Monday, January 02, 2006

Leaders In Profile: Chin-Chillas

Whilst, inevitably as a socialist, my concept of 'leader' is somewhat different to those of the narrower oligarchic elitists of NationStates, all regions have their most active players. I will be interviewing some of the up and coming members of our global community sporadically over the next few months. The first is Chin-Chillas of Peaceian, a former senior military officer in the now-defunct EAA.

ES: "Good evening Chin-Chillas, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the first Leaders In Profile article. You are the leader of Peaceian - at least this is the general opinion of those outside of Peaceian - and you also play a part in Genosha, perhaps you would like to share with us what some of your roles involve and what they mean for you?"

Chin-Chillas: "Hey EuroSoviets, the pleasure is all mine. Although some may see me as the general leader of Peaceian I would argue this is not entirely the case, my involvement in Peaceian affairs however have previously been in high ranking positions and continue to be to this day. As the founder of Peaceian her development and prosperity are my highest priority. I hold the position of General Secretary, meaning in the public Senatorial elections I gained the most votes out of all the candidates. The role of General Secretary is to represent the wishes of the populace to the Central Committee, to ensure that all procedures and issues are dealt in the manner outlined by our Charter. Sentimentally of course it means so much more than that, it tells me that the nations of Peaceian still hold me in high regard and wish me to continue as a leading member of Peaceian.

"My role in Genosha however is becoming less involved, as also a founding nation there it also holds high importance to me, however as I move back into the politics of the game following a brief bout of inactivity I find my position there strained and my duties overlapping with other obligations. I plan to move into a more submissive role in which my active participation is not a necessity to the functioning of the region."

"You mention moving back into the politics of the game. Many of our readers will be aware of your commitment to the RLA, as a member of the Allied States of EuroIslanders - no doubt in some dark and dingy section of some Nasi-related forum you have been slandered as an ES-puppet - what other inter-regional obligations do you hold?"

"Of course I've been accused of being an ES-puppet, it comes with the territory of firstly being a former close RLA ally, who publicly opposed the ADN in the TRF-Grippsholm uncovering, and being a supporter of EuroSoviet's idealogy and policies on democracy and defending. It was also in fact in the exact place you've suggested.

"Along with several Ambassadorships for both the ASE and Peaceian I hold as you mentioned a seat in the RLA Central Soviet, am a Senator of the Meritocracy and was a founder of the Collective Security Agreements, these give me obligations in a number of regions. Also as the former E.A.A Deputy Commander-in-Chief I still hold many contacts and obligations to the former members, allies and protectorates who were all left out of the loop following the organisation's dissolution."

"Obviously in such a prominent role, in the CSA and the RLA and as a former C-i-C of the EAA, your contacts must be important. Can you share your opinion with us on the information-culture that exists in NationStates, on strategies for gaining information and to what extent serious players have to harvest contacts? How much of a support base is built up simply by charisma?"

"As a political simulation game charisma, much as in real life is an extremely important asset to players, although in a less intimidating atmosphere because of the lack of actual contact. It all depends on what kind of support base you plan to build, one as a neutral politician, or as a key player in invader-defender conflicts. Usually I have seen support bases being created through the precision of the military. New defender & invader groups become noticed depending on their ability to achieve their primary mission. However existing nations who are already known can build new support bases entirely through the use of charisma, former military leaders become less active in the military and build themselves a new profile through the use of charisma and politics.

"The idea that information is power is key in the nationstates game, most probably because this is an internet game and most interactions involve transferring information. Typically I have noticed that developed players delve more into the information-culture than newer players. What is the use of the military if it has no information regarding the target, or tactics of their opposing force, the fact is battles are more than ever now fought with the ability to extract and gain information, it may be this that decides the victorious.

"The gathering of information policies are as you know currently a hot topic on many regional forums. My view as a traditional staunch defender is the gathering of information plays a key role in my ability to function as a soldier, however gaining information from for example, a hostile forum must be obtained through the use of your own or an allies agent and not through the manipulation of resources who, if had the knowledge of your true intentions would oppose your actions. There are clear lines between the defensive and the offensive regardless of what some claim, we must ensure as defenders that we partake in little to none offensive action, including with the gathering of information."

