Discussion of social integration in Discworld

Welcome to the Sir Terry Pratchett Forums
Register here for the Sir Terry Pratchett forum and message boards.
Sign up

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
28,763
147
3,325
Cardiff, Wales
#21
It's a very common American expression. Charlene used it all the time and I've heard it elsewhere as well.
 

MountainBard

Lance-Constable
May 5, 2019
48
27
600
63
#22
This is an interesting discussion. Well done that man for Tony* starting it! Integration and diversity is something that Vetinari promotes in his usual low-key and extremely effective fashion. I've always thought of him as what we in the States would call a Libertarian. He believes peoples should be able to do whatever they want, as long as they're not harming the city. And I think he sees early on that the strength of the city will only be increased by the influx and acceptance of non-human races. I wonder how much influence Lady M had on this attitude? In Night Watch we get to see the young Vetinari, and we see how he was mocked and ostracized while training in the Assassin's Guild. This would have given him a very strong personal understanding of how expectations of rigid conformity and actively practicing prejudicial beliefs negatively effect all the individuals concerned. I think that would have had to have a big effect on him as he grew to full manhood-- and to the rule of Ankh-Morpork, in time.

We see many examples of prejudice and racism in Ankh-Morpork over time, and we inevitably see the very real and usually immediate detrimental effects of such prejudice. From the trolls and dwarfs confronting each other with only the thin line of Watchmen (and A.E. Pessimal) separating them to the firebombing of the Goriff's eatery, these events have negative consequences, and it seems to me that Lord Vetinari, very subtly, and Commander Vimes, more bluntly, see to it that the original guilty party is made to see the error of his ways, and the city generally is steered a bit more toward inclusion and diversity with each unfortunate episode.

Vetinari wants to make Ankh-Morpork work. He's a visionary as well as a pragmatic tyrant, and he allows the development of peaceful relations among the races in the city to unfold, guiding that development in his usual subtle fashion, and seeing to it that the populace are made aware of the advantages of tolerance, and the very real disadvantages of racism and repression.

I'm not suggesting Lord Vetinari is solely responsible for the development of Ankh-Morpork, but certainly he has to be acknowledged as a guiding force, one which amplifies the positive outcomes at least potentially available from cooperation and tolerance among species. He's a smart guy, in other words, albeit cynical. His story about the salmon and the otters is simply a desolate view of nature and existence in general. Yet he has something in his spirit which overrides that cynicism, and guide the development of Ankh-Morpork into a cosmopolitan city with his usual consummate skill and aplomb.

Although I am sure he would strenuously take issue with the term, Vetinari seems to be one of the "better angels of our nature" in promoting and maintaining tolerance and respect for diversity. Would that he could come to our Roundworld and apply those same skills. But then, he would have his work cut out for him here on Earth in the climate of intolerance and racism which has raised the storm of repressive, racist and xenophobic behavior we're currently enduring.

*My very great and sincere gratitude to Tony for mentioning my show in the initial posting in this thread.
 
Last edited:

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
28,763
147
3,325
Cardiff, Wales
#23
SPOILERS FOR Unseen Academicals and Thud! ahead

You make some interesting points. I'll have to ponder on whether Lady Margolotta has some influence on the city. I suspect that she does to a degree - in that she and Vetinari seem to almost be playing a long distance relationship that involves almost a game of Civics. We see with Nutt, for example, that there is almost a bet going on between them. Margolotta educates Nutt but she's not at all sure whether he and his race, will be able to socially integrate into a wider culture. Vetinari thinks that he can and, with the help of Ridcully brings him to the city. Even then Margolotta puts fail safes in place using the bird-like women.

So Vetinari works on making the various races get along in his city and Margolotta works on getting the Uberwald races to coexist . . . maybe?

