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Star Trek Prime Directive Meets Ayn Rand

Posted by dbhalling 4 years, 9 months ago to Philosophy
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First of all let me say that I cannot believe I am doing an analysis of the Star Trek prime directive. The prime directive states:
“As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Star Fleet personnel may interfere with the healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes the introduction of superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Star Fleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation.”

The associated prohibitions are given below (according to Jbrenner)

1. Providing knowledge of technologies or science
2. Taking actions to generally affect a society's overall development
3. Taking actions which support one faction within a society over another
4. Helping a society escape the negative consequences of its own actions
5. Helping a society escape a natural disaster known to the society, even if inaction would result in a society's extinction.
6. Subverting or avoiding the application of a society's laws
7. Interfering in the internal affairs of a society


What would Ayn Rand say about the prime directive. I bet her first question would be what is a sentient species? According to dictionary “sentient” means “able to perceive or feel things.” Well cows, cats, dogs, and many other species can perceive or feel things, in fact much simpler organisms would fit this definition. Based on this definition Rand would state that only rational beings have rights. Rand defined the hierarchy of knowledge integration as sensation, precepts, and conceptual. She explains it perceptual in this example.

“An animal is guided, not merely by immediate sensations, but by percepts. Its actions are not single, discrete responses to single, separate stimuli, but are directed by an integrated awareness of the perceptual reality confronting it. It is able to grasp the perceptual concretes immediately present and it is able to form automatic perceptual associations, but it can go no further.”

My guess is that Rand would then ask what is “normal cultural evolution.” Is it normal cultural evolution to allow Rachel Carson to convince countries to ban DDT and cause 100 million deaths? Is it normal cultural evolution to allow Mao to institute the cultural revolution that will starve over 30 million people to death? There is no such thing a normal cultural evolution. But it rings of Marxist ideas of a scientific progression of society.
Then Rand would ask why normal cultural evolution is considered sacred. According to the dictionary sacred means “connected with God (or the gods) or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.” Rand would reject anything based on an appeal to a deity. The proof of the first sentence of the prime directive rests on an appeal to faith, not reason.
It is clear the Prime Directive is based on faith, not reason and is immoral from the first sentence. I will not take on the rest of the directive but I will look at the prohibitions. The first prohibition is “Providing knowledge of technologies or science.” Given that directive was directed to species that are “able to perceive or feel things” this is almost meaningless. Most species that able to perceive are not able to understand or take advantage of knowledge.
But what about rational beings? Why would you not provide knowledge of technologies or science? Does this mean we cannot teach our kids science and technology? That would clearly be immoral. Your objection might be that they are within our culture, but what about African cultures? Should we have not introduced DDT, or steam engines, or the Internet? While we have no obligation to introduce these sciences and technologies, to purposely prohibit them would be immoral.
All the prohibitions and the prime directives are based group think (and written by Hollywood TV writers!). The word society is mentioned nine times in the Prime Directive and in the prohibitions. Individual is not mentioned once. Societies are based on a collection of people and only have rights based on the rights of the individuals, who make up the society, but none separate from them.
Start Trek’s Prime Directive is an inherently Socialist Ideal and Evil.



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    Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 9 months ago
    I've read somewhere, and I can't remember where right now, that the source of the idea of the Prime Directive was the 'Cargo Cults' of the Pacific and Melanesian Islands after WWII. Previously isolated and primitive tribes were suddenly exposed to aircraft making cargo drops to soldiers and after the war, formed religions with ridiculous rituals to invoke the return of the cargo. Bamboo rifles, radios constructed of coconut husks, etc.

    I had a friend that was the tram supervisor for a copper mine in the remote jungle of Irian Jawa (spelling?) and per agreement with the Indonesian government, had to employ local natives--recent converts from cannibalism, but still essentially primitive. The men wore only a long, conical gourd appropriately placed and were used in the tram house for cleaning. Darrel had ordered several barrels of lye based cleaner for cleaning the concrete of the tram house of grease. Since it was poisonous, it had a skull and crossbones painted on the barrels. One morning, when starting the day shift, the crew found several of the natives dead in the tram house. To them, apparently, the skull and crossbones meant food.

    I just offer that as the impact to otherwise primitives of exposure to modernity, not in support of the Prime Directive.
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    • Posted by teri-amborn 4 years, 9 months ago
      When vacationing, my husband and I go petroglyph hunting.
      Our "prime directive" in doing so is to put ourselves in the place of primitive people who are trying to convey thoughts/sights of whatever they experienced.
      We have found carvings and paintings (pictographs) which resemble things like helicopters and UFOs.
      Perhaps they had close encounters?
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    • Posted by  $  Mimi 4 years, 9 months ago
      'Cargo Cults’ reminds me of a movie,‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’.
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      • Posted by Hiraghm 4 years, 9 months ago
        Reminds me of "Dream Park".
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_Park...

        "...And the Game is great. Set in 1950s-era Papua New Guinea, "South Seas Treasure Hunt" relies primarily on the traditional character classes (fighter, thief, mage, cleric) - anyone even slightly familiar with RPGs will recognize the basic setup. Unfamiliarity with RPGs isn't a barrier, though - the authors helpfully include two beginners in the campaign, a perfect excuse for exposition and introductory monologues.

        The authors picked a really great mythology to work from, too. Off-hand, I can't name even a single other novel that uses the Cargo Cult . . . and Dream Park does a great job introducing it to us. In fact, that's one of the elements likely to keep you reading. But, the basic premise of the mythos

        Spoiler ->is a mix of traditional animistic beliefs and ancestor worship, coupled with elements of 1950s Western culture. "Helped" along by certain local strong men, the Cargo Cult was an attempt to explain why Westerners had such better technology than the locals. They came to the conclusion that God intended such things for all the peoples of the world, but "Europeans" had subverted the minor deities of the Post Office, bribing them into redirecting the crates meant for New Guinea to Western locations. And, if they could figure out how "Europeans" used radios and soda pop to subvert God's will, then maybe they could steal it all back. . ."

        http://www.fandompost.com/oldforums/show...
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    • Posted by j_IR1776wg 4 years, 9 months ago
      I seem to remember that in 1970, one of two picture magazines, Look or Life, did a 25 year retrospective of these out-of-the-way Pacific isles. On one island, the natives told them a story that a long time ago, the Gods had come down from heaven to visit them. Seems a Piper Cub had engine trouble (clogged oil line) and landed on their beach, spent the night, gave them gifts (gold coins,Hershey bars, Coca Cola) and left the next morning. The natives had constructed an exact duplicate of the plane from wood and vines and had a candle burning the cockpit. They said the Gods had promised to return one day.
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    • Posted by  $  Temlakos 4 years, 9 months ago
      In fact, in the beginning of "Star Trek: Into Darkness" we see the young (and alternate) Captain Kirk "busted" back to cadet because he had started a cargo cult on the planet called Nibiru in an effort to rescue his XO, who, says Admiral Pike, ought never have taken a risk of his own life to save a world destined to blow up. That's one thing wrong with the slavish application of the Prime Directive as we see it in the Star Trek franchise.

      The other is that it arbitrarily limits trade to those civilized peoples who have risen at least to the planet-hopping level.

      But in the third season of the original series, the Prime Directive was ignored completely.

      And there's more. One episode ("The Paradise Syndrome") develops evidence of earlier "intervention" in human affairs--and specifically the transplantation of American Indians (Navajo, Mohican and Delaware, and maybe other nations as well) and other humans to other worlds. Which now is their way of explaining the existence of so many rational species that could walk and talk like us! But did not these Preservers violate any concept of non-interference?
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  • Posted by ProfChuck 4 years, 9 months ago
    There is a fundamental difference between sentience and sapience. As stated in the article sentience is the ability to feel and to perceive surroundings. Sapience is the ability to use judgement and to reason. Humans are called "homo sapiens" not "homo sentiens". In this sense the Prime Directive would restrict virtually all space exploration if there was any possibility of disturbing the "natural progress" of sentient creatures. This would include the hives of social insects such as ants, bees and termites. These hive organizations are clearly sentient in that they perceive and react to their environment. However there is no evidence that they are "sapient" or capable of engaging in judgement or reason. From this I would conclude that the "Prime Directive" imposes an unwarranted restriction on exploration and the expansion of human knowledge.
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    • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
      As reasoned as your argument is ProfChuck, Star Trek was all about unrestricted exploration and the expansion of human knowledge, the direct opposite of your conclusion regarding the Prime Directive.
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      • Posted by ProfChuck 4 years, 9 months ago
        I worked on our space program from the very beginning. I was deeply involved in the first lunar missions, Ranger and Surveyor, and and was (and still am) a big fan of Startrek. The program had a very big influence on how many of us viewed what we were doing. It is interesting to note how on several occasions Capt Kirk violated the prime directive to no significant effect or damage. The prime directive is an interesting plot device but like Asimov's three laws of robotics difficult to implement in detail. History is filled with violations of fundamental ethical principals resulting in both positive and negative consequences. I am a physicist and astronomer and I love good science fiction not because it's true but for how it lets us think of what might be true.
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        • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
          hear, hear. db and I were just discussing Asimov's 3 laws of robotics. It was an invigorating discussion. Consider doing a post on that. Creighton's Prey comes to mind...
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          • Posted by Hiraghm 4 years, 9 months ago
            I remember how Susan Calvin destroyed a robot's positronic brain with one word:

            "LIAR!"