"Your interpretation of the role of a defender certainly bears further analysis - particularly your views on offensive and defensive actions. Leaving aside the seemingly endless invader-defender dichotomy, would you care to make a comment on some of the more important developments in NationStates over the last few weeks? For example, the rumour that Scroll Islands is attempting to withdraw from the CDA; the collapse (again) of WesPac democracy or perhaps the renewed propaganda war between old rivals The Pacific and Nasicournia?"

"Of course I am outraged by the collapse of the West Pacific democracy, the first time opposed by some who only had the intention of assuming power themselves. The West Pacific stood as a beacon of democracy and stability to the entire Nationstates world, and a major participator in the defender community. The collapse of this utopia is a complete travesty which I am certain is felt throughout Nationstates. The new proposed constitution is to say the very least laughable, I was under the impression that revolutions such as this were intended for regional development, but The West Pacific politics seems to be reverting back to 15th Century English hierachy, which is by no means a development from a democratic super-power.

"As for the rumours of Scroll Islands withdrawal from the CDA I think there are some serious internal conflicts and contradictions that need to be discussed. Whilst officially they [Scroll Islands] claim to be neutral they house several well known defenders along with a history of membership in three different defender organisations, the most recent of which they are now attempting to withdraw from in the fight for their continued neutrality. I see it to be frank as being in the very least defender leaning but wanting to ensure invader co-operation as a protection. It's an issue that needs to be looked at further before I make any harsh or rash conclusions.

"The propaganda war between Naiscournia and the Pacific I have now completely lost interest in, at first it was interesting because of the renewed intensity of the propaganda war, however you soon grow accustomed to the flings back and forth of insulting and derogatory statements. The only difference truly between now and before is that the two regions have officially declared war. Another point which I'd like to mention, which links in with your previous question is the incident regarding the Invaders forum. This is a prime example in my eyes of the move from defensive to offensive; destroying a forum is an offensive action, especially in the way it was achieved. However I like to remain a neutral party in my reaction to this especially seeing the reaction of the RLA's peers, such as many of the prominent defender region, as a particularly rich one. As the RLA itself had condemned the actions also and launched an internal investigation, this is a fact many happen to leave out when telling the tale."


"Excellent. I always leave those I interview with a bit of a blank sheet at the bottom of each interview to discuss with readers anything that is a pet interest or a pet project for which they'd like some attention or recognition. Does anything spring to mind that you'd like to include here?"

"Sure.

"As the tactics between invaders and defenders become ever more hostile, I feel that those with the notion of traditional defending and the politics of true democracy need to consolidate their efforts and resources as the next few weeks and months may be difficult times. The majority of the regions I participate in such as Peaceian, Genosha and the ASE all have extremely similar politics, thus my efforts for their mutual co-operation through the creation of the Collective Security Agreements (CSA), designed to act as a support base for the development and prosperity of regional militaries and politics I feel that the participating members can benefit from eachother's experiance, interlect and ability. This also being enhanced through the similarity of these region's idealogies.

"I would also urge regions similar to those mentioned make themselves known and partake in the discussions going on between CSA regions [currently in the ASE Assembly], to establish a common ground on which to propose the base of our policies."



Sunday, January 01, 2006

RLA Intelligence Oversight Committee Enters Final Stage

The return of The Red Factions to the forum of the RLA marks the final stage of the investigation of the RLA into the intelligence fiasco that brought down censure on the organization from across the developed NationStates world. The interrogation of self-confessed prime movers The Red Factions and Ketoprofen will add the crown to an investigation determined to end the global controversy and provide answers to indignant members of the RLA itself.

So far, Committee member EuroSoviets, the General Secretary of the RLA, has published, with the consent of the Committee, interim findings which can be located here, at the lowest clearance setting of the RLA (available to newly registered members for those who wish to take a peek). Happenings in the Committee slowed to a halt during the holiday season but are expected to pick up as soon as Lanier has been replaced as an international observer.

Lanier stepped down amidst the controversy in The West Pacific and released a written statement to the RLA IOC.

"The role which I was graciously asked to fill was to be an outside observer, and though never exactly made explicit, I am sure everyone's expectations were for such an observer to approach the proceedings with complete objectivity and impartiality.

