Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against them)

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Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against them)

Postby Zero Revenge » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:17 pm

So, this came up today is a discussion between friends, I was attempting to get my friend into MFZ, and made many real life comparisons as per suggestions in the past. Ijad to Al-Qaeda, and Solar Union to the British Empire were just two of the many. (Space Al-Qaeda & Space British Empire, of course) So, the topic then shifted into the Ijad's religion, how it dominated the way they act, how they live and think, and a question came to me.

During the British rule over the Mandate of Palestine & Colonial India; and the American's control of the Philippines after their victory (the Moro Rebellion), a controversial tactic was used to quell aggression by Muslim extremists. Using the inhabitants' faith against them, namely the concept of Paradise, the British & American soldiers would execute the person-in-question, wrap their bodies in pig fat, and then bury them. Making them an example to all, denying the victim, in the people's eyes, Paradise.

Now, whether or not this worked or just incited more aggression is up for discussion, but the general consensus was that while cruel, it was a very effective fear tactic.
"His forces captured some of the militants, executed them with bullets dipped in pig fat, and wrapped their bodies in pigskin before burial — a devastating contamination according to Muslim law. “You’ll never see Paradise,” one U.S. officer reportedly told the terrorists, dashing their hopes of martyrdom. Pershing’s approach is probably no longer in the army’s counterterrorism repertoire, but the result was that guerrilla violence ended — and failed to resurface even after Pershing left the Philippines to command U.S. troops in World War I."

And so, introductions aside. I was curious, what is absolutely paramount to an Ijad believer? What would be so taboo as to deny an Ijad access to Paradise?
Discussions of if this is morally acceptable or not is... cautiously welcome.
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Fri Oct 12, 2012 12:50 am

It's obviously immoral, cruel, and contemptuous.

That said, let's consider:
The Ijad, having no afterlife, would require a different kind of treatment, altogether.

One way to do it is to break them; to shower them with the benefits of a foreign ruler, perhaps. Or maybe erode their system of social support so all their friends are realizing those benefits.

Their word for "sin" translates most directly as something like "betrayal". If you could convince someone to take money or other goodies in exchange for taking action at the behest of a distant ruler, it would be deeply shameful to them. You could probably blackmail them into doing more, paying them in addition to the increasing threat of outing them.
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby afny » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:08 am

I feel your branding of the Ijad as Space al-Quaeda is woefully inaccurate (or at least misleading), especially in light of the more accurate comparison of the Solar Union to the British Empire. The latter comparison is at least broadly applicable because the Solar Union, has a (relatively) monolithic political and military structure and colonial tendencies; Al-Qaeda, however, is a military extremist group (with shades of a meticulously engineered global domination meme), and not representative of any race, country, or religion (as a whole). While there may be ELEMENTS of religious and military extremism in Ijad society, the comparison doesn't apply outside of that minority.

The Ijad religion obviously affected their development before first contact heavily, and they are, as a whole, still deeply religious, but that doesn't make them extremists. While it could be argued that their religion continues via indoctrination (like many contemporary religions), I don't think it's that simple; if it were, we'd probably hear about a lot more Ijad atheists. At least in my very limited understanding of it, the Ijad religion lacks much of the spiritual baggage that our religions have--sure, it's there, but at the core it is based on CULTURAL tenants, not spiritual ones. This means that while some people might be religious based on indoctrination, others have accepted the same conclusions logically, and many more arrived there via means somewhere in between. To all of them, the core tenant of their religion--freedom from distant rule--is sacred, but their adherence to it is not motivated purely by dogma.

With this (and Joshua's post) in mind, it's clear that the real question being asked isn't one of dogmatic reversal, but of cultural destruction; it is not "How do I turn their beliefs against them?", but "How do I turn them against their beliefs?". Though this is (arguably) just as immoral, cruel, and contemptuous, I think it is a much more interesting question and one much more in line with the setting.
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:36 am

Afny, that's a great post.

Soren has posted images of his company, Armored Of God, here and there. They're Ijad supremacists. I'd wager you could get one of those guys bonded with a human against the Ijad's will. if a human's properly trained (and there are many, many Ijad who don't like those guys and would be willing to help), I'd bet they could take real control of the Ijad.

