Just what level of “don’t ever fuck with us” is Starfleet?

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Title: Untitled
Creator: lj-writes
Date(s): May 4, 2018
Medium: Online; on tumblr
Fandom: Star Trek franchise
Topic: Starfleet; post-scarcity societies; battle tactics.
External Links: "Just what level of “don’t ever fuck with us” is Starfleet?", Archived version
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This untitled meta (posted to tumblr) garnered a wide range of responses, including comparisons to other medias and further meta. It posits that Starfleet regularly defeats seemingly superior foes because it is formed of the people who wouldn't fit into a post-scarcity society. As some commentators pointed out, this meta essay shares some similarities with the humans are from Space Australia storytelling and meta meme that is popular on tumblr.

The work has approximately 6,800 notes.


"Just what level of “don’t ever fuck with us” is Starfleet? I mean I used to think Jem Hadar and Klingons being these fierce warrior races was something of an Informed Trait when they kept losing in face-to-face fights with mild-mannered Starfleet officers. But then I realized… it’s actually because Starfleet officers are just that tough.

Just how motivated and ambitious you have to be, as someone coming from a post-scarcity society, to sign up for such arduous training and potential danger? I have to wonder kind of people decide to go through years of rigorous education, constant work and travel, and the possibility of a nasty death when they are guaranteed lives without fear or want right on their home planets. Could it be that Starfleet may, in fact, be a place for malcontents? Not the kind of small-time malcontent that turns to destruction and exploitation, but the kind of malcontent that is stifled on some level by the cushy existence of their home planet (even while being willing to die to protect it) and wants something more. Something out there and anywhere but here...

I don’t think it’s any wonder, looking at these incredibly trained and driven people who can take down Klingons in single combat and engineer their way out of alternate timelines, that non-Federation worlds–and maybe more than a few Federation ones–hover somewhere between suspicious and outright terrified of the Federation’s intentions. Starfleet is one of the major reasons one can make a case for the Federation being a “soft” empire, and I can see why peoples ranging from the Ferengi to the Klingons are so suspicious of them. Because you do not ever fuck with Starfleet."


[warp6] "I love this! I feel like Starfleet is commonly seen in fandom as this awesome career everyone on Earth probably aspires to—after all, we all live with the constant potential for ugly death in our not-technologically-advanced-utopia world, and most of us would love the chance to do that but IN SPACE. But whenever I think about the actual reality of Trek!Earth, it’s like…if you live on Earth in the 22nd+ century you are literally guaranteed a long and healthy life. You are guaranteed to die only of (very) old age!!!

And there are probably plenty of safe skydiving/whitewater rafting/speed shuttle piloting/VR equivalent of all of the above and more outlets if you’re just an adrenaline junkie, and plenty of meaningful jobs that aren’t Starfleet, from creating art to doing research to civilian inventing/engineering to teaching…To have everything you could want as far as quality of life and safety and entertainment goes, and still choose Starfleet—to join the military-not-as-we-know-it-but-still-basically-the-peaceful-equivalent-of-a-military, to follow orders, to risk everything…yeah. It’s only certain people who are gonna want to do that.

Whenever I read a fic where Starfleet is referred to as “the service,” I think to myself, Exactly.

I love everything you pointed out about the kind of person who would do that. I think that the flip side, though, is that they also have to be (or become) the kind of person who is willing to follow orders, and give up a LOT of control over their lives, compared to the 22nd+ century general population, who (unlike us) never have to answer to a single boss if they don’t want to! I’m sure Starfleet is much more enlightened than, for instance, the modern US military when it comes to letting people leave Starfleet at will, rather than being in for a set number of years, but while you ARE in…you go where you’re assigned and do what you’re told."[1]
[larathia] "So basically…if the Klingons are the dwarves and the Vulcans are the elves, then Starfleet are….hobbits.

The people that MOSTLY are content to stay within their Shire, eat six meals, smoke incredible amounts of tobacco rocking back and forth on their porch…and gods fucking help you if you run into one outside the Shire because that little fucker will upend the entire planet before he goes home."[2]
[heroofthreefaces] "In the prologue to the novelization of Star Trek The Motion Picture (and, to my knowledge, nowhere else) we are told, by James T. Kirk, that there had once been policies at Starfleet for screening candidates for high levels of adaptability, empathy, and xenophilia. These policies turned out to be counterproductive because Starfleet personnel kept deserting in order to join up with the new life and new civilizations they sought out. Admiral Kirk relates to us that his was the first Starfleet Academy class admitted under less stringent screening in those areas."[3]
[tygermama] "not only are humans driven to explore and defend, they will also make you confront your feelings and deal with the consequences of your actions and be supportive of you as you work on your issues and really, isn’t that more terrifying than any photon torpedo?"[4]
[pagecommando] "Most Federation Science Ships (Sorry Oberth)can go toe to toe with other warships. Starfleet Intelligence is a peer competitor with the likes of the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order.

And all those people too weird and out there to be comfortable in Starfleet? On clean ships with working replicators and good comms?

They end up on the frontier flying freighters like Kassidy Yates, in colonies, in the Maquis, or recruited by Section 31."[5]
[dax-micro] "I've often daydreamed, and just outright dreamed about being a Starfleet officer, serving on a small ship (not a big one) doing a little science here and there, small scale stuff, nothing fancy.

But let's be honest with each other for a moment. If I lived in that universe, I'd be happy living on Earth, in peace, just writing holonovels and leaving the adventuring to the Space Orcs of Starfleet. Because, yeah we humans might be Orcs, but Starfleet are the Space ones. They're bonkers like OP said.

I'll just continue to live my adventures vicariously through them."[6]


  1. ^ Response by warp6 on tumblr, Archived version (Accessed May 31, 2020)
  2. ^ Response by larathia on tumblr, Archived version (Accessed May 31, 2020)
  3. ^ Response by The Hero of Three Faces on tumblr, Archived version (Accessed May 31, 2020)
  4. ^ response by tygermama on tumblr (Accessed June 21, 2020)
  5. ^ Response by pagecommando (Accessed June 21, 2020)
  6. ^ Response by dax-micro (Accessed June 22, 2020)