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Coup d'etat and cybernations

Posted by Icewolf , 16 January 2013 · 645 views

We have seen an attempt at Sparta. We have seen an attempt at GPF. We have seen what may or may not have been one at BFF. This has been a month of coups. A series of aggressive and determined attempts to change the leadership of alliances.

This blog is not endorsing this method of government change. It will not take responsibility for such efforts or the penalties handed down on those attempted. It is merely looking at the theoretical elements as to how it will take place.

First we must consider what a coup d'etat is. According to "Coup d'etat, A Practical Handbook" by E Luttark it is an takeover of a government by a part of that government. This book also sets out a number of factors relating to a coup, some of which can be considered in the realm of cybernations.

So what do we need? A number of features can be identified for a successful operation. The alliance needs a certain structure. The politics of an alliance need to be in a certain position and the instigator needs to have certain resources at his disposal.


I will begin by briefly considering each aspect in the cybernations context.

The structure of the alliance.

Essentially it needs to have a powerful and centralised government. LSF could not be subject to a coup as there is nothing to take over. The structure also needs to be based around on the idea that the government has power because it is the government rather than the government has power because it is legitimate. So the International or any other alliance with regular elections and referendums will be unlikely to be subject to a coup. That is not to say a democratic alliance could not have a government change in this way, but instead that it will be harder if the people of the alliance strongly regard the leaders power as coming from democratic mandate.

It also needs a powerful central body. Alliances ruled by committee (such as IRON where the Presidents formal power is basically a chairman of the council-not to say that he does not have large informal power) or a federal structure with very independent departments will be quite hard to takeover as well (for reasons that will be discussed later). A Triumvirate structure in the CN world may well be a good candidate for a coup because of very concentrated power base and acceptance that they hold total power that tends to (not universally) follow.

Why is this necassary? Essentially a coup is about grabbing power. Power is easier to take hold of if it is narrowly concentrated LSF cannot be coupled because the power rests with the entire alliance. The International with its referendums on major issues also vests a lot of power with the members. Getting hold of that power will be hard.

The condition of the alliance

This ties into the above somewhat. I mentioned the need for a government to govern by its status rather than a legitimacy or mandate claim. Obviously the government needs to be unpopular. However there needs to be an extra essence to this. It has to be unpopular and the members not capable of seeing a way to remove it. A democratic alliance with regular elections is therefore harder to coup as the elections give the government power. However it is not impossible. An alliance with many elected posts and few willing candidates could see an elite group always holding seats with no real choice. An alliance with long governmental terms and a narrow election victory could also be subject to takeover.

An undemocractic government is also not necessarily subject to a coup risk. A government that is careful to include the members in its planning and discuss and get feedback will generally be harder to take over as it will begin to have a allure of legitimacy attached to its persons rather than offices. However a government that ignores or does not seek member opinion will be at risk if the right situation arises.

The resources of the instigator

CN differs a lot from the outside world in that military might cannot determine internal political matters. That does not meant that the military of an alliance is not important, but it does mean it has a different role to play. So our coups will be political rather than military. An outed leader might be ZIed or a failed rebel nuked but the image of troops marching into the capital will not happen.

Obviously forum admin access is critical. Without this there can be no rapid takeover of an alliance. New forums are a possibility, but generally the time it takes to register people and the fact that the old government has all the pomp and splendor of its old forums and instant communication with the remaining members would render that very dangerous for the new government. So this generally means that the instigator must be a member of the government or have friends with admin access. One target here could be an old root admin retired from politics but willing to back a new order.

Of course a new government could run to new forums and can reestablish the alliance. If they are supported enough then they are likely to be successful so admin access alone is not enough.

There are two departments present in every alliance that I think are ideally suited to the role of a coup. The military and the recruitment corps. Other departments may exist and may have roles to play and it will depend on the alliance. However the key factors that aid these departments being useful are;

1) often they are personal heavy. The need for effective military co-ordination means a large number of officers are normally present compared to diplomats or trade circle managers. Likewise recruiting often required a large manpower base to be effective.
2) They have experience in rapid and mass communication to the entire alliance. Announcing that you are the new government and getting a rapid first impression out will be vital.

The large number of personal means people regularly in contact with their commanders on alliance matters so you have a better idea of who will support them. These people will be useful to give an initial overwhelming backing of support. Further, the power of these departments could be used against an instigator so by having at least their top brass on your side can neutralise their power Messages sent out saying "don't do anything, wait and see, we are negotiating," will stall a counter action by these members and give the coup time to solidify itself.

Of course outsiders could theoretically perform the coup with the help of one insider with forum access. The issue is that the workers in the government structure will be used to others orders and will look to them first. So a completely outsider takeover (retired root admin and friends) will struggle to implant themselves in the shoes of departed ministers unless the government has a very concentrated power structure with few lower levels (maybe one minister and one deputy run the entire military).

Now of course none of this tells you how to actually perform a coup (although it drops some hints). It merely suggests why they are so unsuccessful as these are the basic conditions that must be met before an attempt can even be made. There are many other variables that can cause a coup to fail. This is just the basics.

Also to reiterate this is purely academic and should not be tried at home. Consequences of failure will likely be ZI, EZI, ridicule on the OWF, loss of reputation and perma pariah status.