...and that gets back to the "rape" discussion. We're talking here about using techniques that violate someone else's sovereign personhood.

Contrariwise, Ben Lehman wrote to me about Ijad heretics who follow "the Human religion". That's the Ijad misunderstanding that parallels our misunderstanding of the Ijad. So any such efforts are liable to misfire badly.
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby Soren » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:48 am

My conceptual model for the Armored-of-God was less Al Qaeda (who are the Muslim equivalent of Ted Kaczynski - not sane enough to be protagonists), and more LTTE or IRA. Bastards, but smart, tough bastards with serious justification for their atrocities, organized as military or paramilitary units rather than terror cells.

Meanwhile, the Moon Fang Tribe lean more towards the Viet Minh circa 1946, or the Haganah in Mandate Palestine. They do bad things, but for relatively good reasons, and they have at least a few hard limits. The Sisters of the Dreaming Blade are intended to be as close to wholly nice as plausible - something out of a Le Guin novel. It gives me a range of ideology to show how fractious the Ijad really are. There's a whole planet full of them, some of whom still haven't made it into space yet, and a lot of diversity. Messing with one tribe or band on the basis of data derived from another one is likely to get you looked at funny, not trigger a species-wide theological breakdown.

Also, let's face it, 'OMG evil space muslims' is easy, shallow, offensive, and dates quickly. It's not a stereotype I'm okay with in the present and it's not something I want to plug into my metaphor for the future. After all, I live in a country (Malaysia) full of Muslims who have been nothing but nice and accommodating to me. I'm tired of the weak attempts to make fiction relevant to the real world by importing prejudices that directly and sloppily.
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:34 pm

yes
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby Foxfire » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:00 pm

Yeah, I would say less Al-queda, more muslims as a whole. The Ijad have a range of beliefs that center around the general concept of freedom from external influence, but withing that sphere there is a lot of room for different interpretations. Some groups will respond with violence to any seeming attempt to control them. Other groups may be happy to just move elsewhere.
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby Zero Revenge » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:51 pm

I see my mistake in the comparison to Al-Qaeda. I had mistaken myself from Joshua's original post.
Ijad = the moral, borderless, nationless ideas and ideals of the 20th and 21st centuries: Jihad, Anonymous, anarchism, communism, anarcho-capitalism, and, of course, religions.

And there in lies my mistake, my memory was faulty. (I had thought Joshua made a reference to Al-Qaeda, not Jihad itself) I accept full responsibility for the misunderstanding, and now wish I had written my post in a more proper fashion to pose not a moral question (as we should all see that manipulation as abhorrent) but a question about the Ijad Faith.

I had to let it be known that I do not condone this sort of tactic, and all the other pleasantries of a disclaimer. (read: I am not a fascist) And more importantly, it twas not my goal to be offensive.

Soren wrote:Also, let's face it, 'OMG evil space muslims' is easy, shallow, offensive, and dates quickly. It's not a stereotype I'm okay with in the present and it's not something I want to plug into my metaphor for the future. After all, I live in a country (Malaysia) full of Muslims who have been nothing but nice and accommodating to me. I'm tired of the weak attempts to make fiction relevant to the real world by importing prejudices that directly and sloppily.

Please don't insinuate that I'm painting Muslims as evil. I didn't do that, I didn't favor either side, I merely gave 2 historical examples of Imperialist's extent of wanting to control their territory. If anything, its the Imperial power who is shown to be evil (the British or Americans in examples above).
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby Soren » Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:38 pm

Fair cop, I did bang that drum a little hard. But the analogy you drew is a lot like claiming the Westboro Baptist Church is meaningfully representative of Christianity, or that Kahanists are meaningfully representative of Judaism. Also, terrifying people with your lack of regard for their religion is a bad idea long-term and can easily backfire.

So here's a more detailed answer:
Ijad don't really have a concept analogous to jihad (or a concept of war-as-we-know-it, since they haven't developed nation-states in the modern sense either). Ijad religious leaders are similar to imams, in that they're typically not professionals but prominent members of their communities with day jobs, though - in some places it's more like a Rabbinic tradition, with a set of tribe-specific law similar to halakha.