            My favorite Asimov robot stories were Caves of Steel, Robots of Dawn and The Naked Sun

            Did your discussion of the 3 laws ever include the Prime Directive from "With Folded Hands"? (later named "The Humanoids").

            "To serve and protect and guard men from harm".
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        • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 4 years, 9 months ago
          Indeed, I, too, was just reminded of Asimov's 3 laws of robotics. The bottom line for both prime directives is "Do no harm." And especially, "Do no harm [to human beings]."

          Even on earth, where we are supposedly all the same species, the help we give to some can someday be turned against us when groups we didn't help get hold of weapons we provided to our favored ones.

          I would not go so far as to label Roddenberry's humanist ideals as socialist and evil. Almost every episode was a morality play to enlighten humans about some benighted condition, like racism or self-sacrifice as embodied by aliens.
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  • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
    Helping a society escape a natural disaster known to the society, even if inaction would result in a society's extinction, is likely the most controversial of the Prime Directive prohibitions.

    If a society other than mine is stupid enough to follow the idiocy of Rachel Carson or of Mao, then I will gladly let that society go to the trash heap of history. When it is MY society, I will fight that idiocy to a point. Once past that point, I will shrug and leave.

    Most "normal cultural evolution" is actually de-evolution. As long as that is not my society, I don't care very much. I will focus on my attention on what I can control in my own sphere of influence.

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  • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
    Finally we move to the 1st Prime Directive Prohibition that the Hallings and I have considerable disagreement about. Providing knowledge of technologies or science to inferior cultures may be appropriate for individuals or businesses, but NOT countries (or planets in the case of Star Trek).

    On this, I will disagree vehemently with db.
    Not letting inferior cultures have access to such technology is the SELFISH thing to do. How many of us have seen ripoffs of American technology by countries in southeast Asia that do not respect intellectual property law? That's right, all of us. If a society is going to develop properly into a functioning society, it must have the appropriate virtues first.

    Now I will use db's own words and those of AR from http://hallingblog.com/atlas-shrugged-ay...
    to argue the exact opposite of what the Hallings just argued tonight.

    “I’m not sure it was so great-inventing this new Metal, when so many nations are in need of plain iron-why do you know the People’s State of China hasn’t even got enough nails to put wooden roofs over peoples’ heads?”

    This is the attitude of an inferior society that has been given access to science and technology that has not developed such technology itself.

    From AS: ”…’he didn’t invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn’t have invented HIS metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. HIS Metal! Why does he think it’s his? Why does he think it’s his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything.’ (Jim Taggart) She (Jim Taggart’s Wife) said, puzzled, ‘But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn’t anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?’”

    From dbhalling's own blog:
    Rand anticipates Open Source socialists. This idea that no one invents anything is the standard argument of collectivists, but it does not stand up to scrutiny. Why has inventing been concentrated in the last two centuries in relatively small populations of the U.S. and western countries?

    My conclusion: Not letting inferior cultures have access to such technology is the SELFISH thing to do. They just aren't ready for it yet.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
      J you are confusing two concepts. 1) is an obligation to not provide technology/knowledge (prime directive) 2) is an obligation to provide technology/knowledge. This is a false choice. I am saying we do not have an obligation to provide technology/knowledge, but we do not have an obligation to keep them from our knowledge/technology. If it is in our interest to provide them with technology/knowledge then we can do so. And when I say we, I mean each individual gets to decide, not some Star Command.
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      • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 9 months ago
        "each individual gets to decide, not some Star Command"

        So I'll throw a minor wrench in the works here: All Starfleet officers are MILITARY officers responsible to a chain of command. They are not independent merchants or travelers. They are bound by the oaths they swore when they joined Starfleet, one of which is the Prime Directive. To me, my personal oath and honor are bound in my doing the best I can to abide by my agreements. To casually dismiss them because I didn't think they were convenient at the time is an excuse at best.

        I personally can't take the Prime Directive so rigidly. There are many episodes in TNG that dealt with Prime Directive issues. There was the one where Wesley Crusher falls into a greenhouse and is sentenced to death. According to the Prime Directive, Picard should have allowed the boy to die - even though to the crew of the Enterprise the law that was broken was A) unknown at the time and B) rather arbitrary. It was pretty hard not to sympathize with the crew on that one.

        Then you have the one where Riker and Troi are in disguise on a planet and a native follows them, gets critically wounded, and the crew heals him. The native then goes back and makes a big stink about "the Picard" and his "magical" powers. According to the PD, they should have let him die - not only to protect their own identities, but to prevent the cultural shock that occurred as a result. I'm more ambivalent about that one.

        A third one is where the Enterprise is sent on a potential First Contact mission to a civilization whose religion paints them as alone in the universe. They have to back out after presenting themselves to the planet's ruler because the culture of the people would endure such a shock that it might destroy them. In that case, I think the only reasonable plan was to obey the Prime Directive.
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        • Posted by Hiraghm 4 years, 9 months ago
          Oh boy. You will find any number of HUGE arguments over whether Starfleet is military or not.
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          • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 9 months ago
            Potentially, but regardless of their expeditionary missions, they also serve as the enforcement mechanism of the United Federation of Planets and as arbitrators. They have military ranks and graduate from a military academy. Even Q points this out when talking with Picard on occasion.

            Now one can argue that the very nature of a "Federation" makes them more like the UN than a sovereign entity, to which I would agree. But that is more a commentary on the ineffective governmental structure of a federation than on the status of the Fleet.
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      • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
        This is a fair point, db, and on this we agree. To add to your point, it is not in our best interest to allow a more primitive culture access to technology until it has proven that it can handle such technology wisely. When you say "I mean each individual gets to decide, not to Star Command", this should be true for commerce. The Prime Directive is in essence a foreign policy between worlds (nations in our case) and really isn't directly applicable to the interactions between individuals in different worlds/nations.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
          To further clarify, there is a question of what the law (government) should allow and what is moral. The government should not have stopped sale of technology to the USSR, but morally this was reprehensible.
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          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
            The US government was actually correct for stopping the sale of technology to the USSR. The USSR actively sought to destroy the US. They did not recognize our right to exist freely. They did not recognize our values. To sell to the USSR would have required the US to ultimately feed its enemies. It would have required self-immolation. The Prime Directive is mostly about establishing a common set of values on which commerce can be based, so that not only does one not corrupt a developing culture, but equally importantly, the more advanced culture doesn't immolate itself in the process.
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    • Posted by ewv 4 years, 9 months ago
      Giving people proprietary technology is not the same as giving them knowledge. The primary benefits of society to the individual are trade and the accumulation of knowledge. The PD multi-culturalism prohibits "contamination of a culture" in any way.
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    • Posted by Hiraghm 4 years, 9 months ago
      "Catspaw" by George O. Smith.

      Two people have dreams, unbeknownst to the other. In one, the person is given knowledge of an alien power source. In the other person's dream, they are warned that if the power source is built and used, it would destroy the solar system.

      After much conflict, they build a spaceship based on the device, figure out the fatal flaw in the technology, and fly off to Procyon.

      Once there they encounter the species that gave them the dreams. They were given the dreams so that the technology could be safely tested... safely for the aliens, not for us.

      When interrogated, the aliens reveal that they learned of the technology in dreams... the end of the story is yet another alien determining that, since they didn't see a nova, the technology works, and decide to activate their un-corrected device. The last line is that the 2nd aliens don't trust technology whose source they don't know.

