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Ideologies of Factions

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Ideologies of Factions

Postby BobSlob » Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:44 pm

Whenever I watch or read a source of TF fiction, I usually find myself intrigued by the differing thoughts and ideas presented by the warring factions. Be it autobot, decepticon, maximal, predacon or anything else.. I'm just curious as to what you guys think of the different political ideologies that the different factions throughout TF fiction share. How do they differ? How do they change through different continuities? How are they presented? Who is morally right? Opinions Welcomed!
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Re: Ideologies of Factions

Postby Snowy » Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:26 pm

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I find the phrase "morally right" an interesting thing to say. The phrase is a contradiction of itself really. I think the largest and most prominent change in the factions' ideologies over the years has been the mere presence of ideologies. I'm sure we all know how the original G1 cartoon was played out. In classic 80's style, good was good and bad was bad. Evil was a defined force of the universe that the Decepticon could use to infect the Autobots and explained away all of the bad guys' actions. "The Decepticons destroy things because they're evil." That was enough of a background for children of the 80's, but the franchise has long since evolved beyond that point.

The IDW continuity is the best example of this evolution in my opinion. Here we see a clear history of political corruption and class inequality the likes of which have never been so fully illustrated until now. It is not hard at all to draw multiple parallels to the Russian Revoltion with the social uprisings, the the fight for class equality, and the ultimate overthrowing of the Senate. It has been toiuched upon many times that Megatron fights not for war but for peace, per his motto, "Peace through tyranny." As he writes in Towards Peace:

"My weapon is my burden: a reminder of the path I was forced to take. When the word 'weapon' is emptied of meaning; when the purpose of a weapon is impossible to grasp; when the rejection of my weapon is of significance to no one other than myself... only then shall I remove it from my arm. Because only then will I have earned the right to rid myself of my burden."


Really the story of the Decepticons is a tragedy, and one all too familiar in the real world. The Jacobins during the French Revolution could also be compared to the Decepticons. They were extremist revolutionaries that started the bloody Reign of Terror and executed all those suspected of harboring anti-revolutionary sentiment. Though they started as oppressed middle or lower class citizens, their hatred of the state drove them into a violent fervor where they would accept nothing short of total ideological unity. Why is it that these would-be heroes of the people go down in history as lunatics to be feared? Why do so many revolutions end in disaster or violence? It's like a dog who's been beaten by its owner. The only thing the dog knows about its owner is the beating, so the only way they know how to deal with the owner is to fight back.

"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby becomes a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."

The Decepticons could've been heroes. The Autobots were fighting to preserve the Senate, to quell the uprising, but the the tables turned. Now the Autobots fight to prevent what they perceive as a dictatorship while Megatron fights to end war: by killing all those who oppose his vision. Both sides fight for justice and freedom: the former working class revolting against the privileged elite, and the innocent civilians defending themselves against violent revolutionaries. It's a tragedy because neither side realizes that their enemies are long dead, as are they. Four million years of intergalactic civil war, a ravaged home planet, and countless other planets left as nothing but smoking ruins: if there ever were heroes in this war they have long since perished. By fighting those whom they perceived as monsters they themselves have lost what they once were. Both the Autobots and the Decepticons have become monsters.
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Re: Ideologies of Factions

Postby Cipher » Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:55 pm

Hey there. Long-time browser, first-time poster. Actually, I joined just to answer this thread, since it's something I've wanted to discuss for a long time.

In my mind, this is one of the most mis-addressed questions in Transformers fiction. It's not that one side is good and law-abiding, and the other inherently destructive and chaos-loving. It also doesn't sit well to go the route of Decepticons rising from downtrodden classes that seems to have become popular lately (if only because it feels like a very contrived way to force moral ambiguity and it doesn't align with what Machiavellian sociopaths Decepticons universally seem to be).

For me, the real answer has always been this: You have a species of twenty-foot-tall, heavily armed metal beings with advanced technology, space travel and limited resources. One attaches value to smaller, organic beings. The other does not.

