Friday, June 24, 2005

Beacons of Hope in the Dark of Despair

I haven't written an article in a while, and following out recent spat with the Pacific Underground (here), the global situation is an apt subject.

In the North Pacific, the delegate installed by order of the ADN (though I note The West Pacific and a number of other regions supported Thel Dran against Stars of Sky) gets ever nearer the ban button as the new endorsement tallies are released. At least that is the news on the grapevine, true or not. Panic was in fact the word used of the state of mind of the North Pacific delegate.

Let's air the conspiracy theory that was on everyone's mind a while ago. Stars of Sky is accused of being Swath of Nasicournian Intelligence. The unmasking of Nasicournian ambition was supposed to be a result of a failing ADN and a will on the part of the Nasicournians to establish a new alliance to which they could jump ship when the time came. The resources of a feeder based army were to be part of that.

The ADN lackeys (for example Joop) are currently doing their level best to discredit Thel Dran as an alternative to the Stars of Sky regime with which there is growing discontent. This is despite Thel's stated desire not to run for the delegacy.

With such wild ideas flying around, some of them not impossible, one wonders how stable the North Pacific will remain in the foreseeable future and who will pick up the pieces. Stagnation is dangerous in this situation as it lowers the number of people paying attention, opening holes in the community that can be exploited by those who seek power for its own sake.

This is not the only region which is suffering difficulty. Drunken Conquerors is giving Kandarin in The Rejected Realms a run for his money. The self-styled democrat of the RR is endorsement swapping like there is no tomorrow. The ADN have announced they will support Kandarin's endorsements by force if necessary. Drunken Conquerors and his PDP aim to establish a democratically elected delegate which changes often, to prevent cliques and cults of personality. How much of this can be taken at face value is questionable - but it is clear than no-one is happy with interference in the RR by the ADN.

Where that not enough to concern all those who question the correctness of the current ordering of the world, the ASE recently incurred the wrath of the Pacific Underground. The eponymous member of The Pacific Underground registered on the ASE forums after Karpathos pointed out to Danitoria and myself that TPU member Dunbar had been writing unmitigated nonsense about the ASE on a forum we didn't even know existed. Linked in the first paragraph is both the article and the responses from various ASE members.

TPU signed up to the ASE forum and immediately queried whether or not it was custom to treat foreign dignitaries in such a fashion. Well, I don't think it is but certainly when such dignitaries are part of an organisation that has never made representation to the ASE but instead chooses to cower in the shadows and throw mud, a rough ride is to be expected for late-despatched diplomats who come with no apology as though nothing has been done that is wrong.

So, with some light cast upon various parts of the world, it is time to get to the point.

What is it about the Allied States of EuroIslanders that excites such hostility among the ADN and their puppets in the Pacific Underground?

It can't be our policies - despite the lambasting in that article by Dunbar in TPU, the ASE has always been upfront and open about our will to engage with the Pacific and give them reasons to become democratic and open. The ASE is of course not the only region to do this - yet it consistently recieves most flak from the underinformed.

Why?

This explains the title of the article. We aren't shadow walkers. We are sure of purpose. We have a clear unity bred by friendship. These things mark us as different from many other regions. Dealing behind closed doors is the stock-in-trade of the Pacific Underground, or so they say, with unveiled allusions to other forums, which form the core of their organisation. Is it any wonder they are no threat to a Pacific which is liberalising?

The ASE has never stood for the transfer of power from one elite to another; our point of view on the Pacific would allow Unlimited or other dedicated Pacificans to be elected to the delegacy, depending on the support they had in the community that is built on the offsite forum which makes up the Pacific. The Pacific has a community which has existed for a long time now - it is the place of no person to destroy it. The point is to make it so that new members are swiftly integrated and can rise in the ranks according to their merit and their will to push the Pacific along the road to progress and the normalisation of relations with the rest of the world.

Certainly this is a more logical attitude to the Pacific when compared to the idea of Dunbar that the free world should be at war with the Pacific. The combined armies of TITO, the ADN, ALL, RLA, EAA and UoS would still probably not be able to oust Unlimited.

