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Metru Nui's government


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#41 Offline fishers64

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Posted Dec 07 2012 - 01:58 PM

*watches animations* 

 

Oh, that. *facepalm* 

 

But that is just the Vahki's programming, though. Not necessarily what Turaga Dume thinks. He didn't personally program each of the robots. 


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#42 Offline Exitium

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Posted Dec 07 2012 - 04:09 PM

There's been a lot of speculation here, so let's focus on what we actually know, keeping in mind that 1) Bionicle is a kids' story, so we can't read into this too much and 2) Teridax was in control of Metru Nui for most of the time that we saw it.

 

I think we can agree that Dume was a benevolent dictator.  He seemed to be a good guy, listened to his populace, didn't abuse his powers and so on, but he was still a dictator, and there didn't appear to be any institutional checks on his power.  As a result, Teridax was able to abuse this power (and possibly expand it, although we don't know that for sure), and no one questioned him until it was too late.  We don't know how Dume assumed office, but we know that his immediate predecessor was weak and ineffective.  One interpretation is that Dume replaced this Turaga because he was ineffective (suggesting some sort of democratic pressure) but there's no real evidence to support that.  Anyone who tells you that Dume was elected or was installed democratically is merely speculating, and we'll probably never know how he got his job.  We know he seemed to do it well and probably maintained the confidence of his subjects and any government that may have existed.

 

So, Takhamavahu's portrayal of Metru Nui is cynical, but's essential correct.

 

James Madison once wrote "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."  For the most part, Matoran and Turaga seem to be fundamentally good, so there was very little need for any government.  It is interesting to point out however, that there was a Ministry of Tourism, although that probably isn't canon.  However, we do know that Macku need Dume's permission to run her own business which demonstrates that contrary to what bones said earlier, Dume was involved in the minor details of running the city.  It also represents that citizens needed permission from the highest (possibly only) level of government in order to perform a task not assigned to them.

 

Also, keep in mind that the Matoran did not know they were inside Mata Nui.  They knew that their work was vital to him, but I don't think they knew that in a literal sense, as they did willingly stop working and put the whole system in jeopardy during the Matoran Civil War.

 

I think we generally characterize Metru Nui's government as authoritative because of the Vahki.  It's important to remember that the Vahki were cast as the "villains" of 2004, so they were marketed as such and we still see them as somewhat sinister, even though they aren't inherently so.  But even ignoring the events that occurred when Teridax was in control, the Vahki are still somewhat disturbing from a purely ideological sense.  I think these quotes give us a sense of how unpopular the Vahki were in Metru Nui, and although they were mostly used for law enforcement and keeping everyone working, Teridax demonstrated the potential for abuse that they represented.  

 

Although the system worked for most of Metru Nui's history, we cannot deny that it is an authoritarian government that limits the freedom of its people without their formal input.  The system is seemingly run by one person with no limits to his power, who listens to his citizens but has no obligation to do so.  His rule in enforced by a unitary police force that answers to him and him alone and maintains his citizens' strict and orderly way of life.  The Vahki don't seem to follow any rules (other than Dume's orders) and they have no qualms about attacking the very people they exist to protect.

 

Now I doubt Greg intended any of us to read into this so much, but for government geeks like me, Teridax's abuse of Metru Nui's benevolent dictatorship demonstrates the importance of personal freedom and limited government.


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#43 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Dec 07 2012 - 08:13 PM

*watches animations* 

 

Oh, that. *facepalm* 

 

But that is just the Vahki's programming, though. Not necessarily what Turaga Dume thinks. He didn't personally program each of the robots. 

You're right, the Matoran built and programmed the Vahki, kept building more for 4,000 years (Legacy of Evil). Despite their faults when interacting with Matoran, they were optimal for their primary purpose of fighting Rahi and Dark Hunters. BL4 was one of the glimpses into Metru Nui under Dume we get. If Dume was truly a tyrant who the Matoran should have wanted to overthrow, why wouldn't he have let TSO have a base in his city? He resolutely denied it because because of his patriotism and love of the Matoran.

 

I still think there'd have been some system in place for if the Matoran were unhappy with Dume.


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#44 Offline Sir Kohran

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Posted Dec 07 2012 - 08:20 PM

An astute analysis by Exitium.

 

Just a thought - might it have been an effective plot device to have had the Vahki introduced by Makuta?

 

As in, 'Dume' announces they're here to keep the city safer, and the Matoran are intimidated by their presence but unable to really do anything about it. Not long after, Makuta orders the Vahki to round up and imprison all the Matoran in the pods, and everything unfolds as it did in LOMN.


