living in a civilised world after having spent a great deal of time living in a raw environment. Mr. Kurtz came to dread going back to living in civilisation because he knew that he was no longer a part of that social order. His order had become that of the savage wilderness he had occupied for the past few years

The time when Janeway’s self destruction becomes most evident is in her relinquishment of command to Chakotay. Throughout the novel Heart of Darkness, work is seen as both a constraint and a restraint. When work becomes unimportant to Kurtz and he begins to kill for his ivory he is less connected with the civilised world than ever before and begins his descent. Work provides restraint  and keeps you sane. Janeway, while busy, has no opportunity to dwell on her decision. However, when in the Void she becomes pre-occupied and less attached to the social constraints.

If we were to assume that Janeway is becoming very Kurtz-ean in her actions and influences then it is less clear who we should see as Marlow. It has been argued that with Marlow, Conrad was presenting a lingering wish to endorse the standard values of the Victorian ethic, and with Kurtz, Conrad expresses his foreboding that the accelerating changes in the scientific, political, and spiritual view of the world during the last decades of the old century were preparing for unsuspected terrors for the new. The spiritual view at the turn of the century was best summarised by the philosopher Nietzher who stated:

                “God is dead.”

This simple quote summarised what a generation of people had come to believe. With science being brought to the forefront of society like never before and the blank spaces on the map receding very rapidly, it was becoming clearer that there were less mysterious in the world. If there were no heaven and no God then all that exists is a great emptiness. It is this that drives Kurtz to insanity, looking into the deepest depths of Africa and finding there no social checks. It is also the same fate that threatens Katherine Janeway. Janeway is battling with the burdens she created when she denied herself the use of alien technology to get home. This initial holding of Starfleet procedure may be leading to a latter abandoning of those same principles. Marlow is very much a student and possible protégé to Kurtz but Kurtz sees that he will never follow him, this possibly leads to Kurtz’ final words:

                “The horror, the horror!”

Kurtz realises that his work has jeopardised future ivory trade and that his one possible salvation, the passing of his work to Marlow will never happen given that Marlow does not share his view. Marlow does, however, feels a strange and perverse loyalty to Kurtz. He feels that he understands Kurtz's final comment, "The horror the horror!" Marlow conceals his knowledge of Kurtz's madness, thus protecting his reputation. He takes the papers back to Brussels, giving some to relatives and some to the press. He takes the personal letters to Kurtz's "intended," a loyal and idealistic woman who mourns the death of Kurtz and worships his memory. She is sure he was a genius. Marlow, embarrassed by her expectation that he also admires Kurtz's genius, nevertheless does not disillusion her. He lies, telling her that Kurtz's last word was her name. To tell her the truth would have been "too dark."

Towards the end of the book, Conrad contrasts the mysterious and perplexing world that makes up the wilderness with that of the alienating effects brought upon from the strains of living in isolation once re-entering civilisation. Seven of Nine audibly voices this concern in the Season End “Hope and Fear”. Janeway maintains a constant desire to return home however it is possible that she has not thought through the implications of her return. Within Conrad’s novel, the character Mr. Kurtz, “hated the idea of being taken away.” It is not easy for someone to go back to living in a civilised world after having spent a great deal of time living in a raw environment. Mr. Kurtz came to dread going back to living in civilisation because he knew that he was no longer a part of that social order. His order had become that of the savage wilderness he had occupied for the past few years. Through his solitary wanderings he had fallen under “the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness”. These wanderings proved to be self-destructive for the character and were the root cause for the illness that eventually killed him. Janeway’s ship would certainly have no place in the Starfleet. The crew of the vessel, especially the command staff are neither qualified and in many places are not legal members of the Federation being the wanted outlaws formerly known as the Maquis.

