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TheBearminator
20-03-2013, 08:05
This is something that really puzzles me. Is it ever explained?

You often hear that the Tau are communists. I've never read any of their fluff. From what I understand they have a distinct collectivist mindset. But is that what's supposedly to make them communists?

Yodhrin
20-03-2013, 08:59
This is something that really puzzles me. Is it ever explained?

You often hear that the Tau are communists. I've never read any of their fluff. From what I understand they have a distinct collectivist mindset. But is that what's supposedly to make them communists?

99% of people who don't study politics and economics have no concept of communism beyond "Stalin, no property, collectivism", and are perfectly capable of declaring something as being communist based on it being similar to just one of those three things.

The Tau are, as you point out, not communist but collectivist(indeed many of the ideals the Tau hold to, such as a rigid caste system, are antithetical to communism). As to what "the Greater Good" actually is, it seems to be an extreme collectivist mentality in service of pure progressivism; incremental but continual technological and social evolution to ensure species survival and expansion.

MvS
20-03-2013, 09:15
An excellent summary, Yodhrin.

The only thing I'd tease out further is to mention that the collectivism of Greater Good seems to require the absolute commitment of those within it (or are subsumed by it), to the extent of subsuming the self wholly into the collective.

Added to that, depending upon which sources we take most seriously, there seems to be a two-tier system within the Greater Good - those within the caste system (so the Tau themselves) and those cultures who are joined to the Tau hegemony. Civilisations who have joined with the Tau may not be expected to subsume themselves quite so much to the Greater Good, but then again they don't seem to posses quite so many rights the Tau themselves within the system. This may change as more alien species join the Greater Good.

As a side note, perhaps this thread should be moved to the background section?

raygunsand rocketeers
20-03-2013, 09:59
"(indeed many of the ideals the Tau hold to, such as a rigid caste system, are antithetical to communism)."........................

The 'caste' system of the tau isnt in opposition to communist doctrine, as it is a different kind of caste system .
The Soviet Russians used a caste very similar to the one of the Tau. After a students graduation from primary school, they would be assigned a speciality....
if the commie boss aid that you were a farmer, you became a farmer, no options.
If he said you worked in tractor factory, the you did that, no options.
that is the dogmatic slavery of the collectivist / socialist types of governments...
Tau do it a slight bit different, but it is very similar to Soviet Russian if you know history.
Dont be so concerned if your friends call you communist, GW tried to make collectivism a good thing.....
and to be honest, it can be.
The only thing that stops communism and similar schemes from working is human nature.
But in Fiction, where benevolent forces can work unlike in the real world, Be a proud collectivist Tau....
there could be great honor in it, and great accomplishments made for you...and the greater good.

Erik_Morkai
20-03-2013, 12:10
Watch Hot Fuzz, the Greater Good is explained well enough ;)

To sum it up: Everyone does what is best for the whole (not the individual) at any given time. Because the need of the many outweight the need of the few...or the one.

RandomThoughts
20-03-2013, 14:08
Actually, I think it halps to envision the Tau as a race that has less bankers than humanity and more teachers, less a-holes and more idealists.

It's not so much communism, which tried to enforce unrealistic ideals on humans that don't match these ideals, and more the groups of people you find in underpayed samaritian cycles, like volunteers helping at animal shelters (not for political gain!) and people volunteering for community work.

Take the bankers and the politicians and the arms dealers and the drug dealers, shoot them all, and what is left might be a bit closer to the tau.

Or perhaps I'm completely wrong. :shifty:

rapaxvita
20-03-2013, 14:13
Similar to what everyone was saying before they are a collectivist society and each individual is a part of the "greater good" I believe somewhere saying, I think it was in the second ultramarine omnibus that, that each person is a cog in the machine and if they fail as that part then they aren't working towards the greater good.

Basically you are piece of a machine, you won't ever be anything else other then that machine and if you fail as that piece then the machine stops working.

blackseven
20-03-2013, 14:20
Tau have tons of politicians: the Water caste is divided between politicians, merchants (including bankers), and administrators.

IMHO, the "Greater Good" is essentially the collective welfare of the Tau Empire, as cynically speculated by an Imperial at the end of the original Tau Codex. However, in 40k terms, this is not nearly as awful as it sounds, as the collective good of the Tau Empire results in bettering the position of all subject species. Obviously the Tau species gets the final say and benefits the most, but the subject species (assuming they don't cause trouble) do get real benefits as second-class citizens. These benefits include uplifts in technology, access to the robust Tau trade, and military support when the Imperials/Tyranids/Chaos/whatever come for you. The Tau do a good job utilizing your strengths AND covering your weaknesses in the context of the Empire, most easily seen by us wargamers on the tabletop.

A.T.
20-03-2013, 14:40
The 'greater good' is described on page 6 of the codex. It is, in essence, the master plan of the Ethereals and all tau are born into servitude of it through a mix of fear, indoctrination, and mind altering pheromones.

Tau 'communism' is of the dictatorship/1984 variety - the ethereals demand and the tau serve 'for the greater good' - it's dogma.

As per page 8 of the codex the ultimate dream of the tau is to bow before the ethereals as the 'first among equals' - the most noted of the ethereals unquestioning servants.

Bonzai
20-03-2013, 15:07
Ultimately, the greater good is whatever the Etherials declare it to be.

Johnnya10
20-03-2013, 15:28
"Be excellent to each other" - Aun'Bill and Shas'Ted

MvS
20-03-2013, 16:26
Ultimately, the greater good is whatever the Etherials declare it to be.

Only to a degree. The foundation of the Greater Good isn't just pheromone control, it's also the message that all Tau should set aside their personal and sub-group differences to work together to a 'greater' goal. The pheromones serve to make all other Tau more receptive towards and trusting of whatever the Ethereals say. I think even 'lesser' Tau would have trouble accepting a message that is fundamentally against the unity precept though, like "let's kill all the water caste". There's a limit.

ForgottenLore
20-03-2013, 16:56
The pheromones serve to make all other Tau more receptive towards and trusting of whatever the Ethereals say.

And that is only IF the random theory of an Imperial researcher turns out to be accurate and there really are pheromones.

A.T.
20-03-2013, 17:13
The foundation of the Greater Good isn't just pheromone controlTrue, the codex suggests a lot of social engineering. The tau literally long to kneel before the will of the Ethereals - to quote the codex :
"... orders are followed without question, for the Ethereal caste members who issue them are revered by countless billions, and their wisdom is beyond doubt." (snip) "All gather upon T'au to hear the word of the Ethereals, and to enact it, for the Greater Good of the empire"

"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" - page 10.




I think even 'lesser' Tau would have trouble accepting a message that is fundamentally against the unity precept though, like "let's kill all the water caste". There's a limit.Page 9, "If an Ethereal were of such a mind, he could order another Tau to kill himself and it would be obeyed immediately"

Any limit is not due to the message of the greater good but rather the limit of the ethereals system of control as the tau obey without question or qualification ... until they stray too far and too long from the ethereals presence as with Commander Farsight.

Damocles8
20-03-2013, 17:15
Only to a degree. The foundation of the Greater Good isn't just pheromone control, it's also the message that all Tau should set aside their personal and sub-group differences to work together to a 'greater' goal. The pheromones serve to make all other Tau more receptive towards and trusting of whatever the Ethereals say. I think even 'lesser' Tau would have trouble accepting a message that is fundamentally against the unity precept though, like "let's kill all the water caste". There's a limit.

