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Freedoms in the Tau Empire
Old 05 Jan 2008, 22:59   #1 (permalink)
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Default Freedoms in the Tau Empire

This started off as a discussion in the 'Abonding N'dras' thread, but it delved into the personal freedoms of the Tau Empire. Crucially (and I hope Calaband doesn't mind this summary), in that thread, it was on the topic of whether any given Tau would have the relative freedom to relocate within the Empire.

Now, these are the points I'd like to commence with, but do everyone add, contribute and detract as you see fit! ;D

Originally Posted by Calaban
Fleshing out this aspect of Tau Society a bit more may make O'Shovah's 'rebellion' make a lot more sense, if indeed there were totalitarian shackles around his neck his entire life, and once he tasted free will, of course he refused to return.
This was Calaban's closing comment, and I'd like you to keep this 'idea' or notion in mind when you read through this thread. At least for the first post anyway!

Originally Posted by Calaban
Does the Tau Empire dictate who will live where, for the Greater Good, <snip> or is there some degree of free will allowed to Tau citizenry? That alone could be its own discussion, with different opinions displaying a wide array of grey scales between a genuinely Good Tau Empire, or a Manipulative False Tau Empire, with a shiny Good image.
(Caveat: As you may recall, I've a fairly developed opinion in me noggin' on this one, and I fear it seeps out into the posts I type. Fortunately, given that between the Tau Empire, the CPF, the Demiurg and sometimes bits on the Dark Eldar and Salamanders, I don't often post about much other aspects of the 40k Universe, I'd like to think I've thought it over a couple of times. I'm probably wrong, but anyhow!)

This above quotation is the crux of this thread. It is the line of thought given by Calaban (with a snip in the middle) that basically got us thinking. But we don't need to answer it just yet.

Originally Posted by Calaban
Its a tough question to answer solidly. I myself started typing my stance that there is free will and people can choose where/how to live... but thats not entirely true, is it? Earth Caste Tau are born into that caste, and there is no escaping that.. he WILL be ONLY an Earth Caste productive member of society... but how much leeway does he have within that Caste? Is he born to a specific job? Is he alloted to populate a specific Sept world while still in the crib?
This is a very good point to consider. I'd like to qualify most of the post centering around this aspect. It can be generalised made specific to other castes and from there you can probably get a general 'rule of thumb' for how things work in the Tau Empire (at least in my mind).

Xisor lays out his vision

Well, personally I think the Tau, as a society, have very little freedom in where they live. They may have a great many options, but as outlined above, one cannot simply decide to emmigrate on a whim.

But why is this? Again, this is my own interpretation, but I think it is in line with the bulk of the fluff: The Tau Society is loosely totalitarian. It doesn't dictate the start-to-finish exact path of an individual's life. It curtails the possibility. A Shas will not only not have the option to become a high-class diplomat, scientist or starfighter pilot, but the bulk of the society will never present this as an attractive idea.

The Tau Empire is a very advanced civilisation. Their technology is advancing rapidly, their science is bounding from strength to strength and has presumably been doing so for the last couple of millenia. They're likely able to engineer their societies rather well. Brave New World, Farenheit 401 and Nineteen-Eighty-four present very bleak outlooks for our prospective dystopias. They're totalitarian, domineering and genuinely seem to be a large bit on the abominable side.

Picture those regimes with a couple of millenia of science and engineering at their back. Once they've gotten off the ground, they've done their research and they can genuinely control the societies as they need to.

That's not the Tau Empire I see, but it's avaluable thing to consider in this discussion.

The Tau Empire curtails possibility, but it leaves the individual a lot of choice. indeed, it perhaps doesn't preserve the illusion of freedom, it isn't necessary within the Tau Empire, as everyone is trained to serve the Greater Good. Their philosophy works and they're happy.

But consider how deeply this must be set into the dynamic of their society for it to truly work. We can assume that the Tau are 'like-human' in their natural foibles. They're capacity for error, if they were brought up in a manner similar to how we are brought up today (across the world), they may well replicate something within the spectrum of humanity.

But the point is that the Tau Empire guides their lives. From cradle to grave. No bio-family, just teachers and mentors and classmates fulfilling those roles. It isn't necessary to complicate your life with 'at-odds' bonding.

The Begining: Conception, gestation, breeding, upbringing

For one, the Tau have breeding control. People don't get married and have kids when they want/when the condom bursts. Love and relations work whatever way they work in the Tau Empire, but reproduction isn't an accident. If the Tau Empire is set for a prospective expansion two hundred Tau'cyr from now, then the society will be preparing for it. Infrastructure laid down. Just the right amount of schools. Factories working at the right rate. And the population will be growing steadily to provide overflow for new worlds.

Baby booms, as we know them today, will be perfectly controlled tools for the Empire. Education is an easy thing for the Tau, they don't need to worry about people getting new ideas and crazy hair-brained theories...they've been working with them for millenia. What would cause a problem would be if society wasn't quite prepared for something. But it has to be prepared. Control, control, control.

The Tau Empire must control the society. Individuals are free to make choices in their life. The Tau Empire might poll the individuals on where they wish to take their new assignment, but the Empire'll be perfectly aware of the statistical outcomes of the Empire. They'll have controlled the entire course of these kids' upbringing, their psychology is known. The choices they make aren't terribly important so long as the numbers add up.

In this respect the Tau Empire would be utopian, you are free to make choices, and by and large the Tau Empire will have engineered itself to accomdoate the choices you want!

In relation to Calaban's "Stinky N'dras" Hypothesis

The Tau Empire would only be caught out if it were something totally unpredictable...like a Nurgle Plague. Well, not totally, but I'd like to keep the Tau Empire as close to toeing the Utopian/Dystopian line as possible. They're very sinister, very controlling. But they're also very accomodating, they aren't just swindling you, the Empire is geared towards your happiness.