Marlow leave Kurtz to go to the mess room. Shortly thereafter the servant of the manager comes in to say, sarcastically, "Mistah Kurtz--he dead." The manager and the other white men, the "pilgrims," are glad to be rid of him. They bury him hurriedly on the river ban 

Likewise, the character Charlie Marlow finds that re-adapting to civilisation was a complex undertaking as well. Here we see how Marlow resents the civilised culture from which he was born into:

“…the sight of people hurrying through to filch a little money…They trespassed upon my thoughts. They were intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretence, because I felt so sure they could not possible know the things I knew. Their bearing, which was simply the bearing of commonplace individuals going about their business in the assurance of perfect safety, was offensive to me like the outrageous flauntings of folly in the face of a danger it is unable to comprehend so full of stupid importance”

This hints to a pettiness of existence within our culture. It suggests that there are individuals who will never be capable of freeing themselves of the pretences brought on by the detractions of living within a superficial culture, or a culture that can best be described as shallow, egotistical and selfish. It is struggles such as these that challenge Marlow once he comes back from the jungle

Kurtz is admired by many people in the book, even those who are opposed to what he has done. The Russian boy [The Harlequin] describes him as: “a prodigy”...and an “emissary of pity, and science, and progress and devil knows what else we want”

The manager was another person to whom Kurtz had significance. He was rising through the ranks by the deaths of people and was quite content to watch Kurtz die. Though the manager may be inclined to leave him to die most people even if jealous such as the brickmaker respect Kurtz. The manager believed Kurtz had destroyed the future trade as he had done for the present. But there is respect for the establishment of the operation.

Though Kurtz was corrupt he did what no one had done before. Kurtz is a Romantic, believing in the power of words but within Africa words break down and lose meaning. “Kurtz” being a German for small though the man himself measures some seven feet.

Her desire to return home forces her into an alliance with the Borg. However by interfering in the political structure of the Delta Quadrant something she had sworn not to do according to Starfleet General Order Number One. The repercussions of the battle between the Borg and Species 8472 seemed likely to end with the destruction of the Borg which would have saved several alien races. By trying to guarantee her ship’s safety she aids the Borg and in doing so brings about the total annihilation of many species who are assimilated into the Borg collective in the aftermath of the Borg/Species 8472 war.

Though she has at all times attempted to follow her guiding principles in the wilderness that is the Delta Quadrant with no or few external checks she is perhaps losing sight of the General Orders. In many ways the journey to the Alpha Quadrant is as much a metaphysical journey for the characters of the Voyager as each member of the crew attempts to deal with their innerconflicts and desires. What is found is arguably similar to the first modern novel written in 1901 by Joseph Conrad. It has been stated many times that Janeway’s character suffers a descent into a very Kurtz like depth.  In Conrad’s novel Kurtz was a man sent into a dark continent to oversee the ivory trade. Though we learn little about Kurtz from himself, more through the views of others. However, at the end in a period of self reflection Kurtz muses that he was an idealist, that he wanted to bear the torch of progress into darkness. Kurtz fell victim to the forces of darkness rather than conquering them.

Kurtz has a profound effect on every one he meets including the “more primitive” natives. On talking to the Russian, Marlow comes to understand that Kurtz has been able to ship so much ivory because he has subdued the natives of the surrounding tribes, making himself their god.

The ghastly evidence of Kurtz's rule is shown rather poignantly by the line of shrunken heads on the fence posts surrounding Kurtz’s house. The attack on the steamboat was launched because the people do not want Kurtz to go away; they worship him. After overcoming them with the power of his guns Kurtz had established elaborate rituals of obedience, so that even the chiefs crawl in his presence. Finally, Kurtz has lost his own sense of civilisation, and at times even believes in his own divinity. Kurtz is carried into the boat, but he escapes at night and attempts to rejoin his followers.

Kurtz shapes the continent and the peoples, in a manner similar to Janeway’s shaping of 7of9 in her own image. One member of the continent that is deeply affected by Kurtz is the Russian student. The Russian boy believes that Kurtz who enlarged his mind. The boy admires Kurtz and his gruesome power over the savages.

Janeway retains a belief that she is not only right but that she is still following the ideals of the Federation. Upon rescuing Seven  of Nine tertiary adjunct to unimatrix 01 from the Collective Janeway attempts to instruct 7of9 in the ways of the federation. At first 7of9 is very resistant claiming that she would rather return to the Collective. However, Janeway states that it is not a human desire to return to the Borg and therefore by definition could not be human at that moment. Since Janeway would not agree to return 7of9 until it is her free wish and by definition wishing to return is not a human or a free choice Janeway refuses to grant 7of9 freedom until she agrees to remain with the crew. Janeway’s argument throughout is both circular and deeply flawed.