Vetinari is not altogether trying to stop upheaval in his city - he sees it (I think) as a way to bring tensions to a head before solving the solutions. By doing this, he manages to turn the city dwarfs against the Grags and thereby solving that problem in a way that satisfies the Dwarfs and makes them think it was their decision.
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
4,988
163
2,250
42
Melbourne, Victoria
#24
Even then Margolotta puts fail safes in place using the bird-like women.
Hmm, I nearly forgot them. Are they a reference to the Stymphalian Birds? (Yes, I am a classicist, for my sins. I don't remember what my sins were, though). ;)

So Vetinari works on making the various races get along in his city and Margolotta works on getting the Uberwald races to coexist . . . maybe?
There's no maybe about it. The way that Margolotta remembers people's names and faces, and the names etc. of their families, reminds me a little of Carrot - but a more complicated Carrot, perhaps.

Vetinari is not altogether trying to stop upheaval in his city - he sees it (I think) as a way to bring tensions to a head before solving the solutions. By doing this, he manages to turn the city dwarfs against the Grags and thereby solving that problem in a way that satisfies the Dwarfs and makes them think it was their decision.
Hmm. He's not alone in that, perhaps - Ardent works for the opposite side in "Raising Steam" - but almost all dwarfs across the continent, not just in A-M, band together against the more malign influence of the Grags.

I think, also, that we should remember (as Terry did) that not all the Grags are malicious lovers of darkness who encourage violence. (Indeed, such a characterisation would be close to caricature instead of satire). Bashfull Bashfulsson, for instance, is a Grag - but he is also liberal, carries no axe, shows his face to the sun, and so on. In "Raising Steam", he saves an A-M Dwarf who visits the Old Country from a kicking - and later, plays an even more pivotal role.

Albrecht Albrechtson is another traditional deep-down dwarf - not sure if he was a Grag or not, but I suspect not - whose views, over time, change (especially in RS).

So yes, we are never told the actual names of the more malevolent Grags (though I'm sure that Rhys, and Vimes, and Vetinari, and Margolotta etc. are). I notice that this happens in some of Terry's books - e.g. the plotters in CoM (apart from Dragon, King of Arms) are never named. Is this done on purpose? What do the rest of you think?

This is an interesting discussion. Well done that man for Tony* starting it! Integration and diversity is something that Vetinari promotes in his usual low-key and extremely effective fashion. I've always thought of him as what we in the States would call a Libertarian...
Hmm. So, MountainBard, would you agree that Vetinari and Wes Benedict are - roughly speaking - of a similar state of mind? Just curious.

It's possible (perhaps even probable) that Vetinari is of a similar state of mind with the late, and sorely missed, George Carlin - although I don't think Vetinari would do half the things that George did, and vice-versa.

Tamar said:
....some rumors are made up out of whole cloth...
Sorry, but now I can't resist what follows. :) Does that mean that some rumours are made up out of half cloth? And some out of no cloth at all? And if they are, does that mean the emperor has no cloth? But maybe he has silk, or cotton, or wool.

Or ...
  • If there are rumours of Swiss cheese in the deli, they're made out of hole cloth.
  • If the rumours are of cheese at all, they're made out of cheesecloth.
  • Any rumours you make at sea are made out of sailcloth.
  • Any rumours you hear in the bathroom are made out of washcloth. Or facecloth. Or washcloth.
  • Any rumours you hear in a funeral parlour are made out of sackcloth.
  • Any rumours about Cohen and the Horde are made out of - what else? - loincloth!
  • Any rumours you hear about Moist von Lipwig being on the golem horse are made out of - you guessed it - saddlecloth.
And yes, I haven't touched on tablecloth, neckcloth, haircloth, dropcloth, footcloth, longcloth, oilcloth, broadcloth or floorcloth ... gotta leave myself work for tomorrow, don'cha know. ;)

*Rath jumps into Crowley's Bentley and speeds away to avoid being lynched for Being a Smart-Donkey(TM). And Having a Very Big Dictionary(C). And Being Bloody Silly* ;)
 
Last edited:

MountainBard

Lance-Constable
May 5, 2019
48
27
600
63
#26
Apropos of nothing, there is a song titled "Whole Cloth" on David Crosby and Graham Nash's first album.

Rath, I'm still seeing afterimages from that dazzling list of rumours and cloth combinations.
 

