An idea - and a question about "The Last Hero"...

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RathDarkblade

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#1
... here's my question: as Lord Vetinari pointed out to the A-M Guild of Trespassers (formerly the Guild of Explorers), going somewhere and planting the flag in it does not make the place yours. If it did, we may as well all go back to the trees - and even then, the monkeys will have been there first.

However, the Guild could easily protest: didn't Captain Carrot plant the A-M flag on the moon? Does the moon belong to A-M now? Or, as Carrot claimed the moon on behalf of the nations of the Disc, does the moon belong to the Disc now? ;) If so, how will anyone get there, given the trouble that Leonard of Quirm had on the first flight?

Of course, when Carrot said he was claiming the moon on behalf of the nations of the Disc, Vetinari's response was: "I may even tell them." Very pragmatic, of course.

But perhaps the Guild of Trespassers could organise another mission to the moon and claim it? ;) Yes, that would mean defying both Lord Vetinari and the gods. But when did the Guild of Trespassers ever care about that sort of thing? :mrgreen: And besides, if they couldn't go out and explore (sorry, trespass), what's the point of having a Guild in the first place? ;)

What do you think, hmm? :)
 

=Tamar

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May 20, 2012
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#2
Some might think that it would be a fine thing if the Guild of Trespassers went to the moon and stayed there... but since it has already been visited, they probably aren't interested. They have a rather fine club, with a well-stocked wine cellar.

On the other hand, did the Trespassers ever bring back a useful plant species to propagate without ripping off the original location? Sometimes there are useful results from exploring. They are often achieved more quickly when you actually learn the language and listen respectfully to what the people who live there can tell you about the plants and animals, like "This plant's fruit is good food but the roots and leaves will kill you, but on the other hand those parts can be used to remove rust stains from cloth."

Vetinari might find some way to encourage them to follow up Leonard's improved designs. The cost will keep them from doing much damage elsewhere, by not being able to afford to travel. Also if they do get it built, maybe they will get stuck there.
 

Tonyblack

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#3
Terry was clearly parodying (I believe) the concept of imperialism with his Guild of Trespassers. How such countries as Great Britain, Spain and Portugal, would claim whole countries in the name of their king or queen.

The planting of the American flag on the moon was, I think, more to say "we were here first". It wasn't like saying the Moon now belonged to the US. Soviet Russia had already landed unmanned craft on the Moon before the Americans.

There was some great satire in The Last Hero, from their Moon landing. I loved that when it was commented that from the moon there could be no national boundaries (suggesting that boundaries were arbitrary) the other members of the crew missed the point entirely and started discussing how they might mark the boundaries so they could be seen from space.
 

RathDarkblade

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#4
Sometimes there are useful results from exploring. They are often achieved more quickly when you actually learn the language and listen respectfully to what the people who live there can tell you about the plants and animals, like "This plant's fruit is good food but the roots and leaves will kill you, but on the other hand those parts can be used to remove rust stains from cloth."
Very true. IIRC, the British East India Company achieved some useful things with the natives when members of the BEIC respected the natives and listened to them. The way it ended (with the Indian Mutiny, or as it's known in India, the First War of Independence) in 1853 is ... er, unfortunate. :(

But then, some imperialists are better people than others. IIRC, Christopher Columbus intended to cooperate with the natives when he landed off the coast of the USA. Hernan Cortes and those who followed him were not interested in anything but gold, religion, and exterminating the Aztecs - though the Aztecs were hardly admirable themselves.

Terry was clearly parodying (I believe) the concept of imperialism with his Guild of Trespassers. How such countries as Great Britain, Spain and Portugal, would claim whole countries in the name of their king or queen.
You've hit the nail on the head, Tony. *nod* France was the other great imperialist power, and the Netherlands, Russia, Germany, Belgium and Italy also "contributed" to that not-so-illustrious club.