I've been told by members of TPU that the ASE is not important and that whether we side with them is of little importance. I think they lie. The bitterness that inflects the article on TPU and the replies of TPU members to those of the ASE is testament to our clarity of thinking and our ideals of peace, freedom and democracy. Ideals which the ADN would do well to mirror in their own backyard. The backwards religious muppets who infested that organisation would do well to remember the quote, "Cast the mote..."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

What to do with the Big, Bad, Wolf

It is a peaceful time again in NationStates, or at least as peaceful as it ever gets while there are still people in the North Pacific. Raider activity, and competence, is in decline, regions are growing once more through summer recruitment, and the peaceful transitions of power we call elections are being conducted across the democratic world. In these times of peace, those who define themselves by the threats to their power have gone back to their favorite pastime, scaring the hell out of you. That's right, with the rest of the world ticking along without serious issues, someone, somewhere, decided we need to do something about the Pacific; again.

As with all things in NationStates, everyone seems to recognize the problem but nobody can agree on the solution. Let us take for granted that the People's Republic of the Pacific is a tyrannical, restrictive, dictatorship that has been around for ages. While there is some disagreement as to the cause of this, it is still widely agreed that such is the situation we are dealing with. All across NationStates it is being asked, what do we do with the big, bad wolf?


For every problem we will find, both in NationStates and the real world, someone is selling a solution. One solution that some are peddling is to incite riot and revolution in the Pacific through a PR campaign to the natives. Despite the titanic failure of this policy in the past, the supporters of this line of thought will declare this time to be different; which is true as in the past when this was tried they had the support of the entire defender community where as now most of the defenders recognize it won't work. In fact, the results of the first major effort in this regard can still be seen today. The legacy of the first attempt to overthrow the North Pacific Order, as it was called then, by revolution lives on today as the ban list cap at 200. The revolution at the time resulted in hundreds, if not the rumored thousands, of ejections and bannings from the Pacific. And behold, the dictatorship ticked on.


Still others are calling for a compromise approach between force and diplomacy. They are calling for us to isolate the Pacific diplomatically and then use promises of future fruits to make them change their ways. All of this hinges upon presenting a united front in isolating the Pacific, which, obviously, will never happen. The so-called "unsavory elements" of NationStates, which I will pass no personal judgments on here, of which those pushing for Pacific reform like to complain about the Pacific dealing with, the Union of Sovereigns, raiders, and the like, most certainly will not agree to do this because to do so would be extremely disadvantageous for them. Under this scenario you have an isolated superpower looking for whatever friends it can find and the "unsavory elements" are going to flock to it to build their own power and prestige, which is more or less what happened in the form of the Union of Sovereigns to begin with. For those keeping score, we are now up to two solutions that have been widely tried in the defender community that have had results widely agreed to be negative.

Other ideas have been tossed around, such as running black ops, but these tend to rely on principle of the first two that made them a failure. So far, there has only been one strategy that has been put forward that has any chance to make the changed in the PRP that we desire. So what do we do with the big, bad, wolf? Maybe we could try talking to it.

As the ASE have done for a very long time, we are championing the idea of using diplomacy to help reform the Pacific. Offering them a chance to have new and better friends than the "unsavory elements" of NationStates that the defender community complains about. Offer them a chance to expand their influence on the world stage. Offer them protection from those nations who have turned this into a personal vendetta to hurt the individual members of the PRP rather than do anything to help the natives. All we need ask in exchange for all of this is democratic reform.

The usual response to this logic is to claim that we are asking them to give up their power and that is something they will never do. If you read the above paragraph again, there is nothing in there that declares that they must give up their power. Democracy does not mean, as some suggest it does, that Unlimited cannot keep a leadership role in the Pacific. The Red Liberty Alliance is a democracy through and through, however, that does not mean that certain nations like Blackbird of the Proletariat Coalition and EuroSoviets of the Allied States of EuroIslanders, do not engage in leadership roles in helping to make the RLA an ever stronger and more effective player in the global community. Even in democracy there is room for nations who go above and beyond the call of duty to guide the organization to their vision. There is absolutely no reason the Pacific need be different.

Beyond this, diplomacy has resulted in positive change in the Pacific in the past. Recently BlackAdder, PRP Senator with whom the ASE has excellent relations with, championed a landmark free speech case in the Pacific which set a tremendous precedent in giving the right to speak ones mind to the natives. I think it no coincidence this right was returned to the natives at a time in which the defender community has come to the epiphany that they will be more inclined to reform when they are treated in a courteous, professional, and dare I say, diplomatic fashion by the rest of the community. By demonstrating we are willing to work with them for change that is beneficial to all instead of cramming change down their throat without regard to what they think of it, we can achieve a free and democratic Pacific state. If we insist on trying to beat them into submission, all that will happen is more hurt feelings and bad blood will emerge on both sides.

The logical and correct course of action for those members out to create real reform and democracy in the Pacific is clear and that path is diplomacy.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Power in the NationStates Community.

