Of Penguins and Men

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posted on May, 19 2013 @ 06:34 PM
As the pressures put on the environment by rampant capitalism and urban development have continued unabashed well into the 21st century, it has become apparent that rather than violent revolution, a peaceful exodus must be undertaken by like-minded expatriates in order to form a more perfect society. Due to global warming, a previously uninhabitable Antarctic peninsula has become temperate. The permafrost and glaciers have receded to reveal fertile soil and rolling grasslands. With shared resources and experience, a common goal, and a massive social media campaign, I have gathered a sizeable population of like-minded individuals and we are leaving the madness of the “civilized” world for a better life.

Of Penguins and Men
It is my belief that the unspoiled land of Antarctica offers a chance for a new type of society to develop and flourish. With advanced technology and philosophical inquiry it will be possible to sustain small communities on the previously frozen Antarctic plains. However, it will not be a life of luxury. As emigrants leaving our homeland to settle somewhere new, we will only have ourselves to rely upon for our survival. Therefore, we must strive to work together as a community with a common goal. We will not set out with the colonialist objectives of our ancestors, nor will ours be a mission of conquest. It is our responsibility to show that society can begin anew, and that given a peaceful foundation and strong leadership we can grow and flourish into a culture where the differences among cultures do not devolve into conflict; our free will is responsibly guided by immutable laws of cause and effect; and the empirical data provided by our senses is rationalized into useful knowledge by our intuition.

My society will consist of 300 people, comprising a wide range of specialists. Agricultural experts, philosophers, scientists, artists, engineers, and laborers will comprise the bulk of the population. The first outpost will be an experiment to determine whether or not Antarctica could support numerous such interconnected communities. In time, if our experiment proves successful, more people may be brought to Antarctica so that they may be freed from the capitalist excess, social inequalities, and rampant militarization which is spreading over the rest of the world.

A previously uncontacted society of nomadic penguin herders has emerged from the Antarctic interior to investigate us as we arrived at the coast. They have no knowledge of the world outside of their homeland, and it is imperative that we avoid the colonialist arrogance of the past so that our two cultures can coexist peacefully. While a strict noninterference policy would be preferable, it is too late to avoid interacting with each other. The changes to our environment have brought us into contact with one another, and we must now ensure that all efforts are made to preserve the identity of both cultures.

Until global warming melted the habitat of the Antarctic penguin, the giant herds formed the base of the natives’ food supply. Now, with vastly reduced herd sizes, the penguins can no longer support the needs of the Antarcticans. No less important is the Antarcticans’ belief that they themselves are descended from the penguins. By sharing our resources and knowledge we can overcome the challenges posed by the environment and enrich the culture of both societies. From the indigenous people we can learn effective traditional methods for living off the land in our new home, and they will likely benefit from our aquaponic farming technology without abundant supplies of penguin meat. The Antarcticans have asked for our help in restoring balance to the penguins and they only ask that we do not attempt to clone them or modify their genetics, as we would be interfering with their ancestors on a fundamental level. As unwitting representatives of the industrial revolution and its accompanying environmental damage, we are obligated to assist. Hopefully, with cooperation, understanding, and careful resource management, we will one day be able to bring the Antarctic penguin population back to pre-industrial levels.

The knowledge of the land preserved by the indigenous people in their culture and traditions must not be dismissed as inefficient simply because it is different from our own, or because it is passed down through oral tradition rather than scientific journals. The pitiful state of the environment we left behind is evidence that our own methods of land management leave something to be desired. In his essay Hawaii for the White Man, writer Van Norden echoes a common sentiment among American and European settlers of the colonialist period: that productive agricultural land probably isn’t being used to its fullest potential by the Native inhabitants, and must therefore be “conquered by Anglo-Saxon Americans (Norden, 1911)”. This type of preconceived notion, that a culture’s differences from one’s own constitutes ignorance, must not be allowed to permeate my society. As guests in the Antarcticans’ home, we will behave as such.