The planting of the American flag on the moon was, I think, more to say "we were here first". It wasn't like saying the Moon now belonged to the US. Soviet Russia had already landed unmanned craft on the Moon before the Americans.
*L* Fair enough. It's not like anyone can 'own' the moon in Roundworld. But maybe the Discworld Guild of Trespassers can try (and, probably, fail). :mrgreen:

There was some great satire in The Last Hero, from their Moon landing. I loved that when it was commented that from the moon there could be no national boundaries (suggesting that boundaries were arbitrary) the other members of the crew missed the point entirely and started discussing how they might mark the boundaries so they could be seen from space.
Yes, it's a great moment. IIRC, Carrot remarks about lack of national boundaries, almost wistfully. Then the moment is broken when Leonard suggests planting forests along the boundaries. ;)

I also liked the spacefarers search for the mythical space-squid-like creature that bores holes in the hull, only to find out that ... "Ook?" :) And Rincewind's comments when Ponder suggests that the ship should be aimed at the sun. Leonard comments that Ponder is very bright, but as Rincewind points out, you'd be bright too if you were on that ship when it landed on the sun. "Incandescent, I think". *LOL*

Then things go from bad to worse. "We're going to land on the moon?" Carrot asks. "Is that better?" *LOL*

Sorry quote this book so much, but I just love TLH. And Stephen Briggs narrates it beautifully. :)
 
Oct 1, 2009
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#5
Very true. IIRC, the British East India Company achieved some useful things with the natives when members of the BEIC respected the natives and listened to them. The way it ended (with the Indian Mutiny, or as it's known in India, the First War of Independence) in 1853 is ... er, unfortunate. :(

But then, some imperialists are better people than others. IIRC, Christopher Columbus intended to cooperate with the natives when he landed off the coast of the USA. Hernan Cortes and those who followed him were not interested in anything but gold, religion, and exterminating the Aztecs - though the Aztecs were hardly admirable themselves.
My guess is that if you ask any native in India or any other nation where the British Tea companies operated whether they achieved "useful things" you would probably not get get much agreement. You'd probably get the same answer if you asked the Native Americans of Massachusetts whether the English commercial charters that went into place after the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth achieved "useful things" other than enabling the newly arrived and supplied Englishmen to decimate their population with smallpox, steal their land, coerce conversions to Christianity and subject them to massacres and forced relocations.

And Christopher Columbus never intended to cooperate with the natives he found living in the Caribbean islands he "discovered." Almost immediately after he arrived and with every subsequent voyage he and his crew began enslaving them, raping their women, forcing them to convert to Christianity, turning rainforests into sugar plantations worked by slave labor and convincing Spain to give him and his heirs private ownership of the islands he invaded. He may not have been the worst of the conquistadors, but he was the first and set the squalid example for those who would follow in his corrupt footsteps.

And why where the Aztecs not admirable? Yes, they did practice human sacrifices, but those sacrifices were usually culled from enemies they captured in their endless wars with other nations. They also built cities that were far more advanced in planning than most of those in Europe at the time. Yes, they practiced slavery, but what nation didn't back then? At least the Aztecs were able to feed and clothe their people and they had a very advanced mercantile network. This can't be said of many places in Europe, where feudal lords did nothing to keep their vassals from starving to death.
 
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RathDarkblade

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#6
My guess is that if you ask any native in India or any other nation where the British Tea companies operated whether they achieved "useful things" you would probably not get get much agreement. You'd probably get the same answer if you asked the Native Americans of Massachusetts whether the English commercial charters that went into place after the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth achieved "useful things" other than enabling the newly arrived and supplied Englishmen to decimate their population with smallpox, steal their land, coerce conversions to Christianity and subject them to massacres and forced relocations.
Not every member of the British East India Company was corrupt and shiftless. That's my point. Yes, the BEIC ended up stealing things from India, disrespecting Indian traditions, and so on. But when the BEIC first formed (in 1600) and traded with India during the 1600s and 1700s, it was staffed by people who were - on the whole - competent and hardworking. It's only after the BEIC seized control of Indian land, and started "colonising" parts of south-east Asia and Hong Kong, that the problems started.

Not everything that the BEIC did, even in the 1600s and/or 1700s, is admirable by today's standards. For instance, the BEIC traded in slaves; but then, most Europeans (and Africans, and South Americans) did too. It's also a fallacy to judge the past by the standards of the present. The past, as L. P. Hartley justly reminds us, is "a foreign country; they do things differently there".

By the way, I've had a look at the list of the statues that were toppled as part of the "Black Lives Matter" protests. Most of them were statues to people who were either racists or slave-owners, but most of these people are much more nuanced than that. Among them were:

- Statue of Thomas Jefferson at Jefferson High School (Portland, OR)
- Statue of George Washington (Portland, OR)
- Statue of Francis Scott Key (Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA)
- Bust of U. S. Grant (Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA)
- Statue of Hans Christian Heg (Madison, Wisconsin); Heg was a unionist and an abolitionist
- The Emancipation Memorial (Boston, Mass.)
- Statue of Jesus Christ (Miami, FL)
- Statue of the Virgin Mary (in front of a church in Chattanooga, TN)
- Monument to 77th New York Volunteer Infantry (Union Army unit; Saratoga Springs, NY)
- Statue of Mahatma Gandhi (Davis, CA)
- Statue of Walt Whitman (Camden, NJ)

