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CELS
19-10-2007, 02:39
A thought occurred when I was watching the movie 'Serenity'... [EXTREMELY SMALL SPOILER FOLLOWS]

For those who haven't seen the movie (go see it now), there's a character in it that has undergone some intense psychological therapy and neural surgery at the hands of the government, resulting in the ability to become a killing machine if he/she perceives a trigger in the form of a picture or spoken word, and the ability to be 'switched off' again in a similar way. Basically, the character receives this signal and goes on a rampage, attacking everyone in sight.

So... how does this compare with the hypno-therapy and psycho-indoctrination of the Space Marines? And, while we're on the subject, just what kind of treatment are the Space Marines given and how does this effect their personality and their performance in combat? It occurred to me that GW doesn't really say too much about that, and when we see Space Marines in combat, they seem like normal professional soldiers (except with a lot less discipline, because the... goram Black Library writers usually enjoy to have their Space Marine characters have a joking conversation or philosophical debate in the middle of a battle). But how do you guys feel that Space Marines should perform, as a result of this extreme treatment?

And do note that this is extreme treatment. It's what makes Space Marines living killing machines, rather than soldiers. The way I see it, if you didn't see it coming already, is that Space Marines might have 'triggers' just like the character in 'Serenity'. So when they get the order to kill everyone, enemies and civilians and anything else, it's not really a matter of choice. They've just been conditioned to respond to a stimulus in a certain way. So when they hear the order, they just react, instantly, without thought. And when they get the order to stand down, they don't think about whether or not their mission is complete or whatever. They just respond to the stimulus.

Thoughts?

Vaulkhar
19-10-2007, 03:12
Going by Space Wolf, a lot of it is technical stuff - backgound knowledge, equipment operation and maintenance, tactical doctrines, stuff like that. Ideological indoctrination is going to be loyalty to Emperor and Chapter, obedience of superior officers and 'no retreat unless the situation is completely and utterly fubar'.

Relatively little of it is ideological. Space Marines aren't single-minded killing machines, that's the Eversor's and Arco-flagellant's job. Marines are deployed into situations that require a more surgical and intelligent application of violence, thus their conditioning is thorough but not the raging maniac on/off switch that you've proposed.

Khaine's Messenger
19-10-2007, 03:36
So... how does this compare with the hypno-therapy and psycho-indoctrination of the Space Marines?

Most of it is of the flavor of thinking that most subjects of the Imperium cultivate normally through their lives, albeit more controlled and focused so as to leave less room for doubt. Things like loyalty and tradition along with the occasional info-dump. Frankly, going all Manchurian Candidate on Space Marines makes them less appetizing by comparison to fanatical, genocidal, half-insane madmen fed on a steady diet of hate and strife since recruitment from feral-worlds and never allowed to properly mature. Call me a dreamer. :)


But how do you guys feel that Space Marines should perform, as a result of this extreme treatment?

They will tend to have a sense of unease when they "remember" something they never actually spent the time to learn except through psycho-doctrination. At least for a little while. It might lead a lot of them to trust their "instincts" a bit too often, which, yes, can result in snap decisions that only end badly.

CELS
19-10-2007, 04:29
Going by Space Wolf, a lot of it is technical stuff - backgound knowledge, equipment operation and maintenance, tactical doctrines, stuff like that. Ideological indoctrination is going to be loyalty to Emperor and Chapter, obedience of superior officers and 'no retreat unless the situation is completely and utterly fubar'.
Well, just because Space Wolf doesn't mention any other stuff doesn't mean it isn't there. I like to believe there is more to the creation of a Space Marine than what is presented in the Space Wolf novel.

Furthermore, for all its merits, Space Wolf has a very romantic image of Space Marines and combat, and IIRC Bill King is one of many Black Library authors to like to add a lighter mood to his novels by having Space Marines joke and playfully insult eachother even in the midst of battle / combat. It's not something that I feel is appropriate, personally.


Relatively little of it is ideological. Space Marines aren't single-minded killing machines, that's the Eversor's and Arco-flagellant's job. Marines are deployed into situations that require a more surgical and intelligent application of violence, thus their conditioning is thorough but not the raging maniac on/off switch that you've proposed.
Not so much raging maniac as cold killing machine. I'm not proposing anything along the lines of an Arco-flagellant (which are, after all, drugged to heighten their craze), but perhaps something between the character in Serenity and the character in the Bourne identity...?