Isn't that mindset born from the Tau histroy? The Ethereals came in and prevented the Tau from massacring each other if I remember right.

Tau seem to be more Feudal Japan, with the Ethereals as Daymio or Shogun, even the Tau military follows some aspects of that.

jsullivanlaw
20-03-2013, 17:49
The greater good refers to Utilitarianism - the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few. This philosophy calls for individuals to act in a way that provides the greatest benefit for Tau society as a whole despite being detrimental to minority groups or scattered individuals.

MvS
20-03-2013, 17:57
And that is only IF the random theory of an Imperial researcher turns out to be accurate and there really are pheromones.

Indeed, good point.


True, the codex suggests a lot of social engineering. The tau literally long to kneel before the will of the Ethereals - to quote the codex :
"... orders are followed without question, for the Ethereal caste members who issue them are revered by countless billions, and their wisdom is beyond doubt." (snip) "All gather upon T'au to hear the word of the Ethereals, and to enact it, for the Greater Good of the empire"

Right. And this sort of social engineering isn't unique to the Tau either.


"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" - page 10.

Yes, although the two-tier system I refer to is that you wouldn't see non-Tau taking up senior positions. Yes the Ethereals occupy the topmost tier of society, but there are other levels of authority under them. You'll never see a human (let alone Vespid or whatever else) holding categorical authority over a Tau.


Page 9, "If an Ethereal were of such a mind, he could order another Tau to kill himself and it would be obeyed immediately"

Right, but it is one thing to choose to kill yourself in absolute faith that it is the right thing to do because your Prophet-Priest-King told you to. It's another thing entirely if that same Prophet-Priest-King told you to wipe out a quarter of the population that that the entire system you live within is based upon, and which all your rulers up until that moment declared were a fundamentally important aspect of THE ideology of the system.

This isn't to say there wouldn't be a crisis of identity for any Tau ordered to do something so antithetical to their beliefs, and not just because of the proposed pheromone control. I suppose a similar argument might be whether an Ethereal can order a 'lesser' Tau to kill another Ethereal, preferably at a distance and while hidden so the target Ethereal couldn't order him not to.


Any limit is not due to the message of the greater good but rather the limit of the ethereals system of control as the tau obey without question or qualification ... until they stray too far and too long from the ethereals presence as with Commander Farsight.

There's strong evidence to suggest this, it's true. But there's also compelling evidence to problematise it too.


Isn't that mindset born from the Tau histroy? The Ethereals came in and prevented the Tau from massacring each other if I remember right. Tau seem to be more Feudal Japan, with the Ethereals as Daymio or Shogun, even the Tau military follows some aspects of that.

I think you're right. There was a limit to what a Daymio/Shogun could legitimately order his subordinates to do, although admittedly these limits were very slim.

Draconis
20-03-2013, 18:13
And that is only IF the random theory of an Imperial researcher turns out to be accurate and there really are pheromones.

This. The pheremone was only a small insert in some fluff and never talked about again. It was an idea of how the empire could control the tau race.

the greater good came about after the tau inter-warfare nearly wiped the species out. The ethereals (2 of them actually) came to the seperate armies and demanded audience. They sat through the night and talked about a greater good. The idea that many working for the benefit of the whole, will help the species become the most advanced in the galaxy. After peace broke out, every tau was confined to their roll (fire caste were warriors, earth cast were builders/scientists, etc etc) and there was no breeding between them. Every faction worked for the greater good of the species as a whole to advance their race and survive against hostile forces outside their empire.

Col. Tartleton
20-03-2013, 18:29
Tau are sheep. Humans are wolves. Eldar are lions. Tyranids are ants. Orks are baboons. Necrons are metal wolves.

KaisKlip
20-03-2013, 18:33
You ever been surrounded by a herd of sheep?

Sheep with electromagnetically charged wool and rail guns for currency.

Draconis
20-03-2013, 18:35
You ever been surrounded by a herd of sheep?

Sheep with electromagnetically charged wool and rail guns for currency.

what was it the land raider bumper sticker said? "I break for Railguns"?

KaisKlip
20-03-2013, 18:37
In regards to pheromones, it is heavily alluded that the ethereals were engineered, specifically noting the phermone emitting organ towards tau olfactory senses. The pheromones themselves just serve to reinforce obedience, however in most cases they are not needed, but employed during stressful situations which would challenge the Greater Good ideology. Think Commissars.

Akwikone
20-03-2013, 19:29
Yes, although the two-tier system I refer to is that you wouldn't see non-Tau taking up senior positions. Yes the Ethereals occupy the topmost tier of society, but there are other levels of authority under them. You'll never see a human (let alone Vespid or whatever else) holding categorical authority over a Tau.





The Master Shaper Anghkor Prok is the only Kroot allowed to have military command over Tau. So while extremely rare, it is possible to see other species with authority over Tau.

KingDeath
20-03-2013, 19:33
The greater good refers to Utilitarianism - the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few. This philosophy calls for individuals to act in a way that provides the greatest benefit for Tau society as a whole despite being detrimental to minority groups or scattered individuals.

It should be kept in mind that this does not automaticaly mean that the welfare of minorities is ignored if one tries to achive the greatest possible amount of "good" or "happiness" within a society. A boost to a society's happiness might, even within Utilitarian ethics, not necessarily outweigh a large amount of suffering for a few.

ForgottenLore
20-03-2013, 20:19
In regards to pheromones, it is heavily alluded that the ethereals were engineered, specifically noting the phermone emitting organ towards tau olfactory senses. The pheromones themselves just serve to reinforce obedience, however in most cases they are not needed, but employed during stressful situations which would challenge the Greater Good ideology. Think Commissars.

Heavily alluded to, but never confirmed. Implied, speculated, hinted-at, suggested, but not confirmed. Yet a great many people treat it like uncontrovertible truth.

MiyamatoMusashi
20-03-2013, 20:58
I've always wondered how pheremones work when almost all the Tau models we see are wearing airtight suits. "You, Shas'la Bob, will kill yourself!" "WTF? No way!" "Erm... take off your helmet." "Why?" "No reason." <Bob takes his helmet off> "You, Shas'la Bob, will kill yourself!" "Yes... FOR THE GREATER GOOD."

Or how they work if, say, an Ethereal isn't in the room at the time. "You, Shas'la Bob, will kill yourself!" "WTF? No way!" "Oh, bugger, forgot we're only talking over radio... erm, give me five minutes, I'll come to you... remember to take your helmet off when I get there..."

In other words, it doesn't really make sense. It's one theory from an in-universe scholar, who (perhaps as a result of living in an oppressive totalitarian regime) assumes that the Tau are living in an oppressive totalitarian regime, and seeks explanations that might confirm that (otherwise baseless) hypothesis.

What little we really know of Tau philosophy has elements of socialism, utilitarianism, collecitivism, communism and even Buddhism actually. None of these philosophies or movements required pheremones in what we know of as the "real" world. It would be a pretty poor failure of imagination if GW ever declare that that is, in fact, what happens to the Tau. (Wait... Mat Ward isn't writing the fluff in the new book, is he?)

ForgottenLore
20-03-2013, 21:21
It's one theory from an in-universe scholar, who (perhaps as a result of living in an oppressive totalitarian regime) assumes that the Tau are living in an oppressive totalitarian regime, and seeks explanations that might confirm that (otherwise baseless) hypothesis.

