‘The politics of envy’

JB: Let the one who has two tunics share with the one who has none.

RWT: That's what I'm talking about! That's the politics of envy.

JB: I don't see what envy has –

RWT: I've got two tunics and you've just got one and now you envy me!

JB: I used to have two tunics –

RWT: And you lost one and now you're envious!

JB: No, actually I gave one to a man who had none.

RWT: Aha! Because he was envious!

JB: He wasn't envious, he was shivering.

RWT: Shivering … with envy!

JB: He was shivering with cold.

RWT: But you weren't cold.

JB: No, I was quite warm.

RWT: And this man shivering with the cold, don't you think he wanted to be warm too?

JB: Yes, that's why –

RWT: He wanted what you had. He was envious of your warmth!

JB: You keep using this word, but I'm not sure you know what it means.

RWT: You just can't handle that I can prove you're promoting the politics of envy.

JB: You think you can prove this?

RWT: Easily.

JB: Please, go ahead.

RWT: It's the politics of envy. It's the politics of envy. It's the politics of envy.

JB: Um, that's not proof. That's just an assertion.

RWT: No, it's not just an assertion — it's a repetition. And that proves it.

JB: You think repeating a slogan over and over means you've proved it?

RWT: It's not just me silly. There are thousands of us repeating this. And some of us are even repeating it on television. What more proof do you need?

JB: …

RWT: You're speechless because you know I'm right.

JB: I'm just trying to understand why anyone would think that clothing the naked has anything to do with envy.

RWT: You said yourself that you can't stand to see anyone with two tunics.

JB: Actually, what I said was I can't stand to see anyone with no tunic.

RWT: Same difference. It all sounds like the politics of envy to me.

JB: I suppose to you it does, but that's not how I think of it. I prefer my cousin's term. He calls it "the kingdom of God."

RWT: Who's this cousin of yours?

JB: You don't know him. You wouldn't like him.

RWT: Why? Is he envious?

JB: Well, he can't stand to see anyone left naked either. He takes it personally. He says that when you refuse to share with the person who has no tunic, it's just like you're refusing to share with him.

RWT: Envious bastard! He sounds dangerous.

JB: You have no idea. …

  • Flying sardines

    For another the “Reason I can’t have nice things” is usually money, calories/healthy-ness or otherwise and they don’t suit me! ;-)

  • prior_approval

    ‘le Guin wasn’t writing female protagonists aside from Arha’
    Well, she did write this in 1969, missing that 1970s deadline -
    ‘The Left Hand of Darkness is a science fiction novel by Ursula K. Le Guin, first published in 1969.
    The book is one of the first major works of feminist science fiction and is one in a series of books by Le Guin all set in the fictional Hainish universe.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Left_Hand_of_Darkness
    None of the protagonists are male or female, except for the Earth envoy of the Ekumen.
    And this from the Wikipedia article is quite insightful, since to an extent, this one of the major goals motivating many of those feminists of that time -
    ‘In fact, Le Guin examines gender-related questions surprisingly little, and provides even less in the way of answers. As the novel focuses instead on in-depth examination of curiously toned-down and blended distortions of subjects like Feudalism and Communism, Zen-like eastern mysticism and Christianity, this may in fact be a very subtle answer to the question of gender: “It’s not important”.’
    After all, those women had grown up in a world where gender was unavoidable and all-encompassing. Even the thought of an essentially human society without gender was almost impossible to imagine as being even conceivable.
    Still seems to be the case, for most people.

  • Flying sardines

    Oh & thinking McCaffrey can’t believe I almost forgot to mention the Damia /Damia’s Children ‘Talent’ series. That was a good one too. At least as I remember it from years ago. :-)

  • http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com Izzy

    Flying Sardines: Aw, thanks!
    I think it came up when I was the only one who didn’t like a PE suggestion, a couple threads back, and then I revived it in response to someone complaining about having to read requests not to use various words. Anyhow, not really relevant to this thread. :)

  • MercuryBlue

    Ah yes, Damia, the book in which the title character marries a guy who changed her diapers. The same guy who had an unrequited crush on Damia’s mother. And later in the series, Token Gay Guy ends up I’m Not Straight I Just Love Her. I think there was a pregnancy involved.

