Now, I normally want to avoid putting stuff on the blog like this – I want the hobby material to be the focus, to the exclusion of everything else. But I think a reaction to the recent article about 40k players in a Greek newspaper is not a bad thing to post here. The article’s translation is on BOLS (as is my response below, where I originally posted as a commenter): here is a link. My response follows below:
Ok, I did find this article really…sloppy. Biased. Sensationalist. It seems to have some weird agenda, obviously. I am wary to quote anything, because I know it’s an unofficial translation – no offense to Antipope of course, it’s just the nature of the beast, when careful dissection is at stake.
Then again, I don’t want to dissect this. But I do want to say: this is a good opportunity to reflect on the nature of the universe, the background story, the ideas expressed within – really, the worldview expressed within. A “question the assumptions,” type thing.
Now, I obviously love the universe, love the fiction, love the stories, love the intellectual stimulation, love the hobby. All I mean to say is, I think it’s important to take a step back sometimes and ask yourself, wait, where are all the non-caucasian descendants of Terra? I think a question like that is important. On one level, it’s not dissimilar to “fact checking” to better understand and experience the universe, like, “is Ork blood green?” (here’s looking at you, author of Brunner the Bounty Hunter!) But it’s also bigger than that. Because it can lead to insightful growth in yourself, and it can challenge the universe to improve.
There are some big worldview issues raised in 40k. Is democracy the best form of government? Is violence a viable tool of government? Of interest groups? Of individuals? Are symbols important? Is intent important in action?
Now, I really don’t think I have answers to any of these questions, at least not ones without qualifiers and doubts. But what I am trying to express, and please excuse my lack of articulation, is that thinking about these questions leads to a lot of personal development. It changes you, and I think that’s the kind of edification that’s good for people. You step outside your own experience and gain a better view of the experiences of other beings.
And, this is what I do believe: thinking about these big questions and growing from them is the precise way to avoid societal descent into fascism (as one, oft overused, example). But playing 40k has certainly led me to investigate my own assumptions and beliefs about that question a lot – can one person make a difference? can personal growth outgrow societal fads? can systems be changed actively? – and I think that is for the best for me, to keep questioning. To keep growing.
Forgive me for lack of a better citation, but I’ll end by paraphrasing a Greek philosopher: “to entertain an idea without espousing it is a true sign of intelligence.”
Addendum: I’d also like to say that this is why I like Henry Zou’s fiction so much. He brings important questions into the mythos. His works are probably my favorite 40k fiction because they bring in themes of imperialism and oppression, sexism, art, culture, choice, trade, ecosystems, etc.