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VIdiot the Great

FACEing the future...

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Introduction

A nation gains its identity through two main factors: history and culture. A citizen shares a bond with fellow citizens regarding a collective past, as well as a collective atmosphere in which they operate. The strength of any nation depends upon how these two factors influence the citizenry. It is up to the leadership of a nation to determine what role, if any, either will play in the development of their nation. Both can contribute greatly to the growth and bonding of the citizens into a coherent whole.

Alliances are no different. Like citizens, nations in alliances are also influenced by history and culture. History is the recitation of past events up to the present. Culture is the current atmosphere in which an alliance operates. Both are interconnected on some level, but both have distinct roles to play in turning what is just a collection of nations into a greater whole, an alliance.

While some may be content to wallow in the past and rely on their history, others ignore it completely and live in the now. Both are potentially dangerous as shown below.

The leadership of FACE is cognizant of the factors and their roles in the maintenance of a strong alliance that is geared towards not only binding the members together, but creating an atmosphere wherein individuals may flourish. All alliances have different goals to some degree, and freedom means different things to different people. Freedom, as far as FACE is concerned, is a process. There is no end result that one day our members wake up and are magically 'free.' It is in our course of dealings with each other that we exhibit our freedom, and exhibit our commitment to making a better alliance for all members. It is also our course of dealings with others in which we exhibit the greatest strength of FACE: our desire to learn new ways, find new paths, and even new definitions as to how we view 'freedom.'

The Inherent Danger in History

History is important to understand. What it is, what it means, and what it can teach us. Unfortunately, history can become custom, which in turn begets tradition, which in turn may become law. The danger inherent in this is it requires a belief that history has foreseen all possible events and conflicts. We believe that each world is remade with each successive generation.

In its most base form, history is the recitation of past events. Of that which has come before you. Ideally, it would not include any bias, but as any student of history should be aware, it is usually written by the 'winners.'

History has meaning, but no more than that which we give it. It may form a bond between you and your forefathers, a relation across the ages to give a sense of belonging. A sense of understanding. None of which are negative things in their initial forms. However, it is this relation, taken to a certain level, which breeds danger in the form of slavery to the past.

History can teach us many things. A wise man once said 'Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.' While this is an excellent caution, we suggest an amendment 'Those who are slaves to history will soon join it.' And how does one become a slave to history?

As with most spectacularly bad notions, it begins with good intentions. Somewhere, in the distant past, someone decided that there was a way of doing things. Whatever thing it may be, someone you have never met decided it should be done in a certain fashion. When this decision was made, the circumstances of the world you live in did not exist. It is important to understand the distinction between 'then' and 'now' as it is vital to determining when one goes from being a student to being a slave.

Thus, a certain way of doing things is set forth by the dead. At some point, this way of doing things becomes a custom. Not binding, but justification enough for those that would follow blindly. At this stage, there may well be those that say 'but wait a minute, isn't there a better way?' If those critics are in a position of relevance and power, they may well destroy the custom and find a new path. If they are the subjected, or the weak, they may find they only embolden the custom. And in so doing, lend it the power to become tradition.

As with any idea or way of doing things, tradition is not good or evil per se. Revolution for revolution's sake is a pointless and counterproductive pursuit. Though revolution may be necessary at times, it is a means, not an end. Though traditions can be helpful, particularly those that have stood the test of a significant amount of time, they are the progeny of customs created by those who have long since passed. Though man is consistent, circumstances are not and thus our reaction to, and our triumph over such circumstances, may not be easily ascertainable, or achievable, through tradition alone.

Finally, there is law. It is the butterfly of the idea that began as a grub years ago. Law, like custom and tradition, is not an inherently bad thing, and in fact is necessary. However, we are mindful that once laws are recognized, they have a tendency to set and harden, potentially becoming as cold as the text that holds them to our memories. Immutable laws can have extremely detrimental effects upon the citizens which they were created to protect. Any law that hinders the ability of citizens to reach their highest goal, freedom of thought, expression, association and peace, is a law that is detrimental to the very nature of man.

