Organia and the Prime Directive

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by golddragon71, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. golddragon71

    golddragon71 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    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!
     
  2. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    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.
    http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?p=7883797&postcount=35
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    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:

    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.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges
     
  5. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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?

    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.

    :)
     
  6. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  7. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  8. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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

    http://www.chakoteya.net/startrek/27.htm
     
  9. RPJOB

    RPJOB Commander Red Shirt

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    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
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    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.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    If I recall, once the Klingons started killing hostages, Kirk and Spock gave themselves two hours to go on a 'suicide mission'.
     
  12. UssGlenn

    UssGlenn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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".
     
  13. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    "Who are you?"
    So, what's your question?
     
  14. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    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! :bolian:
     
  15. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    To nitpick, we never learned whether the Edo had warp drive or not - we only learned they consider transporters somewhat miraculous (indeed, their God probably operates similar technology, and Deeds of God = Miracles, even if they are more or less daily events...) and do not generally venture off their planet. Also, we were never explicitly told that the Edo were accustomed to receiving interstellar guests, although it was sort of implicit.

    Then again, in "Bread and Circuses" the PD was in full force even though our heroes went down with the explicit intent of contacting SS Beagle people down there. So the level of contamination may be an issue, but not a clear-cut one.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I said this in another topic, but it probably should have been here, instead. In "The Apple" the landing parting is specifically seeking the natives of Gamma Trianguli VI. An earlier survey had already been conducted of the planet. Now, while we don't know what that survey revealed, I think it's safe to say that even the most basic of surveys would be able to determine that the culture was living at a pre-warp primitive technological level.

    Yet Kirk was ORDERED to make contact with the natives in order to deduce what the unusual readings were that the previous survey detected. So, Kirk was ordered by Starfleet to make contact with a primitive culture, and Kirk did so without any attempt to blend in with the natives and did not hide their advanced technology.

    Just like Errand of Mercy. No attempt to hide their origins, clothing or tech. The only difference is that in Errand of Mercy they beamed down in a town square, in The Apple they beamed down unobserved.
     
  18. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Like I said in the other thread, I don't think the survey ship actually landed people on Gamma Trianguli VI. They just did their survey from orbit then handed the information over to the big boys to dig deeper.
     
  19. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I guess my point is even with that type of survey you can tell what tech level a society is. Radio transmissions would be detectable. Atmospheric scans can be done that would reveal hydrocarbons or other artificial chemicals. Orbit North America at night and you can't help but notice all the lights.

    Even a simple orbital survey can reveal if the society is primitive or advanced. The survey detected the presence of intelligent life - why else would they even send Kirk back to talk to the natives unless they knew there were natives to talk to?

    It seems Starfleet has a custom of sending landing parties straight to primitive settlements despite the Prime Directive. Errand of Mercy, The Apple and even A Private Little War support this. In A Private Little War somebody had to make initial contact with the natives.
     
  20. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, in two of the three episodes you either break the Prime Directive or cede the planet to the Klingons.