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SarahC comments on Eutopia is Scary - Less Wrong

34 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 January 2009 05:28AM

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Comment author: [deleted] 01 October 2010 09:52:32PM 7 points [-]

Reviving the concept of sending children away to be trained by some kind of a strict brotherhood, the way medieval children would be sent to a monastery or fostered out to become a knight.

It's egalitarian -- those who send away their children can have them educated for free, and perhaps physically or chemically altered to improve their capacities. In exchange, the Brotherhood takes a lifetime of your work, your private life, and a large portion of whatever you earn. They own you, they decide where you live, they manage every instant of your time, every action results in the addition or deduction of points from your public profile, entertainment and non-procreative sex are strictly forbidden. Even the smallest details of life are brutally competitive; points are everything, so your work is pristine and your room is spotless and your physical fitness is superb. Punishment is ubiquitous, and luxuries rare, but that means that sharing a smuggled candy bar after you've started to heal up from your last whipping is impossibly wonderful. You have no choice at all -- but you also don't have the "choice" to fail, to procrastinate, to do anything but perform excellently and serve your Brotherhood.

It is scary how incredibly appealing I find this fantasy. It sounds much more fun -- literally fun -- than the present.

Comment author: Vladimir_M 01 October 2010 10:34:43PM *  11 points [-]

What you write sounds a lot like the system of classical Sparta. Historically, lots of people have shared that fascination.

Comment author: Strange7 17 December 2010 07:40:21PM 3 points [-]

entertainment and non-procreative sex are strictly forbidden.

Forbidden, or just regulated? If you've done something the Brotherhood wants to encourage, even unwillingly or unwittingly, some sort of positive reinforcement might be mandatory.

Comment author: handoflixue 09 July 2011 12:12:01AM 8 points [-]

Given the appeal of those fantasies, I'd suspect you have an interest in either masochism or submissiveness. If you haven't explored those facets of BDSM, it might be worth your time! There's probably people out there who do pretty much exactly that, although it's a facet I'm not terribly familiar with personally.

Comment author: Multiheaded 11 August 2011 08:29:30AM *  4 points [-]

Heh heh heh, the Imperium of Man has that in droves. You should try making the case for Warhammer 40000 being a very well-disguised eutopia rather than gothic cosmic horror.

(Speaking seriously, though, my revealed preferences indicate that I assign enormous value to freedom and liberty, and I'm aghast at others, even people as wise as EY, being ready to sacrifice a bit of them for mere "fun"'s sake. I'm going to do a main-level post about the heuristic of jealously guarding freedom seen in some people.)

Comment author: MugaSofer 12 November 2012 03:47:33PM 1 point [-]

You should try making the case for Warhammer 40000 being a very well-disguised eutopia rather than gothic cosmic horror.

Well, there are plenty of inhuman enemies that we can all feel good about brutally dismembering, and of course so much knowledge has been lost that Brennan would feel quite at home. The fluff mentions souls and reincarnation IIRC so you could argue that no-one is actually dying, and I suppose they might not feel pain as ... keenly ... as we do? It still seems hard to justify all those faceless masses being ground down into the dirt by oppressive dictatorships or tortured to death by faceless horrors from beyond the stars, but such is the price of heroism. Perhaps they're NPCs.

Comment author: Baughn 18 September 2013 10:41:59PM 2 points [-]


It's warhammer, so of course it isn't actually that nice. Souls exist, and resurrection, but so do predators who'll eat the souls - if you're dead or, sometimes, if you aren't. Normal humans are the equivalent of plankton to daemons.

Comment author: Moss_Piglet 18 September 2013 10:57:59PM *  3 points [-]

Souls aren't a point in WH40K's favor when you remember that a dead human is either

  1. Cast into the Warp without a Gellar Field to protect them from even the weakest demons / warp phenomenon.
  2. Eaten by the God Emprah of Mankind.

Grimdark is pretty much the opposite of ethical hedonism, so while it is much much cooler than most utopias you can't make much of an argument for it in terms of utility. I personally would argue it from aesthetics, but while that's not all less rational than adding up the utilons it's not likely to score you points around here either.

Comment author: MugaSofer 20 September 2013 07:33:00PM *  1 point [-]

Ah, but while that's certainly claimed by some factions, it's far from demonstrated. (I recently went on a WH40K jag, so I'm a bit better informed than when I wrote that comment.)

Most hope for souls comes in the form of the Imperial mythos, which claims - among many other, contradictory things because this is 40K - that He shelters the faithful after death (still fairly dark, but actually quite plausible); and, interestingly, that He was originally "the collective reincarnation of all Earth's Shamans" (this doesn't tie in that well with anything else, but is perfectly plausible and gets repeated a lot; and reincarnation is a great way to turn unfair settings into fair ones.)

On the other hand, the Eldar seem to know the most about souls - they can manipulate them - and they seem pretty certain that theirs are being eaten by Slaneesh; although this seems to only apply to them, as a result of their whole Fall thing, rather than being the standard fate for all the dead.

Only the devotees of the Dark Gods, as I recall, have been mentioned to believe the only way to escape eternal torment as the playthings of their masters / getting soulnommed is to be chosen by the Gods to serve them as Daemons; but then they would, wouldn't they?

More seriously, 40K fluff is designed to be flexible, but I wouldn't usually be desperately trying to twist it into a cunningly disguised utopia if I hadn't been challenged to do so.

I will, however, note that any utopia ( though not necessarily wierdtopia) worth a dam will have immersive 40k VR games. So your aesthetics may be in luck yet.