What is power in NationStates? The Mighty Pump of USK recently did a scientific survey of the most powerful members of the NS community according to the most active members of NS. Five surveys were recorded from the ADN the UoS, the RLA, the EAA and so on. I don't know all of the organisations which were included or excluded but I imagine it excluded all organisations which don't have a truly global perspective (i.e. couldn't for example name the leaders of the ADN, the RLA, the UoS, the EAA or DEN).

The top ten results for most powerful were as follows (and listed is each player plus their prime roles):

1. Pope Hope ----------- Director of the ADN
2. Blackbird ------------ Co-founder of the RLA
3. Unlimited ------------ Delegate of the Pacific
4. Moldavi -------------- Founder of New Sparrow
5. EuroSoviets --------- Co-founder of the RLA
6. Gen. T Franks ------- DEN
7. Unistrut ------------- Former Deputy Director of the ADN, arse-at-large
8. Grub ----------------- Commander of TITO
9. The Red Factions -- Former Field Marshal of DEN
10. Gates the God ----- Founder of Gatesville.

It makes for really fascinating reading. The Director of the ADN is still the most powerful character in NationStates apparently. Blackbird, Secretary of State at the ADN and Director of Intelligence at the RLA is second most powerful - and yet he has not a soldier under his command. Of course that forgets the network of spies under his command. It seems that information translates into power. Moldavi is a hard one to categorise. Ousted from the PRP and The North Pacific, he has only his region New Sparrow and his part in the Union of Sovereigns to explain his position.

People like General Franks, Grub, EuroSoviets, Gates the God etc are more easy to categorise - each of them command soldiers. But the top five players on this list are not exclusively military commanders. In theory each of them can call on troops - but only two occupy military roles, one as Commander of the RLAF, the other as Commander of SECO. I think this lays out for us where real power lies in the NS world. It is political.

The word 'politician' is often bandied around as a slur in NationStates. Most usually, in my opinion, by the ADN, the very people who are themselves most accused by the rest of the world of playing political games for their own benefit. I think the word has an undeserved reputation attached to it. Politics is simply the mediation of a community. Politics is government. The word politics comes from polis, the basic ancient Greek political unit - the city-state. It pertains to all aspects, social included, relating to the governance of any entity, whether a region or an alliance of regions.

At the ADN, it was thrown at me an awful lot. This was because I used the representative political arms of the ADN - the House of Representatives and the Senate - to try to change the ADN. Lots of people assumed change was the equivalent of handing me power. They opposed change by opposing me personally. I'll be the first to admit it is easier to slander me than it is to attack my ideas or those of my friends such as Xha'dam, who did an excellent job steering the ADN House of Representatives, dissenters and all, through the constitutional crises regarding the Vice Presidency of the ADN.

Roles in Intelligence and roles in the military feed into politics. These respectively allow one to know what is going on in the world and allow one to directly control what is going on in the world. Both of those are currency. When I say 'the world' I can of course be referring to any arena up to and including the entire global community of NS. For organisations such as the RKKA, the arena is smaller but within the arena there are still those who have power based on what they know and what they can do. Everything is just a matter of scale.

It has always been amusing, from my point of view, when people who work on different scales meet. The RKKA and the RLA virtually detest the sight of one another for exactly the same reason - both think the other too arrogant. The difference is of course that the RLA is not arrogant, it is just much bigger, better organised and more powerful than the RKKA and has no intention of compromising its position on invaders to suit a smaller, less powerful organisation just because that organisation happens to call itself socialist. The first war that the ASE got into was a dismal affair with a region that worked off a different scale and refused to back down after issuing some threats which it patently couldn't carry out; the attitude of certain members of the RKKA is much like this. Because they can talk to the UoS and RLA 'leaders' they try to punch above their weight - and get annoyed when the rest of us consider it merely irritating.

The original question was what is power? Power then is knowledge. The difference between the RLA and the RKKA is knowledge. Accurate knowledge of game mechanics. Accurate knowledge of how the major power blocs interact, what relationship they bear to one another and how that can change rapidly by the application of pressure at a point. Accurate knowledge of who to contact for something you need done. It was from this that the power of the Meritocracy came in my opinion. Never a military set of regions, the Meritocracy had a collection of some of the most active members of NS - people who knew the inner workings of the highest levels of the game.

