Sunday, January 13, 2013

Legitimacy

So, speaking about the present state of D&D, the game, and how it is perceived.

Having a discussion tonight on the perceived legitimacy of institutions, I made the point that as interest in obedience to Western religion began to wane in the 19th century, with the rise of Romanticism and the principles usually accorded to Jean Jacques Rousseau, violence against churches did not increase.

Now, I don't want to go into a vast rhetoric to support the notion that churches began to die something like 200 years ago; I presume that you, the gentle reader, can at least attest to the fact that the Western church's power is less now than it was once, and that this lessening began to occur at some point.  You can take it for a fact that the substantive portion of this lessening really began to show in the mid 20th century ... but that it was certainly a matter for lively and humorous debate in the mid 19th, in a way it could NEVER have been in the mid 16th - when it did, in fact, lead to an increase in violence, and not even over the subject of whether or not Christianity was silly or laughable (as it became in salons 200 years ago).

Why was it that as science and humanitarianism rose, there was no occurrence of mass burnings of churches across the lands, as had happened when Christianity pushed Paganism under a cart, or as occurred when Protestantism did the same in select parts of the world to Catholicism?  Was it simply that the 19th century was more civilized about such things?  Were the poets and philosophers pussies?

In fact, it was because the persons who had become non-believers, or at least non-followers of the sacred institution, continued to believe that on some level the institutions still had a legitimate right to exist.  Consider:  here we are in our day, with the majority of the persons in the Western World having no interest in attending church services on a sunday, to the point where churches are closed everywhere and those that are still open stand mostly empty ... and yet STILL one of the most sacred rights defended virtually everywhere is the right of religion.  Not habit, mind you, or belief, or the way you choose to live your life - though the defense of religion covers those things - but in the religion itself, which we will staunchly defend even though most of us know it as complete bollucks.  Such is the power of that legitimacy that we believe it IS legitimate, even though we know it is not.

Legitimacy has nothing to do with truth, or facts, or right or wrong.  It has everything to do with perception - and so long as the perception of a thing is stronger than the exact circumstances of that thing, the perception will always win out.  That is why the overwhelming majority of people who just don't care about religion won't do anything about the continued existence of religion.  After so many generations of its core existence in our culture, we feel it deserves to have its place recognized and lip service duly paid, as most do when they put a religion they do not follow on their census forms.

It is the same legitimacy that is accorded to a dead and defunct business like TSR, or the initial White Box set of D&D, or the various long-standing elements of the game that have been introduced from time to time.  It is unimportant whether they have any real value for the game.  They are perceived to be part of the game nonetheless, and are therefore deserving of respect, like a piece of the Cross or the finger bone of Christ.  The Latest Edition demands to be given all the respect of every other incarnation of the game, more even, because it has been the most recent advancement of the Holy Sepulchre of WOTC, which has been given its privilege to change the game as it seems fit.  This is the highest standard accorded any business that 'officially' produces a thing, as Spalding did the first official baseball, or Billboard does the official top 40.  Whatever the actual value, the perceived value is that it MUST have value, because of its source.  Actual quality is immaterial.

So where it comes to the right of anything, or the truth of anything, it is the demand of the masses that judges that thing's legitimacy ... not from a position of authority, but from the position of bowing before it.  From a position of impotence.  From a position of willful ignorance, or the refusal to investigate or experiment.

From a position on our knees.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

Slave morality run amok.