Dotsie

Sergeant-at-Arms
Jul 28, 2008
8,869
85
2,850
#27
Hmm, I nearly forgot them. Are they a reference to the Stymphalian Birds? (Yes, I am a classicist, for my sins. I don't remember what my sins were, though). ;)
Furies rather than Stymphalian Birds, they are female with a few bird-like features.
 

MountainBard

Lance-Constable
May 5, 2019
48
27
600
63
#28
But back to the topic at hand. I think Wes Benedict would find running Ankh-Morpork to be a lot more challenging than running the Libertarian National Committee. And I would love to be the fabled fly on the wall at a discussion between Carlin and Vetinari.

I agree with Tony that Vetinari doesn't try to squelch upheaval in his city. Indeed he seems like a thesis/antithesis/synthesis kind of guy. Vetinari not Tony. :geek: But he always has the appropriate reaction to any such upheaval. Not a plan, since he insists that planning is futile, but a reaction based on his considerable intellectual and (especially) political abilities.

Rath, your point about the dwarfs and their grags is well made (and not in the Ridcully "Good point well made" sense.) Sir Terry considered the individuals in the group first, and never allowed himself to indulge in stereotyping of groups, although of course characters in a number of the books do so. That behavior is always revealed for the folly it is in the end, though. As Buster Kilrain said in Gettysburg, "He who judges by the group is a peawit."
 
Oct 1, 2009
4,060
26
2,150
Boston, MA USA
#29
This is an interesting discussion. Well done that man for Tony* starting it! Integration and diversity is something that Vetinari promotes in his usual low-key and extremely effective fashion. I've always thought of him as what we in the States would call a Libertarian. He believes peoples should be able to do whatever they want, as long as they're not harming the city.
Whatever Vetinari is, a libertarian he is NOT. Libertarians--at least in the American sense--are strongly against government intrusion into any part of private life.

Vetinari, at best, is supporter of a laissez-faire(sp.) style of government that lets businesses do much of what they wish--as long as what they do doesn't threaten the stability and economic growth of the city. When these threats occur, as they do in Going Postal and Making Money, he puts the resources of government to use (mainly in the form of Moist) to keep uncontrolled capitalism at bay. And Vetinari has many, many "dark clerks" to keep track of errant behavior and to covertly "correct" misaligned situations when needed. And he relies on one of the bulwarks of government, law enforcement, in this case the Watch, to preserve the peace when the threat of chaos occurs. Some may mistake his style of guiding the city's progress through subtle manipulations as a "keeping government off my back" attitude, but it's actually quite the opposite--he's made the government work extremely well by enabling it to carry out its actions--and convince even thieves and assassins to "follow the rules" in a way that makes people think they're doing it of their own accord and acting in their own self interests. Traditional libertarians would consider this to be the most insidious and dangerous form of governmental control.
 

MountainBard

Lance-Constable
May 5, 2019
48
27
600
63
#30
Whatever Vetinari is, a libertarian he is NOT. Libertarians--at least in the American sense--are strongly against government intrusion into any part of private life.
Raisindot, I take your point. Vetinari is a subtle character. I suppose in calling him a Libertarian I was thinking of his dictum that people should be free to do whatever they want, but should also understand what the consequences of their action will be.
 