No such collection exists anymore. Power is never pure information any longer. The factionalisation of NationStates and the relative decline in status and power of the great hegemon, the ADN, has meant that one cannot rely on others to do things; combined with knowledge must be the ability to bring force to bear. When regarding invader-defender relations, force is most commonly military in nature. When regarding defender-defender relations, force is almost always a propaganda victory, such as that Unistrut handed the RLA when he exposed our operations in DEN. The difference between the RKKA and RLA is not just knowledge, it is force. The RLA military is better trained and bigger than the forces of the RKKA.

I draw conclusions based on the parts of NationStates that I know best - but the same comparisons, if the two could be juxtaposed from their respective time periods, could be drawn of CEO/ACCEL and the Atlantic Central Command. This is also true for the MASS Alliance and the ADN, when comparing both organisations in the days of the Atlantic Alliance.

I would like to conclude with some thoughts that may interest any reader.

Power is sometimes transitory. At times certain players have been further up that list, at times they have been further down. Moldavi, for example, I believe to be on a downward slope, while Pope Hope and Blackbird have reached their respective peaks. Unlimited, however, is a constant and will only change in relation to others - his position looking higher when others are weaker due to some failure and his position looking lesser when others are stronger due to some notable deed. Power therefore also has a foundation.

Power will increase and decrease rapidly according to success or failures, but long term, the power of everyone on that list is based on the strength of their community - the knowledge funnelled to the person on the list by those they rely on, the soldiers who come when that person calls. Those factors give a person influence and prestige and I think we should never forget the people who make up our community, whether they get on some list or not.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sustainable Communities

Too often in NationStates, one of two things occurs. Either people become emotionally detached, abandoning the usual code of conduct that would be expected from an individual in the material world, or they insist of devoting themselves to imposing orthodox behavioural patterns on NationStates, with no room for growth. The former situation generally leads to conflict, bitterness and self-delusion; players become isolated from other people, and indulge in their most basic instincts: greed, pride, arrogance, elitism and so on. The latter situation, while less common, also creates problems - by attempting to justify themselves and form courses of action based on real life precedents, these people prove too stubborn and close-minded to realise that different rules apply. The abolition of geographic or monetary constraints on the actions of specific individuals, which is created by the game in general, leads to both an increasing psychological division between the aforementioned players (on whether a totally selfish and individualistic, or an utterly manufactured structural approach to the management of social groups yields better results) and an opportunity for the remainder of people to create communities of outstanding harmony.

I apologise if I appear to me blathering on without any coherent purpose. The point of this article is solely to identify some of the influential factors that define our conduct in this game. For like any other social activity, our environment defines the actions of both individuals and groups. This becomes of even greater interest when we realise that through one reason or another, people almost always behave, either for game-imposed or personal reasons, differently than they otherwise would in "real life". Now, NationStates is a communal game, for a number of reasons: the lack of widespread material ownership – beyond one’s account (which is only rarely traded and therefore a personal possession, as opposed to valued property), in some examples offsite forums and, in the case of founders, even a few regions; the largely undiluted and unregulated means of communication; and the inherent independence of the individual. Dependence, whether on individuals or groups, in most cases occurs because of emotional attachment or ambition – it is not a prerequisite for playing.

For instance, my account Danitoria is worth only sentimental value – to others, it has no immediate worth. Our forum is a communal environment, which helps to give structure to communication between players – but again, it is not necessary. Theoretically, I could leave the Allied States of EuroIslanders right now, never post on the ASE forum again, and never even speak to anyone I know. No material reason holds me down – without private property, without material concerns, I am liberated from the burden of self-constraint. Similarly, the ease of communication, which rests upon the total theoretical independence of the individual, allows me to speak my mind without any great fear of punishment – the absence of property has eliminated many of the coercive measures conventional authority structures utilise to maintain control. This is minimally felt by the limitations on swearing and so on in the game itself – the threat of deletion, of your property being, in essence, stolen keeps us in line. Not so in the player-created world of NationStates communities, where only the individual, through greed or insecurity, can allow those bonds of form.

Thus, these two factors – of total independence and free communication on the one hand, and the lack of universal property-based authorities – bring social organisation to the forefront of importance. As many people have said, both in the ASE and other regions, NationStates is a community or it is nothing. Outside of self-created attachment to material objections (specifically, regions), there are no chains upon the will of the individual except for emotional ties to other individuals, or to a relevant community. Because they are generally consensual, and can be broken at any time, these relationships are often more stable than their real-life equivalent – total privacy of the individual usually doesn’t coexist with free communication and information, especially in a world where activity and influence is build primarily on mutual-aid and cooperation. Because of the physical environment determined by the game structure, however, both individualism and collectivism are readily available. The presence of consent is vital to the creation and maintenance of stable social groups, and NationStates creates the means for this perfectly, even if many reject it. If I don’t want to talk about something, I won’t discuss it. If I do not want to do something, it won’t be done. The only restrictions are the prisons I choose to build within my own mind.