Curiously, the Antarcticans share similar epistemological views with Native Hawaiians. The notion that the environment itself is a spiritual, conscious entity, as well as the ancestor and mother of all life (Meyer, 2010) allowed the Antarcticans to reach a balance with nature which is sustainable for both the kanaka (i.e. the Antarcticans, the first people who came from the land) and the ‘aina (the environment). Their knowledge is drawn from their geography, both physical and cultural, and “is the foundation of [their] creativity… (Meyer, 2010). The notion of environmental stewardship is somewhat of a contradiction when the land is viewed as something which is owned once it’s been improved upon, enclosed, or appropriated for the common good. The lack of compassion for the environment, which has resulted in its near total collapse, is due to the widespread acceptance of John Locke’s idea that land must be “removed from the common state nature placed it in” (Waldron, 2012) for it to be useful to man. We will endeavor to practice the epistemological views of the Antarcticans, beginning with asking for permission to be there and treating the Antarcticans as kanaka to their land rather than alien to it.

When the land is viewed as a teacher, mother, and ancestor it becomes a source of knowledge rather than a source of wealth. My people will be taught respect for the balance required by nature by using the ice floes, glaciers, and pristine night sky as classrooms for life’s most important lesson, which is how to preserve the environment for future generations.

In order to avoid damage to either population, the mistakes made by Captain Cook in Hawaii will not be repeated (Bentley & Ziegler, 2011). Sexual contact between members of the different societies will be expressly prohibited. While we will have no jurisdiction to punish the Antarcticans for this crime, any member of my society who engages in sexual conduct with the native population will be banished from the outpost. The risks of infectious disease, pregnancy, or misunderstood emotions are too great to allow any freedom in this matter.
As newcomers and foreigners to Antarctica we must respect the culture and the land of the people who were here before us. As we will possess no military, we will not build any bases or attempt to militarize Antarctica in any way. (cont...)

posted on May, 19 2013 @ 06:35 PM
The island of Oahu in Hawaii has seen one of the largest and longest running continuous acts of grave desecration in the world, and it is directly attributable to the military presence there (Pell, 1996). We must never let the lure of exploiting resources or people in the vein of colonialism derail our commitment to preserving peoples’ ways of life. The United States and other imperialist powers have for too long held the rights of their military superiority over the rights of the people they subjugate (Kelly, 2009). Rather than moving in as occupiers of the land and culture of Native people, we will regard ourselves as guests in their homes.

The people in my society will be fully aware from the beginning of their role in the success of the outpost. As a small-scale social experiment we will each have an important role to play in society. There will be much work to do in order to build a society from scratch. To this end it is imperative that every member of the society fulfill his or her role to the best of their ability. A strict caste system will be enforced and each person will perform their assigned tasks relating to colony maintenance during duty hours. These duties, no matter how insignificant they may seem, will all be vital to the survival of everyone and their execution will be of utmost importance. People will be described and identified by their contributions to the society, and will know themselves by their roles.

Echoing the sentiment of Dr. Martin Luther King, “If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures” (King, 1967). The people in my society will understand that their work is vital for the survival of everyone else. No job will be seen as more or less important. Everyone from the laborers to myself as leader will perform our duties to the absolute best of our abilities. As a close knit community striking out on a new life in a new land, everyone must work together with the understanding that their actions must further the cause of our society. Being able to act according to the determinations of one’s own will gives people a sense of pride in their work, and fulfills the desire in us to be recognized for our accomplishments.

My people will understand the value of being rationalists when there isn’t enough evidence to make a decision, and empirical enough to trust the evidence from our senses when needed. There must be some things we can know without direct experience. We will not attempt to force the world into either rationalist or empirical categories. For example, the Council of Matrons will have to make decisions on legal issues arising in the colony without actually having witnessed the events in question. In this respect, their rational thinking must be trusted to weigh the evidence presented and make a ruling.

In other instances it will be necessary to objectively trust scientific evidence without letting preconceived notions get in the way. Agriculture will be especially difficult in the new climate and much study and research will need to be accomplished in order to feed the colony. Preconceived notions of how farming was done in warmer climates must be put aside so that we can succeed in our new environment. Our scientists and agricultural specialists will need to trust their observations and listen to the knowledge possessed by the Antarcticans, using objective evidence to develop effective farming techniques, both for our society and to assist the Antarcticans if needed.

While the members of my society will have much to occupy their time tending to the business of the colony, art and creativity will be encouraged. Living space will be minimal, however there will be room and necessity for creative output. On personal time the people will be free and encouraged to engage in artistic and creative activities. Much of the work to be done around the settlement will be tedious labor, and art will distract from dull and boring work.