They won't cruelly say "You'll stay and do your duty!", they'll have been bombarding/supplanting/helping you by providing all sorts of helpful motivational/propoganda/whatever material to ensure that you're as happy as possible whilst being assaulted by all these maddening plagues.

So in that regard I would say that the Tau don't have the freedom to leave as they wish. They'll always be assigned to something, but within that assignment the choices will be as open as is for the Greater Good. On the odd/frequent/rare occassion, there will be precisely no choice. Otherwise, you'll be able to choose which area of the hab-dome you live in, which sector of the city you live in etc. But you'll have been educated, encouraged, motivated, inspired and (alas) indoctrinated to make certain choices. Not a complete brainwashing, but enough such that you aren't inclined to make contra-greater good choices.

For the most part, a Tau rather than thinking "Damn, I want out of this N'dras stinking hellhole!" will perhaps think along the lines of "Damn, I wish I was elsewhere, but c'est la vie, someone has to do it. I suppose I'm actually quite glad it is me doing this instead of someone else..."

They are alien afterall. If you could control society (I assume the Tau Empire is quite adept at manipulating society) to remove (as best as is possible) selfish desires, why wouldn't you? There'll be instances where it's valuable, but the Tau are reasonable. The Empire is up for making concessions, provided they're maximising the Greater Good.

So, moving to a different topic...slightly

The La and the Saar will have very few choices. They've been born for the role they're about to undertake. La who're inately bright with mathematics (probably picked out of one in a billion sperm for that privilege) or lone-wolf operations, or auditing, or heavy-cargo moving will be perfectly happy to find that their entire life is...comfortable. They're not filled with beautiful romantic images of the rebel without a cause. Teenage rebellion is something years away. The Tau're trained quickly, they're educated and they're insulated in just the right manner. La have horrendous freedoms really, because they're very young. Like children in our society, they aren't afforded full-freedom for very good reasons.

But as you progress either in age or in rank, or both, you'll be afforded more options. The top Os will have unparalleled freedoms as they'll be making the decisions. The Aun watch the Os. The Uis, the Vres, the Els, they all vary in degree. A Vre might be afforded many choices tactically, they'll be offered research positions being permitted to choose within a set range of options. They'll be permitted to make suggestions and engage in debate about the merits and pitfalls of what they think. The Els, they're close to Os, but not quite. The Uis, respected and trusted, and afforded debate and so forth, but they likely haven't developed the independence yet to do so. They're still, for want of a better word, minions.

They don't desire that extra something. Ambition is likely stoked in the Tau only as it is required. The youngest La are likely often confronted with the hard truth of "Not everyone gets to be an astronaught when the grow up", except this isn't a hard truth for them. It'll be a relief, a reassurance. Their society and education is geared so that they understand it. Why wouldn't it be?

Thus when you get to the O level, only then do you truly become...individual. In terms of 'temptation' and 'chaos' and things, the La are likely much more resilient than the Os, in a manner of speaking. Their ambition isn't lit, their dreams arent manifest...they're still subject to the intensity of the Tau Empire's...everything. but the Os...they're the ones to be watched because they have to have the freedom for the Empire to work. In my construction of the Empire's internal workings, it strikes me that things are as they are because it'd be a very plausible, very humane, very utopian way to run things. People don't need ambition and freedom...it brings with it pain, and responsibility, and all manner of downsides.

We idolise it ourselves, but in this...science fiction, I think I'm making the logical assertion (and I feel it is a very strongly 40k-esque assertion) that freedom simply isn't necessary for happiness. All those things we hold dead today...not only are they meaningless, but that ignorance is bliss, in a manner of speaking. It keeps the Tau Empire dystopian, in our eyes. For that sake: dark. Evil. Gothic.

But by the flipside, when we accept this premiss, then the Tau Empire becomes utopia. Where humanity is reliant upon faith to protect its soul, the Tau Empire is actually able to use reason for its protection. It preserves the original 'endearing' notion of the Tau Empire, that they're a force opposed to all the daftness of the 40k universe, yet the sheer controlling nature of the Tau is by the flipside entirely 40k.

It's delicious, if you ask me!

But what of everyone else in the Empire? The colonies? The subject and vassal worlds?
What about the Ethereals?

Again, it varies. The Tau, ideally, want to bring all other worlds to their standards. Culture and beliefs are transitory and largely secondary when compared to the necessity that is control. Kroot are fine being...uncontrolled because they're limited in their scope. If the Kroot were still imperialistic and driving technologically, then I feel things would be very different between them and the Tau. But the Tau recognise the Kroot for their honesty too, they are simple, they're genuine. They don't need to be controlled because, in their present state, they're highly unlikely to do anything destabilising.

But of the Vespids? The Galg? The Humans? the Nicassar?

The Vespids, by virtue of brainwashing or by their hive nature or some other curious facet of the universe, adopted a controlled system of the Tau'va almost instantly. I find it quite endearing that the Vespid's own nature is such that they cannot contravene superiors and that superiors always know best. Strain Leaders always > Stingwings. Queens always > Strain Leaders etc.

With Galg and Niccassar, who knows? I'd like to imagine that the steady impulses of the Niccassar were easily domineered by the Tau's social science. After being defeated in the war, they were ripe for absorping into the Empire. A little tweak here and little nudge there...voila. They're compatible and as rebellious as a ptera squirrel.