Most of it is of the flavor of thinking that most subjects of the Imperium cultivate normally through their lives, albeit more controlled and focused so as to leave less room for doubt. Things like loyalty and tradition along with the occasional info-dump. Frankly, going all Manchurian Candidate on Space Marines makes them less appetizing by comparison to fanatical, genocidal, half-insane madmen fed on a steady diet of hate and strife since recruitment from feral-worlds and never allowed to properly mature. Call me a dreamer. :)
Well, who ever said the two were mutually exclusive? And of course, "going all Manchurian Candidate" would help explain why Space Marines sometimes (or usually, rather) aren't portrayed as fanatical, genocidal half-insane madmen. If they underwent some serious hypno-therapy, they might be very different when not in combat (during the planning stages or when taking command of a battle barge) from what they are in combat. And if Space Marines were "fanatical, genocidal half-insane madmen" off the battlefield, then they wouldn't really do very well as tacticians, I think. Sanity is an important part of formulating a comprehensive strategy, I think. Then again, I've never conquered any worlds. Yet.

Captain_Ardias
19-10-2007, 04:41
Well, I would say Space Wolves are a special case just because of who they are. They're much more of a feudal warrior clan (and act it) compared to the common codex oriented chapter that has a much more rigid discipline and way of doing war.

As was said before, I think an assassin along the lines of the eversor is much more of the 'indoctrinated' killing trigger, whereas the marine is trained through psycho conditioning and is always 'on' (in the broad sense of the word). Also, I don't think the psyco-indoctrinated learning process would be that much of a hamper. I don't see it as forcing memories into a person's brain that aren't their own, more of connecting the marine's brain cells to form patterns and word associations like school does for us now, just a whole lot faster and without the rote memorization and talking (which also explains why it doesn't work for some, the memories that are 'transplanted' into their head are in the wrong format and it drives them insane).

I would say the Bourne Identity parallel is the best one, its at such a base part of their brains that they are just able to do it, much like you are able to type or remember pages upon pages of warhammer fluff. The marines are still themselves, but through their chapters teachings and rituals they become very focused and adept at what they do.

Kage2020
19-10-2007, 04:42
For me? The indoctrination goes bone deep. There is no question of a 'trigger word' because the Marines' morality is not defined in contemporary terms. But, for me, they are entirely programmed. The trappings of the Chapter - honour, tradition, or whatever - are an element of the system of control that is employed to channel the emotions, mental energy or whatever into being what they are.

I am, however, afraid that I'm biased towards the Marines as evidenced by a number of quotes that I feel sums them up:


I'm an angel. I kill firstborns while their mamas watch. I turn cities into salt. I even, when I feel like it, rip the souls from little girls, and from now till kingdom come, the only thing you can count on in your existence is never understanding why.
And:


Did you ever notice how in the Bible, when ever God needed to punish someone, or make an example, or whenever God needed a killing, he sent an angel? Did you ever wonder what a creature like that must be like? A whole existence spent praising your God, but always with one wing dipped in blood. Would you ever really want to see an angel?
And:


You still don't get it, do you? He'll find her. That's what he does. That's all he does! You can't stop him. He'll wade through you, reach down her throat, and pull her ******* heart out.
To a much lesser extent:


Sandra: Sgt. Todd... what's it like? What's it like being a soldier? What do you think about?
Todd: [silence]
Sandra: You must think about something?
Todd: [silence]
Sandra: What about feelings then?
Todd: [silence]
Sandra: You must *feel* something?
Todd: [silence]
Todd: Fear
Sandra: Fear?
Todd: Fear and discipline.
Sandra: Now?
Todd: Always.
That, for me, is a Marine. Maybe that's just me, but there we go. I'm less invested in making the Marines into likable characters who share a joke over an ale, the passing of wind, and comments about their supposed relative lack of masculinity. I like my "Angels of Death" to be just that -- symbols of "absolute" authority and retribution.

But whatever twiddles your biscuit. :D

Kage

J-Eire8
19-10-2007, 09:43
For me, a lot of the psycho conditioning is as important for making a marine as the implants and gene therapy. Im not just talking about indoctrination; as someone mentioned earlier, they probably get a good deal of that simply from living within the imperium, even before they get chapter doctrines and cult initiation etc. I was thinking more of an awakening of senses and so forth, marines being able to control and order their sensory reception in ways that would be impossible for most humans. Also, a lot of subconscious impulses that are neccessary for engaging the systems built into their armor. For an average person having a lot of battle data superimposed over their vision would be extremely distracting, not to mention external sensor that feed in information about the battle on a broad scale, but marines are trained to operate with these sensory extensions as if born to them. I imagine this to take many forms, such as constant awareness of enemy/friendly positions for one.

malika
19-10-2007, 11:07
I think hypno-therapy and psycho-indoctrination would be more intense in the post-Heresy era. I assumed that pre-Heresy Space Marines are more "human", those might be the guys who joke around and have philosophical debates in the middle of battle. This is due to the fact that these Space Marines are created from adult humans and have their full memories of their youth and all that. This might also be the reason why so many followed Horus into rebellion. (And probably also why elements from various Traitor Legions remains Loyalist)