I have no idea how a statue to Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Ghandi, or Walt Whitman could offend anyone ... :rolleyes:

And Christopher Columbus never intended to cooperate with the natives he found living in the Caribbean islands he "discovered." Almost immediately after he arrived and with every subsequent voyage he and his crew began enslaving them, raping their women, forcing them to convert to Christianity, turning rainforests into sugar plantations worked by slave labor and convincing Spain to give him and his heirs private ownership of the islands he invaded. He may not have been the worst of the conquistadors, but he was the first and set the squalid example for those who would follow in his corrupt footsteps.
And what "explorer" - Spanish or not, Columbus or not - would have done otherwise?

Columbus is probably the least objectionable of the Conquistadors. Compare him with Hernado Cortez (who basically exterminated the Aztecs), or Pizarro (who did the same to the Inca), or the execrable Lope de Aguirre.

And why where the Aztecs not admirable? Yes, they did practice human sacrifices, but those sacrifices were usually culled from enemies they captured in their endless wars with other nations. They also built cities that were far more advanced in planning than most of those in Europe at the time. Yes, they practiced slavery, but what nation didn't back then? At least the Aztecs were able to feed and clothe their people and they had a very advanced mercantile network. This can't be said of many places in Europe, where feudal lords did nothing to keep their vassals from starving to death.
You've just proven my point. "Yes, they practiced slavery, but what nation didn't back then?" Exactly - so how was it better to be enslaved by the Aztecs than to be enslaved by the Spanish, English, French, or Dutch?

Yes, the Aztecs built very advanced cities - mortared with the blood of thousands of slaves.

Yes, feudalism was similar - and Aztec human sacrifice wasn't any better or worse than (say) hanging, drawing and quartering.

"The Aztecs had an advanced mercantile network" -- and the Europeans didn't? Even during the centuries of feudalism, the Europeans traded all over Europe and beyond. The Vikings are renowned as great traders (among other things). The Europeans had trade networks that reached as far as India and China along the Silk Road, but of course this was very slow. Hence Columbus's voyage.

Like it or not, Columbus's voyages to the American continent mark the beginning of globalisation and its demographic, commercial, economic, social, and political changes. His explorations resulted in permanent contact between the two hemispheres. The ensuing Columbian exchange saw the massive exchange of animals, plants, fungi, diseases, technologies, mineral wealth and ideas.

Yes, his voyages resulted in many negative effects too. The indigenous populations of the Americas were exposed to Old World diseases and collapsed. There was undoubtedly immense suffering. These populations were largely replaced by Europeans and Africans, who brought with them new methods of farming, business, governance, and religious worship.

I don't think it's possible to judge Columbus in terms of black-and-white, hero-or-villain. But his impact on the world, for better or worse, is undeniable.
 
Oct 1, 2009
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#7
Rath, your original comments were along the lines of "the BEIC and Columbus weren't totally bad."

My counterpoint is that, to the natives who lived in the lands who suffered from this colonialism, everything these European invaders did was bad. They destroyed ancient civilizations, enslaved millions of people, deliberately spread smallpox and other diseases that killed decimated native American populations, enforced their own religion that didn't have a particularly good record of tolerance on those they conquered, raped their women, plundered their treasures, wiped out the animals they hunted, forcibly relocated them to inhospitable lands, and essentially treated anyone whose skin wasn't white like inferior, nearly subhuman vassals. Yes, they changed the world, but if you were of African, Asian, Indian, or native American descent, you can easily argue that these changes weren't for the better.

As for the statue toppling in the U.S, I really don't understand what that has to do with the points you're making about conquistadors and slavers. Anymore than reports of statues of Cecil Rhodes being toppled in Britain.
 

RathDarkblade

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#8
Ah. Yes, I agree with you that - from the point-of-view of the natives who lived in South America, North America and Asia - colonialism was definitely a Bad Thing(TM). No question there: I'm not defending the institution as a whole.

I'm simply pointing out that, within the institution, not every single person was bad (even by today's standards). I hope we can agree on that, at least. Not everyone was equally racist or horrible.

I brought up statue toppling for a simple reason: quite a lot of statues were toppled because they depict people from that era. But some statues represent unrelated people, or people who are (or should be) admirable - and they still got toppled, which is a shame. :(
 

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