      Sometimes giving foreign societies access to advanced technology can benefit you.
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  • Posted by  $  Mimi 4 years, 9 months ago
    “The word society is mentioned nine times in the Prime Directive and in the prohibitions. Individual is not mentioned once.”
    Yes, but we are talking about a starship on a mission of discovery, a scientific adventure. Interfering in the culture of any planet is more or less going to affect the purity of the observation.
    db,if you are saying one must choose Kirk or Galt...I’m going to have to choose Kirk.
    I think Ayn Rand said she liked Spock.
    *Mimi huffs off*
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    • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
      Mimi is correct in saying that the Prime Directive governs interactions between societies, not individuals, and therefore, the best comparison is between nations here on Earth.
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      • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
        But you can't base rules on societies. Only individuals have rights and only individuals can take actions.
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        • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
          This is the second time this AM that Maphesdus is actually making more sense than db. I don't think that has happened before. Of course, you can base rules on interactions between societies. Though I do not like the United Nations as implemented, the Geneva Convention rules for war represent an entirely reasonable set of rules regulating proper behavior between different societies.
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          • Posted by XenokRoy 4 years, 9 months ago
            Jbrenner,

            I believe this post to be in error. You cannot make rules based on interactions between societies. Societies do not interact with one and other, they cannot as without the individual people there are no interrelations.

            The Geneva Conventions rules for war represent rules that are reasonable for individuals to use to govern themselves when in a conflict with a different society. The society can do nothing, it cannot break the rules it cannot follow the rules. Only the individual has a mind that can determine if it will follow or not follow rules of war.

            Since a society cannot do anything on its own accord, the rules of war must be accepted and followed by individuals to have any meaning. If they are agreed upon by society but not by the individual the will not be followed.

            Ultimately all agreements, rules, laws, pacts.... must be defined for the individual or they have no meaning at all.
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            • Posted by Oakhollow8 4 years, 9 months ago
              Ah, but are you confusing the rules such as relate to the Geneva Convention rules that are for "societies" for jus ad bellum, with those that regulate "individuals" for jus in bello?
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              • Posted by XenokRoy 4 years, 9 months ago
                Could be, but I think that every rule breaks down to the individual. Even things like import tariffs cannot exist if individuals refuse to collect them or pay them. Every Law ultimately can only effect individual(s) if they choose to let that law effect them. We each have to decide if the risks/rewards are worth following the law or breaking it. Individual choice ultimately governs it all.

                The US is falling apart not because of a collective, but because individuals are buying into the ideals of that collective and choosing to live by them.

                Everything boils down to individual choice and how its used.
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            • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
              While individuals may have all these things that you quote, nations (as opposed to societies, if you prefer) absolutely can have agreements, rules, pacts, etc. between each other. Do you expect trade or peace agreements to change with every changing president or prime minister? You should not, even if the current usurper-in-chief thinks so.
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              • Posted by XenokRoy 4 years, 9 months ago
                Those agreements no mater what group they are made with boil down to the individual choice to honor or not honor them. Without the individuals mind making the choice to follow an agreement it has no power and would become void. Much like an agreement to keep the boarder safe and laws dealing with immigratino secure. Individuals that enforce said boarder laws and have the power to ignore them are making a choice, and as such invalidating the agreement. its the individual choice, and thereby the individual that makes the agreement work. Thus even though we may have rules or pacts between nations, ultimately only the individual and their choice matters.
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                • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                  I won't argue with you that ultimately the individual and his/her choice that matters in enforcing trade or peace agreements, or the like. However, if a society is so unstable that its willingness to honor agreements made by previous government administrations, do you really want to do business in that country? There just isn't a long enough term stability for me to build a chemical engineering process facility with an expected 20-30 year lifespan and a payback period of 7-10 years.
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          • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
            "Collectivism holds that, in human affairs, the collective—*society*, the community, the nation, the proletariat, the race, etc.—is the unit of reality and the standard of value. On this view, the individual has reality only as part of the group, and value only insofar as he serves it." Peikoff, The Ominous Parallels (emphasis added)
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          • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
            Your logic leads to laws passed under failed concepts like "the great Society " and rounding up japanese americans, taking their property and housing them in camps.the people who start wars never care about the rules..the geneva convention is about countries not societies. People have rights which laws protect. Societies having rights is group think which is why maph supports the concept. Rand has written about this very thing extensively.
            Rulesbased on societies leads to affirmative action, slavery, caste systems. The prime directive is socialism not based on rational. Faith masquerading as science.
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            • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
              Countries are the proper analogy to Star Trek's planets. I don't like the Great Society, affirmative action, slavery, caste systems, or Japanese internment camps either. You are talking about laws internal to a country, and I am referring to agreements between countries. They are different animals. Free trade agreements and peace treaties are examples of rules based on societies agreeing on a common set of values. I am not saying that I agree with any particular such agreement.

              The Prime Directive is not socialist, is extremely rational, and not based on faith whatsoever.
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              • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
                The PD is group think - it groups people based on arbitrary groups. That is Socialist.

                If you take the "normal cultural evolution" prong literally, it is that advanced societies wipe out less advanced societies (Until very recent history). This just shows that the whole statement is nonsense. There is nothing rational about it.
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                • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                  No, the Prime Directive groups people based on the planets that they live on. Such a choice is not arbitrary. Likewise, until this ridiculous open borders ****, defining nations by their borders, language, and culture is also not an arbitrary grouping.
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                  • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
                    Actually, open borders are a sign that governments are sticking to protecting natural rights. In the 19th century you could travel almost any where without some government hall pass.
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                    • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                      In the 19th century, you may have been correct. Right now, we have very open borders and virtually no protection of any natural Constitutional rights.
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                      • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
                        That is because we have a welfare state, which is an inherent contradiction. The answer is not to close the borders, it is to repeal the welfare state and the regulatory state and then we will see people as an asset, not a liability.
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                        • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                          Repealing the welfare state would be a great benefit, but have you considered why we have it? Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ, Jimmy Carter, and Barack Obama, all looters of the highest order, achieved their ability to wreck American exceptionalism through socialist policies by getting the votes of moochers. One must control immigration policy properly to have such exceptionalism.
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                          • Posted by Robbie53024 4 years, 9 months ago
                            I'll give up the immigration issue if we only controlled the voter roles. Since some people don't have all their digits, I'm in favor of a purple dot right in the middle of the forehead.
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                        • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                          Would you allow just anyone to come in and say whatever they please in GaltsGulchOnline? Not all people are assets. In the Gulch, there are some trolls. In the larger world, there are looters and moochers that you wouldn't want in your society. Open borders is an invitation to looters, moochers, and trolls.
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                        • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                          We should get rid of the welfare state. I am in favor of immigration, but only of people who a) want to assimilate into American culture, b) learn English, and c) be self-sufficient. I would much prefer if such a person had a college degree from an American university as a trial period. I am more restrictive on what I define as human assets.
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                          • Posted by ewv 4 years, 9 months ago
                            Why an American University? They are mostly so bad now that they contradict any rational idea of "assimilate into American culture". Most important is knowledge and acceptance of American individualism and the history of the founding and economic growth of the country. Even knowing English isn't so important if they have that much. Many older immigrants from the past didn't learn English but raised families that did, along with the rest of a proper emphasis on the American culture.

                            Did you mean to exclude from your criteria criminals, carriers of disease, and terrorists?

                            "Open borders" makes checking for any criteria impossible, and is a false alternative to "closed borders". The emphasis should be on the proper procedures for entry in accordance with what proper criteria. That is neither "open" nor "closed" borders and must be addressed for the current context.

                            Immigration policy addressing the current crisis has to be formulated in accordance with what is possible to do to achieve meaningful reform. Being "against welfare" doesn't address the fact that the welfare state is entrenched, will remain so for a very long time, and is open to immigrants whether we approve or not. Likewise for the rising trend to allow them to vote in the name of progressive "democracy".

                            Immigration policies suitable for the present context are not the same as what they should and could be under better circumstances, which cannot be allowed to permit hoards of illiterates manipulated to overwhelm the country for Obama's "fundamental change" as "welfare international" while overturning what is left of the country on behalf of the progressive agenda.