Recently, the ASE, a major part of RLA, condemned The West Pacific for our emergency actions of the past couple of weeks. This is not the place to mount a defense of our decisions, and I will not engage in that debate here. However, having searched my mind, both my thoughts and emotions, I find that I cannot continue to approach this task with the morally necessary absence of bias. Furthermore, I anticipate that because of the same reason, any report I might issue would be seen by many in the NationStates community as problematic at least.

I am saddened over the necessity of this decision. I am grateful for having been asked, and having had no previous interaction with RLA, I can only state that you are a group of intelligent folk with unquestioned commitments to participatory democracy. And, I have no doubt that you are addressing this investigation with thoroughness and in good faith.

I wish you every success, and I look forward to the day when this unfortunate rift can be healed.

Be well
Tony Patterson."

This reporter really has to respect the commitment of Lanier to finding the truth, to the point where he stepped down when he felt his own impartiality would be called into question.

Events in The West Pacific are still unfolding and Socialist Democracy will have a report on that very soon.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Tyranny

Thucydides, son of Olorus, was a citizen of Athens. He lived, we think, between the 460's and the early 390's BCE. His history of the Peloponnesian War stands as the definitive account of Athens and Sparta at the height of their power; economic, political, military, cultural. One was ruled by two Kings, five Ephors and 28 old men in the Gerousia. The other was ruled, according to Thucydides by those who flatter the Demos as though it were a tyrant - the demagogues. Speakers in the Athenian Assembly who could carry the vote by the force of their argument and by force of their reputation.

In modern times, no one dares speak against Democracy. It is the Goddess to which all pay homage, even if that homage amounts only to lip service to camouflage a hidden viewpoint. In many ventures into the meeting place between theory and practice I have discussed what democracy actually is as applied to NationStates. Perhaps an approach that would be more successful is that examining what tyranny might be. In doing so, my readers will have to forgive me for utilizing examples from Ancient Rome or Classical Greece and their respective worlds.

A subject of comparatively recent study has been the method by which elections occurred under the Roman Empire, particularly in the early years under Augustus and Tiberius, the first and second Emperors of Rome respectively. The technical terms include nominatio, commendatio and suffragatio. These terms cover the ways in which the wishes of the Emperor might be known and his chosen candidate appointed to the relevant office. These were legal terms enshrining a system whereby the elections were controlled when the Emperor wished them to be but were subject to competition when he did not.

No scholar I have ever read questioned whether or not the people involved agreed with the system and if not, why they did not protest it.

The first provides an interesting area of study. All of our sources portray the Senate as a willing accomplice in the new world order. No wonder perhaps since their ascendancy was assured by Augustus who, as a political manipulator far excelled his adoptive father. Gaius Iulius Caesar, Imperator and Dictator Perpetua preferred giving clear orders and expected them to be obeyed, responding with proscriptions and murder when they were not. Yet all the military ascendancy of Caesar did not protect him from a vengeful Senate which felt its own dignitas to be affronted by this short balding little man.

Why was Augustus not assassinated in like manner? For certain the Praetorian Guard were created under Augustus - but they could not have stopped a Brutus nor a Cassius had his associates Agrippa and Maecenas wished to fulfil those roles. Any Senator could in fact have fulfilled this role and killed Augustus Caesar while he spoke in the Senate. With the deed done, the imperial household would have stood leaderless; as anyone who has studied Ancient Rome knows, Augustus went through an awful lot of trouble to designate a successor and the process was not complete until some thirty five years into his reign. Republicans might have moved to restore the Republic - as Agrippa is alleged by Cassius Dio to have wanted.

If we consider then that the Senate was indeed an accomplice in its own subjugation, must we not ask then, how was Augustus a tyrant if at all? He was a supreme ruler with unlimited authority. With regard to the Senate, is this not a form of democracy? After all, if they did not want the Emperor in control, they need only kill him (not an unusual occurrence in the Republic for those who made themselves a nuisance to the wrong people). Or they could leave Rome. They were there voluntarily after all. Yet Rome provided great wealth to the local elites which flocked to it.

I leave it to the reader to draw the comparisons between the arguments and viewpoints laid out herein and any actual organisation. Undoubtedly I need not even name the one foremost in my mind, with its very own Antonine spider at the centre of the web, to paraphrase the Cambridge Ancient History Vol XI, for people to understand what I aim at.