As long as you give them stars and a ship to sail them by, they'll be happy. Give them more than that and they'll do anything you want. The Tau promised them the galaxy. (NB- My own speculation here, but it is compatible, as best I understand)

Humans are another kettle of fish. As I hinted at before, it all comes down to breeding and control. Having huge, teeming, human populations is a problem. They need to be kept at arms length. Trade is usually a good source of control over humans. Market forces are strong here!

(As Dylan Moran [Comedian] expounds regarding the insidious American Empire. Annoy some random poor people in a country somewhere round the world. They'll nip down to the local bombed out cafe to start plotting to destroy America. Surreptisiously build a Starbucks around them as they sit plotting your downfall. Given some more time and a couple of extra-shot half-caff skinny lattes and they'll have forgotten all about hating you, and be far more annoyed at the writers' strike causing problems for the Heroes Tv series...)

That is: The Tau play a long game with humanity. Unless push comes to shove (Kronos, DoWC Tau Victory), then they'll steadily introduce Tau ideas over years, decades, centuries. But the point is that one day humans in the Tau Empire will be subject to breeding programmes, people will have schools, jobs, courses, summer holidays planned for them their entire early lives. And they'll be happy.

It won't matter that they can't all be astronaughts, only one of them ever wanted to be anyway!

Now, to end this ridiculously long post

Ethereals. How do they fit in? Well, they watch for the times this fails. They keep their eyes on individuals, and unexpected circumstances. They watch for people like Kais, who just can't be anticipated. They keep an eagle eye out for when things just get too wierd. They might rule the Empire wth a vice like grip, but they don't need to exert this. Their existence as advisors and mediators is a fruitful one, they're the lubricant that keeps the system going. That extra energy that is needed to maintain it all, to repair damage and ultimately to hold it all together at the edges.

Perhaps you see my view?

And if not, please explain at length your own views! Mine are certainly not entirely coherent, and definitely not the only view allowed on this topic. I happen to like my view, but I love adding to it. Cutting bits out that sound silly. Repairing the bits that don't make sense. Revamping it or throwing the whole thing out because it's stupid.

It's a good thinking exercise this one, and I hope the rest of you've got good ideas and can be bothered sharing them!
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Old 05 Jan 2008, 23:10   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Freedoms in the Tau Empire

I will take the opposite view that the Tau have lots of free choice.

The article you have written is very good. However I must say that much on the daily life is only conjecture and could go either way.

In my mind the Tau have a hell of a lot of free choice to do as they wish. However this is down to the perpetuated lie of the Greater Good. The Tau'va, and the H Tau'va go hand in hand. One couldn't exist without the other. Much like in 1984 you couldn't have the Eurasia without Oceania. H Tau'va can exist because the population believe in it. Hence they will stay in check to serve it. However this isn't from servitude or even orders from high up. They all have faith in the Tau'va.

However Firewarrior showed how a single Shas'la could question the Tau'va and feel fear from what it meant for his life. But that is part of the humanisation process I believe the author of the book took, because without reader empathy then the story would be boring. This leads us onto consider population control.


Life in the Empire. Why do you need police when the entire population believes it is the ultimate sin to murder, or steal from your 'brother'? The Tau don't need police or even to say don't do this because distastefull behavior has been set as morally unacceptable hence no Tau ever has the idea of committing a crime pass through their heads.

This is why when they choose to emigrate or move on to different fields of work they are still serving the H Tau'va in a slightly different method elsewhere. Septs would have to be mobile to allow the intergration across the Empire to perpetuate the Tau'va and to keep people believing in it.

This isn't one great conspiracy from the Aun though. Why Because the Aun themselves believe the lie of the Tau'va. It's like in Brave New World or the Party in 1984. The lie has got to a point where it has become self perpetuating. Each generation teaches it to the new, and the new to its young. Hence over the centuries the ideas of the Tau'va have become ingrained across the empire. Thus control is no longer required. We don't police for cannibalism in the west because it is a socail Taboo.

With this backdrop it becomes acceptable to regulate birth control. Look at China on earth? It is a sensible and rational thing to do. The Tau have done this and intergrated it with the ideology of the Tau'va.

As you can see the Tau'va permeates everything. It is the Tau religion if we can call it that. They have faith in it, hence they can do what they do in the name of the Tau'va. I don't feel that their is any control in the Tau society even the Aun are just their to advise. The Tau take their word for it because of the history. It's like how we still venerate the Pope out of tradition. However for the Tau most are extremist Catholics who would die for the Pope. Hence the feelings we get to them in the fluff.

They are the embodiment of the Tau'va and as such weld enormous influence. But is it used? It can be as is seen with Aun'va, but it doesn't look like it is used much because of the lack of it in the fluff.

So what does all this mean for those in power?

Well it is of my opinion that those who are in power are not at the top of the tree in rank. It is my opinion that it is the 'El in the population who are the decision makers on a day to day basis. This prevents any form of ego getting into the population as they are still always responsible to someone. The 'O are the respected leaders and professors of the Tau society much like our university professors. Given free regime in their area of expertise to improve the Tau'va. Without the need to bother with the day to day management of the Empire they can work for tomorrows world rather than today.

This may explain the rapid advancement in technology and ideas within the H Tau'va as those who have reached the top no longer deligate, they do as they wish with only very limited on the spot power. This system allows any Tau to make a name for him/herself in their career before 'retiring' into the position of an 'O.

These 'El on a day to day basis take the strategies an 'O might deligate to them and see about putting it into practice. They give requests in the name of the greater good directly to the Shas'ui, while letting Vre bare witness to the grand view and let them fit in as they wish. The 'Ui then deligate in the name of the greater good to the 'La who get on and do the work.

All positions are forefilled. As one passes Ui rank they become a 'leader' so to speak, and with that comes the freedom to do what they wish in their career. This can be seen in the Shas and Por most clearly with the 'battlefield' and 'administration' rolls 'Vre take on.