In the Greek tragedies the gods were in control of the mortals and nothing humans could do would alter the fate of the person. Much of Hamlet’s indecision in Shakespeare's famous play towards the revenge he wishes to extract on Claudius is that Christianity says that there exists the potential of eternal life, one that promises to be far better than the one we leave behind.

                 “I do not know

Why yet I live to say ‘This thing’s to do’

Sith I have cause, and will, and strength, and means

To do’t”

 The locating in late season 5 (Warhead) of the lost science ship USS Equinox, shows the crew of Voyager just how well the Sarship Voyager has carried Federation ethics during its near 4 year journey. However, there have been instances during Voyager’s return when Federation ethics and general orders have been violated. The other Federation crew have fallen father even to the extent of the removing of the ship’s docotr’s ethical routines allow for the crew four surviving officers to develop a means of returning home through the exploitation and introduction of lethal effects onto an alien race. This shows that human failings are still prevalent and the removal of the social constraints can lead to the return of a more barbaric way of life. This is a theme presented in the original episode “The Enemy Within” where a transporter accident splits captain James Kirk into two separate entities. The episode argues the need for the different sides of the soul to create a balanced personality.

Captain Benjamin Sisko was so consumed with a desire to extract revenge that he ordered the bombing of an civilian planet on 50485.2. By attaching trilithium resin top two quantum torpedoes Sisko rendered the planet Solossus III uninhabitable for some fifty years and jeopardised the lives of those on the planet who were unable to reach transports in time. He threatened to extract a similar fate on the likewise aligned Tracken II were it not for the sacrifice of Michael Eddington.

Around stardate 50378.9 Benjamin Sisko became so obsessed with the teachings of the prophets and so immersed in their culture that he went against his original mission status that of bringing Bajor into the Federation. In a belief that a plague of locust would descend upon the world and towards Cardassia; he believed that the planet’s safety would be better preserved if they remained non aligned. Later in 50560.1 a Dominion fleet fulfilled the prophecy of locust descending when they emerged from the wormhole and aligned with Cardassia. As was officially decided at the end of the year Bajoran entry into the Federation would only end in their defeat at the hands of the Dominion who sought to control the entry into the gamma quadrant. As Kai Winn stated the Federation could not guarantee Bajoran safety and would not be prepared to pull fleets off the lines to or away from other Federation worlds. As such Bajor entered a pact of non-aggression along with the Romulan Star Empire promising non-interference with the Dominion-Federation-Klingon war.

Though the eventually proven correct Sisko put prophecy before duty and ended the Bajoran signing of the entrance into the federation before proof was brought of the Dominion invasion. Once more in late 2374 when the Federation prepared to penetrate the Cardassian/Dominion defence line at the Chintaka system Sisko almost refused to seize the advantage the non-operational weapons systems provided based on the word of the prophets above those of his superiors.

An example of how well Voyager retains its principles against adversity is when we are given a view of histories that might have been. In the episode “Living Witness” the Kyrian Museum curator, Quarren, explains to visitors how the intervention of the U.S.S. Voyager spacecraft started an apocalyptic war on a planet inhabited by two species: the Kyrians and the Vaskans. Ethnic rivalries between the two races are still uneasy, seven hundred years after the U.S.S. Voyager has come and gone, and some Vaskan visitors are appalled by the Kyrians reconstruction of history based on a few recovered artefacts. But more damaging information is on the way, when Quarren activates a newly discovered device containing active data. This turns out to be the holograph program The Doctor, who soon finds himself on trial for war crimes attributed to the U.S.S. Voyager and its crew over seven centuries ago.

The crew of the USS Voyager is unsettled as a secluded and conflicted Captain Janeway reflects on the decision she's made along the mission and the consequences those judgements have had for them all. But soon the team of the USS Voyager encounters two never before seen alien species - a nocturnal alien and its foe, the Malon - and knows that one will not survive without their intervention. Knowing that coming to their aid makes a detour through dark, desolate space necessary, the captain alone must once again determine her crew's fate.