In every tyranny there are those who agree with the tyrant. Those who keep silent because they derive some benefit from the tyranny. There are those who point that anyone who argues can leave if they don't like the tyranny. There are those who point to the absence of opposition to indicate a democracy. There are those who point to levers whereby the tyrant might be removed as though they indicate the lack of a tyranny. It is amusing to understand how wholly flawed the viewpoint of these people can be.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Culture in NationStates: The Freemasons.

In real life it would be glaringly obvious to state that people have opinions. Some opinions so complete as to be a virtual grand unified theory of social relations, e.g. Marxism or Libertarianism, some are just vague ideas about things as undefined as human nature or whether or not governments really are keeping details on alien spaceships secret from the public. For those of us that play Nationstates, we may run into real life holders of certain opinions only rarely if at all. Over the course of the 'Culture in NationStates' series, I intend to examine some world-views, give our readers some grounding in them, present the opinions of some holders of those views, some opponents of those views and then pass off the problem of assessing which is right and wrong to the reader.

Freemasonry is something I've never come across in real life. Having checked the United Grand Lodge of England website, I find there are no registered lodges on the island of Ireland. I'm told this isn't necessarily a bad thing by Danitoria, the Delegate of the ASE. I've interviewed several Freemasons who play NationStates - each of them came forward voluntarily; Blackadder of The Pacific, Thel Dran of Lemuria, 1 Infinite Loop of The East Pacific, Romanoffia of The North Pacific.

Contrary to how I introduced this article however, Blackadder commented, "Being a Mason is supposed to be 24/7. Game or not it is part of what we are so it translates out into how we react. Masonry isn't an ideology so much like Socialism or Libertarianism, its a moral credo. Take your rites and you'll know what I mean." In this I would argue that socialism does translate out into how we socialists react 24/7 (generally irreverent buggers that we are!) but one thing struck me; all of those who answered my short questions were convinced of one thing. The benefit of the fraternal feelings engendered by common membership in a Masonic Lodge.

Loop, talking about how the bond between Masonic Lodge members translated into gameplay in Nationstates, said it "
has brought about new friendships in the game, and more patience with those associated with the Brothers." With beautiful rhetorical flourish, Romanoffia elaborated on the responsibilities of Masons inside NationStates as with every aspect of their lives, "It means that one should apply one's morals and ethics to the game as much as the game permits. By doing so, it means that one must be ready to be assailed by some for sticking to your immovable position. It means that you must do nothing to wrong, cheat or defraud anyone. I means that you must let nothing compromise your moral and ethical stance and to resspect and promote the truth regardless of the consequences." Thel Dran on the other hand believed application of Masonic morality was for each Brother to decide for himself.

The legends that surround the Freemasons are somewhat obscure to many people - at least to anyone who hasn't read the buffoonery of Dan Brown's 'Da Vinci Code' but one of the most enduring myths is that the Freemasons, themselves descended from the Knights Templar, are in possession of the Holy Grail - rumoured to be a goblet from which Jesus b. Joseph drank from at the Last Supper.

When asked who had the Holy Grail, Romanoffia and Loop claimed it for themselves whilst Blackadder point out, "
I believe its Mervin Bigglesworth, Fishmonger. Lately of Aberdeen but I could be mistaken. Let me see that handshake again... ." Thel Dran enigmatically commented, "about conspiracies in general, both of Masons and in NationStates, I try to keep this in mind: If only 1% of what's said of us is true, would we actually have time to play this game?"

Of the whole matter, Romanoffia lent me his own insights. "
The Holy Grail is an ideal and not a physical item. In fact, the "Holy Grail" in historical terms is essentially a literary fabrication of medieval troubadors to represent the one single truth or desire that is to be obtained. For the medieval troubador, it was illicit love in the sense of Lohengrin. That is, Lohengrin sought the forbidden love of a woman with the idea that he would suffer eternal damnation and seperation from God for all eternity for the sake of earthly love of a particular woman in the hear an now. That's a pretty bold statement for anyone at any time who believes in a literal Hell.

This brings up the thematic point that the real Holy Grail in Arthurian legend wasn't a drinking vessel - it was the 'eternal feminine' for which each Knight of the Round Table sought, suffered for, and eventually met their demise for not realizing that the Grail was not the literal cup that Christ allegedly drank from at the last supper, but it was something that was right in front of all of them, yet they didn't realize that they didn't have to go looking for at all. They already had it!