Because of the complete absence of the usual restrictions, the political Left in NationStates is inherently libertarian. To get something done, one must reach out to another in the spirit of mutual-aid. Only those who naturally favour discipline and centralisation seek to implement interpersonal relationships based on coercion and hierarchy – something the NationStates Right is unfortunately often dominated by, due to the lack of the tempering egalitarian ideal. Socialists within NationStates, should they choose to act according to their true political vies and affiliations, must therefore aim to promote the abolition of violence, especially within social interactions, and to dissolve all political avenues whereby competition would otherwise foster resentments and division. Anything that resembles state power or state machinery within NationStates is a creation of the human mind: it is perhaps this fact that makes the issue of defeating it so frustratingly elusive.

There is within the human mind the ability to surrender oneself to apathy, ignorance and intolerance. Of all possible faults, apathy is absolutely the most dangerous. The individual should answer to no other – listen, discuss, decide: absolutely. But never to follow orders, never to surrender oneself to an arbitrary will, which inevitably falls prone to demagogues when the general consciousness and mistrust of such elements is low. The so-called official media outlets across NationStates are the most socially acceptable realisation of this growing trend, this disease of general apathy upon the masses of NationStates. Why, in a game based upon the immediacy and ease of communication, must the education and instruction of the social group be left up to the inherently biased individual? Each person must conclude their views on issues for themselves. Hear the argument presented by your opponent: don’t just listen idly, willing to forget anything contradicted by your own dogma.

It seems that, when it comes to the journalistic, military and diplomatic organisations of NationStates, most people tend to accept the views and judgements of others, so long as the individual believes the person reporting the news shares generally the same prejudices and assumptions as themselves. Truth is objective, but conclusion and opinion cannot be regimented, it cannot be mass-produced. And when it comes to the media, in whatever institution, real life or in-game, it is a rare moment when only the objective truth, the bare foundation of an issue, is relayed – how much more interesting is it to simply bypass the process of critical analyses and ask for the opinion of one deemed better informed! Those who wish to share in the interests and goals of a reciprocal and productive community must each struggle for that community in solidarity with one another. Nor can the social group be allowed to degenerate into the mundane and oppressive banalities of hierarchy and formal structure, however efficient or logical they appear at first glance.

NationStates has awarded us a remarkable and unique opportunity: to take sole responsibility for our own words and deeds, to never compromise on our ideals, to always reach our hand out to another in friendship, and to form a community based on consensus, change and the power of individual choice. NationStates is built on community, and community rests on that same power of the individual. To forget this lesson would be to ignore what NationStates has the potential to become, and to let the authoritarian political factions, who are already predominant, to create a very ugly game indeed.

NationStates and Democracy

Consider the word democracy. Demos. Kratos. People. Rule. Given the myriad ways of gauging the ever referred to 'public opinion' of the members of different regions, can we be sure that the people really do rule in any region? Do those who are the most active not rule whether sanctioned by formal laws or not? Is it a good thing that less experienced nations have a vote, not just a voice? Is the oft-repeated cry of tyrants "let the masses vote with their feet if they disapprove" satisfactory?

Some of the articles I hope to have published here will delve into the philosophies around NationStates. This particular issue is something that Sixguns of the USSR and I constantly haggle about. This argument began with UPS Rail. Sixguns argued (publically, in the USSR embassy on the ASE forum) that UPS Rail was the legitimate delegate of the North Pacific; he was endorsed by the most natives and he was elected in the way the traditions of the North Pacific prescribed - simple endorsement swapping.

At the time, there was no constitution in TNP that prescribed anything about citizenship and voting on the offsite forum for delegate etc. The argument intensified when Great Bight was put in power by UPS Rail. The argument, that I dubbed the 'natural selection' argument, was that UPS Rail acceded to the supreme position of power in The North Pacific and from then on, his decision constituted a valid law - his 'appointment' of Great Bight by ejecting himself and everyone in between him and GB in endorsements was valid and from then on the word of GB became law, because Great Bight was a legitimate delegate. Anyone who didn't like it could leave. The Moderators had ruled ages ago that the feeders and sinks had no such thing as natives - they were game created regions.