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Tom Marvolo Riddle
Jan 16 2013 10:46 AM
We need more democracies. Less Triumvirates, less dictatorships more democracies.
On the other end of the spectrum, dictatorships with founding leaders who have internal cults of personality seem like the toughest alliances to coup. Could anyone trying to coup an alliance like GOD or STA possibly be taken seriously?
The only coup with any degree of success that was ever carried out in a major alliance was Ivan's replacement of Moo in 2007, and it lasted for only a few days. At times I wonder if it was staged, because Ivan was promptly forgiven.

The proper execution of a coup requires three main possessions: one, root admin access on the alliance forums; two, a membership willing to, in its great majority, support the usurper(s); and three, a sufficient number of other alliances willing to support the usurper(s). Under almost no circumstances will one have even two of these, let alone all.

These just can't happen. This isn't like real life, in which coups have generally been followed by mass executions and kangaroo courts. There aren't militaries or police that can be used to suppress resistance. And so on. This is a political simulator.


Edit: Note that I didn't actually read much of your post.
Most alliances have ways to remove a sitting Gov built right into their charter. If internal pressure gets too much they simply get rid of them and move on. This happened to Valhalla with respect to noWedge. Occasionally you get an alliance that does not have such a "pressure valve" as it were, like United Equestria. These alliances simply disintegrate as people get fed up and leave, possibly forming a splinter AA, with the Everfree Union being exhibit A. There are many other AA's out there that formed from pissed off members simply leaving and forming a new AA.
The attempt at Sparta was in no way a serious matter. Sourcy hadn't even discussed it prior with anyone and only after telling us he planned on leaving anyways, decided to make things more interesting with a small coup.

Nothing more than a joke.
The latest coup in GATO was successful :D
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HM Solomon I
Jan 16 2013 11:01 PM
Coups can be successful in CN, but their success will always be transient. In CN, much more than in RL, people vote with their feet; if somebody doesn't like an alliance, he or she can leave and join another or found his or her own. Alliance leaders have no mechanism to force people to stay, whereas in RL, leader do have such mechanisms (military, police, internal and external security services, etc.).

Because of this, coups can succeed in taking over an alliance, but that alliance will generally cease to exist shortly thereafter.
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Gingervites
Jan 16 2013 11:13 PM
democracies in CN suck. Theocracies are the way to go. And coups never work out, they usually end up in self implosion.
stay tuned

The only coup with any degree of success that was ever carried out in a major alliance was Ivan's replacement of Moo in 2007, and it lasted for only a few days. At times I wonder if it was staged, because Ivan was promptly forgiven.

The proper execution of a coup requires three main possessions: one, root admin access on the alliance forums; two, a membership willing to, in its great majority, support the usurper(s); and three, a sufficient number of other alliances willing to support the usurper(s). Under almost no circumstances will one have even two of these, let alone all.

These just can't happen. This isn't like real life, in which coups have generally been followed by mass executions and kangaroo courts. There aren't militaries or police that can be used to suppress resistance. And so on. This is a political simulator.


Edit: Note that I didn't actually read much of your post.

gramlins
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xoindotnler
Jan 17 2013 03:32 PM

We need more democracies. Less Triumvirates, less dictatorships more democracies.

Democracies with enforced term limits, not this boring !@#$ where you can stay doing the same !@#$ for years.
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Tom Marvolo Riddle
Jan 17 2013 03:34 PM

Democracies with enforced term limits, not this boring !@#$ where you can stay doing the same !@#$ for years.

I agree. But what when you have anything other then a democracy, only the good ole boys get in the government.

The only coup with any degree of success that was ever carried out in a major alliance was Ivan's replacement of Moo in 2007, and it lasted for only a few days. At times I wonder if it was staged, because Ivan was promptly forgiven.

The proper execution of a coup requires three main possessions: one, root admin access on the alliance forums; two, a membership willing to, in its great majority, support the usurper(s); and three, a sufficient number of other alliances willing to support the usurper(s). Under almost no circumstances will one have even two of these, let alone all.

These just can't happen. This isn't like real life, in which coups have generally been followed by mass executions and kangaroo courts. There aren't militaries or police that can be used to suppress resistance. And so on. This is a political simulator.


Edit: Note that I didn't actually read much of your post.

I did actually include all those elements in the post.

I agree that they are very unlikely to happen. The ability of members to leave is just one reason why a coup is very different in the CN world to the real world. Another is that the military of an alliance is always essentially a militia rather than a compact professional fighting force. And of course there is the key point that military subjugation is just not possible in the same way due to the inability to kill a nation without a prolonged period of fighting. Which means a military takeover simply will not happen and as I said it must be a political maneuver.

We need more democracies. Less Triumvirates, less dictatorships more democracies.

Many many CN alliances are democracies. The thing is though that dictatorship and meritocracy may not be the best way to build fun in the game but they do work. It is the same thing that everyone keeps complaining about the chessboard of CN politics causing stagnation which isn't fun. The reality is the stagnation is caused by a recognition that a certain strategy is the best way to play the game.

Ultimately the winning strategy is not the one that makes the game the most fun for the ordinary player. Or at least the currently accepted orthodox strategy is not one that makes the game the most fun for the ordinary player. Read back through history and you see very different strategies which eventually fall by the wayside. Maybe a new strategy will one day arise and the world will swing back to your view of interesting. We shall see.

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