Oct 1, 2009
4,060
26
2,150
Boston, MA USA
#31
Raisindot, I take your point. Vetinari is a subtle character. I suppose in calling him a Libertarian I was thinking of his dictum that people should be free to do whatever they want, but should also understand what the consequences of their action will be.
Well, true liberatarians agree with the "people should be free part" but would either ditch the "consequences" part, or at least narrow the consequences to those they might suffer at the hands of their fellow libertarians whom their actions offended--but certainly not legal or governmental consequences, since they believe that neither should apply to them.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
3,691
101
2,150
#32
Sorry, but now I can't resist what follows. :) Does that mean that some rumours are made up out of half cloth? And some out of no cloth at all? And if they are, does that mean the emperor has no cloth? But maybe he has silk, or cotton, or wool.
Some rumors are pieced together out of unrelated scraps from widely different sources to make a picture, and then puffed up with some random stuffing, to make a tissue of lies.
  • If there are rumours of Swiss cheese in the deli, they're made out of hole cloth.
Fie. ;)
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
3,691
101
2,150
#34
Sorry, it was a poor attempt at an amusing response to a good pun. "Fie" is a word that I am told is of unknown actual meaning, because (a) everyone knew what it meant, and (b) it was such a foul oath that nobody would write it down. It shows up in some old novels about the medieval era - "Fie upon thee, foul caitiff, for such an evil deed!" and so on. It's the kind of writing Sir Terry referred to as "Ho, landlord, a flagon of your finest ale!" style.

To return to the topic, isn't getting people to work together so that society works smoothly a way of getting them to work for their own self interests? Vetinari doesn't even interfere (much) with crime except to keep it at a low, predictable level. I suppose that interferes with the kind of person who wants to make one big score and then get away to another country with the money.
 

MountainBard

Lance-Constable
May 5, 2019
48
27
600
63
#35
Vetinari is somewhat of a monomaniac. His remarkable intellect and socio-political savvy are focused on one thing: the city. He has made Ankh-Morpork work, and he keeps it working by incessantly ensuring that the right word is spoken in the right ear at the right moment. He will go to any lengths necessary to keep the city working, but his genius is that he does it so smoothly and unobtrusively that no one comprehends how he does it. He's the tyrant, and he is feared, but he cultivates even that fear in the furtherance of the city's functionality. Recall his "angels" conversation with Moist, and the choice that Von Lipwig rightly perceived as the threat of immediate extinction if Moist refused the job of Postmaster.

To return to the topic, isn't getting people to work together so that society works smoothly a way of getting them to work for their own self interests?
I think Tamar has encapsulated the Patrician's essence here. He is the one who understands that mutual cooperation furthers the self-interest of individuals, and that their cooperation does make the society work. He is masterful and getting people to work together. He knows once he does that they will see what's in it for them, while he is concerned with what's in it for Ankh-Morkpork.

That mutual cooperation nudges people (and dwarfs and trolls and the rest) to be tolerant of each other in the name of making an Ankh-Morpork dollar. Toleration and social integration help make the city work. Intolerance and racism can make the city not work, and Vetinari won't tolerate that. Thus he encourages the former in ways many people don't even realize, and discourages the latter using an absolute minimum of force in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, often through the use of Sam Vimes and a Watch that Vetinari has allowed and encouraged Vimes to expand and improve.
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
4,988
163
2,250
42
Melbourne, Victoria
#36
Sorry, it was a poor attempt at an amusing response to a good pun. "Fie" is a word that I am told is of unknown actual meaning, because (a) everyone knew what it meant, and (b) it was such a foul oath that nobody would write it down. It shows up in some old novels about the medieval era - "Fie upon thee, foul caitiff, for such an evil deed!" and so on. It's the kind of writing Sir Terry referred to as "Ho, landlord, a flagon of your finest ale!" style.
Oh, that. Yes, I know what "fie" means (kind of like the Captain in HMS Pinafore saying "Damme!"), but I didn't understand why you were saying "fie" to my (Swiss) cheesy pun. ;)
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
3,691
101
2,150
#37
Here in the US there are two standard positive responses to a pun. One is simply to laugh, the other is to pretend to be in pain from it, and the better (worse) the pun, the more pain. Is it different elsewhere?
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
City Watch
Mar 24, 2015
4,988
163
2,250
42
Melbourne, Victoria
#38
I'm not sure about anywhere else, but here in Australia, the standard response is to groan. It's therapeutic.
 

MountainBard

Lance-Constable
May 5, 2019
48
27
600
63
#40
*groans and shakes head*

Standard Yankee response
 

Book of the Month

Good Omens

"Pratchett’s wackiness collaborates with Gaiman’s morbid humour; the result is a humanist delight to be savoured and read again and again."

User Menu

Newsletter