                            Once hoards of non-Americans (in the best sense of the concept of American) are entrenched and enlisted in the progressive evolution of the political and economic system, then it is over, with no way to go back, just as surely as if we had been invaded and taken over by a foreign culture and power aided and abetted by insider forces.
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                            • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                              I am for many immigrants coming to America who have something of value to provide and honor the legal process that was set up before the "enemy domestic" in the White House changed everything. What we have now is an invasion.
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                            • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                              The reason for an American university is so that the individuals can be examined on an individual basis prior to full immigration. I will readily admit that most universities other than mine are cesspools of liberalism.
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                          • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 9 months ago
                            j; You're attempting to apply your own subjective criteria to who can immigrate to the US and in doing so, are asking the government to apply force to persons wishing to make use of their natural rights. You're in effect denying others their natural and individual rights. That is not consistent with the Constitution or the Declaration.
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                            • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                              Non-citizens do not have a natural or an individual right or a Constitutional right to come to America. Any country has the duty to adopt an immigration policy.

                              From http://www.redstate.com/diary/ken_taylor...
                              The two references in the Constitution that specifically mention , “naturalization, ” are found in Article I, Section 8 in creating the authority of the Congress, “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” Thus from a Constitutional stand point it is the responsibility of Congress to establish all laws and rules of naturalization or immigration.

                              Congress has made laws regarding immigration and naturalization that have been completely ignored in recent generations.

                              I will grant that my criteria are somewhat subjective. That is the reason for a proper evaluation period.

                              Anyone who has made a product before knows that if you accept any amount of any impurity into the feedstock, the product that you will produce will be unacceptable. What we have done in recent generations is accept any amount of people with no discrimination whatsoever regarding the value that they can bring into America and no discrimination regarding tendency toward lawlessness. What we have obtrained is a permanent underclass of moochers who overwhelm our vote to keep their looter masters in place over them and us both.
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                              • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 9 months ago
                                j; Individual and natural rights are human wide and any individual within the boundaries of the US is also covered under the Constitution. As to your last sentence, we allowed any of the Irish that showed up here with the exception of what was recognized at that point as carrying a dangerous disease. Much the same happened when the Eastern European and Mediterranian Europeans started wanting to come.

                                Immigration policies only came into being about the time of WWI, prior to that time, free travel of humanity was recognized as a natural right. Naturalization for citizenship was a different matter.

                                The start of your last paragraph strikes me as eugenics, and that I'm particularly adverse to.

                                It is simply and only the Welfare State that has caused the problem.
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                                • Posted by ewv 4 years, 8 months ago
                                  The welfare state and its worsening trend are facts that cannot be ignored in determining immigration policy. There is no natural right for hoards of illiterates to come into a country, change the form of government, and live off the productive. No person of self esteem should be morally intimidated into submitting to what amounts to an invasion. 'Natural rights' does not mean anarchy. It does mean the rights of the rest of us not to have to put up with the invasion.

                                  The standards for proper immigration policy are rarely discussed today, and that in combination with the disastrous trends in welfare policy and the cultural reasons for it makes it that much more difficult to institute a proper immigration system in accordance with actual natural rights of would-be immigrants.
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                                • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                                  1) I am not into eugenics.
                                  2) The welfare state was made possible by the votes of moochers.
                                  3) As for the immigrants of 100-150 years ago, I will grant that they had very little education.
                                  The key is that they wanted to assimilate. I have not seen that in recent generations. The melting point was a good metaphor. A stew, which is what is discussed now, is the way to ruin a country.

                                  I have no problem with poor or uneducated people. I have a problem with moochers and looters. We have too many of them ... period.
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                                  • Zenphamy replied 4 years, 9 months ago
    • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
      Is it okay as a scientist to watch death, starvation, and misery when you know it could be prevented?
      Sure, you only have to act in your interest. But that is not Star Trek, they say you are morally obligated to let death, starvation and misery happen when you could prevent it.

      This is not an academic question. Many economists take this point of view. They say "I can show you that certain courses of action will lead to mass starvation and other problems, but I cannot form a judgement on which course of action you take."

      ??????????????????????????????????
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      • Posted by ewv 4 years, 9 months ago
        The PD was broader than a duty to allow death, starvation and misery. It made it a duty to not "contaminate a culture" even at the expense of your life, which is to be sacrificed to multi-culturalism, and that is the form in which it was often illustrated and promoted. It was an authoritarian, collectivist duty contrary to Ayn Rand's principles across the board. The best you can say for it as that any society that tried to practice that would soon find itself unable to survive, let alone affect other cultures.
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      • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
        One of the hardest parts of AS to read is when Francisco and John Galt are having a discussion in the Gulch about Francisco going back out into society to tell Rearden that Dagny is still alive. That is the best answer to your question I can give, db.
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        • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
          This is about individuals not societies. It 's not about disturbing, exposing, disrupting Hank, the conversation was about letting Hank come to his own conclusions.
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          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
            AS is about individuals, not societies, whereas the Prime Directive is about societies. Nonetheless, many of the same principles apply. Earlier I wrote, "One of the hardest parts of AS to read is when Francisco and John Galt are having a discussion in the Gulch about Francisco going back out into society to tell Rearden that Dagny is still alive. That is the best answer to your question I can give, db." In that discussion, Francisco is asking a variant of db's question of "Is it okay as a scientist to watch death, starvation, and misery when you know it could be prevented?" John Galt clearly tells Francisco that he should not tell Rearden that Dagny is still alive. I think that is highly analogous to db's "Is it okay as a scientist to watch death, starvation, and misery when you know it can be prevented?" question. I struggled a lot with this issue because my Christian upbringing led me to db's conclusion. After reading AS, I was convinced that it was not a good idea to prevent well-deserved death, starvation, and misery. It was the hardest change I had to make as a result of reading AS.
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            • Posted by XenokRoy 4 years, 9 months ago
              I am still christian. If you look at the nature of god then he has to let well-deserved death, starvation and misery go forward. Which he obviously does do if he exists and has the ability to stop such from happening. If we are in fact attempting to be as god is, to ascend to live with him do we not have to learn to do the same?

              It is far more difficult to stand back and let someone you love go through a painful process of learning from a bad decision than it is to step in and save them from the consequences. Standing back and letting them work though it lets them learn and progress and become stronger and better. Stepping in and preventing the consequence weakens them and makes them less able to handle the next problem they face.

              This is true rather you are atheist, Christian or some other religion. It is true for individuals and groups of individuals.
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            • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
              good points. I direct you to db's comment regarding false choice between having to give a society technology or *not* being allowed to do so. The PD says you may NOT let them have knowledge or technology. That goes against natural rights. No one is suggesting an obligation to do so.
              Take the Monroe Doctrine. The US said, we will interfere if you colonize. We will not colonize. In the first case, this did not preclude trade by individuals or companies. To the second part, did not preclude trade AND is consistent with natural rights. Imperialism went against our Constitution. Trade almost certainly means sharing knowledge and technology. Why would it be sound policy to deny those opportunities? It's like trade boycotts. I rarely support them. The battle of ideas on capitalism are won by trade. Trade is an essentially rational activity and moral.
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              • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                Not letting the other culture have your technology is true during a "feeling out" period where one person or one society discovers whether they share common values with potential partners. After that, then access to that knowledge or technology becomes possible via traditional commercial ventures. The Prime Directive was similar to the Monroe Doctrine, but added the complexity that there would be completely new cultures that would have to be evaluated before commerce could begin.
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            • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
              No you cannot equate individuals with societies. The PD inherently violates the rights of individual, and is inherently group think.

              In AS there is no analogy to the PD. Galt cannot use force to convince Dagny or Rearden. So he has to let them see the consequences on their own. That is not the PD.
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              • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                The Prime Directive applied to a military structure to which those who were in it willingly agreed. Therefore, it does not violate an individual's rights.

                The Prime Directive is largely about letting the less developed society seeing the consequences of their actions on their own.

                As for the group think argument, because Starfleet is a military structure, yes, there is a group think component.
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              • -1
                Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
                Individuals have NO rights other than those that they mutual agree, as MEMBERS OF A SOCIETY, that the society will grant to them as individuals. Or are you going to say that individuals somehow have God-given rights? The PD is absolutely the policy of letting cultures/species see/experience the consequences of their own choices on their own, without interference from a more advanced culture. You are talking in circles and completely missing the point, as well as the mark.
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                • Posted by  $  Solver 4 years, 9 months ago
                  -1 point.
                  It is the opposite of what you said, although statists would agree.