  • P J Evans

    Let me throw in another writer with female protagonists: James Schmitz.

  • http://lyorn.livejournal.com/ inge

    Will: It shared that LB and Twilight phenomenon of “How can this be an original work and blatant fanfiction at the same time?”
    It’s a novelisation of an AD&D campaign. You can hear the dice rolling in the background.

  • Will Wildman

    It’s a novelisation of an AD&D campaign. You can hear the dice rolling in the background.

    This is plainly true (thus my remark about ‘free xp’) but when friends recount D&D stories to me, it still sounds far more plausible than Dragonlance came anywhere near. And that includes the time my housemate’s grandmotherly dwarf warrior saved a city from killing itself in a Batman-Begins-style hallucinogen-powered riot by singing “99 Luftballons”.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    I’m reminded of how Fred has commented on how the LB books sometimes read like Buck or Rayford are casting Spell of Protection +10 at certain points. :P

  • http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com Izzy

    Will: It’s true!
    Back when I was running the WTF Mindflayers Butterfly Dragon Continent campaign, my players would frequently try and talk NPCs down rather than killing them. (Or, in one moment of unmitigated awesome from two people, distract the apparently-hostile chick long enough for the thief to grab the mind-controlling necklace from around her neck.) Even the hostile ones. Not all the players, granted, but the ones who didn’t played appropriately creepy PCs.
    DL has some good bits, but those good bits largely concern none of the main characters. Except Sturm, who exists to be a Jesus figure, and Flint, who exists to think everyone’s a giant dork. AND BE RIGHT.

  • Ysidro

    Never doubt the power of Nina!
    You know what I hate about DL? It was supposed to be an iron poor world, but I never got that from the books. It’s like “well, this makes no sense so let’s ignore it” in the fiction but “well, they wrote it so we’ll keep it” in the game.
    Now Dark Sun? There’s a metal poor world. Just don’t get me started on them having bone bein stronger than stone (hint: talk to prehistoric archaeologists before designing world with tools made out of non-metal substances.)

  • http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com Izzy

    Ysidro: [geek] OMG DARK SUN. I’m so waiting for that to come out in 4E. Because: DUDE. DARK SUN. [/geek]
    I swear, next time I actually have time, I’m gonna see if people on here want to play some sort of PBP/chat thing.

  • Lonespark

    I always thought Dark Sun sounded cool.

  • Jenny Islander

    Speaking of adventure logs, we just saw the new Clash of the Titans on Netflix. It feels exactly like a D&D game turned into a script. And not the kind of game I enjoy playing. Tired of the characters all being men? OK, here’s a heroine. Let’s make her an immmortal Other and kill her off. Hey, I know this is supposed to be mythical Greece, but I am so into the Warforged that I have to shoehorn them in somehow–maybe if I disguise them as monsters from al-Qadim nobody will notice. I don’t know why they ride giant scorpions, theyjustdoooooo. And I can’t talk all poety and stuff even with Bulfinch open in front of me, so let’s make them all talk like angry guys in a shoot-’em-up. And OF COURSE the main character has to have a modern military haircut, the way they wore their hair back then was sooooo gaaaaayyyy. And this is Grim!Dark!Stuff!!! so it has to be shot in Grimdarkvision. In Greece . . .
    We only finished watching it because surely, surely, handed the Greek!Myths!, nobody could fat-finger them THAT badly. Wrongo. We’re sticking to the Harryhausen version, thanks all the same.

  • Ysidro, Sorcerer King of Blargh

    I’m actually annoyed that Dark Sun is coming out for 4th edition. They didn’t do a 3rd and I don’t like what I’ve seen of 4th. There’s lots of other games out there, including Pathfinder, so no loss for me.
    But damn it, I would have liked an update sooner. That said, I would totally run a 2nd edition Dark Sun game with all the wonky rules JUST TO ANNOY PEOPLE!