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#45 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Dec 07 2012 - 08:40 PM

An astute analysis by Exitium.

 

Just a thought - might it have been an effective plot device to have had the Vahki introduced by Makuta?

 

As in, 'Dume' announces they're here to keep the city safer, and the Matoran are intimidated by their presence but unable to really do anything about it. Not long after, Makuta orders the Vahki to round up and imprison all the Matoran in the pods, and everything unfolds as it did in LOMN.

Sorry, can't be, since the Vahki were being used before Teridax enacted his plan.


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#46 Offline The Iron Toa

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Posted Dec 07 2012 - 08:50 PM

Right, like, thousands of years before he impersonated Turaga Dume. But it would be interesting if he somehow influenced Nuparu's programming of them... kind of a stretch though.


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#47 Offline Sir Kohran

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Posted Dec 07 2012 - 09:14 PM

You misunderstood me, I wasn't theorising, I meant what if the story was told differently.

 

I know the Vahki were pre-Makuta, I just wonder if it would've worked better if they were all his doing.


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#48 Offline fishers64

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Posted Dec 07 2012 - 10:11 PM

I don't think even Turaga Dume liked the Vahki. After all, if he wanted them back so badly, why wouldn't he have reinstated them as soon as the Matoran came back in 2006? I think he would agree that the Vahki were a necessary evil, one that was abused and exploited by Makuta. That's just evidence that he put what was best for the city (repairing it and getting it going) versus a personal need for robots to control the Matoran. 

 

You misunderstood me, I wasn't theorising, I meant what if the story was told differently.

 

I know the Vahki were pre-Makuta, I just wonder if it would've worked better if they were all his doing.

 

I also think this would have been slightly less effective. The sudden mass-production of massive amounts of order enforcers where none had been before would raise suspicions even more. Then there would have been a revolt, and the events of 2004 would not have happened as they would have.  


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#49 Offline Exitium

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Posted Dec 08 2012 - 01:54 AM

An astute analysis by Exitium.

Why thank you :)

 

 

Just a thought - might it have been an effective plot device to have had the Vahki introduced by Makuta?

 

As in, 'Dume' announces they're here to keep the city safer, and the Matoran are intimidated by their presence but unable to really do anything about it. Not long after, Makuta orders the Vahki to round up and imprison all the Matoran in the pods, and everything unfolds as it did in LOMN.

 

An interesting twist, but there's a subtle difference there.  If the Vahki had been Makuta's doing then they would have been purely evil and would have portrayed the city's authoritarianism in an entirely negative light.  However, the Vahki were created with good intentions, and we saw where that road led.  In my opinion, the actual story is much more interesting because it shows how authoritarianism can be intended for a benevolent purpose (e.g. law enforcement) and end up being abused for malevolent purposes (e.g. abusing citizens).  So the end result is the same, but the significance is subtly different in an important way.


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#50 Offline toa kopaka4372

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Posted Dec 08 2012 - 06:15 AM

I haven't found anything to confirm that the Vahki animations are canon, so I think it;d be unwise to use them as evidence for anything.

 

I find it interesting that the Vahki were first invented between 5,000 and 4,000 years ago. Metru Nui is 100,000 years old, meaning that for most of its history Vahki did not exist. Basically, if there was any trouble, they'd call in Toa or something to take care of it, but there was no real order enforcement squads. This means that the Matoran were generally such good workers that Vahki weren't necessary. It also means that the Turaga-in-chief didn't have any way to enforce order either.

 

Since we know Nuparu was ordered to design the Vahki, I'm guessing the need for Vahki eventually arose. Maybe the Matoran Underworld was established at this time, or Turaga Dume sensed that Vahki were a necessary precaution. Interstingly, according to BS01, it was shortly after the creation of the Vahki that the method for making Kanoka Disks was discovered in the Knowledge Towers and the chute system was built. I don't think it's a coincidence, so it appears the Vahki did their job.

 

The impression I get was that the Vahki weren't very liked in Metru Nui but most Matoran thought they were needed, and they were, in many cases. The fact that Turaga Dume ordered them made after already being in power for around 10,000 years definitely shows that he was only doing it for everyone's good. If he really did want to establish a totalitarian regime, he could've made the Vahki more extreme and had them produced in larger numbers, but he didn't. Besides, Turaga Dume didn't order them to be rebuilt when the Matoran returned to Metru Nui, so he wasn't obsessed with hem either.