Post-Heresy era, the Imperium realises how dangerous Space Marines can be and Guilliman splits the Legions up in Chapters and basicly tones the power of the Space Marines down to such a level that they can no longer tear the Imperium apart of there would be rebellious factions. Indoctrination techniques are upgraded and applied to the Space Marines, no longer that informal element of the pre-Heresy Space Marines. You basicly have a fully indoctrinated and focussed Space Marine. I doubt you could have a normal chat with a Space Marine, sure they can talk...but everything is formal and directed towards war. All a Space Marine knows is war. While the Space Wolves and the Black Templars would be exceptions of this rule due to the fact that...well I believe these Chapters still use pre-Heresy techniques to recruit new Marines. Which is probably why the Space Wolves remain such a jolly bunch to hang out with. Normal Space Marines would simply experience some sort of culture shock if they were forced to live civilian life. I would compare this shock to something similar to how Kyle Reese must have experienced 1984 when he travelled there from the future to protect Sarah Connor in The Terminator, while this concept of culture shock wasnt really explored, it is something a Space Marine would experience if forced to live a civilian's life. He wouldnt know what to do, everything would relate to war and it wouldnt take long for the Marine to go on a killing spree due to belief he is in a combat situation.

As for the level of indoctrination, it would be very intense. Loyalty to the officers, to the Chaptermaster, to the Chapter itself, to the Imperium, to their Primarch father and to the Emperor. Hmm maybe it would go the other way around, first the Emperor, then the Imperium, Chapter, officers, etc. This order and the turning around might also be why Chapters rebel. I mean if you look at Lufgt Huron and his rebellion which resulted in the Badab War, in this case the Marines' first loyalty was that to the Chapter(master) instead of to the Imperium or the Emperor, especially in the current GW interpretation of the rebellion. Which is a shame because in the older fluff the rebellion seemed to have been caused by Huron's resentment towards the High Lords of Terra who he believed to be unjust. Space Marines are indoctrinated that they fight for the Imperium, this however also has its problems. While the Space Marines might remain loyal to the Imperium (and thus remove a Chaptermaster who is heretical or even traitor) it might also mean that they seperate humanity from the Imperium. Similar to how military regimes in Latin America (Brazil, Chile and Argentina) believed they were protecting their countries from the people, the Space Marine at a certain point might believe he has to protect the Imperium from humanity, who is weak compared to the Space Marines. This can be seen in the actions of the Marines Malevolent who attacked human refugee camps.

So we have to look at how they are indoctrinated, where the loyalties have to be and so on.
We basicly have to look at the intensity of the indoctrination and in which direction they are indoctrinated.

Emperor's Grace
19-10-2007, 21:30
Might be worth considering the "Az-bat" approach. (Azrael in Batman)

His "program" was triggered by an action - donning the mask/helmet (or being in mortal danger).

The SM could laugh and joke until stuff hit the fan and then just go iceman...

Didn't the RT SM (Kil Kil Kil) fit the barely controlled homicidal image?

J-Eire8
19-10-2007, 23:01
With respect to Malika's points, I don't believe hypno-therapy and psycho conditioning to be so concerned with cultivating loyalty. Its certainly going to be a part of it, but look at human history, how many factions have inspired mindless loyalty and fanaticism without any futuristic techniques? I'm sure many imperial citizens have been hardwired in this way simply by living within the imperial propaganda machine, and thats without taking into account the religious saturation created by the ecclesiarchy. Though it has been left vague (which is a shame because the implications have great potential in terms of background/marine mentality), psycho-conditioning/hypno-therapy is probably more concerned with (greatly) boosting a marine's combat effectivness/awareness, and accustomizing him to the features of his armor and anatomical enhancements.

I think pre-heresy marines have been recently presented as being more jovial and personable because, to be honest, Black Library authors can't do marines very well, and in general there aren't any writers among them skilled enough to deal with something as momentously epic as the great crusade/heresy. Can you imagine Dan Abnett tackling Lord of the Rings or the Silmarillion? Also, even back then marines had to be recruited young for the best results, medical techniques were fresher and more versatile so older recruits could undergo the change, but they still aimed for younger aspirants.

Argastes
19-10-2007, 23:23
I guess I'm going to go against the flow here and say that I think a SM's psycho-indoctrination does not have a major effect on their behavior, and is much more oriented towards reinforcing their conscious training on an unconscious level so that they become "programmed" with the technical and military knowledge they need to know.

