Gandhi Was Bad

Hey, do you know about this whacky famous videogame bug?

Back in Civilisation, a video game on the PC, yes, that thing, and also on platforms like the SNES. In this game, you pilot a nation, with your character — and all the other characters you play against — being famous representatives of important historical leaders. So if you play the Americans, you get Abe Lincoln, if you play the Romans, you get ‘Caesar’ (who is probably Julius), and so on. These come with some degree of personality, like Shaka of the Zulus and Genghis of the Mongols aren’t the same kind of leaders as Elizabeth of England and Stalin of Russia. It’s not exactly a well-framed kind of thing, where for example, Genghis’ leadership doesn’t result in a heavily military weirdly communist mix, and Elizabeth is seen as favouring ‘democracy’ for some reason.

Anyway, the idea is that there’s this bug in the game, where at some point, Gandhi, the leader of the Indian civilisation flips his wig and starts threatening to nuke the shit out of you in every conversation.

This is because, the lore goes, that every leader has an aggressiveness rating from 1 to 10. If you become a Democracy (which the Indians favour), your aggression score goes down by 2. Suddenly, Gandhi’s 1 becomes a 0 then becomes a negative 1 which in this does a classic computer fliparound and became a 255 and suddenly Ghandi is twenty five times more aggressive than the most murdery murderer who ever murders.

It’s not true, mind you.

This just literally isn’t true. In Civilisation, there’s no such rule that works this way.

First, the types of numbers stored in Civilisation don’t do this kind of fliparound thing. It’s something to do with whether the number knows how to sign their names, but the basics is: Civilisation Doesn’t Have This Kind Of Bug.

Second, in Civilisation, leaders don’t have a rating of 1 to 10. They have a simple three settings; Peaceful, Neutral, or Aggressive. That is: Civilisation Doesn’t Have That Kind of Rating.

And then there’s also that in Civilisation, changing your government doesn’t change the way the AI works. That is: Civilisation Doesn’t Even Work The Way This Bug Describes.

Now this is probably a bummer for you. After all, the Nuclear Gandhi meme is a fun one! It teaches people a little bit about how computers work, about the ways that they can behave in odd ways, and it explains a behaviour you may kind of remember in this game or another game like it, where someone you associate with peaceful civil disobedience being an aggressively belligerent asshole just jars. It’s a great little narrative, and the bug gets to explain the narrative, and all of that is unfortunately hindered by literally none of it being true, and relying on people not actually understanding anything they’re talking about, but also, in that very 4chan way, it is a rumour that you could start if you only seemed to understand the game a tiny bit more than someone else.

Incidentally, Gandhi wouldn’t nuke people aggressively. If the Indians in the game developed nuclear weapons, he would assert before any peace offering that his words were backed by nuclear weapons as the music kicked into high gear, but he’d still always offer a peace treaty, because his setting was peaceful.

But I may have destroyed Nuclear Gandhi in your mind.

But don’t worry, I can give you a replacement, if you don’t mind reading beyond the fold.

And now we get to the so-often this year, fold with Content Warning: Nazis!

“Hitler is not a bad man.”

Gandhi wrote to the British during World War II this simple little sentence. It is one of those things that we now see as comically wrong, and you’d wonder who would say it.

Gandhi wrote letters to Hitler throughout World War 2, trying to convince him to stop the War. This effort was made with the seriousness of someone who thought that he could peacefully stop… well, Hitler. But he didn’t limit himself to trying to stop the evil man who was doing evil and violence in the name of his own selfish wants. No no. Gandhi also wrote letters to the British people, saying that they should submit themselves to die, to permit Hitler to destroy them.

Gandhi’s dedication to peace was immense. It was overwhelming. It was violent in a way that only purists can be. His dedication to peace was one where the choice to resist was no choice at all; that every act of violence must be met with compliance. Where violence is the removal of another’s choices, Gandhi believed in lives that had no choices at all. That resisting your own murder was as much and great a sin as murdering, and that the victim who resisted was less noble than the victim who died.

When confronted with the holocaust, one of many genocides of the 20th century, one of the most obvious ones, Gandhi did not deem that enough of a reason to fight:

“Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs. As it is, they succumbed anyway in their millions.”

One of Gandhi’s suggestions to address this, by the way, an idea of resistance, was that if every Jew in Germany, suddenly and as one committed suicide on the same day, it would shock the conscience of the German people, and stop their war. All it would take is a total genocide to prevent an attempted genocide.

And this is what peaceful enlightenment, what forms of centrism does to your brain.