                  Individual have individual rights. Even if most of a society is violating individual rights, it does not mean that individuals don't have individual rights.
                  Individual rights are derived from the natural fact that (most) men have the ability to reason to make choices to live.
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                  • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                    I agree with all of what you said, Solver, but what Trogwolf said, "The PD is absolutely the policy of letting cultures/species see/experience the consequences of their own choices on their own, without interference from a more advanced culture." is also correct.
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                  • Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
                    If you are not going to adopt the God-given right position, then the only position left is the natural position, which is survival of the fittest: You have only the rights I am willing to grant to you as long as you serve my purposes because I am more fit (stronger than you). When you cease to be of use to me, you cease to have any rights at all. That is the "natural fact". The only role reason plays in that is that those with greater powers of reason are capable of greater degrees and varieties of domination. The right to dominate the weak and the right to serve as a slave in order to live are the ONLY rights derived from the ability to reason to make choices to live in a purely "natural" environment. Any other rights (if you reject the notion of God-given rights) are the fantasy of the deluded.
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                    • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
                      No rights are based on the nature of human beings, which is that they own themselves morally. That is the basis of the US Declaration of Independence and common law. Rand further developed this showing it is based on the fact that humans are rational animals.
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                      • Posted by  $  Solver 4 years, 9 months ago
                        Agreed.
                        His survival of the fittest morality is used by groups of animals and savages that, lack the ability or refuse to use, reason.
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                        • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                          db and Solver are correct on this one, until a bunch of looters and moochers decide to outvote us or use force us to make us serve them. Both looters and moochers lack either the ability or the willingness to use reason. Should we call them animals and savages?
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                      • Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
                        If Rand believed that humans were rational animals, Atlas Shrugged would never have been written. Humans are rationalizing animals and usually their rationalizing is irrational.
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                        • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years, 9 months ago
                          "Humans are rationalizing animals and usually their rationalizing is irrational."
                          Humans often engage in post hoc rationalization. It's almost our default mode. But we have the power of reason if we use it and avoid logical errors. We use this non-default ability to build a republic, which is not the default mode of gov't for humankind.

                          We're saying rights are based on human reasoning power. That does mean we *always* use reasoning power.
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                        • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
                          People are rational animals. Reason is volitional, so each person can decide whether to use it or not. This does not make humans rationalizing animals. You do not understand how reason works.
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                          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                            Only some people are rational. Producers are rational. Many people are irrational, and trogwolf is exactly right on this one. The moochers and their looter masters think it is rational that we should serve them at our own expense.

                            Robbie was right about a month ago. You do not understand, or fail to account for, the human nature of looters and moochers.

                            Michael Savage once said that "Liberalism is a mental disorder." Liberals are irrational, and the mental disorder of liberalism is a combination of Freudian denial and projection.
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                          • Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
                            are you in a coma or what? I know exactly how reason works. And it doesn't work very often because people are usually too busy rationalizing to think reasonably.
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                            • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
                              You don't seem to understand the reason is volitional. This is a site dedicated to reason. I am a bit confused why someone who is so ambivalent about reason would spend time here.
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    • Posted by Hiraghm 4 years, 9 months ago
      She probably never saw the movies where he cited collectivist philosophy.

      I more or less go along with Admiral Kutuzov's philosophy regarding the Prime Directive, as accounted in "Istvan Dies".
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  • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 9 months ago in reply to this comment.
    But it all boils down to the Welfare State and the progressives/socialists that lied their way into office and control, then waited for (or caused) the necessary problems and panics to institute their programs and policies. It does no good to blame the immigrants.

    Let's put the blame where it belongs, rather than trying to manage it by placing even more restrictions on natural rights which does as much or more damage to Objectivists. Managing the nightmare we have now, rather than eliminating it is the problem we face with RINO's now. Stop the welfare and the looting. Moochers and looters will leave or change when the incentives are removed.
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    • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
      I put most of the blame on the looters, but moochers should not get away scot-free. Looters will never leave. They are a permanent plague and must be either completely defeated or moved away from. In America the looters are so many that they will never be put under control again. Hence, I have shrugged. Moochers will move to whatever place will accept them. They are a more minor problem, but their complicity in enabling the Welfare State and their looter masters should not be underestimated. When the US went from a Constitution that was a true representative republic to a democracy via an amendment that I disagree with, the inevitable vicious spiral of looters enabling moochers enabling looters, etc. was inevitable.
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      • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 9 months ago
        Yes, but the problem really began with the end of the Civil War with 40 acres and a mule welfare, and the elimination of State Militias. At that point we (the citizens) no longer had the organized means to stop the looters. That allowed the socialist to gain the foothold that they cemented by WWI.
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  • Posted by KDanagger 4 years, 9 months ago
    Star trek writers obviously had mixed philosophical viewpoints over the years. On the positive side, TNG series had a positive reflection on the evils of collectivism and the importance of the individual. i.e. the Borg and Jean-Luc Picard's ongoing battle with them.
    Also Kathryn Janeway's battle with them in Voyager.
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    • Posted by ewv 4 years, 8 months ago
      That is true. Reject a collectivist trying to impose his "duties" on you by telling him you are not part of his tribe and assimilation into the Borg is unethical and he knows exactly what you are talking about.

      The popularity of Star Trek and its various slogans and metaphors are an example of how a mixture of basic ideas are transmitted through a culture and become uncritically accepted and reinforced. The reasons justifying the good ones have to be explained and the rest rejected through the kind of discussion right here on this page.
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  • Posted by  $  jlc 4 years, 9 months ago
    Wonderful discussion, db. Fascinating.

    The Prime Directive is a plot mechanism that furthers Star Trek episodes by creating an inherent barrier to action: If it were 'permitted' to save a crewman's life with modern tech or protect a civilization from disaster the series would have been about a bunch of godlets do-gooding around the universe. Which would have been a different program than Star Trek was.

    The oft-ignored Prime Directive was interesting for a TV show (which I watched avidly for years) but it is the opposite of what I would do if I were on a ship exploring the galaxy. I would be more wysiwyg: We are from the stars. We are not gods, but we have abilities you do not. We are glad to meet you: Would you like to trade? Would you like to talk philosophy? You have some nice wine there...would you like an artificial ruby in exchange for it?

    This is much more the interstellar society of Poul Anderson's Nicholas van Rijn. This is how I would hope an interstellar society worked - and that the Earth was not undergoing some secret 'test of development' whilst we were being carefully sequestered by star spanning Vulcan societies around us. I would adventure across the universe, if I had the ability...I do not need more barriers to action!

    Jan
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years, 9 months ago
      " I would be more wysiwyg: We are from the stars. We are not gods, but we have abilities you do not. "
      I agree with everything in your post above. At its core, it seems like the PD is saying if we have any interaction with primitive people, we will end up stealing or taking advantage in some way, so they do nothing, even if that means letting people die of a plague or disaster the advanced people could easily stop. I agree with you. All people should try to behave according to their values. They shouldn't take no action out of fear.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 4 years, 9 months ago
    The first thing I would do is throw out "sentient" and substitute the definition for a human. No matter what the creature looks like if it meets the following definition, it is to be considered "human."
    Definition: "A creature of volitional consciousness." Armed with that definition,
    we may treat the species as we would treat ourselves at any particular stage of development. Which means a different form of encounter based on the different degree of societal evolution. And then, of course, There's the decision as to how to encounter a life form superior in development to us either technically, morally or both.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 4 years, 9 months ago
    Just like the "general welfare" clause in our Constitution, the legal loophole in the Prime Directive is the word "healthy" describing sacrosanct alien cultural development. Who decides what is healthy? Actions by an alien culture that might seem self-destructive to humans might be akin to the agricultural process of burning a field to return nitrogen to the soil, or they might truly be headed toward extinction if not stopped.

    I always thought the Vulcan approach made more sense: observe, but do not contact until the alien society is preparing to venture into the broader interstellar culture.
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    • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
      The Prime Directive is largely based upon the Vulcan experience. When a society is preparing to venture into 21st century civilization, I will recognize it and trade with them, but not until then. Trading with a culture that has more in common with the 8th century than the 21st is not profitable for me.
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      • Posted by ewv 4 years, 9 months ago
        The PD doesn't tell you that you have a choice to not embark on unprofitable actions, it is a duty above the value of your life to never "contaminate" the evolution of a culture. In accordance with that, America could not have been settled and no natural resources exploited in foreign lands, with or without the "missionaries".
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  • Posted by CTYankee 4 years, 9 months ago
    Ahhh -- comparing apples 'n oranges.

    But even those two foodstuffs are too similar for this analogy. I should have asked: "Do you walk to school or bring your lunch? Are you going to New York or by bus? I like peanut butter, can you swim?
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  • Posted by  $  Susanne 4 years, 9 months ago
    I always laugh over the "Starfleet prime directive". It is built on a direct and irrefutable contradiction upon itself...