How Does History Enslave Men?

As time passes, and custom becomes tradition becomes reasoned law becomes immutable law, there is a tendency among men to give deference to that which has passed before them. To the non-vigilant, cowardly, and fearful, that deference becomes unthinking adherence. A failure to examine that which governs is most apparent in the response 'but that's the way we've always done it.' And often, such thinking, or lack thereof, shall lead to the performance of ceremony that is rich with procedure but poor in substance. Rote machinations without thought and criticism are the natural result of this blind adherence to history.

But how is this detrimental? Doesn't following history give one a certainty in outcome? No. It can't. For those that agree that circumstances change history is only a guideline of potential outcomes, not a guarantee. Due to the unique nature of circumstances faced by each generation, no end can be ultimately guaranteed except the enslaving of the weak minded.

And why is being a slave to history dangerous? The slave to the history is the slave to the dead, the slave to the dead only knows subservience and will surely be enslaved by the living, and in so doing, shall only leave a legacy of subservience behind to mark the civilization's passing.

How Does One Avoid Becoming a Slave to History?

Each generation faces the potential to become enslaved by those that would exploit circumstance for their benefit. Do not assist them by enslaving yourselves to the dead.

The creation of FACE, many years ago, was the result of such unforeseen circumstances. A brief examination of that history, as we know it from the historical record, is necessary to understand the ramifications of cultural exchange and how such an exchange is for the betterment of all citizens.

Since there have been men, there have been those among us who desire to see that which was previously unseen. This motivation, this wanderlust, is the beginning of the necessary atmosphere which betters all of us. As civilizations expanded, these wanderers brought with them the cultures, traditions and laws of their fathers. The Crossroads being of a unique character, early on had to develop a response to these interactions. Spices and teas from the Far East, mingling with iron and bronze from Europe and Asia, religious expansion from the Indian subcontinent, met with the fine woods, gold and diamonds of Africa in an area already rich in Arabic and Judaic traditions.

With the introduction of competing cultures in any civilization, there are three basic outcomes, or The Trinity of Cultural Conflict.

Domination One outcome is that one culture dominates the other. The new culture eventually destroys the indigenous culture, resulting in the loss of identify of a population. That void is filled with the adherence to the conquering party’s culture. Losing a war can result in the domination of the losing civilization's culture. In the short term, this may lead to resentment, but over time, will most likely lead to ease of enslavement of the dominated civilization as there is no choice but to assume the new culture.

Assimilation Another potential outcome is the assimilation of the indigenous culture. The foreign party and culture is eventually lost and, in essence, the foreigner assumes the culture of the area which he is now a part of. Immigration is likely to lead to this particular outcome. However, this culture loses the benefit that the new culture could convey, which is the examination of the traditions of the indigenous culture.

Exchange This is the rarest of outcomes, but the most beneficial both to the foreigner and the indigenous population. Fortunately, the leaders of FACE long ago chose this outcome. Though some will mourn the loss of 'the old ways' the exchange of ideas, traditions, customs and laws necessitates and examination of both cultures. This examination in turn has the effect of testing both.

Inherent in Exchange is the idea that all men have merit, and their ideas, traditions and laws may well be superior in some respects to your own. It requires an atmosphere in which all are able to express their ideas, examine those ideas, and pursue those which further the goals of all citizens, namely freedom and peace.

What Does it All Mean?

The member nations of FACE have committed their leadership of their citizens and membership within FACE to the examination and weighing of ideas. Those ideas are religious, political, economic and diplomatic in nature. The leadership of FACE, in turn, is committed to creating an atmosphere wherein its members can agree, respectfully dissent, critique, and examine such ideas to determine what path they feel will better their nation and citizens.