Ui on the otherhand are your supervisors, they look forward to getting a management position. But to do so they must work hard and show their worth to the H Tau'va. Now you may note how this fits into my ideas about the Tau economy and how you have both money and status which you have to work for. This provides the incentive to work for the Tau'va.

Not only does the Tau culture bring you up to serve the Tau'va, if you don't then you go nowhere in Tau society. This insures that those who follow the faith most blindly end up making decisions about where the H Tau'va goes.

Their may be no control on a Tau but because of the nature of their culture, only those who embody the Tau'va end up influencing it. Thus it is stable.

In many ways I see the Tau'va to be the Utopia from a Taus point of view, but Dystopia from an outsiders point of view. But when you know no other, or condictions of your life allow you to see the 'utopia' which is the H Tau'va then you see that Utopia. Thus explaining Gue'vesa.

Vespids never knew any other. The Kroot however I feel can see what the H Tau'va is and so have never become blind to the Tau'va faith. They stick with their own culture. However with each generation exposed to the lie of the Tau'va those cultural ties begin to erode against a race with such firm faith.

Unfortunately I like to see the 'dark' side of the Tau, but of course the dark side is in the eyes of the beholder. Yet at the same time the Tau are Naive, perhaps to their own Tau'va. Not understanding it fully.

Thankyou for the time,

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Old 06 Jan 2008, 01:31   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Freedoms in the Tau Empire

Cool Cool Cool! Brainphood!

@Xisor [btw, is it pronounced "zisor?" or "Excisor"? For some reason I think the latter, hinting that you are a dentist or some other "remove X" trade... cookie for me if I figured it out!!]
I really like your explanation, but do have a couple of issues with it... none that I can put up at the moment, because My brain is still chewing on it all. One that I can list at the moment is "how then in Xisors Tau society would they willingly abandon an established sept homeworld?".
What is "H Tau'Va"? maybe I missed a reference somewhere. At first I thought it was a way of saying "your version of Tau'Va", and in that case Xisors should be X Tau'Va, and ill be C Tau'Va, in case things get complicated.

But one alarming and discordant feeling about your description is that is seems more than a little anarchic, even, dare I relate: Orky. If I understood correctly, the 'Els [not literal Shas'Els, I get the tier structure] make the real choices, on an individual basis, within the dogmatic culture Framework of the Tau'Va, which the higher societal ranks merely monitor and enforce, ensuring the framework continues. That seems very Orky to me because, its much like saying how Ork Society runs without a Big Boss. Which is chaos, and no real direction in a grand scale. Sure the rules make everybody more civilized about it, but theres still no 'Grand Direction'.

For instance: in the 'Taros Acquisition' (nicer word than conquest), at what level did the decision to make a stand and fight for this border world originate from? The 'El level would seem to indicate a general in the area, making the choice on his own, to better what his limited view perceives as the Greater Good. I feel that it would have to come from the top (or near top) Tier: the O's and Aun's, to realize that in the grander scheme of the entire 3rd sphere expansion, this world was important enough to sacrifice lives and expensive equipment (even starships), in a battle to retain it.

Some interesting stuff already. One of the newer Eye openers would have to be the 'population management', in regards to gearing up for the 3rd sphere expansion. This makes complete sense, from an expansionist point of view (if only the Romans thought of it), and as an explanation of how they advanced and spread so quickly. This baby boom 'production', and the resulting infrastructure to educate, feed and otherwise support that population boom and them emigrate them to colonize future worlds, in a controlled and designed way, implies that there is one or a few at the very top- whos job it is to layout such far sweeping institutions, and ensure through all encompassing Empire-wide inflows of data that the design will work and be productive in the larger picture of "the Empire in its entirety". [longest sentance EVER!] These would be the Aun, or the very highest priest tiers within the Aun Caste (are there Aun'Els and Aun'Os?.).

Or maybe not the very top, but a step just below the top, and an even darker word: Bureaucracy. [shudder] But wait a minute something just hit me: Imagine an "Empire design and flowchart" department of Tau societal Bureaucracy, whos JOB it is to "make the Empire bigger and better", and they do a top-down design of an Empire that grows and advances into a successfull entity in the far future: It starts with needing to expand, which means more people, more educating, more food production, etc. etc., and they may need to TAKE or KEEP new worlds, which means better weapons armor technologies, science labs, schools, more scientists, more food, more housing, etc etc .. you get the idea by now of Top-Down, Empire design, right? So, this is an ongoing flowchart of the empire, constantly being tweaked or added to as changes develop over the centuries.. a very complex design, but a design nonetheless. Every Tau citizen can find his place in this flowchart, and how his action serves the system as a whole... yup.. you already feel it to, dontcha? What If this flowchart IS the Greater Good, in actuality?!? ;D [boy for something that just hit me it sure took a while to type out!]

If there is a Bureau of the Greater Good, then obviously is members consist of Ethereals in the highest positions of power... and its a real power- able to shape and change actual infrastructures of the Empire... and all the ethereals have a copy of this flowchart in their personal data files. The Ethereals, indeed all of Tau society, see it as a truly beautiful design, with an ultimately glorious goal, and wholly commit to it by choice, because it all makes so much sense. Over time as some of the flowchart has stood the test of time, its layout and system may begin to take on a religious aspect, because of its infinite beauty and wisdom... much like the khabbala [sp?], or Tree of Life diagram our culture has today.

Wow this turned my views into a totally Tau Fanboy Super Good Tau point of view didn't it? But yes, this B of the GG has the perspective and will to direct Empire wide baby booms, to fill all the Air, Earth, Fire, and Water needs projected in the design, to take hundred of new worlds, with their supported technology, and 'acquire' Taros for its mineral resources, and for some reason may have been OK with abandoning N'Dras, because maybe it simply didn't matter in the Design anymore (explaining why the natives are so grumpy).