  • Will Wildman

    If I were looking to draft some kind of comprehensive theory, I’d say that D&D and other games, when conducted inexpertly, have a tendency to become mechanical, a first-this then-what then-what logistical journal. And because both are modelled after the same core concept, quest-based narratives fall prey to the same thing, with D&D being the obvious place where wooden storytelling and mechanical gameplay can best fuse (although if you did that in D&D you’d probably just end up with a long-winded Warforged with a pinball machine in its chest).
    I remember a semi-poetic sequence written by someone, maybe Atwood, who said ‘that’s all a plot is, a what followed by a what followed by a what – now tell me why‘. I don’t often take to modern Canadian authors, but I did think she had a point there. A bad D&D campaign and the End Times Prophecy Checklist have this in common: a what followed by a what followed by a what, and ‘why’ is because – look, god(s)!
    I was a rather overenthusiastic video gamer when I was younger (I still play, but it’s mostly Warcraft, and mostly because I adore my guild) and I definitely had a problem when I first started trying to write stories, because they were inevitably mostly first-person depictions of Suddenly This Other Thing Happens And Someone Has To Stab It.

  • Ysidro, Sorcerer King of Blargh

    Oh Jenny, please take this slightly used but much loved Internet for your troubles.

  • Will Wildman

    I swear, next time I actually have time, I’m gonna see if people on here want to play some sort of PBP/chat thing.

    Yes. Yes I do. In preparation, I have prepared a dragonborn cleric who talks to his god with a frequency and familiarity reminiscent of the way 15-year-old girls talk to their diary, or like Broderick’s character in Ladyhawke. But with a questionable Australian accent. (Naturally, his god has yet to say anything in response.)

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    Ha I remember Ladyhawke. XD Rutger Hauer and Matthew Broderick really pulled off a good story. :)

  • http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com Izzy

    Will: That? Would be *fucking awesome*.
    Ysidro: See, I like 4E because I suck at math, largely. But I would totally play 2nd Ed Dark Sun. Or 2nd Ed a lot of things. Mmmm, nostalgialicious!

  • Ysidro

    I also totally want to play 2nd edition Birthright. That was a cool idea. There’s even a community online that’s converted most of it to 3rd edition.

  • Will Wildman

    I was deeply saddened to see that dragonborn and clerics are completely unconnected, clerics being all about the wisdom and charisma (that’s still a thing, right?) and dragonborn being all about the strength and constitution. I don’t care if they’re turning D&D into a tabletop MMO, I don’t want to be the mighty cleric who beats things with a mace. I want to pray until they burn. And/or are restored to perfect health. (I would also approve if real life worked this way.)

  • Mike

    Ysidro: [geek] OMG DARK SUN. I’m so waiting for that to come out in 4E. Because: DUDE. DARK SUN. [/geek]
    I swear, next time I actually have time, I’m gonna see if people on here want to play some sort of PBP/chat thing.
    It’s out. And it’s pretty cool. I’m in an ongoing DM-designed campaign, but I’m thinking of running a Dark Sun campaign next year.

    I was deeply saddened to see that dragonborn and clerics are completely unconnected, clerics being all about the wisdom and charisma (that’s still a thing, right?) and dragonborn being all about the strength and constitution.

    Dragonborn get +2 STR and +2 CHA. They make excellent battle clerics. Not so great at the “pray you to health” sort, but c’est la vie.

  • Will Wildman

    Dragonborn get +2 STR and +2 CHA. They make excellent battle clerics. Not so great at the “pray you to health” sort, but c’est la vie.

    Yeah, that’s what gets me. I play paladins in other RPGs, and when I saw dragonborn, my first thought was “I am going to put you in robes and make you incredibly devout and bookish in a Slightly-Reverend-Mightily-Oats, Pelor-Is-My-Co-Pilot sort of way”, and then I found out that 4E clerics are actually very big on hitting things with giant hammers, even in the interests of healing. Some of us can have fun even when not cracking skulls. Some of us think cracking skulls is why we keep dwarves around.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    I swear, next time I actually have time, I’m gonna see if people on here want to play some sort of PBP/chat thing.

    Not sure how that would work exactly but I’d be interested :)
    I remember the charisma attribute; it showed up in some game I played once on my Apple. :)

  • Consumer Unit 5012 rolls natural 1s.

