The ‘Prime Directive’ Delusion

 

Among the many fascinating tropes in the Star Trek fictional world is the Prime Directive in which Star Fleet personnel are barred from interfering with the development and evolution of alien cultures.

It is almost a perfect caricature of the self-image of the secular humanist liberal as a near-omnipotent, transcendent being high above the planet’s surface down where the innocent primitive types live untainted by the sins of modern culture and tech, protected against religious missionaries, crass commercial marketers and Western ideas.

In stark contrast, the United States of America was founded to be a beacon to other peoples and cultures and to show that democracy was possible and rightful. We are (or used to be, anyway) a living repudiation of the Prime Directive.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.  -Declaration of Independence.

That paragraph applies even if the despot is the legal heir to a throne, anointed by a church, or claims the role of Caliph.

It was once widely held by Americans that limited elected government established to protect human rights was inherently desirable to all peoples.  Our bitter Fascist enemies in WWII (Germany and Japan) soon became highly successful free-market democracies as did every liberated nation.  The half of Korea we saved is vastly more free and prosperous than the part we did not.  Even after our defeat in Vietnam, those people quickly shucked central planning to move towards a free market economy.  The USSR fell and its satellites became democracies even if Russia itself has not.

Both presidents Bush assumed that liberal democracy was sought by Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan as had consistently been the case in the rest of the world.  They appear to have been wrong about that.   Islam may have a built-in immune system rejection of the philosophical and cultural premises of Western progress and freedoms.

Meanwhile, on the domestic front, Western intellectuals have been busy squeezing themselves into the tiny-brained binaries like oppressor/oppressed and “colonizer.” And many in the West now believe that the export of liberal democracy is an inherent injury to native cultures.  Even without a President Gore to effect a union with the United Federation of Planets, the Prime Directive is an integral part of the campus-induced mindset.

If Islam were a separate low-technology planet (with no large deposits of petroleum dilithium that might attract the interest of Klingons of Romulans and thus create a geopolitical issue) such that the West could take it or leave it as we floated safely above in our Galaxy class (or even Intrepid class!) starships, then the Prime Directive could be easily applied.  But the reality is that we all live on the same planet surface where there are no First Contacts yet to be made and cultural cross-influences are common.

The inapt use of the tiny-brained “colonizer” epithet hurled at Israel is the equivalent of the notion that Westernized beings should never have left the ship to disrupt the local primitives from whatever development path they were embarked upon.  The ultimate danger in this form of kneejerk support of violence against Jews is the narcissistic delusion of transcendent immunity, that once safely aboard the pose of moral and intellectual superiority whatever is done to those Western interlopers in Israel will not be repeated elsewhere, even in American cities.

The Islamic world is not noted for introspection or soul-searching after terrorist acts are done in its name nor for deference to moral guidance from Western intellectuals.  To the extent its developmental path (as would be recognized in the Prime Directive) entails continued attack on our values and very existence, the Prime Directive no longer applies.

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  1. David C. Broussard Coolidge
    David C. Broussard
    @Dbroussa

    kedavis (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Except you’ve got islam saying the opposite.

    That is partially because for Islam it is 1445 AH. Think about what was going on in the 1440s in the Common Calendar, there were still crusades going on (Vlad Dracul wipes out the Ottomans as one example). For the next couple fo hundred years, the Church would send out missionaries to convert the natives to the one Church because the concept of plurality didn’t exist yet.

    Yeah, Muslims should “get it”, but their religion is a few hundred years behind Christianity in development.

    But even after a few hundred more years, their holy book will still say to conquer the world, subjugate or kill the unbelievers, etc.

    And the Church’s doesn’t?  The Chuch has gotten better about not being quite as “in your face” as it used to be, but Catholics still believe we are the only way to heaven.  Evangelicals see it as their duty to witness to others and bring them into Christianity because being born again is the only way to salvation.  IT isn’t violent…now, but the 30-year war was pretty darn violent and fought over who got to decide what religion people were in various countries.  The Treaty of Westphalia, for me, is perhaps the best alternate date for the Common Era to be identified as opposed to the birth of Christ.

    • #31
  2. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Except you’ve got islam saying the opposite.

    That is partially because for Islam it is 1445 AH. Think about what was going on in the 1440s in the Common Calendar, there were still crusades going on (Vlad Dracul wipes out the Ottomans as one example). For the next couple fo hundred years, the Church would send out missionaries to convert the natives to the one Church because the concept of plurality didn’t exist yet.

    Yeah, Muslims should “get it”, but their religion is a few hundred years behind Christianity in development.

