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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old April 3 2013, 07:46 PM   #1
golddragon71
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Organia and the Prime Directive

So, I'm going through the Original Series ( an episodea day) and today's episode is Errand of Mercy.

Before I pose my question I think we all should re-familiarize ourselves with the Prime Directive.:
General Order 1: When contacting a planet making normal progress toward a technological civilization, an officer of Star Fleet shall make no identification of self or mission; no interference with social development of said planet; no references to space, to other worlds or more advanced civilizations.

Now we all know that the Organians were far more advanced than anyone realized. Still, they presented a culture that was primitive.
And of course we realize that the Klingons would have gladly interferred with the planet's normal social development had they arrived first (or tried to anyway)
Still, Kirk and Spock appear openly in the middle of a "primitive" culture making references, not only to space and advanced civilizations but openly offering to actively advance said culture. Not only were the Organians visibly primitive (arrested in fact) but there was no way they were anywhere near any kind of interstellar travel.
As near as I understand the PD Enterprise should have done it's utmost in orbit to prevent the Klingons from being able to send a landing party to the surface. Without beaming down!
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Old April 3 2013, 08:00 PM   #2
Marsden
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

The Prime Directive was irrelevant due to the impending destruction of the Orgainian culture, imo. If Starfleet could have destroyed the Klingon fleet before they could invade Organia, it would have been done, but it would also make the Klingons fools for going to war with such a superior enemy. It's funny, I just mentioned this in the other thread.
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Old April 3 2013, 08:11 PM   #3
Timo
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

The Prime Directive definition from "Bread and Circuses" seems to be quite an anomaly in general TOS terms. Remember that in "A Private Little War", the backstory also had Kirk freely discussing outer space, the Federation and whatnot with primitive locals, back when he was a lowly Lieutenant and not even in charge of the contact mission...

So we're probably grossly misunderstanding something about "Bread and Circuses" here. Let's review the actual dialogue:

Kirk: "The SS Beagle was the first ship to make a survey of this star sector when it disappeared."
Spock: "Then the Prime Directive is in full force, Captain?"
Kirk: "No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet."
McCoy: "No references to space, or the fact that there are other worlds, or more advanced civilisations."
Now, obviously we aren't hearing the full content of the Prime Directive, but just the parts relevant for the mission at hand, in suitably abbreviated form. It would still seem that the reason for full PD here is that the local culture has not been spoiled by interstellar contact yet, as far as our heroes can tell. (Of course, that's a pretty arrogant claim to make, as all they could possibly know is whether the Federation has contacted these folks before; the Federation should certainly not be the only player out there, not even from Kirk's early viewpoint!)

Then again, the idea that these rules would apply to "contact" is not supported by dialogue. Kirk is not about to make contact of any sort. He's infiltrating, in secrecy, incognito, quick in-and-out. Quite possibly very different rules apply when the mission from the very start is intended to result in actual contact between cultures - and we see often enough that the TOS-era Federation is quite willing to make contact with spaceflight and pre-spaceflight cultures of all sorts, often against the will of said cultures.

So "Errand of Mercy" is not out of the line here, by a long shot. "Bread and Circuses" is more neutral on the subject than first appears, too. "The Apple", the only one where our heroes really worry about cultural contamination, may well represent a very special case. And even there, Kirk was under explicit orders to investigate the local culture. And Spock doesn't object to Kirk spoiling a pristine culture - he objects to Kirk imposing his own human values on an alien culture that in Spock's opinion is doing just dandy on its own values. That is what the "Non-Interference Directive" (which may or may not be the same as Prime Directive and/or General Order 1) appears to regulate.

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Old April 3 2013, 08:16 PM   #4
Dale Sams
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

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Old April 4 2013, 03:34 AM   #5
T'Girl
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

Timo wrote: View Post
Spock: "Then the Prime Directive is in full force, Captain?"
I've alway found it interesting that Spock felt the necessity to ask Kirk this. It implies that there are circumstances when the Prime Directive isn't in force, or at least not in in full force.

Is it up to the commanding officer on the scene to decide?