    Will Wildman: Some of us can have fun even when not cracking skulls. Some of us think cracking skulls is why we keep dwarves around.
    Cracking kneecaps, maybe, but how’s a dwarf going to reach someone’s skull without a stepladder? :D

  • Will Wildman

    Cracking kneecaps, maybe, but how’s a dwarf going to reach someone’s skull without a stepladder? :D

    You hit the knees to bring the head down to swinging height. Gotta plan ahead.

  • Spearmint

    None of the protagonists are male or female, except for the Earth envoy of the Ekumen.
    This is true, but I can never get the Gethens not to read as male to me.
    There are probably a lot of things contributing to this. On the Doylist end she uses “he” for everyone plus they’re all running around doing traditionally male things and so my sexism-addled brain assigns them male gender. On the Watsonian end the sexism-addled human narrator can never get them not to read as male to him either, so it makes sense that he presents them that way, and he’s the first person narrator for the whole first half of the book.
    But at the end of the day if you ask me “Estraven, male or female?” and I don’t have time to think about the question, I’m going to say male. I think the book did a lot of important feminist work when it came out, but it didn’t do it by means of strong female characters. (Despite the fact that the only time we see Estraven in kemmer he was kemmering female, so if anything that’s the gender I should be arbitrarily assigning him.)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy

    @Spearmint: This is true, but I can never get the Gethens not to read as male to me.
    And, as always YR(eading)MMV.
    The Gethens read neither male nor female to me — to the point that, like Ai, when we once again encounter humans they seem dreadfully oversexed to me.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    Somehow I first read that as YR MMY, which would be a rather strange mental image indeed. :)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mmy mmy_who for some reason is feeling very Canadian

    @Pius Thicknesse: I first read that as YR MMY, which would be a rather strange mental image indeed. :)
    :) indeed.
    [I so often make that type of mistake while trying to post on the fly between chapters that I had to triple-check that I had not typed it as you read it]

  • http://lyorn.livejournal.com/ inge

    Will: I feel that Dragonlance is a strongly railroaded campaign, which usually only works if all the players and the GM agree that they want to play dramatist (story-oriented) and are willing to compromise on the consistency of characters and world. I have heard from several groups who tried the campaign, and none ever got anywhere, because this agreement was missing.
    Izzy: In many of my groups, the characters prefer talking (or running) to combat — “for if we do battle someone’s going to get killed”. The exception were groups of tactitians who were very good at what they were doing, and had characters who were very good at what they were doing. IME as a GM, if you want combat, have the other side start it, and use an “other side” that cannot be reasoned with or bluffed. (“Neutral hungry” is a good alignment for that.)

  • Will Wildman

    “Neutral hungry”

    That’s goin’ on a shirt.

    WTF Mindflayers Butterfly Dragon Continent

    And that will go on the hat to go with the shirt.

  • Lonespark

    Oh, interesting. Most of the Gethen folk read more female than not to me (Estraven less so, I think, for the reasons you mentioned, but I’ll have to think on that more). This is because I read Winter’s King in The Wind’s Twelve Quarters before I read The Left Hand of Darkness. In that King Argaven and King Emran and I think the rest of the other characters are referred to as “she.” It’s an interesting choice, and one that worked for me to make clear that these were people who possessed similarities to our human sexes but didn’t really fit in the categories we use.

  • Lonespark

    Yeah, us humans are in kemmer all the time. We are dangerous perverts, obviously.

  • http://www.airjordans.cc/ Air Jordan shoes

    If winter comes, can spring be far behind ?( P. B. Shelley, British poet )

  • Lee Ratner

    IMO Dragonlance had a brilliant idea behind it, a fantasy world that really emphasizes that entire balance between good and evil theme, but failed in its execution because of the limitations inherent in the AD&D system and most players. The average person playing a cleric isn’t going to want to generally play a PC that actually has to minister to the flock or advance the goals of their character’s deity but just be a different sort of spell caster with better HPs and a wider variety of armor and weapons to use. Unfortunately, Dragonlance kind of requires that a person take the clerical part about being a cleric seriously. The same goes for the other classes, Wizards of High Sorcery, Knights of Solamnia, or even Kinder handlers. Since this is the case, Dragonlance campaigns often fall flat on their face. It takes some rather serious RPGers to get a Dragonlance campaign right. Plus the DM needs to get very creative if not using one of the published adventures because of the somewhat serious nature of the Dragonlance setting, at least if he wants to maintain the proper mode.
    The really strange thing is that for setting where the culture the PC comes from is so important and where the PC’s class is so important, the Dragonlance setting did not provide a lot of information for people to go on besides some rather basic outlines. The Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk settings did not take themselves as seriously but gave much more cultural information about the various places where PCs and NPCs could hail from.

