Ashita no Anime

Anime of Tomorrow

Suisei no Gargantia – Morality of Feast and Famine

Ledo talks with BevelBased on my own research into philosophy and my experiences on the subject, it’s clear that morality cannot be categorized into good or bad, black and white.  It’s ever-shifting and depends entirely on the circumstances a society or even an individual finds him or herself in.  The culture clash at the heart of Suisei no Gargantia illustrates one of the times in which humanity might be forced to put aside its notions of protecting the weak and that’s the emptiness of deep space.

The thought of euthanasia and weeding out those people deemed incapable of contributing sticks in most people’s throats, but I think the key thing to remember is that Ledo comes from a very different society than we’re used to—one based solely on the quantity of resources. In space, limited supplies and proper allocation would be paramount to survival and it shows that when backed up against a wall, we’re capable of making tough decisions that are necessary for the benefit of all. Food, water, electricity and even oxygen are as precious as life itself (literally the essentials of life).

Ledo watches a loved one making a fluteCharles claims that Ledo is selfish and that humanity is inherently selfish, but as harsh as it may seem to us in a world of plenty, fundamental resources can’t be provided to someone who would weaken the human super-organism that even at its strongest has trouble fighting the Hidiaazu. I personally don’t think it’s selfishness to ensure the continued existence of your species.  Being able to look out for yourself is how you live in Ledo’s world because each individual unit has to be performing at maximum capacity—the system can’t allow for even the tiniest weak link.  But since arriving on Earth, there’s a more relaxed standard of moral codes and he’s coming to realize that in this place he doesn’t have to be on his guard at all times in order to survive.

Far from selfishness being the default instinct of humanity, I think as Ledo naturally realizes that this fleet of excess won’t crush him the instant he stops thinking about himself, it is altruism and humanity’s natural propensity to help each other that is truly at the core of our essence.  Although Darwin didn’t say it exactly this way, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, but the one that is most adaptable to change,” and Ledo is clearly showing that he’s capable of adapting to this new world he’s found himself in.

5 responses to “Suisei no Gargantia – Morality of Feast and Famine

  1. TWWK May 9, 2013 at 4:58 am

    But…are you saying that altruism or the looking out for the physical survival of the species is at the core of humanity? Because here’s the thing – it’s inherently selfish to protect yourself. That’s the definition of selfishness, right? But altruism is looking out for others – something that can be the opposite of selfishness. That’s a significant part of the definition of love.

    And for whatever shifting values between times and cultures, I think that love is a vital part of what defines us as humans and it can categorically be called “good,” even if demonstration of such love can be judged in a variety of ways through different lenses. There may be more to Ledo’s story than we know, but on a very surface level, murdering the weak for the benefit of the strong for the purpose of survival is morally wrong and in a word, inhumane.

    • Marlin-sama May 9, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      I say that Ledo, “looks out for himself,” but doing so is also his responsibility to the betterment of the group. In this way, the road goes both ways.

      I think all too often people label some behaviors as selfish that are a more complicated kind of altruism when you get past the superficial and look at what’s really going on. We the media focuses so much on the few bad apples that we forget about the hundreds or thousands of people we cross paths with every day who are your average, courteous human being. The core of our essence is friendly cooperation and you need look no further than the accomplishments of the modern world that no single individual could have done alone.

      When you say, “murdering the weak for the benefit of the strong for the purpose of survival is morally wrong,” I think you’ve completely missed the point I was trying to make here. You’re looking at the situation through the lens of feast and plenty that the bounty of the Earth provides. You’re not in a desperate struggle where not just the lives of your loved ones, but the lives of EVERY HUMAN BEING are balanced on a knife edge. If holding such sentiments will almost certainly spell the end of our existence, to me at least, that would be a far greater loss than the sacrifice of the weak. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Rooster Teeth’s machinima series, Red vs. Blue, “It is an undeniable, and may I say a fundamental quality of man, that when faced with extinction, every alternative is preferable.”

      Additionally, it appears that Ledo is naturally moving his moral compass away from the colder system of survival mode into a gentler form, looking outward moreso than inward that comes with not having to face death on a regular basis.

  2. pyrusic May 9, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    There is, pragmatically, no difference between a person killing another for survival and a person sacrificing themselves for the life of another. But we see one as noble and another as an abomination. Wonder why?

    Whether in sacrificing one’s self for the lives of others or by protecting our own lives, I think it’s plain to see that there are some things we all value. I think there’s a bottom line to morality and we all know it. It’s just not as close to the middle as you think many people believe =)

    • Marlin-sama May 9, 2013 at 11:16 pm

      Oh, no. I’m fully aware that I’m an outlier when it comes to my views of morality (comes with the territory of being an atheist and a humanist). At the same time, I bet more people would lean my way if they actually had to face life and death situations and make difficult, practical decisions on a daily basis than either of us might like. It’s fine to talk a good game when things are peaceful, but there’s a survival instinct in us that extends beyond individuals to include families and societies as well.

  3. Pingback: Gargantia – Objectivism vs. Relativism | Japesland

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