What little we really know of Tau philosophy has elements of socialism, utilitarianism, collecitivism, communism and even Buddhism actually. None of these philosophies or movements required pheremones in what we know of as the "real" world. It would be a pretty poor failure of imagination if GW ever declare that that is, in fact, what happens to the Tau. (Wait... Mat Ward isn't writing the fluff in the new book, is he?)

This. Really the whole post, but especially this last half.

Myself, my view is that the Tau are VERY pragmatic. They are capable of committing atrocities, but they usually don't. Not because of some goody-two-shoes sense of morality or ethics, but simply because it is almost always a bad idea and creates more problems than it solves. Why wipe out a population if you can take a few decades and turn them into willing allies? Don't repress alien cultures and create resentment and hostility, adapt your approach to utilize their culture so that they come to you.

A.T.
20-03-2013, 21:37
Heavily alluded to, but never confirmed. Implied, speculated, hinted-at, suggested, but not confirmed. Yet a great many people treat it like uncontrovertible truth.Occam's razor - given the choice between the heavily alluded, implied, speculated, hinted-at, suggested and mentioned in the ethereal entry in the tau codex explaination, or an alternative fan interpretation ...

It's not the uncontrovertible truth, its simply has the greatest support from the printed material.

Dark_Kindred
20-03-2013, 21:41
Personally, I always convieved the greater good as being much less menacing version of Chairman Yang (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO_xh7xIabk)'s Hive from Alpha Centauri. I also imagined the Imperium as a much less thoughtful version of Sister Miriam's Believers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwqN3Ur-wP0) and a less scientifically inclined Colonel Santiago's Spartans (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGCaACqy1Ro). These are, of course, crude sketches--the Tau do not strike me as being particularly nihilistic. Also, Empire's pan-Asian influence, condescending but not hostile racism, and general naivete make it hard to describe as anything more than a strangely fanatical society of progressive, cast-driven technocrats.

MiyamatoMusashi
20-03-2013, 22:28
Occam's razor - given the choice between the heavily alluded, implied, speculated, hinted-at, suggested and mentioned in the ethereal entry in the tau codex explaination, or an alternative fan interpretation ...

It's not the uncontrovertible truth, its simply has the greatest support from the printed material.

Occam's razor would be "given the choice between sentient beings accepting a philosophy that has roots in real-life philosophy, prefer that over a galaxy-spanning conspiracy involving pheremones that doesn't make sense and even in-universe Imperial scholars haven't been able to find any actual physical evidence for".

Aluinn
20-03-2013, 22:34
As others have said, it's basically a strict interpretation of utilitarianism, though probably, in order for it to have worked so far, rule utilitarianism rather than act utilitarianism. To sum it up as succinctly as possible in paraphrase of J.S. Mill and Bentham: "That act is right/good/moral which results in the greatest happiness/satisfaction/contentment/pleasure for the greatest number of people." (Bentham literally said "pleasure" at times, and seemed to really mean "physical pleasure", though he minted it as the "Greatest Happiness Principle"; Mill almost always said "happiness", and included intellectual and, presumably, emotional pleasures amongst physical--Mill's is the modern form of the theory more or less.)

Note that as KingDeath said, especially in rule utilitarianism, this doesn't always mean that you, for example, should torture a single child because it will totally entertain millions of people (and this is the sort of thought experiment that's brought up in the earliest attempts to refute utilitarianism, but if you want to study it more, it doesn't end up refuting it entirely for a number of reasons). If you examine the nature of that act and imagine it being applied as a general practice or rule across a society, you can see that it would foster, perpetuate, or typify a brutal and sadistic society which would, we can readily imagine, result in less people being happy in the long run. Thus, rule utilitarianism, at least, allows for the protection of minorities even in the face of the simplest form of the "Greatest Happiness Principle"--it is in fact contrary to the fullest and most expansive meaning of the principle not to protect minorities.

(Tau-in: This explains why it's likely that large numbers of other Tau will die to protect a single Ethereal: It would seem to violate the principle on its face--lots of people living and potentially being happy > one person living "--but the guidance of Ethereals, based on Tau history, is deemed essential for the maintenance of the whole society and the upholding of the Greater Good principle. They're thus more important not because they're superior individuals, but because they have more potential to bring about happiness for more Tau than other Tau.)

This is, as is probably pretty obvious, an ethical theory, but it comes from people who were thinking about societies and how to run them (Mill was a MP and Bentham an extremely prominent academic, and both wrote on political issues; for example, Mill was one of the earliest male feminist theorists in history and argued fully equal rights for women before they were enfranchised). It often lacks appeal at the individual level, where people find virtue ethics or even the duty principles of deontological ethics more "relatable", but it is, inherently, about what's best for everyone, because that was the question that its originators set out to answer, on the assumption that that society which does what is best for all its members is the best society.

It is consistent with communism but also with other forms of economy. It is consistent also with many forms of government. Getting hung up on whether the Tau are communist or not, or what their government is really like, will probably not help you to discern the meaning of the Greater Good, which, as far as I can tell, is the above.

Notes:

1. Attempting to adhere to utilitarian principles will still result in legitimate disagreements. Tau society is not the only possible outcome of doing so, but it appears to be guided thus.

2. Utilitarianism is teleological, i.e. concerned with outcomes. This is as opposed to virtue ethics, which judges the "goodness" or "badness" of individuals; utilitarianism just don't into that sort of thing. This explains to some extent the collectivism of the Tau--if you do something wrong, it doesn't make you bad; if you do something good, it doesn't make you good. You can't thus be any better or worse, ethically, than anyone else, only better or worse at doing things in a practical sense, or making good decisions (and in contrast to, say, Plato's theories, that has nothing to do with ethics by this theory, or at least doesn't reflect back on the individual). Even though this originates in Western thought (in this particular form), it's often alien to Western sensibilities, which seem to include a deep desire to "be a good person" and to decide whether other people are good or not.

3. In spite of the above, utilitarianism stands alongside Kantian deontological ethics and Aristotelian virtue ethics as one of the most widely accepted ethical theories (outside religion, which you have to divide into "divine command", "natural law", and "wtf") in the world today, which probably means it's a pretty strong theory whether you find it appealing or not.

Dark_Kindred
20-03-2013, 23:12
As others have said, it's basically a strict interpretation of utilitarianism, though probably, in order for it to have worked so far, rule utilitarianism rather than act utilitarianism. To sum it up as succinctly as possible in paraphrase of J.S. Mill and Bentham: "That act is right/good/moral which results in the greatest happiness/satisfaction/contentment/pleasure for the greatest number of people." (Bentham literally said "pleasure" at times, and seemed to really mean "physical pleasure", though he minted it as the "Greatest Happiness Principle"; Mill almost always said "happiness", and included intellectual and, presumably, emotional pleasures amongst physical--Mill's is the modern form of the theory more or less.)

Note that as KingDeath said, especially in rule utilitarianism, this doesn't always mean that you, for example, should torture a single child because it will totally entertain millions of people (and this is the sort of thought experiment that's brought up in the earliest attempts to refute utilitarianism, but if you want to study it more, it doesn't end up refuting it entirely for a number of reasons). If you examine the nature of that act and imagine it being applied as a general practice or rule across a society, you can see that it would foster, perpetuate, or typify a brutal and sadistic society which would, we can readily imagine, result in less people being happy in the long run. Thus, rule utilitarianism, at least, allows for the protection of minorities even in the face of the simplest form of the "Greatest Happiness Principle"--it is in fact contrary to the fullest and most expansive meaning of the principle not to protect minorities.