    But even after a few hundred more years, their holy book will still say to conquer the world, subjugate or kill the unbelievers, etc.

    And the Church’s doesn’t? The Chuch has gotten better about not being quite as “in your face” as it used to be, but Catholics still believe we are the only way to heaven. Evangelicals see it as their duty to witness to others and bring them into Christianity because being born again is the only way to salvation. IT isn’t violent…now, but the 30-year war was pretty darn violent and fought over who got to decide what religion people were in various countries. The Treaty of Westphalia, for me, is perhaps the best alternate date for the Common Era to be identified as opposed to the birth of Christ.

    It might be rather different to have a particular church believe its holy mission is to convert the world, versus a religion where that “commandment” is right there in the book.

    It’s much easier to defeat the former, or just convince it that it’s wrong, than the latter.

    • #32
  3. BDB Member
    BDB
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    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Except you’ve got islam saying the opposite.

    That is partially because for Islam it is 1445 AH. Think about what was going on in the 1440s in the Common Calendar, there were still crusades going on (Vlad Dracul wipes out the Ottomans as one example). For the next couple fo hundred years, the Church would send out missionaries to convert the natives to the one Church because the concept of plurality didn’t exist yet.

    Yeah, Muslims should “get it”, but their religion is a few hundred years behind Christianity in development.

    The humans aren’t.  They should be every bit as civilized as the West.  Unless they *are* actually different, of course.

    • #33
  4. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Except you’ve got islam saying the opposite.

    That is partially because for Islam it is 1445 AH. Think about what was going on in the 1440s in the Common Calendar, there were still crusades going on (Vlad Dracul wipes out the Ottomans as one example). For the next couple fo hundred years, the Church would send out missionaries to convert the natives to the one Church because the concept of plurality didn’t exist yet.

    Yeah, Muslims should “get it”, but their religion is a few hundred years behind Christianity in development.

    Yeah, not buying it.  They still live in a world where the concept of plurality does exist.

    You don’t need the same amount of time to invent the wheel once you’ve seen that it exists.

     

     

    • #34
  5. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Except you’ve got islam saying the opposite.

    That is partially because for Islam it is 1445 AH. Think about what was going on in the 1440s in the Common Calendar, there were still crusades going on (Vlad Dracul wipes out the Ottomans as one example). For the next couple fo hundred years, the Church would send out missionaries to convert the natives to the one Church because the concept of plurality didn’t exist yet.

    Yeah, Muslims should “get it”, but their religion is a few hundred years behind Christianity in development.

    Yeah, not buying it. They still live in a world where the concept of plurality doesexist.

    Sure, but, their holy book tells them plurality SHOULDN’T exist.  And that they’re the ones to make sure it doesn’t.

     

    • #35
  6. David C. Broussard Coolidge
    David C. Broussard
    @Dbroussa

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Except you’ve got islam saying the opposite.

    That is partially because for Islam it is 1445 AH. Think about what was going on in the 1440s in the Common Calendar, there were still crusades going on (Vlad Dracul wipes out the Ottomans as one example). For the next couple fo hundred years, the Church would send out missionaries to convert the natives to the one Church because the concept of plurality didn’t exist yet.

    Yeah, Muslims should “get it”, but their religion is a few hundred years behind Christianity in development.

    Yeah, not buying it. They still live in a world where the concept of plurality does exist.

    You don’t need the same amount of time to invent the wheel once you’ve seen that it exists.

     

     

    Not entirely true when it comes to religious beliefs.  The wheel is an engineering feat and it doesn’t matter whom you pray to, or what you believe, the physics are the same.  Religion and its beliefs are, by their very nature, ineffable and impossible to prove.  Just because some heathen thinks that plurality is a “good thing” doesn’t mean that God allows it.  

    • #36
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    David C. Broussard (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Except you’ve got islam saying the opposite.

    That is partially because for Islam it is 1445 AH. Think about what was going on in the 1440s in the Common Calendar, there were still crusades going on (Vlad Dracul wipes out the Ottomans as one example). For the next couple fo hundred years, the Church would send out missionaries to convert the natives to the one Church because the concept of plurality didn’t exist yet.

    Yeah, Muslims should “get it”, but their religion is a few hundred years behind Christianity in development.

    Yeah, not buying it. They still live in a world where the concept of plurality does exist.

    You don’t need the same amount of time to invent the wheel once you’ve seen that it exists.