We are cognizant of the rich history of our organization and the area of Digiterra we reside in. We did not make this world; we can only try to set our paths towards achieving an exchange of ideas and thoughts among ourselves and the world at large.

We examine our own cultures, traditions, and laws to determine if our citizens and members have the best of all worlds, to experiment with those ideas and repudiate unthinking adherence to that which has gone before. We are FACE, and we are informed of our past, focused on the present, and hopeful that our future shall only benefit from the laboratory of ideas that we have created for the benefit of all of our members.

Conclusion

At FACE, we are committed to the constant re-examination of how we do things, how we interact amongst ourselves, and with the world at large in order to find, and keep, the strength of the membership vital and alive. Disagreements amongst ourselves, and courteous dissent with others, leads to an examination of our ways, our ideals, and our goals. We are cognizant of our collective history, as well as the history of Digiterra at large. But it is only a guidepost. Each generation faces different obstacles and has different goals. Through the exchange of ideas and dissent, at FACE, we have created an atmosphere of exchange. A 'this for that,' whether it be an idea, a good, a trade, or even a critique of various governmental systems and styles.

And therein lies the freedom of the members of FACE, the ability to re-examine, and to adopt that which may fly in the face of history, but work in the present.

And finally, a picture to illustrate the concept for those who think the thousand words was too much:

3402163224_0ba8122008_o.png

East meets West to the betterment of both.

Criticisms and comments are certainly welcome.

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Self-evaluation without an end in sight is simply sailing in a boat without a rudder; you never get anywhere. History and Culture breed identity and conviction which breeds strength; rejecting this identity for the sake if it being arbitrary is effective in only working to undermine one's strength and weaken one's position. Gaining awareness of both one's identity and its arbitrary existence is a way to maintain the strength that comes from holding convictions while at the same time not being threatened by opposing views.

Anyway, good luck and have fun.

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I find myself at once in admiring agreement with the central thrust of your work, and in staunch disagreement with a central premise. But overall it is an excellent work.

I could not agree more with your assertion that becoming tied to tradition is dangerous, and that everything must always and constantly be re-evaluated for its utility, not just its history. Indeed, in Five Days That Shook the World I sketch out a concept called 'permanent revolution': "[A] genuine revolution born through changing material conditions never ends. In order to survive and hold onto its victory it must constantly develop and reinvent itself so as to adapt to the changing conditions around it."

This is the only scientific way to do things. That said, it is important to point out that while things are not usually correct by virtue of being old, they may be old by virtue of being correct. It is important therefore not to fall into the trap of thinking that things are better because they are new -- obviously not something that your work advocates, but something that is easily done.

The eagle-eyed will have noted the word 'usually' above, and this is due to a phenomena known as 'path dependency'. This is a difficult concept for me to explain in my own words, so you will forgive if I quote a source for ease of understanding: "Path-dependence explains how the set of decisions one faces for any given circumstance is limited by the decisions one has made in the past, even though past circumstances may no longer be relevant."

An easy example of this would be Soviestan's film industry. When it first developed it was due to a studio appearing in a place known as Woodolly. Actors who sought to be on the big screen moved to Woodolly because that's where the studio was. So more studios opened up in Woodolly because that's where the actors were. So more actors moved to Woodolly, so more studios moved to Woodolly, so... and so on and so forth. We see from this example that a historical circumstance moulded the decisions of future generations. It is the rational option to create your studio in Woodolly not because it is necessarily the best location vis-a-vis environment, geography, transport, etc., but because the other studios that are already there have attracted the actors that you will want to hire. Thus due to the practice being old, it is also correct -- it is correct because it is old. Path dependency exists throughout the world, often unnoticed, and it takes a great deal to break it -- sometimes so much that it is impossible. In this way we must not underestimate the importance of history in shaping the way we are and will be.

This ties in nicely to my staunch disagreement, but that will have to wait for another day, both due to my lack of time to properly elucidate it, and due to its potential to take VIdiot the Great's thread off on a slight tangent.