However, over the first four years seeds of doubt form and she becomes increasingly unsure of the decisions she has made. By 52081.2 her doubts are consuming her to such a degree that she becomes isolated from the crew, refusing to take a command presence and leaving the captaincy of the ship effectively in the hands of her first officer Chakotay. Eventually when a crisis occurs she is willing to sacrifice herself, in believing she could not turn to her crew.

In late 51000 while on a Y Class planet she contravenes Starfleet orders and allows the cloning of crew members. Previous to this her desire to free her ship drives her to attack almost unremittingly and almost certainly without remorse an alien creature that has become sentient only due to the interference of the crew of USS Voyager. 

Very often the Federation is built up to an ideal, but unfortunately there are instances where this ideal is no longer realised. In late 2374 the Federation is a bid to partner with an alien species The Sonn’a, attempt to remove the peaceful Ba’aku from their homeworld. The procedure is overseen by a Starfleet Admiral Doherty. This procedure suggests that the federation covers more unpleasant facets hidden from the general federation citizen. Certainly the proven existence of Section 31, a dark undercover agency designed to operate outside the constraints of Federation ideals suggests that a hypocritical air exists. A hypocrisy in government and religion has affected Earth for many years. In many ways it can be seen to parallel what was occuring in the late 18 century. Certain people tried to expose this and one method was poetry. William Blake was an eighteenth century poet who examined the state of the world at the time and showed how the Church of the time was a proclaimed helper of the poor but with far darker intentions.

                 “Babes reduced to misery,

                Fed with cold and userous hand”

 In “Holy Thursday” Blake speaks of how the Church feeds the poor, the establishment seeks to gain the image of goodness and secure a place in heaven under the guise of a beneficial charity.

                “...wise guardians of the poor;

                The cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.”

“Holy Thursday” for example has two incarnations both of which detail the same event, but from very different standpoints. In the late eighteenth century it is now clear that the government manipulated both society and constrained the poor. The Federation has eliminated the essence of poor by establishing a society that evidently helps the peoples, but there is the possibility that even this society could act to suppress people. This is certainly the view of those members of society who felt the Federation sold peoples homes and ways of life in favour of alliances with the Cardassian Order.

The Federation has also had considerable difficulty in the determination of the rights of sentient beings such as those of non-organic non-natural origin. An example of this being the wish of Bruce Maddox to study Lieutenant Commander Data. Though Data considers allowing others to study him he later learns that Maddox may not be able to reassemble him. As such Data quite understandably refuses to submit to the procedure. Unfortunately Maddox declines to relinquish the request making it an order. When Captain Picard is unable to have the orders changed, it becomes apparent that data’s only option in the precedings is to resign from Starfleet. Unfortunately Starfleet goes further and his decision to resign, is challenged by Maddox on the basis that Data is not a person with rights, but property of the Federation.

The Judge Advocate General officer of the Starbase, Phillipa Louvois, rules that Maddox's contention is supported by a twenty-first century precedent. When the job of prosecution is given to William Riker, due to low staffing levels Louvois warns that if Riker does not give his best effort, she will summarily rule in favour of Maddox.

Riker makes an argument that data is no more than a human created automaton and demonstrates his ability to turn data off. It is Guinan who points out that the Federation's desire to create and own a race of disposable androids is the recreation of slavery. Making an impassioned plea for Data's freedom, Picard declares that in a sense, all beings are created but that does not necessarily make them the property of their creator. The trails outcome rules in favour of artificial life, but the fact that the preceedings went to trail and that the Federation was involved in slavery suggests they are not as evolved as one would believe. This issue was further explored in “The Quality of Life”. Here Data believes that Dr. Farallon’s “tools”, the Exocomp’s maybe sentient and should be given the rights and privileges given to organic life. This is not initially acknowledged but data manages to convince people of the robots sentience.

There exists an inability for the Federation to acknowledge forms of life different to their own. In late 2373 the Ferengi Alliance, acknowledged the rights of females within its culture. A move perhaps in some-way influenced by the dealings the culture had with the federation since 2364.

It was in 1868 when nine years old or thereabouts, that while looking at a map of Africa of the time and putting my finger on the blank space...representing the unsolved mystery of that continent, I said to myself “when I grow up, I shall go there”.

Charlie Marlow: Heart of Darkness