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Tau and Communism
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Old 11 Aug 2008, 18:36   #1 (permalink)
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Default Tau and Communism

As requested by Lonely Tau, I present a sticky-able version of the Tau =/= Communism essay.

[hr]

Revised Essay on the Tau Government and Communism

In response to many of the recent claims otherwise, the Tau are not a Socialist, Marxist, or Communist state.


--- Communism and Marxism ---

Put quite simply, taken directly from Wikipedia, Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization based on common ownership of the means of production.

Tau are not classless, having a rigid Caste and Rank system that while does not impose any stigma on being of a lesser rank while preaching equality, is far from equal. A Shas'la cannot wake up one morning and decide to be a Kor'la - it is forbidden of him, thereby stripping the Shas'la of his would-be Communist/Marxist freedom of not having an exclusive sphere of activity but being able to be accomplished in any branch he wishes.

He is placed where the Empire wants him, then inconspicuously and subtly forced to submit.


--- Socialism and Democracy ---

Socialism, on the other hand, is a much broader socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to control by the community, and is often characterized by state or community ownership of the means of production.

The Tau community does not control the Empire's property or distribution of wealth, again having a rigid Caste system and government-placed jobs based on the needs of the Empire and abilities of the individual. If anyone has control of the Tau's property and wealth, it is the High Councils and the Aun who distribute it "equally" amongst the public.

In addition, full Socialism would not work without extensive implementation of Democracy - another little system of government that the Tau do not grasp. The common Tau has no say in how he lives his life; his individuality is slightly/extremely suppressed (depends on how you look at it), he serves his superiors without question, and devotes his life to the Greater Good of his nation. Only the High Councils and the Aun have any say in how the Empire progresses.


--- What are the Tau then? ---

With this in mind, you should now be able to see that while Collectivist in nature, the Socialist/Communist approach simply doesn't parallel or mesh with the Tau Empire very well.

So what are they, you ask?

I strongly believe that the Tau Empire has much more in common with the concepts of Imperialistic Utilitarianism, a rather vague but overall more fitting explanation or description for how the Tau run things (rather than an even more vague and irrelevant socio-economic system, considering the fluff still hasn't provided any information regarding a Tau economic system at all).

Imperialism, being the forceful extension of a nation's authority by territorial gain or by the establishment of economic and/or political dominance over other nations.

Utilitarianism, being the ethical doctrine that the moral worth of an action is determined solely by its contribution to overall utility. Utility, being the "good to be maximized" (sound familiar?).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tau Empire Codex pg. 10
The Tau are a supremely dynamic and energetic race. The principle of the Tau'va - the Greater Good - drives them ever outwards from their homeworld, into the great unknown of space. [...] The Greater Good requires that all join together and acknowledge the guidance of the Ethereal caste, and this includes any and all races with whom the Tau come into contact. [...] Those worlds that will not willingly join the Empire are dragged to the negotiating table under threat of annihilation. Those that remain openly defiant face obliteration under the orbital guns of the Air Caste fleet.

The Tau Empire encompasses a dense yet astrographically small area of space. [...] As the Tau steadily expand the borders of their empire, they continue to encounter other races. The empire now encompasses over twenty septs - fully developed Tau systems - and a large number of vassal alien homeworlds. The populations of these worlds are fully integrated in to the empire, each striving towards the Greater Good.

--- Despots, Totalitarianism, and Oligarchies? ---

So now you may find yourself asking, doesn't this mean that the Tau Empire is run by despots if the common people really have no say in their own futures?

In a manner of speaking, yes, but don't look at it from a human perspective. Separate yourself from the idea that "all men are created equal" and forget you ever learned about the concepts of freedom and democracy, and you can see that being a despotic society isn't necessarily an "evil" thing at all when implemented in the way that the Tau implement it.

Being a Despotic society seems to be one of the only ways to make what the Tau Empire does, work. No so-called "ethical", "moral", or "free" individual in their humanly right mind would want to willingly give up that freedom or individuality to exercise the type of Utilitarianism that the Tau Empire practices daily - they'd have to be subtly forced or coerced into doing it, as we know the Ethereals do through the fear of returning to the Mont'au.

As stated by Khanaris, and extrapolated by myself, these rulers are Theocratic Hereditary Oligarchies of the Aun Caste (overseen by "Chairtau" Aun'va) and the the tight-knit Meritocratic "Lower Councils" comprised of figureheads of the Elemental Castes.

Of course, the Tau implement so many of these systems across the various Sept worlds that comprise the Empire that it is a Checks and Balances system in its own, ensuring no one Tau can ultimately control every aspect of the entire Empire, but it's speculated that Aun'va could come dangerously close to it. This is likely simply due to the fact that he is said to be the oldest and wisest Ethereal, so many Tau would believe that there wouldn't be anything wrong with his council, suggestions, or declarations and wouldn't bother to oppose him, even if they could.

In addition, this is a very Totalitarian society, in which the state regulates nearly every aspect of public and private behavior so that individuals are allowed certain personal freedoms, except when they are counter to the Utilitarian and Religious ideals of the "Greater Good".