Certainly I believe that Marines are intensely loyal and all that, but if human history shows us anything, it's that you DON'T need hypnosis and psychotherapy to indoctrinate someone so totally into a creed or belief system that they'll do anything for it, no matter how violent and morally questionable. To me, the loyalty and devotion of Space Marines is cultivated the old-fashioned way, with traditional indoctrination rather than high-tech brainwashing. I feel it robs them of their character to view them otherwise. Describing them as "entirely programmed" strikes me as dull and uninteresting. They may be "programmed" in a sense, but they're "programmed" in same manner as real-life religious devotees, not in the manner of a brainwashed drone. To me, the most evocative thing about space marines has always been that they are "super-human, but still men" (as it was put in some short story in one of the 2nd edition rulebooks, about Blood Angels fighting alongside IG in the 2nd Armageddon War). I think of their faith and loyalty as something they understand and genuinely believe in, and willingly choose to embrace because they have been taught it's correct, not because it's burned into their brains by a machine. After all, there are various fluff references to Marines experiencing ordinary human doubt; they overcome or banish these doubts, of course, but they still experience them.

That said, I still find it annoying when the BL authors have them exchange humorous quips or philosophical ideas (or what the BL authors think pass for such things...) during battle. There's a difference between showing their human side, and contrived prattle that tries to masquerade as genuine characterization. When SM's are in battle, they should act and communicate like real soldiers in battle--actually, they should be even more disciplined. They shouldn't act like they're in a B-grade action movie. Outside of combat, I don't mind them displaying a bit more of a human side, although even there, I don't think jokes and philosophical discussions are the best way to do it--I've always thought that the character of Space Marines was best revealed through their introspection and contemplation, and that the bond between the battle-brethren was based largely on unspoken factors.

CELS
20-10-2007, 03:35
Well, it seems clear to me that it's more a case of personal taste than anything else. There's really no foundation in the fluff that would support my view, it just irritates me that they use words like hypno-therapy and psycho-indoctrination for something as simple as learning technical and military knowledge. Maybe the words carry a different meaning to me than everybody else, but hypno-therapy and psycho-indoctrination doesn't sound like just learning about squad level tactics and different ways to kill an ork.

More than anything, I guess it's because most people like to see Space Marines like Argastes describes them. "super-human, but still men". Very much like superheroes, in some regards. I used to share this preference, enjoying to read about chapters such as the Celestial Lions who had a touch of humanity, but as I've matured and become more twisted and evil, I now prefer to read about Space Marines that in many ways embody the worst and most destructive sides of humanity, but somehow manage to channel it in a [roughly] positive way.

I guess I'm just interested in seeing Space Marines more as a product of a vast and cold system, rather than glorious heroes who sacrifice themselves for humanity. They are both, of course, but I prefer to see it less as altruism and more as indoctrination. Bad guys fighting for the good guys just fascinates me...

Oh well, thanks for commenting, guys :D

malika
20-10-2007, 12:12
With respect to Malika's points, I don't believe hypno-therapy and psycho conditioning to be so concerned with cultivating loyalty. Its certainly going to be a part of it, but look at human history, how many factions have inspired mindless loyalty and fanaticism without any futuristic techniques? I'm sure many imperial citizens have been hardwired in this way simply by living within the imperial propaganda machine, and thats without taking into account the religious saturation created by the ecclesiarchy.
But Space Marines arent your average Imperial citizen. I would very much compare it to the torture part of Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, its not mere loyalty for Big Brother that they want, they want you to actually loev Big Brother. I mean even the most loyal person will have their own sense of morality and will get conflicted in certain situations. The Space Marine has no such thing.


More than anything, I guess it's because most people like to see Space Marines like Argastes describes them. "super-human, but still men". Very much like superheroes, in some regards. I used to share this preference, enjoying to read about chapters such as the Celestial Lions who had a touch of humanity, but as I've matured and become more twisted and evil, I now prefer to read about Space Marines that in many ways embody the worst and most destructive sides of humanity, but somehow manage to channel it in a [roughly] positive way.

When you mention super-humans for some reason Im getting a very Nietzschian vibe, the ubermensch and off course the raped interpretation of the ubermensch by Nazi Germany who put a whole biological construct into it and basicly ignoring the philosophical reasonings behind it. Looking at the Nazi version of the Ubermensch, I would imagine the Space Marine to be sort of like that, not meaning aryan, but actually a perfected version of humanity. The only prize they have to pay for it is that they lose their humanity, I remember in the "pilot/preview" comic of Bloodquest that once came free with a WD many years ago there was a scene in which a Blood Angel was tortured, it basicly went on that how Space Marines are more than humans but in many ways they are so much less than humanity. Imperial propaganda might use the Space Marine as their posterboy (in a similar way as GW does:p) but in reality they are the opposite of that. They are more than just bad guys fighting for "good" guys. They are monsters fighting for the good guys.