(Tau-in: This explains why it's likely that large numbers of other Tau will die to protect a single Ethereal: It would seem to violate the principle on its face--lots of people living and potentially being happy > one person living "--but the guidance of Ethereals, based on Tau history, is deemed essential for the maintenance of the whole society and the upholding of the Greater Good principle. They're thus more important not because they're superior individuals, but because they have more potential to bring about happiness for more Tau than other Tau.)

This is, as is probably pretty obvious, an ethical theory, but it comes from people who were thinking about societies and how to run them (Mill was a MP and Bentham an extremely prominent academic, and both wrote on political issues; for example, Mill was one of the earliest male feminist theorists in history and argued fully equal rights for women before they were enfranchised). It often lacks appeal at the individual level, where people find virtue ethics or even the duty principles of deontological ethics more "relatable", but it is, inherently, about what's best for everyone, because that was the question that its originators set out to answer, on the assumption that that society which does what is best for all its members is the best society.

It is consistent with communism but also with other forms of economy. It is consistent also with many forms of government. Getting hung up on whether the Tau are communist or not, or what their government is really like, will probably not help you to discern the meaning of the Greater Good, which, as far as I can tell, is the above.

Notes:

1. Attempting to adhere to utilitarian principles will still result in legitimate disagreements. Tau society is not the only possible outcome of doing so, but it appears to be guided thus.

2. Utilitarianism is teleological, i.e. concerned with outcomes. This is as opposed to virtue ethics, which judges the "goodness" or "badness" of individuals; utilitarianism just don't into that sort of thing. This explains to some extent the collectivism of the Tau--if you do something wrong, it doesn't make you bad; if you do something good, it doesn't make you good. You can't thus be any better or worse, ethically, than anyone else, only better or worse at doing things in a practical sense, or making good decisions (and in contrast to, say, Plato's theories, that has nothing to do with ethics by this theory, or at least doesn't reflect back on the individual). Even though this originates in Western thought (in this particular form), it's often alien to Western sensibilities, which seem to include a deep desire to "be a good person" and to decide whether other people are good or not.

3. In spite of the above, utilitarianism stands alongside Kantian deontological ethics and Aristotelian virtue ethics as one of the most widely accepted ethical theories (outside religion, which you have to divide into "divine command", "natural law", and "wtf") in the world today, which probably means it's a pretty strong theory whether you find it appealing or not.

I wonder if the Tau have somehow managed measure utils as a means of determining policy?

ForgottenLore
20-03-2013, 23:48
If you examine the nature of that act and imagine it being applied as a general practice or rule across a society, you can see that it would foster, perpetuate, or typify a brutal and sadistic society which would, we can readily imagine, result in less people being happy in the long run. Thus, rule utilitarianism, at least, allows for the protection of minorities even in the face of the simplest form of the "Greatest Happiness Principle"--it is in fact contrary to the fullest and most expansive meaning of the principle not to protect minorities.
I think this is probably why I have such a strong perception that the Tau are very long range in their planning, because their society as depicted requires such foresight in order to really work well.



(Tau-in: Ba-dum Bum


Good post Aluinn.

Aluinn
20-03-2013, 23:55
I wonder if the Tau have somehow managed measure utils as a means of determining policy?

I can sure imagine the Ethereals have tried--hooking up tons of volunteers to EEG machines and precisely measuring their degrees of happiness in response to various stimuli. (Infantry combat is -14; DANSU party is +5; +8 with drugs ...) Well, it would still be less weird than Scientology.

EDIT: On a slightly more serious note, the similarities between Tau society and the human worldwide society in Brave New World are many, and that's probably the "how 'umies would do it" version. It even has castes that it maintains are fundamentally equal in spite of some being superior in ability and having more amenities etc. (And before any reader notes how horrible it is, keep in mind that it's a world with no war, poverty, hunger, disease, or even loneliness ... to speak of, barring the main character, who's kind of a contrivance who is abnormal because it's necessary for a story to exist.)

A.T.
21-03-2013, 00:03
...galaxy-spanning conspiracy involving pheremones that doesn't make sense and even in-universe Imperial scholars haven't been able to find any actual physical evidence for".Strawman.

Might I ask why you are so strongly opposed to a reason put forward in the tau codex itself?

Drasanil
21-03-2013, 00:17
Heavily alluded to, but never confirmed. Implied, speculated, hinted-at, suggested, but not confirmed. Yet a great many people treat it like uncontrovertible truth.

In the same way GW never outright said the Fey Enchantress was an elf, despite there only having been once since Bretonnia existed, her having the exact stats of an elf mage lord and Knights of the Grail pointing out that anyone not from Bretonnia could take a very easy test to notice she was one, except elves who automatically picked up on it right away. So of course, she totally could be human and the wood elves haven't been messing with Bretonnia's development!

When it gets that obvious, it's not so much GW leaving the possibly of something else, as GW just not confirming it OOC because they know a portion of the fan base would go ape-feces if they took away their forlorn hope that such wasn't the case.

ciocrasfola
21-03-2013, 00:28
Personally, I see it as the Tau striving together to reach some sort of Utopia, or something similar. Perhaps like Plato's Republic, although I am not familiar enough with the Republic to make a reasonable argument there.

Draconis
21-03-2013, 02:34
Strawman.

Might I ask why you are so strongly opposed to a reason put forward in the tau codex itself?

Because that reason was not in the actual fluff. it was a thought of an imperial citizen as to a theory on how they control the tau society.

Basileus66
21-03-2013, 07:09
And here that I thought that all Tau fluff was an adaptation of themes common in Japanese manga!

TheDungen
21-03-2013, 07:45
what is communism? its a far to loaded word to be used about a real ideology today unless that ideology is weird enough to call themselves communists.

the greater good is definitely some sort of autocracy. I could be wrong but I believe you're born into your caste? that would make it a hereditary aristocracy.

they have collectivist thoughts it would seem but I don't think they do the whole redistribution of wealth or try to control the markets. All in all unless we know more about desicions the tau leadership makes in civil matters i would say that it more of a religion or philosophy than an actual ideology.


also on the note of pheromones they don't need to subject you all the time to them just while brainwashing you once you've been brainwashed you probably will keep on obeying anyway.

Then again you don't need to drug a person to brain wash them.

A.T.
21-03-2013, 09:23
Because that reason was not in the actual fluff.It's on page 9 of the Tau codex - in the tau background fluff section. Or are you thinking about the same thing being raised in the earlier xenology book?

Kakapo42
21-03-2013, 11:16
It's on page 9 of the Tau codex - in the tau background fluff section. Or are you thinking about the same thing being raised in the earlier xenology book?

As has been mentioned before, no explicit confirmation has ever been made (I'm hoping they actually finally state in the new codex that there is no pheremone influence since the whole theory seems to be more trouble than it's worth), and it further states that it's just as likely that there is a psychic influence instead. Might I ask why you are so utterly in favour of such a theory being fact?

As to the original topic, the Greater Good is the driving philosophy of the Tau. At it's core it's simply working together to achieve the best results (i.e. the greater good), and it's this concept that lies at the heart of Tau society.