And Everyone in the Empire [possibly even Human, in later generations] will willingly devote their lives and efforts to their alloted slot in the GG, because as schoolchildren, they were shown the design, and where they fit into it, and why it was so important that they fit precisely there. Not everyone can be an Astronaut indeed, but now no one will pout about it... because they can now see WHY. You may call such devotion to this Design almost Religious, but its really not. Its just a Grand Design, that makes absolute Sense. There is no deception, nor abuse, nor other ill intents in the Design, the Design just IS, and everyone can freely study its perfection to reaffirm their place within it, and comeout overjoyed that they are exactly where they can do the most good. For the Greater Good.

Going Back to Xisor, this is indeed Control, to the point that it doesn't even need to be enforced. But its control from a benevolent source, and is publicly available to study to any and everyone. And no one would grumble when told to go to a stinking hellhole called N'Dras.. because any urge to grumble would be met with "for the Greater Good", and may crack open the Design to recheck his place in it, and once he does so, he will indeed see that it makes total sense for him to go to N'Dras, to serve the Design over there, which in turn serves the design empire wide. And his little part is utterly important. And he will go. Willingly, with a smile of contented peace on his face. Is it religion? Others may certainly see it that way.

And now back full circle. Where then: free will??
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Old 06 Jan 2008, 04:28   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Freedoms in the Tau Empire

that kind of orwellian complexity seems more fitting for the emperium, not the tau.
it is the human emperium thats controlled by "the flow chart", heck it practically worships the darn thing. (munitorium, anyone?)

"the greater good" is a concept closely related to Ultilitarinism. the idea that a persion willingly gives up something to advance the society they are part of. the greater good is whatever gives the most benefit to the most people.

the tau take this to an extreme. they give up most of their individuality to advance their race's progress, survival, and stability. within their caste, they "test out" to determain what jobs thay are suited for, with ongoing education so that they have a chance to progress to different ones over time should it be needed. they don't get a choice about which jobs they can pick, thats all overseen by the various councils within the governing structure.

what makes this different from the imperium's wage slaves in their hive cities is the fact the tau castes actually care about the people within them. mistreating your employees is detrimental to the greater good of society. so tau employees work reasonable, if long, shifts, get time off, receive a reasonable wage based on the work being done and the quality there of. they get decent housing, medical care, food, ect. that wage they get is mostly used to obtain luxury goods, things other than basic living. like art, fancier food, ect.

now, this is actually rather dark and bad from the readers standpoint. the tau have given up their right to make their own life choices for a secure life. and thats what the greater good is all about. ensuring a secure and stable empire.

the etherals role in all this is the grease that the squeeky cog gets. they go around to ensure that the caste councils are staying to the concept of the greater good, treating their members well, and doing what is needed of them. they serve as mediators in the cross-caste councils to keep the different castes on the right track, and they serve as living examples of the greater good to follow.

and you really don't need to do much propoganda to pull this off. most people will be more than willing to give up some freedoms for a stable life, thats the basis of how goverments form. this is also why so many gue'la (humans) move ot the greater good. they face a choice of effective slavery with no freedom and a pathetic life in the imperium, or a tightly controlled but otherwise pleasent life with the tau.
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The presence of war at the edges of the empire focus and motivate the center of the society, prividing a manifest destiny in the form of stellar expansion.
The individual cannot achieve what is truly grand. Submit yourself to the greater good, that you may make a contribution to a society that will achieve truly great wonders.
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Old 06 Jan 2008, 08:30   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Freedoms in the Tau Empire

Originally Posted by Calaban
For instance: in the 'Taros Acquisition' (nicer word than conquest), at what level did the decision to make a stand and fight for this border world originate from? The 'El level would seem to indicate a general in the area, making the choice on his own, to better what his limited view perceives as the Greater Good. I feel that it would have to come from the top (or near top) Tier: the O's and Aun's, to realize that in the grander scheme of the entire 3rd sphere expansion, this world was important enough to sacrifice lives and expensive equipment (even starships), in a battle to retain it.
I'd just like to chime in on this point, since it can be addressed fairly briefly.

The Tau decision to defend Taros wasn't just about the material benefit of controlling a single mining world. It was a policy decision, about how to define their relationship with their trading partners. By choosing to defend Taros, they made a statement to other wavering worlds: "If you trade with us, and the Imperium finds out, we will defend you from them.". That sort of decision must have been made at the highest levels.
As for Tau society - as mithril says, they are strongly utilitarian, both on the individual and the societal level. However, this still leaves room for conflict - when the individual and their authorities disagree about what course of action best serves their common goals. If you want to look for a test of Tau freedom, look for that sort of situation. If they all act unselfishly, that's not necessarily a lack of freedom - it may just be what they want to do. But when one individual has their own idea of how to serve the Greater Good, and his superiors disagree ... does he have the freedom to act on his own initiative?

The best example I can think of this is O'Shovah. I can't recall it offhand, but there's a quote in the new codex that implies that he doesn't disagree with the motivations of mainstream Tau leadership (ie, the Aun), but merely thinks that they are naive and misguided. (If I had to guess, I'd say that he disapproves of the Empire including races which are susceptible to Chaotic corruption ... but that's just speculation.) For breaking off in this way, the Tau Empire has cut off his support, but they have not made any serious effort to eradicate him - as the Imperium no doubt would if one of their own commanders rebelled.
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Old 06 Jan 2008, 08:49   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Freedoms in the Tau Empire

Nice, but there is one catch: Tau society isnt stable, its dynamic and ever growing/improving at a close to a exponential curve... by design. Its apparent that when new worlds open up, all members that are neede to support the infrastructure and indeed continual exponential curve of growth on this world and every other that opens up. Like a Game of Master of Orion, or GalCiv2, where you are all about grow grow GROW, and are somehow an awesome micromanager in that you also advance advance ADVANCE technologically absolutely as fast as you can.