And below "in full force," how many levels of "in partial force" are there?

golddragon71 wrote: View Post
And of course we realize that the Klingons would have gladly interferred with the planet's normal social development had they arrived first (or tried to anyway)
I'm not so sure. Not that the Klingon would mind doing so, but it's not my impression that the klingons were going to do that. They were there to establish a base of operations, not really to "take over" the planet. Unless there was a future effort to colonize the planet, I can easily see all the Klingons simply leaving after the war was over, or when the front moved elsewhere.

If the Organians were in fact primitives.

The Klingon choose that town because it was the largest community on the planet, and there was the old fortification (in case the locals rebelled). The town would provide the Klingons with existing structures so they wouldn't have to build any -- at least not right away. In time they might have wanted to build a minor starbase there.

After the Klingons were gone, how much "culture damage" would there really have been? At that technology level there would have been no planet wide communication. Outside of the immediate region, the Klingon presence would have been unknown. In the town seen, after a few generations it would have turned into local myth.

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Old April 4 2013, 01:00 PM   #6
Marsden
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

It depends on which Klingon culture you belive is in force, the space Viking Klingons would probably act as you have said, but Kor and his Soviet Klingons would likely have moved more men in, started building weapons factories and used the local population for slave labor. The environment and population saftey are not a concern. And considering how poor the Klingon planets are, it may have been one of the best ones they had, leading to an influx of Klingons and their other subjects and a major colonization, causing the extinction of the Organians, unless of course breeding programs are instituted to keep a sufficient supply of slaves for work and medical experiments.
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Old April 5 2013, 01:02 AM   #7
SchwEnt
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

Yeah there does seem to be two variations on the Prime Directive.

At first, it's a matter of non-interference--seemingly regardless of the technological level. There were exceptions but TOS often showed Kirk introducing himself as captain of the Enterprise representing the Federation of Planets, even to "primitive natives". If that was over their heads, he'd talk about people coming from points of light in the sky and so on. The PD issues were about interfering, not much concern about revealing the fact of alien life and other worlds.

Later, mostly TNG-onward, the Prime Directive was equally about non-disclosure, not revealing the existance of other life and civilizations, the whole pre-warp argument.

Sure, disclosure of alien life can be a *kind* of interference. But back in TOS, it was mainly about non-interference. Freely talking about the Federation and all kinds of space aliens wasn't that taboo.

Unless non-interference and non-disclosure are subsets of a more lengthy and detailed General Order Number One.
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Old April 5 2013, 01:23 AM   #8
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

But they find out something isn't right about Organia, which might affect interpretation of the Prime Directive.

SPOCK: Captain, our information on these people and their culture was not correct. This is not a primitive society making progress toward mechanisation. They are totally stagnant. There is no evidence of any progress as far back as my tricorder can register.

KIRK: That doesn't seem likely.

SPOCK: Nevertheless, it is true. For tens of thousands of years, there has been absolutely no advancement, no significant change in their physical environment. This is a laboratory specimen of an arrested culture.

KIRK: Thank you, Mister Spock. That might be useful.
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Old April 8 2013, 04:59 PM   #9
RPJOB
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

It's interesting how Kirk was attempting to get primitive people to rise up against the technologically advanced Klingons. No advanced weapons. A willingness to follow the dictates of the occupying force. Kor didn't start killing the Organians until Kirk started blowing stuff up. Is this standard Federation policy? Should he be sacrificing a primitive people in order to protect the Federation? Does the Prime Directive allow you to use primitive people as cannon fodder?

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Old April 8 2013, 08:45 PM   #10
Timo
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

We have to wonder whether Starfleet sent our heroes to Organia in order to further Starfleet strategic interests (i.e. keep Klingons out at any cost) or to protect the Organians. There are bits of evidence for either of these being the true motivation...

Kirk's orders do mention the strategic importance of the planet, in the sense of it being useable by both sides. But evidently only the Klingons are ever going to actually try and exploit it, so Kirk isn't expected to secure a key asset for the Federation - he's merely sent to harass the enemy on a side theater of the war. This is supported by Starfleet only sending a lone cruiser when entire fleets are on the move.

