BEING GOREAN ON EARTH by _Marcus_ of Ar
Not long ago I was asked:
“What does it mean to be Gorean on Earth? How do we reconcile our beliefs with the reality of living in a society where our practice of those beliefs is constricted?”
My beliefs are not constricted at all. I can believe anything I want to.
What I can try to do, also, is adapt the customs of Gorean culture into my personal lifestyle to as great an extent as possible.
As to how far one can take it, it simply never struck me as much of a problem, or even a valid question.
Well… how many Goreans, after the entrance into Ar by the Cosian occupation force, told the Cosians to stick their new rules up their collective asses and went right on doing things as they had before?
Not too many. Most of those who did probably wound up playing the part of the olive, to the big martini-skewer one might call “an impaling spear.”
Goreans are bold, and terrible in their wrath. But they are not inordinately stupid.
So what did they do?
They obeyed the new rules. Oh, they resisted… but when they did so, they did so carefully. They chose when and how they would resist. They kept their revolutionary fires alight within their hearts and behind the walls and doors of their houses. The Cosians ruled the streets, but the heart of Ar lived on, quietly awaiting the day when it could throw off the yoke of Cosian oppression.
What about Gorean agents of the Priest-Kings who live on Earth? Do they obey Earth’s rules and accept Earth’s social mores, in public if not, entirely, in private?
Of course they do. They are on Earth. They take slaves, and keep slaves, but while existing upon Earth they are quite cautious about how they interact in what is (for them) a hostile environment.
Living a Gorean lifestyle is like that, I feel. One must choose cautiously how one will resist the laws and strictures of his society. When in Rome, as was once said here on Earth, one must do as the Romans do, and one must render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.
We do not do what our society prohibits us from doing. We do not break the law. That would be inviting wrath down upon ourselves from our shared Earth society, as if we needed THAT to contend with. Instead we adapt our lifestyles as we see fit, and take it as far as we can. And occasionally stretch the limits of what “vanilla” society will tolerate, just to see what happens. But when we do so, we do so wisely, and carefully, within the limits of the law.
The only two modes of ACTION which exist upon Gor, which might not be tolerated here on Earth, are murder and rape.
Murder is not tolerated on Gor, typically, either. Self-defense and the right to personal combat are allowed there, however. But even on Gor, like on Earth, one must fight only within the boundaries set by society for such things.
Rape is not tolerated on Gor, either.
And everyone gasps! How can that be?
Here’s why: because one cannot “rape” a legal slave. Not on Gor. They are not technically “people” under the eyes of the law. The only one who can be “raped” is one who is legally entitled to say “no.” In other words, a Free Woman.
What one must do, upon Earth, is simply revise the Gorean view that slaves are not people under the law, and accept that upon Earth, slaves ARE people under the law. Which the obviously are. The law has nothing to do with their bellies or their biological propensities, not here on Earth. Here, they are slaves by choice and circumstance, not under any legality which makes them so.
Therefore, we consider them to be protected under the legal blanket which protects “free women” here on Earth. We use the dictates of common sense and implied or confirmed consent to allow us carte blanche in our treatment of them, and only halt ourselves at the place where the law stops us.
I was also told, recently, the following:
“If rape of a slave on Gor is legal, and of course it is, then so is murder for the same reason. In fact, this is made clear in the books.”
This is a statement which bears further consideration. It is not that I do not agree with it; but there are other valid points to consider.
First of all, the difference between the legal crime of “rape” as we define it here on Earth versus the concept of “slave rape” as it exists upon Gor.
Upon Gor, in a strictly legal sense (as in, how Gorean Law treats such matters) the crime of “rape” (as a crime, and not as the simple usage of an owned property) does exist, and there are laws which address it. We are told by Norman that when a Free Woman is “raped” she has legal recourse (not to mention a bevy of brothers and other male relatives who might enact their own vengeance against the perpetrator of such an act).
Slaves are not protected under this point of Gorean Law, however. The rights to their usage fall under different legal structures, and are more in line with “usage of someone else’s property without due process and the obtainment of permission.” Therefore, the laws which protect slaves (as owned property) are a bit different as they pertain to the usage of a slave, whereas the laws which protect legal citizens from such an action are much more stringent.
