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 Post subject: Bushido vs. Gaijin Values
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 10:45 pm 
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The endorsement of the notion of progress and the opening up to the gaijin learning is leading to profound if still not widely recognised tensions in Rokugani morality. Bushido is the very embodiment of traditional values and as such it is being challenged by foreign axiological influences. While no coherent normative code has been advertised within Rokugan by the gaijin, it is the Rokugani themselves who allow their traditional values be corrupted by the understandings about the world, life and society they are drawing from their exposure to gaijin culture. Very few of them have explicitly shed the values of their ancestors and have comprehensively remodelled their identity as that effectively means rejection of the Celestial Order and thus invites most severe punishment. The vicious nature of progressive thinking, however, as some staunch supporters of undiluted Bushido point out, is that it exacerbates various leanings previously well-known to Rokugani but largely reined in by Bushido enough to be more or less acceptable. It is therefore hard to counter the moral corruption as it is often hard to determine if the line has been crossed. Many Rokugani detect no problem with what they percieve as re-emphasising certain values without a challenge to the whole. Gradual shedding of various spiritual and societal constraints that eventually leads to taking vice for virtue seems to be at the core of the clash of values between Bushido and gaigaku in lack of a comprehensive "Gaido".

Ultimately it is the Rokugani impressions of gaijin cultures and their own understandings of progress what determines the moral upheaval. Most Rokugani have an extremely modest comprehension of great diversity of gaijin traditions and they tend to compound and essentialise them. They rarely recognise that conservative elements are also very strong, often dominant in gaijin societies. The battlefield for the struggle of tradition and progress is their hearts and minds. In a sense, it is the Rokugani themselves who have created gaigaku. Among varied corrupting gaijin influences is individualism, utilitarianism, egoism, consequentiality, hedonism, rejection of customs and taboos, materialism and pragmatism, endorsement of science and innovation, endorsement of secularism and disregard for spiritual development, objectification and commodification of life...

This shall be reflected in mechanical options for characters, but without change to actual mechanics (though some discounts may change)! What shall be changed is the names and explanation for one Advantage and one Disadvantage. and that is Dark Paragon (which we will be naming Gaijin Virtue) and Consumed. Shourido is a very time-specific development, but it does connect with the individualistic notions that can be juxtaposed with the essence of Bushido in an East vs. West mode. For the Iron Hearts setting we will be using the following:

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1. Superiority (instead of Control). The exposure to foreign cultures and accepting their influence have naturally led to a question: which is better?

Virtue: You have a nuanced understanding of respective faculties of each civilisation and treat them as a resource at your disposal. You are mastering a new morality that is likely a hybrid of eastern and western values and traditions which gives you an advantage in interactions with both those who are culturally inferior to you and who walk the path similar to yours. You can exploit their cultural patterns of behaviour in ways many don't realise, knowing how others think and argue. The guiding principle of your values is for you to determine. It can be something like "western technology, eastern spirit", "modernised Celestial Order", "enlightened pragmatism" or something along these lines. For you, both virtues of Bushido and gaigaku are a resource.

Consumed: The exposure to foreign influences has overwhelmed you and you've fallen back to vulgar understandings of the world, full of stereotypes, prejudices, xenophobia or outright racism. You may have also concluded that you're living in a backward, repressive state that violates the very human nature and so you look to imagined states beyond the ocean as lands of freedom, advancement and happiness. Your superiority or inferiority complexes determine your thinking and you've lost much of your social flexibility and find it hard to moderate your attitudes with due sincerity or courtesy.


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2. Success (instead of Determination). Shinsei taught the path is more important that the destination, but the gaijin appear to be convinced that ends justify means in pursuit of personal accomplishment.

Virtue: You are self-made man who has accepted that the person responsible for your fate is yourself. You trust yourself and your inner strengths. You wait for no-one to remove the obstacles from your way, nor do you begrudge anyone for them. You find pride and fulfilment in personal accomplishments. For you, life is a brutal game you can win if you are smart, trust yourself and keep honing your abilities. Anything you've accomplished is yours and you feel no obligation to share.

Consumed: You expect success and accomplishment to happen to you because you are special. In fact you are so predestined toward greatness that you don't have to sweat about it. You feel very entitled because of your nobility. You expect others to recognise this and let you have your golden opportunities or do the monkey work so you could focus on great things. Neither your superiors nor your subordinates have a real right to demand things from you, you are no really bound by social obligations. Success isn't coming because of hostile environment, you are personally never to blame.


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3. Indulgence (instead of Insight). Personal sacrifice has long been the core underlying tenet of Bushido, while hedonism and debauchery is bad karma. But this life is short and there's no telling what the next will be like, so perhaps better to enjoy it in full, without guilt? Isn't your pursuit of happiness the most important thing?

