76. The family (II)
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
The last section of my report dealt with my preliminary investigation of Earth’s hegemonic region and its religion. This section is of the utmost importance for any future expeditions by the Imperial Anthropological Section to Earth. All my investigations within the Anglo-Protestant hegemony almost came to grief due to the nature of a particular taboo within the hegemony, and my relative ignorance of it. Every young anthropologist, in his first year at the academy, learns about the importance of taboo. We are aware, even in our own empire’s history, that people who break taboos regarding dress, sex, and sacred sites are subject to ritual degradation—even execution. As my last report noted, the Anglo-Protestant hegemony is an interesting gnonological development because it consists of a religion that does not regard itself as a religion; it is a kind of ideology, putatively secular and rational but—despite making no supernatural claims—extremely primitive. It is, therefore, I must stress, deeply superstitious and thick with taboos concerning certain population groups within the hegemony.
For religious reasons, the Anglo-Protestant hegemony, unlike our imperial high clerisy, has rejected eugenics—even though genetic manipulation is quite within their technological abilities. The reasons for this are related to the religious significance of a warlord the hegemony fought almost a century ago. This warlord has come to be a sort of devil for the hegemony, and his name is frequently used to curse or shame deviant politicians and ordinary citizens who voice slight objections to the hegemony’s views. It so happens that this warlord had a very positive view of eugenics and so, for religious reasons, the practice has become taboo.
However, this is the least of the racial taboos within the hegemony and I almost came to grief in my first weeks working in the hegemony due to ignorance of the latest taboos. The high priests also venerate a former slave caste, long ago liberated, characterised by dark skin and, according to an analysis conducted by my AI, distinct genetic and morphological features. The high priests, usually belonging to two genetically distinct light-skinned groups, believe that they must worship the former slave caste to atone for the sins of their ancestors. Although the high priests venerate this caste— even in casual situations—and maintain a considerable system of public relief at the expense of the ordinary people to provide for the former slave caste, the high priests rarely mix or associate with the former slave caste themselves. There is a kind of hypocrisy, often found in primitive religions, whereby the high priests express great sorrow and guilt regarding their slave master ancestors, venerate the former slave caste, and, at the same time, studiously avoid living or working with them.
The next point is imperative: due to the religious hypocrisy that surrounds the sacred former slave caste, there is a constantly changing list of taboo words and phrases associated with the group (the latest are found in Appendix VIII). From decade-to-decade, the religiously sacred word used to refer to this group has changed. Priests discovered to have used outmoded or non-sacred words for the former slave caste are often thrown out of respectable society. Imperial missions to Earth MUST—I cannot emphasise this enough—study the LATEST transmissions from the Anglo-Protestant hegemony, if they wish to work within the higher stratum of society. I failed to do so and I almost lost my job—crucial for my participant observer work—within a priestly initiation centre, known as a “university” in the jargon of the religion. The lower classes are not expected to keep up with the latest taboo words and, indeed, the priests use this lack of facility regarding the latest taboos to differentiate themselves from the mass, as well as for competing for status between each other. Ironically, it is the lower classes who have the most contact with the former slave caste and, since this often leads to conflict, they will sometimes take a hostile view regarding the former slave caste.