Consent seems to be a very important part of this. A Free Woman, by consenting to such an action, opens the door to usage as if she were, indeed, a slave, or an owned property. The Gorean Laws which cover this are quite detailed, and thoroughly explore the concept of “conduct indicating suitability for enslavement.”
Upon Gor, that is.
Here on Earth, the laws which pertain to such activity are different. First of all, the state of “legal slavery” is not recognized under the law. Therefore, one must look to the laws of our shared Earth society to make judgments about what is, and is not, appropriate behavior, and one must adjust his own behavior accordingly. This seems to me to be a simple point of common sense and responsibility to the legalities under which one lives.
The Gorean laws which adjudicate “murder” are similar. They are not the same as the laws which exist upon Earth… then again, they are not that different. Upon Gor, for instance, if one draws a weapon and attacks the other, it is considered prudent for the attacked to defend himself to the fullest extent of his ability to do so. Our Earth laws agree with this. Upon Gor it is called “the right of response to a challenge.” Upon Earth it is called “self-defense.”
Again, the slaying of a legal slave, upon Gor, falls instead under property law. Here on Earth, such a thing is not in existence… people are people, under the law, and are all therefore entitled to identical protection from assault under the law.
When one understands this, and realizes that the existence of such property laws upon Gor are a result of the fact that Gor is a slave-holding culture, whereas most societies on Earth no longer support such a convention, then the actions of Goreans regarding such matters, as described in the books, begin to make sense.
Shall we therefore ignore the laws of our culture and do as the Goreans do in the books, under their own cultural laws and restrictions?
Of course not. We are not in a slave-holding culture. The legal status of slavery is no longer recognized as valid in our current society, which is not necessarily a bad thing, either, when one considers it. Earth culture has, for the most part, outgrown the legal practice of slavery, since it no longer fulfills the economic niche it once did here on Earth. Throughout most of the world it is no longer practical, due to mechanization and plentiful sources of relatively inexpensive labor in our modern milieu.
It has been suggested to me that Gor is entirely fictional, and is therefore an invented society which could never actually exist.
Not entirely true. Yes, Gor is fictional; still, most of what is depicted in the Gor books, involving the treatment and ownership of slaves and the allowance of personal combat in one’s day-to-day existence is NOT fictional. It actually existed in our Earth cultures, in various historical contexts. Nor did it cause those societies to fall apart.
Rather, such ideas and modes of behaviour were abandoned as being no longer practical due to the technological and societal changes which have since occurred here on Earth. Slavery, as a practice, was not widely considered immoral until long after it had become unnecessary. It is true, I add, that the continual cheapening of human life does have rather unpleasant consequences within the structure of any society. The fall of the Roman Empire was an excellent example… the widespread misuse of slaves, the continued reliance on owned human beings, and their mistreatment did much to shake the morality which underscored that society, weakening it.
The same can be said of our modern society (the United States being a prime example). The cheapening of human life has grown to epidemic proportions in our present society (without slavery, even… simply due to our continual media obsession with violence); not only that, but the existence of common-sense morality in our society, no longer shored up by such “outmoded” behavioural qualifiers such as honor, basic honesty, and a shared sense of responsibility, has been consigned to the backburner. Hence the strange societal lassitude in which we find ourselves nowadays.
I was also told the following:
“My point is not only is it not possible to take all aspects of Gorean society into this society, it is morally wrong to attempt to do so.”
That would depend upon one’s particular morality, of course.
Morality, like the structure of laws under which we live, is both relative and situational. Most of us maintain a series of moral dictates within which we live our lives. Some rely upon “common-sense” morality, i.e. behaving in such a way as to defend oneself while taking no unfair advantage of others. Others subscribe to a set of moral beliefs emplaced by devotion to a particular religion. However, our moral good sense is affected by the common morals of the society around us. Our morals are therefore mutable, depending upon what we have been taught by others, and what we have learned through experience.
Morality is at best an ambiguous concept, unless it has real power behind it, in which case a particular set of moral codes can be enforced upon others. This is accomplished through the application of the law.
The way it works is this: the group morality and practicality gives rise to the law; the law then forces those under it to conform to that group morality and practicality to continue to exist within that group.
