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Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Coming of the Fir

In the beginning was Rallituva, the One. And Rallituva created Dara, the world that is, and he populated it with many plants and creatures of the land, the sea, and the air. But Rallituva wanted companions, and so first, at the northern pole of Dara, he created the first race of sentient beings, the Diai. They awoke with no history, no biological nature, and no other sentient beings around in the world. Each one of them is completely self-sufficient, and interacts with the others only for amusement. Rallituva was pleased, but realized that he had sought something different: These beings had too little desire for companionship, and he was lonely still.

So at the southern pole of Dara he created another race of sentient beings, the Ainmhithe. Their consciousness was very tightly tied to their bodily being, and that being to their existence in the collective they called the coilíneacht, to which their life was devoted. They lacked any individuality, and any good except the common good. The coilíneacht would happily sacrifice as many of them as necessary to save itself. Rallituva was pleased, but realized that he had sought something different: These beings had too little independence, too little personality, for them to even be companions.

So Rallituva turned to the equator, and there he created a third race of sentient beings, the Fir. And into them he mixed something of the Diai, and something of the Ainmhithe. They awoke to conscious as free, independent beings, but with a strong sense of obligation to their own kind, and a great desire for their companionship. They lived in a way that balanced independence and solidarity, so that, for instance, a hunter who brings back a kill would divide most of it with the others with whom he lived, but got to keep the choicest portion for himself, as a reward for his successful hunt. Those who can hunt and gather were understood to have an obligation to feed those unable to do so, such as the elderly or the injured. If a child was orphaned, it was understood the tribe would find a way to raise it. And anyone who refused to honor those customs suffered punishment, and, ultimately banishment. But there was still a great deal of space for individuality: each tribe member had her own personality, and each sang, danced, and so on in a unique fashion. And there was plenty of room for private possessions: one's hut, one's spear, a favorite talisman.

Now, because they were a mix of the Diai and the Ainmhithe, the Fir lived in a certain tension, as though they themselves were pulled towards both the northern and the southern pole at once. While it was precisely this tension which made them the companions that Rallituva had sought, it also made them restless, so that as they multiplied, many of them began too wander the globe. And in their wanderings, some approached the land of the Diai to the north, and some approached the land of the Ainmhithe to the south, and eventually the Fir encountered beings of each type.

When those of the Fir who had headed south encountered Ainmhithe, the Ainmhithe were shocked by their outrageous and indecent individuality. “It is disgusting,” they told the Fir, “that you selfishlessly cling to things that make you distinct, and do not surrender your whole being to the coilíneacht, the whole from which all life springs. It is profoundly wrong that any of you keeps things to himself, such as your awful private property. To rid yourselves of that uncomfortable tension in which you live, you must surrender everything to the coilíneacht!”

And since the Ainmhithe were an older race than the Fir, and since their proclamations were so certain, and promised relief from all anxiety, many of the Fir tried to live near the southern pole. But life in those settlements did not proceed at all as did the life of the Ainmhithe, and the tension only became worse. Since it was not in the nature of the Fir to live entirely for the tribe, doing so had to be forced upon them, and so there arose masters amongst them, who put themselves over the other Fir, and enslaved them. And even driven as slaves to work, they did not prosper as they had when they had lived in the way befitting Fir. And so, when they could, these tribes overthrew their masters, and moved back northward, to the lands suitable to the life of the Fir.

Now others of the Fir encountered the Diai, who were shocked by their outrageous and indecent collectivism. “It is disgusting,” they told the Fir, “that the needy, and sick, and poor, selfishly hold you back from achieving the full glory of your unique individuality! It is profoundly wrong that they expect you to share the goods you have nobly wrested from the earth with them in their pitiful weakness. To rid yourselves of that uncomfortable tension in which you live, you must leave these weaklings to perish, and become like us: completely free of all ties, each a law unto himself!”

And since the Diai were an older race than the Fir, and since their proclamations were so certain, and promised relief from all anxiety, many of the Fir tried to live near the northern pole. But life in those settlements did not proceed at all as did the life of the Diai, and the tension only became worse. Since it was not in the nature of the Fir to live entirely independent of the tribe, they had to disfigure their own natures to do so, and become hard, and indifferent, and filled with greed. But without the support of the others who had perished or were driven off, even the strongest and hardiest of the Fir ceased to prosper, and felt sick and lonely in their hearts. And so most of them abandoned the far north, and moved back to the lands suitable to the life of the Fir.

But the tension remains, and even to this day, there are many amongst the young who seek its relief by fleeing to the far north or the far south. Fortunately for the Fir, they now have a wisdom they had lacked when they were new to Dara, so that those who wander too far south can be chastened by the experiences of those who went before, and can be lured back by a vision of the beauties of the far north. And those who wander too far north can be chastened by the experiences of those who went before, and can be lured back by a vision of the beauties of the far south. And so they return to the proper life, and live as Fir should, solitary and solidary.

2 comments:

  1. The Diai seem like rabid, Max Stirner-like egoists; the Ainmhithe seem like rabid statists; and the Fir seem like decent, well-rounded human beings. How Aristotelian.

    But since this post seems to have been prompted by an exchange with an anarchist/libertarian, I have to ask: Do you believe that most libertarians behave like the Diai? I don't think so, nor do I think that the modern state (of the U.S. Government) is analogous to the form of social organization or sense of mutual obligation shared by the Fir. The modern state doesn't fall into any of these archetypes; it would likely use its collective power to install a puppet regime over the Fir, subject them to its vast corporate empires, and then hail this as a great victory for freedom and individualism.

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  2. "Do you believe that most libertarians behave like the Diai?"

    No, Mike, absolutely not. No people are like that. That is part of the point. But it is a myth, and I don't want to explain a myth too much. You might look up the Irish word "Fir" (plural of "fear") to get a better idea of what I am doing.

    "nor do I think that the modern state (of the U.S. Government) is analogous to the form of social organization or sense of mutual obligation shared by the Fir."

    Well, I would rather say that the current US government is like one of the groups that has wandered too far south! I'm no fan of the modern state, Mike.

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