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Article 58

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Article 58 of the Cardassian Articles of Jurisprudence is the section of the Cardassian legal code that prescribes the sentences for those the state deemed guilty of treason. Its sweeping powers appear to be what Cardassian authorities have used to justify what under a democratic system would constitute flagrant abuses of power if not outright atrocities. The provisions of Article 58, and the sentences contained therein, could be applied both to Cardassians and aliens alike at the discretion of the Cardassian government; it is known to have been invoked with sufficient frequency on Bajor during the Occupation that Ensign Folani Jederia immediately recognized the reference. (Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--The Thirteenth Order)

Gul Akellen Macet cited Article 58 as his justification for destroying all remaining Cardassian facilities on the planet of Lessek following his victory against Dominion forces in that system; by this act he sentenced all remaining traitors to die, even though in doing so it was possible there would be those among the survivors who would have supported the anti-Dominion rebellion. Specifically, Macet invoked Sections 1-batut and 1-3 of Article 58.

Despite his actions, which he appeared to undertake with great regret, Macet stated that he hoped soon there would be "no more need for Article 58 in its current form." (The Thirteenth Order)

Article 58, of course, does not exist in the Sigils and Unions: Catacombs of Oralius alternate universe, in which Tret Akleen's revolution never occurred.

The real-life Article 58Edit

Article 58 is intended to be an allusion to Article 58 of the RSFSR Penal Code of Soviet Russia, though perhaps without some of the particularly socialist-communist concepts such as "enemy of workers." Like the Cardassian Article 58, the Soviet one could be applied to citizens and foreigners alike--which fits with the sort of behavior seen in episodes like DS9: "Tribunal"; the penalties we have seen meted out by Cardassian authorities in canon also seem to correspond with those seen in the Soviet Union (executions and work camps such as the one on Pullock V). Whether or not DS9's writers had the Soviet legal code in mind is unknown, but the results certainly indicate something similar in play in the Cardassian Union.

The sections Macet cites in the destruction of the Lessekda facilities correspond with the following sections in the Soviet Article 58:

  • 58-1б. Treason by military personnel: death sentence with property confiscation.
  • 58-3. Contacts with foreigners "with counter-revolutionary purposes" (as defined by 58-1) are subject to Article 58-2. [Up to death with confiscation.]

The decision to reference and have a protagonist using Article 58 was undertaken after much extremely careful thought and is in absolutely no way an endorsement of the atrocities committed by the Soviet Union in the name of Article 58. Rather, just as Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said of the Soviet Article 58, this piece of legal code is in many ways the strongest indictment of what Cardassian society has become, and this could be stated quite aptly about the Cardassian version as well:

"...great, powerful, abundant, highly ramified, multiform, wide sweeping 58, which summed up the world not so much through the exact terms of its sections as in their extended diacritical interpretation. Who among us has not experienced its all-encompassing embrace? In all truth, there is no step, thought, action, or lack of action under the heavens which could not be punished by the heavy hand of Article 58."
— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago

Macet, too, has been marked by the "all-encompassing embrace" of 58. Though he hopes to be rid of it soon as a result of his rebellion, it is clear just how much damage this terrible piece of legal code has done in every society that has ever experienced it on both the social and individual levels.

The Gulag Archipelago is highly recommended reading to anyone who wishes to understand the incredible scope of the real-life Article 58 and the atrocities it was used to commit. If you would prefer a shorter read, Solzhenitsyn's fiction work One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich also captures what life was like in the gulags after a brush with 58. These things must never be minimized or forgotten.

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