Virtue: You are a connoisseur, a sophisticated aficionado of all refined things about life. In the matters of taste and entertainment you have few peers, in both critique and ingenuity. There is so many wonderful things waiting for you in the world to be explored and enjoyed. You hold no outmoded prejudices about exotic pleasures, and appreciate the wonderful novelty gaijin influences provide.

Consumed: Booze, drugs and hookers! Finally an end to this bullshit of keep your on, don't spill tea. Those gaijin know how to party! Whatever you enjoy doing, no-one should be telling you how you should be doing it, moderation be damned.


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4. Science (instead of Knowledge). Long has progress of humankind been forestalled in Rokugan. How shall we approach the change? Should we not do it with the power of reason, shedding all prejudices, religious or otherwise, which constrain ingenuity?

Virtue: You've adopted the western logic and critical thinking, their respect for facts, evidence, experimentation and disciplined accumulation of knowledge. You accept that doubting and challenging commonly held views and taboos drives progress and advances communities and humankind. This refers both to physical and social worlds. Human behaviour can be scientifically studied as much as plants, stars, weather, minerals. Both nature and social life have their scientifically identifiable patterns our great treatises dealt with, though in pre-scientific manner. Bushido and the very Celestial Order are modal, mere social constructs that need to adapt to changing circumstances. The kami may exist but they should be studied rather than revered. Besides, perhaps we commit the sin of personifying them while they are simply part of the forces of nature that can be studied as any other phenomenon accessible to our cognition? As such, perhaps they are more useful to humankind harnessed rather than worshipped?

Consumed: All you've been thinking is false. You can't be certain of anything you've been taught, and have to build your knowledge from scratch. Question everything, question yourself! There must be some true knowledge about the essence of the world, the new theory of everything, but how to find it, and where? You seek it everywhere, by any means. Everything in the name of truth.


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5. Innovation (instead of Perfection). Rokugani may believe that the better is the enemy of the good, but perhaps you should disagree? It is the power of human ingenuity that drives progress, so maybe we shouldn't be entrenched and complacent but rather seek a better world? Besides, how can we keep our advantage over other nations if we stagnate?

Virtue: You honestly believe in human progress, or some aspect of it, whether it is about improving technology, livelihood of the common folk, social institutions or anything else. It is simply not true that the world was better when Kami walked it. With the passage of time human ingenuity and learning has changed in in positive way, and this needs to be recognised rather than repressed. The world you live in is an increasingly competitive place, and you should do you utmost to meet it challenges through creativity, not to fall back to ancient solutions imagining that they'll solve all contemporary problems.

Consumed: Nothing is ever finished. Everything needs constant improvement. Falling into obsolescence is a horrid thing. Every day requires new solutions, and every day you have to seek a new approach. It can always work better, or it can always be more avant garde.


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6. Objectification (instead of Strength). In Rokugan, everything allegedly has a soul, but isn't this approach very cumbersome? Why do we ritualise everything? Maybe everything is just a resource we should do with as we please in the name of progress?

Virtue: You are unconstrained by backward prejudices about things having souls. Everything, from trees to human labour, is in fact a disposable commodity, and can possess a quantifiable value.Destruction is as natural as creation, in fact one cannot happen without the other. How can you build a house without cutting down a tree? Similarly, killing is just destroying flesh for a purpose. You don't hold back when the reason is good. All living things die in the end. And if the souls really travel somewhere after that and return after a while, why should you even worry? You see the world for what it is, rather than falling for overblown religious taboos. The power to destroy a thing is the power over it.

Consumed: Gods are as good as dead. Soul is practically a lie. We're all just animals of flesh and instinct who delude themselves with great ideas, rituals, traditions. But when the illusion of culture and religion is taken away, the world is a brutally simple place where nothing holds real worth or sense. It's all about birth, reproduction and death, with survival in between. You take no part in the make-believe others condone and you consider others to be the beasts they are.


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7. Egoism (instead of Will). Rokugan is a communitarian world, where individuals are just a part of greater wholes. Don't you think it's the other way around, the wholes consisting of individual humans, just some with power they use to suppress others and coerce them to do as they please? Why should you be forsaking yourself by agreeing to be on the receiving end?

Virtue: You have inalienable dignity and inherent right to determine your own fate. You don't have any obligations you haven't agreed to, and all such arrangements should be contracts in which you duly benefit from. You have the right to pursue your self-interested agenda, seek happiness and avoid harm. Actually, it's immoral for anyone to be causing you harm and putting you in the harm's way. Avoiding this and taking care of yourself is actually socially beneficial and everybody should act accordingly, respecting each other's personal spheres. The world would be a better place if the pursuit for domination and tyranny was abandoned as they inevitably lead to injustice and violence.

Consumed: Your well-being is most important. You must always have your way and others should be giving in to your wishes. If they don't want to, they should be coerced to do so. This world is zero-sum, someone's gain is someone's else's loss. And you don't feel like being on the losing side.



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