 

I really wish we knew how Dume got his office, and if he has a specified term. It's not far-fetched to say his term could have been around 20,000 years or something, seeing as that isn't much to the Matoran.

 

So, I don't think Metru Nui is as authoritarianism as it looks like at first. There's no doubt it was a flawed system in that it could easily be abused if the wrong person comes along (which he did.) I find it ironic that the Matoran's trust in the real Dume is what allowed Teridax to carry out his plan without resorting to extreme measures. 


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#51 Offline Sir Kohran

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Posted Dec 08 2012 - 08:12 AM

I don't think even Turaga Dume liked the Vahki. After all, if he wanted them back so badly, why wouldn't he have reinstated them as soon as the Matoran came back in 2006? I think he would agree that the Vahki were a necessary evil, one that was abused and exploited by Makuta. That's just evidence that he put what was best for the city (repairing it and getting it going) versus a personal need for robots to control the Matoran.

(end quote)

 

I highly doubt Vakama and co (now Dume's equals as Turaga) would've agreed to the return of the machines who oppressed them as Matoran and impeded them as Toa.

 

Also, the technology used to create them had almost certainly been lost, plus Nuparu's memory had been wiped, so I doubt they could be reinstated anyway.

 

I also think this would have been slightly less effective. The sudden mass-production of massive amounts of order enforcers where none had been before would raise suspicions even more. Then there would have been a revolt, and the events of 2004 would not have happened as they would have.

(end quote)

The obvious flaw in this argument is that there was no revolt when the real Dume introduced the Vahki, whatever suspicions there might have been.

 

If the Vahki had been Makuta's doing then they would have been purely evil and would have portrayed the city's authoritarianism in an entirely negative light.

(end quote)

 

And yet the only reason this topic is exists is because the city's authoritarianism comes across (intentionally or not) in an almost entirely negative light.

 

the actual story is much more interesting because it shows how authoritarianism can be intended for a benevolent purpose (e.g. law enforcement) and end up being abused for malevolent purposes (e.g. abusing citizens).

(end quote)

 

I would agree with you, if 2004 had actually taken that route. But it didn't, the focus was on the Toa Metru, Lhikan and the mystery of what was going on with Dume, and eventually Makuta's assault upon the city. The Vahki played no part in that central storyline, there were just minor enemies that showed up here and there.


Edited by Sir Kohran, Dec 08 2012 - 08:14 AM.

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#52 Offline fishers64

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Posted Dec 08 2012 - 03:35 PM

 

I don't think even Turaga Dume liked the Vahki. After all, if he wanted them back so badly, why wouldn't he have reinstated them as soon as the Matoran came back in 2006? I think he would agree that the Vahki were a necessary evil, one that was abused and exploited by Makuta. That's just evidence that he put what was best for the city (repairing it and getting it going) versus a personal need for robots to control the Matoran.

 (end quote) I highly doubt Vakama and co (now Dume's equals as Turaga) would've agreed to the return of the machines who oppressed them as Matoran and impeded them as Toa. Also, the technology used to create them had almost certainly been lost, plus Nuparu's memory had been wiped, so I doubt they could be reinstated anyway.

 

#quote endYes, but if he had a pressing need to have robots to control the Matoran, he totally would have tried to make his case to the other Turaga, because he didn't know about the oppression of the Toa by the Vahki. He was asleep at the time. He didn't make said case. He wasn't a power-hungry authoritarian ruler.If he was, he would have reacted very differently to being impersonated and disposed. Probably would have gone mad over losing his control and hunted down the inhabitants of Mata Nui. Instead, he patiently waited for the Matoran to come back.Also, I don't think Dume had a schemes-within-schemes curry Matoran's favor plan either, because it obviously didn't work. If he had some genuinely selfish interests in governing the city, I think that they would have shown up in the events of 2004-06. 

 

I also think this would have been slightly less effective. The sudden mass-production of massive amounts of order enforcers where none had been before would raise suspicions even more. Then there would have been a revolt, and the events of 2004 would not have happened as they would have.

 (end quote)The obvious flaw in this argument is that there was no revolt when the real Dume introduced the Vahki, whatever suspicions there might have been.

 

#quote endThe Matoran were a whole lot more suspicious and edgy in the beginning of 2004. Toa disappearing, Dark Hunters running around...and then the addition of order enforcers on top of all that? Something is up.  

 

 

If the Vahki had been Makuta's doing then they would have been purely evil and would have portrayed the city's authoritarianism in an entirely negative light.