But I do have time to disagree with eyriq's reading of the work. Questioning and re-evaluating can be an important aspect of identity, and isn't necessarily a work undermining it unless the identity is based on fallacies in the first place -- which undoubtedly many are. Indeed, my personal identity is largely based on my belief in science and in my appropriated motto: 'question everything'. That said, there is obviously a place for custom and tradition, and often these exist outside of scientific evaluation. The most famous custom of the Order, for example, is hailing. Some may like or dislike this custom, but it can neither be said to be 'right' nor 'wrong' -- it simply is.

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I agree with pretty much all of this. I don't think tradition is bad, so long as that tradition still serves you. You need to re-evaluate and share ideas in order to examine whether or not your customs are in fact in your best interest. Any alliance that refuses to change when necessary will eventually fail; either through internal or external forces.

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But I do have time to disagree with eyriq's reading of the work. Questioning and re-evaluating can be an important aspect of identity, and isn't necessarily a work undermining it unless the identity is based on fallacies in the first place -- which undoubtedly many are. Indeed, my personal identity is largely based on my belief in science and in my appropriated motto: 'question everything'. That said, there is obviously a place for custom and tradition, and often these exist outside of scientific evaluation. The most famous custom of the Order, for example, is hailing. Some may like or dislike this custom, but it can neither be said to be 'right' nor 'wrong' -- it simply is.

I'm just pretty stoked you addressed me, even if it was to disagree! :v:

I agree with your motto of "question everything" and if my point was counter to that virtue than I've incorrectly expressed myself. Where the departure may lie, if not simply being an error of communication on my part, is in the aim of such questioning. Questioning left unto itself, without the benefit of a system for finding truth such as your "scientific evaluation", inevitably leaves the questioner hollow, void of truth and the strength derived therein.

This leads me to the greater point, that of how one can find “truth” in history and culture. Your scientific evaluation offers very little in the quest for truth within this domain, as you yourself have pointed out. This is little better than stating that there is no truth to be found in history and culture at all! The OP offers even less in the way of finding truth and instead offers a path of constant assimilation, an endless meshing of other identities, in a seemingly never ending metamorphosis.

Instead I say simply that one should tackle this subjective realm armed with reason, insight, and hope, embracing one’s heritage and defining one’s identity with pride and fervor. Do not weaken it because it is subjective, do not be ashamed to stand up for it because you cannot prove it, and do not change it because someone disagrees with it. Be empowered by the knowledge that it is your truth and liberated by the knowledge that it can exist independently for you and only you.

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Your analysis of history strikes me very much of Strauss's analysis of Burke in Natural Law and History. I agree with it.

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what's past is prologue

Fantastic piece of work Friend - something we could use more of around here. Hope to see future pieces.

You covered so much and this deserves a longer reply when I find the time.

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I think, perhaps, Thomas Stearns Eliot put it best in his poem Burnt Norton

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,

And time future contained in time past.

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.

What might have been is an abstraction

Remaining a perpetual possibility

Only in a world of speculation.

What might have been and what has been

Point to one end, which is always present.

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An easy example of this would be Soviestan's film industry. When it first developed it was due to a studio appearing in a place known as Woodolly. Actors who sought to be on the big screen moved to Woodolly because that's where the studio was. So more studios opened up in Woodolly because that's where the actors were. So more actors moved to Woodolly, so more studios moved to Woodolly, so... and so on and so forth. We see from this example that a historical circumstance moulded the decisions of future generations. It is the rational option to create your studio in Woodolly not because it is necessarily the best location vis-a-vis environment, geography, transport, etc., but because the other studios that are already there have attracted the actors that you will want to hire. Thus due to the practice being old, it is also correct -- it is correct because it is old. Path dependency exists throughout the world, often unnoticed, and it takes a great deal to break it -- sometimes so much that it is impossible. In this way we must not underestimate the importance of history in shaping the way we are and will be.