To the vanadium alloy refinery worker doing the 9 to 5 (that 9am to 5am for the greater good) for his Empire, things dont sound too stable or secure on the homefront, do they? He may be sent to manage the buildup of a new vanadium refinery on a new world, as a form of 'promotion', while fresh young 'La are just coming out of training to take his old place. If they sent only the newbies to new worlds, then the experience and expertise will stagnate back in the core worlds, and nothing would get done.

Part of being dynamic is risking and putting people out on the edge for the potential gains that can be achieved. Dynamic simply cant go hand-in-hand with Cautious. So if the newly promoted vanadium alloy refinery supervisor is placed on a beach-head world that is swarming with orks... he risks very real bodilly harm on a daily basis, because struggling and overcoming those risks- to build something meaningfull- is what being dynamic is all about. Stable and secure simply takes a back seat for growth. Sure it sucks for Mr Refinery Guy, and he may very well die a horrible painfull death, but not before that vanadium refinery is up and running, and staffed, and productive. And thats part of the point: he does that, knowing all that, for the Greater Good. [I think I'd be a good propagandist ;D ]

And that is how the Tau absolutely differs from any Imperial comparisons.
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Old 06 Jan 2008, 10:04   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Freedoms in the Tau Empire

I think that in Tau eye's, the have the greatest freedom: the freedom to serve the greater good. From what I make of the fluff surrounding Farsight, it would appear that despite his desertion, he still fights for the greater good.

From a human perspective, I think that they would still have a relatively large amount of freedom in regards to choosing their path in life. In the entry for the honour guard in codex: Tau Empire, it mentions that members "forgo" the normal progression to Battle Suit pilot when they become bodyguards and to me at least this indicates some measure of choice. A shas'la offered the position would most likely be so gratified he would not turn it down, but the choice is there. I also get the impression the becoming a stealth suit pilot is very optional due to the suicidal nature of the task (being so close to the enemy would seem very unnatural to a shas I imagine)

For example, i would imagine that a fio'la would function as a semiskilled labourer, working as a farmhand, a mechanic, a electrician, etc depending what needed to be done. When a 'la made the progression to 'ui (or the Earth caste equivalent), he would be given a choice from multiple fields, based partly on where there were shortages and partly where the Fio in question had shown talent. A 'ui might become head mechanic, a surveyor, combat engineer, etc with a team of 'la's under him. A 'vre would rise higher still, becoming some sort of regional manager, while an 'el would be more of an administrative position, looking after the distribution of supplies to a planet/sept and ensure that there are enough 'la where they need to be. So on and so forth, with each caste acting respectively (a Por'la would be like an office intern, filling papers and bringing the por'vre coffee. An Aun'la would most likely act as a chaplain, visiting the other castes and getting to know the masses by sitting and talking to them, inadvertently giving a public face to the Aun)

In the example of the Fio, he would probably live where ever he was needed to work ( I don't see any Tau member having a permanant "residence"). I think that each caste would have separate quarters, (perhaps the Aun would stay amongst them rather than staying aloof) resambling a Norse longhall, where all members from the king to his nobles to his slaves slept in the same room (the king had a much nicer bed then anyone else though).

Looking back, I seem to have diverged a tad from the topic, so hopefully I haven't bored you all too much.

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Old 06 Jan 2008, 13:43   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Freedoms in the Tau Empire

Re: Genmotty

I suspect that, on reading all the posts here, we all seem to be reading off the same hymnsheet. That is: The Greater Good works. Whether it is genuine or not, or whether it is virtuous or not isn't a major issue. It self-perpetuates.

Furthermore, you say the Tau have much control but that their society is restrictive in its very nature, thus it isn't a 'police' control or martial control but a...metaphysical control. The Tau simply don't do crime, they don't do rioting and they don't do protests (etc).

That's a psychological control, it has curtailed their thinking. In that sense it is, like I think we both would agree loosely, an Oceania a few hundred years after Winston's time. I.e. People are happy, they're content and they go through with it.

One bone of contentiont I had with your theory is the assertion that the Tau'va is a lie. Perhaps I'm simply obstructing my own thinking, but wouldn't you say that in your case the Tau'va was genuine? It wouldn't necessitate the integral parts of Oceania (e.g. Big Brother, Goldstein, War etc), as by keeping the population small (birth control) and giving room for steady expansion it would regulate itself? (The obvious crack in this would be when/if the Tau'va ever completely took over the galaxy...could it survive a complete victory or would it descend into the 1984 Tau'va vs Imperial Truth vs Eldar Path where all three are essentially the same...?)

But that's by the by. I feel your elucidation on the Tau society is quite compatible with my own and Calaban's, which I feel is also quite endearing.

Re: Genmotty & Job Choices

In your system, what if everyone wanted to be a leader? My own resolution to this was that it was a lot more...controlled in terms of education and personal development too. Whilst Shas'la would think they want to become broadside Shas'ui for the next ten tau'cyr, are they really making that choice, or was it expected all along? [I'd imagine that they'd still be offered the choice, but due to the factors of education and planning, they'd almost never make an 'unexpected' choice]

Re: Calaban and the Top-Down Flowchart Empire

I think there are distinct divisions within the Tau Empire where your reasoning applies. First and foremost there is the 'Sept' level. You can go smaller and bigger from this, but it's a handy unit to work with in Tau terms. This 'department of making things bigger' is, as we know, the Por. They lay down the 'design requirements' of the next stage of the Empire. The imperative from this will likely be derived from a Shan'al, where all relevant Os have their say (inc Aun of all/any ranks, perhaps?), but this won't be an individual choice. There isn't ever 'only one in command' uniquely. Where in the Imperium you'll have a Warmaster who runs the crusade, the Tau will chop and change between leaders as is necessary. The default position, IMO, would be the Por'O leaders.