    By definition, the "Vulcans" (who were allegedly what the Starfleet Universe bases so much of their thought, rationality, and basis, including this "prime directive" behind) broke every one of the tenets of said "Prime Directive" when they initiated contact with the inhabitants of this little galactic backwater. Why?

    I also wonder - as the "Johnny come lately" into this galactic socialistic experiment - how the people on Earth became the lead players, the "Federation" is based on Earth, and most of the people you see (especially the ranking officers) are either Terran or Terran-Analogues.

    What happened to all the others? Why is the Federation based in San Francisco rather than ShiKahr or Vulcana Regar?

    Anyway... the prime directive, if followed, would have meant the entire Space-Time continuum that the Federation exists in would never have existed, and Earth would have went on its merry way. Without influence by the Vulcans et al...

    Then again, what would I expect from a socialist's fantasy-universe other than their assertion that A≠A...
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  • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
    I don't care who it is that wants to take me on about this, whether it is the Hallings, AR from the grave, or anyone else. The Prime Directive is a very correct set of principles.

    If a society is exposed to technological advancement that is not ready for it, it has not gone particularly well. America's original principle of non-interventionism served it well for a very long time. Since WW2, America has intervened where it doesn't belong, and like the Roman Empire has spread its treasure out so thinly that it will collapse very soon.
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    • Posted by j_IR1776wg 4 years, 9 months ago
      "If a society is exposed to technological advancement that is not ready for it, it has not gone particularly well." How does one go about determining whether an entire society is "ready for it"? In 1894, India was largely a religious driven, superstition-ridden society that produced Satyendra Nath Bose https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyendra_... Was India ready for Relativity? Should Einstein have invited Bose to Europe? Should Einstein have considered what effect this might have on Indian society?
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      • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
        The determination of whether an entire society is ready for it is typically made in exactly the way that the Einstein-Bose collaboration happened. A producer in a developed society notices a producer in a less developed society and invites the second producer into the club.
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        • Posted by j_IR1776wg 4 years, 9 months ago
          J How do you define "society" ?
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          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
            A society is defined by a common border, language, and culture. Because of what has happened in recent years, America really doesn't have a society per se anymore. A society may be as small as those belonging to Galt's Gulch. The language is English, the borders are defined by http://www.galtsgulchonline.com and the rules of etiquette that Scott deSapio and others have defined. The culture is those who enjoy discussing AR values and promote the associated AS movies.
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    • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 9 months ago
      I think the underlying principle is akin to giving a child a loaded gun. They may use it wisely, but the odds are against it.

      If we have any compassion at all, we do not attempt to teach calculus to students who have not shown at least competency in the underlying principles of algebra, trigonometry, and geometry. If the student is not prepared for the concept, we hold off until they are ready. That was why First Contact could only take place after a civilization in the Star Trek universe had developed warp drive - that was judged (arbitrarily or historically) to be the point at which a society could be considered ready.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
      So your idea is that technology should be hidden. Knowledge should be hidden? So the knowledge and technology of DDT should not have been shared. The knowledge of steam engines, antibiotics, pesticides, fixing nitrogen, etc. should not be shared with Africa, India, China?
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      • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
        That knowledge should be only shared with societies that share the same intellectual property values that we have. Otherwise, such technology gets stolen by the less advanced societies.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
          That is up to the person who owns the intellectual Property not Star Fleet or the government.
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          • Posted by  $  blarman 4 years, 9 months ago
            Uh, in the Star Trek universe, the technology used by Star Fleet is owned by Star Fleet. Similar to military contractors today (and probably just as corrupt), they fund research with the goal of advancing their ships' capabilities, but they own the technology (or at least have exclusive rights to it). I can think of at least two episodes off the top of my head where the Enterprise is engaged in checking on Federation research posts for one reason or another. One is where Riker gets accused of murder when the original scientist is actually researching weapons, another is a segue so Data can evaluate the intelligence (and its philosophical ramifications) of the Exocomps.

            If the Federation itself weren't the owners of the technology, then I would say you might have a point, but in the theoretical universe of Star Trek, that just isn't the case. I might also point out, however, that only the Federation takes this stance. The Romulans and especially the Ferengi had zero compunctions about selling advanced (even illegal) technology to the highest bidders.
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            • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
              The question is whether the PD makes any sense. Societies do not have rights - it doesn't matter whether that from Star Fleet or a government or whoever. There is no such thing as "normal culture evolution". The whole thing is nonsense.
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          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
            Agreed, but as blarman correctly pointed out, StarFleet is an organization based on a military order and is not a commercial operation. After first contacts are made, then there is an opportunity for commercial ventures of mutual interest.
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      • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
        Isn't the whole point of AS that one should only exchange value for value with people who share the same principles, most notably those regarding intellectual property, life, etc.? In many respects, India is making great strides in sharing our values. Even China is making some progress toward sharing our values. As for Africa, it depends a lot on the individual country. I might sell my product to most African countries, but I don't think I would sell my technology to companies in most countries.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
          But the prime directive denies changing value for value.
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          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
            Once again, the Prime Directive really is about first contacts with different cultures. The exchange of value for value comes after one recognizes that the new culture accepts the values of the more advanced culture. This is precisely why in commercial ventures one requests potential business partners to sign nondisclosure agreements. If the receiving entity does not honor the value of the inventor's creation by signing the nondisclosure agreement, the inventor does not share the value of his/her creation with the potential recipient.
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            • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
              But your whole reason for bringing this up in the first place was to suggest its guidance in dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan. Hardly a first contact situation. As well, both countries have lost civilization under despots and theocrises. They aren 't primitive cultures, they live in primitive conditions.
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              • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                Afghanistan is unquestionably a primitive culture. Iraq has some characteristics of an advanced culture and many that are not. When a country returns to rule by despots and theocracies, it becomes once again a primitive culture unworthy of doing commerce with.
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                • Posted by freedomforall 4 years, 9 months ago
                  Does their worthiness matter when we have economic need for their resources?
                  Either do commerce to get the oil or conquer them for the oil? Would our economic need for the oil override the prime directive or property rights?
                  (Remember Kirk's promise to the Halkans in Mirror Mirror. )
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                  • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                    Their worthiness most definitely matters. An unworthy society is likely to nationalize those resources (or your company). The Halkans are a very interesting case. Their not selling to the United Federation of Planets is an example of the Halkans viewing themselves as a superior culture who do not want to provide knowledge of technologies or science (Prohibition #1) to a culture that may choose to weaponize that technology. You actually proved my point.
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                    • Posted by freedomforall 4 years, 9 months ago
                      It's actions of the higher tech peoples that concern me first. In the case of 21st century earth the elites have little concern about the worthiness or rights of the owners of the natural (or human) resources that they want to loot. I have no doubt that it matters to you, jb. In Atlantis it should matter.
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                      • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                        Certainly you bring up a valid concern, freedomforall. Elites have exploited the natural or human resources for many lifetimes. If they literally own the land, I have no problem with that as long as it does not infringe on neighbors. I tend to be a lab equipment collector (Some would say hoarder.). Consequently I have a bad tendency to take an eminent domain approach toward space usage.

                        Regarding a physical Atlantis, it will be an interesting discussion to define natural resource mining. For example, if Ellis Wyatt drills and finds oil that is part of a basin that is partially under someone else's property, then how do we settle that?
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                        • Posted by freedomforall 4 years, 9 months ago
                          How much will current technology tell about the minerals under the surface? I think there will be ample information to allow royalty contracts that reward owners and explorers (and, I suspect, lawyers.)
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                          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
                            Current technology can tell us about minearls below the surface, but that presumes that we can actually get that technology to Atlantis. That is a costly endeavor, even if technically feasible.
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          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
            Only until the other society is determined to be stable enough for productive relationships. Blarman's explanation regarding handing a young child a loaded gun is a perfect example. The child has to prove himself/herself trustworthy first.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 4 years, 9 months ago
          China has a long way to go on the property rights aspect. They produce wonderfully, just have a problem with stealing the IP of those who created what they then make.
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          • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
            Yes, they do have a long way to go on the property rights aspect, and that is more evidence of the merits of the first prohibition of the Prime Directive. Several, most notably db, are telling me that the Prime Directive is a lot of negative things that it really isn't. The Prime Directive is wisdom when dealing with foreign cultures until such cultures prove themselves worthy (respect for property rights, human rights, stability from leader to leader, etc.).
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  • Posted by  $  Solver 4 years, 9 months ago
    I'll never forget the time Kirk prevented McCoy from saving the woman he loved so that their past and future would continue to exist.