The other literary reference is that the 'Holy Grail' or rather the 'San Greal' or 'Sangue Raal' is really the "Holy Blood" of the alleged descendants of Christ (who, according to the Marovingian legends) were Christ's literal blood decendants. San Greal = Sang (blood) Real (royal). The Marovingian House claimed to be the direct literal decendents of Christ's offspring by Mary Magdelen according to that legend. Largely speaking, it historically appears to just be a means for some Medieval royal family to lend legitimacy to the 'Divine Right of Kings' theory."


Fascinated as I was, and any historian would be, by the lore of Freemasonry I also felt duty bound to investigate various websites and ask certain people about their opinions on Freemasonry. Blackbird, a noted NS Trotskyist and Director of Red Liberty Alliance Intelligence, asked with characteristic dry wit, "Do they have a Central Committee?"

Danitoria went a little more in depth. "I'll give you the reason I don't like them in one sentence: something that is secret, elitist and influential at the same time can never be allowed to exist." Investigating a Masonic information site, I discovered some literature on those who do not like Masons and Freemasonry for one reason or another. These types were categorized thusly: Religious Intolerants, Hate Groups, Conspiracy Theorists and Self-Servers. Reading a little further, the author of the site commented (in a discouragingly patronising fashion) on how the vast majority of these people were college drop outs, of little education in theology or philosophy or any branch of the liberal arts which would lend their gripes credence.

In response Danitoria retorted "Do you know anything about freemasons? In the UK? They are scum...Freemasons are cops, judges, businessmen, toffs, local politicians - the collective [Conservative] elite. Across England they are the influential, the wealthy, the reactionary and the privileged. And that is all that they are and all they will ever be. I've never heard of a lodge in the UK, or anywhere, even letting women join. They have "wives' nights" and are a disgusting mixture of pathetic, antiquated and dangerous."

I did find evidence of some so-called Masonic Lodges which were more liberal about women and so on - but these were quite openly denied association with the UGLE which I linked to above. The one notable thing was that the only properly theological requirement for membership was belief in a supreme being; God, Yahweh, Allah and so on were all acceptable to the Masons. Danitoria's complaint was not without substance however as an investigation into famous Masons soon revealed (Famous Masons A-L, M-Z). With people like Mikhail Kutuzov and Frederick II of Prussia cited, in the latter case as "Effective military commander, music composer, patron of literature and the arts and institutor of many social reforms," Freemasonry is certainly something that elites of both Property and Capital are noted for being interested in. More recently, American political elites - of distinct seniority in Congress and the White House are also extant in the rolls of good and great Masons.

Of course many will disagree that this is a bad thing, believing the world today to be meritocratic, where good men can rise - and who better than Masons, duty bound to Brotherly Love, Relief (i.e. charity and voluntary works), and Truth to fulfill that role. This article is open ended and the choice between two viewpoints herein presented must be made by the reader. What is ever fascinating is watching the reality of the viewpoints which define us as people filter into the mini-world we've created for ourselves.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Neutrality?

Recently Thel D'ran and his region Lemuria put a poll in the field - to measure how many people were defenders or invaders or a third group, neutral. I've been told that, given the results, not a few people have been surprised by the numbers claiming neutrality.

Polls can be tricked on the internet of course - in theory I could vote seven times since I have seven different IP addresses. Each time someone went to check on the poll, they might vote again and it might be counted. How badly that distorts things I don't really know but I thought it would be an interesting exercise to consider what exactly neutrality is.

Best defined in the poll was 'defender' and 'invader' since everyone knows what they are. Neutrality is...not either of those things it seems. How do neutrals define themselves? What regions are neutral?

The Defenders are all pretty well known - RLA, ADN, ALL, TITO, The Pacific Defenders. So are the Raiders such as Invaders, DEN, The Jolly Roger, the Cathedral et al. Lemuria, The Pacific, Gatesville, USSR, The South Pacific, The East Pacific and The Meritocracy (in oblivion though it really currently is)...are these the 'neutral' powers? Unfortunately with the poll there is no way to tell which member of NS has voted in which column. As ever though, the comments section was enlightening as to the erudition of invaders.

Is there more to being neutral than simply not defending against invaders or not invading other regions just for kicks?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Stability and Democracy Part 2.