I have never seen a better one line destruction of that argument than what Danitoria said when the ASE was passing Decree 21, pledging support to any democratic movement in The North Pacific against the tyranny of Pixiedance (who was at the time Borogravia-Moldavi of New Sparrow) and his cohorts, RedCommunist of USSR, Tygaland and Schizoids of New Sparrow and Insane Power of the old TNP government. 'NationStates is the community.' I believe therein lies the key to an evaluation of democratic government in NS terms.

Endorsements are simply the mechanics of the game. The community is the lifeblood. Active members are like gold dust. I think there are something like 130,000 nations currently in existence. About two hundred of those form the NS elite - the active players who play on the global stage for high stakes. Another few thousand are active but are either full time role players, bound to the jolt forums or simply uninterested in what happens outside the social group of their region or group of regions. That in total makes about 3,200 players - add in thirty thousand for non-UN multies and subtract from the total. You end up with some 100,000 nations which are just plain inactive. About 40,000 of these exist in the feeders and sinks. Many of them are UN and endorse just about anyone who endorses them. It's like dark matter. It effects everything around it by sheer mass but doesn't actively carry out any process. Elections using endorsement races are not democratic. Dark matter is not the equivalent of the active members who put their time and energy in to building a community, a forum, foreign policy, domestic laws, friendships, enmities and so on.

Thucydides, the great Athenian historian of the Peloponnesian War of 431 to 404 BC, wrote about stasis. This was internal strife, within the city states of Greece, caused by the manoeuverings of the superpowers (Athens and Sparta) and their allies, for dominance, both during the drift to war 478 - 431 and during the actual war. Problems in regions like The North Pacific are of much the same design. Influenced by outside forces, each member of a given region reacts not in the way he or she thinks is best for his or her region, but in a way that will give their opinion dominance. One might say this is a failing of democratic government in NS. It allows regions to be pulled apart, without something to stabilise them, such as a powerful executive leadership.

The larger the body, the more disastrous democratic failure can be. In multi-regional alliances, the same stasis can be seen writ large.

Each region usually has one representative, the collective vote is taken and communal decisions are abided by. Seems fairly democratic? Not necessarily. Let me hark back to our original thesis. NationStates is the community. We are people and people are never swayed purely by laws. The personal prestige of other players has a large role. Gerrymandering the number of votes your faction has always helps as well (and anyone who doesn't know who that comment is directed at needs to retake ADN History 1o1). Who you can call on for favours and what positions you can get them into is the biggest mockery of all democratic procedures, undermining the entire basis of a community in favour of factionalising.

The worst thing about it is, when one group starts to do it, all groups start to follow because lacking the organisation of the first group, they feel pressured. They unite behind a leader and it boils down to cults of personality, who has what position and interminable struggles over the letter of the law. It looks like I have a full-proof argument for tyranny, hmm? I know the flaws of democratic government better than anyone. Keeping the direct democracy of the ASE stable was definitely difficult when different opinions pulled people powerfully in opposing directions. The ADN was a fight for all nine months of the ASE membership there. I witnessed the change in The Pacific, the North Pacific twice and have several times seen the triumph of oligarchic faction-government in regions such as Ireland. The invaders whom I and my friends tirelessly fight are a case study in personality cults, backstabbing, treachery and general undermining of any sort of equality.

Yet for all this, the most democratic organisations are the strongest. The RLA, with its centralised citizenship body and relaxed attitude to which region has most citizens and thereby most votes, is without question the singular most open and democratic multi-regional organisation in existence, with no exceptions. As a defender organisation, it is nearly the equal of the ADN - even though the ADN has forty something regions to the 13 of the RLA. It has become greater than just a political agenda writ large. Currently I have 36 contacts from the RLA on my messenger list, ranging from the old timers such as Blackbird to the new soldiers of socialism such as Josh04 and La Tropicana.

We argue constantly. The role of the RLAF, elections and what policies are right for which candidate, the role of the RLAI, priorities in defence missions, diplomatic objectives with the 'other' left wing organisation, the RKKA and with other groups around the world, controversies about which regions can join; these are just a handful of the things about which all members of the RLA argue about. But yet we don't stop working together to bring in more regions to our fold, we don't stop training our soldiery in defender tactics and we don't open ourselves to exploitation by outside organisations.

Executive power doesn't carry much weight in the RLA because if members seriously dislike decisions, they have a range of options going from electoral challenge to impeachment to simply bogging everything down in bureaucracy. This is a complete reversal of the supreme executive power touted by the (illegitimate) delegates of the North Pacific, though even the proponents of such power do not usually consider their arguments to be valid outside the game created regions - which in my opinion are no different from the non-feeders because differences or not, both feeders and non-feeders only have governments because they have communities - social relations between all those people who contribute something to the life of the region, whether it is welcoming new members to the forum or drawing up far-reaching treaties of alliance.