    Broke a few rules in that episode.
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    • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 4 years, 9 months ago
      "The City on the Edge of Forever" originally by Harlan Ellison easily can be nominated as the best Star Trek story. However, you have some facts wrong. See the Memory Alpha Star Trek wikipedia here:
      http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_City...)
      (1) McCoy was not "in love" with Christine Keeler: he just "liked" her. (2) Kirk really did love her. The loss was more hurtful to Kirk but (3) demanded by his duty to act. (4) Kirk was not changing a backward culture but re-establishing the time of our own universe, returning it to the state before the interference by Dr. McCoy.
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      • Posted by  $  Solver 4 years, 9 months ago
        Great episode!
        The "he" I used above is Kirk (the subject of the sentence) not McCoy.
        If Kirk had not acted, everyone and everything he ever knew, outside the city, before finding the time portal, would be gone forever. It could be argued he made the rational choice and not the emotional one.
        It does beg the question, What would John Galt have done?
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        • Posted by Hiraghm 4 years, 9 months ago
          He'd have gone around gathering up all the "men of the mind" and taken them to a valley in Colorado to wait until the Nazi regime collapsed under its own weight.
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  • Posted by jsw225 4 years, 9 months ago
    How does that saying go? "There's no such thing as an un-influential observer?" Probably got that wrong, but you get the idea.

    Basically there's no way at all to "Observe" and not-influence the subjects. Science has proven this on many facets, even in Quantum Mechanics. In some experiments, merely watching the experiment changes the outcome!

    So anyone promoting the Prime Directive is a pie in the sky fool. You can either choose to interact with a civilization, or you can choose not to observe them at all. This ultimately devolves into a business transaction. Do they have something we need and are we willing to trade something we have for it?

    The moment you've decided to enter their solar system, you've already changed things. You can't pretend that you haven't. And the moment you've shown them technology, even from the outside, you've changed their scientific and engineering progression. If aliens showed up on Earth today, and told us they got here through a Worm Hole, suddenly all of development would revolve around conquering this technology. And even if they didn't directly tell us, we would figure it out soon enough.
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  • Posted by CTYankee 4 years, 9 months ago
    As much as I like Trek and its universe, we must recall that it is an idealized projection of a Utopian fantasy. We are reminded and expected to ignore the Socialist undertones, and are provided the alternate target for the evils of Communism in the Romulans and their Mao Suit uniforms. Yet in at least two episodes (Devil in the Dark, Mudd's Women) we are introduced to miners who are very strongly wealth motivated in a Federation that has ostensibly evolved past the need for 'currency'.
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    • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
      In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Ferengi species is painted in an unbecoming way for being wealth motivated. I wouldn't call Star Trek socialist, but it's not Objectivist either.
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  • Posted by radical 4 years, 9 months ago
    I don't have a TV set. Although there are a few good programs (History Channel, Discovery Channel, sports), there is too much drivel (which includes liberal opinions and innuendos). At the moment I am mounting a large "Who is John Galt" sign on a handle to wave at all the motorists on busy intersections.
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  • Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
    "Start Trek’s Prime Directive is an inherently Socialist Ideal and Evil." Is an amazing leap of the most twisted and convoluted logic I think I have ever read.

    First of all, it is unfortunate that the writer quoted did not have a better vocabulary. The word he wanted was SACROSANCT, not sacred, which you would understand if you knew how to derive meaning from context. The word Sacrosanct (which is among the meanings of the word Sacred - so the writer wasn't far off base) has nothing to do with gods or religions, and merely means: (Especially of a principle, place, or routine) regarded as too important or valuable to be interfered with: as in "the individual’s right to work has been upheld as sacrosanct" So all of your digression into anti-God /anti-religion is irrelevant.

    The Prime Directive is NOT based on faith, although clearly your personal biases are based on faith or anti-faith. In fact, the Prime Direct is a statement of an anti-god anti-interference doctrine. It refutes the Deus Ex Machina that people of "compassion" want to exercise when they think they know what is best for a culture other than their own.

    "Why would you not provide knowledge of technologies or science?" The PD was created with people EXACTLY like you in mind - people who don't see any harm in introducing information to a culture with absolutely no idea how that culture will be affected by such information. The answer to your question is, Because you haven't got the intelligence/insight/foresight/powers of deduction or induction necessary to determine when a culture can handle new information. Oddly enough, you would have to have the powers normally attributed to a god, in order to qualify for the job of New Information Dispersal Technician.

    "Does this mean we cannot teach our kids science and technology?" You do understand that the concept involved here is that of an Advanced culture encountering another culture which is not advanced? Is your child a different culture? Try to pay attention to the meaning and proper context of the Prime Directive.

    "While we have no obligation to introduce these sciences and technologies, to purposely prohibit them would be immoral." First, you are imposing YOUR sense of morality. Second, nothing about the Prime Directive says anything about prohibition of technological advancement from within the culture. Try to stick to the point and stop creating smoke and mirror distractions to make your conclusion sound reasonable.

    Talking about society, in a rule that governs interaction with an ENTIRE culture, taken as a whole, is logical. It would be illogical to be talking about individuals. Just because the word "society" starts with the letters soc, doesn't make the topic under discussion a SOCialist ideal. And to say that a Socialist Ideal is Evil is YOU again imposing your morality. YOU are not logical.

    Have you ever heard of the Monroe Doctrine? It is Thomas Jefferson's version of the Prime Directive, enunciated by President Monroe as the best course for the United States to adopt as a Foreign Policy. There is nothing Socialist or Capitalist about it. It is not an Economic policy any more than the Prime Directive is. It is a policy of non-interference in the affairs of developing nations (cultures/societies). The best thing that the Presidents of the United States of America could have been doing for the past 200 years is to adopt and enforce the Monroe Doctrine on ourselves. But we haven't been doing that and you only have to look around you at the world to understand how well that has been working out for us and everybody we have been trying to influence.
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    • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
      The Monroe Doctrine was about protecting the US from old world conflicts arising in the new world. The policy of not colonizing in latin america was about imperialism, a practice inconsistent with our Constitution. Of course we ignored that in dealing with native americans.
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      • Posted by Hiraghm 4 years, 9 months ago
        A) please explain how imperialism is inconsistent with the Constitution, especially that part about the general welfare.

        B) WHICH native Americans? During the mythical terrible treatment we allegedly gave the various tribes, OTHER tribes were our allies, and not only thought nothing of atrocities, but gave us ideas for atrocities.

        I have to laugh rudely in the face of ANYONE who thinks Mankind would be better off if we left the North American continent to the aborigines.
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    • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
      Foreign policies are about countries not societies. This whole discussion arose from debating how best to proceed with Iraq, whose people live under barbaric conditions and their extremist religion has lost them civilization over the last 50 years. The references to faith are not about God but about belief in set of rules written by TV writers and applying them to real life as rational foreign policy and in dealing with the very real consequences of not winning a war with two countries.
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      • Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
        Except that the Monroe doctrine predates a set of rules written by TV writers by about 150 years. For me, it is about applying a 200 year old foreign policy statement to how best to proceed with Iraq (though I admit that I had no idea that this post - What Ayn Rand would think about the Prime Directive - had anything to do with Iraq. Personally I think the best solution to the problems in those countries is to remove every technological advancement that can be used in warfare, put a huge pile of clubs and spears and perhaps swords in the middle of every village and leave them alone to kill each other until they are tired of choking on their own and each others' blood or they wipe themselves out completely, which ever comes first. Going in ad killing 80 men in a village and carrying off the women is a warfare idea that is thousands of years old and has no place in the 21st century. If they don't want to be part of the 21st century, they shouldn't be permitted to utilize its technology. As a society and culture, they clearly are not ready for the technological advances that have been given to them. By the way countries ARE societies. So foreign policies are also about societies.
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        • Posted by khalling 4 years, 9 months ago
          I agree to the barbarianism you discuss. But I disagree that the entire population supports it. If you look back 50 years, you see that these areas were moving forward technologically. despots and fiefdoms can do lots of damage. we've already fought a war there. If we decided to win the war, we could have. We could have put a Constitution in place we rationally agreed with. We did it following WWII in Germany and Japan. In less than a decade, those countries changed significantly.
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          • Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
            Japan gave us the right to impose our idea of government on them when they attacked Pearl Harbor. We never had the right to overthrow Saddam Hussein and I doubt that we could have succeeded in doing the same thing in Iraq. It didn't work in Iran. Given enough time, their religion will reject modern government and anything that smacks of equal rights.
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            • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
              This is known as moral relativism "Japan gave us the right to impose our idea of government on them when they attacked Pearl Harbor."