A.T.
21-03-2013, 11:38
Might I ask why you are so utterly in favour of such a theory being fact?My position is not one of 'pheremones are utter fact' but rather bewilderment at the lengths to which some posters have been going to in order to dismiss the codex itself as a source of background material in favour of their own interpretations.

Wasting my time here frankly.

Polaria
21-03-2013, 11:56
More recent fluff suggests that Ethereals have some sort of control beyond just being "liked leaders and generally good guys" but that it is not (necessarily) with pheromones:

The Ethereal sometimes lead the fire caste into battle to provide inspirational leadership, so the warriors can achieve more. However if the Ethereal falls in combat, the remaining Tau are struck with grief that causes them to lose battles or they get extremely enraged and charge forward, either way after a Ethereal falls the Fire Warriors lose all discipline and efficiency.

On their foreheads resides a small organ, smaller than the ones the other castes have. Imperial studies on the organ show no biological function, but it's suspected that the ethereal studied is a dud, or that the way the Ethereal control the Tau is more esoteric in nature

(Deathwatch: The Mark of Xenos)

ugavine
21-03-2013, 12:52
What is the Greater Good?

It's an excuse.

Haskear
21-03-2013, 22:36
Arn't the codex's all written from the imperials point of view?

A.T.
21-03-2013, 22:45
Arn't the codex's all written from the imperials point of view?No, though the tau codex does use the Imperium as a point of reference for the reader (contrasting earth caste and techmarines for instance).

FashaTheDog
21-03-2013, 23:26
Alright, I can settle what the Greater Good is with absolute certainty so you can call it done. The Greater Good would be purging the filthy xenos scum from the eastern fringe of Ultima Segmentum once and for all in the Emperor's most blessed name.







Slight Spoiler Alert Here:

As to Ethereal mind control, pheromone or otherwise, Courage and Honour makes a pretty strong case for it and for it affecting other races considering the effect Aun'rai seems to have on Koudelkar. The way it is described is as a powerful mental influence that can be fought, but is quite overwhelming to the humans affected.

TheBearminator
22-03-2013, 08:01
Oops. Didn't think my little thread would grow this big. Appearantly the greater good and tau values in general leave plenty of room for discussion. I've said it before, even though I've never played tau, they seem like one of GWs most interesting army concepts to date, simply cause they don't see the world in black or white, it's not all about "kill the alien, burn the heretic" or whatever that was). :)

Aluinn
22-03-2013, 11:36
Even if the Greater Good is whatever the Ethereals say it is because they pheromone-mind-control everyone, that only defers the question. What do they say it is, then? If you don't consider the four "subordinate" Tau castes to be operating of their own volition, you still have to account for the fact that the Ethereals themselves almost certainly are, and they seem to have ideals and an agenda, and this is what we know as The Greater Good.

In other words, whether an ideology is enforced or willingly embraced is one question; what it actually amounts to is another question. The pheromone thing is a red herring.

And now I guess I'll take my turn chasing it:

As has been stated it must be the case that most Tau go through most of their daily tasks, social interactions etc. without an Ethereal being around, since IIRC the Ethereals are a fairly small minority and also don't walk around too freely amongst "the masses", but sit in their Ethereal council rooms planning Ethereal Stuff. Tau society is also segregated between castes, which correspond to certain sets of duties, so it stands that almost everyone an Earth Caste Tau sees on a day-to-day basis is another Earth Caste Tau--they aren't allowed to interbreed, either (though one has to imagine it happens from time to time). Thus, even if, when an Ethereal is standing right in front of them, a Tau has to do what they say because ... pheromones (now pheromones don't work this way in sapient beings as far as we know them--e.g. sex pheromones don't by themselves cause people to have sex, nor to do so in specific ways, nor with specific people--but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt because it's soft sci-fi), they still must be able to question, at other times, whether the guidance of the Ethereals is for the good of everyone, or coincides with their own self-interest, even if Tau are naturally altruistic compared to humans.

However, they're indoctrinated. Well, so are we. Everyone is socially conditioned even when we actively try not to do it, unless they're socially isolated from an extremely early age, but that's bad and doesn't really mesh with a functioning society of any kind anyway. The Tau may try harder than some, but don't seem to try all that much harder than the Imperium, which has active institutions of indoctrination like the Ecclesiarchy, and enforces participation pretty harshly, like, by killing people who don't participate (not to turn this into a Tau-vs.-Imperium-which-is-da-good-guyz thing). But we know from real experience that even being raised in an extremely isolated and extremely religious environment (just as an example--this equally applies to any ideology or distinct set of cultural values), surrounded wholly by other believers, some people (rational beings, lets say, to include Tau) end up questioning what they've been raised to believe, and it's quite likely that everyone in this situation does face some moment, or many, when they have to choose whether to accept or reject it.

So, pheromones or no (and I am willing to accept pheromones), most Tau still must, on some level, willingly embrace The Greater Good, whatever it is (see my previous post for what I think it is). Farsight is sort of the exception that proves the rule: If he can decide not to embrace it, then many other Tau who are "isolated from Ethereals" (i.e. not important enough to see them in person on anything approaching a regular basis) must be deciding to embrace it. That social pressure plays a huge role is hardly worth mention, because that's plain in any society. (As a less oft mentioned comparison, how likely is it that each individual Craftworld Eldar is just coming up with and deciding to embrace the Path system on their own? They're indoctrinated, too, and under immense pressure all the time.)

Arnizipal
22-03-2013, 17:31
Oops. Didn't think my little thread would grow this big.
I had to step in and make it quite a bit shorter.
Bunch of posts removed as it was turning into a flame-war.

Play nice people. Next time the thread will be locked.

Arnizipal,

++ The warseer Moderation Team ++

Generalissimus
22-03-2013, 18:35
Setting aside comparisons with particular regimes from 20th century Earth history, would it be fair to say that the Tau represent a form of totalitarian government where the 'Greater Good' becomes the all-pervasive state ideology? I would hesitate to say the Tau are comparatively fascist, because fascism tends to suggest a certain level of nationalism that does not seem to be in line with the Tau's all-embracing immigration policies.

Polaria
22-03-2013, 19:40
Totalitarian, yes. Imperialist, no doubt about that.

As for the "fascist" part... Well, partly due to fascist becoming a sort of insult you can freely throw around there is no single accepted definition of what fascism really is. They are if you want to call 'em that. But there is no guarantee anyone else accepts it.

A.T.
22-03-2013, 20:13
because fascism tends to suggest a certain level of nationalism that does not seem to be in line with the Tau's all-embracing immigration policies.The tau describe themselves as 'first amongst equals', and their immigration policies are noted as being in the hope that some of those taken in will eventually bow down to the ethereals unreservedly.

Those who don't comply are threatened with annihilation, those who continue not to comply are annhiliated. But tau are willing to play the long game with their allies as the greater good requires all join together and acknowledge the guidance of the Ethereal caste but is flexible on timescale.

xavos
22-03-2013, 20:50
Even if the Greater Good is whatever the Ethereals say it is because they pheromone-mind-control everyone, that only defers the question. What do they say it is, then? If you don't consider the four "subordinate" Tau castes to be operating of their own volition, you still have to account for the fact that the Ethereals themselves almost certainly are, and they seem to have ideals and an agenda, and this is what we know as The Greater Good.