The problem is that it's fairly well established precedent that Ijad religious laws supersede the secular laws of an area where they conflict. Now, among Ijad, there's not much overlap between secular and religious law - secular law tends to look more like a treaty with a joint-enforcement clause and the question doesn't come up - but with human societies there's a whole lot. Definitions of basic concepts like 'ownership' are not only not the same, they vary between tribes (as do their acceptable subjects - nomads and sedentary farmers tend to have clashing opinions on whether you can 'own' land - or people).
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby afny » Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:21 am

While the Ijad (before first contact) had no analogous concept of war-as-we-know-it or an enemy that is not culturally sympathetic, the concept of Jihad could apply to their personal adherence to freedom from distant rule.

I can see how that list of 20th/21st century buzz words could be confusing, but the inclusion of Jihad and Soren's assertion that there is no Ijad analog to "Jihad/War" aren't conflicting: Jihad in the larger sense, as in religious duty and the personal struggle to remain dutiful, describes their dedication to remain free from/abstain from distant control. In context, Jihad can also describe religious law superseding (or overlapping with) secular law ala Soren's example, and (most interestingly) the Ijad struggle to remain true to those principles in a post-first contact world.
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby gatlinggouf927 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:09 am

aaand the above posts are exactly why my faction is anti-ijad for no other reason beyond revenge turned to creed (they took our planet by force: 1.want it back. 2.make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else) lol didn't want to touch this hot button topic with a 10ft pole.

However, since the can o worms has been opened. I notice an overall consensus among the forums of romanticizing the Ijad as harmless wayfaring monks who can do no wrong, and many jump to the rescue if the Ijad are compared to religious extremists. Not to sound antagonistic, but they are dominated by cultural practices that spawn from faith? So unless this setting doesn't apply to real world diversity of sentient beings, extremism is going to happen. This is of course my opinion based on my experiences within the MFZ social group, but villainy as a whole makes for more interesting storytelling (for those of us who fluff the crap out of their campaigns i.e. Orion 6, Arcadia, etc.) I, like ZeroRevenge, don't condone any of these practices in a real world setting despite the fact that we shouldn't be put on trial in the first place as this is all ultimately FICTION. A point i tried making in the "fascism in fiction is a bad thing" post in the off topic section. Which, while i'm sure unintentional, implied "Zeon/Warhammer 40k fans = closet nazi". But that aside, this is a galaxy at WAR, and no matter how idealized of a future one creates war brings out the worst in everyone, and atrocities will be committed. I see how Zero's post here may have sent the wrong message, but trust me we've known each other for several years, and press our interest in this fashion not out of some bigotry trip, but out of our passion for war history. For example, my entire faction's mentality is based on a very pre-christian Scandinavia world view (you wrong me and my kin, you pay in full... with interest) Is it morally questionable? Yes. Did it ultimately vilify my group? Sure. But that kind of directionless hatred is commonplace in a wartime setting. I come from a Polish family, my father and siblings live over there, and despite the time that has passed since WWII, they still damn and curse the Russians for acts committed 70+ years ago. So i don't see why an Al Qaeda comparison (reworked to suit the MFZ universe) was immediately shot down. Are they bad people? of course, but that in itself is a reason to explore that option rather than shut it down. This is a game after all, and games provide people with the ability to act in ways that they never would in the real world, some may think that odd or psychopath fuel, i call it escapism. It's a curiosity, a sort of role playing, and as a D&D veteran of many years, it's fun to be "bad" in a world with no real consequences. And arguing the counterpoint is the same as accusing vulgar music and violent television/games as the cause for bad people (an utterly ridiculous theory that allows lazy parents to escape liability for their lazy parenting) Covering up the horrors/atrocities war causes isn't truly faithful to a "galaxy at war" setting. Jus sayin.