Sadly, the only pieces of Transformers fiction I've ever seen even hint at this are the tail end of the Marvel comics, and (even more sadly) the Bay movies.

But isn't that just it? You have a species with every capability to colonize or take advantage of the rest of the universe. One group doesn't see why the shouldn't, and maybe that's fair in the same way we don't think about stepping on ants or harming animals. The other disagrees.

It's the kind of question that stems from what the Transformers are. Because they have the capability, this question has to come up. It's unavoidable. What should they use their god-like power for? Do they have an obligation to respect other races?

It's for this reason I actually think the "consumer robots v. military robots" bit from the G1 cartoon works rather well. Or, if that's too black and white, it's a natural question to arise anyway. It's for this same reason the idea of non-aligned bots has never sat well with me. Either you tolerate other members of your species slaughtering other creatures, or you don't. How can there be an in-between, even if you don't actually take up arms?

And what a believable rift in ideology. There's no getting through to the other side if that's the fundamental difference. The Decepticons aren't necessarily malicious; it's just that they don't get why the Autobots are so dead set against spreading or taking resources from lesser creatures. The Autobots are to them as PETA is to most people, just a bunch of hyper-sympathetic crazies.

Basically, I believe all Decepticons are, at heart, of the same ideology as Jhiaxus' crew in the Generation 2 comics. They were a colder lot, and more interested in justifying themselves, but there isn't really any separating their motives from those of the rest of the 'Cons.

It's also why I think the move to smaller Maximals and Predacons makes so much sense as a sort of armistice; it removes the Transformers' great power over other species, and therein much of the conflict. It's also why, execution be damned, Beast Machines provides one of the only truly conclusive endings the franchise has ever seen; they're small and organic like the rest of the universe. The moral question that fuels the war is no longer an issue.
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Re: Ideologies of Factions

Postby SentinelA » Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:04 pm

"It's for this reason I actually think the "consumer robots v. military robots" bit from the G1 cartoon works rather well. Or, if that's too black and white, it's a natural question to arise anyway. It's for this same reason the idea of non-aligned bots has never sat well with me. Either you tolerate other members of your species slaughtering other creatures, or you don't. How can there be an in-between, even if you don't actually take up arms"

I agree. The idealogy of the Decepticons is "only the strong survive" and if Cybertron is not strong, it will fall. This idea may have stemmed from the Quintison occupation of Cybertron. As for non-aligned bots. Decepticons wouldn't tolerate them due to their "you're either with us or against us" attitude. Thus NAILS (an IDW term) would have to choose or be destroyed anyway.
Autobots on the other hand believe in Optimus Prime's favorite saying "Freedom is the right of all sentient beings" with is fundamentally the opposite of the Decepticon movement of tyranny.
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Re: Ideologies of Factions

Postby Cipher » Sat Oct 20, 2012 6:08 pm

SentinelA wrote:This idea may have stemmed from the Quintison occupation of Cybertron. As for non-aligned bots. Decepticons wouldn't tolerate them due to their "you're either with us or against us" attitude.

I guess I should have clarified. I think "NAILs" don't work because the Autobots wouldn't tolerate them.

It's the kind of thing where, if they're not actively working to stop the Decepticons from colonizing/killing other species, or don't have any particular opinion on it, they're basically condoning it. They're attributing no value to other species. That's a Decepticon attitude.

To that extent, I actually don't think the Decepticons would have a problem with them.

Basically, I don't like the idea of the conflict stemming from one side having an innate animosity toward the other. In my mind, the only successful origin for the conflict stems from their interaction with other species.

I think the ideal interpretation breaks down to something like this:

The Decepticons are all like, "Hey, we need energy. We're big robots with weapons. We're going to go slaughter some other planets and come back with Energon, brb."

And the Autobots are like, "You can't do that. That's not okay."

And the Decepticons are like, "Wait, why?"

Cue war and generations of hatred.
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