              Morality is objective as is government. That is the whole point of Rand.
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              • Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
                I doubt that your idea of what is or is not moral relativism (and you seem quite willing to declare what is or is not moral, even though such declarations are purely subjective) has anything to do with Ayn Rand's point in writing Atlas Shrugged. I invite you to read the introduction to the Centennial edition of Atlas Shrugged so you can see just how little you understand what Rand's point was. http://smile.amazon.com/Atlas-Shrugged-C...
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                • Posted by ewv 4 years, 9 months ago
                  Ayn Rand was quite willing to say what is and isn't moral, too. She said that she wrote Atlas Shrugged to show what her idea of the ideal man meant, and properly defended the principle that morality is objective.

                  Anyone had a right to overthrow the dictatorships of Japan and Iraq, and did not have to wait for a Pearl Harbor or its equivalent from either. That right does not make it proper for a _government_ to undertake such charity without a justification in national defense, which was the criterion in both cases. The expensive "nation-building" afterwords had no such justification.
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                  • -2
                    Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
                    "Anyone had a right to overthrow the dictatorships of Japan and Iraq, and did not have to wait for a Pearl Harbor or its equivalent from either." Now you are talking about the natural right of Survival of the fittest, that I mentioned earlier. Where MIGHT MAKES RIGHT.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
      Not only were you wrong about the Monroe Doctrine. But you tortured attempt to save the word "sacred" from its obvious meaning fails. The first sentence of the PD talks about RIghts of societies. There is no such thing. Anyone who talks that way is a Socialist. Second it talks about the normal culture evolution. There is no such thing. However, the normal course of things when two vastly different societies met was for the less advanced one to become extinct. Since the whole first sentence is nonsense then the only way it can be scared is through faith. Thus the most appropriate definition of scared is one that includes god.

      The Prime Directive is Socialist nonsense, posing a science..
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      • Posted by Oakhollow8 4 years, 9 months ago
        I have tried to use the argument that the superior in technological society always subsumes the society with lesser technology, think the English colonies v Indians, the English had better technology as a society than the Indians thus the Indians were either absorbed, defeated militarily or displaced to other areas. Whether or not this is ethical is up for debate but the more advanced technologically usually wins out. I agree that the Prime Directive is Nonsense.
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      • Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
        "President James Monroe’s 1823 annual message to Congress contained the Monroe Doctrine, which warned European powers not to interfere in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere.

        Understandably, the United States has always taken a particular interest in its closest neighbors – the nations of the Western Hemisphere. Equally understandably, expressions of this concern have not always been favorably regarded by other American nations.

        The Monroe Doctrine is the best known U.S. policy toward the Western Hemisphere. Buried in a routine annual message delivered to Congress by President James Monroe in December 1823, the doctrine warns European nations that the United States would not tolerate further colonization or puppet monarchs. The doctrine was conceived to meet major concerns of the moment, but it soon became a watchword of U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere."
        http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flas... The reader can determine who is right or wrong about the Monroe Doctrine, the meaning of the word sacred/sacrosanct and whether the PD talks about the rights of societies or the rights of species. You may want to reread your own post.
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      • Posted by  $  trogwolf 4 years, 9 months ago
        The reason that the word sacrosanct is among the definitions of the word sacred is that people use the word sacred in contexts that DO NOT have a god aspect. If you have never heard somebody say, "Is nothing sacred?" when somebody rummages through their purse or lingerie drawer, then you are perhaps too young or just too inexperienced in life to have had a girlfriend or wife. The use of the word sacred only implies the involvement of god when the context is clear and obvious. This context is clear and obvious that the meaning of the word sacred used is sacrosanct.
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years, 9 months ago
      "In fact, the Prime Direct is a statement of an anti-god anti-interference doctrine."
      It seems to me, though, the characters often talk about the Prime Directive as preserving the cosmic plan for people, which is like saying respecting God's will. But we don't know God's will (if there even is a god). So the PD is telling them not to do what their reason tells them but instead to follow god's plan.

      The PD is interpreted differently depending on who wrote the script, so I'm not always anti-PD and pro-PD.
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  • Posted by j_IR1776wg 4 years, 9 months ago
    Agreed! point for you db. What if the alien's Prime Directive and normal cultural evolution demanded that they chop up and stir fry all incoming aliens. How would Jon Luc handle that one?
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    • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
      This is one of the greatest arguments why an advanced society should not interact with one that is not nearly so advanced.
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      • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 9 months ago
        So a real world example. An isolated Indonesian primitive tribe when discovered in the 20th century, was found to be cannibalistic and were found, as a result, endemic with the human equivalent of 'Mad Cow Disease'. The modern day Indonesian government stepped in and halted the practice, the PM would have left them suffering from the condition.
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        • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
          A society that is cannibalistic is receiving the just desserts of its improper values if it gets the human equivalent of Mad Cow disease, and is unworthy of advancement to a higher social status.
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          • Posted by Robbie53024 4 years, 9 months ago
            Based on your moral code. Theirs appears to be different. Medically, we know that this practice is problematic if the consumed items are not brought up to 160 Deg F for 30 secs or more to kill the bacteria. Otherwise, the practice is more a matter of community propriety.

            Heinlein's Stranger provides interesting commentary on the practice of cannibalism, including the ritualistic form practiced by the Christian religions (and what is your view of transubstantiation?).

            Is that enough of a tangential off-shoot from the original subject of the thread? I can do better, but I'm tired.
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            • Posted by Hiraghm 4 years, 9 months ago
              I don't know of any priest of any Christian sect who was able to turn crackers into human flesh and grape juice or wine into blood. Doesn't mean Christ couldn't /didn't do it.

              Here's a good word for you and others: meta-phor. Metaphor.

              Stranger in a Strange Land *must* have been done at a time when Heinlein was indulging in LSD fueled orgies.

              The cannibalism of the Martians, unlike the cannibalism of savages in the real world, was adopted as a matter of survival. The ritualization made it palatable, if you'll pardon the grotesque pun.
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      • Posted by 4 years, 9 months ago
        I don't see that J. It seems to me it is argument for moral relativism.
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        • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
          The Prime Directive is not just about protecting a developing culture from being corrupted by a more advanced culture. If a less developed culture's attitude is to "chop up and stir fry all incoming aliens", then the Prime Directive is meant to protect the advanced culture from self-destruction. There are a couple of episodes in Star Trek: The Next Generation that deal specifically with how to do proper reconnaisance on a less developed culture to see whether it is ready for profitable cooperation with a more advanced culture.
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  • Posted by zagros 4 years, 9 months ago
    The problem with the Prime Directive is not the non-interference part. I have no obligation to help my fellow man. I give value for value and if what I introduce into a culture is truly remarkably superior to what they could otherwise develop on their own, well, I doubt they could give me enough value in return for the value I would be granting to them. The problem with the Prime Directive is the following:

    "A starship captain's most solemn oath is that he will give his life, even his entire crew, rather than violate the Prime Directive." -- Captain James T. Kirk, 2268

    Contrast that to the REAL Prime Directive as embodied in the John Galt Speech: "I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

    Seems to me that the Federation wants all of its officers to live for its sake, not for their own sake....
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  • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
    Perhaps this group will like Star Trek's Ferengi Rules of Acquisition better than the Prime Directive.

    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Rules_of...
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 4 years, 9 months ago
      There was one episode (maybe two) in which Nog worked out a plan to trade things for favors. He helped someone in exchange for something, gave that item to someone else in a trade, and so on, and everyone was better off. They could have accomplished the same thing with money, which the show frowns on. It's odd they treat it like a weird novelty that someone might help someone in exchange for something and leave both parties better off. I'm not sure if the written was subtly poking fun at the shows anti-money stance or if even the writer didn't realize he/she was describing a free-market economy.
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      • Posted by  $  jbrenner 4 years, 9 months ago
        I enjoyed the Ferengi, particularly Nog, the only scientist/engineer amidst a people of merchants. I also liked the merchants like Quark, played by the same Armin Shimerman that portrayed Floyd Ferris quite well in AS1.
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