Kirk's mission really seems to be one of guerrilla action against inevitable Klingon occupation from the get-go: he never appears to think that his starship should have a realistic chance of keeping the Klingons away. He could accomplish that mission all on his own, that is, with Spock, conducting more of those rather effective two-man raids. So when he starts to incite planetwide rebellion, it seems to be for reasons outside his actual mission orders.

This is classic Kirk: even in the middle of a war, he is mindful of his ideals, which he wants to be everybody's ideals. Native peoples need to be free, regardless of whether they want it or not - here, in "The Apple", in "Return of the Archons", in "A Taste of Armageddon"... Kirk's buttons are easily pushed, and he really does believe in the liberty-or-death thing.

It's not Kirk the soldier, the ruthless servant of UFP strategic goals in action here, then. It's Kirk the uncompromising idealist, the fanatic libertarian, who has no choice other than to send all Organians to their deaths in a hopeless struggle. And all the more so when they see no point in such a pursuit.

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Old April 12 2013, 03:00 AM   #11
Dale Sams
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

RPJOB wrote: View Post
It's interesting how Kirk was attempting to get primitive people to rise up against the technologically advanced Klingons. No advanced weapons. A willingness to follow the dictates of the occupying force. Kor didn't start killing the Organians until Kirk started blowing stuff up. Is this standard Federation policy? Should he be sacrificing a primitive people in order to protect the Federation? Does the Prime Directive allow you to use primitive people as cannon fodder?

"You see, Killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them, until they reached their limit and shut down."
- Zapp Brannigan - Love's Labours Lost in Space
If I recall, once the Klingons started killing hostages, Kirk and Spock gave themselves two hours to go on a 'suicide mission'.
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Old April 12 2013, 04:49 AM   #12
UssGlenn
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

One think to remember is that if a local culture has already learned about extraterrestrial life before the Federation arrives, then that portion of the prime directive doesn't apply any longer. Considering that the presence of a civilian Vulcan trader on Organia was not seen as out of the ordinary, Starfleet wasn't concerned about revealing themselves. I assume a similar sequence of events on before "A Private Little War".
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Old April 12 2013, 05:20 AM   #13
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

golddragon71 wrote: View Post
So, I'm going through the Original Series ( an episodea day) and today's episode is Errand of Mercy.

Before I pose my question I think we all should re-familiarize ourselves with the Prime Directive.:
General Order 1: When contacting a planet making normal progress toward a technological civilization, an officer of Star Fleet shall make no identification of self or mission; no interference with social development of said planet; no references to space, to other worlds or more advanced civilizations.

Now we all know that the Organians were far more advanced than anyone realized. Still, they presented a culture that was primitive.
And of course we realize that the Klingons would have gladly interferred with the planet's normal social development had they arrived first (or tried to anyway)
Still, Kirk and Spock appear openly in the middle of a "primitive" culture making references, not only to space and advanced civilizations but openly offering to actively advance said culture. Not only were the Organians visibly primitive (arrested in fact) but there was no way they were anywhere near any kind of interstellar travel.
As near as I understand the PD Enterprise should have done it's utmost in orbit to prevent the Klingons from being able to send a landing party to the surface. Without beaming down!
So, what's your question?
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Old April 12 2013, 02:08 PM   #14
Marsden
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

UssGlenn wrote: View Post
One think to remember is that if a local culture has already learned about extraterrestrial life before the Federation arrives, then that portion of the prime directive doesn't apply any longer. Considering that the presence of a civilian Vulcan trader on Organia was not seen as out of the ordinary, Starfleet wasn't concerned about revealing themselves. I assume a similar sequence of events on before "A Private Little War".
That's right! I feel like Rok when he realised he could override his programing. No matter how "primitive" the culture, if they had knowledge of aliens and other worlds then it doesn't fall under the Prime Directive!
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Old April 12 2013, 05:20 PM   #15
Anwar
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Re: Organia and the Prime Directive

Yeah, remember the Edo from TNG's "Justice"? They had no warp tech, but because they knew about alien life there was no problems with contact.
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