I think I would go with this idea for now. Perhaps it is too complicated to understand from a human perspective without bandying around the usual stereotypes.

jason_sation
22-03-2013, 23:48
"Be excellent to each other" - Aun'Bill and Shas'Ted

So it's settled then. Tau come from the future and have been sent back in time to the year 40,000 to save the Kroot. And get an A on their history report. I guess we know who ends up winning the war now.

ForgottenLore
22-03-2013, 23:51
Actually, that is an amusing idea.

The first ethereals WERE engineered, but they were engineered by ethereals from the future.

Kakapo42
23-03-2013, 00:24
Actually, that is an amusing idea.

The first ethereals WERE engineered, but they were engineered by ethereals from the future.

Funnily enough, my theory on them is that the first Ethereals were Tau from the future.

Palvinore
23-03-2013, 00:36
So, pheromones or no (and I am willing to accept pheromones), most Tau still must, on some level, willingly embrace The Greater Good, whatever it is (see my previous post for what I think it is). Farsight is sort of the exception that proves the rule: If he can decide not to embrace it, then many other Tau who are "isolated from Ethereals" (i.e. not important enough to see them in person on anything approaching a regular basis) must be deciding to embrace it. That social pressure plays a huge role is hardly worth mention, because that's plain in any society. (As a less oft mentioned comparison, how likely is it that each individual Craftworld Eldar is just coming up with and deciding to embrace the Path system on their own? They're indoctrinated, too, and under immense pressure all the time.)

Farsight is an interesting case. If there is some sort of funky gimmick (call it pheromones) to the Ethereals, then it can only act as a sort of failsafe or troubleshooting measure as there are not enough Ethereals to go directly meeting with each Tau even on a semi-regular basis. Only the higher up caste Tau would have any chance of meeting an Ethereal. This may be enough though if the pheromones act as a final barrier to any rejection of the social conditioning and ideology.

Farsight was already embittered by his experiences and perceived lack of support from other Tau when he fought the Orks. Yet he didn't rebel then. It was only after his Ethereal got killed. So I see the Ethereal contact with the high rank other Tau as the mechanism that dampens down any discontent from full blown rebellion. Indoctrination and social conditioning handles the rest. So Tau might still have doubts or grievances against the system but with Ethereal contact they might decide instead to reform or work within the system rather than break from it.

Aluinn
23-03-2013, 00:58
Farsight is an interesting case. If there is some sort of funky gimmick (call it pheromones) to the Ethereals, then it can only act as a sort of failsafe or troubleshooting measure as there are not enough Ethereals to go directly meeting with each Tau even on a semi-regular basis. Only the higher up caste Tau would have any chance of meeting an Ethereal. This may be enough though if the pheromones act as a final barrier to any rejection of the social conditioning and ideology.

Farsight was already embittered by his experiences and perceived lack of support from other Tau when he fought the Orks. Yet he didn't rebel then. It was only after his Ethereal got killed. So I see the Ethereal contact with the high rank other Tau as the mechanism that dampens down any discontent from full blown rebellion. Indoctrination and social conditioning handles the rest. So Tau might still have doubts or grievances against the system but with Ethereal contact they might decide instead to reform or work within the system rather than break from it.

Yup, I'd buy that.

I should have mentioned, in fact, in my argument, that I was using lower-ranking Tau as an example (of Tau who must not be around Ethereals very often even in the everyday functioning of the "core" of the empire). The higher-ranking members of all the castes probably do meet with the Ethereals fairly often, and that is where the agenda is set; the lower ranks follow orders for all the normal reasons that humans follow orders, I imagine.

But I still think they must ruminate privately, at times, on what the Greater Good is, what it means to them, and how much they dig it--that's definitely not to say they'd decide to actively rebel under any normal circumstances, regardless of what they thought privately, though, and as you say that's where Ethereal pheromones may begin play a significant role, if they exist.

It also remains that the system the Ethereals have set up does pretty well for normal Tau. They do have this historical background of war between the castes almost resulting in their destruction (or more likely permanent regression into a small population of low-tech aliens on a single planet, for whom life was never very nice ... sounds like something I've seen before ...). They're all taught about it, it's true as far as we know, and that must be a powerful motivator in itself. Beyond that, whenever we hear about Tau suffering, it's usually due to war with aliens, and there's a strong implication that normal Tau don't have much, if anything, to fear from disease, privation, or Tau-on-Tau violence. As in Brave New World, that should not be underestimated: It's easy, if you're being detached, academic, and a bit romantic perhaps, to say: "Oh what a horrible, repressive society! They're not even allowed to read Shakespeare!" On the other hand, it would be much more difficult to go tell someone dying of cholera or mourning a child who starved to death that we could have built a society where such things never happened, but we had to preserve art and freedom, man (preferably whilst smoking a cigarillo and tapping on your iPad).

Not to say that I personally come down on one side or other of that, definitively, and I hope it's not really a choice that we have to make, but if it were it would be a very hard one, however easy it seems at first glance. So it is certainly possible for me to imagine someone looking at that and choosing the option where there's peace and prosperity and "happiness" for all over the one where individual autonomy is respected.

Tau society may be repressive, but it's repressive in the gentlest and most compassionate way imaginable. 1984 it is not.

Commissar Merces
23-03-2013, 01:17
I've always wondered what would happen in a Tau society when there is a disagreement...

Consumer: "I will pay you a gold coin for a bottle of milk"

Merchant: "Sticker price says two gold coins. I must have two gold coins."

Consumer: "But my family needs that milk to survive and I only have one coin. You should lower your price for the greater good to keep our race alive"

Merchant: ...

EDIT: Kind of along the same lines... I am wondering if there have been any Tau who have turned their backs on the Greater Good besides Farsight? I am considering starting a Tau detachment for my IG army (pretty much only for tournaments as Tau would be fantastic allies with their skyfire goodness) but I am also really torn on fluff reasons why this would happen and I frankly dislike the whole "utopia, greater good." I subscribe much more to the individual. How, or why might a Tau turn from the Great Good?

Aluinn
23-03-2013, 01:28
I've always wondered what would happen in a Tau society when there is a disagreement...

Consumer: "I will pay you a gold coin for a bottle of milk"

Merchant: "Sticker price says two gold coins. I must have two gold coins."

Consumer: "But my family needs that milk to survive and I only have one coin. You should lower your price for the greater good to keep our race alive"

Merchant: ...

EDIT: Kind of along the same lines... I am wondering if there have been any Tau who have turned their backs on the Greater Good besides Farsight? I am considering starting a Tau detachment for my IG army (pretty much only for tournaments as Tau would be fantastic allies with their skyfire goodness) but I am also really torn on fluff reasons why this would happen and I frankly dislike the whole "utopia, greater good." I subscribe much more to the individual. How, or why might a Tau turn from the Great Good?

I'm fairly sure they must have some system where every Tau is distributed a credit allotment sufficient to meet their needs, possibly divided into "food credits", "luxury credits", "clothing credits", etc., just to make sure that no one blows their paycheck on booze (or the less harmful recreational drugs that might be available to Tau because pharmacology be advanced yo). I don't think any Tau are allowed to starve, at any rate. If you take the strict "communism-as-we-know-it" interpretation they may also simply be given food and all other necessities without being able to choose what sort they might like, but that would require the Water Caste to deal almost entirely in trade at a higher level (between settlements at least, and with aliens in many cases), which would suggest that there wouldn't be much for lower-ranking Water Caste Tau to do, unless they handle immense amounts of bookkeeping or something.