In Part 1, the relationship between founded regions and the super-regions was explored. The idea that founded regions are the basis of the game and utilise the feeders as weapons in the great game of geopolitics was advanced by some. By others, the feeders were cited as the centre of the game, the actions of the feeders causing course changes for many of the most active regions - actions which were not necessarily reliant upon the opinions and allegiances of the top ranking founded regions.

Whilst exploring this issue, certain tangents begged to be dealt with. One such was while examining to what extent certain alliances focused upon the feeder groups. Koona, a member of Equilism, was one of the participants in this study. Since he is a member of the ADN, I asked him where he thought the focus of the ADN was, implying the thesis that since invaders were weak, all major powers would have time to focus their attentions elsewhere. In so doing I hoped to come by a hint that the ADN might fit into either of the above categories. He commented, "I think that is not a correct assumtion, there are more missions sometimes than we can handle. I wouldn't call them weak, TJR is booming. There is a major flaw within the ADN: While every ADN region has is accountable of the ADN actions, the ADN itself tries to hold no accountability for the action of it's members. An alliance of regions cannot exist like that."

In the context of the investigation, i.e., discussing to what extent the ADN might pay major attention to the feeders, Koona's answer quite clearly shows his belief that the ADN is currently focusing on invaders - but it went just that little bit further to deliver a major criticism which was later expanded upon. I have included verbatim the segment of our discussion which ensued.

ES: "I don't understand the dichotomy you imply - each ADN region bears responsibility for the actions of the ADN heirarchy itself - but surely that is correct since each region has a say in ADN actions? Each region chooses to be bound by the ADN Charter. Similarly, why should, for example, Ocean of Purity (unlikely as this is) be responsible for the actions of (e.g.) Nasicournia?"

Koona: "Because everything is considered as an independent action, and it's sweeped under the rug of "not interefering in internal politcy of member regions."

ES: "What examples are you thinking of here?"

Koona: "Latest action of Unistrut and Crazy Girl."

ES: "You think the ADN should call them to account?"

Koona: "Absolutely."

ES: "And do what? Both of them are central to the ADN - throwing them out could create a rift. Over its more powerful members, can the ADN really have even a degree of control?"

Koona: "It seems not, but it was only a minor tehnicality that they didn't violate the AOA."

ES: "What policy would you advocate?"

Koona: "At present? a formal trial, but it seems there are no grounds, or it would have happened, plus the court system has been dissolved since the martial law."

Following this outpouring of disharmony, we returned the discussion to its rightful course and I attempted to draw a line between this dissatisfaction and the lack of democracy in the ADN. Asked if he favoured democratic reform which would allow the basic membership to hold Crazygirl and Unistrut to account if it so wished, Koona was sure of his own feelings on the issue. "Absolutely," he stated, " This has to start where the ADN takes a certain responsibility of it's members actions."

In order to fully and clearly establish the link between this discussion and the relationship between the founded regions and the feeder regions, one must consider the relationship between the dissemination of information and the democracy existent in the community in question. Koona quite unequivocally stated that the ADN was most interested in invaders - but with somewhere in the region of 17 posts on the ADN forum, one must question whether Koona would be privy to any discussions of the most senior members of the ADN, and whether in the final instance he would know where their focus lay and to what extent certain characters at the ADN (or any founded region) might be playing political poker with their opposition using the feeders as stakes, something which the previously referenced 'Pure Francoist Thought' implies. I don't believe I agree with that.

In previous articles the ideology of democratic community was advanced as an NS-adapted form of Marxism. All regions have communities. Not all of these communities are democratic. The democracy of a given community is a more important difference perhaps than where the community resides - whether in a feeder or in a founded region or on a forum comprised of representatives from many regions. Democratic fellow feeling is to the use of the feeder/non-feeder division in NS what socialist internationalism is to nationalism, xenophobia and racism in RL. Therein lies the difference between my own thought and that of Unlimited et al. The other models evinced from this discussion - encapsulated in the first paragraph of Part 2 of this article - are transcended by the links different regions can form with one another not just at the elite level (founders, delegates, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers etc) but amongst soldiers and intelligence agents and the other active members that make up the majority of NS players.