Those people are the ultimate sovereign. They have the right to select and de-select executive officers. They have the right to decide anything and everything and denying them that right is simply is a route to Departments of Homeland Security and USA PATRIOT Acts, however one applies such concepts to the realm of NationStates. Community doesn't necessarily involve direct democracy - but it involves more contact between the high and low than simple constitutions and charters and laws can prescribe for.

On this note I will conclude. I will not convince the opposition that democracy is best - and some of the opposition have a vested interest in making sure democracy isn't the order of the day, except in twisted and tame ways, the operation of which give the lie to the word democratic. Danitoria and I have decided between us that from now on, our campaigns at the very least (and hopefully all those fought within or by the ASE) will be social in nature, as well as political.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Why Blackbird?

All members will clearly see this is a personal post, so I should expect there will be no complaints about using ASE media for the advancement of my own point of view. That is, after all what this blog is for - not just my point of view but ANY point of view that can be included under the banner, whether opposing mine or not.

The first time I met Blackbird, I was suspicious of him. He had just become delegate of The Proletariat Coalition and had replaced Jako, the former delegate, as TPC's representative to the MASS Alliance. More reserved than Jako had been (Jako was a Labourite and he and I argued constantly), I was worried that this new delegate of the ASE's closest ally was a bit of a lame duck. It didn't take me long to realise how wrong I was.

Allied States of EuroIslanders and The Proletariat Coalition were unquestionably the dominant regions of the MASS Alliance and the first issue this new representative to the only socialist organisation in NationStates was the war with the Atlantic Alliance, a bunch of invaders who had attacked Cuba but had been spectacularly repulsed by a fifty-nation taskforce led by Danitoria and including such diverse (and hitherto unknown) agencies such as the ADN, the Freedom Alliance, USA, GLA and the Sardaukar Confederate Defence Trust. Incidentally it was this which first catapulted the ASE on to the global stage, and which re-catapulted TPC back onto said stage.

Blackbird was not to be outdone by the intelligence operation I led using Socialist Switzerland (I became delegate of the invader region Leichtenstein, infiltrated AA at the highest level and blew all their invasions ruthlessly before I was caught). Using his nation Cortath, which is currently a member of The Meritocracy, he infiltrated the Atlantic Alliance, rose to the leadership of a division and survived long after I'd been caught. Having pretended to defect from TPC, Blackbird secured their trust and performed a service to the NS world by providing the intelligence that led to the victory of the ADN and the MASS Alliance in the war against the AA.

This was indicative of the road Blackbird was to follow to become a master of Intelligence Operations. A string of successful operations later, organised by Blackbird during his three terms as Delegate of TPC, saw Blackbird rise to prominence among defenders. He was always more respected, if less overtly powerful, than myself because of the moderation of his tone. We served as a good counterbalance to one another in the RLA, fire and ice.

Xha'dam, Danitoria, myself and Blackbird set up the RLA to replace the MASS Alliance (which we feared to be riddled with spies and with lax security). The problems of the old were not to follow us to the new organisation and thanks to Blackbird's security, new members of the RLA were screened and those who could view intelligence operations were very carefully monitored, ensuring the RLA intelligence was of the quality that could later place The Red Factions in such a position as to rise to the position of Field Marshal of DEN.

The RLA is now about a year and two months old and Blackbird has been Director of Intelligence since the founding of the office two Executive Committee terms ago, when he was elected in good faith to serve the RLA by leading that which he had led at the Meritocracy as Quaestor: Intelligence operations. Using a plethora of contacts, Blackbird kept RLA diplomats informed of all important developments globally. It is in this light that I present to you, Blackbird of The Proletariat Coalition, standing for his third term as Director of Red Liberty Intelligence. The most contacts. The most experience. The best man for the job.

Vote Blackbird!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Community

Musing on the recent events in the sister region of the ASE, The Proletariat Coalition, it occurs to me that the words of Danitoria regarding the success of NationStates being the sense of community it creates have never been more applicable.

The region has gone through turmoil after turmoil. The arrival of Anarchotopia at TPC and the diplomatic offensives of Blackbird, myself, Xha'dam and Danitoria began one turmoil - the fight to get the Charter of the RLA ratified. This resulted in lots of posting battles between Southern Tasmania and myself - and not a little anger on both sides, clearly expressed in the posts themselves. Then came the issue of joining the ADN. Then the issue of martial law at the ADN. All this was set against a backdrop of the newer members, The Red Factions and Dobbyniania, wanting greater accountability, devolved executive power and open forums.

