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I'm consistently annoyed by people going "TAU OMGZ FSCKING COMMIE WANK0RZ!" simply because they have the catchphrase of "The greater good" or other stupid reasons.
Among what stuff I've heard is that the Auns translate to an entire caste of Lenin's. As you can imagine, my expression then had a lot to say about my opinion of eejits.
So, a smackdown.
Communism is defined on wikipedia as:Likewise,Utilitarianism is defined a little more succinctly as:Communism refers to a theoretical system of social organization and a political movement based on common ownership of the means of production. As a political movement, communism seeks to overthrow capitalism through a workers' revolution and establish a classless society. A major force in world politics since the early 20th century, modern communism is generally associated with The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, according to which the capitalist profit-based system of private ownership is replaced by a communist society in which the means of production are communally owned. This process, initiated by the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeoisie (see Marxism), passes through a transitional period marked by the preparatory stage of socialism (see Leninism).
Preference utilitarianism is a particular type of utilitarianism which defines the good to be maximized as the fulfillment of persons' preferences. Like any utilitarian theory, preference utilitarianism claims that the right thing to do is that which produces the best consequences; when defined in terms of preference satisfaction, the best consequences can include things other than pure hedonism, like reputation or rationality.
Note that for sake of argument I'm using only one of the forms described, although there is evidence for that extreme end of the spectrum of utilitarianism of people dying for the greater good (aha!) in the Tau, reference "For the Emperor", Black Library.
Of the two, the Tau lean far more toward the utilitarian philosophy, for the following reasons:
1) They did not have a period before the current ideology of exploitation by a ruling class of those less well off than them.
2) Their society is not "classless" as a rule. IT kind of is, but isnt. There are differing ranks within the castes (La, Ui, Vre, El, O) , which can correspond to classes (upper, middle,lower). In this way it compares to meritocracy, assuming promotion is based on skill rather than connections, the former of which makes more sense for the Tau.
3) The greater good is an even more succinct version of the definition. The greatest good for the greatest number, in this case, in the Tau empire.
4) There is no fluff that has yet said the means of production is owned by the populace. The extract in the tau codex on page 51 of the water caste merchant contact implies that its a largely capitalistic means of production, with independent companies affiliated to castes much in the same way as Guilds representing groups of tradesmen, which is closer to socialism than communism.
Tau ->* utilitarianism.
*Math notation. tends towards.
"It fits like clothes made out of wasps!"
To me, the Tau are an imaginary race created for a fantasy wargame and nothing else.
They are plastic models with a created background.
Now Phobos, I don't mean to simplify your discussion with such a short, and blunt response, but quite simply, that's all the Tau are.
Anyone that see's them as communist or Utilitarianist or whatever really should get out more.
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Honestly, I can't believe that you've devoted that much time to detailing whether the Tau are Commies or Utilitarries.
As I said before, the slight difference between the two forms of government doesn't change the fact that they hit on a 4+, and by Thor's Hammer they are a fictional race, so what difference does it make? I mean, if I was calling your particular real world system of government a democracy instead of a socialism, then I could see getting mad at me, but ummmm, fictional races are not something I'm getting into a heated philosophical debate about.
Now that you've thoroughly chewed me out, perhaps you can go remove all the avatars and signatures from the Tau forum people who have hammers and sicles and a myriad of other communistic symbology who are also woefully mislead. I would honestly prefer if everyone who is wrong got chewed out equally over this misunderstanding instead of just me.
I'm honestly wondering why you picked ME to snap on instead of the hundreds of others who have said it before me. I hope I haven't done something recently to piss you off, because I'll make amends if I have and we can go about being a big happy LO family again.
I'd say that the Tau were utilitarian fundamentalists.
This requires a third definition, again, generously supplied by Wikipedia.Now, a lot of you are probably questioning whether the greater good is a religion. I'd argue, very strongly, that it has all the defining characteristics of one. The demand for abseloute belief, a strong ethical framework, and so forth. I don't think a religion needs to have a god to be considered a religion.. Buddhism and, to a lesser extent, Hinduism are prime examples of religions without definate god figures, yet it's still possible to be a Buddhist fundamentalist (historically, there have been many such movements.)Very often religious fundamentalists, in all religions, are politically aware. They feel that legal and government processes must recognise the way of life they see as prescribed by God and set forth in Scripture. The state must be subservient to God, in their eyes: this, however is a basic belief of most religions, even if their practitioners do not insist upon it.