Well, whatever it is, it's clear that we're dealing with an extensively planned society/economy here, and that they've thought of this and made sure it can't happen; there are quite a few ways it could be done in practice.

EDIT: I also doubt that Tau are responsible for raising and providing for their own children to begin with. They're probably sent off to state nurseries and proceed to state boarding schools thenceforth. This idea has been fairly central to human thought on social engineering from the Spartans and Plato to Saint-Just. (Interestingly, 20th C. totalitarian governments never seemed especially into it, though they've had their Boy/Girl Scouts with extra ideological education--Komsomol, Hitlerjugend, etc.)

Commissar Merces
23-03-2013, 01:45
I'm fairly sure they must have some system where every Tau is distributed a credit allotment sufficient to meet their needs, possibly divided into "food credits", "luxury credits", "clothing credits", etc., just to make sure that no one blows their paycheck on booze (or the less harmful recreational drugs that might be available to Tau because pharmacology be advanced yo). I don't think any Tau are allowed to starve, at any rate. If you take the strict "communism-as-we-know-it" interpretation they may also simply be given food and all other necessities without being able to choose what sort they might like, but that would require the Water Caste to deal almost entirely in trade at a higher level (between settlements at least, and with aliens in many cases), which would suggest that there wouldn't be much for lower-ranking Water Caste Tau to do, unless they handle immense amounts of bookkeeping or something.

Well, whatever it is, it's clear that we're dealing with an extensively planned society/economy here, and that they've thought of this and made sure it can't happen; there are quite a few ways it could be done in practice.

EDIT: I also doubt that Tau are responsible for raising and providing for their own children to begin with. They're probably sent off to state nurseries and proceed to state boarding schools thenceforth. This idea has been fairly central to human thought on social engineering from the Spartans and Plato to Saint-Just. (Interestingly, 20th C. totalitarian governments never seemed especially into it, though they've had their Boy/Girl Scouts with extra ideological education.)

I was just trying to be a bit funny, but this post was actually very insightful. Thank you.

Would this also mean that Tau would believe in eugenics?

ForgottenLore
23-03-2013, 02:00
On the subject of average J'oe Tau's contact with Ethereals, I would expect that most Tau children get some exposure to Ethereals at a young age as part of initial indoctrination. Every Tau school has an Aun'La or two that teach a special, mandatory course in the greater good, or some such.



Would this also mean that Tau would believe in eugenics?
Yes, I expect that the Tau do pracitice some form of Eugenics, at least on themselves, and possibly on subject races, but the form and extent of that is questionable. Anything from Forced breeding programs, through state arranged couplings, to possibly just genetic screenings to prevent inappropriate births. Who knows.


I am wondering if there have been any Tau who have turned their backs on the Greater Good besides Farsight?...
I would almost bet on changes in the fluff in the new codex that make this more likely. They completely redesigned the Necron fluff for this very reason and it is a far bigger issue for the Tau than it was for the Necrons.

Aluinn
23-03-2013, 02:12
I was just trying to be a bit funny, but this post was actually very insightful. Thank you.

Would this also mean that Tau would believe in eugenics?

Thanks :). But ...

... great, you want me to talk about race and abortions? Ugh. Okay. May the forum gods protect me from the flames, for lo, my intentions be only to respond, neither to troll nor to espouse:

Canonically we know that they do so in the sense that they prohibit interbreeding between castes, though this is obviously an alien (double-entendres!) concept to us and has little to do with the kind of eugenics that humans have advocated or practiced, because the Tau castes are "sub-species". I'm not nearly educated enough in biology to know how they should be classified, but though they're all Tau (species), and can breed (I'm not sure if the offspring of mixed-caste couples are sterile; a biology student/biologist should be able to deduce that, assuming "the rules" apply to fictional aliens), they are genetically distinct to an extent far beyond human "races" (which really aren't to any meaningful degree, nor can they be clearly divided in a systematic manner that makes any real sense, even if some are more or less likely to exhibit certain genetic traits).

Now for the even harder part: We know that the Tau have very advanced medical care. I would expect (and this is just my opinion) that they abort fetuses with serious birth defects, provided that they don't have any way to predict them and prevent the pregnancies in the first place, which I suppose would also count as eugenics (and be closer to what humans have done, e.g. sterilizing the disabled), though not in the sense of attempting to produce The Pure Master Race by culling "undesirables", or even to improve their "genetic stock", necessarily--I only suspect they do it because it is "pragmatic" and they likely don't have hangups about abortion (don't hit me internets, this has nothing to do with my views on anything, I'm done!).

There, happy?

Commissar Merces
23-03-2013, 03:18
Haha thanks I wasn't really trying to create a controversy, just assumed that would be a Tau trait for the greater good (providing care to the medically fit etc). Sorry if that ruffles feathers.

As for my question about betraying the greater good, I hate tau. I hate everything about them from the fluff to most of the models. I proscribe to the idea of the individual, but I would love to do a tau mercenary force that has turned their back on the greater good to ally with my guard in tournaments. Absolutely opposite of the tau way.

FashaTheDog
23-03-2013, 04:30
Good to hear that you too feel that the Greater Good should involve excessive use of exterminatus :D. Of course those Tau allies are merely marching ahead of your artillery so as to save ordnance by willingly being in the same place as the other targets you are shelling, right? :p

Aluinn
23-03-2013, 04:30
Haha thanks I wasn't really trying to create a controversy, just assumed that would be a Tau trait for the greater good (providing care to the medically fit etc). Sorry if that ruffles feathers.

As for my question about betraying the greater good, I hate tau. I hate everything about them from the fluff to most of the models. I proscribe to the idea of the individual, but I would love to do a tau mercenary force that has turned their back on the greater good to ally with my guard in tournaments. Absolutely opposite of the tau way.

Oh nothing you said was controversial; there are just some topics that invite flamewars, though I should keep in mind that Warseer is more restrained than Youtube :).

By the way, the local Water Caste diplomat told me to tell you:

"The Tau Empire honors the spirit of individualism, brother! We acknowledge the truth that the individual can only be free in conditions of socio-economic equality, for when inequality exists, the privileged are bound to oppress the masses. Similarly, when authority is dispersed, the many are bound to oppress the few. It is to deliver you from oppression that the Greater Good exists, and to advance the Greater Good that the Tau Empire must continue the march ever forward! Join us today in the fight for freedom!

'Freedom is merely privilege and standing unless enjoyed by one and all!' - Aun'vre Bil'ibrag"

Yeah he's always like that. Answer for everything.

167130

P.S. someone needs to shoop up a Fire Warrior version of this image :).

baphomael
24-03-2013, 01:56
Point is we dont really know enough about the socio-economic and political philosophy of the Tau Empire. We know mostly about their military foreign policy but little about what goes on *within* the Empire. Clearly, despite claims, we cant call it communist... we dont know enough about them to say. I doubt they would truly be communist as the means of production are not in communal hsnds (that is the Earth Caste has a monopoly in that area... while it might possibly be utilised for thd common good they dont have common ownership. The caste system, which is antithetical to marxian thought, precludes this). They could be quite Utilitarian... but to what degree is not known. Essentially we know little about the nuances of tau society... we dont really know if they use money.

I guess this is deliberate. They have a utopian outlook with a subtle dark side, in the tradition of Huxley et al.

