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The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?
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Old 12 Jun 2007, 00:55   #1 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?

Hi all. I've been looking at the Tau background a lot recently, and I've been thinking....are the Tau Empire a futuristic utopia a la the Federation from Star Trek, or are they really a dystopian, repressive society? On the one hand, they promote peace and unity among different races, and are (supposedly) very tolerant of cultures and beliefs different from their own (hence the reason why Gue'vesa are allowed to still worship the Emperor).

On the other hand, however....I remember from the novel Kill Team that the Tau are quite aggressive in the expansion of their Empire: if a race will not join them at first, then the Tau will simply invade their planet and subjugate them, and convince them to join the Greater Good. Similarly, their art is very dull and pattern-oriented, which suggests that, as a society, they suppress any emphasis on individuality. And finally....(SPOILER) at the end of the Tau campaign in Dark Crusade, the Tau pretty much neuter all of the remaining humans on Kronus.

What are your thoughts? Is the Tau Empire everything it claims to be, or is it just another dystopia?
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Old 12 Jun 2007, 01:06   #2 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?

Neither really as it depends on an individuals perspective, for some the Tau Empire would be a Utopia, for others it's a Dystopia, it really all depends.

For instance the Tau art may seem plain to us but in the book Firewarrior the Tau consider it to be very relaxing and peaceful. The Tau are very expansionist however they do not appear to treat those they subjugate badly, Kronus is an oddity however remember it is from an Imperial perspective, which means that the Tau may have done very little or nothing at all and the Imperials are just pointing fingers.

Personally I'd chose the Tau Empire of the Imperium any day, even if the Tau are a little oppressive in their expansion their actions are absolutely nothing in comparison to the Imperium, I mean just look what happened to the citizens of Armageddon, they all got thrown into labor camps just for the horrors they witnessed.
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Old 12 Jun 2007, 01:12   #3 (permalink)
Shas'O
 
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Default Re: The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?

Quote:
are the Tau Empire a futuristic utopia a la the Federation from Star Trek
But the Federation is a dystopia with no currency, free media, private transportation, owned property, or freedom of religion :huh:...

[hr]

The Tau Empire has elements of both social archetype. There's fluff of them subjugating civilizations, but also of them leaving planets alone that wished to remain neutral.

I think the closest representation of the Tau Empire in Earth history is Petra, a city that formed a gateway to the East. The Romans, wanting to open the trade route, gave them a choice: Accept our benevolent presence, and you will benefit from our protection and profit from our trade. Resist us, and face annihilation.

It's somewhat in the eye of the beholder, I think...
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Old 12 Jun 2007, 01:30   #4 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?

Yes I agree that it is a paradox to ourselves. The Tau can be of both sides of the coin. They are alien, and do not fit in with any other government. And by the way, we can only see so much of the Tau art: their eyes function differently and can see into the ultraviolet and infrared spectrums....

Back on topic, I would like to live in the Tau society (minus the neutering), as then you'll be surrounded with hardworking, upright people, and not surrounded by people who prove the theories of Hobbes every day.
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Old 12 Jun 2007, 02:52   #5 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?

I don't really think that the Empire fits into either of the two categories...I think its just a good empire to live in, with advantages and drawbacks.
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Old 12 Jun 2007, 07:24   #6 (permalink)
Shas'Saal
 
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Default Re: The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?

Don't forget that this is 40k. There are no clear good guys....though there are some clear bad guys. So it's mostly grey 'n black, with maybe a tiny spot of white. And the Tau are one of the lightest grey races I think.
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Old 12 Jun 2007, 08:46   #7 (permalink)
Shas'El
 
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Default Re: The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?

Quote:
For instance the Tau art may seem plain to us but in the book Firewarrior the Tau consider it to be very relaxing and peaceful. The Tau are very expansionist however they do not appear to treat those they subjugate badly, Kronus is an oddity however remember it is from an Imperial perspective, which means that the Tau may have done very little or nothing at all and the Imperials are just pointing fingers.
Well, I DO believe that the Tau had some doing on Kronus. It`s just that we often have a.... strange... perception of the Greater Good. The Greater Good is NOT what`s the best for an individual, or a group, or even what the "moral" thing would be.