To the Tau, the ethical code of their religion is like a god unto itself, and their society is founded on it. Their lives and social processes are guided and sustained, not by pluralism and politics, but by abseloute belief in the greater good and a desire to live by its creed. This, in my view, qualifies them as fundamentalists.
I'm not arguing that they're not Utilitarians as well.. in fact, they could be considered to be ultra-utilitarians. But I also think they're amazingly close the Imperium in many ways.
Point them out to me and I will.
"It fits like clothes made out of wasps!"
I agree with you on this, Phobos, as Iâ€™ve stated before in other posts. The Tau are definitely not communistic, but utilitarian, and anyone calling them differently has apparently missed the discussion we had not too long ago on Tau philosophy in the 40k fluff section of the forum. I apologise to H0urg1ass for correcting his flawed description of the Tau society in a thread of his located neither here not in the 40k fluff section of the forum, but I feel it is important to understand that Tau are not communistic; while that word has become negatively loaded in the view of some, I actually believe that communistic Tau would be to prefer over their actual utilitarian outlook, which sees no value in the individual apart from that with which the individual can contribute to society and the Greater Good. In many ways, Tau are actually worse than many of the other races of the 40k universe; they possess as much respect for the individual as the Imperium, which is not much, and have as much compassion and morality as Chaos, which is even less.
The Tau society does not strive towards a state of equality as does the utopian communistic society; theirs is a society entirely anti-communistic in its division of the population into unbreakable classes or castes, including a working class with no say in either military or diplomatic matters, and a ruling class that all other classes defer blindly to. These castes are determined by birth rather than by skill or desire, and it is difficult if not impossible for an individual to move from one caste to another, not to mention becoming one of those in power, thus limiting personal freedom a great deal.
Secondly, another indication that the Tau are utilitarian is of course the motto, â€˜for the Greater Goodâ€™, which is the utilitarian creed as originally proposed by Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century formulation of the â€˜Greatest Happiness Principleâ€™. I personally see the Tau as practising a combination of act-utilitarianism and negative utilitarianism. Where act-utilitarianism is a form of positive utilitarianism and recommend the maximising of â€˜goodâ€™ or intrinsic value, negative utilitarianism recommends the reduction of â€˜un-goodâ€™ or intrinsic disvalue. This seem very Tau-like, considering that they are not only trying to live for the Greater Good themselves, but also trying to make others do the same and thus reduce the universal amount of â€˜un-goodnessâ€™, i.e. people not living for the Greater Good. To the Tau, not living by the utilitarian creed is to live in the misery of amorality. However, the ultimate way of ending human misery is of course by putting all human beings out of their misery, which the Tau just might figure out some time. This makes the Tau a lot less harmless than they appear at first glance.
So yes, I agree with Phobos that Tau are indeed tending towards utilitarianism, not communism.
As for why I case so much about the Tau and their philosophy, considering that theyâ€™re a fictional race: I donâ€™t, I just like to discuss philosophy a great deal.
Last edited by Grephaun; October 24th, 2005 at 18:17. Reason: Spelling.
"Girls are nice and cuddly on the outside, and freaky on the inside." ~ Lost Nemesis.
Surely utilitarianism and communism are human ideologies? The Tau are if anything something totally different, as unlike humans they are "naturally" of a caste, i.e. they are physically an Aun or an Earth or whatever, whereas a communist is not physically different from a capitalist (Cold War propaganda notwithstanding ) and a brahmin is not physically different from a kshatriya even though one is a preist caste and one a warrior caste.
Tau cannot choose to be other than what they are any more than a tyranid hive creature. Auns telepathically control the rest of 'em. Are nids communist or utilitarian? Of course not, and neither are the Tau.
They are just "Tau".
Last edited by Kahoolin; October 25th, 2005 at 05:41.
Wow, I was just talking about this last night.
Me: "Why are Tau communist?"
Other guy 1:"Because they are."
Me:"That's not what I meant. Why do people call them communist."
Other guy 1:"Because they are!"
Other guy 2:"Yeah dude, wtf are you smoking?"
I don't think they understood what I meant.