Robert Maxwell wrote:
Why do people continue to do these jobs? They aren't getting paid. Their lives are not going to improve. The fundamentals that make human society possible are gone. All you have left is a small city's worth of people, on the run from monsters that want to wipe them out for good. What's your motivation for doing anything except mere survival?
Because refining Thylium, growing fruits and vegetables, making ammo, etc. are crucial to their survival. When society or community as a whole hangs in the balance, people tend to stop caring about money.
Why do you think there are so many voluntary helpers after disasters, be it natural or manmade? These guys don't get paid either, so why do they do this?
Back in 2002, we had the worst flood of the century in Saxony, Germany. After the water had gone, my hometown looked like a frakking warzone.
I went in there with a friend and day after day, we helped clean up the mud and debris. No one had asked us to. We just went from house to house, offering help to people we had never met before.
And we weren't the only ones. The whole town was filled with people just trying to help.
This is just what humans do in a crisis.
The difference is one of duration and scale.
With an Earthly natural disaster, the wheels of government and society continue to spin. Volunteerism happens spontaneously partly because people know that the overall system is still intact, and their charity helps keep it that way. People band together in a crisis. That's community and solidarity.
But that's not what was really happening in BSG. Their government, their civilization, had been effectively annihilated. These people weren't just doing shitty jobs for no pay for a few days or weeks or months, but years
. The survival of what remained of the human race depended on a handful of people continuing to do grueling jobs out of the kindness of their hearts.
And when they finally stood up and said, "no, we won't be slaves," what was the government's reaction? They locked up the ringleaders and sent a military representative to get the refinery going again. Don't think that gesture would've been lost on the refinery workers. "You want to bargain? No. You've made this a military matter. Don't push it, or we'll find a military solution." Nevertheless, Tyrol wound up on their side, with good reason. It's interesting how often Adama wrestled with himself over humanity being "worthy of survival," in terms of not committing war crimes against Cylons, not losing their humanity in the midst of what was expected to be an unending crisis, and yet he was willing to turn a blind eye to what was basically brutal slave labor.
Roslin could sit in her nice, comfy office and say "it's not an ideal situation" while kids lose their limbs to unsafe machinery. What's a few dead plebes if it keeps the FTLs running?
And you know, if that was the tack Roslin and Adama wanted to take, they could've at least been honest about it. Instead, they tried to equivocate and make it sound like things were equally bad for everyone, which of course couldn't really be true.
Sorry to go on a rant. That specific episode really rubbed me the wrong way, because it brought up very legitimate issues in the context of the series and the writers basically had no idea how to handle them, so they swept the whole thing under the rug. And we're left knowing Adama would happily blow people's brains out to keep his
fleet running, making him no better than Cain.