March 27, 2019

Civilization and War



"Tibe  spoke on the radio a good deal...His speeches were long and loud: praises of Karhide, disparagements of Orgoreyn, vilifications of "disloyal factions," discussions of the "integrity of the Kingdom's borders," lectures in history and ethics and economics, all in a ranting, canting, emotional tone that went shrill with vituperation or adulation. He talked much about pride of country and love of the parentland, but little about shifgrethor, personal pride or prestige...He wanted his hearers to be frightened and angry. His themes were not pride and love at all, though he used the words perpetually; as he used them they meant self-praise and hate. He talked a great deal about Truth also, for he was, he said, " cutting down beneath the veneer of civilization." 

It is a durable, ubiquitous, specious metaphor, that one about veneer (or paint, or pliofilm, or whatever) hiding the nobler reality beneath. It can conceal a dozen fallacies at once. One of the most dangerous is the implication that civilization, being artificial, is unnatural: that it is the opposite of primitiveness...Of course there is no veneer, the process is one of growth, and primitiveness and civilization are degrees of the same thing. If civilization has an opposite, it is war. Of those two things, you have either one, or the other. Not both. It seemed to me as I listened to Tibe's dull fierce speeches that what he sought to do by fear and by persuasion was to force his people to change a choice they had made before their history began, the choice between those opposites. 

The time was ripe, perhaps. Slow as their material and technological advance had been, little as they valued "progress" in itself, they had finally, in the last five or ten or fifteen centuries, got a little ahead of Nature. They weren't absolutely at the mercy of their merciless climate any longer; a bad harvest would not starve a whole province, or a bad winter isolate every city. On this basis of material stability Orgoreyn had gradually built up a unified and increasingly efficient centralized state. Now Karhide was to pull hersel together and do the same; and the way to make her do it was not by sparking her pride, or building up her trade, or improving her roads, farms, colleges, and so on; none of that; that's all civilization, veneer, and Tibe dismissed it with scorn. He was after something surer, the sure, quick, and lasting way to make people into a nation: war. His ideas concerning it could not have been too precise, but they were quite sound. The only other means of mobilizing people rapidly and entirely is with a new religion; none was handy; he would make do with war."

                                                -The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin

4 comments:

  1. প্রাসংগিক লেখা।

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  2. amar pochonder lekhakder onyotomo. apni 'dispossessed ' porechen?

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    Replies
    1. ডিসপজেসড-এর কথা আপনার কাছেই শুনেছিলাম, ঘনাদা। লজ্জার সঙ্গে স্বীকার করছি, বইটা হাতে থাকা সত্ত্বেও, শুরু করা সত্ত্বেও, শেষ করিনি। আসলে গুইনের ভাষা, আমার মতো পাঠকের কাছে ঠিক সহজগম্য নয়। এই বইটার শুরুর পঞ্চাশ পাতা নিজেকে পড়া চালিয়ে যেতে বাধ্য করতে হয়েছিল। বলা বাহুল্য, অসামান্য রিটার্ন পেয়েছি। ডিসপজেসড-এর ক্ষেত্রে সেই প্রাথমিক কষ্টটা এড়িয়ে গিয়েছিলাম। আর এড়াব না, বলাই বাহুল্য। অচিরেই পড়ব এবং আপনাকে জানাবও কেমন লাগব।

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