     

     

    Not entirely true when it comes to religious beliefs. The wheel is an engineering feat and it doesn’t matter whom you pray to, or what you believe, the physics are the same. Religion and its beliefs are, by their very nature, ineffable and impossible to prove. Just because some heathen thinks that plurality is a “good thing” doesn’t mean that God allows it.

    That might be a clue though.  Islam supposedly teaches that everything anyone needs to know is in the koran.  So if there are no wheels in the koran, maybe they aren’t allowed to use wheels?  That’ll make them a lot less troublesome.

    Or if not wheels, then maybe chemistry or something.

    • #37
  8. The Reticulator Member
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    kedavis (View Comment):
    Islam supposedly teaches that everything anyone needs to know is in the koran

    Who does the supposing?

    • #38
  9. BDB Member
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    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Islam supposedly teaches that everything anyone needs to know is in the koran

    Who does the supposing?

    Sounds like you’re not familiar with it.  There’s a lot to know.

    • #39
  10. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Islam supposedly teaches that everything anyone needs to know is in the koran

    Who does the supposing?

    Sounds like you’re not familiar with it. There’s a lot to know.

    I’ve never read it for myself, nor have I read anything that purports to be an exhaustive historical analysis of how it has been used throughout history, in comparison and in contrast to other sacred writings. On the other hand, I have read polemics on the subject from various points of view, including from the Religion of Peace crowd as well as those who insist otherwise. I have no plans to read it, as I doubt that reading it would tell me what I’d like to know.  But maybe whoever did the above supposing has some information s/he could pass on.  

    • #40
  11. BDB Member
    BDB
    @BDB

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Islam supposedly teaches that everything anyone needs to know is in the koran

    Who does the supposing?

    Sounds like you’re not familiar with it. There’s a lot to know.

    I’ve never read it for myself, nor have I read anything that purports to be an exhaustive historical analysis of how it has been used throughout history, in comparison and in contrast to other sacred writings. On the other hand, I have read polemics on the subject from various points of view, including from the Religion of Peace crowd as well as those who insist otherwise. I have no plans to read it, as I doubt that reading it would tell me what I’d like to know. But maybe whoever did the above supposing has some information s/he could pass on.

    I’m speaking of Islam, not the Koran.  And since you sound familiar with writings *about* Islam from various sources, presumably you are aware of this line of thought.

    This is not an academic journal.  A hair-trigger for citations of the obvious is not meritorious.

    • #41
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Islam supposedly teaches that everything anyone needs to know is in the koran

    Who does the supposing?

    Sounds like you’re not familiar with it. There’s a lot to know.

    I’ve never read it for myself, nor have I read anything that purports to be an exhaustive historical analysis of how it has been used throughout history, in comparison and in contrast to other sacred writings. On the other hand, I have read polemics on the subject from various points of view, including from the Religion of Peace crowd as well as those who insist otherwise. I have no plans to read it, as I doubt that reading it would tell me what I’d like to know. But maybe whoever did the above supposing has some information s/he could pass on.

    I’m speaking of Islam, not the Koran. And since you sound familiar with writings *about* Islam from various sources, presumably you are aware of this line of thought.

    This is not an academic journal. A hair-trigger for citations of the obvious is not meritorious.

    But asking for citations for the non-obvious is meritorious.  Unless we are snowflakes who are triggered by such suggestions.  Somebody who says “supposedly” is expressing understandable uncertainty.  Maybe there is more information behind that.  

    • #42
  13. BDB Member
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    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):
    Islam supposedly teaches that everything anyone needs to know is in the koran

    Who does the supposing?

    Sounds like you’re not familiar with it. There’s a lot to know.

    I’ve never read it for myself, nor have I read anything that purports to be an exhaustive historical analysis of how it has been used throughout history, in comparison and in contrast to other sacred writings. On the other hand, I have read polemics on the subject from various points of view, including from the Religion of Peace crowd as well as those who insist otherwise. I have no plans to read it, as I doubt that reading it would tell me what I’d like to know. But maybe whoever did the above supposing has some information s/he could pass on.

    I’m speaking of Islam, not the Koran. And since you sound familiar with writings *about* Islam from various sources, presumably you are aware of this line of thought.

    This is not an academic journal. A hair-trigger for citations of the obvious is not meritorious.

    But asking for citations for the non-obvious is meritorious. Unless we are snowflakes who are triggered by such suggestions. Somebody who says “supposedly” is expressing understandable uncertainty. Maybe there is more information behind that.

    Well, I ain’t gonna wrestle you for it.  It seemed unremarkable to me.  So unremarkable that indeed, I did not remark.

    • #43
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