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Date: Tue, 21 May 2002 15:26:17 -0700 (PDT)
From: Jerry Friedman 
Subject: Re: (urth) TBOTSS and colonialism

--- Andy Robertson  wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Adam Stephanides" 
> > Unlike the colonists of 5HC, the colonists on Blue aren't displacing
> > anybody, since the Neighbors have left and the inhumi live on Green.
> > Rather, it is the inhumi who savagely and without provocation assault
> the
> > colonists, killing and enslaving them.  Silkhorn's attempt to treat
> the
> > inhumi as human beings, rather than automatically killing them as is
> the
> > colonists' usual practice, ends in complete failure.  Jahlee, whom he
> treats
> > with the most kindness, treacherously tries to murder Nettle; and
> Juganu,
> > another inhumu whom Silkhorn had treated as human, repays him by
> attacking
> > his son's wedding.  (Though Silkhorn had goaded Juganu into attacking
> him,
> > that Juganu would kill hundreds of innocents to hit back at Silkhorn
> > indicates his savagery.)  To top it off, we learn that the inhumi
> don't
> have
> > souls of their own, just souls they've stolen from humans, so it is
> > presumably alright to exterminate them or reduce them to animality. 
> In
> > short, the portrayal of the inhumi seems nothing less than an apologia
> for
> > genocide.  I would like to think that Wolfe actually hopes for
> peaceful
> > relations between the humans and inhumi, but imo the books don't
> support
> > this reading.
> But there is a simple point to understand here.
> Contemporary western morality enforces a deeply unreal hierarchy of
> virtue
> based on class, gender, and race.  It also enforces a doublethink,
> whereby
> the priviledged and favored races, gender and classes are labelled as
> "oppressed".
> Non-whites are morally superior to whites, women to men, and the poor to
> the
> rich.

I think there's some truth to this last; such prejudices do exist,
though they're hardly "enforced"--I've heard lots of people express
the opposite prejudices (especially against women), and nothing
happened to them.

However, you're getting carried away when you call non-whites, women,
and the poor "privileged" and "favored".  True, the poor get welfare
and the rich don't.  This probably more than makes up for the fact
that as Anatole France said (more or less), the law in its majesty
forbids both the rich and the poor to sleep under bridges.  It
nowhere near compensates for the enormous, immense disadvantages of
being poor.  I'm not talking about getting tickets to the opera;
I'm talking about things from the way you're treated by the police
and courts to having to pay to get your paltry paycheck cashed.
The same applies to race.  As far as gender goes, I've heard some
interesting statistics about salaries and levels of advancement, but
I don't know the methods used to compile them.

> Wolfe, you may easily note, does *not* submit to this group
> ethnomasochoism.
> He is not any sort of racist, but the PC cues of race, gender, and class
> are
> rarely obeyed.
> This, I believe, is a conscious policy on Wolfe's part.    He knows what
> he
> is doing.
>     --- *** ---
> Thus, for example, the (moral and physical) ubermensch Silk is a blond
> Aryan
> type;  most of the oppressed and suffering in Wolfe's books are poor
> whites;
> the women warriors of whatisitname are a bunch of bitches, and so on.
> Read some of Wolfe's stories with race, class and gender in mind.   The
> messages are very clear.
>     --- *** ---
> Now,
> The astonishing thing to me, really, is that you should find Wolfe's
> writings on the subject of interspecies conflict odd.
> The inhumi are *not* another human race.
> Why the hell *should* an alien species like the inhumi be peacefully
> inclined towards humanity?
> Why should humanity not strive to exterminate its enemies?
> It is a completely real picture of the natural processes of evolutionary
> rivalry and conflict.

Well, unprecedented with regard to humanity.  We've extirpated a number
of species, but only in one case (the smallpox virus, if you want to
consider it a living organism) because it was our enemy.

Anyway, one reason humanity on Blue and Green shouldn't strive to
exterminate the inhumi is that humanity is in large part responsible
for the way the inhumi act.  This leads to the ambiguity you mention
below.  Another reason may be that the inhumi weren't hurting anybody
on Green after the Neighbors left and before humans showed up--unless
the speculation is correct that the inhumi were involved in bringing
the _Whorl_ to their system.

>     --- *** ---
> I am irresitably reminded of another very wise writer, Cordwainer Smith.
> The message of his Underpeople stories was that **everything that seems
> human is human**.
> The message of the inhumi may be **no they are not**
>     --- *** ---
> Yet I am not sure of this.
> The inhumi are *not* human, but they may indeed represent the human
> "other".
> And the attempt to redeem them by love may be the greatest mistake
> humanity
> will ever make. Or it may be the only way to solve the problem.
> Silk/Horn repeatedly says it is. Who knows if he is right?   I suspect
> Wolfe
> himself could not tell you.
>     --- *** ---
> Now let's really, really,  stir this one up.
> Inhumi = jews?

In what way?  Wolfe can't mean that Jews have to drink the blood of
Christians (literally or metaphorically) to live, or that our souls
are copies of Christians'.  He can't mean that the only two choices
for dealing with us are Christian love and genocide--the U.S., for
instance, hasn't tried either.  Possibly that, in the words of Auden,
"those to whom evil is done/ do evil in return"?  That applies to
a lot of groups; Auden was talking about the Nazis.

Jerry Friedman

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