 (end quote) And yet the only reason this topic is exists is because the city's authoritarianism comes across (intentionally or not) in an almost entirely negative light.

 

#quote endOkay, I agree on this point; you're right.


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#53 Offline Exitium

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Posted Dec 08 2012 - 03:39 PM

Perhaps I should clarify a few points that I didn't explain properly in my previous posts.

 

First, an authoritarian state is simply one in which the people submit to the government's authority, and the government is usually a small group of individuals with all the political power.  Its contrast is liberal democracy, in which individual freedom and democratic politics prevent centralization of power.  So you can have an authoritarian government that doesn't abuse its powers and isn't "power hungry," although there is little incentive to do unless the dictator is fundamentally a good person (arguably Dume).  But as soon as you have a dictator, benevolent or not, you have authoritarianism.

 

Second, I don't disagree with Sir Kohran's point that this story is not about the Vahki and governing structures.  It couldn't be farther from that.  However, this sort of thing fascinates me, and I find it interesting to think about what the story (probably unintentionally) tells us about the nature of authoritarian governments.

 

However, I do find toa kopaka's comments interesting since the Vahki have been around for about a third of Dume's rule.  That means that for more than 90% of Metru Nui's history, there was no law enforcement (since Metru Nui didn't have its own Toa team until after the Vahki were invented) despite the crime that we know occurred.  And I also think his point about Metru Nui being a "flawed system" that was "easily abused" represents the problem with having a dictator.  One dictator might be good, but another not so much, leaving the population with no institutional way of throwing out bad leaders.  Naturally the solutions are democracy and checks on the leader's power, and information about these in the Bionicle world is sadly lacking.

 

I guess what I'm try to say here is that Dume's not interesting because he's a dictator, he's interesting because he's a benevolent dictator.  Authoritarianism is not inherently good or bad, but the 2004 story manages to show us both a benevolent dictator and a malevolent dictator.  It's up to us to make our own conclusions about the significance of these events, or we can simply sit back and enjoy the story.

 

(On a completely unrelated note, Teridax is ironically one of only two characters confirmed to be democratically elected.  The other is Defilak.)


Edited by Exitium, Dec 08 2012 - 03:40 PM.

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#54 Offline toa kopaka4372

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Posted Dec 08 2012 - 04:47 PM

I'd like to add that we don't know under what circumstances the Vahki were brought into being. Obviously they were not some sudden invention that Dume imposed on the Matoran, or else he would've done it 10,000 years earlier (and it's been proven beyond a doubt that Dume was a good, honorable leader) so I'm thinking it's very much possible the Matoran asked for the Vahki t o be made. We know Dume kept his office open for citizens to come and tell him what they wanted done. The Vahki were obviously pretty effective, and despite being clearly disliked by many, there are also instances in the story that show the Matoran relied on Vahki for their own safety; the Ga-Matoran reporting Nokama to a Vahki in Mystery of Metru Nui as well as Whenua's first instinct to go get a Vahki when he sensed trouble is another example. Basically, the Matoran of Metru Nui, when it boiled down to it, wanted the Vahki around despite not being best friends with them. 


Edited by toa kopaka4372, Dec 08 2012 - 04:48 PM.

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#55 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Dec 08 2012 - 08:49 PM

(On a completely unrelated note, Teridax is ironically one of only two characters confirmed to be democratically elected.  The other is Defilak.)

When were either of them elected? Defilak's role as the leader of the Mahri Nui Council was because the position rotated between Matoran each month.


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#56 Offline The Iron Toa

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Posted Dec 08 2012 - 09:01 PM

For Teridax, I think he means because most of the convocation sided with him when Miserix was overthrown.


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#57 Offline Master Inika

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Posted Dec 08 2012 - 11:22 PM

For Teridax, I think he means because most of the convocation sided with him when Miserix was overthrown.

I'm not sure if that counts, since they didn't know he planned to kill them all.


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#58 Offline The Iron Toa

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Posted Dec 08 2012 - 11:38 PM

No one said he was a good democratically elected leader. Though the expectation (that turned out to be true) that those who opposed him would be murdered probably affected the results.


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#59 Offline fishers64

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Posted Dec 09 2012 - 01:17 AM

No one said he was a good democratically elected leader. Though the expectation (that turned out to be true) that those who opposed him would be murdered probably affected the results.

 

He would only get the opportunity to murder them if he won, though. 

 

Despite that, with "elections" every blue moon, I wouldn't call the Brotherhood a democratic organization. It's just one of those situations (IMO) where real-life governing conventions don't apply exactly because this is Bionicle. 


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