Surely feeder regions exploit just as much as they are exploited? To some eyes, it appears that the Pacific is frequently relied upon as a bulwark against the expansion of the ADN. To other eyes it appears that the turmoil in the North Pacific was the result of interference from outside the region. Yet on the obverse side of that coin, it could be said that the Pacific utilised New Sparrow and USSR and then the whole Union of Sovereigns as bulwarks against the ADN and that members of The North Pacific sought aid from outside to prevent the genuine opinions of the majority deflecting the region from the course its delegate sought.

If that is the case, that the feeders exploit and are exploited then in that respect they are no different from any other community; neither cruel or dim-witted instigators of all problems nor long suffering victims of the machinations of Macchiavellian founded regions. If that is the case then surely stability is sought best by those who support full internal democracy, where great decisions don't rely upon a whim that can bitterly divide a region - a whim that is hard to overturn without resorting to outside military aid. Such was the case with The North Pacific for sure.

That provides my synthesis. The divide is not whether or not the feeders manipulate, are manipulated, are focus for the machinations of the founded regions or are the genuine centre of the game from which all energy radiates. The true difference, the key difference, is the extent to which all of the aforementioned communities enjoy democratic control over their leaders - and it must be acknowledged that if the right person is not in the right position, it is harder for the feeders to maintain that democratic control than for any other region.

Stability and Democracy: Interlude

A recent, short interview with Dilber of The West Pacific.

ES: "
Good evening Dilbs, hope all's well. I'll get right to it. Having retired as Prime Minister of The West Pacific, arguably the most powerful region in NationStates, what are you planning to do with your time?"

Dilber: *chuckles* "I like to think we're powerful, but I don't know if we're THAT powerful," *winks* "I'm staying on in The West Pacific's cabinet as Minister of Defense, and I'll be staying highly active throughout NS, though probably not as active as before. A lot of my time is going to be taken up with school, and at least for a couple months my activity level will be a bit lower. No 72 hour long sessions for me for a while. I'll try to be on at update, but that won't be possible every night. The WPLF will be getting more active again once my time frees up a bit, and you'll see us on at update a lot again." *chuckles* "If I'm ever needed, enough people have my phone number to wake me up and get me online."

ES: "I don't know if you agree with me, but it seems that following the resumption of business as usual in The North Pacific, the focus of the geo-politically important founder regions have returned to the Big Three feeder regions. What do you make of that? Is the weakness of invaders a factor?"

Dilber: "I think that currently TNP still needs to sort itself out, and as such focus shouldn't be entirely turned on it yet. I do watch it, but I'm staying out of it. I do think that focus is turning back to the big 3, and the next couple of months should be a very interesting time indeed.

I'm also not certain I agree with the "weakness of invaders" part either. Some groups are still doing quite well, and I think we need to fix this."

ES: "How are relations between The North Pacific and The West Pacific? I've heard that the leadership of TNP is indifferent - neither particularly for nor particularly against - the ADN; any comment? With the return of Thel to affairs in Lemuria, how do you judge the claims of Free4All about Thel's treason and so on?"

Dilber: "We've been letting TNP run it's own course and figure out what the hell it needs to do to get back on it's feet. We recently re-opened our embassy there, now that they have a working constitution, and I look forward to working with them a lot again. I'm indifferent towards TNP from the ADN point of view as well. They need time to get themselves sorted out, and wouldn't be suited for the ADN at this point in time. They're still infighting, and need to be focused inwards. Thel is a close friend of mine, and I respect him a lot. I haven't seen what Free put forward, so I'm honestly not sure, but I do trust Thel."

ES: "What affairs currently attract your attention world wide? With no Great Bight to deal with and apart from the day to day affairs of the West Pacific (such as the innovative radio station), which areas of the world would you say most merit attention from active and politically aware NationStates?"

Dilber: *Muses* "This is an interesting question, I'm not sure what has been attracting me. I've been following the TNP "trials" where cath and IP have been attempting to stir up trouble with the government. I've also been watching the RR carefully, due to Darius. I've been a bit out of it due to the move to college, but I'll be back into the full swing soon enough. I check up on a LOT of boards every day, so I guess I just follow everything generally. Thank you for the interview."

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Stability and Democracy Part 1.