The most recent issue is but the cream on the coffee that was poured when TPC withdrew from the ADN, the foreign policies of the old guard of TPC discredited by the actions of ADN leaders Unistrut and Pope Hope. In addition to this, the clear siding of Anarchotopia with the ADN by calling TRF an invader (in the ADN Council, I believe) ignited a sharp spat. Soviet Sexy Girls was just telling me yesterday how Dalioranium has left the region because of the personal squabbles that have started between supporters of different factions.

The issue itself is one of access. Dobbyniania, The Red Factions and others maintain that the entire archive of TPC dealings plus the secure Red Room should be declassified. The new constitution of TPC allows the Popular Assembly to do pretty much as it likes and the two pioneers of the new style of democracy in TPC have already secured a vote in their favour in the Assembly. Blackbird and Peaceful Minds plus a handful of others maintain that what was written in the Red Room (material which is transfered to the archive occasionally) was written in private and that the Assembly does not have the right to pass retroactive legislation, publicising work which Blackbird and the other members of the Red Room believed would be forever private.

All this seems have resulted in the resignation of Anarchotopia from the Proletariat Coalition and his move to the Alliance of Socialist States. It really goes to show just how right I was about him; I warned the members of TPC that Anarchotopia, once TPC was out of the ADN, would find a convenient time to jump ship, like the rat he is. But I digress.

The Court in TPC has not yet reached a verdict: no doubt there is plenty of time remaining in the trial. The Judges have however expressed some glimpses of their own opinions. Star City and HyperCube seem to think declassification is legal whilst Mathom and Universal Acceptance challenge this idea. All this internal strife might well explain why The Proletariat Coalition is not occupying the position it usually does at the RLA. Blackbird, Dobbyniania and The Red Factions seem to make up the majority of the contingent that once included Peaceful Minds, Anarchotopia, Ketoprofen, Paranoidm, Universal Acceptance, Soviet Sexy Girls and Jako.

At the RLA, Blackbird will be contesting his current position of Director of Red Liberty Intelligence once again, though it may be that The Red Factions also contests this position as a direct attempt to curtail the influence of Blackbird. It has been mentioned that Blackbird might leave TPC. This is not, in my opinion, a valid course of action. Regions can't be chopped and changed just because you don't agree with certain things happening within the region. Blackbird is a giant with many contacts and he serves the RLA best as its Director of Intelligence. It occurs to me to wonder whether a more diplomatic solution could not have been found to this issue rather than forcing a split in the region using popular vote.

The title of this article is community. Regional government exists to present a united face to the outside world. They don't exist to beat one subset of membership over the head with. The meaning of community is to be able to reach agreement or compromise on the basis of continued friendship. When community is lost, power struggle á la The North Pacific begins. It is my hope that TPC will resolve this issue and move on swiftly.

First Post

I noticed a particular pretentious git try and pass off his blog as the 'random musings of Nation States elder Statesman' (see here) . I found this amusing on the basis that statesmen are so defined because they rise above partisan politics to come to the aid of the state, because the state is a just end. Enter rant on Hobbes and Locke here. As a Marxist I defend no state. Marxists are charged with the defence of ideas and the putting of those ideas into practice, to the detriment of the state, if necessary.

Ideas are what prompted me into creating my own blog, which will be put at the disposal of the region known as the Allied States of EuroIslanders, for the purpose of articles outlining ideas, either in practice or in theory, that might make the NationStates world more democratic, more inclusive and return the emphasis of the game from backdoor dealings to the upfront decision making that has characterised the Red Liberty Alliance thus far.

None of us can help that we have enmities developed by this game. Opposing view points, opposing methods of dealing with things and simple personality clashes ensure that there will always be political backbiting. In order to succeed in NationStates however, I contend that it is not necessary for us to take part in it. The RLA, for example, has always been upfront about its opinions: generally themed, these include: crush invaders; detente with peaceable capitalist organisations; stay clear of the miserable manipulations of anyone who indulges in that sort of thing; be pro-democracy and finally, keep member regions strong.

Recently it seems that a lack of activity in certain quarters of the game has resulted in things being decided between members in private. This is not our way. In the Allied States of EuroIslanders, we have a court process called the Euthynai.
Members of the ASE might find it of interest to note that the translation of 'Euthynai' is 'scrutiny.' I hope all those who join me in this endeavour will see it as their duty to shine a light on the places anyone wishes to keep hidden from democratic scrutiny.