Our living quarters will be simple and efficient structures in the beginning, and paintings and sculptures will give personal spaces more of a human touch. The crew will be encouraged to bring small musical instruments to Antarctica so that concerts and plays may be performed will foster teamwork and provide entertainment. Art is an effective bridge between the nonphysical and physical world, in that it can bring emotion into being and give it form. Having a creative outlet and a way to express emotion, positive or negative, critical or praising, will function as a safety valve in my society and prevent minor outbursts from engulfing the society.

posted on May, 19 2013 @ 06:38 PM
Ultimate authority in the colony will come from me. As the project’s major financier and creative force, I will make most decisions which affect the society as a whole. I have met with every one of the colonists involved in the project, and all are willing to submit to my authority. It is imperative for the success of the society that decisions be made quickly and efficiently and any required action be taken immediately. Without being bogged down in governmental bureaucracy my decisions will be carried out efficiently by my subordinates.

It is important that the free will of my society is constructively constrained so that rational self-interest is directed toward the sustainment of the colony. People will have to be shown that surrendering a bit of their free will to deterministic cause and effect is beneficial for the society. As Thomas Hobbes pointed out, “when a man deliberates whether he shall do a thing or not do it…he does nothing else but consider whether it be better for himself to do it or not to do it” (Hobbes). And so what is best for the person must also be best for the society and vice versa if my people are given the freedom to deliberate.

Directly under me will be the Council of Matrons who have experienced the “old ways” of the lives we left behind and know the value of the outpost’s mission. Their responsibilities will be to hear concerns from the general population and voice them to me. They will also serve as judicial superiors and will hear any cases presented by the people. Their findings will be presented to me for judgment. If through action or inaction a member of the society causes harm to another or detriment to the mission, they will face a trial by the Council. If the crime is deemed an intentional act of malice towards the society then the sentence is banishment.

As a guideline for determining the rightness or wrongness of an action, Kant’s categorical imperative should always be applied (Kant). Ask “If everyone did this, all the time, would it be good for the society?” The survival of the society must take precedence over individual desires. Without the protection and productivity of the society as a whole none of us as individuals would survive. Because the success of the outpost is paramount, every action taken by an individual must pass Kant’s categorical imperative. Any action performed must be good for the colony if everyone did it all the time.

We have a duty to ourselves and future generations to show that our society can be better than the one we left behind. To that end we will never hold people prisoner for committing crimes. Dereliction of one’s duty to the society shows a lack of desire to be a member of the society. Instead of wasting space and resources on a prison, freedom from our society will be the only punishment. Unfortunately for the convicted, banishment from the colony will most likely mean death due to the desolate environment outside the settlement. The convicted will be given a chance for survival however: before leaving the settlement he will be given all the supplies he can carry. This is not a form of capital punishment, we simply do not have the resources to take care of someone who does not wish to be a member of society in the first place. Nor should we have an obligation to do so. If a person does not wish to follow the settlement’s categorical imperative then they are free to leave at any time.

My society will be better than the one we have now because it will not be borne of colonialist goals. Indigenous people will not be mistreated or disrespected. Utmost care will be taken by my society to foster a nurturing, caring relationship between us, the Antarcticans, the penguins, and our environment. Without the underpinnings of colonialism or violent revolution my society will have a foundation of peace, environmental stewardship, and a far reaching view for the survival of our species. The best laid plans of penguins and men will be the savior of us both.

Works Cited
Bentley, J., & Ziegler, H. (2011). Traditions and Encounters. New York: Mcgraw Hill.

Hobbes, T. (n.d.). Libery and Necessity.

Kant, I. (n.d.). Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.

Kelly, A. K. (Director). (2009). Noho Hewa [Motion Picture].

King, M. (1967, October 26). The Seattle Times: Martin Luther King Jr. Retrieved from The Seattle Times: seattletimes.com...

Meyer, M. (2010). Our Own Liberation: Reflections on Hawaiian Epistemology. Project Muse, pp. 124-148.

Norden, V. (1911, June). Hawaii for the White Man. The Mid-Pacific Magazine, pp. 629-634.

Pell, R. (1996). Hui Malama: Mokapu. Retrieved from Hui Malama I Na Kupuna O Hawai`i Nei: huimalama.tripod.com...

Waldron, J. (2012). Property and Ownership. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved from plato.stanford.edu...

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