I realize i went on a bit of a rant there, if i offended any one in any way i apologize, it was not my intention, nor do i wish to belittle any of the creative minds behind MFZ, you guys have done great work and have given me an obsession for the last 6 months lol. It's also 6am and i NEED sleep lol

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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby afny » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:04 am

gatlinggouf927 wrote:aaand the above posts are exactly why my faction is anti-ijad for no other reason beyond revenge turned to creed (they took our planet by force: 1.want it back. 2.make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else) lol didn't want to touch this hot button topic with a 10ft pole.


What, specifically, about the above posts do you (or your faction) take issue with? There is a rather large amount of discussion about a species or culture as a whole, so that comment is a little confusing.

The Ijad religion is a narrative tool that makes their small-scale cultural tendencies more robust. It's a creative way to frame their motivation and make sure aspects of their culture are not easily written out by us (players and later contributors to the fiction). You're right that the religious association in an otherwise atheist and 'progressive' setting seems to make people want to paint them as "space $REALWORLDRELIGION practitioners", but those comparisons aren't usually accurate whether the Ijad are painted as pacifist monks or suicide bombers. A distinction I believe many are failing to make is one I pointed out in my first post; Ijad culture may be based on 'a faith', but it isn't analogous to any contemporary religion (and it is not based solely on dogma), so broad comparisons should not be made lightly.

This is why the al-Qaeda comparison was so maligned (and inaccurate); it was a broad comparison to Ijad culture as a whole. If you made an Ijad (or multi-species) faction based on al-Qaeda, you could probably produce something pretty interesting, but in doing so you would not be suggesting that your faction reflected an entire culture.

No one is suggesting that the collaborative fiction should cover up the horrors of war--just that contributions should not objectively glorify war or power, and that contributors approach the factions and their populations with an eye for depth. There is a big difference between playing a morally bankrupt company/questionable micro-national military and painting one of the three overarching factions (or an entire species) as evil.
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby gatlinggouf927 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:07 am

Good points, and just to clarify I never wanted to paint the entire Ijad race as extremist, just that whenever someone mentions an extremist splinter or sect people (particularly those who play as Ijad) tend to go up in arms saying that its not a good picture to paint, and that it references a persons dislike for Islam/Christianity/Judaism and the such.

I went and made a faction within the Solar Union that I basically turned into the poster boy for everything wrong with the SU's political and corporate structuring, exposing all the evils that could exist with a morally bankrupt paramilitary corporation with business ventures in military tech, helium 3 fuel production, and pharmaceuticals (It's basically Umbrella Corp. but with mech's...) which is just what i had intended to make, and no one batted an eye at it. But i see someone mention an Ijad religious extremist group (or ask about religious or counter religious terror tactics like above) and people start saying that your being offensive, it's just a bit biased. Religiously, all five players in the Arcadia campaign could care less, Three of us, including myself, are practicing Heathens a.k.a. Asatruar or simply Norse Pagans. The other two are lapsed Catholics. Coming from that background i can appreciate the mass diversity the Ijad have from group to group, it's the same as us and most other old world Reconstructionist faiths.

The point trying to make it that bias i've noticed irks me ever so slightly, because it'd be like us denying that there are those who butcher our beliefs in the name of white/racial supremacy. We absolutely abhor those people, but have to acknowledge their existence simply to educate others that we're NOT that. Likewise in the MFZ metaverse, Ijad extremists naturally should exist, like the really bad Al Qaeda/Westboro/Irgun kind of extremists, and should be equally abhorred by other less aggressive practitioners among the Ijad race. This is a fictional universe in which the player can create worlds all their own, if someone wants to play a faction that is a mirror or some real world self glorified religious sect, let them go for it. Don't shoot it down immediately, if someone were to honestly be offended by a fictional army that happened to represent a terrorist group then they need to calm down and get off their political correctness soapbox. thats all im saying
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby afny » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:57 am

I guess I just haven't noticed the bias you're referring to--certainly not in this thread. For instance, I haven't seen anyone get offended about Soren's Armored-of-God, who are certainly extremists (though, as he pointed out, they could still be construed as protagonists). Again, I don't think the 'requirements' for contribution to the narrative prevent you from portraying something offensive; they just dissuade you from reductive portrayals of a demographic (for good or bad).
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby gatlinggouf927 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 1:27 pm

