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Old February 1 2013, 12:13 AM   #36
sonak
Vice Admiral
 
Location: in a figment of a mediocre mind's imagination
Re: The Ferengi: Better as comic relief or villains?

stj wrote: View Post
First, an avatar is not a Party card. I'm no working class hero.

Second, Quark's speech invokes the opposite of a materialist view of history. It's basic picture is of a humanity which is essentially savage, covered with a veneer of privilege. Thus, if the supposedly civilized and enlightened members of the Federation were suddenly deprived for a lengthy period of time, this eternal essence would erupt. Restraining the beast within is at best temporary and in the end all society depends upon acknowledging the tragic necessity of killing etc. You know, the tripe about how it's easy to be a saint in paradise.

In a materialist view of history, there is very little about human nature that is genetically fixed. It is the lives people lead and the choices that these lives present that form people's characters. In each society, including fictional ones like the Federation, there is no corrupt human soul to spring forth when released from artificial bonds. The notion there is, is superstition. If Federation citizens were deprived of comforts for some period of time, their response would be shaped by the real (aka "material") experiences of their entire lives, in all the variety expressed by each individual.

And, as in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake US media were so desperately seeking for the supposedly inevitable mobs to justify the US invasion, traditions of solidarity did not disappear. The Quark scenario is by and large just a mean-spirited prejudice. Indeed, such prejudice can be so powerful as to foster whole fictions, such as the supposed Superdome atrocities in the aftermath of Katrian. Of course, bad things often also happen, as the whites lynching blacks during the emergency.

But then, the whites in this case were apparently killing black who were trying to pass through their neighborhood, assuming or hoping they were looters, I suppose. Of course, this kind of thinking happens to be a very real part of those people's formative experiences.

One thing Quark's speech did not say, was that material deprivation and oppression and superstition, would produce people with warped characters to match. That would be a materialist position as well. This situation unfortunately is the real world situtation, not the Federation's.

One horrifying example is the Rwanda genocide, which had origins in the French colonial empowerment of the Tutsi minority. As population pressures mounted (Rwanda/Burundi is one of the few African countries that can be plausibly held to be overpopulated,) the deformed political system generated violence. The Tutsi in Burundi massacred a lot of Hutus, setting a very unfortunate precedent for Tutsi/Hutu relations. Some years later the apparent assassination of Rwandan President Habyarimana triggered the reverse Rwanda. Being the majority, the Hutus did rather a more thorough job of it.

I understand there was a study published that found a fairly close relationship between the numbers of Tutsi slain with the gravity of the land shortage. But that's what I told my friends would eventually be found to be the case when the massacre was first being reported. So perhaps my vanity is making me more inclined to accept it as definitive, even though I wasn't fortunate enough to have a copy!

The thing is, human nature didn't cause the Rwanda genocide. Nor did Communism. For mass killing, it is really hard to beat World War I, and that was good old capitalists all on their own. The humanitarian disasters suffered in some countries after a Communist revolution had deep roots in the past, which was non-Communist. Even the famine that the fucking Khmer Rouge faced was caused by the war.

I was going off your comment about "unlovable capitalists" for my guess on your ideology, not your avatar. In my experience, few refer to "capitalists" without irony unless they take a negative view of the system.

As to the "human nature" thing, I guess I wasn't aware that Communism was so disdainful of the idea-that seems to me to be pretty unscientific, like the "blank slate" fallacy. At any rate, it doesn't take some kind of religious belief in "original sin" or "fallen man" to believe that civilization holds back folks from their more barbaric or baser impulses, I think it's a pretty common theme in psychology or philosophy/
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