Gorean morality, while similar to modern Earth morality in many respects, does deviate from current cultural and societal norms at times, particularly in the area of slave-use and slave-treatment. Then again, since upon Earth there are no longer legal slaves (in Western culture, anyway), that makes sense. Modern Earth morality has come into being outside of the loop of slave culture, and makes no provisions for such things.
I see it thusly: in our modern Earth culture, there are no slaves. The closest thing to “legal slaves” in existence in Western culture are prison convicts, those who have been stripped of their legal rights under the law, and in many cases assigned a number in place of a name. They have been so treated because they have violated the law and have therefore surrendered their freedom under that law, and have come under the direct 24/7 control of the state.
This state of being, to the Gorean, is similar in many respects to slavery.
Therefore, would any Gorean Free Man or Free Woman actively behave in such a manner as to invite enslavement? Nope. It is antithetical to their existence. Goreans love their freedom. They love it so much, in fact, that they will even take it away from those whom they do not feel have earned it, or deserve it.
As one who practices the Gorean philosophy in his doings, I would never do anything foolish which might inadvertently result in my reduction to slavery… i.e. my loss of freedom and surrender of my legal rights to the state. Therefore, I would be quite cautious when it comes to doing anything which might result in my enslavement… i.e. my entering the penal system as a legally imbonded prisoner.
Morals, like laws, are made by the culture in which one lives. It is our responsibility to behave in such a way that we do not remove ourselves from that society. If we cannot live within the parameters of the laws of our society, we should leave that society and go elsewhere.
Morals are also rather ambiguous, as I said above, and are subject to change. My morals, were I too live upon Gor, or within ancient Greek or Roman society, might be much different. In any case, even if my personal moral codes did not match those officially recognized by the state, my behavior would be expected to conform to what is required of me by my society. Not my personal morals… but my behavior.
For any interested, my own moral codes insist that the act of enslaving a human being (I mean REALLY enslaving them, as in, capturing them and chaining them to a bench with an oar in their hand) to force them to do or to be something which they are not, is often morally wrong and therefore incorrect. The Goreans feel the same, for the most part; it is simply that they must deal with the fact that, upon Gor, the weak are often subjugated by the strong and forced into such bondage. The immorality of this practice is not an issue with them. We might as well say it is an immoral act to drive a car and pollute the environment; immoral or not, it is not something which can be halted, currently, due to practical considerations.
Now, the act of forcing another human being to be something which they ARE, without a shadow of a doubt, is much more acceptable to me. Kicking a lousy basketball player off the team, for instance. Or arresting a criminal that they might be judged. Or even recognizing that a female who is not willing to actually behave as a slave, to Free Men, is NOT worthy of being called such and kicking her ass back out into the morass of the “almosts” and “half-ways.”
And if someone proves to me, through their actions, that they are willing to walk the difficult path of voluntary slavery, simply because it is what they ARE, then it seems immoral to me to deny them that opportunity.
I feel It is good that we live in a modern society which, though it does not allow legal slavery, DOES allow for the practice of voluntary slavery provided it does not violate the law. This is a good state of affairs for any self-proclaimed slaves out there, allowing all of us to have our cake and to eat it, too.
I am not a self-proclaimed slave. But I do know several such individuals, and they actually do exist. It makes sense that they be allowed to be what they are, and what fulfills them, simply because it makes them more well-adjusted and better able to contribute to their interpersonal relationships in a manner which is more efficient and pleasant for all concerned.
Their “slavery” would be much different upon Gor… or maybe not. Gorean morality accepts the need to assimilate involuntary slaves into the slave system there, as a matter of practicality. Here upon Earth, where our society does not support this, it simply means that there are no “involuntary slaves” here, and therefore all who enter “enslavement” of their own free will do so because they have chosen to do so. And Norman repeatedly tells us that the best, most devoted, and usually the most well-treated slaves are those who find personal fulfillment in their position upon a Master’s chain.
Why anyone would ASK to be enslaved then complain vehemently when they are treated as if they are slaves, remains a mystery to me. Perhaps they are not really slaves at all, and simply crave attention?
In any case… morality varies. Responsibility to one’s society does not. Since none of us can pack our bags and move to Gor, we all must do what we can to live as fulfilled Goreans in our current (and only) society and remain within its strictures in body if not in mind.
Too easy, if you ask me.
I wish you well,
Copyright © 2001, _Marcus_ of Ar. All rights reserved.