Aggressive expansion indicates Shas'O. Exploration indicates, again, Por'O. Infrastructure and development indicates Por'O.

It is thus highly unlikely, IMO, for the Fio'O or Kor'O to be dominating the Shan'al. (Don't worry, I'll link back to the flowchart idea!). The key is that the Fio and Kor have roles elsewhere. Where the Por'O determine what the Empire wants to be done, the Kor and Fio would be the determinators of how it'll be done. The Fio, academically speaking, would be the ones who devise the flowchart. The Por (as a caste) dictate (with feedback loops, opinion polls, surveys, throrough research etc) what the Tau wants to be done. The Fio devise it all and work out the details, so it doens't matter that the Fio don't dominate the Shan'al, because their control of the Tau'va enters at the leg work. They determine the balance with which schools and food'll be needed, and at what rate babies will be churned out for the next seventy Tau'cyr. The Por then administer all this and triple-sign the documents.

The Kor, the unseen caste, are ruddy important as they need to sit down, shut up and do as they're told! If they don't, all hell breaks loose!

(This reinforces, IMO, the psychological difference between the castes. In this manner the Kor would have to have the most leisurely and intellectual freedom as they'll be afforded the least strict freedom in determining things. The Fio occupy the middle ground, with the Shas being half-Kor, half-Por. The Por, by their nature of a snivelling interfering paper-pushing busybodies (:P) would have least freedom. Lots of blogs, lots of opinions, lots of comittees and debates and think-tanks, but individually they're the most ingrained in the Tau'va. Whilst on one hand they decree all the psychological and sociological tricks that 'control' the Empire without ever controlling anyone, they're likely the first in line to believe that...)

But this is about Calaban's Flowchart. The flowchart, as a topdown thing, ought to flow from Shan'al down the system. So from Sept, it is a loosely orchestrated thing, with a temporary leader. The Aun, at all points, will have a rough idea of how things should be going. Like Genmotty says, I'd be keen to have almost all Aun 'believing the lie'(lie or not). A few might know otherwise (Aun'va? Hell no, he's the biggest 'true believer' there is! That's why it works!), but they'd be the ones in positions who know the necessity for why it all has to work the way it does (in my view, I was always happier that in the four castes the Os are afforded greatest 'freedom' for their caste, whilst in the Aun, it is Aun'la who're perhaps more free...because the leaders of the Aun have to be totally in line with the Tau'va to balance out the freedom the other Os have...).

But for the design of the Empire, it is a massive series of weights and balances. Where one have a lot of freedom, they don't have the power or motivation or 'lack of controls*' to act upon it.

* Lack of controls. Anyone who's in a prime position to suddenly start thinking "What?! The Tau'va....what?" will have Ethereals around them quite frequently. (I.e. Farsight only went A.W.O.L. when his Ethereals died) Shas'la don't need Aun reminders to keep them in line, they believe without question. ('Cept Kais)

Furthermore, if we present the whole Tau'va as a loose and continually revised flowchart, then...yes. It is. Things aren't really 'allowed' to happen by accident. Risks and things will be made, but calculated. There'll be a lot of actuaries in the Tau Empire.

"how then in Xisors Tau society would they willingly abandon an established sept homeworld?".

As we discussed in the other thread: Nurgley Plague. Something totally mad that you just don't prepare for. You've thrown alot of infrastructure, and re-evaluated the design a huge amount, but largely...it just isn't working.

I still think a drone uprising would be quite neat, even if only on 'the small scale', combining that with the unleashing of a few chaotic cults in AI and perhaps combine that with the above plaguey-ness then you'd have enough wonkyness on the go for the Design, as you put it, to simply hold up their hands and say "Right, we're going home!".

Why are they mistrusted? Because they're the part of the 'design' that was visibly changed. A part where something went wrong.

I don't imagine the Tau who were on Medusa V and survived to escape will be...redistributed throughout the Empire. No. Taken to labs and rehabilitation, perhaps. Or sent to fight somewhere else, out of the way. Not back to retirement on Au'taal to tell everyone about the daemons.

Re: Calaban and the Entire Empire

I think the flowchart is designed with the intent that, between the septs, there'll be periods of 'constructive interference', when septs begin to overlap, or they reach a certain critical mass (by design). In such cases, I feel, you'd have Phased Expansions. When the whole Empire resonates and expans as one, together.

I do think there'd be smaller ones too, but those'd be on a Sept-to-Sept basis. Whilst we've five new Septs of the Third Sphere at present, over the course of the next hundred Tau'cyr, other septs may well be founded as they need to be within the expansion. I do think this'll have been planned and accounted for, largely. The plans are continually revised, of course, but that's the name of the game!

Re: Mithril

I think you've got a good handle on the 'lite' version of the theories we're getting at. Not that it isn't as in depth, but that you choose not to pursue things quite as far as we have. The propoganda, controls, etc necessary to perpetuate the greater good aren't really as...all encompassing as we outline. I don't disagree with that sentiment out of principle!

Re: Abanim, Calaban and the inferior conflicting with his superiors

Tau Empire rests on control, IMO. Disagreements must be mediated out. In that manner the controls would prevent the occurence where an inferior and superior disagree to the point that the inferior is still disatisfied with the situation.

