Manifesto Multilinko
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Friday, March 27, 2009
BSG: the natives are restless - how not to colonise

A colonising

So you have the following options:

1. Return to the 12 colonies which are full of the remains of a peak-technology civilization, but may have habitability issues (although Cylons seemed to be able to manage just fine there, and even Helo and Anders' men appeared to be surviving ok)

2. New Caprica, which initially appeared nice but which at least by strong implication turned out to be hard to colonize - not a rich or pleasant planet

3. Any other habitable planets the Cylons may have discovered in their apparently extensive exploration of space

4. Kobol, where we know humans can live fine, where there were no reports of remnant radioactivity, and which appeared to be lush, blue and green

5. Earth 1, where we were told specifically everything was radioactive

6. Earth 2, which is rich and lush but has preverbal hominids from 150,000 years in our current Earth's past

On the plus side, since it is 150k years ago, you can easily find uninhabited areas, such as all of North America, "From around 150,000 to 130,000 years ago, North America experienced colder and generally more arid than present conditions." -

Out of all those choices, the Colonials decide to
1. Throw away all their technology (Ron Moore says this is because they don't want to be "gods" and because New Caprica failed)
2. Nevertheless, attempt to teach the hominids language (which is way too early in the historical timeline) and generally, how shall one put it, fuck them

This is (reportedly) Ron Moore speaking in the SciFi forums

Think for a moment of the temptations available to people of the fleet armed with all their technology as they start a new life on a world whose natives are literally living in caves and carrying spears. Would there be any way they would not be gods in that setting? Would they ever be able to avoid playing god and ruling over the indigenous peoples? As it is, he was asking a tremendous amount from the people in the fleet, asking them to bring ideas of literature, art, justice, and so on to the new world, and hoping that they would be embedded either in oral traditions or perhaps in the collective unconscious and survive down through the ages. Asking people to avoid using the massive firepower and amazing technological advantages at their disposal would be asking too much. Would any of the indigenous peoples even survive in that scenario? Is that the gift the people of the 12 Colonies would give to their new home? Complete displacement, possibly annihilation?

I'm not sure how "we're going to arrive from the sky with radically different ideas and the transformative power of language, and we're going to screw you, but you can't have any medicine" is exactly a noble act.

Plus which, Earth 2 at 150,000 years ago was a dangerous place.

Plus which, you're going to take a modern human and a skinny preverbal hominid and make a baby? When modern humans can barely give birth to modern humans much of the time? Tell me, how popular are the colonists going to be with the natives when their native wives always die attempting childbirth? I guess you could always do a C-section - oh wait, you've thrown away all of modern medicine. Plus which, children die all the time in the preindustrial world.

So the colonists are choosing to
a) probably watch their current children die in a dangerous world
b) probably watch their native lovers die in childbirth and
c) for the children that do survive native birth, probably see most of them die in a dangerous world too

Wow, God is so cool! Thanks God!

A.1 instead of the Earth 2 plan

With Cavil eliminated (and handwaving to assume this means there is no longer a Cylon threat of any kind), there is a perfectly reasonable solution:

All return to Kobol, which is afterall their original "home", and which has the advantage of being sort-of part way between Earth 2 (where they can go if they need stocks of animals or plants for some reason) and the 12 Colonies (where they can go to recover some technology). Plus which since Kobol only fell 3500 years ago and there was at least a working temple there, there may be more buried resources or tech available on Kobol.

So they can live out their lives, while leaving Earth 2 and its inhabitants free to pursue their own destinies. If they really need to sustain their population, they could bring *some* preverbal hominids to Kobol, give them the benefits of modern technology and medicine, and in return, arrange for them to provide services in the same way as a modern world - sperm banks and pregnancy surrogates. It would only take a few generations to restore the population to a level at which this was no longer necessary.

B hey baby

There seems to be some assumption that this is like colonists to North America going native, or showing up on the outskirts of a Roman village.

Yes, when the other people are *human* and have a culture and civilization and understand trading and the concept of strangers, you can establish a relationship that sometimes leads to love (which is about as generous as you can be, as in many cases the "relationship" was the colonist raping the native).

Now instead, a bunch of people from another planet full of advanced technology descend from the sky. The assumption is that the colonists "hold their noses" and make it with the natives.

Err, who says the natives will have any of it?
The hominids natives live in tiny familial groups. They may have never seen other humans, at least not up close, because other humans are almost always danger. They are pre-verbal, more like a wolf-pack with some superstitious rituals than human beings that we can understand.

So here arrives Lee Adama. He has little body hair. He has pale skin. He has strange coverings. He smells different. Every single cultural reference point that is not genetic, from the way he moves to the nonverbal signals he gives, cry out ALIEN! STRANGER! DANGER! They may not even recognize him as another hominid, and if they do, they almost certainly perceive him as an enemy. A bunch of people show up competing for the resources you need to stay alive, and bring nothing with them. Do you seriously think they're welcomed with open arms?

Plus which, lets say by some insane chance ("god did it") that one of the preverbal hominid ladies does check him out - let's see, he doesn't know anything about hunting or gathering, the shape of his body is strange - muscles in weird place, lack of strength and agility in others, he doesn't know the ancient and essential rituals, he doesn't know any of the body language, he doesn't know how to attract game and NOT attract predators, and he keeps trying to get everyone to do everything differently, trying to teach incomprehensible things for incomprehensible reasons.

Seriously? This is your fucking hope for the future of the colonists? They'll be lucky if they're not all murdered by the preverbal hominids on the FIRST DAY, let alone interbreeding with them. The only likely interbreeding candidates are colonials that the hominids KIDNAP AND RAISE AS THEIR OWN. Wow, what are great future for Hera!