The Greater Good is what is the best for the continued existence of the Empire. The humans on Kronus had their chance - they were allowed into the Empire, but they betrayed the Tau. Now, the Tau are not stupid. If this happened once, this could happen again - so it is probably best to take.... precautions.

But never, never ever forget what the Imperium would have done in the Tau`s place. They would have penned up the civilians and slaughtered them. The Tau just made sure that they couldn`t make MORE troublesome humans who would fill the planet. They probably put something in their food, or stuff - otherwise they most probably led quite normal lives (apart from the re-education camps, I guess ^^), with excellent health care and useful things to do.

So, it is undoubtedly an immoral act. But it was necessary, and sure as hell was it the lesser of two evils (the other one being genocide, which the tau aren`t fond of).

So, I guess the Tau Empire CAN be quite a pleasant place to life - if you play according to THEIR rules. but of course, it depends on what you expect from life. If being a (more or less) unquestioning follower, the Tau Empire might be something for you...
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Old 12 Jun 2007, 09:46   #8 (permalink)
Shas'La
 
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Default Re: The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?

In both utopia and dystopia the subjects have no free will. (Read Thomas More and then 1984, you'll see what I mean.)

However, the Tau willingly give up their free will for their greater good, essentially making it a utopia.
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Old 12 Jun 2007, 10:49   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?

I generally agree neither Utopia nor Dystopia (or perhaps a superposition of them both?)

However, regarding neutering on Kronus

The humans of Kronus were failing badly. Their world was invaded. They were unable to protect themselves and were ultimately fuelling, in part, both the Ruinous Powers and the Necrons! Their government and general way of life is clearly bad for them from the perspective of a considering Tau Empire.

How does one solve this problem? You stop them reproducing. You don't euthenise them, you don't concentrate them, you don't obliterate them. You simply control the future of the society. Controlling the numbers of the population is critical here. Humans have a bit of a dispensation to having an extreme excess of population, a very inefficient excess, looking at Hive Worlds. Under the Tau Empire, such massive populations are just not necessary. To avoid the problems that come with a baby-boom after the war, the best course of action is to nip it in the bud, literally.

It's not like they're oppressing people, simply the procreation. But that's evil, is it? Well, not really. It's not as if they're exterminating the human populace, it doesn't matter if humanity lives there in one hundred years, what matters is that a viable society persists. If that is one in which only 20% of the population is human...what bloomin' difference does it make? They lost the damn planet!

Aspects of the Tau Empire

You can't just say "I disagree" with the Empire. I'd wager there's a Tau saying:

The Mont'au is like arses, everybody has one

You're quite allowed to disagree, but there is a place for it. You should realise that whilst you might think you know best and that the Ethereals are evil, the appropriate way to express this is not from a soapbox on the street corner, but in an open debating forum, or indeed in discussion with people of the opposing view. Obviously, you shouldn't be attacking the society. Disagree with it: sure. Segregate yourself: sure. But don't turn this around on society, man!

So whilst you may well be sectioned for re-education, it isn't as big a problem as it'd be in the Imperium. The difference, as I see it, between the Tau'va and a Dystopia is that in a Dystopia you can be disparing against inherently and morally wrong things. They work, but they're viewed as rather wrong generally. The Tau Emipre, in my eyes, doesn't limit free speech, it limits who you can speak to. It isn't exactly the full utopia of the Federation, it's much more sinister than that, as the society is very rigidly controlled. But life isn't bad, and even dissenting opinions are probably accomodated satisfactorially. The only folks that have a bad time are the irrational dissenters...
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Old 12 Jun 2007, 11:05   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: The Tau Empire: Utopia or Dystopia?

Tau is not exactly an utopia but it is most definetely not a dystopia like the Imperium.

The reason being is because the Tau although a paceful race among themselves, are not really allowed to stand out among the rest. Thus they are more of a collective society than an individualistic society.

The Tau do not oppress their own people or the subjects that they rule, although the integration processs of the aliens races by the tau is rather crude.

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