--- Utilitarian Misconceptions ---

Like the Wikipedia article says, there are two common "misconceptions" about modern human Utilitarian society that seem to have to be justified by/to us humans to understand or accept for ourselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia - Utilitarianism
The principle of "the greatest good for the greatest number", introduced by Bentham, is often mistaken as meaning that if something hurts one person and helps many, it is always morally justified. This is not the case, however; as noted above, Bentham dropped the misleading "greatest number" part of the principle, replacing the original formulation with the more direct "greatest happiness principle." Thus, the morality of an action is not determined by the number of people made happier, but rather the quantity of happiness produced. A great loss to one individual might be outweighed by small gains for many, but it might not. Even if 1 person is hurt and 100 people are helped, the harm to the one might be so great as to outweigh the small gains for the rest of the people.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wikipedia - Utilitarianism
Second, some criticize utilitarianism for implying that individuals' interests can be sacrificed for the sake of the "society" or the nation. Modern utilitarianism however proposes that one individual's interests can only be sacrificed for the sake of the interests of other individuals. As Bentham put it, "The interest of the community is one of the most general expressions that can occur in the phraseology of morals: no wonder that the meaning of it is often lost. When it has a meaning, it is this. The community is a fictitious body, composed of the individual persons who are considered as constituting as it were its members. The interest of the community then is...the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it." [6] While it may benefit individuals to have a healthy society or a functional state, neither of these are ends in themselves.
While these criticisms are countered and justified by Jeremy Bentham to apply to modern non-dictatorial human civilization, the Tau's hereditary Ethereal leadership, otherwise suppressed freedoms and individualities, and rigid Caste system do not require such justifications for a Tau to accept.

It is perfectly acceptable in Tau society (whether the individual Tau has any say or not) to follow such an extreme form of Utilitarianism as morally justifying anything that hurts one to help many, or to sacrifice one's individual interests for the sake of the nation as a whole - which is probably why so many people find it hard to wrap their heads around this concept - because we aren't little blue aliens and so our brains work differently.

But if you want the Tau in a nutshell with as many labels as possible, then here's what you get.

The Tau Empire
Despotic Totalitarian Collectivist Imperialistic Utilitarianist Society
ruled by Theocratic Hereditary Oligarchies presiding over Meritocratic Councils

but more importantly...

The Tau Empire - NOT COMMUNIST/MARXIST/SOCIALIST SPACE RUSSIANS/CHINESE

And that's just the political side of the house. We still have very little information on how the Tau's economic system works, so we can only theorize and wait before we can start adding a Socialist/Capitalist label for that.

If you want, you can add even more defining labels to it than what I have included above, but juxtaposing specific human socio-economic systems onto an alien culture of little blue aliens (which we still don't know enough about to make a final decision on) just doesn't work.

Hope this helps.

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Old 11 Aug 2008, 19:37   #2 (permalink)
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Yay, I was mentioned in the beginning ^_^

But seriously, excellent work and I think this should be stickied for all of the Tau members to see. It would certainly be a good thing to point out when we have more topics asking the exact same thing.
 
Old 11 Aug 2008, 19:41   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau and Communism

Stickied and maybe locked to avoid a flame war.
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Old 11 Aug 2008, 19:50   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau and Communism

Thanks again for the clarification. i didnt know that the question had already been brought up. ile search through the old posts more thoroughly when i want to post something from now on.
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Old 11 Aug 2008, 20:02   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau and Communism

What they all said. Very nicely done ;D
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Old 11 Aug 2008, 20:20   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau and Communism

But why would you need to think that deep?
I wouldn'y really place the tau as a political state equal to any known today.
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Old 11 Aug 2008, 21:09   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau and Communism

Nice, DB, hope this article puts to rest the relatively small but somewhat annoying misinterpretation of the Tau fluff.
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Old 11 Aug 2008, 22:12   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau and Communism

Thanks for the kind words, guys.

@ Floobosaurus - Unfortunately, I really doubt this will "put the cries of communism to rest", considering it was written over a year ago...

@ Manic-Swede - We don't need to think that deep, but some of us want to think that deep to get a better understanding of the race we play.

As for your statement that you wouldn't place the tau as a political state equal to any known today, I completely agree with you!

Stated at the end of my article, the "Despotic Totalitarian Collectivist Imperialistic Utilitarianist Society ruled by Theocratic Hereditary Oligarchies presiding over Meritocratic Councils" label is simply the closest we can come up with using what we humans have experienced.

Juxtaposing specific human forms of government and/or socio-economic systems onto an alien race is ultimately impossible, but this was my best shot.
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Old 11 Aug 2008, 23:33   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau and Communism

question! question!
why did you add space russian socialists at the end? we all know putins really in command hence being a closet dictatorship

other than that very well done.
also thanks for making all the descriptions simple to understand i used to get so confused on several forms of government....
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Old 12 Aug 2008, 00:12   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Tau and Communism

Link added in important topics sticky.
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