reasons we can’t trust shit that elim garak says about cardassian culture, literally nothing that comes out of his mouth re: cardassians is trustworthy:
1) this seems trivial but is not to be discounted: he is a troll. he will often just sort of say things in order to fuck with people.
2) he is a known liar, and may have reason to lie about cardassian cultural practices
3) but most importantly, he most likely has a lot of fucked up and incorrect beliefs about cardassian society, for various reasons:
- 3a) he was a member of the most dangerous branch of the cardassian government’s propaganda machine, the obsidian order. it seems to me that one of the jobs of the order is to suppress dissent and sedition, and to surveil cardassia’s citizenry. he seems to be a true believer of this propaganda machine, idealogically. he is a true patriot and trusts the state overly much, and seems to project that viewpoint on cardassia as a whole. for example, the cardassia literature in which people lead “selfless lives of duty to the state” is……. well, my guess is if they did things that were not that, it would probably be censored, yet garak presents it as “this is just how cardassians are.”
- 3b) he had a deeply unusual and traumatic upbringing, in which he was trained to be a tool of the cardassian state, that probably warped his view a shitton. it may be another reason why he is a true believer in the cardassian state.
- 3c) he was a member of the ruling class. this is implied over and over again by his actions and mannerisms, and also by his backstory. his main hobby is discussing literature, which is the most upperclass hobby available to him without actually spending tons of money (since he is, you know, no longer a member of the ruling class), he is careless with expensive things (i don’t think i’m the only one who flinched when he ripped the dress in profit and loss, thinking “no garak i know you’re used to being rich but you’re not anymore!!! you can’t do that!!!”), he complains about bashir eating too quickly, saying he ate as though he didn’t know where his next meal was coming from and claiming that cardassians did not eat this way, even though it’s canonically confirmed that famines happen on cardassia, and most importantly, he was a high ranking member of the obsidian order, meaning he was both politically powerful in the panopticon police state of cardassia, and probably quite rich. the ruling class cannot have an accurate opinion on the culture of the masses, or how society affects them.
- 3d) as a corrolary, almost none of the cardassian characters we ever meet are trustworthy observers of cardassian culture. members of the obsidian order of course fail 3a, high ranking members of the military fail 3c, and all members of the military fail a modified version of 3b because they are trained to be patriotic soldiers and are often true believers of the cardassian propaganda machine.
- 3e) the result of (3d) is that the only even potentially reliable witnesses to what cardassian society and culture are really like that we ever meet, are rekelen, hogue, natima lang, ulani belor, and gilora rejal. now, lang, belor, and rejal are all explicitly members of the intellectual class which makes them still somewhat suspect.