  • Richard Posner

    To many or even most on the Right, the next part of the argument is, “Even if your cousin would hate my attitude toward cloaks, would he be in favour of the government [excuse me, 'Big Evil Gummint'] forcing me to give away a cloak? My donation and its coercion are two different things.”
    I think they have a point: there is, in fact a big difference. The government’s forcing you to give someone a cloak is an imposition of a particular morality—even if it’s Mosheh’s and Jesus’ and Muhammed’s and the Buddha’s and so on’s—on an order different from the more basic one of “killing other people is usually wrong”…and I’m usually very against the Government’s imposing someone else’s moral code on me, or even mine.
    Personally, I don’t care, though, because I was born into an-at-least-somewhat coercive State, I will probably die in an at-least-somewhat coercive State, so I want to see that State do at least _some_ things I think are important. That is, from an anarchist point-of-view, I have sold out; as is usually in such cases, I feel I have merely adjusted to life-as-it-is: the State exists, it does tonnes of coercive stuff, and I feel that “clothing the sick and feeding the nekkid” and curing the sick are so important—and SHOULD BE TO YOU (fully aware of how obnoxious those majuscules can be—and furthermore take so little of what we have, that it is worth my marginal loss of freedom (and yours) that others might be much more free.
    In addition, I know that there was tremendous objection to government’s being used for these purposes. Beyond a perfunctory dole, which often didn’t exist in America, no government did much of anything, and there were always arguments against us—the ruling class switched seamlessly from “He who does not work will not eat,” to Spencerism. This means that we tried the voluntary route for a very long time, and it did not work. I think the desire not to see this is a progenitor of a lot of Right-wing conspiracism—it’s easier for them to believe that aliens or Masonic Jews dropped down from Space and forced our proud nation to do these things, rather than their being a next next attempt at solving a problem that bothers (AND SHOULD) if not us, than the people we SHOULD be.

  • Richard Posner

    Lee Ratner | Aug 30, 2010 at 06:45 PM
    “Very good post.” That is to say, it jibes completely with something I’ve been saying and wanting to hear from some other source for _years_: the American public observing the Left in America lack a length-scale; in the absence of socialists it is possible to call _anyone_ a socialist.

  • prior_approval

    ‘This is true, but I can never get the Gethens not to read as male to me.’
    I will admit that considering how children don’t really figure in the novel, it is simple to consider the Gethen male, as generally, men have little to do with children. On the other hand, the often enough repeated statement that Gethen are both mothers and fathers makes Gethens neither male nor female, but both and neither. And of course, most figures exercising authority in politics, both now and when Le Guin was writing more than 40 years ago, are male.
    Nonetheless, the Gethen are clearly not a society of male/female, and whether a reader can accept that or not is another point.
    ‘but it didn’t do it by means of strong female characters.’
    I believe the point of the book was that all of the strong characters, apart from the male Ekumen envoy, are neither male nor female.
    The feminist perspective of the book is the basic lack of gender among the Gethen, and what that means in terms of human society, broadly imagined and defined. At the time, a remarkably original idea – and a tale which undertakes to explore the idea that gender may not be the defining characterestic of a person. Of course, it is just fiction.

  • Ysidro

    Every State is coercive to some degree. The question is what should the balance between Society and Individual be? In general, humans actually come down on Society. Individuals tend not to get very far without Society anyway.

  • http://kipwblog.blogspot.com Kip W

    Driving in Virginia, I’d see these churches with immense crosses out on the lawn. “If Jesus comes back,” I used to say, “They’re ready for ‘im.”