Calaban notes that it's a dynamic society, and I think we ought to bear that in mind. The Tau'va is dynamic enough to keep you happy at work. To avoid the instatement of incompetent superiors and 'holding back' really succesful inferiors 'because of the rules'. Okay, maybe not across the board, but the situation proposed would be more comon, and IMO more disruptive, under Mithril's less-controls Tau Empire. (NB: I hold Genmotty's as a controlled Tau'va because its control mechanism is to curtail the idea of possibility of 'doing something undesirable&#39

Pttoc's Residential Tau'va

It's an intriguing one. With the Kor, I imagine very bustling communities. Lots of siblings, lots of flatmates, lots of Kor. That's orbital cities for you.

Por, teams. Think tanks. Always mixing, always changing. Lots of them, usually, and lots of people. The Shas would accomodate in teams, IMO. The Fio would vary widely.

The Shas fit a barracks setup well. The Por seem well suited to dormitories. The higher up, the less roommates.

Aun? Aun'la and Aun'ui, I can see having 'parochial houses' or 'shrines' or something in Hab-domes and cities. So that one Aun'la might 'tend' to a flock of some (tens of?) thousands of Tau. Not in amongst, but local to them. The higher-up Aun, probably in small townships of their own within larger cities. In here you'd have the Aun'saar too.

But the interaction between them? Only at the fringes. Mostly Shas stick to Shas, Por to Por, Humans to Humans, Kroot to Kroot, Fio to Fio, Kor to Kor, Aun to Aun. There'll be communication sideways, but it is best to keep the segregation.

Aboard ships, I imagine it's slightly different as the 'fringes' are a lot closer to the middle. Largely, however, interactions will be mediated by drones. Simple!

Of course, at Shan'al level, 'council' level and high-decision making things, there'll be a huge amount more communication between all the groupings. But on a day to day basis, it won't be "Report to Por'ui for the duty resoter, Shas'la. After that go to the Fio'vre to discuss the new equipment and then meet with the Kor'la to be transferred to the training ground". The Por'ui would have doublechecked the Cadre's commanders locks. The Fio'ui would have told the senior instructors everything that needs to be known about the new equipment and the Kor would be communicating via 'vox' from the Manta or Orca, if they're needed at all!

Notably, Pttocs, in your second paragraph, you note that the 'choice' is there, but that the compulsion to acept (or make a certain choice) will usually override it. I feel this is stronger, and more sensible, when we account entirely for almost all the factors until that point having been driving the tau to make a certain decision. Perhaps?
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Old 06 Jan 2008, 13:44   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Freedoms in the Tau Empire

I would have thought Tau had very little freedom about how they live and where they live. Has anyone here ever read The Wind Singer? In that everyone is arranged into classes, and if they go up a class they get better accommodation.

I suspect the Tau are very much communists- they are given exactly what they need, and nothing more.

I doubt the Tau have money, if one Tau asked another for food, they would just give it to them, for the greater good.

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Old 06 Jan 2008, 20:40   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Freedoms in the Tau Empire

The phrase |H Tau'va| is the term I have coined for the Empire of the Greater Good.


In your system, what if everyone wanted to be a leader? My own resolution to this was that it was a lot more...controlled in terms of education and personal development too. Whilst Shas'la would think they want to become broadside Shas'ui for the next ten tau'cyr, are they really making that choice, or was it expected all along? [I'd imagine that they'd still be offered the choice, but due to the factors of education and planning, they'd almost never make an 'unexpected' choice]
Well thats part of it. Not everyone wants to be a leader. Only those who embody the greater good the 'best' will see themselves moving up in society. Of course, not only do you need the will to advance you need to have the skills. Thus Tau are always striving for better, faster, quality.

Like you say it works because if you want somthing in the H Tau'va you work for it, your work is important to everyone and hence everyone benefits from your desire. Of course not everyone makes it, thus we have the Trials by fire or the remote colonies to 'shove off' Tau so that everyone can be happy and society doesn't get too crowded. For those who make it they get their dream, they may have had the choice to do what they wish, but their entire career has been aimed at getting there. Hence although it is free choice to decide what you want to do, those around you have guided you to where they think you should be.

This is a roll I see for Aun'la who give lectures of wisdom to small groups of Tau'la or Saal, thus subtly putting the seeds of that decision in the Tau'la mind. The Saal or Tau'la thinks he/she has come up with that idea, but it has been cunningly put into place. Hence to live in the Empire gives you massive choice, but was it free will?

But thus why is the Tau'va a lie? Well I like to think of it as a lie, because it illustrates it as a flawed socail structure reliant on the teachings of the past generation, rather than a rational decision everyone has come to understand. Even though it is a very good rational system.*

Like has been said Tau migrate out of the Empire to prevent stagnation. I won't comment on N'dras. This system ensures that no one ever gets in a position to know enough Tau so that the Tau'va can never be challenged. Of course Tau would never rebel anyhow.

*I see the Tau'va as being a 'master scheme' of the original Aun, unfortunately in practice they underestimated the fervour of the Tau, which resulted in some of the founding ideals being lost to time. Perhaps the Eldar made a mistake, and are now paying for it, or perhaps it is meant to be that way?

Somehow the Tau'va as it is is too 'clean' and right to have come about naturally, not that it didn't, but not that it is an ideology born out of peace. But rather an ideology born out of extreme condictions, which has forgotten that and continues along the ideals it started with. Thus I see the Tau as blind to the religion of the Tau'va as the Space Marines to the Emperor. The difference is we have an entire culture of fervour, rather than individuals.

I hope these ideas are making sense. I think we more or less all agree on Tau society as a whole.


Anyhow that is getting off the point.

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