With the recent release of the 'Francoist Thought' doctrine by Unlimited and his Pacific Senators, many of the great minds of NationStates turn towards actually considering to what extent the feeders are the centre of the worldwide body politic of NS. The words 'Revolution' and 'Pacific' (any Pacific) seem to go hand in hand these days and with the feeders being such breadbaskets of political ferment, an examination is warranted.

I approached four people - Dilber (The West Pacific), Conservative Front (Gatesville), Koona (Equilism) and The Red Factions (TPC and ASE) to talk in general terms about the happenings in NationStates to see if any Pacifico-centrism would arise from the data itself. To make matters perfectly clear each of them were told in clear terms what the thesis itself was - that the Pacifics were the centre of NS gameplay. Dilber and his interview will feature in part two of this article.

Asked if he believed the Pacifics were the centre of NS gameplay, The Red Factions quite clearly stated that, "They play a large part in it but can also as proven with the East Pacific be completely isolated and almost ignored." He further elucidated by saying, "There are a lot of power politics that goes on without interference from the feeders."

Koona of Equilism disagreed, "I believe that the feeders are what makes the NS world revolve, [they're] the heart of the game. And while stability is all nice and wonderful, without a destabilizing force player-created regions would only [continue] fighting invaders, leaving their foreign policy to whither. So I can say that a destabilization of a feeder is an important aspect of the game, and without it NS may have died out by now."

My own interpretation of Koona's words runs as follows: the Pacifics are big and have no founder. Therefore they are the centre of attention for the ambitious and that creates turbulence into which player created regions are often sucked.

The Red Factions, not denying but minimizing this idea said, "I do not think that there are less conflicts between player created regions. In fact, those conflicts usually lead to the huge showdowns in the feeders." When pressed for an example, TRF commented on the opposition of Moldavi to the ADN and explained his belief that the entire North Pacific Directorate episode was aimed solely by New Sparrow and USSR at destabilizing and weakening the Alliance Defense Network. He commented, "Moldavi turned to the PRP and from there involved himself in feeder politics to give [the ADN] a big kick in the teeth...would Moldavi have stayed in the ADN and the whole USSR thing never happened years ago, I am quite certain the NPD would never have existed."

Of course this dismisses the prevalent divisions between members of The North Pacific and the basic state of the region which allowed Cathy to rise to power and start the transition between semi-democracy and dictatorship. In the example of TRF, the lines become blurred. The Pacifics are pawns of the player-created regions, not the other way around. Such a model is a contradiction of Koona's view that the feeders independently play their own games and the non-feeders are then sucked in.

An alternative viewpoint to the conflict models of Koona and TRF was presented by Conservative Front. He pointed out that it was player-created regions which give the 'length and breadth to the political spectrum' of NationStates. This point is something I find myself in agreement with; whilst every point on the political spectrum invariably starts out in the Pacifics (by virtue of game mechanics), many - though by no means all - find a region outside of their initial home where they can feel at home, among fellows. This is especially noticeable amongst definite political trends - socialists or libertarian capitalists for example.

Is this enough to refute any ideologies of Pacifico-centrism? Political ideologies definitely assert themselves in Pacifics - the Pacific being the best example of a mish-mash of authoritarians and leftists - but this is much less pronounced than in regions such as Galts Gulch or Allied States of EuroIslanders - right wing capitalist and far left socialist respectively. Ideological clashes only usually, in my opinion, form the backdrop to clashes between groups which have other motivations. The invader/defender divide being one such example of 'other motivations.' Clashes are especially hot between socialist defenders and Nazi invaders - but the clash would take place if you remove the socialist and Nazi from that sentence. I conclude then that with most groups, ideology is just an aside for the most part. It colours in the picture, it doesn't necessarily draw it. Are the Pacifics missing much on the gameplay score by not polarising to the same extent as the non-feeders? Probably not.

So we revert to the conflict model. One power using another to get what it wants. Naturally the greater resources of the feeders make them prime targets for the ambitious. The Red Factions agrees with this believe that in such cases there exists, " the opportunity to use the resources of a feeder to win a conflict who originated between player-created regions." The underlying and unwritten assertion being that without player created regions conflicting with one another, the feeders wouldn't do very much. The North Pacific and the Pacific warring on one another in the aftermath of Franco rather belies this but that seems an isolated and extraordinary incident in a tapestry of feeders which, while not always agreeing, don't always batter hells bells out of one another.

Part 2 will be released soon.