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Pius Thicknesse

    That is, from an anarchist point-of-view, I have sold out; as is usually in such cases, I feel I have merely adjusted to life-as-it-is: the State exists, it does tonnes of coercive stuff, and I feel that “clothing the sick and feeding the nekkid” and curing the sick are so important—and SHOULD BE TO YOU (fully aware of how obnoxious those majuscules can be—and furthermore take so little of what we have, that it is worth my marginal loss of freedom (and yours) that others might be much more free.

    Could have just bloody well said ‘capital letters’.
    Anyway, in the vein of these sorts of things that the State can/should do, it’s always so frustrating when a person will gladly say or write that they do not feel any basic sense of wanting to save the life of another human being. Sometimes it has to take making a situation up close and personal to change their minds, such as the lawyer quoted above somewhere who used to be against certain social welfare programs until one day his son, who was a drug addict, needed them to get better.
    The really astonishing thing is that naked appeals to selfishness seem to be disappointingly effective at getting people to stop supporting basic things like the government sheltering, feeding and clothing (in some manner) those who cannot afford to do so for themselves.
    I’m glad that there is at least one person who, while they would prefer less government, is pragmatic about the realistic nature of that lessening. :)

  • http://www.tproe.com/disco.htm Nicolae Carpathia

    the limitations inherent in the AD&D system and most players. The average person playing a cleric isn’t going to want to generally play a PC that actually has to minister to the flock or advance the goals of their character’s deity but just be a different sort of spell caster with better HPs and a wider variety of armor and weapons to use. Unfortunately, Dragonlance kind of requires that a person take the clerical part about being a cleric seriously.

    I’d like to see an RP system that actually rewards you with advancement points for doing things relating to your occupation (rather than defining “RPing In Character” as simply monologuing about your character’s Dramatic Backstory). I’ve been meaning to suggest house-ruling this into a D&D campaign sometime.
    Some of the indie tabletop games are incorporating this, actually.* The Firefly RPG had some incentives for this, I really liked that you had to put at least some focus on what you were doing besides getting into badass adventures.
    * That was the only even remotely interesting thing about F.A.T.A.L. Of course, in F.A.T.A.L., one of the job classes is “whore” (and that review is very NSFW, but it’s hilarious), but anyway…

  • Spearmint

    I believe the point of the book was that all of the strong characters, apart from the male Ekumen envoy, are neither male nor female.
    Yes. Ergo “the book did a lot of feminist work when it came out, but it didn’t do it by means of strong female characters.” On account of not having any female characters. Which is what I said in the beginning.
    It’s actually mildly interesting how male Estraven reads to me, because ze’s an intuitive thinker rather than a logical one, so mentally ze should map as stereotypically female. But apparently ‘politician’ overrides ‘intuition’ in my arbitrary gender assignment pathways.
    Although again this may have more to do with spending the first half of the book in Genly’s head, for whom ‘politician’ clearly overrides all other possible factors in terms of gender assignment.

  • Drake Pope

    Holy shit, is that for real?

  • Spearmint

    Holy shit, is that for real?
    If you mean F.A.T.A.L., it’s “for real” in the sense that it is not a hoax.
    But I’m not sure “for real” is the right word to characterize a game in which you roll for your genital circumferences.

  • Spearmint

    Right phrase.
    Anyway, my point is that the game exists, but shouldn’t.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    Izzy – yes please, re: PBP/chat game – I don’t even care what the system is, although I had some good fun in Darksun. Cannibalistic halflings FTW!

  • sharky

    The interesting thing to me about many RPGs is that you can’t escape where you came from.*
    I’ve been playing a game where, supposedly, females match males in physical and magical ability, and yet you can’t interact with the NPCs without falling over traditional, western-style sexism.
    It’s very jarring. “Why yes, yes, I am a witch-warrior! Thank you for asking! The men freak out about this, even though around here witch-warriors should be as frequent as male-witch-warriors. I’ll just explain all this to you in words with patriarchal connotations and heteronormative origin, shall I?”
    I’m not kidding, even the words they use are echoes of a vocabulary where a woman’s identity is defined by men. It’s like an equal world is possible to imagine in the big picture, but when it comes to how it looks from the ground, the makers can’t… quite… get… there.
    *Not even with a very lucky dice roll.


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