Again valid points, this was just a rant from my experiences chatting with folks and in my own reading, I 100% agree that we should avoid reductive interpretations, but simple motivations for a faction are still good ones. Soren's AOG are extremists yes, but that image is immediately softened by the fact that they were made with a protagonist point of view. For those familiar with Dungeons and Dragons or any other role playing games, this should look familiar:

Image

i guess as a whole i don't want personal idealism of existing forum members to dissuade or scare new folks from exploring those bottom three options when doing narrative work, I built my entire faction upon the Lawful Evil category, defined as:

" Lawful Evil- is referred to as the "Dominator" alignment. Characters of this alignment see a well-ordered system as being easier to exploit, and show a combination of desirable and undesirable traits; while they usually obey their superiors and keep their word, they care nothing for the rights and freedoms of other individuals and are not averse to twisting the rules to work in their favor. Examples of this alignment include tyrants, undiscriminating mercenary types who have a strict code of conduct, and loyal soldiers who enjoy the act of killing."

That's more or less the exact mentality of the Varangian Guard. At the time i created them back in March i didn't see anyone explore this route, so i ran with it. My guys are villains through and through, wolves in sheep skins as it were.I could have made them anti heroes but i didn't want to as that was too cliche (then again what isn't anymore lol), they were victims of a tragedy, which makes you sympathize with them, but instead of making them resolute and making you cheer for them, it shattered them from the inside out and enforced a warmongering zealotry against the Ijad.

Most Ijadi factions i've read about fall under the neutral line, chaotic and lawful neutral included, but its all neutral! I want to see more morally absent folks in this universe, doom bringers, truly chaotic evil aligned guys, who go around causing wanton destruction because... well cuz they can. So far from my understanding LowestFormOfWit has the Dissident, which appear at random, blow stuff up, then vanish... Whatever their motivation is its the only Chaotic Evil faction out there. Flip the Spectrum, His Mistarille Dawn are an association of humans and Ijad who swear no loyalty to any faction but uphold the general balance of things where ever they go... Lawful Good, I love those two polar examples that he made.

In the end i just wanna see more than soldiers following orders vs freedom fighters vs Alien monks (broad strokes there i know...) But Joshua and the rest of the creative team behind MFZ have given us such a broad and expansive galactic sandbox to play in, and it's lego! THE sandbox toy! what more could you ask for? I just don't want people getting offended or chewed out for thinking outside the box, we were told explicitly no fascism, so that was the one rule i always stuck too, outside that it's pretty fair game.
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby Soren » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:47 am

I don't have a problem with people doing anything, I just reserve the right to throw in if I think it's disgusting. Similarly, I reserve the right to say in big bold letters 'that guy didn't understand what I said and doesn't represent me or my views'. Freedom of speech doesn't mean freedom from dissenting opinion. I screw up sometimes and so do other people, but I'm not trying to shut down, just clarify.

As for the rest, just because you have a chart doesn't mean you're measuring anything. 'Good' and 'evil' are constructs, not principles, and they don't have independent, objective meanings, just the meanings we assign them by pointing at things and saying 'good' and 'evil'.

(Edit to remove a link to problematic material I've since learned more about - it's creepy, and in a cult-recruity way) How do you argue with someone who derives their moral principles from completely different basic axioms? Can you argue with them? Should you? What if you don't get a choice to argue or not?

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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby gatlinggouf927 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:41 am

Your the first person to counterpoint with a novella, but i'll give it a read :) i'll get back to ya on that moral dilemma soon as i finish lol
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby Soren » Sun Oct 14, 2012 12:57 pm

If I think you've been really bad, I'll up the ante to epic poetry, or maybe interpretive dance.
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby addking » Sun Oct 14, 2012 4:04 pm

Vogon Poetry? Because I've heard that's considered inhumane. ;)
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Re: Countering Ijad Extremism (Using their faith against the

Postby milt69466 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:35 pm

addking wrote:Vogon Poetry? Because I've heard that's considered inhumane. ;)

So you've seen that movie too!
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