This example has intrigued me for days. Now here's where I might respectfully disagree with the bolded section. There may well be a better location (although 'Woodolly' is pretty cool, I'm sure), even despite the advantages listed above. Also, 'correct' has many connotations that may well differ amongst reasonable minds. Maybe this is where you and I differ, as I would probably not give the amount of deference to an 'old' custom being 'correct' based on virtue of being old, however, your example makes sense, ie, actors, studios etc. setting up and doing business makes it easier for subsequent folks in the business setting shop up there as well.

I would posit that there may be new, unexplored options that may well be superior to Woodolly.

This ties in nicely to my staunch disagreement, but that will have to wait for another day, both due to my lack of time to properly elucidate it, and due to its potential to take VIdiot the Great's thread off on a slight tangent.

Vladimir, feel free to go wherever you like, even off on a tangent, as I am interested in your thoughts.

Thank you for your well thought out and written response.

VI

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This example has intrigued me for days. Now here's where I might respectfully disagree with the bolded section. There may well be a better location (although 'Woodolly' is pretty cool, I'm sure), even despite the advantages listed above. Also, 'correct' has many connotations that may well differ amongst reasonable minds. Maybe this is where you and I differ, as I would probably not give the amount of deference to an 'old' custom being 'correct' based on virtue of being old, however, your example makes sense, ie, actors, studios etc. setting up and doing business makes it easier for subsequent folks in the business setting shop up there as well.

I would posit that there may be new, unexplored options that may well be superior to Woodolly.

For specialised subjects, there may well be, and if you could get the entire industry to move elsewhere then there definitely would be. However, for an individual looking for general use, it would be self-defeating to set up outside of the bubble where the actors, technicians, directors, producers, and everyone else associated with the industry gravitates towards. And moreover, you have to consider the benefits of the infrastructure that has been built around this area as a result, allowing for equipment to be made/fixed, or events to be held, or finances to be dealt with properly, or whatever else is required -- this will obviously be more or less important depending on the type of industry. This is why in every nation on Bob you will find that certain industries gravitate towards certain areas, not due to any inherent natural benefit to that area, but due to the historic man-made benefits.

But this extends far outside such examples. In Soviestan we use a type of keyboard known as the QWORTY keyboard. Is there a more efficient set up? I expect there is, but 99% of the keyboards made in Soviestan today remain QWORTY (100% if you don't count specialist areas). Why? Because early keyboards were QWORTY and everyone learned to use them, to try and change to something more efficient would require everyone to break with what they already know and invest resources into learning some other format.

This leads me further down the path of my main disagreement. You say that "We believe that each world is remade with each successive generation." However, as the keyboard example demonstrates, this simply isn't the case. At all times all generations are living, side by side, and learning from each other the ways of life. One way of life that is passed down is the use of the QWORTY keyboard. Now, conceivably we could change our education system to teach another format, but even then every system would require two keyboards in two different formats in order to allow both the old and the young to use them, and all for a benefit that hardly seems worth it. So again we see the new locked in by the old, not completely unable to escape, but from any perspective challenging the old is wasteful and ultimately irrational -- not even to mention the problems of tradition and vested interests and such that one would have to contend with.

Thus we begin to tease out my disagreement. I agree wholeheartedly with what you say about history so long as we keep ourselves in the narrow confine of intellectual discourse about it; but not once we begin to move out into the deeper role of history as a living thing. One can be ignorant of history, but they cannot ignore it -- it is inherent in all that is around them, in who they are, and in who they will be. It shapes their lives in more ways than they could possibly comprehend. Some of these ways can be changed (though, as above, it may be irrational to do so), and some of them cannot -- here we begin to develop the idea that man himself is shaped by his environment, which is in turn shaped by history: history creates the man as he is. Or, to put it another way: you may not be interested in history, but history is interested in you.

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