In the truest sense of the term, utopia is a play on words - both meaning best place and no place simultaneously. And for us the Tau Empire represents that... they are both appealing and worrying at once

But the ins and outs are ambiguous. Suitably so I'd imagine. It highlights the position the tau occupy in 40k lore. They appear on the outside as different to everyone else... adaptive and foreward thinking, inclusive to varying degrees, unique amongst the notable polities as fundamentally different. We are encouraged to view them as different from the other factions... but in the way an imperial scholar might view a new, strange, and unknown entity. We know the veneer but we dont know what lies beneath.

In 40k terms the tau are, literally, the mysterious far east. We know some broad things about them but we dont *know* them.

Izzuan
24-03-2013, 03:46
Canonically we know that they do so in the sense that they prohibit interbreeding between castes, though this is obviously an alien (double-entendres!) concept to us and has little to do with the kind of eugenics that humans have advocated or practiced, because the Tau castes are "sub-species". I'm not nearly educated enough in biology to know how they should be classified, but though they're all Tau (species), and can breed (I'm not sure if the offspring of mixed-caste couples are sterile; a biology student/biologist should be able to deduce that, assuming "the rules" apply to fictional aliens), they are genetically distinct to an extent far beyond human "races" (which really aren't to any meaningful degree, nor can they be clearly divided in a systematic manner that makes any real sense, even if some are more or less likely to exhibit certain genetic traits).

I've studied a fair amount of biology, but I have quite alot of experience at selective breeding (family raised various breeds of dogs) and this seems similar to that. It would appear that the Tau "Species" is divided into 5 subspecies (genus? been a loong time...). Similar to the differences between say a Doberman Pinscher, an Afghan Hound, a Greyhound, and a German Shephard. They more than likely CAN interbreed, as it seems that the differences are about as deep as that of the canines.

So TLDR: Same species, different breed.

madprophet
27-03-2013, 21:16
The Tau system is practical communism (that is to say, communism as practiced as opposed to theoretical communism which is an academic pipe dream) - the Greater Good is like the Soviet idea of "a dictatorship of the proletariat" - the whole of society bent to serve the collective interests of the "working class" or the "Tau collective". The ethereals are akin to the "People's Heroes" of the party, the other castes all serve the "interests of the proletariat" by obeying the Ethereals who determine the "Greater Good" by being in a better position to observe the Empire overall and act to secure the best interests of the whole as opposed to the individual (individualism being an outdated, capitalist idea):evilgrin:


Tau castes are not like social classes in human society, they are biological sub-species of the Tau race each bred to fill a specific role in society. It isn't even clear if the castes are inter-fertile. Other races in the Tau Empire are treated like castes - Kroot are warriors, Demiurg (a.k.a Squats) are combat engineers, humans are "guy/girl Fridays". The Tau are more like the early Soviet Union - collectivist idealism fettered by the realities of scarcity and the existence of opposing powers - even down to the concept of needing to incorporate the entire galaxy (or as the Soviets put it, "peace is the absence of opposition to socialism") ;)

Lord-Caerolion
28-03-2013, 07:10
I've studied a fair amount of biology, but I have quite alot of experience at selective breeding (family raised various breeds of dogs) and this seems similar to that. It would appear that the Tau "Species" is divided into 5 subspecies (genus? been a loong time...). Similar to the differences between say a Doberman Pinscher, an Afghan Hound, a Greyhound, and a German Shephard. They more than likely CAN interbreed, as it seems that the differences are about as deep as that of the canines.

So TLDR: Same species, different breed.

I don't know, after all, the Air Caste used to have wings, and currently still have hollow bones. We've not been told exactly how different the other Castes are, but that seems extremely pronounced to me.

Polaria
28-03-2013, 10:59
Oh nothing you said was controversial; there are just some topics that invite flamewars, though I should keep in mind that Warseer is more restrained than Youtube :).

By the way, the local Water Caste diplomat told me to tell you:

"The Tau Empire honors the spirit of individualism, brother! We acknowledge the truth that the individual can only be free in conditions of socio-economic equality, for when inequality exists, the privileged are bound to oppress the masses. Similarly, when authority is dispersed, the many are bound to oppress the few. It is to deliver you from oppression that the Greater Good exists, and to advance the Greater Good that the Tau Empire must continue the march ever forward! Join us today in the fight for freedom!

'Freedom is merely privilege and standing unless enjoyed by one and all!' - Aun'vre Bil'ibrag"

Yeah he's always like that. Answer for everything.

167130

P.S. someone needs to shoop up a Fire Warrior version of this image :).

167544

;)

carlisimo
28-03-2013, 17:26
Well, whatever it is, it's clear that we're dealing with an extensively planned society/economy here, and that they've thought of this and made sure it can't happen; there are quite a few ways it could be done in practice.

The Battlefleet Gothic fluff makes it sound like the Tau Empire is mercantilist (centralized control of foreign trade), but all the emphasis on trade and the importance of merchants makes it hard for me to believe that internal trade would be centrally planned. I don't get that vibe at all.

Aluinn
31-03-2013, 17:38
The Battlefleet Gothic fluff makes it sound like the Tau Empire is mercantilist (centralized control of foreign trade), but all the emphasis on trade and the importance of merchants makes it hard for me to believe that internal trade would be centrally planned. I don't get that vibe at all.

They may centrally plan internal trade but not trade with non-incorporated aliens, in which case they may be mercantilist. It is possible to embrace more than one economic theory at once, contrary to popular belief (not that you said or even strongly implied this).

The reason I strongly suspect that it is planned to some extent (in my hypothetical credit system, that wouldn't be absolute central planning, since the state wouldn't know e.g. which luxuries people would buy with their "luxury credits/allowance/assignats/whatever", and would have to adjust production to meet demands, which would make for a sort of "state capitalism") is the Greater Good philosophy, which would seem (though we don't know the particulars) to exclude permission for unemployment, homelessness, starvation, lack of transportation, healthcare, or housing, untreated mental illness, and so on, which all are ills that you can't eliminate or even effectively suppress without some central planning, be it as light as the New Deal or as heavy-handed as Maoism. There are some very subtle distinctions that can come into play when dealing with this sort of stuff, e.g. I had a macroeconomics professor divide some economies into "command over social economy" and "command over market economy", not to mention pure social(ist) economy (as in anarcho-syndicalism) or pure market economy (as in Adam Smith's imagination :)).

Though it's worth noting that truly pure market economies basically have never been able to exist in the real world to date (when an economy is branded "laissez-faire" it usually involves corporate welfare or legal favoritism, which is not raw capitalism), just as pure social economies have always tended to have "state capitalist" elements. There are even some scholars of repute who will vehemently argue that the Soviet Union never (or from Stalin on) had a really socialist or communist economic system. Obviously China in spite of lip service to Maoism has some hybrid system today that probably leads more towards a market economy; Venezuela under Chavez (and maybe continuing; we'll see) had a hybrid system leaning towards socialism; and Russia is also atypical but in many ways similar to modern China.

So saying the Tau are communist or aren't is probably meaningless without further, and very detailed, qualification and explanation.


167544

;)

Thank you sir or madame, that's awesome to the max :).

Grocklock
31-03-2013, 19:39
I always thought the greater good is like the hollywood version of the American dream.

It's a phrase which everyone knows and quotes in different situations. To suit there personal needs. A way to pull everyone together.
But no one knows what it really means, but makes here own personal meaning for it.