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Old 12-31-2007, 03:56 AM   #4
Legate of Amon Lanc
A Voice That Gainsayeth
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Originally Posted by alatar View Post
Why do you consider this "kindness," to take one example, as a moral flaw? Your viewpoint is obviously anthropic. The orcs that we meet are the 'survivors' of a very cruel winnowing process. For all we know, the parents eat the young that they can catch. In this environment, altruism is suicide. Simply giving over a crust of bread or dried meat - regardless the source - could lead one to soon be dead, as the favor would most likely not be returned, be considered a sign of not being 'rightminded,' and so warrant penalty.
And this is exactly it. I don't necessarily think the Orcish society was always and everywhere this way, because it's one thing to live under Morgoth and another thing to be free of the circumstances that bind them to lifetime slavery where the best thing they can hope for is to get the highest command rank and thus, have better state of living than the unlucky average Orcs. But at least for the separate tribes or for Gorbags and Shagrats eventually going out to wilderness, they can build up their own state of living and given the nature of the world of Middle-Earth, I highly doubt the Orcs would not be able to form a society with similar values as the human (or elvish or whatever) one. This thread counts with it and so it aimed to find individuals who showed signs of having close to some of these values, yet he was put back by the current society of the Orcs, by historically inherited values in the society that descended from the times in Angband where indeed, altruism was most probably suicide.

For example, Gorbag and Shagrat now. Before the Mithril-coat and greed and Eru knows what else got between them, it is clear that at least a long time ago in a land far, far away they were friends. They haven't been in close contact for some time now, obviously, yet they still remembered each other as friends. And this friendship of theirs looks like "normal" friendship, not anything based just on, let's say, the fact that it was advantageous for them to keep each other alive because of some "survival of the fittest" principle, or because their superiors forced them to co-operate.

Very interesting point to this is also the so-called Little Snuffler: he seems to hold some sort of "racial creed". Why, it's quite normal to stick to your own kin, yet obviously under the "big bosses" such a thing is not always favourable and (even our human past, and yes, even present knows that) sometimes one can advance his own individual carreer by cutting of the loyalties to his friends or those who are closer to him. I am speaking of this episode, boldening the concerned statement:
Originally Posted by RotK; Chapter 2: The Land of Shadow
"I'll give your name and number to the Nazgl," said the soldier lowering his voice to a hiss. "One of them's in charge at the Tower now."
The other halted, and his voice was full of fear and rage. "You cursed peaching sneakthief!" he yelled. "You can't do your job, and you can't even stick by your own folk. Go to your filthy Shriekers, and may they freeze the flesh off you!"
We are witnessing only a little episode, yet this is the best we have, and whatever the case, even though he spoke in rage, for one to say something he has to at least have thought of it, if possible, more deeply - I would dare to say that we can take the Little Snuffler as an example of an Orc who believes the bonds between people are stronger and more valuable than the individual benefit. The freedom of a human (resp. orc) being shows in that he can choose even something that is unfavourable for him among the choices he has. And that means absolutely unfavourable - for example, I could imagine the Little Snuffler, under certain conditions, in the very radical example, laying down his life for some of his kin. For example, being a father (shame he isn't a mother, that would be better example, but you can imagine if he was) he would not eat their children to survive himself. Now one could speak about wanting the genes to survive or whatever you come up with, yet the freedom is in that he could choose against his genes (to eat the children or not) - that is his difference from an animal (in general).

We know the Little Snuffler, in the end, shoots the other Orc from the example above. His fear and desire for own survival prevails - but under these circumstances one would maybe want too much from him to now selflessly sacrifice himself so the other Orc (whom he does not like at all, as he does not even "stick by his own folk") lives. It would take a Jesus of Nazareth type of Orc to let himself taken back to the execution by the Nazgul and to let the big Orc live. Even a revolutionary type of Orc would now act as Little Snuffler did: shoot the witness who does not support his cause anyway and be free so that he could help other Orcs around himself. Anyway, one has to see there is some latent inclination in the Little Snuffler towards keeping bonds with others even through unfavourable conditions, even at moments when it will be more advantageous for him to truckle to the Nazgul and whoever else.
"But it is not your own Shire," said Gildor. "Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out."
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